Ngozi looked at her wrist watch and sighed, it was almost
seven thirty. “When will I get to this blasted office?” She murmured as she
glared impatiently at the traffic before her. The CMS traffic was too slow
while the LATSMA officials that controlled the traffic moved endlessly from one
side of the road to the other, trying to conduct the snail-paced cars. Just
then, a car tried swerving into the space infront of her car and Ngozi hit her
horn hard.
“What is wrong with these Lagos people ehn?” Winding down
her window and peering through the half-wound down glass she shouted. “Stay in
your lane!”
It was as though the car answered her because it honked in
response and a young lady opened the passenger door and stepped down from the
vehicle. Ngozi squinted as she tried to place the face of the young woman who
was now walking towards her car. As soon the young lady reached her car, she
rapped impatiently at the window of the passenger side of the car.
“Mtsheew…oh it’s you, Bola.” Hissed Ngozi as she quickly
unlatched the door and watched as Bola entered her car.
“Ngozi…good morning. I’m so lucky that this traffic happened
this morning if not, I wouldn’t have seen you. That’s my little sister driving
that car, her company gave it to her ooo, while I’m here deceiving myself that
I have a job. I would have let her drop me on the way as she’s headed to Lekki
but when I saw you, I was like, I can’t trek jo, lemme hop in and enjoy the
ride to the office with my beautiful colleague.” Bola gushed.
“Good morning Bola…” Ngozi replied.
“You look queer this morning, are you alright?” Bola asked.
“I’m fine…I’m just tired, I didn’t sleep early.” Ngozi said.
“Hmm…Oga must have had a soothing massage last night, I guess.
When’s the wedding coming up? Why is he wasting time to propose?” Bola asked
smiling.
“My dear, it was a steamy night session o.” Ngozi managed a
weak smile.
“I trust. You know, I used to have reservations on opening
the cookie jar before it’s bought but I guess yours works for you. But, don’t you
think he’s delaying because you’re living with him? You should give him some
space and wait for him to miss your presence. Then, you’d tell him that you can
only return if you have a bling on the third finger of your left hand.”
“Men are unpredictable jare, I cannot leave my house for
such childish reasons. As far as I am concerned, marriage is just a
certificate, we are as good as married.”
“Hmmm…then why haven’t you gone ahead to get pregnant? I
mean, if you guys are as good as married, you should be popping out kids by
now.” Bola said.
Ngozi saw sense in what Bola had just said, her brain
initialized it and kept it aside for future execution. Flashing a smile, she
turned to Bola and asked.
“So when is your wedding coming up? Since you are so keen in
planning mine.”
‘Soon ooo, by His grace. Infact the pressure is something
else, it’s like if you’re not married, there’s something wrong with you. I’m
not in a rush o, I’m busily prepping young couples on love and marriage. Have I
told you that I’m publishing my couple’s motivational book soon? The title
would be ‘Rings at the Altar.”
“What kind of title is that? You should look for something
better, besides, when did you become a writer?”
“I just found out that I had it in me, you know.” Bola said.
They had already maneuvered their way out of CMS and was
passing through Bonny Camp.
“These roads won’t kill my tires ooo…see how damaged the
roads are.” Ngozi complained.
“Ehen…omo Igbo, lest I forget, there’s this cousin of mine.
Her name is Ade and she’s presently dating an oil mogul, the guy works with a
big oil company. However, there’s a slight, would I call it a problem or
challenge? Okay, it’s a challenge. Her boyfriend is Igbo, his name is Emeka and
he loves my cousin like shegge. But you know all these Yankee girls now, and
their spree spree grammar, she told me that his mother gave her a load down of
what she wants her to do for her son. So she was wondering if she could talk to
an Igbo girl who can make her understand the aspects of being an Igbo man’s
wife and of course I recommended you. You’ve been in a steady relationship for
three years, you are Igbo and your soon to be husband is Igbo. I actually want
you to be friends with her so that you could teach her about keeping an Igbo
man and how to convince him that you are wife material. Of course drawing
insight from your wonderful relationship with your beau Nduka which has lasted
for three years.”
Ngozi wasn’t listening, she was far away, her thoughts
bordered on last night and Nduka’s funny attitude. As soon as he had left her
at the sitting room, he and gone to bed. After a while she too left the sitting
room and went into the bedroom to see Nduka fast asleep. Sighing audibly, she
climbed into bed and was about to shut her eyes when she heard his gruff voice.
“Ngozi…” He had called.
“Yes…” She had replied, hoping that he was about to chalk
out an apology.
“Get down from this bed quick. You didn’t serve me food and
neither did you make provisions for extra fuel. You are not fit to share my
bed, go and spend the night in the guest room.” He had said.
“Why? What have I done wrong? Where did I offend you? I told
you that it was till I got home this evening that I realized that there was no
fuel in the reservoir. I had already finished cooking at eight p.m.” Ngozi said
trying hard to control the frustration in her voice.
Image Source: madamenoire.com
“Will you shut up? My instruction is, get the hell out of my
room now!” Nduka had screamed already getting up from the bed to face her.
“Please, let me sleep I have had a long day.” Ngozi had
said.
She hadn’t expected the slap that came from Nduka, she fell
off the bed and moaned as her bottom hit the ground hard.
“Get out of this room now! Do you pay the rent? Is the house
registered in your name? Are you even my wife? Leave my sight this instant!”
Nduka screamed.
Ngozi struggled to her feet but the fast hands of Nduka
dragged her out of the room and shoved her through the door. As soon as he
locked it behind her, she hit the door while crying out his name.
“Ngozi! Hello…” Bola said, waving her hand infront of Ngozi
as she drove down the tarred road leading to their office.
“Sorry, what were you saying?” Ngozi asked, turning to look
at Bola and trying not to lose focus of the road in front of her.
“I was talking about my cousin Ade, she’s classy and very
beautiful. Infact we used to envy her as kids when she and her family came down
to Nigeria from the UK for holidays…” Bola started again, trailing off in her
usual talkative way.
“Bola, you can yarn for Africa, get to the point jo. I
wonder how you handle effectively your marketing role seeing as you can’t keep
your mouth shut.” Ngozi said, sounding irritated.
“Abeg jo, don’t be insulting me. It’s because you’re older
than me ooo, that’s why I’ll take your words as a compliment and not an insult.”
Bola said.
“Ehen…tell me what you were saying again.”
“So, I want you guys to be friends, Ade and yourself. So
that you guys can share issues about these Igbo boys together…”
Ngozi pretended as though she was listening and drove into the
street that led to their office.
*****
“I don’t have anything to wear, mummy.” Henrietta whined.
“Is that why you want to bring the house down? A twenty-five
year old girl like yourself, has nothing to wear in her wardrobe.” Hissed Henrietta’s
mother as she walked into her daughter’s room and headed towards the wardrobe.
“All those clothes are what I wore during my youth service
days and I can’t repeat them anymore.” Henrietta complained.
“The last time I checked, you are going for an interview and
not the beauty pageant. The time is eight o’clock already and I know that the
traffic to the island will not have died down yet. You should be getting ready
to leave now.” Her mother said.
Henrietta stomped her feet and fell on her bed like a child
who had not gotten a Christmas present from Santa. The bed bounced and her pillows
flew up revealing the stack of GQ magazines she had kept underneath.
“Are you still swimming in obsession over those cover
features? Get a life Henrietta!” Her mother cautioned as she turned back to her
wardrobe to pull out a black midi length gown. “Why don’t you wear this?”
Henrietta, still lying on the bed, shook her head stubbornly
and turned away. She was already pissed. It was because she really needed to
start work in order to catch the hottest guys on the island that she’d accepted
to go for a job interview in the first place. Formerly, her goal was to, finish
her degree, do her national youth service and spend an extra year at home,
eating, watching television and reading magazines before applying for a
job.  Her mother was a spoiler, she
pampered Henrietta and her brother hence their thoughts that the world was
their oyster. Their father was worse, he gave his children free reign with
everything.
“C’mon Henri…you shouldn’t be lazing about in bed at this
time of the day. Don’t you care about what our neighbours think? Sekiat just
graduated and she’s already working, same goes for Tunde and you got admission
into the university before both of them.”
“All fingers are not equal.” Henrietta murmured from her
position on the bed. She had pulled out one of the magazines and was flipping
through the edition again.
“Henrietta! I am not kidding. You and your brother aren’t
kids anymore, you guys should be able to contribute to the upkeep of the house.”
“Like?”
“Pay for the cable subscription and perhaps, PHCN bills.”
Her mother echoed.
At that moment, her brother Hank, walked into her room with
a ball in his hand.
“What’s up guys? Good morning mom.” Hank greeted.
His mother barely answered, she’s too upset that her adult
daughter refused to get dressed for her interview.
“Hey Hankie…playing ball today?” Henrietta asked, sitting up
on the bed.
“Yup…I’ve got to jog to the stadium this morning and warm up
my legs with the guys.” Hank replied.
“And is that how to start your day? Hank, you graduated
three years ago, this is not the kind of life you should be living.” His mother
said.
“What are you talking about? Am I doing drugs?” Hank asked,
then, turning to his sister, he mouthed the words, “What is she talking about?”
Henrietta rolled her eyes and choked on a laugh.
Their mother grew upset and throwing the black dress at
Henrietta she said;
“I’m tired of talking to you guys. If you don’t want to be
useful in your life, that’s your choice. I can’t be bothered with your nasty
decisions of how you live your lives. As far as I am concerned, don’t expect
one kobo from me again. I’m done with feeding a twenty-seven year old son and a
twenty-five year old daughter.”
As soon as she stormed out of the room Hank said,
“That was intense! Are you sure she’s not reading all those
pathetic inspirational books of hers again? Her speech was epic. So, where are
you off to?” Hank asked.
“One lousy interview at Victoria Island.”
“What’s the role?”
“Personal assistant.”
“How did you get it?”
“Apparently, mummy was talking about the difficulty in
getting a job in Nigeria and Mr. Chuks our neighbour said that his friend’s
company is looking to hire a young personal assistant.”
“Way to go sis…you might just be one step ahead of getting a
GQ man from the heart of the island and getting whisked to Barbados for a
beautiful beach wedding.”
“You de craze.” Henrietta laughed as she threw the pillow at
her brother.
Hank ducked and came to perch on her bed.
“Life is changing o. To think that eight years ago, I graduated
from secondary school, wow! I thought I’d never grow up but here I am with
biceps, moustache and the voice of the incredible hulk.”
Henrietta laughed and punched his arm.
“You’re so cute, but I’ve got an interview to prepare for.
Hopefully, I catch my super rich and fabulous guy within one month of my resumption,
we date for six months and I get married to him on our sixth month anniversary. Then,
I’d stop working, open up a very big boutique in Lekki with branches in Ikeja,
Festac and Surulere, give birth to two bouncing babies, a boy and a girl and
travel round the world while money pours into my account from my business and
husband.”
“Amen to your dreams. Don’t forget to add me to that big
dream of yours, I’d like to be in your kitchen chomping down on some chicken
while your cooks who will be ‘hot’, by the way, would dance in skimpy clothes
while they prepare my meal.”
“I’m not having that in my house, I don’t want my husband to
start giving them side glances.” Henrietta said.

Hank laughed and left the room, bouncing his ball on his way
out. Henrietta sighed and held up the black dress her mother had chosen, it hadn’t
been a bad choice after all.

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