Rita had just finished from the market when she received his
call, there was no doubt she was getting closer to Chuka by the day. Since she
spent the night in his place and later had to sleep over the second time, she
had grown quite close to Chuka as they spent their time at his home speaking
about Aisha and later about life. Rita had always wanted to ask him what really
happened to stop him from loving her friend but had caught herself and decided
to let it pass besides, Aisha was already resting in peace. Rita found that she
and Chuka had a lot in common as Chuka had a mini library of novels from great
writers, ranging from Sidney Sheldon to Chinua Achebe and even Chimamanda
Adiche amongst other writers. Rita was popularly known as the ‘book worm’ and
the fact that Chuka possessed a library of literary works drew her to him like
magnet.

Another thing which endeared Chuka to her was his penchant for neatness,
Chuka was so neat and his sparkling apartment showed this off. The second night
she had spent in his house, he had spoken at length about his future ambition
and she was able to see a young man who was so determined to achieve despite
odds. Try as she may, she couldn’t see the womanising and annoying Chuka in
this young man who spoke to her with so much passion and even after leaving his
house, she still had thoughts of him linger in her head.

“Stop it!” She had told herself countless times, “He killed
your friend!” The voice in her head told her. “But he…didn’t stab her did he?
Aisha committed suicide…she took her life in her hands…let her deal with
the consequences of her actions wherever she is. This life is for the living…”
The voice persisted.
She quickly picked the call and spoke to Chuka.
“Hey …” She said through the phone.
“Hey dear…are you coming over today? My brother has exams,
he had to leave for Lagos this morning…” Chuka said.
“Really? What makes you think that I’ll just leave whatever
I’m doing and come to your place?” She asked.
“Because you know I’m in dire need of your help…” Chuka
said.
Another incoming call came in, and Rita removed the phone
from her ear and looked at it to see the caller ID, it was Kelvin, her date,
who had helped take Aisha to the hospital that day they had seen her lying on
the kitchen floor.
“Can I call you back?” She said to Chuka.
“Sure…but please be fast…it’s almost evening already…and
I don’t want to spend the night alone in this house.” Chuka said.
“Sometimes I think you’re just using this nonsense story of
Aisha’s ghost to get someone to occupy your home.” She said and quickly hung up
on him.

As soon as she dropped Chuka’s call, she picked Kelvin’s.
“Hey Kev…”
“Rita, how have you been? I just came into Abuja this
morning, I received your text message about your friend’s death but since I was
far off in one of the villages, up north, I couldn’t respond immediately. What
happened?” Kelvin asked.
“It’s stale news now, besides she’s resting in the earth,
I’d rather we let her rest.”
“Oh my God, I am so sorry and I’m shocked too…”
“It’s okay dear, the Lord gives and He takes…it’s out of
our hands you know…” Rita said, sounding bored.
“Wow…I’m so bummed about this. Where are you? Can I see
you? Tonight maybe…” He said.
“No…I’ll be busy…”
“Tomorrow then…I leave for Nassarawa in two days, I have
some construction works down there…”He said to her.
“Well…I think we can see when you get back then…I am
going to be pretty busy…” Rita said, making a mental note that she could be
needed down at Chuka’s place for a few days since his brother still had exams.
“But I really want to see you…” Kelvin started.
“Well…I’m not in a good place right now Kev….”
“I really like you and I would like it if we took our
relationship a step further…” Kelvin said.
“At this time? At the aftermath of my best friend’s death?
Seriously?”
“Oh no…I’m not trying to err…I don’t mean you shouldn’t
mourn her…I mean…”
“It’s okay Kev…I’ll call you back when I’m ready for
life…” Rita said and hung up.
Immediately she dropped the call, she made a quick call to
Chuka.
************

Bode had enjoyed the native meal so much that as soon as he
washed it down with a sparkling glass of cold water, he pressed down the button
on his intercom and spoke to his PA.
“Could you come in for a minute please?” He said.
Jumoke left her desk and opening the door to his office, she
walked in. The plate of food was sitting empty on his table and her boss had a
meeting for twelve noon.
“Sir, it’s almost twelve noon. Should I get your speech
ready?” She asked.
“Jumi…you are a genius…I have never felt
so…so…satisfied in a long time…this food ….this food is all I
needed….wow…thank you.” Bode said in gratitude.
“Oh….thank you so much sir for your kindness….I am glad
that you enjoyed the meal…”
“Wow…thank you again.” Bode said.
“I’ll clear up the flask…” Jumoke said and walked up to
his desk to take the flask.
Bode stared at her while she packed the dishes, he couldn’t say
how he felt but suddenly he stood up and walked over where she stood.
Jumoke’s hand shook as she held on to the food flask, Bode stood
barely an inch away from her and before she could move, he pulled her into an
embrace. Jumoke’s hand gripped the flask firmly as she was shocked by his
gesture.
“Thank you so much for this Jumi…you’ll not understand how
much this means to me.” He said hoarsely.
He was right, Jumoke didn’t understand, because for him, it
was the first time in a long while that he felt truly appreciated.
*********
Tosin stood before the Executive director of her company,
Mrs. Isabel Shodeinde and bit her lower lip.
“When Eniola told me about your refusal to step down from
the Abuja assignment, I was shocked! Tosin, do you know how many married women
would jump at this opportunity? Yes, we are trying to make the workspace
enabling for women but then again we are out to make it accommodating for those
who have families.”
“Madam, with all due respect, I love the challenge that
comes with the Abuja project. Do you understand my passion for growing the
business from the grassroot? I enjoy the fact that we are moving to a new
environment and I get to chair the leading seat of the office in Abuja.” Tosin
was saying.
“I want to reiterate again on what Eniola said; we are going
to retain your new position and your new salary scale but you do not necessarily
need to move to Abuja.”
“I reject the proposition of staying in Lagos….”Tosin
said.
“Have you spoken to your husband about this? He is the head
of the home and your head too…” Mrs. Shodeinde asked.
“Madam…it’s my job and when it comes to my job, I make the
decisions.” Tosin said stonily.
“Yes, it is your decision to make if you are single but when
married, every decision that affects you invariably affects him as well as the
family.”
“Thank you madam for pointing that out…” Tosin said icily,
angry that the director was trying to impose into her family life. “But I still
stand that everything is taken care of…”
“Okay, if you have spoken to him about it and the both of
you have come to an agreement, you can go ahead and continue your operations in
Abuja. We at the company just wanted to make sure that all is well with your
family as regards this change.”
“It’s settled at my end….” Tosin said.
“Okay….I bet you need to get back to Abuja as soon as you
can.”
“Yes ma…I have already informed my assistant to book the
next available flight to Abuja for me.”
“Okay then…good luck, we expect to be there in two weeks
for the grand opening…” Mrs Shodeinde said. “We are also sending some staff
to help you out as regards the opening and recruitment…we trust you to manage
them to expectations.”
“Thank you Isabel…” Tosin said and left the office.
As soon as she closed the door behind her, she brought out
her phone and dialled Bode’s number, it rang but there was no answer.

*********

Susan arrived home at the end of day, still shaken over the
message she had received at the office, who had sent the message? She asked
herself. As soon as she had seen the message, she had quickly taken the paper
and pushed it into her bag and she had rushed downstairs to dispose the knife
in the garbage bin downstairs. All through work she had tried to act like her
normal self but had found that she had been unnerved by the message she had received.
She tried to recall what had happened after she had left Tom in his car and her
mind kept telling her that she had been careful to avoid suspicions to herself
that night.
After stabbing Tom, Susan had hurried off into the night and
had walked a long distance before getting a taxi, she recalled looking back to
see if anyone was on her trail but she had seen no one till she had gotten into
the taxi and left the area.
As she climbed up the stairs and reached her mini apartment,
she breathed deeply and placing the key into her keyhole, she turned open the
lock. Susan opened the door to her apartment and her fingers searched the wall
for the light switch, she turned it on and a scream escaped her mouth.
Boldly written on her walls in red paint were the words;
“You killed Engr. Thomas John! MURDERER!”

She quickly rushed into her room and shut the door behind
her and crouching to her knees, Susan buried her face in her palms and cried.

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