“Man,this life is not going the way i planned at all”
I mutter indistinctly to the mirror,hastily knotting my tie in the process. I’m already several minutes late for work and honestly,nothing else can go wrong today – Nothing.
I thought being a lawyer was living the dream. Right now, I’m struggling under the weight of everything, keeping my job for one, with this their one kain salary sef – but it’s either this or nothing. I don’t even want to start taxing my family, college education was expensive and they’ve tried for me abeg.
“Chike, you can do this”
I rise to full length in the mirror and dash for my keys,just as my phone starts ringing. In a hurry, I firmly press it to my ear, holding it up with my left shoulder as I jostle to lock up my apartment. I’m in a hurry.
“Guy, Wassop na? Been trying to reach you since, you just went awol on us, wetin happen na? ”
Bayo’s baritone comes on over the phone.
So, somehow, I got myself entangled with one small group of Lagos big boys like that – scratch that, Lagos privileged kids and all they know about me is what I let them know, which in itself is not much. So, Bayo doesn’t know I’m broke right now, salary is late and I don’t ball with these boys when I’m not holding bar – who wants to be the one that can’t splurge 200k at a go, in the club. Man, this is Lagos o! To be a big boy, you have to do what big boys do, even if it means you’ll soak garri the remaining days of the month because you spent your salary in one night.
Anyway, I begin to stutter over the phone.
“Guy, you no go understand o. My client died sef, I’ve been so busy with the running around and everything… ”
My client did not die, first of all, and my landlady is eyeing me from upstairs, and I don’t mean it in a good way. But Wetin I do this woman sef? There’s this scowl on her face that seems to say – this boy just fine for nothing. I know I’m owing rent abeg but make this woman stop monitoring me na.
Bayo didn’t let me finish.
“I get case for you o. This might be the biggest case of your life. You want? ”
” Talk now!”
I reply hastily, ears fully turned up in excitement as I dump my briefcase on the front passenger seat of my venza – the only property I’ve been able to pay for in full. Now, my hand is free to hold the phone and I glance around. Landlady is still watching me – the evil witch. I ignore her and motion to the gateman that I’m about to drive off.
“Wo! Adamu! Ma si ilekun yen! I’m coming for you! ”
Landlady screeched from upstairs,the heavy thud of her footsteps followed quite soon after as she came downstairs in rage.
” Omo Ina! Ko si rent this month ni? You no Wan pay bah? But you de carry big phone, buy big car, big boy for mouth! Na you carry me come Lagos…? ”
She was getting quite noisy and I knew a few ears were turned up behind their closed curtains to listen to the embarrassment of “that barrister”.
“See,bayo. Lemme call you back, ok? ”
I whisper hurriedly into my phone and hung up, praying bayo didn’t hear anything. God forbid he finds out i live in a rented apartment. Mba kwa!
” Ejoor, mummy! Shey I told you I’ll pay Na. Am I running away? You know this recession is affecting us at the office too… But is that why you told Adamu not to open gate for me…? ”
This Yoruba woman was having none of my excuses this morning. In fact, by the time i escaped from her grip,she had succeeded in embarrassing me before all the neighbors and to top it, I knew to expect a query at the office. I already missed my first court appearance for the day. God abeg, make dem no cut my salary.
I had a really bad night and Chike is making it worse for me. This igbo boy is so unreliable. I just made a fool of myself appearing in court alone,everything i had prepared was with him to go over and he didn’t even pick up his calls.
I let out another hiss as i caught the query on my desk. If not that I need this job to keep mind and soul together… I mean, if it were back in the day, would I be doing this? Working nearly 15 hours a day, for how much sef.
Anyway, like I said. Yesterday was horrible, really horrible. Kike was all like, hurry home, I have a guest bla bla, come and cook bla bla. Man, I’m just coping with this girl because her father is rich and I can’t afford to pay the rent on my own. Lekki is not a joke, and yes! I must live on the island.
That was how I took some silly excuse and was let off early. I mean, if I had known,i for just kuku do some overtime work. Who visitor epp?
I just finished cooking and was headed for a bath, before I start smelling like peppersoup in front of kike’s guest. I wondered who it was. A new chyker I hadn’t heard about?
“Faweh! Hurry o, my cousin is here.”
She called from the parlor. Na her work be that Na, to sit down in the parlor shouting my name as the maid that I am now. It’s not even as if she’s paying a higher percentage of the rent o, everything’s shared equally. It’s just that she can’t cook -these privileged kids be doing the most.
I wiped my wet hands on the apron and hurried out, who knows, the cousin might just be my missing rib.
“Faweh,meet my cousin,Olumide. Mide,faweh. My flat mate”
I really do not know where to start. How exactly did i get into this mess?
Guys, has a one night stand ever turned around to bite you in the ass? I mean,it was pay for hire anyway,but then.
I managed a smile, an uneasy one,dusting my hand again on my jeans back pocket and stretching out for a handshake.
He looked at me with derision. Laughter tugging at the side of his lips, but took my hand anyway, acting like he didn’t know me.
Kike would just kill me if she knew and that life is far behind me, I don’t need my past hunting me right now.
“Why not y’all take a seat, lemme serve dinner, eh? ”
I was in a hurry to leave the room, and as if Mide knew, he put on that his smile again.
” Ehh, Kikelomo chill here now, lemme see what your flatmate cooked, you’ve been bragging about her food since, lemme go and see it, and prolly check out the cheap wines in your fridge”
He bursts into laughter and Kike joins in. I roll my eyes and head to the kitchen , not seeing what’s funny.
He’s hot on my heels.
For the first five minutes, the kitchen was quiet save for the sound of cooking spoon on plates.
“Does she know? ”
His voice is barely a whisper. I shake my head, I hear his sigh of relief.
” Good. ‘Cos really, I don’t want her thinking I sleep around with escorts… ”
” Mide, I’m a barrister now, that life is… ”
He starts laughing again, so hard that the sides of his eyes are wrinkling up. This boy is fine Sha, but Nahh. That life? I’m over it.
” My 50k doesn’t agree with you. Once a hoe, always a hoe. But you’re smart, you knew who I was then, you know our family’s standing in the society, that’s why you’re leeching onto my cousin. You smart, girl. I hope you’ve not dragged her into all that nonsense you’re doing”
I’m trying really hard to keep my temper in check. What will i not hear from rich people?
“Honestly, I didn’t know you’re a Bode-Thomas.
Hell,i didn’t even know your real name is mide. For some of us, not everything is handed down by daddy dearest, school fees have to be paid somehow and a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do. So, get off your high horse and stop judging me. Like I said, I’m a barrister now. I work for my keep and I’m doing just fine… ”
He chuckles. The smile is gone from his face, I see he’s not used to being told off.
” I’m guessing it’s my cousin that gave you that Job, or did you get it working on your knees for one Alhaji? . You know, living in this big, fine house, feeling like one island babe, when it’s my cousin who called in a favour from daddy dearest… ”
He did the quote sign with his fingers, when he said daddy dearest.
” You know what? take your food. There’s some Carlo rossi in the fridge, take that also and get the hell out of my sight”
I shove his plate at him and he grabs it in time.
“Take this one too, it’s for Kike. I think I lost my appetite. Can I pass now? ”
He’s been standing at the doorway since he entered.
The room is still and he studies me quietly. Then, that whisper voice comes up again.
” Faweh! Is that your real name? Or short for something, perhaps? Anyway, here’s something you’ll do for me apart from getting on your knees obviously ”
He chuckles again. I wish I could kill him.
” I need you to leave my cousin alone, move out. Go to one boys quarters on the mainland. Hell, I’ll even pay for it. I just don’t want you anywhere near my cousin. You see, that girl is my baby, I don’t need you spoiling her for me”
I roll my eyes, if only he knew.
“You see, here’s the bad part. This house, my name’s on the tenancy document. I pay half of everything here. So if you’re not comfortable with me around, you might as well pick up your baby and get a damn house for her, because I’m going nowhere. Actually, I think you’re the one who needs to leave,like right now. Get out of my house! ”
“What’s going on here, guys? ”
Kike was at the doorway, I didn’t even hear her enter.