Sunday, 14 February 2016

Masked - A short story by Fisayo Talabi

He was the first to break away from their embrace. He had just dropped her at the front of her house that evening. They had gone to a mutual friend’s birthday party at a restaurant in Ikeja. She had handled the décor. That was what she now did full time for a living. She had only just resigned from her job at a real estate firm two weeks ago.

He hadn't been happy about it and he felt she had disrespected him by going ahead with the resignation despite his instructions precluding her from so doing. She had complained about how unfulfilled she was at the firm but he would have none of it. His wife was not going to some lazy graduate who hid under the cloak of party vendor slash event planner.
Dunni had felt disrespected too. She felt Jide was not sensitive to her passion and her dream.

“Are you still upset?” Dunni asked her fiancé. He had refused to come inside her house.

“About what?” Jide responded.

“It’s been almost two weeks babe. Let’s move past this abet. I miss you already. I miss the bae in you.” She smiled and made that puppy face he usually could not resist.

He sighed and then looked at her.

“You know my stand on this. Dunni you schooled abroad for God’s sake. How can you throw all that away for some temporary passion of decorating halls? That is a hobby. It is…immature. I don’t think you realize that our wedding is in five weeks. This was the wrong time to resign. Oh wait….you think because I work with an oil company that solves all our finances?”

He saw her facial and body expression translate negatively as soon as he uttered the last sentence.

“I’m sorry babe. You know I didn’t mean it that way.” Jide said, trying to pull her close. She released herself from his hold and reached for the door knob.

“I think we should call it a day.” She said and walked into her flat.

The time was 10.35pm and her phone was still ringing. It had been three hours since she had walked out on Jide. She had switched off the phone when it wouldn’t stop ringing. The moment she switched it back on, his calls started to crowd through.

She heard the sound of the door being opened and she knew her sister was back. Feyisara was her elder sister (by one year and three months). She was the one who seemed to have all the answers to Dunni’s life questions.
“You’re still up?” Feyisara asked, sighting Dunni crouched in the large beanbag in the living room. The girls shared the  flat at Oniru. Technically though, Dunni had been the one who had moved in with her sister. The family house was all the way at Ikeja GRA and her office had been right at Adetokunbo Ademola. The hustle of waking up at 4.30am every day to meet an 8am job was certainly avoidable.

“I am. Where are you coming from?” Dunni asked, sizing her up. “And that’s my Steve Madden I see on your feet.” She raised an already arched eyebrow.

“Well, what were your shoes doing in my room?” Feyisara retorted, sticking out her tongue.

“Okay okay I was going to wear it with your green dress but then I changed my mind so iI must have forgotten the shoes at your room. Jide was already here and was hurrying me up.”

“How’s he by the way?” Feyisara asked.

Dunni’s phone started to ring again and when she hissed, Feyisara picked it up despite Dunni shaking her head against the idea.

“What’s the problem? Why don't you want to speak with him?” She asked after she ended the call. She had lied and told Jide that her sister was asleep.

Dunni narrated the whole situation to her. Even their parents were still unaware that Dunni had resigned from the firm. She knew her father would be particularly angry because he had dreams for her to start her own real estate and property development firm.

“I think he is just upset because you did what he asked you not to. You know how guys are with the whole ego thingy.” Feyisara said.

Dunni shook her head.

“Does he really think I'm with him because of his stupid oil money? I shouldn't be doing this but he is even lucky to be marrying me. I know the kind of family I come from nah!”

Feyisara laughed. “Eh hen….preach it girl! Does he know who your sister is? He hasn’t heard that the one and only Feyisara Harold is your sister! In this Lagos!”

Dunni burst out laughing as she flung a throw pillow in her sister’s face.

“I brought take away from my date. Care for?” Feyisara asked.

“I pity this man on your matter.” Dunni shook her head, taking the carrier bag from her.

“Girl, you should pity me! I paid. Dude is broke. Imagine he told me he has not done his Bvn and couldn’t pay with his card or withdraw from the ATM. This is my first and last date with him ever. I should kill Nkiru for hooking me up with him.”

Dunni fell off the bean bag laughing at her sister.

“Some of you have real men and you’re there forming angry because he asked you not to do something. Do you want to exchange places with me? He isn't cheating on you and he is so well behaved and smart. Dunni I swear you are not serious.”

She smiled. She did love Jide. Who wouldn’t? He was really a great guy who knew what he wanted from life and one trait that had attracted her to him in their two years together was that he never let being a past deputy governor’s son get to his head. In fact it was until Dunni met his parents before she realized who they were.

Maybe things were not so bad after all she was marrying the man in a few weeks. She couldn't always have her way and she definitely had to compromise sometimes.

The next morning was a Saturday. And  when she opened her eyes at 7.51am, she saw him sitting at the edge of her bed. She sat upright immediately.

“Jide.” She said, her face puzzled.

He looked at her and leaned closer.

“Good morning baby.” He said, smiling.

“Morning.” She replied. “What are you doing here at this time? Shouldn't you be jogging or walking your dogs or something?”

“You know my Saturday morning routine already.” He laughed.

She shrugged, climbing out of bed. He pulled her closer to him by the hand and got her to sit in his lap.

“I'm sorry for yesterday. I really am.” He apologized.

“It's okay. I'm sorry too. I understand you were upset.” She said.


“Okay darling. Tell your husband to call me this afternoon, okay. His dad says he has some business to discuss with him.” Jide’s mother said over the phone. “By the way has the asoebi vendor contacted you yet? She said mint green gele is better than the lemon green we chose earlier.”

“Oh okay mum. She called me but I was busy so I told her I would call her later.” Dunni responded.

“Okay my dear. Odabo. (Bye)”

“Bye ma.”

She dried her wet hands with a piece of kitchen towel then turned off the gas cooker. She had been cooking lunch before Jide’s mother called.

“Baby!” She called out as she walked into his bedroom. He was brushing his hair.

“Going out?” She asked.

“Yeah. Chidi is on his way here but he missed a turn so I need to go get him.” Chidi was Jide's work colleague cum good friend.

“Oh okay. Umm….I hope he likes my pasta and corned beef sauce because that's what I made for lunch.” Dunni said.

Jide smiled, pulling her into his arms.

“Thanks dear. We will manage that.” He winked and dashed out of his flat before she could tell him that his mother had called.

In about ten minutes, she heard their thick deep baritones in the lobby. She had just served the meals in plates.

“Chidi! How are you? It's been a long while, you know.” Dunni said, approaching their guest.

Chidi attempted lifting Dunni in his arms. Almost everyone did that. Dunni was a petite girl, although she had all the curves and roundness a man could want.

“Am I permitted?” Chidi asked Jide who was shaking his head aggressively.

Dunni and Chidi burst out laughing.
“You too love o!” Chidi teased.

“So how is Ginika?” Ginika was Chidi’s lawyer girlfriend.

“She is great. She had to be at work today.” He replied.

“Wow. Anyway, I hope I will be seeing her at the wedding.” Dunni said.

“Definitely! No choice. If she doesn't come tell her I will be mad at her.” Jide said.

Chidi laughed.

“Yeah. She definitely well. Guys, I really need your help though. Especially you, Dunni.” He said.

“What's up?”

“Well, you know it's been like three years me and Gini have been together…” He started. Dunni interjected.

“Oh my Gosh! OMG! He wants to pop the question! Yay!” She said, thrilled and excited.

Chidi laughed again.

“Yeah. I want to propose this Valentine's Weekend. She really doesn't have a clue. I told her I will be traveling to Port Harcourt.”

Jide laughed.

“Why are you laughing?” Dunni eyeballed him.

Jide held his stomach, laughing and pointing at her.

“This one. She had no idea. She was already fighting with me that I wasn't serious with her. I showed up at her dentist appointment. The dentist is my friend so I planned with him. When she got into the exam room I was dressed in the dentist’s coat. She was so blown out of her mind! She peed on herself!” Tears were streaming down his face.

Chidi covered his mouth as he joined in the laughter.

Dunni shook her head. Jide had promised not to mention it to anyone that she had actually peed on herself.

“Well done.” She hissed.

“Come on, take a joke.” Jide said, poking her.

“Chidi…so what's your plan jare. How do you want to go about it?” She asked.

“That's the thing. I don't know.”

“You are so lucky. I can plan this for you.” She said.

“Um…I don't mean any disrespect but I want a professional to handle the planning….I want it to be over the top. She deserves it.” He said.

Jide nodded in approval.

“I am a professional, Chidi.”

“Can you commit to this? I know your job is demanding.”

“This is my job now. I quit working with the firm and I now do events and décor full time.” She said.

“Wow! How's that coming? That's so brave of you!” Chidi said.

“Honey, I'm getting hungry. Please bring the food now.” Jide said, taking a seat.

“Give me a second babe. Chidi, I can show you photos of events I have planned. I recently did my dad’s friend’s 60th and it was amaze balls. I have even done weddings and bridal showers.” She reached for her iPad and opened her gallery. Chidi was actually impressed.

“I like these! I like this other one… I want some purple though. That's Gini’s best color. And how do we do the planning and concept?....and give me discount o because your work is so good. I know it can't be cheap….”

Dunni laughed.

“Feed your eyes. Let me go and serve the food. Will be back. And catch up with Jide before he gets jealous.” She said, walking into the kitchen.


“Oh my God your dress is perfect!” Feyisara caught her breath, gasping in awe as her sister tried on her wedding dress. Their cousin had just arrived Lagos and she had brought it with her. It was even better than what Dunni had seen in the pictures when she had ordered it. She was dying to take a picture and send it to Jide but she knew it was bad luck.

“It's so beautiful.” Dunni admitted.

“Jide is so lucky. He's marrying my fine sister.” Feyisara said. The girls chuckled.

“How is your business coming?”

“Feyisara it's not as easy as I thought o. But I am really glad I am giving it full attention. Jide's friend is planning a proposal for his girl this Valentine's Day and I have everything ready except for the flowers I ordered. I just hope this won't flop. For one Jide will have every reason to mock me.”

“Have some faith girl. Everything will work out fine, okay?” Her sister said.

Dunni smiled, nodding.

“So I got the pre wedding photos today. And they are already on Bella and all over Instagram.” Dunni said.

“Awwww let me see!”  Feyisara rushed to her sister’s side.

Dunni opened the photos on her iPad showed her.

“They are so lovely!!! Let me see comments! Aww people have started tapping into your anointing hahahahah!”


February 14th.

It was Valentine’s Day. Jide had planned that they would attend Chidi’s event and afterwards, they would go to a restaurant and have dinner together.

She had gotten dressed in a yellow shift dress and brown ankle strap heels. Jide had said he would meet her at the venue because he had to tidy up some business with some of his the board members in one of their family businesses. She looked at herself in the mirror as she brushed her weave and wore perfume. The gift she had gotten him was on the dresser. A Christian Dior wristwatch. She placed the wrapped box in her tote bag and then headed out.

Feyisara had been right. The flowers had come just at the edge of time. As she walked into the venue, her heart raced a bit. It wasn't anxiety. It was more of satisfaction. She liked what she had pulled off. She smiled as she saw people taking photos of the décor.

Ginika would be brought in by her best friend who had just landed in Lagos. This would be in the guise that they were having dinner together and catching up on old times. The guests who were largely her closest friends and relatives would all be dressed in masks. In the midst of everything, Chidi would appear with the ring and pop the question.

Everyone was still chatting and getting along. Ginika’s friend was still stuck in some traffic. Dunni spotted Chidi and walked up to him.

“Hey groom to be.” She hugged him.

He smiled. She could tell he was nervous.

“This is really beautiful by the way. I love it. You are definitely doing the wedding….that's if she says yes first.” He laughed.

“Come on. Relax, okay?” Dunni said.

“Hey guys.”

Dunni turned around. She recognized her finance’s voice. She reached out to hug him.

“How was the meeting?” She asked.

“Fine fine. You look good.” He said then turned to Chidi.

“My guy! See as you serious.” He laughed. Chidi laughed too.

Chidi excused himself leaving the couple together.

“So… What do you think?” Dunni asked.

“About what? Your outfit? I already said you look good.” He said, sipping on his drink.

“Jide I mean the décor.”
He raised his brows.

“Oh…it isn't bad. That wasn't the first thing I saw when I walked in. I'm sorry. You know I just left a business meeting and I was still thinking of all the things we discussed….”

Dunni shook her head.

“Why do you do this, Jide?” She said.

“Do what?”

“You know…why do you put me down? You don't think I can be successful as an event planner and decorator because I quit the real estate job?”

“Babe, you are having these thoughts because you have too much idle time on your hands. We never had as many issues when you had a job.” He said, keeping his voice low.

“What? Did you just say that to me?”

“Dunni please, I don't have time for this okay.”

She laughed.

“You just can't support me. You resent me for what I do now. Even Chidi said my work was lovely. And my darling husband did not even notice.”

He bowed his head a little. People were beginning to stare.

“Keep your voice low please.” He said.

“I'm going to meet Chidi. I can't have this negativity around me tonight. After he proposes I'm going home.” She said and turned to walk away.

“Dunni don't walk out on me.” He whispered but she ignored him.

He hurried towards her and pulled her arm.

“Leave me alone, Jide!” She said.

“Don't walk out on me. You know that's disrespectful.” He said.

“Really? Watch me.” She turned but before she walked, he had done it.

Jide raised his hand and hit her hard in the face, making her stagger to the floor. By then, it was too late to avoid people's attention. Everyone had seen what happened.

Her phone rang. It was Ginika's friend calling to inform her that they were walking in. With her hand to her face, she stood up in the midst of all the stares and brewing gossip and some snap shots and announced for everyone to wear their mask.

As soon as they walked in, Dunni grabbed her purse and walked out.

“Baby! Dunni!” Jide ran after her.

She increased her pace as she walked to the parking lot. She was confused for a bit. She had come in a taxi because Jide and her were supposed to have dinner after the proposal. She brought out her phone to call a taxi but Jide grabbed her hand.

Tears streamed down her face as she looked at him. She did not blame him and she knew it wasn't his fault. She blamed herself because the first time he had hit her, she had let it go. The second time, he claimed she had provoked him. The third, he had promised he would never disrespect her like that ever again.

This night was the fourth time in their two year relationship. She was hurt, especially because she had told her mother about it, but because the wedding was already in view and the orders for the asooke and and asoebis were already placed, her mother had told her that it was normal behavior for a man, especially one who was surrounded with wedding tension.

The wedding was weeks away but she knew deep within her heart that she could not do this anymore. Slowly, she took off her mask….the one from Ginika and Chidi’s party. She had still been wearing it when she walked out of the hall. The mask blinded her and interrupted the tears that paved way for clearer vision.

“I cannot do this anymore, Jide.” She whispered.

“Baby can't. I said I am sorry. Stop overreacting….”

She laughed.

“I am over reacting?” She said, taking off her one carat diamond ring from her finger. She looked at it and handed it to him but then, she retrieved it.

“I won't return the ring. It’s a dividend of my investment in this thing you call a relationship.” She said.

“I know you’ll get over this. I am sorry I hit you in front of everyone. You pushed me. You disrespected me.” He said. “Please babe. What will our parents think….please just calm down.”
“Parents? Jide I am done! I am not going to be your wife. Funny enough, I was thinking of something to get myself for Valentine's Day. I think this is the best thing I can do for me. You are not the kind of man I want to marry. You don't support my dreams or believe in me. Above all, you do not respect me. I am sorry but I just can not go on with this.” She said.

She heaved a sigh and dropped the mask on the floor, along with all the baggage she carried on her chest from the relationship. Even if it did not seem the logical thing to do, she knew she had to walk away. As Ginika begun a new journey inside the hall, accepting to marry Chidi on Valentine's Day, she also begun a new journey of accepting to find her identity and live in the true happiness she knew she deserved. One that was not with this handsome, rich and everything a woman wants kind of man named Babajide.

February 14th...

The day had started as valentine but had ended in valediction for her.

*happy Valentine's Day!


photo credit

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  1. First to comment. I deserve a gift. Happy Valentine Fisayo......
    Lovely post as always

  2. What a nice write up. Keep it up.

  3. This is really nice. Weird laziness has been my reason for not dropping comments but I couldn't let this go. Amazing story.

  4. Whoops! Just when I was envying dunni.