“You have been smiling and staring into your phone for the past ten minutes, Tee. Are you listening to anything I am saying?” Enitan said. She sat in one of the two grey colored swivel chairs that faced Torera’s desk.
“Huh?” Torera looked up. “I am listening now. You said you’ve been invited to speak at a conference in Abuja.”
Enitan raised a brow.
“What conference?” She said.
Torera raised her shoulders, rolling her eyes.
“The business conference.” She said.
“Yeah right.” Enitan hissed.
“I am paying attention.” Torera smiled.
Her phone beeped again and she shifted her focus to it. She burst out laughing and shaking her head.
“What is making you laugh?” Enitan asked, clearly annoyed.
Torera continued to laugh.
“It’s nothing o.” She smiled.
Enitan eyeballed her.
“They are toasting you and you are laughing and blushing like an idiot. Who is the new son of Adam?”
Torera blushed one more time.
“Nobody is toasting anybody. I am just having a conversation with a special someone.” She grinned.
Enitan pursed her lips and looked at her cousin who was in flames from an obvious crush or fondness.
“You won’t tell me?” Enitan asked again.
Torera looked at her.
“Mind your business this girl. Don’t you have push-ups or squats to teach today at your gym?”
Enitan let out a little laughter.
“No wahala.” She said and picked up her yellow purse from Torera’s desk, grabbing the metallic handle.
“I’m leaving. I am going to teach my push-ups and squats.” She said.
“Are you now taking it personal?” She said.
“No o. Personal ke? I should mind my business really. It’s your private life.” Enitan said. “At least come see me off. Abi you can’t drop your phone to see me off again?”
Torera sighed and got up.
“You need Jesus.” She said.
“Oh I have Jesus baby.” Enitan rolled her eyes.
Torera shook her head.
“What’s this on your forehead?” Enitan said, frowning. She squeezed her eyes and pointed at Torera's head.
“Forehead? What?” Torera tried to touch her head searching for a zit.
“Let me help you.”
Enitan walked towards Torera. “Put your hands down let me help you.”
Torera put her phone on the desk and shifted backwards a little for Enitan.
Enitan hurriedly grabbed the phone and ran into the bathroom in the office, locking the door immediately.
“Open the door! Enitan give me my phone!” Torera yelled.
“My God! Enitan when will you grow up! Who does this?!” Torera continued to yell.
Enitan scrolled through the phone. It was still unlocked. She opened Torera’s Whatsapp messages and checked her most recent chat.
She had been chatting with Ayo Williams.
Torera stopped hitting the door and went back to her chair. She really did not want to have this conversation with Enitan. She just wanted to be left alone to enjoy the moment. She picked up the fountain pen on her desk and played with it, biting her lip.
The door of the bathroom creaked open and Enitan slowly walked out. She held Torera’s phone and dropped it on the desk. Enitan sat on it right in front of her cousin and crossed her legs. She stared at Torera. Torera didn’t look up. When she couldn’t take it anymore, Torera looked up.
“What?” Torera said finally.
Enitan raised a brow.
“Really? You’re asking me What?”
“What do you wanna say? You’ve read the chat and you’ve seen why I was distracted. Happy now?” She said.
“Tee you know this man is married right?”
“Abeg don’t lecture me.”
“I am serious. He is married and you know this.”
“You know I met him first, right? You know we dated for a long time.” Torera became defensive suddenly.
“Yes. I am not disputing that. But what is this really? You’re telling him you’re bored and he’s telling you to think of him chasing you. Like seriously?” Enitan said.
“Why are you taking this so serious? He is having issues with Muna. See, they say what is yours will truly come back to you eventually no matter what.” Torera said.
“He is not yours. You are smarter than that!” Enitan yelled.
“He makes me happy! I still like him, okay! Is that my fault?”
Enitan shook her head.
“See ehn, Torera, there is almost nothing I haven’t done in this life. I know I am not anywhere close to being a saint, but on this issue of married men, I have been there and I have done that. Trust me it ain’t pretty.”
Torera looked at her.
“I am serious.” Enitan continued. “It’s nothing but wickedness to wrap another woman’s husband round your fingers. I know it could be thrilling and exciting but there’s nothing to it. And I know Muna is a prayerful woman. You don’t wanna be the target of her prayers, Tee.” Enitan laughed.
“What are you saying?” Torera said.
“You know what I’m saying.”
Torera’s phone rang. It was Ayo. Enitan saw the caller i.d. She sighed and looked at Torera.
“Are you gonna cut this off or what? Do you want to be hurt again?” Enitan said.
“I’m not…I’m just…I know what I’m doing.” Torera said. “I am happy. And I know he takes me seriously. He regrets marrying her.”
“Is he going to leave his kids for you too?”
The phone continued to ring.
Torera sighed and picked it up. She pressed the green button and answered it.
“Hey.” Her voice was a little croaky. She took in successive quick breaths.
“Hey Chickles. What’s up? You took a while to reply my message.” Ayo said.
Torera smiled weakly. She looked at Enitan then rested her gaze into empty space, looking at everything but seeing nothing.
“I was um…attending to someone.” She responded.
“You good? You don’t sound too good.” He said.
Torera shut her eyes. This man loved her. He noticed the slight drop in the pitch of her voice.
“I am.” She said.
“Do you need anything?” Ayo asked.
‘Uh…why does he have to be so good?!’ Torera thought.
“Nah.” She said.
“Did I do something wrong? Did someone get you upset at work?” He said.
Torera exhaled again. The room suddenly started to feel hot.
“I’m just tired I guess.” She replied.
Of course she was tired.
Tired of falling prey to the flip side of love.
Tired of falling prey to the flip side of love.
“You know what? I’ll pick you up. We’ll go see Captain America at the cinema."
“Err…I don’t know…” She stuttered, running her right hand through her twists. Enitan looked at her and shook her head.
“I insist. I really don’t want to go home. Muna is making the place uncomfortable for me. And I think I should let you know that I surprisingly only get happy when I spend time with you. That must count for something I think.” Ayo said.
Torera felt that familiar hot flash on her face. Her heart pounded with some extra acceleration.
‘Why does he have to be so good?’
“I’ll come pick you up from the office since you’re tired. We’ll drive back to your office later to pick your car.” He continued.
“Okay.” She whispered, even though she shook her head to mean No.
“Stay beautiful and see you soon Chickles." He laughed. She knew he was flirting. Or maybe he meant it.
Torera ended the call and turned a 360 to face Enitan who was still sitting on the office desk. She bit her lower lip. She always did that when she was nervous. Enitan turned to look at her.
“Let me guess. He asked you to go somewhere with him and you did not refuse.” Enitan said.
“Um…it’s just to see a movie.” She replied. She walked closer to Enitan. “See, you don’t understand. Muna was a wrong choice. He doesn’t love her as much and it’s only a matter of time…”
“Yet he chose to marry her and not you. He did not look for you to marry you.” Enitan cut her short.
Torera raised her hands in the air. She was getting upset already.
“You know what? Just leave me alone, okay? Go sort out yours and leave mine alone. You clearly have more issues than I have.” Torera blurted out.
Enitan was quiet. She smiled. She grabbed her purse and walked away.
“You’re very stupid. I just hope you won’t be so dumb as to open your legs for this one too since that is your specialty these days.” She said. "I thought you were the better Christian here. Doesn't your pastor tell you to keep off married men?"
Torera turned to her immediately and raised her hand to slap her. Enitan caught her hand mid way and held it.
“Ehn? If I hear? O le try e! (You can't try it) You want to slap me.” She laughed. She finally let go of her hand when her grip became too strong.
“When you have come back to your senses, let me know.” Enitan said and walked out the door.
Torera hissed and caught her breath at the same time. She grabbed one of the swivel chairs and sat in it. She looked at the clock on her desk; the one beside the Chevron calendar. In a few hours, Ayo would be in her office.
The Mtn number you are trying to call is currently switched off. Please try again later.
Muna hissed. She threw the phone on the bed and screamed. She had dropped the kids off at Ayo’s sister's over the weekend so they could spend some time with their cousins.
She was tired of praying and saying more prayers. Yes, she knew it all. When your husband seems to be going astray, pray him back into the marriage. But she had done that and nothing was changing.
The night before, she had picked up Ayo’s phone again while he was taking a bath. It was a habit and she was becoming addicted to snooping. Her heart literally skipped several beats when the usual 6-8-6-2-2-4 password did not unlock his phone. His password consisted of the numbers that spelt her name. She tried it a second and a third time but no luck still. He had changed the password! And that confirmed her suspicion. She couldn’t confront him over it. He came out of the bathroom, changed into his sleeping shorts, held his phone for a few minutes, and said good night. The next morning, Muna decided she would confront him. So when he finished dressing up for work, she opened her mouth and said it bluntly.
“Enjoy your day and don’t bring home an STD.”
Ayo stopped what he was doing immediately and flashed her a look. She knew she had crushed him in his spirit. He was going to respond but he decided against it and stayed mute. And that was what she hated the most! He never argued with her no matter what she said to hurt him. He shook his head, grabbed his blazer and left. She started to cry again. She knew it had to be Torera. Why was this woman trying to break her home? She didn't want to ridicule herself to the extent of confronting Torera.
She picked up her Bible…specifically the King James Version and started to pray and speak in tongues, cursing whoever was trying to tear her home. She finished with the relevant Psalms and headed to Proverbs. She stopped at Chapter 1 verse 14.
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
“God what am I doing wrong?” She said, staring into the ceiling. She closed the Bible and sat on the floor.
“Is this what I prayed for? Is this why I prayed for him to be healed, ehn God?” She started to cry again. “Did I pray for him to survive so that another woman can take him from me?”
Her phone started to ring. It was Ugochi. Finally.
“Where have you been? I’ve been calling you and your phone has been switched off.” Muna yelled.
“Calm down na. Wetin dey do you.” Ugochi replied.
“I need to talk. I’m going crazy.” Muna said.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“No I’m not.” Muna cried.
“Okay I’m turning into the street already I’ll soon be home.” Ugochi said.
Ugochi sat on the bed as she listened to everything her sister had to say. Muna was crying and looking like a huge mess.
“Can I talk?” Ugochi said.
Muna nodded, wiping tears and mucus with the back of her hand. Her face was tomato red and her eyes were blood shot.
“Yeah sure.” She winced.
Ugochi walked towards her and stood akimbo.
“I’m sorry but if I were your husband I would cheat too.” She said.
Muna looked up at her sister immediately. She was shocked.
“What?” Muna asked with the horrified look on her face.
“Yes now. Look at you, crying over a man who is having fun around town although to be honest I doubt that he is cheating. He may just be busy. And you’re always disrespecting him…sometimes even in my presence and I have to walk away when I see its becoming awkward.” Ugochi said.
“What are you saying?”
“I mean…see, you practically have let yourself go. I can’t find my hot oyinbo sister. You look so drab and just one kind sha.”
Muna frowned. She looked at herself and looked at her sister again.
“What’s wrong with me?”
“You are too comfortable. Every time hairnet and wrapper. Sometimes baby vomit smell will just be following you like village winch. Na you first born? Thank God the kids are older now but really, you look like Ayo’s aunty. Take care of yourself.”
Muna raised her hand in confusion, shaking her head.
“Will that make him stop cheating? What if he doesn’t love me anymore? Ugochi I am just tired.”
“You want to divorce him or what?”
Muna shook her head without a thought.
“I still love him.” She sighed. “But I don’t know. I think maybe he has it at the back of his mind that I’ve been raped before and I don’t know…”
“See, you need to try to look good and take care of yourself for you now, not even for him. You have to love yourself first and then he will love you…or add to the love he already has for you.”
“So what do I do? I love myself.”
Ugochi shook her head.
“We are going out. I am free today. Just go and take your bath. I am taking you to the spa let them even wax all that bush you are keeping. How will the man want to touch you na when you are keeping team natural down below.”
Muna eyeballed her sister.
“Ehn…don’t insult me biko.”
“Just go and bathe please. We are going to have fun today. You are going to find your identity again.”
Muna stood in the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. She was naked. She looked at her breasts. Olympus had fallen. She had breastfed three children and nature had started to tell. She looked at her stomach and the little Caesarian section scars were slightly visible. She hadn’t made her hair in such a long time. Even for Jason’s birthday, she had worn a wig. She knew Ugochi was right. She wanted to look good for her husband but more importantly, she wanted to feel good and find her self-esteem again.
They had spent some time at the hair salon and Muna got her hair and nails done. She wanted the conventional red nails but Ugochi forced her to have something different and catchy so she settled for Neon green with little bows and tuxedo nail art. After they left the salon, they headed to a spa and Muna finally got her wax after serial pleadings and assurances that it wouldn't hurt too much. Ugochi threatened to take photos and snapchat them and Muna didn’t have a choice but to bribe her sister.
“What do you want?” Muna laughed as Ugochi kept bringing out her phone and setting the camera on Muna.
“Hmm…let me think. I want those two blue shoes in your closet.”
“No way man.” Muna laughed.
“Okay, okay. You never wear them anyway except when you want pictures. Just buy my ticket let’s go see a movie.”
“That’s fair. What movie?”
“Um…I think Captain America is showing tonight.”
“Alright then. No wahala. It’s a little token and appreciation for all you’ve done today. I feel so beautiful.” Muna smiled.
“Yes you are beautiful.” Ugochi said. Muna was wearing a khaki green jumpsuit and nude strappy heels. “And thank me for helping you choose a good bra.”
“I love you sis.” She said.
“Awwww now you gonna make me cry.” Ugochi moved closer and hugged her sister.
“Now let’s go to get our makeup done and then we head to the Palms.” Muna said, giddy.
Ugochi parked the Toyota in the car park at Palms, cursing the staff who had given an orange colored round ticket and told her she would have to pay if she exceeded staying for thirty minutes.
“This is cheating I swear.” Ugochi said. “What if the film no sweet. I’ll waste ticket money and parking money.”
Muna shook her head.
“Am I not the one paying for the movie and the parking? I’m not complaining.” She said.
Ugochi said something in Ibo and Muna laughed. They walked into the mall and Muna started to get a few stares. She liked it. She felt beautiful. She started to catwalk consciously. Ugochi laughed at her.
“I’m craving shawarma tonight. I’m tired of popcorn.” Torera said, looking at Ayo.
“I need to get my dose of Hans and Rene downstairs after the movie. I have missed it.” He said.
They headed towards the VIP screen.
“Have I told you how pretty you look?” Ayo whispered in her ear.
Torera blushed. How could Enitan think this was not the man for her?
His wallet fell from his hand as he tried to put his phone in his pocket. He turned to pick it up and then their eyes met.
His and Munachi’s.
She froze on the spot literally. Her mouth was wide open. Ugochi was also shocked. She held her sister’s hand.
Ayo stared at her. Was that his wife?! She looked ---different. Beautifully and hotly different.
“Oh God!” Muna burst into tears. She looked at Torera.
“Ugochi let’s go please!” She turned and hastened her steps, then started to run.
“Muna! Munachi!” Ayo called out her name. He picked up his wallet and chased after his wife, his love, his life. Torera watched them as she stood in front of the entrance to the VIP screen all alone despite the number of other viewers that crowded the section. The security man and his colleague stared at her and they obviously started to talk.
He had left her the minute he saw his wife. She was surprised at how suddenly he had forgotten how many problems he and Muna were facing and how he was only happy when he was with Torera. That's what he had said, wasn't it?
Her car was still at the office. Ayo had picked her up and was supposed to take her back so she could drive home. She managed to find her way out the mall and called the only person she could talk to at that moment.
Enitan’s phone was switched off.
Torera couldn’t help it anymore. She broke down in tears.
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