When OJ and Tunde met, they hit it off. This surprised Oke. When he asked Tunde about it, Tunde said: he’s a talker, I’m a listener. Oke then asked OJ, who pondered the question then said: you don’t have to be careful around him, he has no hidden agenda. Even though OJ and Oke had a tough time convincing Tunde, he pulled through. OJ’s instinct tells him Tunde has a veiled hatred for Nigeria. Tunde was brilliant, he convinced the third secretary in charge of speech writing to the minister to replace a company in the soon to be printed contract award list. She seemed impressed a young man was willing to invest in the mining sector. Tunde possessed documents showing involvement in contract staffing of several companies and corporate social responsibility across the country. Tunde added the sweetener through a sealed white envelope.
Habiba’s flight is delayed, but she finds Tunde waiting at the airport on her arrival in Abuja. Since it is early evening, they will leave for Kaduna in the morning. Getting to Tunde’s room in 40 – 40 hotels in Wuse, Habby proceeds to the bathroom. Air travel, even for a few minutes always leaves her stomach flustered. Habby can hear Tunde turn on his radio, as she watches the last rerun of Empire on her Ipad. Habby flushes the toilet, washes her hands then enters the room. The shrill radio static invades the quietude. Tunde gets to a phone-in program. Is dirtiness enough reason for divorce?
A caller is speaking. Yes it is enough reason for divorce. The woman is definitely not teaching the children cleanliness.
The moderator speaks. Shouldn’t the husband have known his wife’s qualities before marrying her?
What if the woman was brought in through ‘arranged marriage’ which is still prevalent? The caller asks in return.
Tradition teaches cleanliness, this is evident in arranged marriages where both families ensure the transition of shared values.
What do you think habby? She looks up from her Ipad. Tunde takes a picture of Habiba with his SOLO phone.
Why should a woman be dirty? If a woman, who menstruates can’t keep a house clean, obviously she can’t keep her body clean. The man’s to blame for shooting in a dirt bin.
Hahahaha, you’re something else. My heart’s been doing the Fulani dance over meeting your family.
There’s nothing to be nervous about, even though Maigida is a lecturer. The worst which can happen is you’ll stay in a hotel. I already told them I am coming with you.
How did you tell them?
You want to know the exact words ba?
So I know what to expect.
Okay, my younger brother Dante called with endless questions on what particular time I would be home. To him, my convocation is an extension of his birthday which was weeks earlier. He asked after my friends. I told him they were in KD already. When he heard I was coming with a yoruba boy, he shrieked. Hope you haven’t married him ooo? Alhaja came on the phone and asked about you. I ended up telling her about us. She wants to meet you and told Maigida also. Are you happy now?
Dante asked if you were cute though.
Hope you told him you’re bringing the beast.
Am I your beauty?
Indeed you are, think deep on my proposal.
What do you like about me?
Aaarggh. Why do you ask egocentric questions? I like your reserved mien, your effortless grace and style, but the one which makes me smile is you’re YOU. Your name, your physical good looks, your mature and appropriate dress sense, your smile. I miss our arguments when am not with you. When I am with you, life feels worthwhile.
Washer man you have resumed duty.
I am still here in Abuja because of you. Doesn’t this tell you I mean everything I have said?
No, it doesn’t. Men can be funny.
Tunde walked up to Habiba, looked into her eyes saying: I’ll never forget the first day I met you in the clinic. It seemed like I was outside on a rainy day, and the sun suddenly broke through the horizon. I said one thing, you said another. Next thing is I want to spend my whole life in this conversation. I feel you are the one. You’re completely open and sincere, beautiful too. The bad news is, I don’t know how to be with you. This scares me because we might get lost out here, in twists and turns. People have a way of blinking and missing the moment which could have changed everything. I have no reasons to convince you on why you should waste your time on me. My friends say you make the best plantain and eggs. Does that count? Tunde leaned and kissed Habiba. The sheer joy of touching her was so sweet he could do nothing else. Habiba began to tug at his shirt buttons, she did so gently, running her hands over his body. Kissing him back, she gently pulled him into the bed.
Tunde makes love with a passion he has never known existed. Her skin, the gentle curve of her belly, her breasts with darker nipples, her grey eyes – a kind of light. Her warm delicate mouth, her breath, her gasps when he enters her drive him to urgency. Habiba has to stroke his face for him to slow down. He does not let her go, even after their climax. They lie intertwined, then begin again. Habiba is more active than before, like it is a contest. Finally they drift off in slumber.
Habiba wakes up with a start, Tunde is trashing upandan. He’s mumbling incoherently, arms flailing in the air. Please turn off the water. Tunde’s voice sounds childish. Habiba shakes Tunde awake, walks him to the bathroom. Tunde rinses his face and mouth.
What were you dreaming about?
Habby am sorry, this has been going on for years. Tunde says, his bushy eyebrows and deep eyes look worried. It always begins with me on my way home from lesson after school. The sandy play ground is on my route home. Johnny waves ecstatically for me to join his team. They are one short of the required five for monkey post duties. I join, playing with my Cortina shoes. In jubilation of the goal I score, a spectator kicks the ball. It lands, then skids into the marshy swampland. Drifting slowly away carried by the water current. It is Johnny’s birthday ball from Uncle Tony, his mummy’s elder brother. The only way to get the ball before it joins the stream is through the unpainted see-through gates. The area is secluded, some important person lives around. The security post is unmanned so we quickly hurry to the last lot which leads into the stretch of swampy marsh. We wade in, retrieve the ball and are heading out when two abokis beckon to us.
©Ndi Charles 2015