Archive | April 2013

Broken Mirrors – Episode 13

Had my first TV interview with the lovely Oyinbra of OnTV on Hitz last Thursday. Here’s a mashup of that interview on YouTube for those who missed it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZaJfMBozMk

Also, I’ll be posting non-fiction on Demola Rewaju’s blog on Fridays now. Heres the debut piece. http://demolarewajudaily.com/so-you-want-a-patriot-not-in-nigeria-by-tunde-leye/ 

Enjoy Today’s Broken Mirrors.

TL

Broken Mirrors Art

Samir navigated to the network connections of the phone and unchecked the mobile network option. Awazi would not be receiving any further calls from Derin tonight. He heard her fiddling with the toilet door and quickly dumped the phone, face down. She would not even know he had called.

She came out of the bathroom and looked at him so intensely, his skin crawled. He felt for a moment that she knew what he had done, and was about to begin to explain himself when she said “I don’t think it’s wise for me to stay here tonight. I don’t know what I was thinking, but it’s just 11:30. I’m sure I can get home, whether you decide to drop me off or not. I’ll send the mechanic down here tomorrow morning to come fix the car and bring it down home.”

“Haba, gaskiya Awazi, how would I allow you to leave here for home this late? No, I insist…”

“Samir, you are not allowing or disallowing anything. I am not asking for permission from you to go home, except this is a kidnap, abi? I am telling you that I’m going home tonight, because I don’t trust myself to stop a second time.” Awazi said firmly.

Samir got up, and went beside Awazi. He attempted to put an arm on her shoulder but she quickly put distance between them.

“Samir! I said I do not trust myself. Please!” Awazi said.

“Okay, okay, okay…” Samir mumbled, raising his hands in the air. “The house is big enough, I’ll stay in the living room, you can stay in any of the rooms and lock it from inside, if that makes you feel better…”

“Samir! Menene? You are not hearing me! Even if I left the door open, you would not touch me without my consent except I’m mistaken, in which case I should flee. Locked doors cannot stop what I’m afraid of – the fact that if we talked for long enough, my resolve will fail me. You know what, the more we talk about this, the later it gets. This is Lagos, even 1AM isn’t too late to move around.”

With that she began gathering her things. Samir saw she was truly serious about leaving, and he quickly offered “I can’t let you start finding your way yourself at this time, and I see that you’re bent on going. Let me drop you off.”

Awazi considered it for a moment. She had been planning on calling her cab guy and hoping he’d still be working at this time. Well, if Samir was willing to go and drop her off, then it was fine.

Nagode Samir, I appreciate so much, and really sorry for the inconvenience.” She said.

Samir mumbled something about not being an issue and they made their way to the car.”

****************************************************

Rasheed shook the head of the police team as they made their way to the morgue with the body. The office was sealed and he was finally able to see the specialist who had concluded his examination of Dr. Ajanaku.

“How is he?” he asked the bespectacled doctor.

“I’m afraid this is not good at all,” he responded, running a hand across the bald center of his head. “His body was not fully recovered from the first stroke, and this one was much more severe. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but most people that have strokes this close lose the use of at least some parts of their body. I doubt if Dr. Omega will be able to walk properly again, and he might become paralyzed on one side of his body. I’m sorry.”

“Ha! What are you saying doctor! An active man like Haruna, that would be like a death sentence for him.” Rasheed said.

“I can imagine sir. It’s really unfortunate. I will do all I can do for him.”

“Okay doctor. Thank you very much for responding to us this late.” Rasheed said and shook him.

With that, he left for the conference room to be alone. He needed to think.

Bintu scrambled to dry her eyes as the big doors of the conference room creaked open, the quiet amplifying the sound.

“Bintu, you are here?” Rasheed said flatly, more of a query, than a statement. She didn’t respond to that, but asked, “have you spoken with the consultant?”

“The doctor is unsure of many things now, but he said his preliminaries tell him that Haruna will be fine, just like the first time. We don’t have much to worry about,” he lied.

“Rasheed, you’re not a great liar, for a lawyer,” she said. “I’m a nurse and I know that two strokes in such a short space is very much to worry about. Come out clean to me please. How is he?”

Rasheed sighed. “The doctor says he might not walk again or have use of one of the sides of his body…”

She burst into hysteric tears. “Ha! What have I done! Me and my big mouth, why couldn’t I keep it shut! Now, I’ve turned him into a vegetable, for what?”

“Bintu, it’s not you!” Rasheed said emphatically. “it’s a lot of people, not you. Haruna who married a woman he didn’t love and ended up beating her into another man’s arms. His wife, who brought a bastard into the house. The bastard, who, in spite of love and care who chose to behave exactly like what he was, a bastard!”

“Rasheed, don’t talk about Haruna like that, because he cannot defend himself!” Bintu shot at him.

Iwo lo mo, na you know. But the boy had it coming. And yes,” his tone darkened “while at the matter of all these foolish children that don’t think of consequences, that other boy has it coming for him now.”

“Who?” Bintu asked, a quizzical look on her face.

“Who else? Derin of course. He’s the one whose stubbornness let us here. If only he had been reasonable, listened to the doctor, his mother, even his wife, we would not be here in the first place.”

“Yes, that impudent boy. It’s because of him that my Haruna lies there now. What are you thinking?” Bintu’s voice was filled with the malice of a woman who had been in possession of something she couldn’t show proudly and even that had been taken from her now.

Before Rasheed could answer, she continued “shebi he was trying to take away Haruna’s livelihood from him by shutting the hospital down without thinking? Well, his livelihood should be taken away first and let him see how that feels.”

“I’m already thinking of that. This time, Arinze has no choice but to do what I want. And that’s just the first thing. I will finish that boy.”

*********************************************

Agatha had been unable to sleep. She had given Derin time to get to Lagos from Ibadan and had been trying his number since. Her anxiety had been heightened when she had been unable to reach him. She had decided to call his wife’s number but that had been unreachable too. She was in the living room, watching a movie on TV when her phone rang beside her. She speedily reached for the phone, hoping it was Derin. “Unknown number,” she mumbled. “who is this one at this ungodly hour,” she said to herself and was going to ignore the call, when it occurred to her that it might be Derin. She pressed the green button and held the phone to her ear, waiting for the caller to speak, rather than say hello.

“Mrs. Banwo, my name is Bintu,” a female voice said.

She sighed. It wasn’t Derin calling. “yes, how may I help you?” she asked.

“I’m the chief matron of Omega Hospital.” Bintu said, in the same cold voice she had learnt to use with her nurses when they were being silly.

“Ha, hope there is nothing wrong with Derin abi why are you calling me at this time?” Agatha’s curiosity was piqued.

“No, as far as I know, nothing is wrong with Derin.” And then after a brief pause, Bintu added with meaning “yet”.

“Madam, what are you trying to say? Are you calling to threaten me or my son?” Agatha asked aggressively.

“Mrs. Banwo, your son, your stubborn, heady, impertinent son has caused me great pain. Doctor Ajanaku’s only surviving son committed suicide today, a shot to his head, after your son insisted on ruining us. Immediately that happened, the doctor had a stroke again, and is about to be reduced to a vegetable.” At that, her voice broke, and the pain came through when she continued. “I will ruin your son. I will make sure he loses everything, just as he has made me lose everything I hold dear.”

“Look, Bintu, I’m sorry for your loss, but Derin too was mourning for his son in his own way. You should understand that now, and I’ve been trying to get him to drop this case. He will listen to me…”

It was then that Agatha realized that the line was dead, and she had been talking to herself. The utter raw panic that had been brewing beneath clawed to the surface. She dialed Derin’s number again. This time, it rang.

**************************************************

Derin had been waiting for Awazi’s call hence when his phone rang, he reached for it immediately. That woman had some serious explaining to do this night. He had picked the call when it registered in his head that the ring tone had been Asa’s Iya and not Tosin Martins’ Olo Mi.

“Hello maami, how are you?” he asked, his disappointment evident. He would try to achieve the impossible task of making this call short so that he could leave his line free for Awazi’s call.

“Derin, now you should be proud of yourself.” Agatha began.

“Maami, please don’t let’s start this again,” Derin responded, trying to cut short what he believed was going to be a long lengthy lecture.

“Derin, keep quiet and listen to someone else that isn’t yourself for once!” She said forcefully.

Satisfied that he was listening, Agatha continued “Doctor Ajanaku’s son shot himself in the head as soon as you left them today. And to cap it, Doctor Ajanaku himself had another stroke as a result of the shock from that. He’s in coma now, and will be paralyzed. So now, let us see who you want to do case with!”

“It’s a lie!” Derin exclaimed. “I don’t believe it. They’re just attempting to deceive us in order to throw us off the case.”

“Just listen to yourself. And they would get your own mother to lie to you about something this important, just for their own gain? That’s how little this your precious case has made you think of your mother.”

“Maami it is not like that. It is just that this is so sudden and so convenient”

“Don’t maami me if you will disrespect me like this. The death of a man and the other becoming invalid is convenient abi? Because they are trying to escape the great case of Derin Banwo? Child get out of your world! The world does not begin and end with you. And let me tell you, if you love yourself, you will find a way to make amends with them. A Bintu called me, and she has vowed to make sure you feel their pain. I spoke with her, and I am a woman. She meant every word she said, I know for sure.”

“I need to find out for myself if this is true.” Derin said.

“So you cannot take my word for it abi? I am lying abi?” Agatha said, wondering how her son could be so blinded by one single thing like this.

“I’ll go to the hospital now to find out for myself tonight,” Derin said.

Agatha was silent for a moment.

“Maami, are you there?” Derin asked.

“So you are not in Lagos, Aderinsola?” Agatha asked.

“Maami, I had to…” Derin stuttered an answer.

Agatha cut the call.

*************************************************

Arinze answered his phone. He answered it at this time, because the people that had this number could call him at any time of the day, they were only his kids, really close family and business contacts critical to him in the corridors of power. It was Rasheed. Rasheed would not call at this time except it was exceptionally important.

“Rasheed, kilode? What are you chasing or what is chasing you that you are calling at this ungodly hour? Your Ibadan women have left you and you want to disturb me this night?”

“Arinze, cut the jokes, I’m calling on a very serious matter. You remember Ajanaku, my friend I told you I was handling a case for?”

“Yes, the good doctor,” Arinze answered, sitting up to listen to Rasheed.

“Your boy, that your headstrong Derin was here, like we hoped he would and we thought he would agree to be reasonable. He chose not to be and wants to go to court. And now, Hakeem, Ajanaku’s foolish son who caused this whole drama went to shoot himself in the head out of guilt. Hakeem is Ajanaku’s only surviving son, and the shock was too much. He had another stroke and Ajanaku is just a little better than a vegetable now.”

“What! Ha! This one is not good o.” Arinze exclaimed.

“Look, Arinze, that Derin must pay. I have other things planned for him, but the first is for him to lose his livelihood, like he was bent on making my friend lose his hospital. Let him know how that feels first. And look, omo Ibo, I am not making a request, I am family, and you are doing this for me,” Rasheed said.

“I can’t say no to you Rasheed, and this boy has really outdone himself this time. The person that eats gbi will die gbi.”

****************************************************

Minutes earlier, just as Rasheed began to speak with Arinze, Derin had arrived at the hospital. He had decided to come alone; he didn’t want to face Ope again tonight. He made his way past hospital staff, all scurrying up and down. He could sense urgency in their movements, but he kept convincing himself that it was just a busy night. His brain told him that the reception area was scanty, and that it was midnight and so the hospital shouldn’t be this busy. But he forcefully thrust the thought aside, and continued to the only place he remembered, the conference room. He was hoping he would find someone there. At the door, he was hearing voices and he opened the door to see who it was.

The moment he entered, he knew that it was true. The Bintu lady was sitting down, hair scattered, face strewn with tear paths. The elderly lawyer was talking earnestly on the phone, and it was obvious it was a very serious call he was making.

The moment he entered, they both froze and he heard the lawyer saying into the phone “the idiot just walked in now, the effrontery. Kuku inform him now, and let him know!”

Derin wondered what was going on, when the man gave him a contemptuous look and handed him the phone. The look the woman gave him, his mind couldn’t find the words to describe. With raised eyebrows, he took the phone and held it to his ears.

“Hello, who is this?” he said

“Derin,” a familiar voice said and he unconsciously bent over and responded “good evening sir, this is a huge surprise” looking from the lawyer to the woman. He definitely didn’t like the surprise.

“Young man,” Arinze said “first, you lied to me that you had some bogus therapy to go to Ibadan for this your case, after I had warned you strongly about it.”

“Sir, I can explain,” Derin tried to salvage the situation.

“So your explanations will bring back the dead boy? Or my friend who you have brought this stroke upon? I advised you to desist from this path. I know your wife did. I have been told your best friend and your mother did. Rasheed, the lawyer who tells me you forgot your manners when you talked to him at the meetings is my elder brother. The doctor is my friend, a close, well respected friend. I think I’m talking too much. The crux of this conversation is that your appointment is terminated. You can have all the time to fight your case against dead people and paralyzed people. But you will not do it on my company’s time, deceiving this organization. You can come in on Monday, and the security will supervise you taking your things out of the office. After that, they will be instructed to deal ruthlessly with you if you attempt to come in.

“But sir, you can’t do this to me,” Derin said, his mind racing, his heart beating.

“I can’t? You always did think too much of yourself. Now give the phone back to its owner, young man!” Arinze said angrily.

An ashen faced Derin handed the phone over to Rasheed.

A few mumbled words and he cut the call.

“You came to see if your aim has been achieved? Follow me,” Bintu said. She calmly got up, and led Derin to the executive ward where the doctor was.

The strength was gone from the man’s face. The age was clearer, the lines were deeper, and the skin hung loser. He seemed gaunter than Derin remembered him in the afternoon, and he could see the effect of the waste that had racked his body. “You can look at him all you want,” Bintu said, and then walked away.

Rasheed then added “young man, all deals are off the table. This is war, and we have only just begun. We will reduce you to what you have reduced my friend to.” Then he left a still dumbfounded Derin where he stood and walked away, Bintu’s question echoing continually in his head “how are you different from Hakeem, Mr. Banwo”.

****************************************************

“Let me see you safely in,” Samir said as he parked in front of Awazi’s house.

“I do not think that would be necessary,” she responded, and briskly got down. She brought out her phone from her bag to call the gateman to come and open the gate. She dialed the number but got a “no network coverage” message on her attempt. When she checked the phone, she noticed the network of the phone was turned off. She hissed, “All these touchscreen phones sef,” she said.

She turned the network on, and almost immediately, pings hit her phone. She ignored them and pressed the button to bring up her dialed numbers. It was then she saw Derin’s call. It was not a missed called. She quickly opened the call history, and realized that the call had been picked and had lasted for a little less than a minute. She checked the time, even as she began to fear the worst. She had been in Samir’s house at the time. She turned around and went over to the driver’s side of his car, fuming furiously.

Baba Risi’s Court – Obress

Right, so I wrote another installment of Baba Risi’s Court, (see first one here https://tlsplace.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/baba-risis-court/). It’s nothing serious or regular, but writing it gets me laughing. Hope it does same to you reading it.

TL

Baba Risi New

Baba Risi rubbed his hands as he entered his courtroom. Today was going to be a good day. The case they were bringing to him today had drawn a huge crowd, and Rosco had collected entrance fees from the people in attendance. Rosco no dey dull at all. Sitting fees, for those who wanted to sit on the white plastic chairs was Fifty Naira per head, and those who stood had to part with Twenty Naira before Rosco and the boys allowed them in.

He took his time to greet the people as he made his way to the front, shaking them and waving his hands like a politician on victory parade amongst his supporters. As soon as he got to the front in his flowing white kaftan, the clerk’s shout of order, order brought quiet into the courtroom. He saw DPO Jang sitting in front, the man had come to enjoy the spectacle of the court. Baba Risi shook his head at the irony.

“Oya, clerk, call the case sharp sharp, make we start this matter,” he said.

The clerk sprang up and shouted at the top of his voice “na Mama Fana say Bros Obress, respect, give him pikin, Fana, wey dey SS2 belle.”

At this, shouts of Obress baba, Obress baba rent the air from one side of the courtroom occupied by some fierce looking boys.

The clerk shouted Order! Order!, but to no avail. The shouting went on, until Baba Risi stood to his feet. Immediately, they all went silent. He reached under his kaftan and brought out a twisty looking leather object, with cowries and feathers attached to it. “If I hear kpim from you those boys again, I go test this thing for your body. I don forget the antidote, so if you like, try yourself.” Then he sat down and said in a loud voice “Oya, where the people wey bring case, make two of una come outside here.”

With that, a woman in a kaftan that used to be top range fashion years back stepped forward from the second row, with a girl who looked like her in tow. The girl wore a school type pinafore, but even that couldn’t hide her ample bosom and well rounded buttocks. In that, she took after her mum, who in spite of the free flowing kaftan she was wearing, still managed to wiggle her buttocks with each step she took. The daughter’s wiggle was yet there, after all, the mum had years of practice. Different whistles emanated from the spectators as mother and daughter made their way to the front.

“Mama Fana, welcome,” Baba Risi said, smiling lasciviously.

She eyed him and went to one side.

From the midst of the previously noisy boys, a guy in a “my money grows like grass” t-shirt and matching patched jeans. He was obviously popular with the boys in the area, as shouts of Obress! Swagger! Omo Aiye! rent the air as he went to the front. He went briskly though, which was out of character for him. the fear of the object on Baba Risi’s table propelled him forward faster than usual.

“So, Mama Fana, you say your pikin get belle for Obress and he no wan gree say na him get belle?”

“This useless old man wey no wan gree say he don old, he trick my innocent daughter, give am belle and now he no wan responsible for wetin he do.”

“Innocent my left yansh,” Obress said, and laughter peeled through the room.

“But nobody know say them dey friend before she get belle?” Baba Risi quizzed. Everyone knew how strict Mama Fana was with her daughter. She even escorted the girl to the bathroom and toilet, and stood guard outside until the girl finished. If any girl should not get pregnant, it was Fana.

Ngbo, Fana, oya, use your mouth talk, make we hear. Who give you belle?” he asked the shy girl.

“Na broad Obress, na him get am,” Fana spoke, pointing at Obress. She spoke more strongly than he would have expected. Obviously, she had been well schooled by her mum. Mama Fana was a woman who had once been beautiful and the toast of many men, but had bleached and now, she didn’t have any customers. No one knew Fana’s father. Obress on the other hand, was a popular yahoo boy, who had just come into money. Baba Risi knew it was possible the scheming Mama Fana just wanted to get some money out of Obress.

“Una get doctor’s report of the belle? From private hospital o, no be those ones wey una fit go buy for government hospital,” Baba Risi asked. There was laughter in the courtroom.

Mama Fana produced a folded piece of paper and handed it over to the clerk who first carefully unfolded it, blew into it to make sure there was no powder in it (juju things) before handing it over to Baba Risi.

“She get Belle true true!” Baba Risi announced, as if it was his announcement that confirmed it.

“Obress, na you get this belle?” Baba Risi asked, matter-of- factly.

“Baba, no be me o, how I wan take do the girl now? Who no know the kain close marking wey the mama dey give am? Even if she wan baff, even when she wan toilet, the mama go dey. She go escort am reach school gate, and carry am from there. Baba, no be me o, make the mama talk wetin she want.”

“Na true o, how e wan take do am? Mama Fana, na as Obress talk e be o, except he turn spirit, he no fit see chance nack your daughter.”

Mama Fana wanted to say something but was clearly at a loss, because she knew they were correct. Obress smiled and impish smile and the courtroom began to get noisy again, from Obress’ cohorts.

Baba Risi prepared to make his judgment, when Fana stepped forward from behind her mother. The moment she did, Obress’ eyes went wild.

“So you wan lie abi?” she asked him angrily.

“Abeg free me, go find who you go collect money from for front. Now wey I don hammer, you wan obtain me abi?”

“Baba Risi, make I tell you how me and Broda Obress dey see.” She said, livid.

Obress tried to cut her “Baba, no hear this girl o, she just dey desperate.”

“Sharrap! Make the girl talk!” Baba Risi barked at Obress and he became quiet.

“Make una check him small chain, the one wey dey under him cloth, una go see one key for there,” she said.

Baba Risi signaled and Rosco and three boys pounced on Obress and true to her words, there was a small key dangling on the chain.

“Na the key to the bathroom window be that, the window wey open into the backyard. When I dey baff, my mama go dey front dey watch the door. Broda Obress go use that key open the window, enter and we go do for there, he come pass the window commot again, before I open door. My mama no go know say person don come inside when I commot.”

She was still talking when a hot slap landed on her back. “You this foolish girl, so na wetin you dey do wey you dey tey for bathroom be that,” Mama Fana said, angrily.

The courtroom went into commotion, and the shouts of Order! Order! From the clerk did nothing to restore it. Baba Risi didn’t bother to sue for order for minutes, even he was stunned. If man and woman wan do, dem go find way.

After the noise subsided, Baba Risi delivered his judgment.

“Obress, you be fool, old agbaya, wey try to deceive this court. I know say maga just pay you twenty thousand dollars, shebi you don bring awon boys ten percent. For say you come lie to this court, you go give awon boys another three thousand dollars. That one na first. Secondly, na you get pikin, old papa like you wey give this small pikin belle. The fifteen thousand wey remain for that your money, you go give half to Fana and him Mama, na for the pikin.”

“Ah, Baba, that one no fair now, half loun loun, na my hustle be this now” Obress said imploringly.

“What! You dare to question this court? For that, I don change my sentence. Now, na ten thousand dollars you go give them, you go keep five. Rosco!” he shouted.

Immediately, Rosco and his boys surrounded Obress to lead him away to go and execute the sentence.

Write Right – The Pictures

Here’s the very lovely pictures from the Write Right Prize Giving at LitCaf. So if you didn’t come, plan to come next time o :p

TL

Tunde Leye, on a ching chung P

Tunde Leye, on a ching chung P

The Judges - Ebun Feludu, Ayomidotun Freeborn, TL and Tolu Adeleru

The Judges – Ebun Feludu, Ayomidotun Freeborn, TL and Tolu Adeleru

The Winner - Niyi Afolabi

The Winner – Niyi Afolabi

The Wriet Right Prize, Courtesy Appzone

The Wriet Right Prize, Courtesy Appzone

The Winner with The Judges

The Winner with The Judges

Nkechi (C.E.O, Perfume Diaries) presenting the Perfume to Tilda (R)

Nkechi (C.E.O, Perfume Diaries) presenting the Perfume to Tilda (R)

TL, with Tope Apoola (Owner LitCaf)

TL, with Tope Apoola (Owner LitCaf)

Tolu Adeleru

Tolu Adeleru

TL and Tolu

TL and Tolu

Tope Ojelade, Tilda, Oyinbra

Tope Ojelade, Tilda, Oyinbra

IMG-20130421-WA0007

Chudi Onuorah, TL, Chris Legend

Chudi Onuorah, TL, Chris Legend

IMG-20130421-WA0009

Lagos Gbajumo

Lagos Gbajumo

Dami Andu

Dami Andu

IMG-20130421-WA0010

Olaoluwa Neemah

Ebun and her cute cute son. Youngest Reader there :)

Ebun and her cute cute son. Youngest Reader there 🙂

TL and Tope Ojelade

TL and Tope Ojelade

Stacy and Tunde Leye

Stacy and Tunde Leye

Ayomidotun Freeborn and TL

Ayomidotun Freeborn and TL

Amaka Okereke

Amaka Okereke

Titi, Tilda, Oyinbra

Titi, Tilda, Oyinbra

TL with Double Dutch

TL with Double Dutch

TL and Dola Posh

TL and Dola Posh

Tunde Leye and Dami Andu

Tunde Leye and Dami Andu

LGP_7243

IMG-20130421-WA0025

Nkechi Ikoro and Chudi Onuorah

Nkechi Ikoro and Chudi Onuorah

LGP_7241

Niyi Afolabi, Friend, TL

Niyi Afolabi, Eazyl, TL

Tope Apoola

Tope Apoola

TL, Reading 1st Episode of Rekiya's Tale (Next Series after Broken Mirrors)

TL, Reading 1st Episode of Rekiya’s Tale (Next Series after Broken Mirrors)

I almost got kidnapped after reading this story 😀

Tunde Leye hugs the winner Niyi Afolabi

Tunde Leye hugs the winner Niyi Afolabi

Broken Mirrors – Episode 12

Do take out the time to read this https://tlsplace.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/the-myth-of-nigerian-publishing/

Enjoy today’s Broken Mirrors. Would be posting all the pictures from the Write Right Prize Giving at about midday today, so do check back on tlsplace.

TL

Broken Mirrors Art

“Now you are happy abi?” Dr. Ajanaku shouted at Hakeem.

“Doctor, please take it easy, you know your condition,” Bintu said, placing a hand on his shoulder.

Rasheed spoke sternly to Hakeem “do you want to kill your father? You know his condition, and yet you do everything possible to increase his blood pressure. You really should leave.”

“I should leave? A place that is my inheritance? What gives any of you the right to tell me to leave here?” Hakeem shot back.

“It is not yet yours! And I am convinced now it should never become yours.” Dr. Ajanaku said, obviously pained. “I tried my best to raise you properly, but you just refused to take training.”

“By sending me to a different school from your precious son so I wouldn’t taint him? By allowing him do what he wanted, political science, while I was forced to be what you wanted, a doctor? By treating my mother without respect for years?” Hakeem responded mockingly.

“What! I respected and loved your mother until her death. What is this drug induced nonsense that you are spewing? Rasheed! Get the security to come and take this omo buruku out of my sight before I do something I will regret forever.” Dr. Ajanaku’s nostril flared as he spoke.

“Hakeem, you heard your father, come and start going, instead of bringing disgrace on yourself by being bundled out before all the staff who have called you sir!” Rasheed said.

“Hakeem, for once, be reasonable. Don’t drive your father into another stroke!” Bintu said, her voice betraying the anger she felt for the first time.

“Shut up, you this hypocritical woman! You are afraid that I will speak the truth abi. You think we didn’t know how you became the second only to my father in this hospital? You think we didn’t know that you have been sleeping with him all these years? Really? My mother knew, but she kept quiet and hurt every day. You both didn’t even bother to be discreet. You rubbed it in her face! And you are here talking proper, looking proper, talking about loving and respecting her until death. Oh please!”

Bintu’s eyes flashed like lightning. “How dare you, you this small boy? What do you know?” She turned to Dr. Ajanaku “Haruna, caution this your boy. Abi is it because we are referring to him as a son? It is true what our people say – the house is peaceful, only because the bastard is yet to reach maturity.”

“Woman, will you control yourself!” Dr. Ajanaku thundered.

“What is she saying dad? What does she mean by that?” Hakeem asked, the import of what Bintu had said hitting him like a cudgel.

“What I am saying,” Bintu responded for herself “is that no true Ajanaku behaves like you. You should ask that saintly mother of yours if she was alive if you were truly one!”

“Bintu!” Rasheed shouted.

Hakeem turned to his father, “Dad, is it true,” he asked in a low voice, the most sober he had been all evening.

Dr. Ajanaku turned away, without answering. Hakeem had his answer. He simply turned around and left the room without another word.

inu e ti dun, you are happy now abi? Even if he was behaving like a child, you had to forget your age and join him?” Doctor Ajanaku said to Bintu in anger.

“So, I should keep quiet and allow the bastard talk to me anyhow abi? Is that…”

That was all she had said before they heard the loud bang. Rasheed ran in the direction of the office it had come from. Dr. Ajanaku was right behind him. The sound had come from his office. The smell of gunpowder hung in the room and hit him the moment he entered. In the Chief Medical Officer’s official chair, Hakeem sat down. The thought corrected itself in Rasheed’s head, Hakeem’s body sat down. There was a huge gaping hole in his head where the antique Colt M1911 11mm bullet had hit. Behind him, Rasheed heard a thumping sound. When he turned around, Dr. Ajanaku was on the ground, his face contorted in anguish. Bintu rushed in and knelt over him. “Oh no,” Rasheed cried, slapping his forehead. “Damn that Derin for being so stubborn!”

********************************************************

Samir reached Awazi twenty minutes after he left home. It was one of those incidental strokes of luck that her car had happened to break down right in his backyard. He could see immediately she had been crying. “Sorry it took that long, there was slight traffic getting out of the estate. Let’s get out of here, and then you can tell me what happened.” She merely nodded and he set about tying her car to his own. When he was done, he told her “You’ll need to get in your car to control its movement as I pull it in. Thankfully, the road in is free so we should have little or no wahala getting in. hope you’ll be able to do that.”

Again she nodded and then got into the car. Samir got into his own car and started the engine. He had decided to bring the jeep for this one. Slowly, they inched along and thirty minutes later, they were safely in front of his house.

“Would I still be able to get a cab home from your estate at this time?” Awazi asked as soon as they parked.

“Why don’t you call your hubby to come pick you up?” he asked.

“He’s not in Lagos, so he can’t. I left him back in Ibadan,” she said flatly.

“What! How could he allow you leave and drive to Lagos at that time? Was there an emergency or something?” Samir queried.

“You aren’t listening to me. I said I left him there. It had nothing with him allowing me or not.”

“I don’t know what has happened, but I’m not your husband. I think I have more sense than to let you leave here in this condition. Let’s go in, before the neighbors begin to wonder what’s going on.”

“Samir, I have to go home…” she responded stubbornly.

“And who exactly are you in such a hurry to go home to meet?” Samir asked with a raised eyebrow. Awazi’s eyes dropped and she didn’t answer. “I thought so,” Samir said. “Now, let’s go inside, madam.” He said firmly.

With that, he opened the small pedestrian portion of his gate and they went inside. The house itself was a big bungalow. The compound grounds were laid with interlocking stones, and the lawn was in pristine conditions, well taken care of. Everything spoke of comfort and restrained affluence.

“You live all alone here, Samir?” Awazi asked.

“You’re astonished at how neat and orderly the place is? Don’t worry, it’s not about me that’s responsible for it, that’s paid help. But yes, I live here all alone.”

“You are not serious, have you ever done anything for yourself all your life? Of course I knew it was paid help.” She chuckled a bit, in spite of herself.

They got to the dark brown front door and he let them in. The living room was spacious, with plush colorful beanbags arranged all over, in vantage positions to view the huge TV that dominated one of the walls.”Fulani boy,” she said teasingly, “there are no chairs in your house.”

He bowed low and then went into the kitchen. He returned with a glass of water, and Awazi gulped it down greedily. “Thanks, I actually really needed that,” she said.

They settled into separate beanbags, and when they had fully relaxed, Samir asked earnestly “so are you going to tell me what all this is about?”

*********************************************************

“If I said I wasn’t wake, saying so would be a lie, wouldn’t it? My mum always told me the only question you could never truthfully answer as yes would be if you were asleep or dead,” Derin responded to Ope’s question, laughing softly.

“Alright, Mr. Banwo, now that we’ve established the fact that you are awake, and I am awake too, may I request your company, seeing that I’m in Ibadan because of your matter and sleep has chosen to go on a vacation right now.”

“Ope, I don’t know if that would be a good idea, considering what happened this afternoon at your place…” Derin said

She cut in “except you plan to rape me, Mr. Banwo, I seem to have been able to stop you this afternoon. Now cut the chatter, wear your clothes, I’m coming over.” He was trying to say something but she hung up.

She swung her long legs over the side of the bed and retrieved the wine and the two complementary glasses from the fridge. She stood briefly before the almost full length mirror and surveyed her reflection. She pulled the nightwear over her cleavage to hide the lace that was peeking out from under it. Subtlety and his imagination must do the trick. “Nice Opeyemi!” she said to herself, and then waltzed into the hallway. The reaction of the man she passed confirmed what her mirror had just told her – she was looking hot like that. She turned back, and sure enough, he had turned back to look at her. She winked at him, laughed and continued walking.

She knocked lightly on the door. There was no answer, so she knocked again, this time somewhat harder. Derin’s voice came from inside “coming,” and then the door opened moments later. She savored the look on Derin’s face for a few seconds before she gently shoved him aside and went into the room. In typical Derin fashion, the room was well arranged and none of his clothes were in sight. He was wearing one of those moslem embroidered kaftans which she guessed his wife must have gotten him.

“Would you be kind enough to shut the door sir,” she said as she sat down, chuckling.

“Haha,” was his response as he did just that. “I see you plan to get me drunk before you leave here tonight,” he said, eyeing the wine in her hands.

“Well, I’m certain the Derin I know won’t get drunk over one bottle of wine,” she retorted, the challenge in her eyes. He took the challenge and sat opposite her as she opened the bottle and poured the wine.

They were halfway through the bottle when they kissed.

*********************************************************

Awazi found herself crying for the second time that week to Samir. He joked “it would seem I have the crying effect on you dear,” as he offered her napkins to clean her tears off.

“Samir, you know it isn’t you, but I just don’t know anymore. Every time I try to do something right about this whole matter, my temper just gets in the way, and it all goes wrong, and that Ope seems to win without even trying.” She sighed heavily.

“It’s not about you Awazi. I’m a man and I can tell you categorically that your husband isn’t doing right here. How could he want to dig his own son up? Leave his wife to drive to Lagos in the frame of mind you were? Appointing his ex, with whom he had an affair while married to you as lawyer? My dear, you are even more patient than most of the women I’ve dated.”

“It’s just painful; my home is falling apart before my eyes, Samir. And it would seem I’m grabbing at straws with each attempt to save it.” She sobbed lightly

Samir got up and joined her on the beanbag she was seated on. He put an arm around her, speaking softly to her “it’s not about you dear, it is so not about you.”

Her head told her to get up from the beanbag and leave immediately, but she found herself melding into Samir’s embrace and allowing herself to be cuddled. They stayed this way quietly for what seemed like a long time, but was in fact less than ten minutes. It felt as if any movement, any attempt to do anything beyond cuddling would shatter the magic. Gently, Samir began to kiss her in places that were both safe and tantalizing at the same time. He kissed her forehead, then her eyes and then her earlobes. Still, she didn’t listen to her head, she rested in his arms. Then he kissed her on her lips, and she kissed him back. Her head stopped speaking to her and she abandoned herself to his touch.

********************************************************

Bintu had gone into automaton mode since Doctor Ajanaku had a reoccurrence of stroke. All his vitals had skyrocketed but she had worked extremely hard, marshalling doctors as if she was one. They followed her instructions without question until the specialist that she called came. Once he took charge, she went back to the doctor’s office where the police Rasheed had called were already at work. He had used his contacts to get a full homicide team there in record time, and already, he was managing them. Police could be tricky and they didn’t need them looking at this matter beyond what it was – an unfortunate suicide. She quietly retreated into the conference room, and then the floodgate of tears opened.

**************************************************************

For thirty minutes, they had huffed and puffed. An exasperated lingerie clad Ope stood over a naked Derin. “What is this about?”

Derin could not understand what was happening to him. It seemed his mind was somehow affecting his body. The kiss had led to other things and he lay naked in no time. And then unusually, he noticed he wasn’t erect yet. His heart began to race, and the more he worried about it, the more they tried, the more stubbornly his member stayed flaccid. Ope tried everything she knew in the books until thirty minutes later, she got off him, and asked that question in exasperation. He still hadn’t gotten it up.

“I don’t understand what this is about,” he said. Even saying anything felt awkward in the situation.

“Maybe it’s the stress of the whole day, the case and all. I guess I’ll just let you be then. Wake me up when you do, so I can get ready for the Lagos trip.”

With that, she left an ashen faced Derin in the room.

*********************************************************************

Samir cursed whichever of his American friends had chosen now to call him. It was as if the sound of the ringing phone had jarred Awazi from lala land. She had suddenly pushed him off and told him shakily, “Samir, you will take me home tonight. I cannot trust myself to remain here all night, dan Allah.”

She got up and went to his guest bathroom. Almost as if on cue, the moment the door to the bathroom was shut, her phone rang. Samir glanced at the caller ID and a cloud formed over his face. He picked the call. “Hello,” he said coldly.

On the other end of the phone, Derin was stunned that a male voice said hello when the call with his wife connected.

“Who is this, and what are you doing with my wife’s phone at this time of the night?” he asked, confused.

“My name is Samir, a friend, who drove onto the express to rescue her from a broken down vehicle when you were unavailable, Mr. Banwo. I think you should do a better job looking out for your wife, honestly,” Samir added the last line with a tongue dripping with sarcasm.

“Mr. Samir, I don’t take kindly to men answering my wife’s mobile phone by 11pm and telling me how to do my job as a husband. Where is she?”

“Oh, I should have left her with a broken down car on the express?” Samir asked in anger. This guy was so selfish in his thinking. “You should be thanking me for doing what you should have been doing, or should not even have happened Mr.”

“Hand the damn phone to Awazi!” Derin shouted.

“I’ll tell her you called when she comes out of the bathroom,” Samir said, and hung up before Derin could respond.

In Ibadan, Derin sat up, fuming on his hotel bed, waiting for Awazi’s call.

The Myth of Nigerian Publishing

A few of my thoughts on Nigerian Publishing. Hope it starts some discussion.

TL

Write Right

In Nigeria, there are typically two ways we handle current realities. There is the “e go better” school, that is content only to hope for, wish for and pray for better tomorrows. But there is another interesting way we look at issues – we nostalgically remember the good old days. I’m certain everyone can recall someone seeing something that’s real bad and then saying something that begins with “in the good old days…”

And in this paradigm, the good old days are always better, something to be reclaimed, something to be rebuilt, something to benchmark against. But do a little digging and we immediately find out that it’s only in a few of the cases that the old days were truly good.

So it was that when the great Chinua Achebe died, there were all sorts of cries from all sorts of corners for us to revive the good old days of Nigerian publishing, to bring the publishing industry back to its old glory. On the surface of it, this seems correct, after all, it was that great time that produced works from great writers like Wole Soyinka, Chris Okigbo, Chinua Achebe, J.P Clarke, Amos Tutuola, D.O. Fagunwa, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Cyprian Ekwensi, Zulu Sofola, Elechi Amadi and many others. But peel away the writers, to see the publishing machinery that delivered the works of these writers to the world and we see that there really were no good old days. Virtually all of their books, even Fagunwa’s book written in Yoruba and Tutuola’s in Pidgin-English were published by foreign publishing houses. Fast forward to the next generation after these men, the Okey Ndibes and Pius Adesanmis generation, and the same thing applies. In the generation that is emerging after Mr. Ndibe’s, Chimamanda Adichie, Teju Cole and Nnedi Okorafor’s generation, it is the same. A brief Google search would prove the veracity of this. The confinement of Nigerian writing to a certain straitjacket is a direct result of this – the foreign publisher is in business after all and will publish only the Nigerian stories that conform to the expectations of their readers, and which they can sell. The single story which we often scream hoarse about has its roots here. We simply have not given our authors the opportunity to tell our own stories, from the multiplicity of angles and spanning the old and emerging Africa without going through the prism of foreign Western publishing.

Therefore, a blunt submission based on history is this – though we have produced arguably some of the greatest writers in the last hundred years, we have never truly had a book publishing industry in Nigeria. The closest we have ever truly come to this is having Macmillan publish 130novels in the Pacesetters Series. But even Macmillan is merely a part of an international publishing outfit. And that eventually ended, focusing wholly on publishing textbooks and school books today. It is therefore not surprising that the path followed by most Nigerian authors who grew up in Nigeria with minimal variation is as follows – write for a while, struggle to get a Nigerian publisher and then either self-publish or get published by an international publisher. Then win an international award. Then get offered a position to teach something like “creative writing” or “African studies” in a university abroad. The writers of course take this opportunity and move to climes where there’s a real publishing industry. It’s a real escape, and in their shoes, I probably would take the opportunity.

If we want to stop this outflow of the best of our writers in this generation and those to come, we must do the real work of truly building a publishing industry. We all must realize how important the quality of writing produced is to all other creative arts. The biggest blockbusters in Hollywood in the last 15years have been book or comic book adaptations. Musicians draw deep lyrics from writing. New writers draw inspiration from older writers. Politicians and great leaders draw their ideas and thoughts from writing.

The good news is that there are Nigerian publishers who are emerging to take on the challenge of publishing in Nigeria today. The bad news is that a cursory glance would make it seem that the vast majority of what they publish seems to be works from diaspora writers already published by foreign publishers which have done well and won award. This is republishing. Valid, low risk business model, yes, but in the long run, it will not develop a true publishing industry in Nigeria, plus your margins would be small from those types of arrangements anyway. There are very many Nigerian writers who write very well, and are already doing great stuff themselves. Sadly, many are confined to the blogosphere (and they are doing well. Going through these blogs would yield bountiful harvests for publishers. Go through the array of self-published work out there. You would be spoiled for choice and realize how untenable the excuse of not finding quality writing in Nigeria is). Take a risk on publishing these writers.

I’ve read satire about how Nigerian authors publish and print only a thousand copies, and then do a book launch where they call people who will donate money and forget about selling their books, focusing on entering it for awards. People will generally try to do what brings them the best returns from their work, and the same way the average Nigerian musician sees selling his master CD as the best way to make the most from his music, the average Nigerian author sees this method as the best way to make a decent return on their books. I can confidently say this is so because most self-publish from their savings and the most important thing in this situation would be to recoup the investment.

So publishers out there, take a risk on these unknown Nigerian based writers. You might be positively surprised with what you find. Many of them wait at the shores as we speak, trying to follow the path blazed by those who have gone before them and escape to the West, publishing lala land. The only thing that can stop them is if Nigerian publishers take up the challenge and take a risk on them. And no, it isn’t government, it is private publishers. In a country as vast as ours, with our population, it might be hard, but it is possible, and it will be profitable. We must look beyond local champion publishing and develop on a truly National scale. We must look beyond publishing books for other writers to laud and read, and publish books that we truly intend to sell and get people in Nigeria and beyond reading. But first, we must discard the myth of ever having a Nigerian publishing industry, roll up our sleeves and get to work. Now!

Broken Mirrors – Episode 11

It’s been quite a roller-coaster the last couple of weeks. But, yes, Broken Mirrors is unfailingly delivered. I’d like to specially thank everyone that participated in Write Right. The judges, the sponsors, the entrants, friends in the media and you, the readers who voted. We had 13,857 votes in the end! Wowza! We had fun at the Prize Giving Event at LitCaf on Saturday, and I cannot wait for the next time we’ll be doing stuff that’ll bring us physically together again. For the entrants, the finalists and the winner, there’s only one request I make of you – keep the writing coming! Thanks and enjoy Episode 11 of Broken Mirrors.

TL

Broken Mirrors Art

Derin felt the heat rise in his ears as the killer of his son sauntered in languidly. He turned on the older Ajanaku and raked “and this is how you take him out of the hospital system abi? I thought you said he was no longer a staff of this hospital? What then is he doing here, dressed like a doctor on duty!”

“I assure you, Mr. Banwo that this is not as it seems.” Rasheed responded, as his friend was too flustered to say anything. The foolish boy had not only chosen to come after all the stern warnings and repeated explanations, he had decided to dress in doctor’s overalls and even hung a stethoscope on to complete the look.

“What is not as it looks?” Hakeem’s voice was grating, and he spoke with a slur as lazy as his movement. “I’m not good enough to show to the world, en, daddy?”

“If you were any good, any good whatsoever,” Dr. Ajanaku said in exasperation, “wouldn’t you have the common sense to stay away from here?”

“Oh, because I’m not you precious good son, I’m the one you wish died abi? Those years ago, you wish it was me that took the car out, that had the accident. Then you would have had all your problems solved by a single fatal accident. Me, your disgrace of a son would have been out of your hair forever, six feet below somewhere, with grass growing over, while Sule, your star child would have been alive and you would be happy. Well, I have news for you; I didn’t die like you would have hoped!”

Bintu sprang up and spoke to him sharply. “shut up, you this omo radarada! Why would you say such nonsense to your father in the presence of strangers?”

Hakeem looked at her with a mixture of emotions showing through his eyes – envy, anger and disdain. “Oh, so you are not content with stealing my position beside my father, you now tell me how to talk to him? the truth is bitter abi or you tell me, am I lying? Did I speak one single lie? It is because of the likes of you and Sule that I would never be good enough in his eyes, no matter what I do!”

He came into the light now, and Ope was quick to observe what she had suspected the moment he spoke. His eyes were glazed over, and his movements were not as coordinated as they should have been. For someone who hadn’t been looking out for it, they might have passed it off, but all the signs were clear.

She was genial when she spoke “Dr. Hakeem, please have your seat. We were about to get to the crux of today’s meeting when you came in”

Derin spun around and looked at her inquiringly, but her eyes told him not to say anything.

Awazi suddenly got up and raced round the table towards Hakeem as he sat down. She had kicked off her heels and was upon him in no time, before anyone could react. The sight of him for the first time since that day, looking so unflustered a mere week after he had practically killed Isaac unhinged something in her. She began to hit him wildly, shouting, clawing, and scratching. “Baby Killer,” she shouted, in the midst of tears, “Son of the devil!” she shouted again, hitting him some more. Hakeem did not defend himself; there was just something off about him. The much smaller woman stood over him, hitting and screaming away as he fell into a chair.

Bintu quickly got up and moved to restrain the woman. She had seen this kind of thing before and she knew that if the woman wasn’t restrained, she would end up killing somebody. It was some repressed kind of anger that tethered at the edge of madness, and only the object of the anger could trigger it, she couldn’t remember what the journal she had seen it in called it now. The woman was not seeing or hearing anything now, and they needed to act fast.

She dragged the screaming Awazi away from the cowering Hakeem. “Foolish boy,” she muttered under her breath.

Derin watched the drama unfolding before his eyes. His wife had suddenly gone berserk. He had never ever seen her that way in twelve years of marriage and fourteen years of knowing her.

Still breathing heavily, Awazi came back to their own side of the table and then sat down. She looked around the table slowly and then rested her eyes on Ope. “we may continue,” she said in a measured tone. No one saw her hands trembling under the table.

But one person’s trembling hands were not under the table. Hakeem’s hands trembled on the table.

Ope took the cue from Awazi, as calm settled in the room. She noticed that Bintu had positioned herself between Awazi and Hakeem. The woman wasn’t taking any chances.

“Whilst my client was about to make an announcement, I would like to bring something up which is material to this matter.” Ope began.

Through the clouds of her anger, Awazi could sense that Ope had found something to latch on to that would change Derin’s mind. She blamed her display of a lack of self control silently for this. She looked at Derin, willing him to abide by their decision. When she reached to take his hand, he withdrew his hand unconsciously.

Across the table, Rasheed sensed that the lawyer was on to something.

“Dr. Ajanaku,” she was addressing him directly now “were you aware that Hakeem here is a drug addict when you employed him as a doctor in your hospital, and then went a step further to name him as your Chief Medical Officer?”

The room fell silent for a moment. Everyone had been caught unawares by Ope’s question.

Rasheed spoke quietly, his eyes dark embers of malice as he responded “counsel, your tenses are wrong. There is a difference between was and is. Dr. Hakeem had had drug issues in the past, but by the time he returned to Nigeria and started practicing at Omega Clinic, he had been clean for two years. You cannot discriminate against a man for a past he had left behind and been totally rehabilitated from.”

Derin exploded! “You put the life of thousands in the hands of a druggie! You put the life of Isaac in the hands of an unstable drug addict!”

Rasheed again responded with measured restraint “Mr. Banwo, I would like to point out to you again that Dr. Hakeem was not addicted to any drugs at the point of employing him in Omega clinic in both capacities.”

Ope went in for the kill “you are then aware, that Dr. Hakeem was involved in a matter in the hospital he was working in the U.S and he had his license revoked. He had caused a patient to lose a baby, and investigations had revealed that he had taken drugs that night, before he had been called in for the emergency. He narrowly escaped jail term, but lost his license, before fleeing to Nigeria.”

“That still doesn’t mean he was on drugs while working in Nigeria. That event is therefore not going to be material to this case.” Rasheed shot back.

“Counsel, have your taken a close look at Dr. Hakeem this evening?” Ope asked.

Rasheed turned to look at Hakeem. The eyes. The trembling hands. The fool had been using and then brought himself here.

He slowly turned back to Ope and said nothing.

“I thought so,” Ope said. “Derin,” she said without looking at him.

Derin’s voice was even. “I will see you all in court, there is no deal, can never be any deal!”

Awazi turned Derin around. “Derin please,” was all she could muster.

Derin said nothing in response.

“They will dig Isaac up!” Awazi said more earnestly. The tears flooded her eyes now, but she could see that Derin was unmoved. He shrugged her hands off his shoulder and glanced at Hakeem.

“Then so be it, so help me God,” he responded.

Awazi began to shake, the words tumbling out of her “is it because of what I did now? Derin please, don’t punish me this way. Let it go, please.”

“You think this is about you? Let me ask you something, were you rational when you hit him? No you weren’t. But you did it anyway. No one held you back when you expressed your anger. Do not hold me back, woman, when I pursue my justice.”

Awazi began to mechanically pack her things, mumbling to herself “it’s all my fault, this is all my fault. If I hadn’t, then he wouldn’t.” she walked out of the room, unescorted.

“Mr. Banwo, I beg you to reconsider.” Dr. Ajanaku beseeched Derin. “Look beyond my son, and myself. Look at your wife, and look at your home. it is tearing you apart, take it from a man that has lost an adult beloved son before.”

“I can take care of myself, thank you,” Derin responded curtly.

Bintu stood up and looked straight into Derin’s eyes. “You are supposed to protect that woman you just allowed leave here in that state of mind. Are you any better than Hakeem?”

Derin did not respond. All the responses that formed in his head seemed inadequate.

“That will be all, thank you,” Ope quickly stepped in. She turned to Derin. “We were taking our leave.”

They gathered their things and slowly left the room. Derin look back at Hakeem on more time, and then at Bintu’s unyielding eyes. Those eyes, and the words its owner spoke to him seconds ago haunted him. He moved Ope quickly along, and they left.

He had thought Awazi would be waiting outside, but she was nowhere to be found. They went to the carpark, and he looked around but couldn’t find her car. “Where has this woman gone now,” he sighed under his breath. He called both her numbers, and they both rang out. Ope placed a hand on his shoulder. “She will be fine, maybe she just needs some time alone.”

His phone rang and he thought it was Awazi. He quickly picked the phone until he heard another familiar voice.

“Derin, you came to Ibadan and you didn’t tell me your mother?”

The doctor had probably called his mum.

“Maami, I came for the case, and since I know how you feel about it, I didn’t think…”

“Shut up you this boy! Even if we have differences, I am still your mother. Where are you now?” she asked

“Almost out of Ibadan ma. I’m headed back to Lagos now, I have something to work on for my boss tomorrow,” he lied.

“Derin, you are lying to me, your mother? You are still in Ibadan, is it not now that you finished the meeting you came for?”

Derin was annoyed. “Maami, so you are in cahoots with the doctor abi? Against your own son? Abi how else would you know we just finished if he didn’t call you? You are now in my enemy’s camp, talking to them, and you wonder why I’m not talking to you about the case.”

“What is wrong with him asking me to talk some sense into you, Derin? In spite of all I have told you, you still want to go ahead with this case? Is it that your Hausa wife that is pushing you?”

“Maami, leave Awazi alone! You think I don’t have a mind of my own? Oh, and so you can know, your friendly doctor put his drug addict son there to kill your grandson!”

She was silent for a moment. The drug addict angle was news to her, apparently. When she recovered from the shock of that, she responded “Derin, it your interest I have at heart. I’m coming now to meet you,” she said.

“Mama, don’t bother. I’m leaving now, and no to whatever you want to come and say, if it’s against going for this case. Good night ma.”

“Derin, I am still talking to you!” She shouted.

“Maami, o daaro. I have to go.” He responded and cut the connection.

“Are we really going to Lagos this late?” Ope asked.

“No,” Derin responded, “just didn’t want Maami’s wahala tonight”

Ope smiled again.

****************************************************

Awazi drove through the haze of her own tears on the deathtrap that the Lagos-Ibadan expressway was at night. Fortunately, it was a Friday night, and the traffic was on the other side of the road, going to Ibadan. She raced past Ofada, Ibafo and Mowe and in no time Berger was in sight. It had taken a little less than an hour to make the trip at speeds that made her little Honda, Derin’s old car feel light on the road. Thoughts coursed through her mind during the journey recurrently “Derin chose what she wanted over what I wanted. He chose to dig Isaac. She played him so well. Do I even deserve to have him as my husband, seeing how well she knows him and how I fail at reaching him every time I try?”

Suddenly, the little car stuttered and puttered. She had the presence of mind to maneuver it to the side of the road before it stopped finally. “Oh my God, not now, not here,” she said, hitting the steering.

She knew next to nothing about cars, but she guessed she had pushed the car over its limit in her race to Lagos. She dialed their mechanic’s number. Switched off. She tried Kamal’s number but it just rang out.

Finally, she called Samir.

******************************************************************

Samir heard his phone ring on the dining table he was charging it on. He dillydallied about tearing himself away from the football he was watching to pick it up. Barcelona, his team was uncharacteristically behind and they had been piling the pressure on their opponents for the past ten minutes now without a goal. He knew it was only a matter of time before the goal came and he didn’t want to miss it. He allowed the phone ring out, but the caller called again.

“Damn it, I should have bought that extension box,” he said, referring to the one that would have allowed him charge his phone right beside his sofa.

“Hello,” he said sharply.

“Hello,” the vaguely familiar female voice said. “Am I on to Samir,” she inquired.

“Yes, and who am I speaking with please?” he responded gruffly.

“It’s me, Awazi,” she responded.

He smiled and scrambled to recover “sorry I didn’t quite get your voice. Let me turn down my TV.”

He quickly turned the volume down. “I’m here.” He said.

“It’s okay. I would like to banter, but I’m in dire straits now. I need your help.”

The tone of her voice was so earnest that Samir got worried. “What exactly is the problem, Awaz? He queried.

“I’m on my way back from Ibadan, and my car just stopped working now now. I’m stranded just after Berger. Mechanic is unreachable and Derin is in Ibadan.”

“You said you are in around Berger?” he asked.

“Yes, further down the road from where you’ll see people selling bread and co.”

“Okay, I know the place. I’m in Omole Phase 2, so I’m not that far away. I’ll be with you in some minutes.”

“Oh, Samir, thank you, thank you so much!” she gushed.

“Okay dear, see ya shortly,” he said.

He hung the call up. Well, she had called him eventually, even if he had not been the first she called. That was a starting point. He wore the jersey he had on but changed from his shorts to a pair of jeans and left the house.

***************************************************

Ope lay in the cozy hotel bed, wrapped in nothing but the big hotel towel. She had taken time to scrub every inch of herself clean from all the grit of the day and right now, she couldn’t be bothered to wear anything. Two rooms away, she wondered what Derin would be doing now. she had ordered a bottle of wine earlier and put it in the small tabletop fridge in the room. She began to piece together her ensemble. The bra. The g-string. The silk nightwear which was decent enough to wear in the hallway but still moved with her and gave the faintest hints of what was under.

She dialed his room number on her extension. “Awake?” she cooed the moment he picked the call.