The entries for the Baba Risi Illustrators Competition closes at midnight today. I’ve recieved four entries so far. I’ll be posting the entries tomorrow for y’all to vote. Voting will last till next Monday.
We begin BURNT today. Enjoy.
Donald Wadada had been lying awake in bed for the last fifteen minutes. In those fifteen minutes, he had done nothing but stare at the woman sleeping beside him, the one who was his first girlfriend for three years, and had now been his wife for another ten. He could go on looking at her like that all day long, content with nothing but having his eyes feast on her beauty. Here she was, first thing in the morning without makeup, and she was still looking like the most stunning woman in the world. He let his eyes run all the way down her lingerie clad body and then back to her face, feeling a wave of desire course through him as he did. After she had given him a set of twin girls two years into the marriage, the doctor had called him into a small office and told him in clear terms that his wife would not be able to have any other children.
At first, she had been afraid. Afraid that he would want a male child and go outside of their marriage to get one. She worked hard at making her body bounce back, and bounce back it did. But she did not know how he loved her, how she was the center of his world. He could never do such a thing to her. He had eyes only for her, and worshipped the ground on which she walked.
She smiled in her sleep, stirring a little, and he thought she was about to wake up but she settled back into dreamland.
Hajara had almost given away the fact that she was awake when she smiled. After ten years of marriage, it amazed her that her husband was still like this with her. She realized now the wisdom of her aunt when she had told her “you can bring yourself to love any man you marry, because you are a woman. But make sure you marry a man who is crazy about you, and who loves you more than you love him. That, my dear, is the secret to a happy marriage.” Those words rang true about her and Donald even now.
She remembered how everyone in her circle had been when she started seeing him all those years ago now. She had been a finalist in the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria competition, and the general opinion was that she should have won. Everyone thought she was destined for a life of stardom, dating celebrities local and international and maybe settle down with some rich oil magnate or foreign designer. So they were all shocked when she brought this shy guy who ran a modest IT firm on the mainland to them. He was the classical IT geek caricature. He wore thick glasses, jeans and t-shirts and his idea of a date stopped at seeing the Facebook movie or the Steve Jobs biopic. By dating him, she effectively dropped out of the social radar and stopped appearing on the magazine covers and blogposts. It was around that time that he accompanied her to some family event that she couldn’t quite remember now. Funny how things that seemed like the world when they happened became insignificant with the passing of time. He was sitting on a table that day, looking around awkwardly while she was with some family members. The conversation inevitably turned to the two of them and everyone said what they had been saying since the first time she introduced him “Hajara, you are dating beneath you!” it was after they had all gone, that aunty pulled her aside and spoke those words of wisdom.
Thankfully, she had listened to her aunt and not the rest of the family. Three years after that, she walked down the aisle with Donald and became Mrs. Wadada. That was in March 2003, early in the internet era in Nigeria. When the internet boom began, Donald was well positioned to be at its forefront. From a struggling IT company, his business grew to become a giant. Today, he had emerged as one of the richest men in Lagos. Hajara always said an internal “in your face” anytime they came across any of those people that had said she should leave him. After his money came, she had braced herself up for what she thought was the inevitable – the other women. But they simply never came. She was beyond ecstatic that she had listened to her aunt. Any other man but Donald and she was sure they would have entered the “carry your women but not in my face phase”.
Finally, she opened her eyes and cooed “good morning baby,” and he smiled back at her, moving closer to kiss her on the forehead.
“Morning darling. That is the holy kiss. Now this is the real good morning kiss.” With that he kissed her full on the lips, passionately.
Of course, the lanky frame had filled out now, and the hairline was beginning to recede but he managed to stay fit. She demanded it, asking why would she be working my ass off to look good for him and he would be allowed to grow a protruding belly?
She sat up in the bed and wrapped a nightdress around herself. She never really slept with that on, it was merely for fashion. “Morning duty calls,” She said as she left the room.
The master bedroom was on the first floor of our two-storey duplex. It opened into a large room where the exercise equipment was installed. On the other side of this mini-gym was the children’s room. She picked her way through the mass of equipment in the space towards their room. She could hear them even getting to the door. Or more correctly, she could hear her.
She opened the door and sure enough, the little girl was jumping up and down all around her twin on the big bed that they shared.
“Play with me, play with me, play with me,” she kept on chanting. The other one just kept on rolling away from her path, ignoring her with an uninterested look on her face.
“Inya!” Hajara shouted and Inya stopped jumping, only now realizing that her mum had walked in. She flashed her perfect teeth and ran over to the door, wrapping her arms around Hajara in tight embrace “Mummy!” she shouted too.
That was Inya, adorable Inya. She looked like a miniature version of her mum. “This child is just a drama queen” Hajara thought to herself. If she entered a room and she was not the center of attention within five minutes, she would employ every antic her eight year old mind could come up with to capture everyone’s attention. She would not be satisfied until then. Hajara’s folks told her she had been like that when she was her daughter’s age, but she always vehemently denied it.
In contrast, Ohiza was like her father. Tall for her age, she didn’t possess her sister’s cuteness or easy charm. She would rather go into a room and sit in a corner, watching everyone. It was only when she got home that she would almost accurately tell you everything that happened in the room, if she was in the mood to talk. Hajara was scolding Inya now, but as usual, she was paying absolutely no attention.
“Good morning sis,” a male voice came from behind Hajara.
Immediately they heard his voice, the two girls bolted out of the room to greet their uncle. He was the only one that Ohiza took easily to. Though he was Hajara’s youngest brother, he was more like her son. He was twenty three, sixteen years her junior and she had basically taken care of him while their mum worked when they were younger. Naturally, he had moved in with her when he got into the University of Lagos, and had helped the Wadadas raise their own kids. Because they needed him for this, he had never stayed in the hostel all through school and now he was in his final year. They gave him a car to use in school so he could go from their place in Oniru.
He tried to pick them up and feigned difficulty “you girls are becoming too big for uncle to carry o!” he said and they pushed him over and climbed all over him. He took them away to help them get ready for school while she went to get Donald’s breakfast ready.
Inya always sat in front whenever Uncle Idris was taking them to school. That way, she could be the one chatting away with him. He was very handsome, and his girlfriend, Aisha was like all the models in the magazines that her mum bought. She wanted to be fine like Aisha when she grew up and she never missed an opportunity to ask questions about being pretty when Aisha came visiting.
As soon as they got into the classroom, she went over the part of the class where all her cute friends like Tomisin, Basirat, Kanayo and Charles sat. She liked coming to school because everybody wanted to be her friend here. They knew her daddy was super rich, and she was the prettiest girl in the whole primary four. Even their class teacher treated her a little special.
Before the class started, the class teacher, Miss Kunat brought a boy into the class. “He’s soooo cute!” Inya whispered to Basirat. Kanayo made a face at her. “No he isn’t”.
“Didn’t your mummy tell you jealousy would make you rotten?” Inya said mockingly and Kanayo quickly shut up. None of them questioned Inya. “He has to be our friend; we’re the cutest in the class.” She said this with an air of finality. By the time she had stopped talking, she had missed his name.
Break time came and Inya and her friends tried to get to the boy. All the other kids were trying to get her attention as she passed with her crew but she ignored them all so she could be the first to make friends with the boy. When they finally found him, the boy was talking to Ohiza by the swing. Inya felt jealousy rise within her as she led her team towards the duo.
In school, since she had all her other friends around, she didn’t try to get Ohiza to play with her like she did at home.
A dry “Hi Ohiza,” was all her twin got, and then she moved on to him. Flashing her most charming smile, she said “Hiiiii”, and the rest of the quartet echoed her.
The boy looked all four of them over and then said “so I don’t have a name? Of course you didn’t hear the teacher saying my name, did you? You were too busy making noise in the class.”
Inya didn’t think before she retorted “of course I did!”
The boy raised an eyebrow lazily “oh, really? What’s my name then?”
The heat rose in Inya’s face as she fought desperately to dig his name out.
He laughed at her, an annoying laugh and then looked at her and the others “you want to be my friend? No! Never!” he said with a slight American accent. Then he went to join Ohiza who had left them to go sit on the swings and observe the drama from there.
When she went quietly to the swings, Ohiza had thought that she would watch Brian skip away laughing with Inya like all the others. Inya seemed to think everyone should be her friend, and whenever Ohiza made a new friend, it seemed to make Inya want that friend even more. After being tired of losing friends to her twin, Ohiza developed a defense – if she didn’t have friends to lose in the first place, then she wouldn’t lose them to Inya.
She had felt awkward when Brian had come to meet her in her corner of the playground. He belonged to Inya’s kind of crowd, cute like all those boys on Disney Channel and with his American accent, he was bound to be a cool kid. But he had come to her and said hi and then he sat with her IN THE PLAYGROUND! She had been floating, enjoying it until Inya and her crowd came.
Now, as he left them and walked towards her, she felt like a Cinderella whose prince had brought the glass slipper. Her little eight year old heart fell in love. Throughout the break time, she played with only Brian and found herself laughing at everything he said. When they went back to class, she saw that her seatmate had gone to Brian’s seat and he was sitting with her now. He must have asked to seat with her and her seatmate hadn’t hesitated to give up the seat beside unpopular Ohiza. All of them could go away for all she cared now – she had Brian beside her, and that was all that mattered. School was going to be fun from now on.
Idris wasn’t in the mood to listen to any chatter that afternoon. This ASUU strike was already getting to him seriously. He wanted to get back to school and get it done with so he could go and serve but the government was saying nonsense about the country grinding to a halt if they met ASUU’s demands. Bollocks! And then Aisha had come around today and he had thought he was at least going to get some. But trust the girl, she had brought up that stupid quarrel over him not being able to get her the dress she wanted for one of the plenty award shows she liked to go for. And because of that, she didn’t allow him do anything! He hissed again as he saw his nieces coming towards the car.
He was ready to snap at talkative Inya if she would not let him be today, so he was very surprised when she sulked and hardly said a word on the drive home. By the time they got home, he was worried. “Inya, are you okay?” he reached out to touch her neck to see if she was running a temperature. There was nothing abnormal about her temperature.
Ohiza was the one that volunteered an answer “it’s because she couldn’t steal my friend” she said, dancing around the living room.
Inya stormed away into the room, crying. Idris spoke sternly to Ohiza “now you’ve made your sister cry!” Ohiza shot back “she always, always does that to me, and now this one time she doesn’t get what she wants, she’s sulking and you are trying to make me feel bad. Well, I won’t!” Then remembering something Brian had done in school to Inya, she said “No! Never!” mimicking his stance and accent.
Idris left the jubilant Ohiza in the living room and went to the room. Inya was curled up on the big bed, sobbing. He sat on the bed, speaking softly to her as he did.
“Inyus, our princess, don’t mind that naughty Ohiza. Look, I got you something,” he said, holding up Aisha’s glasses. He knew Inya loved even though they would be oversized for her. She turned and smiled when she saw it, taking it from him and looking it over.
Then she looked at him and said “is it because I’m not pretty like Aunty Aisha that boys don’t like me?”
Idris was taken aback by her unexpected question. “But you know you are our beauty queen dear, you are very pretty. In fact, we are going for Little Miss Nigeria with you, just like your mummy was in the big Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria,” he said, nudging her playfully.
“Then why doesn’t Brian like me?” she asked.
“Who is Brian?” Idris asked.
“He’s the cutest boy in our class, and he speaks with a nice pho-ne. but he doesn’t like me. Uncle, how can I make him like me?”
“Oh, that’s Brian. Well, there’s one way you can make every guy like you,” Idris said as he got up from the bed. Quickly, Inya sat up, her eyes shining now and tugged at his shirt
“Uncle, pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeee tell me now,” she said.
“If I teach you, it has to be our little secret. We don’t want Ohiza knowing it so she won’t be able to get the boys to like her too. So it’s going to be between you and me alone. Can you cross your heart?”
She solemnly put her hands across her small chest and swore “I cross my heart and hope to die”. Idris grinned and then went back to shut the door.
“Now, you will follow my lead and do exactly as I say, so you can learn what only big aunties like Aisha know” he said.
She nodded vigorously. Smiling leeringly, he dropped his pants. Already, his erection was bulging underneath his boxers. When he dropped the shorts, his erect penis shot up into the air and Inya who had never seen anything like it before shrank backwards.
“Are you afraid? You don’t want to learn anymore?” he asked tauntingly and bent over to pull his boxers back up.
She quickly said “no, I want to learn.”
He stood upright again and moved towards the bed, the trouser and shorts between his legs making his gait awkward. When he got beside her, he took her tiny hands and said, “Now, touch me here, like this.”
ff @tundeleye on twitter