Happy New Year, Ogechi!

This is what happens when you have friends who think the world of you and ascribe the highest value to you.
This moved me to tears and I am so honoured and overwhelmed by this. I am wealthy in relationships and I do not take that wealth for granted.
Thank you!

Seun Odukoya

How you dey?

So because plenty of us have so much to say, ‘somebody’ decided to do this…

Me, I am just watching from the sidelines, hella proud to know someone like you.

Happy New Year, dear.

WHY APRIL 18th is OUR PRIVATE HOLIDAY!

            A Public Holiday signifies a “day off” for “everyone” but not “everyone” observes the spirit of the holiday, because to some it is nothing more than a “day off” work. So Christians celebrate Easter while Muslims enjoy a “day off” and in the same way Muslims celebrate Salah and Christians enjoy the free time. Of course there is an exchange of ram and chicken here and there but all public holidays are in essence “privatized” based on the reason for the season.

We the “FRIENDS OF YOUGEE” (FOY from hereon) declare April 18th today and for all ages to…

View original post 1,513 more words

25 Shades of Awesome

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I woke up this morning and I was 25. It’s such an amazing feeling. And I’ll be honest, 2, 3 years ago, I didn’t imagine I would feel this great on my 25th. I thought I would feel apprehension or fear because life was happening too fast or because I hadn’t hit certain landmarks personally but this feeling that I have this morning- it’s anything but negative vibes.

The last few months leading up to today have been great for me. I have found inner peace, contentment and rest on every side. So when I woke up this morning, I had nothing but gratitude for the life that I have, for the numerous people that colour it and for the 25 different shades of amazing that it has been. I can honestly say right now, in this moment, that I have EVERYTHING I want and need and my contentment derives from that.

So because 25th birthday, I’d like to share with you my precious readers, 25 random things about me. Enjoy!

  1. I have such a high energy level, I’ve had people question me about drug usage before because they couldn’t fathom the source of my never ending ginger. It’s not drugs I promise, it’s something in my blood. Lol!
  2. I love dancing. If you didn’t know this, then we probably aren’t friends. Because all my friends have at some point or the other been embarrassed when I suddenly break into a dance in the middle of a street to music playing only in my head. Hehe.
  3. I don’t like jollof rice. I honestly don’t get the hype so I rarely ever cook it. Can count on one hand the number of times I have cooked it in my life and will likely not run out of fingers.
  4. I love travelling. One time I changed my last name on Twitter to Ajala. Hehe. Always in the mood for an adventure.
  5. I love writing so much but I fear that if I had to do it mechanically for a long time that I would get tired of it.
  6. When I do the same thing over and over for a really long time, I get bored and restless. For something to hold my attention for a long time, it must have some dynamic elements.
  7. I can’t work a 9-5 for too long. Again with the restlessness. If I am in the same role or carrying out the same tasks for too long, my mind shuts down of its own accord. But I refuse to see this as a ‘bad’ thing sha. I guess it’s just what it is.
  8. My ideal job would involve a lot of travelling, writing, public speaking and dispute resolution.
  9. My friends are my greatest wealth and I am privileged to have a great deal of them. They always come through and that is why I am so effusive anytime a close one has a birthday.
  10. I’m allergic to honey. This was a weird discovery but honey makes me sick sometimes so I avoid taking it. Still don’t understand how or why that happens.
  11. I have a weird ‘condition’ with my knee. Still haven’t been able to figure it out but sometimes, the knee just twists and gives way and I fall then it twists right back to its normal position. It could happen while I am sitting, standing, walking, running or even lying in bed. The freakiest thing ever. It’s why I gave up athletics on a competitive level. Who knows, I would have probably been at the last Olympics. LOL. But it’s been happening since I was a kid and I have chosen to not let it get in the way of my other high energy activities. And that brings me to my next point.
  12. I am a huge fitness fan. Dancing, running, working out, lifting weights, anything to break a sweat, you name it and I’m in.
  13. My biggest fear is losing the ones I love the most. It’s why I serenade them all the time. Whether publicly or privately. I let them know just how much they mean to me so if I were to ever lose them, I would not have any regrets.
  14. Flowing from that, I have absolutely no regrets in life. If I could go back in time, there is absolutely nothing I would change about my choices. Even the seemingly bad ones have led me to this- a woman I am so proud of. So yeah, no regrets.
  15. My finger nails have two layers. It’s so weird. I don’t even bite my nails. But I peel them sometimes and it’s a little weird to look at. Don’t ask me to show you my nails if we meet. It’s a little embarrassing and I’m trying to keep them as normal as possible.
  16. My faith is the singular most important thing to me. I have walked a few rough roads and I have shared a few blazing furnaces with friends and loved ones. The only reason we came through solidly was because of faith. So it is the singular most important thing to me.
  17. I am firm believer in capacity building. Push yourself, grab every opportunity you get to grow and do not despise any task assigned to you.
  18. My basic motto for life- learn, grow, build capacity, maintain relevance.
  19. Leadership to me simply means service so the few times I have been privileged to lead, it was more a call to service and I wish our leaders shared the same sentiments.
  20. I love long walks. Walks in the park, walks by the beach. Walks anywhere. I’ve been called a professional trekker before. Lol.
  21. I love handwritten letters. It’s the fastest way to my heart.
  22. I love surprises! Getting random, unexpected gifts, a random burst of serenading, surprise visits surprise parties, etc. As long as it’s something unusual and unexpected, you have won my heart.
  23. I don’t know how to whistle a tune. This makes me sad, but I don’t know how to. Each time I purse my lips and try, it never comes out right. The sounds I make are actually laughable.
  24. I love, love, love dogs! Especially puppies. They are sooooo cute!
  25. I love hard and I am such a romantic. Happy is the man who gets to wife me. Hehe.

I just turned 25 and it is abso-freaking awesome!!!

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Crux of the Matter now on Tv!

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I have celebrity friends. If you didn’t know it before, know it now. I have celebrity friends. Don’t talk to me anyhow please. *flips weave*

Hehehe. Hi people! Just a little something from my home girl Elsie Godwin.

Check it out!

***

‘Crux of the Matter’ talk show debuts on the 5 th of April, 2017 on R2TV.  Hosted by Elsie

Godwin, the Relationship, Dating and Sex based talk show will objectively tackle various

issues bordering on relationships between men and women with interesting guests.

Produced by Royal Roots Communication Limited and Mind-Mastik Media Collage, the

show is a thought provoking and insightful program which dissects the aforementioned

issues in the Nigerian and African context with a no holds barred approach.

“A lot of us would not come out to discuss sex openly in order not to be viewed as being

morally bankrupt or accused of not conforming to societal norms,” says Elsie Godwin,

the host of the show. “There is also a particular category of people who would rather

discuss or give their opinions on such issues only on social media platforms, but act or

speak contrary in reality,” she added.

According to Elsie, Crux of the Matter will neither be held back by those theatrical

conventions, nor swayed by other people’s perceptions, criticisms or the so-called

“societal norms” as regards relationship, dating and sex. Crux of the Matter will bring to

the fore sensitive issues most of us would only want to deal with in our closets.

Elsie Godwin, who is a Relationship, Literature and Lifestyle blogger, is familiar with the

topics as she also hosted the show on radio for one year before moving to TV.

“I am excited that the discussion is moving to TV after one year on radio. It gives me

great joy to have these conversations in order to uplift and enlighten people.”

Guests on the show will include – but will not be limited to – Celebrities, Public

Influencers, Relationship Consultants, Health Advocates, Bloggers and people with first-

hand experience or knowledge of whatever topic is being discussed.

Crux of the Matter, designed to enlighten and entertain both the young and old, also

aims to uphold the value of family, love and acceptance in the society.

Crux of the Matter airs every Wednesday on R2TV (GoTV Channel 112) at 9:30pm

(WAT).

Watch the first montage below:

Youtube link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBGtDwlDnwY&feature=youtu.be

 

***

Cash her on TV, how about dah?

Sunset at Noon: Peace Like a Fountain

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Dearest Kay,

I miss you. I really do. But it’s no longer a nagging ache in my heart. I think that somehow I have finally made my peace with your passing regardless of all I may have said last year and the year before that. I don’t even know how that happened. I just know that I no longer feel anger or resentment at your absence. Certainly not the anger and resentment and deep hurt that littered the first post I wrote about your death and how our sun set at noon.

But it’s not even just about you. Kess, Ribadu, Bukky; all the young friends I have lost. Somehow peace has come to me and I am thankful for that.

The listlessness and fatigue that usually threaten to drown me in the month of March have been replaced instead with a peace I can’t even begin to describe or explain. Interestingly, I don’t even feel guilty for that peace. I think that holding on to the fatigue in some weird way made me feel like I was still connected to you, because no matter how many years go by, I never want to forget you. I never want you to be a distant memory. I never want to have to dig too deep into the dredges of my memory to find your mischievous smile or the glint in your eyes. It’s been 3 years now and the sound of your laughter has begun to fade in my ears but I earnestly hope I never completely forget it. It’s why I write these every year, to ensure that I never forget.

I went through your Facebook pictures today. Didn’t hurt like I thought it would. I was smiling the entire time and you were smiling back in most of them with those your chubby cheeks I would have loved to pull. I do miss you Kay!

March last year was really rough but this year is better. Never mind that I lost an aunt about a week ago. But I have found strength and peace and I can’t emphasize that enough. I’m wearing a smile as I write this. Maybe because I remember what my dear friend said to me when I went crying to him last year. “Death comes to us all, just make the most of the time you have with those who are still living.” I’m doing my best to make the most of all my relationships and I will not stop consciously investing in them.

Indeed to live in the hearts of those who love you is not to die. So I am thankful that you still live in my heart- you and every other person who has left me on this side of eternity. Spring is here, the flowers are blooming and I have peace flowing like a fountain on my insides.

Forever loving you,

Oge.

Peppersoup

peppersoup

 

I have likely had more peppersoup in the last 3 months than I have had in my entire life put together. Why? Because when life shows you pepper in the form of recurring flus, you simply make pepper-soup. Hehe.

I got an email sometime back about a collection of short stories that had been put together by some firebrand Nigerian women and I was excited to read it.

Peppersoup is one work of fiction that left me feeling all kinds of emotions. I laughed, came near tears, felt trepidation, went to mush and then came right back to normal again. The stories speak of faith, strength in adversity, chaos, doubt, hurt, healing and new beginnings. Like your perfect bowl of peppersoup, it’s got a balance of all the right ingredients to get you all up in your feels but still keep you grounded in ‘reality’. And I say ‘reality’ because everyone’s reality is different.

If I had to pick my favourite, it would be “Doing Just Fine.” The story tugged strongly at my heartstrings but I refused to cry (because hard girl. LOL). But Doing Just Fine got to me, truly. First, the author’s style was different from the usual. Then I started out thinking I could predict the end but I was so wrong. And then the story in itself was powerful and emotional. I read it more than once.

Full Circle left me smiling through almost tears. You go through some rough patches and end up feeling like damaged goods but somehow, the storm passes, the morning comes and the sun seeps in to brighten things up again.

I won’t say any more about the other stories, go and read them for yourself. *tongue out*

In reading these stories, one thing is certain. You will see bits of your life reflected in them or the lives of people you know. And that one’s thing I loved about the book. The stories are absolutely relatable. Now while the contents of the 12 stories might be different, the underlying theme is the same- we can have happy endings, no matter how chaotic life gets.

So go get yourself a copy on Okadabooks. Actually, click this link

http://okadabooks.com/book/about/pepper_soup/13202

Read, laugh, cry, but above all, be encouraged. If life is showing you pepper right now, simply grab all the ingredients, make yourself a nice bowl of peppersoup and by all means, have the last laugh.

Enjoy the weekend!

Lẹ́bẹ́: Sneak Peek

You know Seun Odukoya, of course you would, seeing that I’m always going on and on about him.

Well Seun has done it again. Read the excerpt of his new book below to see what I’m talking about.

Cover.jpg

***

There were no stars in the sky that night; Chibuzor could tell that much from his position as his vision seemed to dim and brighten alternatively. He was conscious enough to regret not backing up the latest designs for the clothing line company he and his girl were setting up; conscious enough to know the police could see what was happening to him but refused to do anything; thinking about how he was alive with nothing worse than a headache and ripped pants to show for his ordeal. He could hear the clatter of plastic on tarmac and tried to sit up.

A light-headed feeling rushed in on him; his stomach rebelled – he quickly lay on his back once again. From the sounds, it didn’t seem the thieves had noticed him.

Another thing to be thankful for, he decided.

He lay still, feigning unconsciousness, wishing they would just go away. They were mumbling, but for reasons he wasn’t sure about, he couldn’t hear what they were saying.

“Wetin una dey do dia?” said a voice.

Chibuzor’s eyes flew open; the police had come! He stretched his hand, groping for the iron grating of the compound. He found it and pulled himself up, at the same time forcing his swimming vision to focus long enough and seek out who it was that had spoken.

What he saw however made him freeze halfway up.

A figure, a tall and dark figure stood not too far away from the left of Chibuzor. It was what this man was wearing however that made Chibuzor freeze. It was impossible to tell what he looked like because his head was covered with a hood, leaving his face in shadow. He was wearing a dark-colored hooded shirt with a huge, white skull and crossbones printed on the front of it. His hands were wrapped in white bandages; like a boxer would have on before putting on his gloves. Dark-colored jeans and ankle-length black and white Converse sneakers completed his ensemble.

He looked out of place considering the evening heat; there was nothing friendly about the way he stood, in the way darkness somehow clung to him.

The thieves looked at each other and then the self-elected spokesman for the group said, “Oga, waka dey go o. Na we reach here fest. We don even obtain am finis, tomorrow fit be your – “

Chibuzor wasn’t sure what happened. One moment the tout was trying to discourage the stranger, next moment he was staggering backwards trying to keep blood in his nose with his hands. The hooded guy was standing in front of Chibuzor now.

“Oya, drop everything wey you collect back!” the man snarled.

The other touts jumped forward, the smoker pulling out a kitchen knife from the waistband of his jeans, the second wielding a plank. Hooded guy slowly moved backwards, drawing them away from Chibuzor who couldn’t believe his eyes.

God! I must have banged my head real hard, he thought.

Nevertheless, he watched as his savior sidestepped the descending plank and hit its wielder with a left uppercut. Chibuzor winced as he heard the clear crunch of teeth clashing together in a not-so-nice way. The plank wielder went down and screamed through mashed lips and blood-soaked hands. The one with a smashed nose straightened from his crouch and, grabbing the plank, joined the knife-swinger who just sent the knife towards the hooded guy’s midriff in a stabbing move.

A left forearm knocked the knife-holding hand aside and a right jab to the throat put him out of the fight permanently. The knife fell to the tarmac with a clatter and he held his throat with both hands and staggered, thudding loudly beside Chibuzor, breath rattling in his throat.

The loud blaring of a horn drowned out the coughing sounds and a danfo screamed past. “See dis mumus wey dey fight for night!!!” somebody, probably the conductor, yelled.

The plank wielder and the hooded guy circled each slowly, like boxers looking for an opening – and then the plank went up. At that moment, a sound interjected and Chibuzor realized that a phone somewhere was vibrating. The next moment he was once again focused on the tableau before him, forgetting what he’d heard.

He watched as the hooded figure moved aside to avoid the plank with a smoothness that reminded of Michael Jackson moonwalking. He blinked – and the hooded figure was close enough to the plank wielder to hug him. Instead of a hug however, the hooded figure hit him with a swift right-left combination that would have made many a professional boxer envious. In this case however, the street lights were enough illumination for Chibuzor to see the tout’s face change color – and then, he turned his head away as the tout threw up.

The tout fell to his knees and continued to throw up, blood dripping from his nose and mixing with the puke.

Chibuzor was disgusted.

“How you…are you alright?”

Chibuzor stayed against the wall, frightened into immobility. He stared as though hypnotized at the man’s face – at least, where a face was supposed to be. The man’s voice was gruff, uncultured…not too different from what the thieves had sounded like. Chibuzor didn’t move, his heartbeats thunderous in his ears.

“E for beta if you begin dey go o, because dem go wake soon,” hooded guy said, waving in the direction of the touts who were slowly moving again, holding parts of them that hurt. The tout throwing up had stopped, but he was bent over on his knees holding his stomach, rocking back and forth and making moaning noises. Chibuzor left the wall and staggered a bit, feeling for and finding a lump on the back of his head, aware his headache was now a distant pain. He looked at his savior with disbelief.

“What are you, Daredevil…or what…?”

The hood swung his way – and even though he couldn’t see inside it he felt a burning stare.

“Carry your tins dey go,” the voice from within the hood said.

There was a cold finality to the sentence that started Chibuzor moving. He looked around, and spotted his valuables scattered amongst the groaning bodies. Quickly he darted between them and scooped up his laptop, phone, wallet and twenty naira one after the other. Stashing them into his bag, he turned towards the hood who was pointing back towards the busier side of Opebi – the left side from where they were standing.

“Selfie?” Chibuzor asked.

 

Click on link to buy Lẹ́bẹ́ now!

http://okadabooks.com/book/about/lebe_first_cut/13423

Read Lebe

***

I disappeared from the blog without warning, I’m sorry. I was drowning and needed the time out but all is right with the world again now. See you guys next week! In the mean time, buy Lẹ́bẹ́!

 

Damage Control #9

Before we start lovelies, would you please help me make my baby boo’s dream come true? One click on this link and she’ll be a step closer to getting a scholarship to her dream culinary school. Can I count on you for your vote please? Thank you

http://www.ice.edu/culinaryvoice/vjqpx8c

Read Previous episode here

***

Leslie propped the pillows behind Ojiugo, trying to ensure her maximum comfort in bed. The sheets had been changed to bright shades of pink and purple. The room itself had undergone some transformation. Ojiugo had remarked a few times about how dull the place looked so just before she came home, Leslie spent hours redecorating. He changed the position of her bed to give a better view of the window and on the walls, he put up colourful wallpapers, landscape paintings and some of Ojiugo’s favourite quotes. For all his hardwork, he had been rewarded with eyes that shone bright and a warm smile the second she walked into the room.

“You transformed it!” she had said with child-like delight and Leslie found pure contentment in that moment.

“Can I get you anything?” Leslie asked once he stepped away from the bed.

“Some water please.”

Leslie stepped out of the room and returned momentarily with a bottle and glass in tow. He placed the bottle on the table by her side, right next to a monochrome picture of them sitting side by side on an extensive patch of grass. Ojiugo took the glass he offered with a smile and sipped from. As she set it down, she noticed the picture and she smiled.

“I liked it there you know. I know I gave you such a hard time on that trip, but I really liked it.”

Leslie smiled in return.

“True confessions. I wonder how many more of those I’m going to get in the coming weeks.”

Ojiugo grinned widely.

“Look who’s making jokes now.”

Leslie swallowed hard and turned away.

“I know I don’t have that much time left Leslie. Thank you for not making it tough.”

With his back still to her, Leslie shrugged and focused on smoothening the sheets at the end of the bed.

“Have you heard anything about Belema yet? Did you ask Ikem about her?”

Leslie sighed and he turned to face Ojiugo again.

“No darling. I didn’t. And you must stop worrying about her too. It’s how we landed in the hospital again. Stop doing this to yourself please. It’s hurting me too.”

Ojiugo’s face fell.

“Sorry. I’m just wondering how she’s doing and something about her has me really drawn to her. I can’t get her out of my mind.”

Leslie smiled mischievously.

“I’m getting replaced by a woman. So that’s how you choose to swing in the latter days?”

Ojiugo laughed softly but soon began to cough. Leslie’s face was overcome with concern as she held her head tenderly.

“Sorry love.”

Ojiugo nodded and once the coughing subsided, she was wearing a smile.

“Made wants to come by and spend next weekend with us. That woman will be the death of me Les. And she wouldn’t let me say no.”

Leslie snorted in an attempt to keep from laughing but failed.

“One weekend honey. Let her come and stay. Please.”

Ojiugo turned away. Made was her best friend. When Ojiugo lost both parents in a plane crash at 6, Made’s parents took her in and the two girls grew together like sisters. Work kept them in different cities but they stayed in touch often. Made cried her eyes out when she found out about the cancer. Ojiugo kept it hidden from her for over two months and when Leslie got tired of the cover up, he told Made the truth. As much as Made was always busy with work, she created time the very weekend Leslie told her and flew down from Calabar. Made was such a worrier. And that was the major problem Ojiugo had with her. It was why Ojiugo kept the issue with her health a secret and it was also why she didn’t want Made coming over now. Because Made would worry and fuss and probably burst into tears at random occasions without warning. It would stress her and she did not feel up to it.

“If you say so. But she’ll be your headache when she starts with the drama. I love her but even you know she can be more than a handful.”

Leslie smiled and rubbed her hands.

“I’ll take care of her darling. Not to worry.”

Ojiugo smiled and shut her eyes, falling asleep almost immediately. Leslie observed her for a few minutes before getting up and leaving the room. Once outside, he took in a really deep breath then exhaled slowly. Just before leaving the hospital, he had another talk with Dr. Ikem who encouraged him some more to give Ojiugo as much support as he could emotionally. He spent a few hours surfing the internet, trying to look for clues on how to deal with a loved one who was nearing their death and he did find some helpful information. It was why he easily flowed with Ojiugo’s jokes today. Usually, whenever she attempted to make some light hearted comment on the topic of her limited time left, Leslie would take it to heart and get in a mood. But he was gradually understanding and accepting that it was part of her coping mechanism, a way to find her peace and he was not going to stand in the way of that anymore.

He also knew Made would be better off not coming by the house but he had no means of keeping her away. She loved Ojiugo too much to not visit her in her final days. He sighed as he contemplated what to do in the one week before she turned up then he suddenly remembered Ojiugo’s comments about Belema. He decided he would try the house one more time and probably set up camp there till someone came to tell him where Belema was. But that would have to be tomorrow. He was tired and needed to get some rest himself.

He went into the kitchen and took some beans from the freezer to microwave. Ojiugo would likely be asleep for a long time. He would use the opportunity to get some shut eye before he had to cater to her again.

***

Mrs. Ochoga looked like she had just been hit by a truck. Belema would had laughed had the circumstances been different but she knew there was no room for humour. She had come to the end of herself. She was tired of bottling things up. She needed her mother and as she sat there holding her gaze and waiting with bated breath, Belema hoped that her mother would prove an ally and come through as a mother would, just this once.

“Is it Seun’s?” Mrs. Ochoga finally asked

“Yes. But I can’t tell him and I can’t keep it either.” Belema said.

Mrs. Ochoga had no words. She stood up and walked to the other end of the room and folded her arms, looking out the window.

“Mum?”

“Yes?”

“Say something please.”

“Like what? That my first daughter keeps trying to embarrass and disgrace me?”

Belema gasped in shock. Here she was, having just opened up to her mother and the first reaction she got was fear for her mother’s image as opposed to concern for her wellbeing. She cautiously dropped the wine bottle she had been holding and just as quickly as she had opened her heart, she clamped it shut again.

“Well, I’m sorry all I have ever done is embarrass and disgrace you. I’ll take care of this myself. Don’t worry.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Mrs. Ochoga snapped. Even in her anger, she remained passive. She could not bring herself to yell or throw things around the house, even though that was exactly how she felt on the inside.

“First you try to commit suicide, and now you want to commit murder?”

“I never said anything about murder mum.”

“Really? So abortion is what? Life transformation?”

“I didn’t say anything about an abortion either and would you just stop jumping to conclusions? I hate it! This is exactly why I gave up the first time. You don’t listen. You don’t care and you don’t try to protect your children. It’s always about you and what you want or how you feel or what people would think of you. Not a single thought ever goes to your children. But that’s fine. I don’t even care anymore.”

Belema rose and walked out of the room, leaving her mother standing by the window with tears in her eyes.  As she walked to her room, she heard Nengi and Olanna laughing in Nengi’s room and another wave of sadness hit her. She greatly desired a bond with some friend similar to what Nengi had with Olanna but no one in her life came close. The gulf between Seun and herself was widening daily and there was nothing to do about it. She got into her room and slammed the door shut but seconds later, someone was knocking on it.

Belema lay in bed and refused to acknowledge the person. She was certain it was her mother coming either with some other weak apology or to further berate her but she was not in the mood. The knocking soon stopped and the door opened cautiously and Olanna peaked through it with Nengi bearing over her. Belema looked at them and was oddly reminded of cartoon scenes with mice peering to be sure a cat wasn’t about and the image made her laugh. Olanna then opened the door fully and the two girls poured into the room.

“Sorry, we weren’t sure if you were here” Olanna began to say.

“Stop lying jor” Nengi interrupted.

“We heard you come in and slam your door like you were trying to cause an artificial earthquake. Are you okay?”

Belema smiled inspite of herself.

“Yeah. Your mother wears me out, no matter how hard I try. But you already know this.”

Nengi grinned.

“Well try this on for size, I want to put Olanna up for sale for the exact same reason.”

Belema laughed and looked from one girl to the other. Olanna had a twinkle in her eyes and shrugged when Nengi made the remark. It was obvious the girl had no intentions of going anywhere.

“Your sister is being a complete learner. One guy likes her and is making all these romantic gestures but she is forming for him as if good guys are not scarce in the market. Meanwhile Valentine is around the corner.”

Nengi jumped into Belema’s bed, picked up a nail file that was lying on it and began filing her nails.

“Well, since he is so good, why don’t you have him?” she retorted.

“Because he wants you, not me.”

Belema smiled warmly and watched on in silence as they continued their banter. But in her heart, she was grateful for her baby sister who she knew had come to her room to provide comfort without knowing the details of what had her upset. And Nengi never bothered questioning her or pushing to share more than she was willing to per time.

She soon noticed that Nengi had launched into a monologue while Olanna busied herself rummaging through Belema’s book collection.

“You only have romance here.” Olanna remarked suddenly.

“Huh?” Belema looked up.

“Your books. Is it only romance you read?”

Belema smiled.

“Yeah. Those are the ones that interest me the most.”

“Hmmn. Okay. But I think you could try other stuff sha. Maybe you’d find some other thing that appeals to you.”

“Yeah? Like?”

“Non-fiction? Biographies? Self-help books?”

Belema made a face

“Ugh. I hate those.”

Nengi and Olanna burst out laughing.

“I swear. Nengi knows. Bunch of self-absorbed people telling you how they think you should live your life. No thanks. I’ll pass.”

“Save your breath Ola. I have tried and failed with my sister on that one. She won’t budge.”

Belema smacked Nengi with a pillow and the latter laughed some more.

“I get persecuted for the truth. But issokay. Jesus was killed for the truth.”

Belema shook her head and got off the bed.

“Why don’t you bring me one of your most favourite non-fictions books and I’ll give it a shot.” She said to Olanna.

Olanna smiled brightly.

“Sure thing. Tomorrow.”

“I need some fresh air. You guys fancy some pizza? Maybe we can go to Dominos?”

“Yessssss!” Nengi yelled excitedly, jumping off the bed in seconds.

“Food will kill you.” Olanna teased.

“Then I shall die happy.”

Belema smiled and shook her head. So maybe she did not have a friendship like Nengi had with Olanna but she at least had both girls and occasionally shared in their friendship. In the interim, that would most certainly do.

***

Mrs. Ochoga woke up the following morning with a nagging pain in her chest. No matter how hard she tried with Belema, she always ended up failing. They did not have the special bond most mothers had with their first daughters and it made her sad to know that Belema thought her selfish and uncaring. She wondered what she could have done differently. Belema was 30 and responsible for her choices but there was no doubt that those choices would always reflect on her one way or another. And why did Belema not want to tell Seun?

Someone knocked softly on the door and she turned on her side and invited them in. The door opened and Nengi walked with a smile as radiant as the sun. The girl was always so bubbly and energetic.

“Hi mum!” Nengi called out cheerily.

“Hello dear.”

Nengi walked to the bedroom windows and pulled the drapes apart. Sunlight came pouring in, forcing Mrs. Ochoga to shield her eyes.

“I didn’t see you last night and you haven’t gotten out of bed this morning. Was the fight with Belema that bad?”

“What did she tell you?” Mrs. Ochoga asked tiredly.

“I haven’t asked her yet. At least not directly. If she didn’t tell me with all the hints I was dropping, I take it she’s not ready. So I’m here asking you instead.”

“Go and ask your sister Nengi, because I am tired.”

Nengi went and sat beside her mother in bed.

“Mum, she’s still recovering and I think we should handle her with care. I don’t want us to do anything that will send her back to that depressed place where she tried to commit suicide.”

“Nengi, your sister is an adult and I will not walk on egg shells around her just because I’m afraid of doing something that will make her want to kill herself again. So somehow that’s my fault too?”

“I didn’t say that mum.”

“Then what are you saying? Because Belema blamed me yesterday for her suicide attempt.”

Nengi sighed

“Mummy, I’m very certain she didn’t mean that. Maybe she just got really upset over whatever it was you guys were fighting over and she said that because she was angry. I don’t think she meant it at all.”

Mrs. Ochoga remained adamant.

“Just tell your sister not to do anything stupid again. I need some peace and sanity in my life.”

She got out of bed immediately and went into her bathroom. Nengi sighed again. Who had cursed her with this unending charade that was her family?

She stood up and walked out of her mother’s room. She honestly did not want to know what the fight was about. She just wanted Belema to be happy again and for her home front to not be chaotic. But that was apparently too much to ask for.

As she walked into the living room, she was surprised to see a tall guy in glasses sitting with Belema. Something about the young man was vaguely familiar but Nengi could not place it. They both looked up as she walked in.

“Hello,” Leslie said with a smile

“Hi.” Nengi returned the smile.

“Nengi, this is Leslie. He’s the boyfriend to the woman who rescued me on New Year’s Day.”

Nengi’s smile warmed up some more.

“Oh hi, it’s nice to see you again. But why are you here so early in the morning though. Everything okay?”

Belema stared at Nengi in shock and tried to make subtle faces to keep her from making further tactless comments and Leslie laughed.

“We were just concerned. Actually, Ojiugo is. She hadn’t heard from your sister here in weeks and each time we came here, we never met anyone at home so I promised her I would come and check one more time, really early, in the hope that I would at least find someone here.”

“Ohh. Right. Well, it’s nice to see you again.”

“Same here.” Leslie responded warmly.

To Belema, Nengi said

“Belz, can we talk later? I’ll be in my room.”

“Sure.” Belema responded and Nengi walked out.

Belema turned her attention back to Leslie.

“Sorry, you were saying?”

“Ojiugo would like to see you again. She’s actually been worried about you.”

“Well, that’s sweet of her but I don’t think seeing her again would be necessary. I mean, you could just tell her I’m fine and won’t be taking another dive anytime soon. My family has been supportive and I’m on medication.” Belema said politely.

Leslie’s tone was urgent when he responded.

“But you need to. I’m begging. It would mean so much to her.”

Belema shook her head.

“I’m sorry. And I know this might come off as rude, but I don’t think we have any further business with each other. She rescued me, I’m grateful for that. But I don’t want to force a friendship. It’ll be awkward for me. I’m really trying to forget what happened that day and I don’t see how visiting her will help.”

Belema stood up to indicate she was done with the conversation but Leslie remained seated. He took off his glasses and looked her straight in the eye.

“Ojiugo is dying. She’s got cancer. The least you can do for the woman who saved your life is grant her dying wish.”

Belema gasped and promptly sat down again.

“Jesus! I had no idea.”

“Of course you didn’t. But please, this is important. She got so worried about your disappearance, she landed in the hospital again a few days ago. She’s got a limited amount of time left Belema. Please. One dinner. Come by the house, talk to her, listen to her talk. A couple of hours at most.”

“Yeah, sure. Sure.”

She stretched out a hand and took Leslie’s.

“I’m so sorry. Honestly. This must be so hard for you.”

Leslie shrugged and pulled his hand back then put on his glasses.

“I’m alright. I’m crazy in love with her and will do any and everything possible to ensure she transits peacefully. There’s nothing else to be done.”

“What kind of cancer please? If you don’t mind my asking that is.”

“A tumour in her brain. We discovered it late and surgery was not an option.”

Belema swallowed hard and fought the tears that were pooling in her eyes.

“When do you want me to come? I can come with you right away if you like.”

Leslie shook his head.

“No. Tomorrow night. Valentine’s Day. If you don’t already have plans. She can’t leave the house so I’m making dinner and having one or two of our mutual friends over. She needs as much cheerful company as she can get.”

“Alright then. Send me the address and time please. I’ll be there.”

Leslie nodded and stood up.

“Thank you for your time.”

He walked out of the house and into his car, all the while thinking how he did not like Belema. He thought she was a selfish ingrate. He had not wanted the cancer to be a bargaining chip. He had hoped that she would be willing to come see Ojiugo just at the mention of her worry and concern but her reluctance had annoyed him. But he reminded himself that this was for Ojiugo and the mild irritation Belema brought him was a small price to pay for the peace of mind of the woman he loved.