Sharon wasn’t ready. She had seen crazy ladies but then, they were Maitama rich kids crazy scratching at each other for silly issues like unshared blunts and boyfriends, not Lagos crazy. She stared at the lady who was ripping Dapo apart with her tongue and wished she could diffuse into the earth instantly, but it was too late! Some jobless folks at the mall had started taking videos and pictures of the showdown; they were going to make it to gossip blogs in no time and possibly trend on Twitter. She was officially screwed!
“Jadesola, please, calm down.” Dapo said, as he stared at the crowd. “It is not what it seems like.” He said.
She laughed as she clapped her hands. “Ehen?! Do I look like I have glue in my eyes? Are you not here with that skinny piece of meat?” she asked, staring at Sharon who was standing metres away from them. “Panla, I am talking to you!”
“Jade! Stop this nonsense. We are in the public!” Dapo said as he tried taking her hand. She wouldn’t let him. “Let’s go and talk about this outside.”
“You told me you were going to work for the weekend. Is this the work?” Jadesola asked. “Look at the babe, this one is not work na.” She added, accessing her body frame. “I am work.” She said, firming her hands against her buttocks. “This is work.” She said, emphatically.
Dapo exhaled as laughter rang across the room. The onlookers were definitely having fun with this. He turned to Sharon who was clearly embarrassed and mouthed. “I am sorry.” He said. Sharon nodded and turned away from them, heading downstairs.
“Where is she going?” Jade asked as she tried going after Sharon but was restrained by Dapo who grabbed her firmly and lifted her over his shoulder. “What are you doing?” she cried. “Put me down!”
He was having none of her theatrics. He had seen enough of it, and unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time. Other times, he had learnt to walk away but this was not one of such occasions. He was at fault. He ought to have told her that he wasn’t alone and maybe that would have made her less dramatic…after all, there was not one drama-free woman, yeah? He released her as soon as they got to the car. “Get in.” He ordered, looking over her shoulder in Sharon’s direction. He could still see her walking down the road. But, she was not alone. Tobi was closing in on her. He hated that guy!
“I am not going anywhere with you until you tell me who that lady is.” She replied, in an unusually calm tone.
Dapo scoffed. “Why didn’t you speak like a proper human being up there? If you had this humane part of you, why didn’t I see that part? Aren’t you going to continue raging like a madwoman?”
She flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Who is she?” she asked.
“She is a friend who needs my help and thanks to you, she is out of sight” Dapo replied. “Now if you would please, get into the car and let me drop you home.” He said.
Jade took a deep breath. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” he asked.
She sighed. “I have a date.”
Sharon stopped walking and turned towards the person that had been calling after her. It was Tobi Adebiyi. The TV Presenter. Now what could he want? An Interview? She could only ask the Heavens to help her so she wouldn’t be rude towards him. She had had enough for a lifetime and the only thing she could think about now was getting on the next flight to Abuja on Monday morning. “Yes?”
He smiled as he stood before her. “I was on my way out when that episode happened up there and I would love to apologize on behalf of my friend and his psychotic girlfriend.”
“Name calling? That’s classy.” She replied and started to turn away from him. She couldn’t be interested in anything that had to do with Dapo or his girlfriend.
Tobi hurried after her. “I am sorry about that. I usually come off wrong some times.”
“Well, this seems like all the time.” she replied.
Tobi chuckled. “You can’t judge me by one incident.” He replied. “Where are you off to? I could drop you.”
Sharon paused and then realized that she had no idea where she was off to. She couldn’t return to the hotel. She wasn’t the registered user of the room and she was sure the receptionists would be more than happy to turn her back. Maybe it was time to get off her high horse and call for help. Lagos was going from bad to worse. She was sure that her parents knew people in Lagos who could camp her till Monday morning. She was going to return to Abuja and get her job back. She was not all rusty with her skills on AutoCAD, she was halfway done with helping Dapo out so she knew she still had it in her even though it was not what she wanted. She loved to paint but her Dad was not having that so she settled for the closest thing to her art skills – Architecture. Her parents were delighted. She was going to make them proud and of a truth, she did. She had hoped to find something special in Lagos but it seemed as though every step she had taken was akin to taking two back. Her trip was pointless. Her rediscovery process was pointless. She was going back home. She took a deep breath and stared at Tobi. “Can I use your phone?”
He nodded as he fetched it out of his pocket. His phone buzzed just as he was about to hand it to her. “Dapo is calling.” He said. “One second.” He added and answered the call. “What’s up, man?” he asked and paused to listen. He nodded. “You want me to take her to my place?”
Sharon stared at him. “I am not going anywhere with you.” She replied.
Tobi passed the phone to her. “He wants to speak with you.”
“What do you want?” Sharon flipped. “I get it. You are sorry, but I don’t want to go anywhere with him. I don’t know him.”
“I am a good guy.” Tobi intercepted. “I am better than Dapo. You can bank on that.” He added, staring at a black jeep packed a distance from them. He had noticed the driver staring at them so he waved at him. For all he knew, the driver could have been a fan. He then turned to Sharon who was done with the call. “My lady, what say you?”
“Let’s go.” She said.
He smiled. “Of course.”
“Sharon is fine.” Jane announced as she took a seat opposite her mother on the dining table. “I just got off the phone with one of my men in Lagos. He is keeping a close watch on her and I am sure he would prompt her if necessary to be on the next flight.”
“Just out of curiosity,” Mama started. “How much did you pay those men to watch over Ifesinachi?”
Jane smiled. She was not willing to answer that question. She dug her fork into some beef and started to slice it. “Your granddaughter is fine, but I cannot guarantee that she has been feeding fine.” She started. “That’s what she gets for wanting to do things her way.”
Mama took a deep breath. She was going to ask the hard question she had not asked her daughter in a long time. Jane was dealing with a bi-polar condition but she had been just fine in recent times. However, her recent actions were a cause for concern. “Are you relapsing?”
“Are you going to ask a madman if he is mad?” Jane replied with a cheesy smile. “Mom, I know where you are headed? I am not relapsing. I am fine. And every decision I have taken is for the good of my daughter.”
Mama nodded. “Would your daughter still love you if, when she returns on Monday, she realises that you were behind every ordeal she went through?”
Jane smiled. “It was all for her good. Sharon thinks she is seeking answers to questions. The truth is there are no answers. The only answers are the ones we give ourselves. If you want fulfilment, you have to accept the things you have before you and stop seeking the things out of your reach.” She replied.
Mama took a deep breath. “Fulfilment is wherever you find it and if you think putting a leash on your daughter so that she is dependent on you will be a recompense for the times you and I never had, I need you to understand that you might be suffering a relapse and you are not even aware of it.”
“Are you attacking me based on my mental state?” Jane asked, staring into her tab. “Mama, I am fine. I am only protecting my daughter the way you never protected me. I want to ensure that Sharon never has to leave my sight so that she is safe.”
Mama laughed. “So, I am guessing the robbery plan was to tell her the things she could face without your coverage? Jane, you are mad and you don’t have anyone to tell you.”
“Mama, you are wrong. You just told me and I would like to finish my food in peace.” Jane replied.
Mama rose to her feet. “And when Sharon gets married? Would you like to live with her too, so she is protected from her husband?”
“It’s a good thing she doesn’t see marriage as important.” Jane replied. “You and I know that.”
Mama shook her head. “Jane, you can’t take care of your daughter forever. She is going to take care of you some day. It might be time to let her go.”
“I have decided not to. Deal with it, Mom.” Jane replied. “I am not letting her go like you let me out of your sight. I am not allowing her face the world alone.”
Mama was genuinely sorry for Jane. Now she was sure, more than ever, that her daughter needed help.
Sharon watched Tobi as he gave instructions to his stewards before returning to meet her in the living room. “You have stewards for different purposes.”
“As it should be.” He said, sinking into a chair. “Two for the kitchen because I am very particular about my food and gaining weight in the right places.” He started. “You know, the office pays for them. I have one who drives me about and I have one who does my laundry and another for my menial chores.”
“And you live in a rented duplex?” Sharon said, cutting short his enthusiasm.
He nodded with a smile. “The office pays for everything.”
Sharon chuckled. “And I believe they talk a small cut from your monthly salary.”
“Pretty insignificant stuff.” He replied. “Dinner would be served soon.” He added.
Sharon chuckled. “I am surprised you don’t understand the yearly import of that ‘pretty insignificant stuff’ on your annual pay.”
Tobi shrugged. “I don’t care. Life’s too short.” He said and then ran his eyes over Sharon with a smile. “So, what’s a pretty young thing like you doing as Dapo’s chic? That bastard is too sleek. He got Jade on one side and he’s got you as his side squeeze. How is a brother that lucky? Maybe if I was light skin or something. Right?” he said, turning to Sharon.
“You should really put a leash on your mouth.” She replied, standing up. She walked over to the wall and stared at the paintings that adorned it. She smiled as she thought about what she would have been as a painter. She jumped as soon as she felt Tobi’s hand around her lower back. “What are you doing?”
“Making myself comfortable.” He replied.
She shook her head. “Don’t you care about the impression that you make on others?” she asked, dropping his hand. “Most importantly, you are a celebrity. People look up to you. How about you live up to the reputation you have falsely put out there?”
“Now where’s the fun in that? This is who I am.” He said with a smile.
Sharon shook her head as she returned to her seat. “You leave a very bad impression about yourself.”
He joined her. “Fine. I agree. Now tell me, what are you even doing with a guy like Dapo?”
“What do you mean by a guy like Dapo?” she asked. “Because of his babe? She doesn’t define him.”
Tobi laughed. “Nah. Jadesola is a lovely girl except for when her anger buttons are spiked. Dapo is a… he is a weird guy. I mean, he drops off the surface and flies away again.” He replied. “He doesn’t even keep in touch with me and we were like good friends in those days.” He added with a laugh.
“In what days?” Sharon asked. Her hope was that Tobi was another blast from her past. She wondered why she was, all of a sudden, looking for familiar strangers in her life when all she wanted was to run away.
He relaxed in his chair. “We used to be friends way back in the university. We both studied Architecture but look at me; I ended up a sport presenter and that guy, oh well…”
Sharon hissed as her enthusiasm was watered down at the mention of ‘university’. She had hoped to hear primary school. She sighed and thought about home again. It was time to call in the cavalry. She was done with the adventure. “Can I, please, use your phone?”
He nodded and passed it to her. “Who are you going to call? Dapo told us to wait for him.”
She ignored him as she walked over to the paintings with the phone to her ear. “Mama.” She said, tiredly.
“Ifesinachi! How are you?”
Sharon could hear the panic in Mama’s voice. “I am fine, Mama. How is my mom?”
“She… she is very fine. How is Lagos treating you? Is it all you hoped for?”
Sharon took a deep breath. If she told Mama the truth right now, she would have failed…again. Maybe she could give herself another fighting chance. Or maybe she didn’t need to be so stupid and just let her grandmother come to her rescue.
“Ifesinachi? You are silent.” Mama echoed.
Sharon laughed. “It’s just great, Mama. Lagos is just great. I have my own place now and I… erm, I should be…I should be going to an art exhibition tonight to check out some artworks. I might even get my own studio once the week starts and then I think I should get back to painting. It’s just been so long, you know?” she said with a feigned smile.
“Ifesinachiiiiiii, Na like that Lagos sweet reach? One day you don get house dey jump upandan.” Mama stressed. “Should I come and visit you?”
Sharon shook her head. “No, Mama and I have to go now.” She said, taking a glance at Tobi who was receiving a meal from his steward. She turned away from him. “You can’t call me on this phone, Mama. I am yet to set my phone up.”
“Set yourself up? Ifesinachi, you are within Nigeria nau, what happened to your phone?” Mama quizzed.
Sharon blinked as she thought of a more befitting tale. “Mama, I am trying to start my life all over again and I… I really don’t want to have old contacts, so I decided to-”
“-to cut your grandmother off?” she asked.
Sharon shook her head apologetically as though Mama could see her. “Mama, you know I can’t do that. I… I would never do that to you, but I have to go now. I’ll keep in touch.”
“Ifesinachi, God be with you. I know what you are going through. But I know you are stronger than this, okay?” Mama said.
Sharon nodded. Her Grandmother’s words had given her life even though she was sure the old woman knew not what she spoke of. “Bye, Mama. Tell Mom I said I love her.” She said, hanging up.
Tobi clapped as soon as she got off the phone. “That was quite a performance. If I didn’t know better, I would have said you really had your own place and an art exhibition to be at this night.” He said with a soft laugh. “Who is the poor woman you were deceiving on the phone? Who is Mama?”
“You truly don’t know better.” Sharon replied, taking her seat.
He drew closer to her. “Do you really like painting?”
Sharon nodded absently as she thought about the next day. Monday couldn’t come any sooner. She was expectant and she couldn’t wait to get back on track. Maybe she could indeed get back to painting.
“I painted all these myself.” Tobi said.
She turned to him. “Really?”
He nodded. “I like to paint. It’s like a pastime activity for me but it’s something I love doing.”
“They are beautiful.” Sharon said, staring at the framed artworks.
He smiled. “Thank you.”
“Sorry for everything, guys.” Dapo said, walking in. “I am really sorry about what happened back there.” He added. “Can we please leave, Sharon? I need to have that presentation ready for Monday.”
“No.” She replied, “You don’t get to come here and tell me to come with you like nothing happened. I don’t want your Queen tearing at my cloth before the day is over.”
Tobi stared at them. “I’ll just let you two have this moment.” He said, grabbing his plate, disappearing down the hallway.
Dapo took a deep breath. “Sharon, I really want to apologize for everything that happened. I can’t explain right now, but I really need you to come with me so we can finish up my work. It’s important to me.”
“My safety is also important to me.” Sharon replied. “Your Queen looks like someone who could decorate me with an acid bath. I am too fresh for that.” She added.
Dapo found a wry smile in spite of how he felt and sank into a chair. “Sharon, trust me, I am too fresh for stress too.” He said.
She hissed. “How vain!” she said. “So, what happened with Jadesola?”
He passed his phone to her. “We are now famous on social network sites. Our video has gone viral; you have been tagged the side chic and Jadesola, the ranting wife and me, the clueless husband and I am pretty sure that title suits me well.”
“Except that I am not your side chic.” Sharon corrected.
He nodded. “Fine, you have made your point. Now, let’s go home.”
“Hotel, you mean.” She replied. “I am not going with you.”
He scoffed. “Why? We had a deal. And you had better stick to it.” He said, getting upset. “I don’t know whatever Tobi must have said to you but that guy says a lot of nonsense.”
“I didn’t tell her anything that she doesn’t already know.” Tobi said, joining them. “You guys are trending on the internet.” He said, looking up from his phone. “This is not good.”
“Tobi, you are not saying what I don’t already know. I have shown her the post.” Dapo said, rising to his feet. “Sharon, I think it’s time we left. We only have Sunday left. I need to get this work locked down.”
Sharon ran her fingers through her hair. “You only care about the fact that I am working for you!”
“Forgive me if I can’t think of anything else but that is all that matters to me.” Dapo retorted. “You have to come back with me and finish that job.”
“What job?” Tobi asked with a raised eyebrow.
Dapo stared at him. “Thanks Tobi for taking her in briefly but this business is between Sharon and I.”
“And I insist that I am not going back with you!” she replied.
He smiled. “And where would you go?”
“She can stay here with me.” Tobi said. “There is enough room.”
Dapo smiled. “Tobi is a joke. You don’t want to stay with him.”
“Your girlfriend called me names. She would have ripped me apart. I don’t feel safe with you.” Sharon replied.
“Small comfort in this jackass’ house and you feel safe?” Dapo asked. “Sharon, I need to get my design fixed.”
Tobi stared at Dapo. “Bro, I don’t mean to piss you off, but if she doesn’t want to go with you, she is more than welcome to stay here.” He said.
Dapo clenched his fist in anger. “Sharon?”
“Bring the laptop here. I’ll work from here. I don’t want trouble.” Sharon replied.
Dapo exhaled sharply. “Jadesola is not your problem anymore. I can assure you.”
“No. I am not taking that chance!” Sharon retorted. “Bring the laptop here. I will work from here.” She added. “You have a girlfriend. Respect her.”
“We broke up!” Dapo yelled. “We are done. Jadesola and I are done.” He replied.
Tobi blinked. “Dude, you just ended things with her like that? Na wetin?”
Dapo took a deep breath. “She broke up with me. She is engaged to be married.”
“What?!” Tobi gaped. “So na you be the side bobo?”
Dapo nodded. “The clueless one.”