Oceans Apart (5) by Milli


‘Osas my baby gir!!!!!….how are you now?”

“Baby girl ko….baby girl ni abegi..please no dey talk that kin thing”

“Ah ah why you just harsh like this na”

“Bimbo I don’t have time….I have somewhere to be at four.”

“Okay….Okay lets go inside”

Bimbo had not let Osas rest for the last few weeks because of Behi. He couldn’t even explain why he wanted Behi back so much but he was determined to have her back at his side and…in his bed of course. Osas had been blowing him off whenever he told her he wanted to meet and talk with her about the whole thing. She finally gave up after a lot of persuasion. Bimbo was Osas’s good friend but she knew she could never let him get close to Behi again and was determined to make that not happen.

“I want her back….” Bimbo said after they had settled into their seats and ordered for their meal.

Osas laughed….a high pitched mocking laughter

Bimbo frowned “Osas I’m serious”

“My dear…” Osas said, putting a hand on his shoulder and looking straight into to his eyes “Forget about it…she would never come back to you”

“How do you know?”

“You cheated on her three times….if someone does that to you shey you would go back to the person…?”

They talked for quite a while with Bimbo admitting that he really messed up and how he had not met anyone else better than her. Osas still stood on her words saying Behi would never take him back chipping how she had begged so much on his behalf whenever he messed up.

“I was really silly then Osas….I don’t know why I was doing that….but I’ve changed…honestly.. I really want a serious relationship now.

“Eheen so then you didn’t want a serious relationship right…you knew she was fragile and you hurt her over and over again…see eh Bimbo find yourself another girl…not Behi…she has a new boyfriend now and they are both very serious about their relationship…..infact…”

“Tell me about him”……Bimbo cut Osas off

“About who?”

“Her boyfriend”

“You don’t need to know anything about him Bimbo’

‘Osas come on….just a little bit…I mean it’s not like I would send guys to beat him or something”

“That’s not even possible…he’s not in the country.”

On hearing that, a little smile formed across Bimbo’s lips.

“Oh really….so when does he get back”

Osas had seen the smile and thought it was rather suspicious and snapped back

“That’s none of your business”

“Hmmm you want to protect your friend abi”

“Bimbo see, I have told you forget about her”

“Osas you know it’s better you just tell me….you know if I wanted to know who she was with I would have found out a long time ago.”

“Eh….then go and find out yourself.”

“Clearly this is not how I expected this meeting to go”

“Bimbo stay away from her….I know we are friends but I’m sorry….I can’t help you with this one”

“I’ve heard you dearest”…..Bimbo said with a sly smile on his face

Osas said “hmmmm well thanks for the meal….I’m leaving”

“Bye bye dear”

“Bye”

Osas left while Bimbo sat there pondering about the mystery guy who was dating his Behi. He was quite cross that Osas didn’t say anything that could help him. He should have known Osas was too smart to reveal anything that would help him get Behi back but he was determined to get her back…the urge was growing…he wanted to hold her…he wanted to kiss her….he wanted her at his side and he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.

Osas knew immediately that she had to warn Behi about Bimbo. As calm and sweet as she was Behi had a little atom of stubbornness and mischief which usually went overboard when she didn’t handle the situation properly. However she had to deliver some files for her boss to someone at four. She quickly made a call to Behi

“Behi wassup?”

“I am fine dear…u?”

“I am okay…are you closing early today?”

“I am not sure o…heard there is going to be a meeting at 4.30….but at most I should be done by 6. You want to hang out somewhere after?”

“Yes….I need to discuss something with you in person”

“Hmmm okay….where and when do we meet?”

“Bukka Hut”

“Alright would let you know when I am on my way”

“Okay….bye”

Oceans Apart (4) by Milli

“Erm  child of God….are you not going to church” Behi asked Osas who was still lazing on the bed.

“Hmmm yea yea I’m going”

“Get up and dress up na…do u want us to go late?” Behi said hastily

“Ok I will dress up now”

The service was nice and they both enjoyed it. Usually after service Behi wuld have gone to meet up with Dozie for lunch but that definitely wasn’t happening this Sunday and many more Sundays to come. As usual Osas had a solution.

“Dozie isn’t around o sisteh so whats the plan?” she knew Behi would probably just want to go home and she was right .

“Dunno…might just go home.”

“I’m not going home o….ah ah go home and do what now…what if there is no light?…..there is one fashion show at Terrakulture and I have two tickets are you interested?”

“Osas….. Osas you are always ready to go for one event or the other….sure I am interested” Behi said with a small smile.

“Yay!!!! But I’m hungry sha lets go eat somewhere and chill first”

“Okay lets go I know a place nearby”

“Huh you ke…you know a nice restaurant around”

“Yes na….ah ah what do u mean”

“Hmmm….Dozie has made a good impact on you…” she suddenly stopped… Uh oh shouldn’t have said his name she thought to herself.

In a few seconds Behi’s face fell  “I wonder what he’s up to now”

“Sweetie I’m sure he is fine. Shey he’s staying with Emeka…they would probably be bonding by now.”

“Yea… it’s been ages they last saw each other…..Lets go eat…it’s a lovely day don’t wanna be sad.”

With that Osas led her friend to the car.

***

Phone rings…….

Bimbo opened one eye and then the other as he tried to sit up but when he did he realized he had a splitting headache. Last night turned out to be quite eventful. His phone kept on ringing and it seemed to increase his headache the more. He picked up the call without looking at the number and answered.

“Hello”

“Guy!!!!! Nawa o I’ve been calling you since.” It was Eno

“Abeg no vex….I just dey wake up”

“Oh I see…how your party dey last night”

“It rocked infact guy the headache wey I get now as I dey talk to you eh”

“Choi….chairman I trust you…I don dey London now o just say make I hail you I never really settle”

If there was one other thing Bimbo remembered the night before it was that he had seen Behi.

“Okay….hope the cold no dey too much”

“My guy it is o….the cold is serious”

“Eyah…sori…eheen guess who I saw yesterday before I got home for the party”

“Who did you see?”

“Behi”

“Wait which Behi?” He didn’t want to believe it was his ex/ Dozies girlfriend he was referring to

“My ex nah…?”

Eno didn’t know what to say…a couple of hours ago he was with Behi’s boyfriend on the same plane and now Bimbo is telling him he saw her yesterday.

“Guy you still dey there”

“Yes I am…sorry”

“Meen I really regret what I did to her o….she was close to perfect”

“Er guy…I go buzz you on bb when I settle eh….take care”

“Hmmm…ok o no problem….bye”

“Bye”

Eno sat down looking into space. He was slowly becoming the middle man. Should he tell both parties? He met Bimbo in the university right from his first year and a close friendship formed between them. He and Dozie were good friends in secondary school and had just reconnected. He had said a whole lot about Behi during the flight chipping in from time to time how if her ex hadn’t messed up he wouldn’t have had his chance. He decided to keep the whole thing to himself. No need revealing anything for now.

***

“Meeen babes this meal is delish….” Osas said

“I was surprised you didn’t say you were watching your weight” Behi joked. She was really happy Osas was around she would have probably gone back home and cried her eyes out if she wasn’t.

“Abeg free that thing jare…we should be leaving soon though”.

They left after a while to Terrakulture. The place was beautifully arranged with lots of statement jewelries and pieces. Definitely the kind of place Osas liked to be in. less than ten minutes after they arrived, she already saw like a hundred things she wanted to buy. Behi was simpler than Osas in terms of fashion but was a pro in matching colors. She saw a couple of things she liked too. As they settled in their seats Osas phone rang it was Bimbo.

“Hey darl….wassup”

“I’m good…u”

“Well I’m trying to be ok

“Are you sick or something

“No….last night’s iranu”

“Oh….yea that’s true…you must always…..”

“How is she?” Bimbo cut her off before she could finish her statement

“Who?”

“You know na”

“She’s fine”

“Is she with you?”

“Why are you asking”

“Nothing just want to know”

“Yes”

“Wanna talk to her”

“No you can’t…you know she doesn’t want to talk to you……”

Behi didn’t need anybody to tell her who Osas was talking to on the phone she sighed heavily. All of a suddenly she felt Dozies absence again. She didn’t know if she should try calling him or not. Well there was no harm in trying.  She walked away from Osas and quickly fished out her phone and called the number he had called her with earlier. It rang a couple of times before he answered.

“Sweetie” she cooed

“My baby, how are you?”

“I’m fine…you?”

“Please cut the call and let me call you back don’t want you to waste your credit”

“Baby it’s fine”

“Nah I insist”

She cut the call and he called back instantly. Gosh Dozie always had to show he was the man

They talked for a while before they hung up. As she hung up the phone and walked back to where Osas was, she said to her

“Babe Bimbo said he wants to see you”

“For what?” Behi said with a scowl

“I don’t know o”

“Abeg he should just leave me alone”

“Hmmm he sounded sober on the phone sha…maybe he’s come back to senses”

“It’s now he’s coming back to his senses….please I’m with Dozie now”

“Maybe you should just hear him out…you know just for fun”….Osas said her eyes lighting up with mischief

“Choi you this girl…..hmmm maybe I will o for fun purposes’

“Just be careful sha…Bimbo is quite sly”

“Of cos I know”

“Think about it and let me know what you decide”

“Okay”

Oceans Apart (3) by Milli


Dozie settled down on his seat in the plane and checked for the most important item he needed; earphones. No time to be staring at people on the plane. He always got lost in the movies going from one movie to another until his eyes were tired then he would sleep for the remaining part of the flight. That had always been his “plane tradition” anytime he travelled out of the country. After all the announcements and safety precautions they were finally ready for takeoff. “This is it” he thought. He was finally leaving Nigeria. He thought about Behi and wondered what she was doing. He snapped out of his thoughts when a male voice greeted him.

“Guy wassup”

“I’m alright” Dozie said trying to picture if he knew the face.

“You don’t remember me…it’s me….Eno from secondary school”

“Hey!!!!!!! guy how far na….you don change o….I no even recognize you again….”

Eno was one of his good friends from secondary school and Dozie has wondered why he had not seen him all the while he was checking in. He realized that Behi had been on his mind all that time. Fortunately for them, there was an empty seat beside Dozie so they could sit down together for the flight.

He and Eno had lost touch a while after they had left secondary school. At least for once he had company on the plane. Eno was also going for masters in the United Kingdom but he was going to Coventry and not London like Dozie was. They talked about everything from friends to family to football and finally the women in their lives. Eno was single apparently he had just broken off things with his girlfriend a while ago. Dozie told him about Behi and Eno asked him if he was ready for the whole long distance relationship thing adding that he had heard countless stories of how most relationships of the sort never lasted because of distance. Dozie confidently told him he was ready to do what he needed to and he trusted Behi dearly. Eno was curious to know who the Behi chic was that had made Dozie want to commit so much so he asked for a picture. Dozie was always a ladies man in secondary school all the girls liked him and he always played around with them. Clearly he had dropped that character. Dozie brought out his iphone and showed Eno a picture of Behi. “Pretty….” Eno told Dozie and Dozie smiled. “Hmmm dude you are in love o” Eno said to him. However there was something very familiar about her but he couldn’t just figure it out. They kept on talking for a while and then “DANG”!!!!! it struck him like a lightning bolt. Behi was his close friend’s ex-girlfriend Bimbo. He had met her couple of times when she was still with Bimbo. Bimbo used to open up to him whenever they had issues and he knew when Bimbo had cheated on her not once, not twice but thrice causing the relationship to end. She was a good girl and honestly Bimbo had never appreciated her. “Small world” he thought to himself but he didn’t know if he should tell Dozie he knew Behi. They had just seen each other and were reconnecting so he decided not to say anything.

***

Behi turned to face the owner of the voice she just heard. The person she had avoided seeing was standing right in front of her now.

“Hey Behi wassup”

“I’m fine…you”

“Well I’m great”

They talked for a while and Osas came down to check what was happening since her friend had been gone for quite some time. She was in shock when she saw Behi and Bimbo talking. She quickly went to interrupt the conversation because she knew Behi hadn’t bargained for this tonight. Bimbo tried convincing them to come for his party but Osas continuously declined.  Finally they said their goodbyes and parted ways.

Bimbo walked back to the car where some of his guys were waiting for him. Behi had really changed now from what he could remember. She looked really cute tonight even though she was just wearing a blouse with jeans. A wave of regret swept over him as he remembered how he had hurt her in the past. She was a great girlfriend but he clearly wasn’t as good as he should have been. He knew she was dating someone else now but had no idea who the person was. “Well no time to feel sad” he thought to himself he had a party to get to.

“Babe, are you alright” Osas touched Behi’s hand as she drove. Behi had been really quiet since they left Phase 1.

“I’m alright” Behi said “Just didn’t expect to see him the same day Dozie had to leave”

“I know dearie”

“Seeing him just brings back all the pain he caused me…he really did hurt me”

“Sorry dearie…don’t want you thinking about him can’t believe I actually thought about taking you to his party…don’t know what I was thinking”

“It’s okay dear” Behi smiled.

They finally got home and settled to eat their pizza and ice cream. Fashion police was on TV and shortly after they were laughing at Joan River’s insults and all that had happened that night was forgotten…. for a while.

***

The party was in full swing now at Bimbo’s place. People were dancing, eating, drinking. It had been his birthday a few days ago but it was a work day so he decided to celebrate it during the weekend. All these were going on but for some reason all he could think about was Behi. “Why am I thinking about her?” he thought to himself. After the breakup he decided to take a break before entering into another relationship one in which he was ready to be faithful and during that break he had had a couple of flings. Now he was searching for a responsible girl to be his girlfriend but had found none. He was just not meeting the right ones. He felt a bit of regret again as he remembered what he had done to Behi. She never deserved what he did to her. Gosh if only Eno was here he would have been able to cheer him up but dude was far away up in the sky on a plane to United Kingdom.

“Why are you not dancing….is it not your party” a voice said to him. It was some girl.

“Yea…I’m just observing” he said actually wondering what he meant by that.

“Come on let’s dance” she said.

“Okay” he said  as he got up to dance thoughts of Behi left his mind.

***

Dozie and Eno continued to talk about anything and everything. Luckily Eno was going to be in London for a while before he finally went to Coventry. Dozie was really happy they had run into each other. After a while they both slept off and by the time they woke up the plane was preparing to land.  When it had landed and they were getting out of the plane. The cold was something else.

“Hey!!!! Which kin cold be this na…..” Eno said.

“Guy welcome to London” Dozie said.

After they has crossed the border and gotten their luggage, Dozie immediately switched his sim card with a Lyca one he had bought from the airport to call his sweetheart. Yes he had told her he would call when he had settled down but he just couldn’t wait he needed to speak to her. Eno told him she would probably still be sleeping but he really didn’t care. He called her and yea…she was still sleeping because she hadn’t picked up on the first, second or third ring. Just as he was about to cut the phone after another couple of rings she picked up and he heard her sleepy voice.

“Dozie is that you” she said

“Yes baby I landed safely….  still at the airport but I just had to hear your voice”

“Aww baby, that’s so sweet. My sleep was interrupted but as far as it’s you I’m not annoyed”

Dozie laughed “Ok boo…I will call you later in the day okay love you”

“Love you too boo…bye”

The line went dead. “Love wan tin tin” Eno teased as Dozie dropped his phone in his bag. They both exchanged phone numbers and boarded taxis to their destinations and planned to meet up again before Eno finally left for Coventry. Dozie headed to his brothers place where he would be staying till he moved into school some days later. Well he was finally in London now with the quiet roads. The cold was also terrible.

“Dozie!!!!!! His younger brother exclaimed with so much joy. “My one and only big bro meen  I have missed you o!!!” Dozie had not seen his brother for about three years and he was sure very glad to see him. Apparently he was almost as tall as him now

“Guy where you think you dey grow to…u wan pass me abi” Dozie said jokingly

“Yes o…..how was your flight…and erm how is she….?”

“Flight was ok….she’s fine I guess…..”

Emeka knew about his brother’s girlfriend Behi and noticed the way his brother’s expression changed when he asked about her. This was not going to be easy for him.  Thinking of a way to cheer him up he said

“Guy I know say u never chop better food since you enter that plane”

Those words definitely called Dozie’s attention and he replied “Yes o…I’m starving”

“Oya I get plenty food for house” Emeka was a good cook.

“Abeg make we go chop”

Emeka warmed up some food and they both ate and talked about family, school and other things.

Oceans Apart (2) by Milli


Still waiting for his flight Dozie continued to recall how he had met his lovely sweetheart Behi…….. Their eyes had met in the theater and almost immediately she stood up and walked out. He suddenly felt the urge to follow her and acted on impulse and stood up from his seat. Vivian who had now dropped her phone saw him hurriedly standing up to go out.

 “Where are you going” she asked

“I’ll be back soon”…. He said quickly

He walked out of the theater and looked around for her but there was no sign of her. He was a bit disappointed and started to walk back into the theater when lo and behold he saw her. He could see her very well this time she was slim, kind of tall but not too tall and looked quite simple with a pair of jeans and tank top. She had braids on which was wrapped in a bun on the top of her head which made her look taller. She was on the phone and when she got off the phone she put it back in her bag. He quickly walked up to her and said

“I am really sorry about your glasses I can tell you were really upset when you walked out of the theater”

She looked at him and said ,“It’s….. okay had an extra pair in the car”

“That’s good…erm can we see after the play I feel I really owe u a better apology….maybe I could take you out for a drink or something”

Behi was tempted to say yes. She could see the dude who knocked off her glasses very well now. She had to admit that he was handsome and was much taller than she was. She sighed in her mind. She had just gotten off the phone with her ex…. Bimbo…. whom she hadn’t exactly gotten over. He was calling to well…. check up on her. She had told herself a million times she wouldn’t pick his calls but oh well she couldn’t stop herself and the most annoying part was that he knew she wasn’t over him. The dude in front of her now seemed like a good distraction so she accepted his after play drink proposal.

“Ok that’s cool” she said

He smiled and introduced himself “Thanks” he said “I’m Dozie by the way”

“Behi” she replied back.

“Think the show is finally about to start lets go in I’ll see you after the show”

And with that they both walked back to the theater.

***

Behi had finally said those three words to Dozie. He actually deserved to hear it. He wasn’t just her boyfriend but her best friend also. She could tell him anything and everything but she always had a problem saying those three words because to her they were sacred and should not just be used anyhow except the time was right. She never felt the way she did when she was with Bimbo though. She never really felt comfortable around him as to tell him anything and everything. He was a good guy for a while until he messed up.

She had finally decided to go see a movie with Osas instead of saying home and feeling sad. Her parents were out of town and her sister was in Dubai for a conference.  Osas decided to come and stay over which she was really thankful for. While dressing up she didn’t really feel the need to make up and look all pretty.  Dozie wasn’t around who was she looking all pretty for. Osas was waiting for her downstairs. As she emerged from the stairs, Osas took one look at her and shouted.

“Behi Ighodaro…do not tell me this how you want to leave this house”

“What’s wrong” Behi asked pretending she didn’t know what Osas was referring to.

“Babe come on I know Dozie is leaving but that does not mean you will start looking like a house girl please go put some makeup on and let your hair down.”

Behi sighed her friend was right. She was a lady and she had to look presentable. She didn’t know Dozie’s absence would affect her this much. She had seen him earlier that day and had cried her eyes out. She didn’t even have the heart to follow him to the airport. That would have been too much for her. She went upstairs put on some makeup and came back down to meet Osas. Osas finished up her friend’s look by letting down her hair. She had never seen Behi so sad and down and all because of a guy. Well they both loved each other dearly and she was happy that it was one of her plays that made them meet each other. Anyways her friend was sad and she being an edgy chic was determined to lift her friend’s spirit tonight. She had plans for them to go for a friend’s party after the movie and hoped Behi would agree. With that thought they both left the house and drove off into the night.

Well you know what they say the city comes alive at night and Lagos was not an exception. The Palms was full of people one would wonder if they didn’t have better things to do. Behi had already told Dozie she was going out with Osas. It wasn’t like he didn’t like her but to him she was kind of wild and he didn’t want his precious Behi all about town with some wild chic. Anyways they had been friends before he came into the picture and Behi had never become what she was. So he just told her to enjoy her movie. After all she shouldn’t be all sad because of him.

The boarding gate for Dozie’s flight was finally open. Things were becoming clearer to him now. He was really leaving Nigeria. All he could think about was Behi…. his precious Behi.

After the play that evening he took her and Vivian to a nice spot. He had explained to Vivian what had happened earlier so she understood and later left both of them alone. After she had left Dozie studied the lady sitting down beside him. She was okay with a nice smile but men those eyes were so beautiful. He was actually getting lost in them when she asked

“Erm…are you okay”

Startled he replied “Er yes…sorry was a little distracted…your eyes…are so gorgeous”

“Thanks”

“So did you enjoy the play?”

Her eyes lit up…his heart literally skipped a beat

“Yes it was lovely my friend was one of the actors”

They talked a lot and he really enjoyed her company. He definitely wanted to see her again. They exchanged phone numbers and blackberry pins. They hung out a couple of times he was somebody she was really comfortable with and to him she was well…different from other girls he had met. Well he finally asked her to be his girlfriend and the rest is history.

Behi really enjoyed the movie “Best Man Holiday” which was a reunion of the cast of “The Best Man” an old movie she and Osas had watched a couple of times when they were much younger. She had no idea a new movie with the same cast was out and was shocked and happy at the same time when Osas told her that was the movie they were watching. The movie was a sad/happy movie Behi was really touched by the movie but all Osas did was talk about how hot Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs were…… typical Osas always drooling over the hot guys Behi admitted the same. Osas was about to tell her about the party she wanted them to go for when her phone rang it was Dozie.

“Hey baby, are you done with your movie now?”

“Yes love I am”

A little smile formed on his lips when he heard the word “love”

“Ok baby…just wanted to let you know that I’m on board now”

Behi couldn’t believe her ears he was really leaving her heart sank

“Ok baby” she said

“Sweetie I love you very much and I promise I would come back for you”

Osas being  a smart girl didn’t need anybody to tell her what was going on she could see the tears forming in her friend’s eyes already as the cinema lights were back on and quickly led her out of the cinema to where the car was parked.

“I love you too baby and I believe you. I would be right here waiting for you when you get back…safe journey”

“Thanks sweetie I will call you immediately I land and settle down take care of yourself for me okay?”

“Okay baby…bye”

“Bye”

The line went dead followed by the tears. Osas held her friend in the parking lot and comforted her while she cried. She loved Behi so much and had to be with her at such times as this. Behi was quite fragile. After she cried she wiped her eyes and told Osas to take her home. But Osas said

“No way. We are not going home”

“Huh….why”

“We are going to groove utunu” she said with a wide smile

“Not in the mood I just wanna go home”

“Hmmm….that’s what you said about the movie see as your face change when you saw Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs”

Behi laughed a little….”Yea why wouldn’t it…I mean didn’t you see those packs”

“I saw it oh my dear…anyways a friend of mine is having a get together and said I could bring someone….”

Behi cut her off saying “Who is the friend”

This was the question Osas had been dreading all night. It was Bimbo. Behi’s ex. Yes he and Behi had broken up some years back but they (Osas and Bimbo) were still friends.

“Don’t worry dear….let’s just go…I don’t just want you to go home and start brooding over Dozie again”

“Just tell me who the person is I wouldn’t beat you”

Osas never had the heart to lie to Behi and in a defeated voice she said “It’s Bimbo”

Behi couldn’t believe her ears. “Osas seriously???? Of all people??? you have been great today in trying to cheer me up but I don’t think going to Bimbo”s party is the best thing right now”

“I know. I’m sorry babes”

“It’s okay”

“Alright I know you don’t want to go home so why don’t we go get some pizza and ice cream…my treat” Behi said with a smile

“Pizza and ice cream….nah I’m watching my weight” Osas said with a straight face

Behi hit her playfully and her lap and said “You are always watching your weight”

Osas laughed and said ‘Lead the way my dear”

They drove out of the parking lot and after a bit of traffic they were off to Lekki phase one to get pizza and ice cream. The place wasn’t so full and soon it was their turn. They took their pizza orders and then off they went to get some yummy coldstone ice cream. It was truly the ice cream of life. Behi then went to pick up their pizza from downstairs. As she turned to head back up to meet Osas, she heard someone call her name.

“Behi”

She literally froze. She knew that voice anytime, anywhere even in her sleep. She turned around and to look at the forever familiar voice. Your guess is as good as mine. It was Bimbo…..her ex.

Oceans Apart (1) by Milli


Hello everyone, this new series as earlier mentioned is courtesy one of my amazing readers here. I hope you enjoy it. And please give all the love and support you usually do! Cheers.

***

I’m leaving on a jet plane….don’t know when I will be back again……

Dozie looked back at the airport crowd one last time. For a brief moment he observed more vividly what was going on around him: people telling themselves goodbye, people struggling to get their luggage checked in, security trying their best to seep through peoples’ luggage to find anything ‘illegal’ so they could get some ‘token’… “Naija will never change” he thought to himself.

The day had finally come. He was leaving his beloved country to go and further his education in the United Kingdom. He had gotten admission into one of the universities in London to study Business Information Technology. He still had mixed feelings about leaving. During his NYSC his parents thought it would be best for him to leave the shores of his fatherland to go get his Masters degree when he was done with the service year. His brother and sister were there already. Emeka had left a couple of years back for his Bsc while Nneka had left a few months ago for her masters as well. He had missed them a lot and was looking forward to seeing them but the one reason he still felt a little bit of sadness was that he was leaving his sweetheart behind Behi. She had been his girlfriend for some time now and he never knew he would be in a relationship for this long. He had grown to love her much more than he could ever imagine. It was still quite funny how they met it was a year and a half ago.

There was a play showing at the Muson Center in Lagos and there was a crowd of people at the venue which made the whole place quite disorganized. Trying to make his way past the crowd into the theatre, he accidentally bumped into her and knocked her glasses off her face. The horror in his eyes was unbelievable when before he knew what was happening, someone pushed him from behind and he stepped on the glasses. “Snap!!” one of the lens broke. He looked at her and he wasn’t sure but he thought he saw tears form in her eyes.

“Look at what you have done….can’t you be more careful?”

“I’m really sorry I didn’t do it on purpose…”

 

“Oga!!!!!!!! move na”

Dozie snapped back to reality realizing that it was his turn to get his luggage checked in. He quickly told the man who was quite elderly at his back he was sorry and moved briskly to the security guard to check his luggage. He would be flying British Airways obviously (that is the only airline he had ever flown if he was travelling out of the country). He had been to London a couple of times for summer holidays but this time was different. He was going to school and not only that but in January when winter was at its peak. He shuddered at the thought of how dreadful the cold would be. He had heard a number of stories of how cold it was at that time of the year. If only Behi was coming with him…

“You can go now sir”

“Thanks”

His luggage had been checked in and he went away and headed straight to immigration. His thoughts drifted back to Behi. Oh yes…. he had apologized for knocking off her glasses and immediately offered to buy her a new pair. Nothing money couldn’t take care of. However he was shocked when she told him he shouldn’t worry and walked out of the crowd towards the exit of the building….he couldn’t believe it. Well in the state of all that was happening he did notice that she had pretty brown eyes. Why wear a pair of glasses over those eyes…he thought to himself. Anyways he decided that he would look for her after the show at least to buy her a drink or something and really apologize for the glasses hopefully she wasn’t leaving the show…

“Dozie!!!!

In the midst of all the hustle to enter into the theater for the play he was very sure he heard his name. He was right as he felt a tap on his shoulder. The crowd was starting to lift and he was able to turn around and see who it was. It was Vivian. They had decided to go see the play together as they were into stage plays and acting.  He had met Vivian in secondary school and they were in the drama club. She was a cutie but he never saw her as the kind of girl he could have something with. She was more like a little sister who always brought all her troubles (mostly about boys) to him. Although he had tried to make a move on her but it did not work. They had managed to keep in touch well after secondary school even though they didn’t go to the same university. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and was dating someone else barely a month after so she was going through the heartbreak phase. Being the “big brother” he was, he heard of a play that was showing at the theatre. The name of the play was “Kakadu” and he surprised her by giving her a call that he had gotten tickets for them to go see the show together.

“Finally…I have been looking for you. Thanks for making me come for this I really needed to leave my house”

“No problem dear” he said and gave her a big hug.

They finally entered the theater and settled down into comfortable seats to watch the play. Dozie silently prayed it was worth it as he had heard so many good things about the play. He looked at Vivian by his side and wanted to ask her how she was but she was busy with her phone chatting away. He felt like playfully snatching the phone away from her but on second thought that would be inappropriate because the play hadn’t started. His eyes drifted back to stage and he began to observe how it was setup. Brown calabashes and traditional decorations were used to decorate the stage. He hadn’t been on stage in a while and he admitted to himself that it felt good to be in a theater again though he wasn’t acting. At some point he felt rather uncomfortable…. for some reason he wasn’t just at ease. He looked around the theater back and forth for some time and there she was: The girl whom he had knocked her glasses off staring at him furiously.

***

Behi sighed loudly as she looked at one of the many pictures of her and Dozie on her phone. She couldn’t believe he was going away for about a year plus. Thoughts swarmed into her head about what the days ahead would be like. Would they be able to survive this long distance? A little smile crept at the sides of her mouth as she recalled how they had met.

She had gone for a play which her best friend had invited her for because she was one of the actresses. She was very reluctant to go as she really wasn’t into plays but Osas was her best friend and she decided to go and give her some support also, she didn’t have to pay for the ticket because Osas had gotten one for her already. According to Osas she had struggled to get the ticket for her. Her contact lenses were due for replacement so she couldn’t wear them and had to wear her glasses. She had often deceived herself that she didn’t need them but who was she kidding? If she didn’t wear them she wouldn’t even see the road well enough to drive talk less of watching a play in a dimly lit theater. So off she went wearing her frames and lo and behold on getting there and struggling in the crowd some dude had knocked her glasses off her face and before she could realize what was happening he had stepped on it and smashed one of the lenses. She was more than furious she didn’t want to come for the play and now she came and her glasses had gotten broken. How was she supposed to watch the play?! The guy who knocked her glasses off looked quite sympathetic but she was still so furious. In order not to let her anger get the better of her as she was already asking him rather harshly why he couldn’t be more careful, she told him not to bother and walked away to get her other pair from her car. Thank God it was there. It wasn’t as strong as the one that just got broken but at least she could still see with them. Luckily for her, her seat was in front so she could see the stage but not as well as if she had the other pair on. She became furious again but decided to look around the hall. There were couples, teenagers, elderly people…and there he was…the dude who had knocked off her glasses. He was sitting beside some girl who was really engrossed in her phone. She was really mad at him as he kept looking back and forth until their eyes met. She froze for some seconds immediately it happened suddenly feeling uncomfortable she felt she had to use the bathroom and then looked away from him and stood up and left the theater.

“Hey babe….wassup”

Her trip down memory lane was interrupted as Osas popped her head into the room.

“Nothing…..just chilling”

Osas stepped into the room and it didn’t take her up to two minutes to see that her friend wasn’t happy and of course she knew the reason. Dozie was leaving for the United Kingdom for his masters.

“Have you heard from him yet” she asked

“No…he would be busy checking in I’m sure he would call when he passes through immigration”

“Baby G don’t be sad ok… you people love each other so much and I believe you guys would survive this”

“Thanks hun I hope so too….”

“By the way there’s this new movie I want us to go and see if that would lift your spirit”

“Hmmmm don’t really think I want to…just want to wait for Dozie’s call”

Osas saw the look in her friend’s eyes… gosh she was so in love with him. She went up to her and gave her a big hug and suddenly remembered one gist she was yet to give her.

“Ah eheen….I have gist o”

Behi looked at her rather suspiciously and said “Hmmm aunty what have you done this time?” Osas always had one story or the other about her escapades

“It’s not about me this time now…haba”

“Then who?” Behi asked her eyes lit up as she was suddenly interested.

“It’s about Princess and Ogo.”  She started chatting and Behi listened to the gist her friend had for her.

***

Finally gotten past immigration and all the other check points Dozie decided to get something to eat from a store while waiting for his flight. He quickly brought out his phone to call his sweetheart Behi.

“Hey baby how are you” he asked when she when she picked up

“I’m fine” she said and he could tell she had been waiting for his call

“Finally done checking in just waiting for the flight now”

“Ok”

He could tell she wasn’t happy at all. After all the time together it wasn’t hard for him to know when she was happy or sad or…

“I miss you terribly already”

“I know baby I miss you too”

“Do you think we can do this…I’m scared for us”

“Baby we can…I know It’s going to be difficult but we can pull through”

“Ok baby…I believe you…I…I…I love you”

Pause…

“I love you too baby so very much…”

“I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to say this and I’m sorry it has to be over the phone.”

Dozie couldn’t believe his ears…she had finally said those words with her lovely voice. He knew she did love him but it had been so difficult for her to say it. He could feel the sincerity in her voice and then he felt his eyes get watery. Whoa was he really about to cry in this airport? he had no idea she had such an effect on him. He pulled himself together and said

 “It’s okay baby I’m so happy you said this. The only thing is that I wish I could see you and look into your eyes when you did. I promise I would do whatever it takes to make things work out”

“Okay baby I will do the same you have my word”

“Will call you again when I am about to board okay”

“Awwww sweetie  don’t go now…” he could hear the hurt in her voice

“Okay baby I’m still here”

They talked for a while before they finally hung up.

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.

 

Damage Control #8

Hi everyone!!!  And we are back!! Yayyyy!!!

First off, thank you so much for your patience. An even bigger thank you to those amazing people who kept bugging me about completing this series. Chief culprit, Yemi Ajala who protested by initially refusing to read or share anything else on the blog until I finished this. Lol. This is for you darling. Hope we are cool now. Then this is also for Titty. Your last comment was the final push I needed. I had given up on this story somewhat till I saw your comment.

So for everyone else wondering what is going on, I’ll explain. Two years ago, I started this series with a woman (Belema) attempting suicide on the 1st of January. She was ironically found and saved by a woman (Ojiugo) who had a cancerous tumour in her brain and had been given 3 months to live. As at episode 7 which was the last I posted, Belema had left town and was trying to find her sanity in Abuja in the company of her eccentric younger sister (Nengi) and Nengi’s best friend Olanna. Seun, her exboyfriend and best friend was stuck in Lagos worried about her because she had shut him out. Belema is quite the stressful character. Lol. Dr. Ikem, Ojiugo’s personal doctor also sadly broke the news to Leslie (Ojiugo’s boyfriend) that Ojiugo might not live up to March. So all caught up now are we? Still go read previous episodes if you missed them. The story will make a lot more sense that way.

So why did I leave the story unfinished? Life happened. I entered a crazy season at work and it took a serious toll on my writing. But here we are. Just look at God!!! Haha. I’m talking too much. Here’s the new episode. Please share and leave your comments behind. They make writing even more worth it for me. Don’t just read and run. Let’s talk. Let me know what you think. Thank you!

***

Leslie stared at Ikem in shock, eyes gradually going blank. He opened and shut his mouth a few times but no words proceeded from them.

“I’m sorry. I did a scan last night. The tumor appears to have grown some more and I don’t even understand why because the drugs she has been taking are meant to stop the growth at least.”

Leslie gave no response still.

“Leslie, this is rough. But I couldn’t possibly lie to you about how bad things are.”

Leslie nodded. He stood slowly from his seat and walked out of the office, heading back to Ojiugo’s private ward. Dr. Ikem did not stop him. .

When Leslie walked in, Ojiugo was still asleep. Leslie sat beside her and held her left hand, rubbing it gently. He had tried to ensure that Ojiugo took her pills religiously but with Ikem’s recent revelation, he feared she may have been skipping some of them. He recalled how she had complained that the drugs left her exhausted and feeling listless and knowing how vibrant and energetic she was, he understood that this was a frustration.

Ojiugo’s eyes fluttered and she opened them slowly.

“Hey.”

“Hi babe,” Leslie responded with a forced smile. He was not about to let her in on his panic.

Ojiugo trained her eyes on his face as though searching for something that would wipe the confusion that was apparent on hers.

“How, how did I get here? What happened?”

Leslie blinked.

“Sorry?”

“How did I get here? I don’t remember anything.”

Leslie gulped.

“You- we were having dinner last night and the headaches resumed and got really intense and your pills didn’t work so we came here.”

Ojiugo still looked confused.

“Maybe they gave you something that knocked you out badly. I’ll go get Ikem.”

Ojiugo nodded a little uncertainly and Leslie left the room, his head spinning. The memory loss had begun to set in. That much he was certain of. He burst into Ikem’s office and said curtly,

“She’s losing her memory. She doesn’t recall what happened last night.”

Ikem stood up and hurried out of the office with Leslie. As he walked into the ward, his face lit up with a bright smile.

“If it isn’t the sexiest woman on the planet! Hey beautiful!”

Ojiugo chuckled lightly. Her voice was tired when she spoke

“This ashawo man. What did you people give me? My mind is so foggy and I can’t feel my right hand properly. I can barely move it.”

Ikem’s smile dimmed a little bit and he went to her side and helped prop her up. He ran his hands over her arms and massaged her right leg slowly, watching her for reactions to his touch but she barely gave any. He subsequently surmised that paralysis was beginning to set in as well.

“Alright, you have to rest some more boo. I need to go review some of your previous scans and then I’ll let you know what I think, okay?”

Ojiugo nodded and Ikem signaled to Leslie as he walked out. Leslie kissed Ojiugo on the lips before walking out.

“I’ll see you in a bit.”

Once back in Ikem’s office, Leslie shut the door behind him and looked into Ikem’s eyes.

“It has begun, hasn’t it?”

Ikem nodded gravely.

“Look, I don’t want to raise your hopes but at this point, I think it’s best to let you know. There’s a specialist in India I’ve been trying to contact for the longest time now. I just got an email before you came in. I’m trying to see if he can see Ugo, only so we exhaust all our options. But just in case he has nothing to offer, you must begin to prepare yourself. Ojiugo will not be here forever.”

Leslie nodded.

“When can she come home?”

“Tomorrow. Let me observe her for the rest of the day. Excuse me.”

***

Seun rubbed sleepy eyes as he mechanically unbolted his front door. He had slept through his alarms and was surprised to wake up and find that it was well after 10am. Then Belema’s call came in shortly after he opened his eyes and she said she was at the front door.

“Hi,” he said with a yawn. Belema smiled nervously and responded with a shy “hey”.

They stood there looking at each other for a few odd seconds before Seun stepped aside.

“Come in.”

Belema walked into the house and immediately wrinkled her face. The house looked a mess- an empty vodka bottle lay on the center rug, empty KFC packs were strewn across the floor, a crumpled shirt lay haphazardly across the couch and a blanket was on the floor, right next to a pillow that partially buried a laptop.

Belema stepped carefully over the items and stood by the couch looking at Seun a little uncertainly.

“Your place is so messy.”

Seun ran his hand over his head and shrugged.

“Good morning to you too.”

“Sorry. Good morning.”

Seun walked close to where she stood and began picking items from the floor one after the other, tossing them in a heap on one of the couches in the room. He then sat on another couch across from Belema and indicated for her to sit down.

Belema sat down gingerly and clasped both hands together.

“So?” Seun urged.

“I don’t know where to start but I swear, I’m really sorry.”

“I don’t need your apology babe. At least not now. I just need an explanation of what has been going on the past two months. Because I am completely lost.”

Belema exhaled.

“I dunno. I just got to a really bad place I guess.”

“And you couldn’t talk to me?”

“Seun, every time I told you I was depressed, you told me to cheer up and go out more and be happy. You always said ‘do something fun’ as if that was all there was to depression but being sad had nothing to do with it.”

Seun regarded her carefully but Belema looked everywhere else but his face.

“Well, I thought you just needed to do something more fun, I didn’t realize it was anything serious but when it got serious, you should have told me.”

Belema sighed.

“You don’t get it do you? Was I supposed to come to you and say ‘hey I think the whole world hates me so I just want to take a dive into the ocean?’ especially when you couldn’t deal with the basic symptoms before things got worse. I had to see a therapist Seun. I was placed on medication.”

Seun’s eyes dimmed and he felt instant regret and guilt.

“Babe…”

Belema’s eyes clouded and Seun went to sit beside her and wrapped an arm around her.

“When I went to Osogbo for a few weeks in October last year, it was not for work. I was getting treated then.”

“I’m so sorry. I should have taken this more seriously. And please believe me, the whole world doesn’t hate you. I don’t even know why you would think that. I would never have forgiven myself if anything happened to you. Plus mumc and Nengi would never have recovered.”

He rubbed her arm and slowly, she leaned into him, brushing her face against the stubble on his cheek.

“It’s just been so much to deal with.” Belema whispered.

Seun sighed. He didn’t know what else to say.

“Do you feel better now?” he asked after moments of silence.

“I think so. I mean, I’m getting there. I went out a lot in Abuja with Nengi and her friends. I had fun.”

“Ok. Good. You actually put on some weight so that is good. But how can I help going forward? What can I do? Because I honestly don’t want a repeat of January 1st. If you’re ever feeling low, please talk to me. We’re best friends Belz. I love you.”

Belema sniffed and withdrew from his hold.

“Yeah. I’m okay now.”

Seun barely noticed the slight shift in her eyes.

“Okay. Good. Do you want something to eat? I can make some noodles.”

Belema smiled and shook her head.

“No. I’m good. Aren’t you working today?”

Seun looked around the house as if suddenly aware of the time.

“Yeah. I swear I’ll get fired one of these days. I slept through my alarms but that’s because I was up all night working. Didn’t get to sleep till like 5 this morning. But I’m sure there’s nothing serious happening there, otherwise someone would have called me.”

“Okay.”

“I need to go shower. What do you want to do?”

“I’ll just head home. Haven’t seen mumc. I came here straight from the airport.”

“Oh? Where are your bags then?”

“Nengi took them home. We came in together and shared a cab here. They dropped me off and went home.”

“I see. So how are you going to get home?”

“I’ll get an Uber.”

“Alright. Get one then, let me clear up these stuff.”

Belema brought out her phone and Seun took the heap of items on the couch to his bedroom. He returned a few minutes later and Belema was already on her feet.

“The driver is 2 minutes away.” She said.

“Alright. I’ll come by the house later this evening if that’s okay.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Seun gave her a warm hug and she felt somewhat stiff in his arms but he said nothing about it. Her phone began to ring.

“That must be the driver. See you later.”

She stepped outside the house as she answered the phone and Seun shut the door after her. Their friendship had taken a major hit and things felt different now. He just hoped they would find a way to get back to where they used to be.

***

Loud laughter emanated from Nengi’s bedroom with the door slightly ajar. Nengi was spread out on the bed with Olanna beside her.

“You like Jide jor. Stop fronting.”

Nengi released another set of giggles.

“You are on your own o. I don’t know what you are talking about. He is cute and funny, but who that one epp abeg? Those are the ones you never take seriously. They are too much trouble.”

“Trouble or not, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re interested. Meanwhile when I was saying we should go to Abuja, you were doing shakara.” Olanna said with a tease.

“I’m admitting to nothing. It’s like I told him before we left, we won’t see again. No point.” Nengi said finally and pushed herself off the bed.

“I really think your dad is so cool though.” She added as she began unpacking a bag that sat close to the bed. Olanna’s eyes lit up.

“I swear! Can’t believe I grew up without him. We have so much in common!”

“Did you guys get to talk about that though?”

“Nope. The first time I tried to raise it, he just said something about having to make tough choices and skipped the topic. We were having so much fun, I didn’t want to ruin it.”

“Is he coming back to Lagos again?”

Olanna shrugged.

“I dunno. I’m not even sure what the situation is with him and mum.”

“Have you asked her?”

“Nope.”

“Hmmn.”

Nengi emptied the bag of all its contents, sorting dirty clothes into a laundry basket and returning unused clothes to the closet. As she rummaged through the bag one last time, a sudden frown appeared on her face. Olanna who had been watching her raised a brow.

“What is it?”

Nengi pulled out a small box and held it up.

“What is this?”

“Uhh, open it?”

With her frown still in place, Nengi opened the box to reveal a gold chain wristwatch.

“Wow. That is beautiful!” Olanna gushed. She got off the bed and snatched the box from a shell-shocked Nengi and took out the wristwatch delicately before strapping it over her wrist.

“If it is jazz now, that’s how you will just disappear.” Nengi remarked.

Olanna giggled.

“This is so pretty! Oh look! There’s a note.”

Nengi rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to her bag. Olanna opened the note and read from it.

A golden woman has no hiding place.”

Nengi turned around sharply.

“Is that even a thing?”

Olanna began to laugh.

“Girlllll, this is definitely Jide. That dude has the hots for you.”

Nengi rolled her eyes again.

“No. He has the hots for my backside. And he ain’t tapping that.”

Olanna burst into loud laughter and Nengi shrugged.

“You know me. I’m not wearing that nonsense. I don’t even like chain watches. You can keep it. I’m even going to block his number sef. I don’t have time for stress or drama.”

Olanna looked disappointed.

“You’re really not interested?”

“Did I carry water in my mouth when I said it before? Madam, keep the watch. You have early Valentine’s present. Congrats.”

Olanna shook her head.

“You are something else.”

  • ***

Mrs. Ochoga lay in bed in her room when the door opened softly and Belema walked in.

“Hi mum,”

Mrs. Ochoga sat up with a smile.

“Belema. Nengi said you were back but went to see Seun.”

Belema nodded and went to sit beside her mother on the bed.

“How are you?” she asked.

“I’m fine o. I missed you girls o.”

Belema smiled.

“I missed you too mum.”

She hesitated briefly then continued.

“I’m hoping we can talk. I feel like I owe you an explanation.”

Mrs. Ochoga gave her an encouraging smile.

“Only when you’re ready darling. Just take your time, as much of it as you need.”

“I’m ready. I just got overwhelmed with everything and you and I haven’t been that close and there was no one to talk to.”

“And Seun?”

“Mum, it’s complicated with him. I think the only reason we dated was because I told him I was in love with him. It wasn’t because he wanted it. And you, you were so preoccupied with your own worries, I didn’t want to burden you more.”

Mrs. Ochoga smiled sadly.

“Belema, I know I may not have been everything you wanted me to be as a mother but I am still your mother. I still love you like my life depends on it and I will still sacrifice anything to keep you happy. You scared me. Really. I felt like I had failed you.”

“Well maybe you did. After dad left, you just quit on life. You lost your essence. You lost yourself. We couldn’t count on you for strength or support. You just stopped living.”

Mrs. Ochoga swallowed a lump in her throat. She knew Belema was right.

“I’m sorry. I just kept hoping that things would change and we would go back to where we were as a family. But that’s never happening again. I know that now.”

“What caused this grand revelation?” Belema asked, her tone hinting at a tease.

“Nengi trying to break your father’s head with a pestle.”

Both women chuckled lightly.

“Yeah, Nengi is something else.

I want to try again mum. Start over. Find my happy. Can I count on you?”

Mrs. Ochoga nodded.

“Yes. Even I want to start over.”

Belema smiled warmly.

“Do we start with a hug?”

Mrs. Ochoga laughed.

“Of course.”

Both women shared a warm hug and Mrs. Ochoga suddenly pulled back and went to a corner of her beside and produced a bottle of wine. Belema began to laugh. She could not help herself.

“Really? When did you start drinking alcohol mum?”

“But it’s only 6%” Mrs. Ochoga argued.

Belema smiled.

“No judgment. Shebi it’s new beginnings?”

“Mhmm. And I don’t have any glasses here. So here goes.”

She opened the bottle and raised it up between them and said

“To fresh starts, to fixing things that were broken and to letting go of the past.”

She then took a huge gulp and passed it on to Belema who took a light sip.

“To fresh starts mum. And while we’re at it, I’m pregnant.”