These days it rained all the time. Especially in the mornings. It always began the same—dark clouds, distant thunders, brief bursts of directionless winds—with a harmless drizzle. And then the downpour would follow, bringing everything to a standstill, from traffic to happy tempers.
Genesis had not been fraught by any of this; for three days she floated in love clouds created by her beau. They had been lost in some resort a little away from the flurry of the metropolitan. Dominic’s initial plan was to take her out of the country but she had seen the world already and wasn’t quite excited about traveling. In addition, Dominic had revealed a few things prior to the getaway that put her out of the mood for a trip.
It began with a careless announcement of his desire to fully go into politics.
“You don’t have enough problems already, Nick?” Genesis asked.
Her tone was gentle even though she was unhappy with the announcement. Dominic smiled in assurance, looking into her eyes as he buoyed his weight on an elbow that rested on a pillow. They were lying on his bed; both fully clothed, having just returned from the mall. It was a few minutes after 2am.
Genesis stood from the bed. Her tummy was in knots and her voice revealed her fears.
“The police will come and arrest you soon. BSD which you built from scratch has its board of partners and directors forcing you to resign and to sell your shares. The land you have sunk hundreds of millions into has just been seized by the government. Nick, none of that seems to bug you?”
Dominic didn’t respond and she wasn’t expecting any answer from him. He had been on a steady stream of high spirits following his return from a five-day trip to Abuja. This was weird for her at first because he left Lagos, angry over Lexus’ disappearance. But on his return, he was a different person. Not even the news of the company he had founded with Seyi and Bashorun initiating proceedings to force him into selling out his shares as a partner bothered him. The board’s decision was based on a clause in the partnership agreement which held that any senior partner being apprehended by the law over criminal offences not pertaining to the business was to resign and sell their shares. Having gotten wind of Dominic’s impending prosecution, the BSD Group called a quiet meeting and asked him to leave silently before the news of his prosecution hit the media and affected the corporation. Explaining to a concerned Genesis, he stated that there was nothing he could do about the clause; more so since it had been put in by him in the first place.
“Everything will be fine,” he had assured her and that became his unwavering slogan through the days. And even when his land got seized by the Lagos government overnight, he seemed unfazed. Genesis had known at that moment that something was afoot. Thus she wasn’t surprised when he finally made known the reason for his good mood. But the news itself hadn’t been what she was expecting.
“The president offered me the post of legislative advisor for his upcoming campaign next year, Gen. It is huge,” he explained.
“But you’re a lobbyist already, Nick. Your advocacy group is already fully involved in the elections. Do you have to plunge deeper into it? I’m scared.”
Dominic left the bed and went to where she stood. “Aren’t you seeing the good side of this, Gen? I’m protected from whatever Bashorun is planning. I leave Lagos just for five days and return to find that the rug has been pulled from under my feet. I’m losing everything and suddenly I’m an enemy of the Lagos government. Not even Egbon will pick my calls.”
Genesis thought of what Mamisi had predicted. Was it all coming true now?
“What the president has done is offer me solid immunity. They will arrest me, according to law, but it won’t hold water. I won’t even sleep in a police cell one day.”
“But is it worth it, you going fully into politics just to escape the law? Is it worth it, Nick?”
Dominic released a sigh and took the bed again. “You know Vhasti? Not the cat. The woman the cat was named after. Nimi’s mother?”
“You hardly talk about her.”
“She was there on the night I beat Martin after Nimi died. She was the only other witness apart from the guy that filmed the whole thing.”
“She’s going to be the prosecution’s star witness against me.”
“For real?” Genesis muttered.
“Plus, they want to pin the murder of the guy who recorded the video on me. So I don’t want to tell you how bad it looks.”
Genesis left where she was standing and took a moment alone by herself on a chair before a coffee table. Dominic walked to her. He lowered himself into a stoop.
“Today’s Thursday. Let’s travel somewhere. Venice, Paris, some island…”
“You’re really not worried about this politics thing?”
“I’m not. And you shouldn’t either. This automatically means that whatever deal you have with Bashorun has to be abandoned.”
“He bugs me with phone calls during the day.”
“Tell him I found out about you guys and you have to forget the deal.”
“Nick, I was going to get him to drop the case.”
“How? By sleeping with him?”
She pinched his nose. “That’s below the belt.”
“I’m sorry.” Dominic held and kissed her hand. “I saw no other option than you sleeping with him in the end.”
“Then you don’t know me and what I can do.”
“Maybe I don’t but I know what Bashorun can do. And I alone can handle him. Until I do that, I need you to not make him your problem. Okay, sweets?”
“So, about the vacation…”
“Let’s do it here in Lagos,” Genesis suggested. “I know someone with a private resort off the island.”
“An ex-lover?” Dominic pursed his lips in an attempt to look serious. It was a habit and she loved whenever he did it. She kissed him.
“Stop being jealous of men that don’t exist in my life. We’ll leave for the resort as soon as the sun comes up.”
“Perfect.” Dominic yawned as he spoke. “I’m too tired to face another day at the office.”
Leaving a kiss on her cheek, he retired to bed.
The sun didn’t come up but the rain came down. Nevertheless neither Dominic nor Genesis bothered as they headed to the resort, seated at the backseat of Genesis’ Mercedes. Like teenagers just falling in love, they necked and kissed all the way to the resort; and for three days, locked behind closed doors, they got lost in a haven of romance and sheer bliss. On Monday morning, Prince came to get them back into town. When they arrived home, strange people Dominic had never met before littered his living room. Genesis drew him aside.
“I invited them here. The lady in blue is an image consultant. The guys sitting together on the chaise lounge work with one of the country’s societal magazines and they are here for an interview. You’re featuring in their August edition. The others in red t-shirts work with the lady in blue. They’re here for a photo shoot.”
“Photo shoot? Interview? What the hell for?”
“To the public, we’re presenting you as a family man, a philanthropist and generally, someone everyone should listen to and trust.”
“Because you are only known as Ditorusin’s son, the late Eva’s baby daddy and a socialite who changes women like underwear. That has to change if you’ll be going into politics.”
Dominic rested his weight on the heel of one foot and folded his arms, looking at her with amused eyes. “You’re crazy about men in power.”
She brushed something off his collar. “I can’t have my man any less.”
Dominic threw an eye at the living room and back at her. “Family man, huh?”
“So that means you’re pregnant?”
“So the rumors say. At least that’s what I’ll have them write.”
Dominic chuckled. “You this woman. You wow me by the minute.”
“But seriously, if you want to present me as a family man, Lexus should be here.”
Genesis stared at her wristwatch. “On her way.”
She turned towards the living room, leaving Dominic at the dining area. She had a smile on her face; she knew he was totally awed by her methods.
“Just thinking…and this is not perverted… Do you think guys will still like boobs if there were no nipples?”
Lexus involuntarily squirted out a mouthful of energy drink on the dashboard of her father’s jeep as laughter bubbled from her throat.
“Look what you did.” Chris shook his head.
“I’m sorry. But that was just a stupid question. Boobs without nipples?”
“I was just asking.” Chris searched around the vehicle for something to wipe the dashboard. Lexus got out a washcloth from the glove compartment. She began to wipe the mess she created but stopped hallway and looked at him.
“Well,” she continued wiping, “you housed me and my craziness for twelve days, took me to all the hotspots around here, made me eat food that crashed my digestive system, taught me pidgin and treated me like a ghetto chick.”
“But did you find yourself after everything?”
“Naa. Shit doesn’t work. I’m still as confused as fuck. But shit doesn’t bother me again.”
“So you’ll be doing the tattoo parlor thing?”
“That and school. I’ll finish school. Make Dominic happy.”
“You missed a spot.” Chris pointed and Lexus’ washcloth went over it. She glanced at her ringing phone nested between her laps.
“Genesis is calling. Family time.”
They sat silently for a few seconds, listening to the phone until it rang out.
“And Kas?” Chris asked. “Is he in the picture, somewhere?”
“Lex, he broke up with Chichi the day you left. He did it for you. He’s been calling and pinging since then. Don’t you think you should give him a chance?”
Lexus looked contemplative. “Yeah, maybe… but no. I’d rather have you.” She winked.
Chris sighed. “I promised your mom, Lex.”
“Relax.” She nudged him with an elbow. “Just kidding.” She snorted. “You and I like slept on the same bed for more than a week and nothing happened.”
“You wanted something to happen?”
“Yeah. A little. Would have made me feel like a real girl cos I think after you saw me thrash your friend’s ass at arm wrestling, your dick just died.”
Chris laughed. “You’re sexy, Lex. Trust me.”
Chris cleared his throat. “But…”
“Now you can’t talk. That’s not a good sign.”
“I signed some form of agreement with your dad.”
Lexus rolled her eyes. “He likes agreements and contracts. I’m just sorry for Genesis. He’s going to make her sign a pre-nup before he marries her and she won’t get nada if she ever wants to leave him.”
Another moment of silence supervened.
“So why won’t you be my real boyfriend?”
“Because we’re from two different worlds, Lex.” He spread open his hands. “Look where I live. And look where you’re from. You’re so buttie. Just a few days here and you have rashes on your skin and…”
“But I added weight. Have you seen my ass?”
Chris smiled but maintained his argument. “I was paid to date you and that’s how it will always be. You’ll be richer than me and I’ll be struggling to make it into your world. And you’ll be telling me it doesn’t matter while giving me money and stuff to bump me up to your level. And I’ll get comfortable and bone hustling and one day, you’ll dump me for the man your dad wants you to get married to and I’ll be back on these streets.”
“Wow. You’re fucking serious. You have it all figured out.”
“Yeah. I thought about it a great deal every night I lay down beside you, watching you sleep and wanting badly to kiss you.”
“So you’re saying?”
He shook his head. “Kasi has a better chance. He’s who your parents wanted and he’s who you want. He’s got more money than me too. But don’t worry, you and I still buddies and when I hit it big, you’ll be my first one night stand before I move on to other girls.”
“Ouch.” Lexus punched him in his upper arm.
“You hit like a boy, you know that?”
“I’m so not talking to you. I can’t believe you’re dumping me for ghetto chicks.”
“I think it’s all good. You can go home crying to Kasi and he can form knight in shining armor.”
Lexus glanced at her phone again.
“Genesis still bugging my ass. I gotta run.”
Chris reached over and hugged her.
“Thanks,” she murmured.
“No, thank you. You just made me the hottest guy in the hood. All the girls who didn’t send me before are suddenly looking for me.”
“Go get’em player.” She gave him another playful punch but he caught her hand and left admiring eyes on her fingers.
“You’re so feminine and so beautiful. You just don’t know.”
She batted long eyelashes at him and put out a fake girly tone. “Oh please, stop it.”
He laughed but drew close and kissed her slowly. It wasn’t something serious but it was strong enough to leave a mark on them both.
“To the relationship that never was,” she said as he stepped out of the jeep. When she fired up the engine, she waited a while to wave at the little kids she had made friends with. Unfortunately she had run her allowance down and didn’t have any more treats for them. Promising them in her deplorable pidgin that she would return, she turned the steering and drove off.
She had been told about strange life happenings that defied explanations. She had heard about mysteries beyond human understanding. She even believed in the supernatural and had become fixated with it over the years. Her nightmares were only an attestation to her beliefs about what happened in the spiritual realm. But despite all of these, Wura was yet to truly experience something psychic until now.
The morning had not given any sign that anything out of the ordinary would occur. The night before, she slept like a baby and without any nightmares. She stirred up to dark clouds in the morning and the annoying type of shower that was notorious for lasting all day. Apart from that, all seemed well.
Wura made herself ready for work. She was to see a client in Ibadan and she had to be there a good hour before 11am. A cab was waiting and she got into it while engaging in a long phone conversation with Mahmud. He planned to take her out to some new restaurant later. They talked for a while and then he popped a question he had plagued her with through the previous week.
“Why do you have a password on your phone?”
“Haba, Mahmud. We’re going through this again? It’s my phone nau. My privacy.”
“My phone is my privacy too. But do you see me hiding anything from you?”
“So what’s with the password?”
She wanted to put him off like she had done in the past week but she felt it was useless. He was never going to give up.
She came clean.
“I have pictures and a video I don’t want anyone to see.”
“Okay. What are in the pictures and video?”
“Stuff I used to do before.”
“Can I see them?”
“Then why don’t you delete them?”
She stared out through her window. “I just can’t. I keep them to remind myself why I should never be that person again.”
“Can I see? Please, baby.”
“Masoyina, hot mama, smoochie, apple pie la mode, sugams, doll face, kissy face, main squeeze, woo-woo, sidechick, sweet puss…”
“Oya, it’s okay.” Wura found herself giggling. “When I get back to Lagos, I’ll show you.”
“No. Send it to me now. Is the video long?”
“No just two minutes.”
“Send it to me.”
“Wo, network is bad.”
“You’re still in Lagos my friend. Are you not just before Berger?”
“And aren’t you with your wifi in your bag? It’s not as if you’re using MB to browse. Oya send me the video via iMessage shaperly.”
“You this boy your wahala is too much jor. Hold on.”
While he waited on the line, she transferred the necessary files to him.
“Got it,” he said. She could catch the excitement in his voice. Sometimes she wondered if he was naturally hyper or if his ADHD thing had turned a naturally quiet guy to the wired person she was in love with.
“Talk to you later, TK,” she said to him.
“Na lie o. Stay online till I watch it and give you my thoughts.”
“I’ll review the video na.”
“Mymood…” Wura started to complain but she sighed and let it go. She was beginning to understand that he enjoyed being a handful.
She waited patiently, and faintly, she could hear sounds of him watching the video.
“Na wa o,” he murmured at some point.
“What is it?”
He did not reply. Wura bit on the tip of her thumb nervously and did an unnecessary surfing of the streets around her to still her unease. Mahmud was viewing a part of her even she was sometimes too ashamed to see.
He exhaled audibly and cleared his throat when he was finished.
She imagined him shaking his head to accompany the sound he made.
“I don’t know what to say mehn. I mean, it’s hard for a guy to see his girlfriend in that light.”
Wura took on the defensive. “You asked. I didn’t want to show you but you insisted. Now you’re judging me?”
“Allow me to land, Madam Hothead. As I was saying, it’s hard for a guy to see his girlfriend in that light and not want all of that instantly. Wuraola, you won’t make heaven with what you’re doing to me o. How can you have that type of ukwu and deny me my conjugal rights.”
Wura hissed lightheartedly as her racing heart slowed. “Which conjugal rights? Are we married?”
“Wuraola Belinda Adegbite!”
“Yes, darling?” She blushed.
“Chai! Where have you been all my sexually active life?”
“Go jor.” She moved her eyes away from the rearview mirror, having caught the cab driver staring at her.
“Na wa for you o. I just dey vex here. See, you can’t travel for your masters and leave me alone. Either you stay or I follow you until you finish that masters.”
“I’m serious. I won’t let you go because I know I’m never going to have a dull moment with the vixen I saw in that video. You just have to marry me. Gaskiya.”
“Abeg, leave me jor. The one you collected illegally from me before haff do you.”
“She thinks I’m joking. Look, Wuraola, I won’t risk you leaving me so that you’ll go and grind that waist for some other dude outside the shores of this country. We just have to revisit that our plan abeg. Go and do your masters in Ghana or nowhere else. Look, I’m taking a raincheck. The next time we make love, you’re on top.”
“Oh…Mymood, stop nau.”
“Baad girl! And you were forming novice during our love weekend. Diarris God o!”
“Old things have passed away.”
“Thank God you said old because what I just watched still has life in it.”
Wura gave up. She laughed to herself and listened to him go on and on about her body. They ventured into other humdrum topics but he always navigated the gist back to her waist. Finally, he ran out of airtime and she had the silence of the cab to herself. She leaned back and dozed off the rest of the way, waking up only when the cab driver put the car to a stop. She touched up on her makeup and walked into a three story building before her. It was a law firm owned by two friends. Their children were getting married and they wanted one of those extravagant weddings in Lagos. Novocaine Knights were hired as the event planners and Wura was there on the behest of the mother of the bride.
“Madam is in court. She said you should wait for her,” a springy secretary said when Wura inquired of her boss.
“How long will she be?”
“She’ll be here by one-ish.”
“Oh.” Wura concealed her disappointment. “Okay.”
She sat on a comfy couch behind her and phoned the cab driver to inform him of the delay. He didn’t complain; Genesis was going to pay for every second wasted.
Wura took out her phone. To pass the time, she played Temple Run until she got bored. One hour was left on the clock and she was restless. Beside the couch where she sat was a magazine rack and she picked a couple of magazines. From the dust on their edges it was obvious no one paid them much mind. The first magazine was about fashion and lifestyle. Wura took her time with it and learned a thing or two about skin care. Done with it, she went for the second which was a year old. It was a law journal and most of what she saw there was law jargon and announcements of happenings in the legal community. She was about putting it aside out of boredom when her attention was drawn to an announcement. It was a one year remembrance of a lawyer who passed away two years before. The picture of the man on the page brought Wura’s heart to a standstill. She was staring at none other but the man who was hounding her dreams.
Her hand began to shake. A dark feeling wrapped over her and her pores let out steam. This was the first time she was seeing the man other than that fated night they were together and in her nightmares. It was hard to take in the fact that he was dead or had been dead the same year they met.
Her heart pounded as she read details about him:
Folorunso Matthew Adebanjo
Survived by his beautiful wife, Aribanke and three children, Jenrola, Koyinsola and Molayo
Husband, father, uncle, brother, son, friend, philanthropist and lawyer
We still miss you, Funso. You will always be remembered for your kindness, piety and steadfast principles
Keep on resting in the Lord’s bosom until we meet again
Signed – Kofoworola Agnes Olaitan, SAN
Wura sneakily put the magazine into her bag when she noticed the secretary wasn’t staring. She had gotten away with the act but she looked around as if being watched by unseen eyes. It was as if the ghost of the man was right there in the room with her and this doubled her discomfort by the second. There were a lot of questions on her mind but the most troubling thing was that Funso Adebanjo had died about the same time she aborted his child.
What did this all mean? Why had she been so connected to him in the first place and not with other married men she slept with? Why was he still haunting her dreams even after his death?
And then it hit her right there the reason why she was still connected to him.
“You say?” The secretary stared at her from behind her huge computer screen.
“Sorry. I was talking to myself.”
The ring. She had his wedding ring in her possession. He had taken it off before they got down and dirty that night because she had insisted. It was something she did with every married man she slept with. A wedding band held serious significance to her and Funso, even with all his dashing, dark handsomeness was not an exception. He had joked about her insistence and covered her with fiery kisses but she stopped him and took off the ring herself, placing it on the nightstand. She found the ring on the floor the next morning after he was gone. Her initial plan was to leave it in the hotel room but by the way it glittered, she knew it was an expensive jewel. Wura took it home and to the club every night, hoping to see him again, but he never showed and after a while, she dropped it in one of her boxes. Now, the box was back in Port Harcourt in her friend’s apartment…
“Madam is here o.” The secretary informed her and Wura’s tummy groaned. She didn’t feel like seeing anyone at the moment; she was all nerves “You’re lucky she came back early.”
Wura tried a smile but inside she was bumpy, confused, afraid and more than anything, stunned by what she had just stumbled upon. She tried to calm her breathing but it only got worse. She asked the secretary for the restroom. A door was pointed and she hurried there. With just one heave, she threw up in the toilet bowl. Tears stung her eyes and she dabbed at them. A splash of water on her face seemed to ease her state temporarily. Two minutes later, she stepped out of the restroom, shaking her hands to dry them.
“Hello!” a lady’s cheerful voice greeted and Wura looked up, for she had been staring at a wet patch on her jean. “Afternoon my dear. Sorry, I’m late.”
Wura found herself face to face with a stranger whose facial looks put a halt to her movement. For a moment, she thought she was going to faint as she stared back at an exact replica of Funso. The only difference was that the person before her was female.
Wura’s eyes widened and narrowed in quick succession. The resemblance was eerie. She slapped herself inwardly for her careless oversight. Hadn’t the last lines in the magazine announcement given enough clue that the same person she had come to see was the one who put up the remembrance notification on behalf of Funso’s family?
“Are you okay, my dear?” Funso’s sister asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
The irony of the statement forced another attack of nausea in Wura and she dashed into the bathroom. As the door slammed behind her, she knew her past had come for a haunting.