What if you knew what or who would kill you? What if each day was spent closer to your death… what if you knew what your death would look like? Painful, slow, something that would make you wish it would come sooner…
Those were the words she wanted to ask someone, anyone at all, as she laid naked on her bed. Naked save for a pair of Ann Summers pant. Her eyes rested on the pack of cigarette on her bedside stool, she contemplated reaching for it, and smoking away the fear & overwhelming sadness that covered her like a blanket.
The sudden sound of Yetunde’s music caused her to hiss. She was playing Wizkid’s Show me the money and singing it at the top of her voice. As if the sound from the home theatre was not doing enough, she was screaming the lyrics at the top of her voice.
It was days like this that made her want to reconsider Lamide’s offer and run off to her apartment in Surulere.
She decided she would stay inside the room, hoping the noise would go away soon, hoping her sister would realize how stupid it was for her to disturb the whole environment with her music.
She covered her ears with her pillow, trying to muffle the sounds threatening to make her lose the remaining sanity she had.
Saturday mornings were predictable at the Rogers’ residence. They woke up, had an hour long family altar, talked about the whole week – his mother dominating all their conversations, prepared for Sunday service while his mother said the things she thought should change (which meant the things she would force a change on), talked about Jide’s job and what his mother thought needed a change.
Then she would go about getting breakfast ready, making him eat what she prepared even if he did not want to, reminding him how he loved those things she cooked as a child, refusing to listen to what he really liked what he really wanted and refusing to let him move out of the house and start his own life alone.
“You will open room for fornication.” she said to him once, when he had informed her of his desire to move out of the family home to somewhere more personal, more him. “And a life that has sin, has no room for the Lord. And Olajide, you need room for the Lord in your life.”
And like everything else she had said in the past, he agreed with her even though it was not what he wanted.
As a young boy, he had tried to rebel like his friends who did it for fun sometimes, tried to refuse some things his mother had forced on him but a trip to the hospital, where she looked like she might die had made him retrace his steps.
She was going to die if he ever hurt her; he was going to kill her. And he did not want to kill her. People that killed their mothers had no place in Heaven.
And that was why he agreed to everything she said and wanted. Even though most of it were not what he wanted.
Breakfast was over now; it had been a meal of pap and moin-moin, both of which he seriously loathed but which he dared not say because his mother would be hurt. Her effort would have been wasted.
So when she asked if he loved it because she had added shrimps and crayfish this time, he smiled and nodded.
Then he went into his room, to prepare for the sermon for the next day.
He did not want to preach the sermon, did not feel he was ready to stand behind the pulpit and tell the Church what the spirit had told him to say. Because the spirit had not told him to say anything, his mother had.
But he dared not say no. She had told him to, asked him to and he was going to.
He sat on the chair behind a small desk in his room, turned on his MacBook, reached for his journal and pen and began to jot down his message for the next day.
He was speaking on God’s love and how to love Him back.
God loved him he knew. But he had never really loved him back the way he should. He had spent his entire life, living as who he did not want to be and thirsting for the real person he wanted to be – The person who truly made him happy.
The person he had been able to feel with Suga spice.
He thought about her now, the fear in her eyes when she came to his office during the week and the hatred she bore whenever she looked at him.
That made his feel terrible. He had broken her heart, walked away from what they felt which truly made him happy and refused to be there for her when she needed him.
As he wrote his message, he put there that part of the ways to love God back was to keep his commandments; all then, including the eleventh one.
And part of the commandments was to love thy neighbour as thyself. He had not even found himself and if he had not found himself it meant he couldn’t love himself and if he could not love himself, he could not love his neighbour.
Who was he to preach this message when he was not loving God back?
It was a few minutes past twelve when Yetunde came to knock on her door. Bang on her door more like it, because she hit the door hard until Tamilore dragged herself to it and opened it.
“Do you want to use the whole day to sleep?” Yetunde asked her, a look of disapproval on her face. “And why are you naked?” she looked at her naked body as if it was a crime.
“Because I sleep naked.” Tamilore said simply.
Yetunde hissed, “My boyfriend is coming here soon. He wants to meet you,” she said to Tamilore.
“You have a boyfriend.”
“No, I don’t. But he has been toasting me for a long time now and he gave me money to rent this condo and so I call him boyfriend sometimes.”
Tamilore paused and then asked, “he gave you money to rent the condo?”
Yetunde nodded, “Yes now. Did you think my salary can afford this place?” she asked and it occurred to Tamilore that if she had thought deeper about it and had been bothered enough to ask, she would have realized Yetunde could not own the place and furnish it to taste on her own salary.
“Anyway, do quick and come out so you can meet him when he comes. I made yam and egg stew for breakfast. I’m sure its cold but it is in the kitchen if you are interested.” she said to her sister as she made to leave the door, then she came back and added, “Please wear something sensible.”
“My clothes are not sensible?”
Yetunde shook her head, “No. You always look like a cleaned up mad woman. So look sane for once.” then she left.
Tamilore shrugged. She was not in the mood to piss Yetunde off today so she would wear a simple jeans and Tee.
Tamilore liked Yetunde’s “boyfriend”. He was cute, well groomed, sweet and funny. He was the type of man Tamilore would want Lamide to have not Yetunde, who in her opinion was undeserving of people like this. Yetunde would take him for granted; make him feel unwanted when he got on her nerves and snuff life out of him just for the fun of it.
He was young, was from old money and had a good business going for him.
He laughed at what Yetunde said a lot and gazed adoringly at her every time. Yetunde did not deserve him.
“Yetunde says you are a boho chic, I am surprised to find you looking so boring in a jeans and T-shirt.” he said to Tamilore when Yetunde disappeard into the kitchen to get them cold drinks and cupcakes that she had ordered earlier.
“She said wearing bohemian clothes makes me look like a cleaned up mad woman.” Tamilore said to Timilehin and he laughed.
“I like bohemian fashion.” he said as Yetunde walked back into the room and dropped the cakes and drinks on the table. “I think it’s unconventional and fun.”
Tamilore stuck her tongue out at Yetunde, “see? Someone understands good fashion.”
Yetunde ignored them and dug her teeth into a cupcake. When they continued to talk and Tamilore told Timilehin she had a blog where she blogged about bohemian fashion, Yetunde drew farther away from them. She turned on the TV and started watching something on E!
Timilehin liked Tamilore, he liked her fashion and her dry sense of humour. He laughed at everything she said and hinted and somehow, reminded Tamilore of Jide when they had just met in the UK.
He was the only one that got her then, just like the way Timilehin seemed to get her now.
“So you like rock? People like you tend to like rock.” Timilehin asked after they had discussed fashion and blogging.
Tamilore shrugged, “I like rock but not more than the other person who likes other music. I love other genres too but Indie rock and soft rock, are my favorite type of rock.”
“So who is your favorite artiste?”
“Rihanna. I love Rih, then I love Coldplay but I would not go to the ends of the world to get their albums…”
Timilehin laughed at that. They had barely touched the cakes and drinks Yetunde brought.
“I recently became fascinated with Fela and I love Seyi Shay’s modern reggae tunes too.”
Timilehin looked at with wonder, “wow. You’re really different and interesting. You should come to Old Soul tomorrow evening. Yetunde does not like to come…”
“I’m not coming.” Yetunde snapped, her eyes glued to the TV.
“See?” Timilehin said with a smile, “So would you come tomorrow? I can come pick you up. Its always fun. You’ll like it I promise.”
Tamilore was not sure why she said yes, maybe because it made Yetunde uncomfortable or because she felt Timilehin deserved better than her.
He preached halfheartedly on God’s amazing love that Sunday, the congregation spellbound by him as usual but inside of him, he was a mess.
There was a conflict going on. He was not sure if it was because of the message he was teaching or because he had somehow realized, in the course of preparing for the message that he had to start loving himself so he could love others.
God did not want him to be a puppy, the one who could not make decisions by himself at thirty three. The one whose mother controlled like a TV set and the one who was so glamorous on the outside but who was a big coward on the inside.
He wondered if Suga spice was in Church again, if she listened to all the things he said and what she would think of it.
When he was done and the Church was asked to stretch their hands and pray for him, he realized that he had been enveloped by an overwhelming emptiness, an emptiness he could not explain and emptiness that made him want to see her after service.
The women swarmed around him as usual after the service but he barely paid them any attention. Even when Alero walked up to him and told him it was time for them to go for marriage counseling, he had barely responded.
He was waiting for her, waiting to see if she would walk out of the Church with her sister.
He just wanted to speak to her. He did not know what to say but he just wanted to talk.
Minutes later, Yetunde walked out of the Church but without her in sight, he muttered an excuse and walked up to her.
“Hello, Good afternoon.”
Yetunde smiled at him, “Hello Pastor Jide.”
He wanted to tell her he was not a Pastor, at least his mother had not decided that for him yet but he decided against it. She knew he was not a pastor and chose to call him that, so he would leave it be for now.
“Where is Su… Tamilore?” he asked, looking around Yetunde as if expecting Tamilore to suddenly pop up in the crowd hovering in the doorway.
“She is in the house waiting to go out with a man later today.” Yetunde said to him. He was not sure why she told him the reason Tamilore had decided to stay back at home but he did not like to hear she was waiting for a man.
Tamilore was not the type to wait for a man. When he had met her, she did not seem to take interest in men.
She liked women. Or so she had said. She told him it was fun to experiment. So she had a girlfriend with whom they did several things.
They hung out together, went to wild parties together, did crazy things together.
When he met her, he had fascinated her way before he had been by her. And she told him he was the first man to ever make her feel that way.
He was her first in so many ways. He found that he was her first with sex the first night they made love in her apartment.
So hearing her sister tell him she was waiting for a man sounded very much unlike her. He was the only man she ever waited for, the only man she swore she would ever be with.
“Waiting for a man,” he echoed what Yetunde had told him.
“Yes. To go to one of these stupid events ugly mad looking people go to just to listen to stupid music, act wildly and recite boring poems that reminds someone of secondary school all in the name of being deep.” Yetunde sounded angry, he did not know why but she spoke like someone pissed about something.
“Can I come and see her later today?” he asked
Yetunde shrugged, “If you want to. Maybe you can even talk sense into her head.”
Jide nodded, he would do whatever would make her stay back and not go to somewhere he knew she would love with a man she was waiting for.
Yetunde was the child who sulked, acted up, even threw tantrums whenever she was pissed as a child.
She had been the only child for five years and so her parents had spoilt her with everything.
When her two younger sisters came, a year in between them both, she had felt like her throne was being threatened and so sought for the attention whatever way she could.
Her parents encouraged it. They did not tell her she was acting silly when she was and did not tell her to stop being ridiculous when she was.
So she grew into the woman who got what she wanted, who when she did not get what she wanted, threw tantrums for it. She got the boys she wanted, the gifts she wanted… everything she wanted.
Once upon a time, a boy on their street in Ibadan liked Lamide but because Yetunde liked him first, she had seduced him, got into his head and eventually dated him.
Tamilore did not understand why Lamide had not been bothered, “Shebi he likes her now. I cannot get in the way of love. See what happens to people who get in the way of love in films?”
Tamilore had been dazed, “Lamide, she is the one getting in the way of love not you. Besides, this is not a film.”
Lamide had been indifferent, “wo, leave them alone jare. What if they were meant to be. I will now let the devil use me?”
Tamilore wanted to point out that Yetunde was the one the devil was using but she kept quiet. Lamide was the happy-go-lucky child who lived in a brightly colored world where everyone was happy and sweet to each other.
She did not see harm when it was being done her and she felt everyone did something bad because they were forced to.
Tamilore liked her because of the innocence she carried but sometimes she lost patience for it.
Yetunde returned from Church that afternoon with food she had bought on her way from Church, she did not bring any for Tamilore. And she kept malice with her all through the day.
Tamilore did not mind. She looked forward to seeing Timilehin and going to Old soul with him.
When Timilehin came, he brought something for Yetunde. He was dressed in a black polo shirt and blue jeans. He looked fresh and good. Again, Tamilore imagined him with Lamide.
Yetunde took what he brought and said a forced “Thank you”, refused to hug him or talk to him and then left them both.
Tamilore did not care and she hoped Timilehin wouldn’t too.
She had chosen to wear a black retro mini dress, one she had not worn in four years and a pair of wedges. Her favorite pair of wedges and the only other pair of shoes she brought from the UK.
She liked what she was wearing and she was wearing it because for the first time in a while, she was doing something fun.
She had forgotten about the killer looking for her. There was someone nice and new who saw the world the way she saw it and she was happy to be spending time with him.
They were walking towards his red SUV when she spotted Jide parking his car and walking towards them.
Timilehin opened the door to the car and she got in. He made to speak to her but she looked away, wore her seat belt and sunshades while Timilehin drove them out of the compound.
She smiled, imagining how shocked Jide would have been.
Yetunde watched the little drama from her window upstairs. A sly smile formed on her face as she scrolled through her phone for Jide’s number.
She dialed it and asked him to come upstairs. If her little sister thought she could take things that did not belong to her, then she would teach her she was badder at this game than anyone else.