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The One Who Makes Me Cry
It’s been three days since I last heard from Jide. He has tried getting through to me but I have given him the cold shoulder. Before then, we had communicated really well for over a month via all the social networks and through phone calls. Gradually, we had drawn close and he had even given me the pet name Sugar Lips. It’s not like we have declared love for each other; we just know there’s something there. Or so I thought. Turned out I was building a sandcastle. The problem started when he and I were having one of our phone conversations and I heard a girl in the background. It was supposed to be 2am in Nigeria. What was a girl doing with him at that time of the night?
He told me blankly that she was a friend with benefits. I asked him why he was doing such a thing. He said because he was an adult and could do whatever he felt like. He wasn’t even apologetic. Was I jealous, he then asked? I lied that I wasn’t but I also failed to tell him I was pissed. Giving him a very curt goodbye, I hung up and haven’t kept in touch since.
I have some flaws, I must admit. The worst being that I can’t trust men. Dele’s wife and my dad have often begged me to change. I have tried but I’ve been unsuccessful. The irony is that with me being away most of the time, I still expect the man I love to remain trustworthy and loyal to me. The first inkling I get that he’s unfaithful, I’m done with him. I’ve been told that my head is in the clouds. One of my exes even called me a Disney princess. Whatever. I want my own Prince Charming, my one true love who will walk me into the sunset and give me my happily ever after. I thought Jide was the one. Turned out I was dreaming. I’m still mad at him. And yes, that’s another flaw of mine. I know how to keep a grudge.
My day has begun terribly, and I know it will get worse. I’ve been through different states of mind over Jide’s sexual indiscretions, not sure what to make of his behavior. I fear that all he wants from me is sex. My head tells me it’s commonsense to forget about him but I just can’t. He has sipped into my system in a way no other man has. Right now I’m holding my phone and hoping he’ll call.
“Honey, the captain wants to see you,” a steward informs me. I nod and put my phone away. We’re doing our pre-flight organization, making sure everything is in place before the passengers get onboard. I am not in the mood to speak with any pilot today. In fact, I’m not in the mood for anything.
I walk to the cockpit and find the door open. The moment I step in, it shuts behind me and I get pinned to it by a man I have sworn to have nothing to do with.
Before I protest, he covers my lips with his, giving me this very sexual kiss that brings back a lot of memories I have buried. I try to push him away but I can’t. He kisses on as one of his hands begins to feel my breast. I struggle and break free.
“Nonso, what’s wrong with you?!” I push away from him, stabbing his chest with my open palms. He moves closer again but I stop him.
“Hey, Hon.” There’s a slutty smile on his face. I can’t believe I used to turn to water at that look.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m back.” He laughs.
“I thought you quit.”
“Well, I did but now I’m back.” He takes my waist again and crushes into me. “Back to us for good. My divorce is now final. God! I missed you! Can you feel how much?”
He is referring to his excited penis that is poking me presently. Back then I would have hungrily gone for it but right now, I’m disgusted. I give him another jab in the chest and aim for the door. He pulls up behind me. One hand grabs my breasts and the other lifts my skirt.
“Nonso, stop! I’ll report you for harassment!”
I try to turn but he pins me hard to the door.
“Stop!” I scream and hit the door. I am so mad right now.
“Okay, calm down. I’ll stop.” He takes his hands off me, but not before squeezing my nipple. I turn around and give him a resounding slap. He grabs my hand and pins me to the door once more, making sure to cage my legs as well because he knows I’ll aim for his balls next.
“You’re angry, you’re mad. It’s understandable and I’m sorry, honey bun. I really am. I just had to sort myself out; that was why I left without saying anything. You said you didn’t want to share me with her, so I did the right thing and now I’m back for us, back to make things work.”
This guy doesn’t understand that our love boat sailed long ago. I have cried my tears and asked God for mercy over sleeping with someone else’s husband. I still feel so ashamed of myself for everything I did with Nonso. Both of us called it love then and blamed it on the loneliness in the skies. But it was just pure lust. I told myself I wasn’t hurting his wife and kids, that what we shared had nothing to do with them; and that the demise of his marriage was because of his demanding job. However, inside I knew I was part of the waves that wrecked his marriage. This, I admitted only after he disappeared without explanation.
Now he’s back and wants to lead us down the ruins of our wickedness? No way. Not me. I’ve lived clean for almost two years. I can do well without him.
“Nothing can work between us, Nonso. I don’t love you anymore.”
His grip on my hand weakens. Confusion creeps up on his face.
“I found someone else, Nonso. One year was enough time for me to realize I was a husband snatcher and a home wrecker. God will not forgive me if I build my happiness on an evil foundation.”
“Honey, I’m a free man. It’s not evil or wickedness to be with me.”
“Just stop talking trash abeg. We’re through. Step away from me.”
To be honest, I don’t know what is giving me the nerve to speak to him this way. He used to be my only weakness and the only man I could trust because he was always with me. I remember times when guilt hit me in the past over our affair and I’ll tell myself not to give into his advances anymore, only to melt at just one smile or touch. Now, I feel absolutely nothing for him. This is what loving Jide is doing to me.
“Who is this new guy?”
“Step away from me, Nonso.”
He sees the seriousness in my eyes and slowly frees me. I straighten out my outfit and walk out, hoping to God he doesn’t crash the plane out of frustration.
Oh well, the flight doesn’t go smoothly. No, Nonso doesn’t do anything stupid. It is the passengers this time. It is one of those days when all the dickheads decide to be on the same flight. From the moment they board, I’ve been fighting to keep my patience. Now, I just can’t take it anymore. I am about to have a nervous breakdown. I just saw a teenage couple making out in the back seats and the girl has the effrontery to ask me to be on the lookout to make sure no one comes their way.
Nothing wey person no go see for the hands of this oyinbo. I’ve asked them to go back to their seats but they want to make a row. Sleeping passengers are waking up and turning our way. I’m exhausting all my professional options. All that is left of me is to slap some home training into them.
Okay that did it! The girl just called me a bitch and the boy is using racist expressions. I’m about to give them both an earful but my colleague steps in and asks to take them off my hands. I move up to first class, glad to meet more cultured people, only to have some randy lesbian bitch put her hand up my skirt after asking me to pick the pen she intentionally threw to the floor. I lose that last ounce of my cool as I shoot up, swivel round and give her a slap that makes the one I gave Nonso look like a joke. The entire cabin wakes up to find the chick crying and threatening to sue me and the airline.
I know I’m losing my job, that’s for sure. And I know this will make the news. I can see the headlines now: Homophobic Air Flight Attendant Slaps Lesbian Daughter Of Prominent New York Designer.
My bosses will have my hide. Lord help me.
I turn to her and apologize before dashing out of the cabin. We get to New York an hour later. Nonso is by my side as I wait in my boss’ office. He tries to hold my hand but I don’t let him. I eventually ask him to leave after we have been kept waiting in the outer office for five hours. He promises to call me later. I wait another hour before my boss appears and calls me in. The man is like an uncle to me but I don’t think he can save my head from going under the block.
“I’ve done all I can, Honey, but I’m afraid you have to go on suspension for a whole month, without pay.”
“Sir, she put her hand up my skirt.”
“You have training on how to react in such situations, Honey. You’re always the cool one, the most patient. What ruffled your feathers this way?”
“I don’t know. Just a bad day,” I respond, wishing Jide wasn’t getting benefits from some friend or that Nonso hadn’t returned. Both men are partly responsible for all that happened today.
“What you did can cost us millions of dollars in lawsuit.”
“The story is already out there and I don’t know if I can secure your job when you get back from suspension, if you’ll even get back.”
I feel tears pool up in my eyes.
“Fortunately for us, you can save us money and time in court if you go and see her. She wants a personal apology.”
My tummy churns. “She’ll rape me,” I complain.
“Honey, that’s our only choice not to screw this company up. She can’t rape you. Just visit her father’s beach house in the Hamptons, have lunch with her, kiss and make up.”
Kiss and make up? This man throws jabs when my job is at stake. I let my breath out. I know that chick is going to sexually harass me and no one will do anything about it. What type of nonsense job is this?
I leave my boss’ office so helpless. I need to talk to someone. I call Dele’s wife but her number is not available. I sit out in the lobby and try another friend. I can’t reach her too. The next person on my mind is Mommy but I refrain from calling her. I don’t want to load my problems on the poor woman who has her own family issues to deal with.
I hitch a ride to my hotel where I shower and change into a pair of unflattering jeans and a plain tee. I step out of the hotel to see a chauffeur ready to take me to my abuser’s home. We begin my journey to the Hamptons. The sun has just risen up on this side of the world.
When I return, I’m pissed. The trip was just like I imagined it would be. The chick had her hands all over my body the entire time and afterwards, gifted me a whole rack of ridiculously expensive clothes, shoes and lingerie which were my perfect fit. She had me feeling like an escort.
I get into my hotel suite and erase the memory of my encounter by trying out the new clothes. It’s better than sitting and brooding over Jide and my job which I may soon lose.
“Abeg use the time to come visit me jare,” Dele’s wife says when I finally get through to her line.
“I will. I’ll also go and see my dad.”
“How about your omo Igbo?”
I don’t give a quick answer. I don’t want to talk about Jide.
“I’ll see him too.”
We touch on other topics. Actually, I listen to her tell me about her husband’s demands to have another baby. She’s not happy about it. She wants to start a business or she’ll lose her mind existing as a stay-at-home mom. She has a feeling Dele doesn’t trust her to remain faithful to him once she’s out there. I don’t trust her too. She used to be horniness on two long legs.
She rings off after advising me to never give up my dreams just to please a man. I put my phone away and start thinking how fickle women can be. The other day she willingly gave Dele her entire life without flinching, just so she would be counted as a missus.
My suspension letter comes in via email. Six weeks without pay. I have an instant headache. The last time someone was suspended for that long, she never returned. I want to cry so badly. I need a shoulder and a soothing voice to tell me all is well.
I pick my phone, swallow my grudge and call Jide. He answers.
At the sound of his voice I break down. He patiently waits on the line until I can speak. I relate to him my sexual harassment story and subsequent suspension.
“I’d hug you now if you were here with me,” he says.
I blush in the privacy of my hotel room. Jide is such a Romeo. He likes to pretend that his charming ways come naturally but he knows exactly what he is doing.
“Take a flight back,” he requests.
“Because I want you here.”
The words are enough to put me back on the next plane to Nigeria. And that is exactly what I do the moment he hangs up.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I spent all my money, bought a big ol’ fancy car
For these bright-eyed honeys
Oh yeah, you know who you are
Keep me up till the sun is high
Till the birds start calling my name
I’m addicted and I don’t know why
Guess I’ve always been this way
All these roads steer me wrong
But I still drive them all night long
All night long
All you young wild girls you make a mess of me
Yeah you young wild girls you’ll be the death of me
The death of me
All you young wild girls no matter what you do
Yeah you young wild girls I’ll always back to you
Come back to you ooh-ooh-ooh
I get lost under these lights
I get lost in words I say
Start believing my own lies
Like everything will be okay
But I still dream of a simple life
Boy meets girl makes her his wife
But love don’t exist when you live like this
That much I know
Yes I know
All these roads steer me wrong
But I still drive them all night long
All night long…
“Stop the song, Celia.”
I’m looking into Celia’s mischievous face as she sings along with Bruno Mars, strumming an invisible guitar for visual effects.
“You asked to see me so we can talk. I’m here and you’re playing Bruno Mars. How does your husband cope with you?”
She keeps singing in her terrible voice. It’s not bad enough that the song is speaking to my conscience, she has to croak along with it.
“We’re in a restaurant, please. Everyone’s staring.”
She doesn’t stop.
“Okay, I’ll confess!” I try to shout her down. “Honey is not my girlfriend.”
She stops. “You sly prick.”
“Yeah, a month ago.” She hisses. “You just made me miss the best part of the song.”
She stops the song and pushes her phone aside.
“So what’s this talk about?” I ask.
“Mary told me you stopped talking to her.”
“Did she tell you why?”
“Does it matter why? The point is that you’re suddenly on this moral pedestal.”
“Moral pedestal? Mary seduced me in my parlor. She was completely nude. She told you that part?”
“She was drunk.”
“She was not. She was drunk the night before and I gave her my room to sleep, only for her to wake up the next morning and think she can guilt me into sleeping with her.”
“She is your friend, Jide. She wanted you. The best you could do was oblige.”
I can’t believe my ears. Celia has completely lost it.
“You see the problem with you women? You don’t help each other at all. You, Bims, Noka and Peace, you’re all not helping Mary.”
“Stop pushing her to get married. What’s the rush for? The girl is now desperate because you shove your marriages in her face and make it look like you’re all living perfect lives when you’re not. Look at Peace, for instance. I’m sure she can’t remember the last time she slept with Reno. Or is it Noka whom Ibro got married to just because she trapped him with pregnancy and has to constantly bend over backwards to please him? Or Bimpe that is suffering in the hands of her in-laws?”
“Or Celia whose husband is stingy,” Celia adds. “Abi? Go on.”
“Behave. You know what I’m talking about.”
“No marriage is perfect, Jide.”
“I’m glad you get my point, so stop making Mary feel like she’s missing the best part of her life because she’s single.”
“All we’re saying is that you’re single, she’s single…make una two help una sef. Or…at least, you could help her get hooked to someone else.”
“Aren’t you the Bridemaker?”
“She’s your friend. Love her or lead her to love. You do it for others on the daily for free.”
“I do nothing. I just…”
“Sleep around like a mongrel.”
She stares into my eyes, daring me to do or say my worst.
“I think I’ve played with you too much, Cee. You don’t have respect again. You and Mary; and that’s why she’ll be stripping for me because in her mind, Jideofor doesn’t have self-control. He’ll just hop on any available vagina. No problem.”
I stand up from my chair.
I don’t answer her. I pick my phone and she stops me.
“I’m sorry, Jide. Please, don’t go.”
“Leave me jor.”
I’m genuinely annoyed. I walk away. She calls me back but I don’t respond. As for Mary, she should enjoy the doghouse I put her in.
Outside the restaurant I get a call from an important client. Remember the woman whose husband I told you I greatly admired? Well she just went into labor and she needs me.
My journey is taking me to the other end of town, to a quiet neighborhood and a house that imposes itself above others. But first I have to stop at home to get my medical paraphernalia. By the time I get to the client’s place, traffic and all, it’s almost dark.
There are armed guards at the gate that confirm my invitation before letting me in. I’m being led by one of them to the main house as my eyes absorb the beauty of the grounds around me. The mansion is surrounded by nature, reminding me of my family home. The greenery and clean atmosphere fills me and I find myself slowing just to inhale the air. I hear dogs barking close by and music that is coming from another side of the premises which is demarcated by a short fence. There I see another building; it is a two-storey, sturdy and of modern architecture but not as impressive as the one I’m about to walk into.
The entrance door to the house opens before me and the guard moves away to usher me in, upon which he turns back and I stand facing an elderly woman.
“Good evening, sir,” she greets. I greet back. “Madam is waiting for you.”
I am led up a flight of wooden stairs. I notice that the house is mostly structured with wood. And it is done so skillfully that one can miss it without an observant eye. We come to the top floor and the woman leads me into a bedroom that is ridiculously large and yet cozy.
“Wait here,” the woman tells me and turns back. I am left standing in the private space of my client and her husband. On the walls are photos of them on their wedding day. There’s one photo of the bride and a younger girl who looks like the groom. I come to the conclusion that the girl is his daughter from a previous relationship. My client’s medical history points that she has never had a child of her own. This is her first full term pregnancy after three miscarriages. Her husband had wanted her cared for in a better equipped hospital outside Nigeria but she had declined. She never told me her reasons why.
But let me deviate… She is drop dead gorgeous. Damn! I am not crazy about curvy women but if I ever stray from my preference, I would be found in the arms of someone as beautiful as she is. Her husband is one lucky bastard; I can’t imagine the number of men he has to fight off her. I just hope she doesn’t follow the way of many women and lose her looks after childbirth. It would be catastrophic.
A door squeaks almost inaudibly and I turn in the direction of the sound, straightening myself. My client steps out in all her pregnant glory and I smile at her.
“Good evening, madam.”
“Jide.” She walks slowly. She is tired. Nine months with twins is not beans. “How are you?”
“I’m good ma. How are you?”
She sits on her bed and tells me she is having contractions.
“How far apart are they?” I ask.
“I don’t know. They’re just so painful. I thought it’s supposed to progress slowly.”
I inform her that there is no textbook manner in which babies come, especially twins. Every birth, like every pregnancy, is different.
I ask her to lie down and I check her vitals. She seems fine, no alarms. I tell her I’ll need to do a pelvic examination. She nods and prepares herself for me while I slip on a pair of gloves.
“I’m not ready for these babies o. Their father is coming back tomorrow. They should try and wait.”
I say nothing.
“Jide, are you married? I’m not sure if I’ve seen a ring on your finger.”
“I’m not married, ma,” I reply with a smile as I invade her birth canal with my fingers. She winces in pain and grasps the bedsheet.
I realize her cervix is almost fully dilated. It’s a surprise that she is still so calm. When I pull out my hand, I inform her that we have to take her to the hospital immediately. She opens her mouth to speak but she’s cut short by a strong contraction. I ask her to count silently through each breath and tell me at what number the pain peaks most.
“Five!” she gasps when the contraction passes. “Five.”
“We’ll be on our way immediately. You have your bag packed?”
She nods and points at a door. “That’s the closet. There’s a black Givenchy suitcase and a matching baby bag beside it.”
I follow her direction and walk into a quaint but classy closet. I come out with the bags and we leave. Downstairs, a chauffeur is waiting. In the car, she gets a call from her husband. She puts him on speakerphone and I’m forced to listen to her sob as she begs him to take a flight home.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I still have a meeting before I leave. But I promise you I’ll be there by evening tomorrow.”
“It’s not fair o. You promised you won’t be doing all this travel.”
“Baby, I know. And I’m very sorry.”
She has another contraction and squeezes my knee while I urge her inaudibly to breathe through the pain. Her husband is still speaking. He’s telling her to be strong, to stop crying and remember that he loves her.
“Say that again.”
“I love you,” he repeats.
She’s nodding and squeezing my knee again. He realizes she’s having a contraction.
“I’ll stay on the phone, sweetheart, until the babies come. I’m not going anywhere.”
I see a dimple appear on her right cheek. “You will?”
And that is all she needs to pull through. We get to the hospital and I take her to the special birthing unit for women who want to experience something similar to a homebirth but having the hospital as a backup in case of emergencies. With her husband on the phone for an hour, she births a boy and a girl, eight minutes apart, both of them healthy. I hear the emotions in the father’s voice and get infected by it. He stays with her on the phone until I tell him she needs to clean up and take much needed rest. He promises to call back and requests that I send him pictures of his children. After assigning a junior midwife to bathe her, I send him the pictures and turn off the phone. My client sleeps until the next morning when I walk into her room with her babies and give her some bonding time with them.
She resurrects the topic of my love life and rather than give her the complicated version, I tell her about Honey, who has been on my mind all these weeks.
“You know you hurt her with the friends with benefits thing, right?”
“It was intentional. I wanted to scare her off.”
“Because you’re afraid of starting something new.”
“I don’t think I’m ready.”
“But your heart seems to think you are. All the words you just used to describe her are endearing words.”
“Really?” I laugh.
“You didn’t even notice. You’re so smitten. That kiss must have meant something deep.”
“Yeah, that’s strange. I thought it was purely sexual.”
“Well, the heart is not so far from the genitals.”
“That’s the thing. I’m afraid that if we get physical, I might become disinterested, and that would be bad because she’s not the type of girl you hurt. I don’t want to break her heart.”
“Let me tell you about my husband and I. It was pure sex from the start. I got into his life to seduce and ruin him, no jokes. But an empty sexual relationship turned to love and look at us today. Now I’m not telling you to just go ahead and sleep with her. I’m telling you not to see the attraction as a bad thing. Just control it and listen to your heart at all times. It’s a lot better being with one woman, sexually or not, than engaging in meaningless relationships that will lead nowhere. Trust me, loneliness can be worse than hell.”
I don’t tell her that my heart still misses Ezinne, and how I feel Honey is trying to erase our cherished memories so fast. The fear of letting go and finding out that it’s what I actually need is what is keeping me from falling in love with a new woman. But this is something I must do; it is exactly why I came back home after being away in exile. I want to start life afresh.
My phone vibrates in my pocket and I take it as a cue to leave. I inform her that I’m on my way out. She thanks me and I ask for a selfie with her and the babies.
“Can I upload on Instagram?” I request after taking the photo. It’s one of the cleanest I have taken.
I upload the picture on Instagram.
“Tag me, please,” she says.
I take my leave and walk to my office to have a short break before I start my ward rounds. I see that I have a text from my mom.
My love, I’ve missed you. When will you come and see your dear old mother? Don’t you miss me?
I reply that I do and promise to see her later. I rest for a while and begin my rounds. Walking down the cold hospital hallway that leads to the private wards, I’m thinking of Ezinne and Honey at the same time. I want something new; I want to really laugh and love again but I don’t want to let go of the old. How do I know what direction fate has prepared for me? Devoted Christians will tell you to simply believe in God. If he doesn’t give an answer, he’ll throw in a sign. Right now, I want both, just to be doubly sure.
“Jide.” A voice comes from behind me and makes my heart leap. I don’t want to turn. God possibly couldn’t have taken my thoughts seriously to give me an express answer. I’m sure this is some joke from him.
I shut my eyes and do a slow spin to face the woman who has just called my name.
“I thought I’d never see you again,” she says.
“Hi.” That is all my mouth can conjure up after all this time. I have missed this woman.
Episode 9 comes up at 7pm. Don’t miss it!