It was a quiet, beautiful Lagos Saturday afternoon in the life of a certain bachelor. For this bachelor, everything was chilled. He was home alone with Hennessey and his Internet was rubbing shoulders with Barry Allen. He knew Lagos Saturdays were largely characterised by Owambe, but to him, Friday turn ups were enough. He couldn’t imagine himself slugging it out as a consultant for five hectic days, only to stress his anti-social self by attending weekend functions, where all he ever cared about was the Item 7 and how quickly to ex from the event after relishing to his fill. He was done feeding his guilt. At the same time, he couldn’t bring himself to genuinely care about someone’s happiness.
Not that he was a Punisher–level sadist, anyway.
Speaking of food, Chuka realised that his beloved microwave had been beeping for seconds. He was there in a jiffy, and as fate would have it, his solitude was about to be terminated by the arrival of unexpected company. Cursing under his breath, he took out his meal and silently prayed that his Igbo mother hadn’t come to give him the ‘Marry fast and give me grandchildren!’ talk for the seventy-seventh time. Setting his package down, he strode to the door to uncover a figure that was not his mother. Or even female.
“Brooo!” escaped the lips of Chuka and his visitor in unison, as though the words had minds of theirs. That was followed by an informal handshake and a brotherly hug. Chuka did not waste time in letting his good old friend into his abode.
“Correct guy,” Chuka began as they made to sit, “The last recession didn’t smell you at all.”
“Like it ever ended. It’s doing my body work, but wounds heal.”
“They sure do. Time heals everything.”
If only Chuka had the faintest idea. There was nothing but a look of satisfaction plastered on their respective faces. Regardless of their current vastly different lives, they were fraternal brothers with so much in common, right from their undergraduate days in LASU. Despite the façade of manhood that now hovered around them, they could still see clearly their younger, early-twenties’ selves.
“How’s everything going for you?” Ovie asked. “I took a risk by coming sef, but it paid off.”
“A risk?” Chuka had returned with a glass for Ovie. “I’m always here on Saturdays. And some Sundays.” He set it down, sat back and looked forward. “Many Sundays.”
“And you’ll still think that your problems aren’t spiritual.”
Chuka sensed the sarcasm well. “Similar to my mum, you’re now seeing my unmarried status as a curse. What if this is actually God’s way of blessing me?”
Ovie couldn’t help but laugh heartily, setting down his drained glass in the process. “Be careful what you wish for, brother. And this was legit needed,” he said, referring to the glass he’d just consumed.
“Indeed. And you look like you’ve been somewhere today.”
Ovie exhaled, looking upward. “I was at a wedding. Everything was going well before my sidechick went to catch bouquet.”
In an effort to subdue his shock and laughter, Chuka recounted the years his friend had been married: five. “A single guy is dying in the friendzone while his married friend is still balling like a bachelor. Life is too fair.”
“Very fair, man.” Ovie maintained his upward gaze. “I blame myself for letting things between me and Toke become so strained and bitter in such a short while.” Turning his gaze to his friend, he began again. “What about that Gladys babe you’ve been on to?”
Chuka exhaled. “She…well…” His hands were in the air before they fell. “She decided to become a nun. She left me for Jesus.”
Ovie did little to hide his utter shock. “What on Earth…do females in this day and age still do that? Why?” Rubbing his palm across his face, he shot his friend a sardonic smile. “Take heart and accept her higher calling. But I still don’t believe the girls of our age fancy convents.”
“So that’s why you’ve been avoiding church.”
“What if that’s why? The heartbroken one that avoids church is better than the infidel that doesn’t.” Chuka shot Ovie a comical searing look afterwards. Ovie knew better than to take offence. His friend had left loose ends and he was more than determined to tie it up.
“Whose zone then are you dying in? And has it gotten so bad that you’re writing about it on your laptop?”
Chuka, for some inexplicable reason, had been oblivious of the laptop on his sofa for as long as he could remember. He ran his hand over his face. “Let’s just say I’m putting my hidden talent to good use. My mind has been nagging at me to write something about this IPOB issue. I couldn’t take it any longer.”
Ovie heaved a sigh. “Inasmuch as I’m entitled to stress over national integrity, your ‘muse’ is of much bigger concern to me right now.”
Nothing about Chuka could believe his friend at that moment. Keep it simple and short, he thought. “Co-worker. Turned me down thrice before telling me she was with someone else. And no, she’s not my muse.”
Their collective blank expressions received life when the doorbell rang again. Chuka remained on the floor a while longer, finally believing that this visitor couldn’t have been anyone else but his mother.
And Ovie is here to aid her sermon. Perfect.
Approaching the door, Chuka’s mind drifted to the foodstuffs his mother always brought for him, in an involuntary search for a bright side. Instantly, he found solace.
But the figure he unearthed gave him solace, much more than the foodstuffs could have done. And it shocked him a thousand times more than Ovie’s arrival did.
“Solape? What are you…”
His co-worker could clearly see the shock that made him lose touch of his words. “I know I should have called, but I’m having a bad day and you were pretty close so…” She began silently, before handing expression duties to her eyes. Chuka got the message.
“You can come in, sure.” He said, stepping aside and feeling comfortable. No sooner had he braced to make the expected introductions than Solape suddenly froze before him, directly facing an upstanding Ovie.
“What on Earth are you doing here?” She let out slowly, in a gasp of horror. She began to shoot the duo equally brief but guilty scares, almost as though she had seen a ghost. As she edged towards the door, Chuka could make out “Why do you two have to know each other?” before she finally exited his apartment, so quick that it was hard to believe she ever arrived.
A wide range of possible explanations began to swirl in his head. However, he couldn’t make any sense out of it. All he really needed for clarity was a calm, simple sentence from Ovie.
“Remember the chick I just told you about?”
Written by Clinton Durueke
Published by Great Opara