Some people are wicked sha. I can only imagine how Ibrahim must have felt when Charles sent him to Kike and me to give us envelopes full of dollars.
The poor boy sent Kike a message saying he was coming to our place. It had been just a day since we watched him luluxing a man, and in that time Kike had been silent in a way that scared me.
I don’t know what I expected her to be like but I know I would have known how to console her had she been crying her eyes out. But no, she wasn’t crying; she didn’t want to talk about it and she wasn’t saying anything.
She didn’t even tell me he was coming until he called her that he was outside. It was night. I was busy reading a hand-out that contained nothing new but which if I didn’t buy and register my name that I had bought, I wouldn’t have had a chance in hell of passing the course.
She told me to come with her. I asked her where to and she casually said Ibrahim was outside. She didn’t need to ask again.
He was in his Range Rover (or was it Charles’?), he didn’t come down and when he saw me I noticed a look.
She stopped by his window and folded her arms across her chest. I stood next to her waiting for whatever he had to say for himself. My posture was daring him to ask me to excuse them.
The window slid down smoothly and the cold air inside touched my face.
“Hi,” he said to Kike who wasn’t even looking at him. He nodded at me and I nodded back, but only slightly so he wouldn’t think everything was cool.
“How are you?” he asked her.
She looked at him from the corner of her eyes as if he had just blasphemed.
“Is that what you came to ask me?” she said.
If he had been remorseful, or if he had come in peace, the good intention vanished. He returned her evil look with an equally dirty look of his own. He didn’t even bother responding to her aggression. He leaned onto his passenger seat to get to something he kept in the footwell. He picked up a duffel bag and from inside it he fetched the two white envelopes he had come to deliver to us. They had names written on them. He gave her her own and gave me mine then he did the peace sign to her and put his car in reverse as his window glided back up.
We had to step out of the way as he left. For a moment, it seems, she didn’t believe he was actually leaving. Then, as he pointed his car at the gate and began to drive out, she cracked.
She called after him, angrily, at first, then in desperation tinged with disbelief. She made to run after his car but I held her back. She broke down in my arms and began to cry all the tears she’d been holding inside. The envelope fell from her hand as her weeping face sank into my shoulder. I watched his brake lights beam off and on and then he was gone.
Now, Kike is my baby. She might be all grown up, she might be in the same university with me, she might be selling Kitty-Cat to make ends meet, but to me she’s still little Kike whose mum used to bring to our house as a kid and she would call me Maka and ask my father to carry her on his shoulders. It was my duty to look after her.
“Baby, he’s just doing shakara because he can’t face you,” I said. “I’m sure he still loves you. And what happened yesterday is nothing. He’s probably just doing it for money and nothing more. You’re the one he loves.”
I had to say something so I said the first thing that came to my mind. I regretted it immediately. The renewed vigour of her wailing confirmed that I’d chosen the wrong thing to say. Let’s face it, for her man to be cheating on her is one thing, but for him to be selling his body to another man is an entirely different soap opera.
“Kike, you want the whole world to know your matter?” I was digging now. I was out of ideas.
She kept crying. One of the girls opened the door and stood starring at us. I gave her a straight look and she returned inside and closed the door.
“Kike, kike, let’s go out. Let’s go and lodge in a hotel and go clubbing, just us.”
She nodded and that was that.
Johnny, God bless him, he always calls just when I need him. Kike and I just got into the red cab we ordered when he called. I expected him to say he was still in Abuja, but he said he just came into Lagos and he was on his way to the Island. I told him I was on my way to Raddison Blu and he said he’d meet me there. Things were already looking up.
We stopped at Eko Hotel to change Dollars into Naira, then with purses full of money we went to book our room.
I had never even entered the lift at Raddison Blu, so it felt super good to walk up to the reception and ask the powdered smart girl behind the counter for a room for the night.
Our room overlooked the lagoon. It was beautiful. Kike went to the window and excitedly called me to come and see. We had a beautiful view of the bubbling pool side. I was just happy that her spirit had lifted. If that was all Charles’ money managed to do, it would have been money well spent.
By the time we took our showers and generously used the complementary toiletries, Johnny was calling to tell me that he was in the Hotel. I would have asked him to come up but I wanted to explain the situation to him first. I hurriedly got dressed and told Kike I was coming.
Johnny didn’t tell me he wasn’t alone. I found him in the lobby, his back to me, with two other people, one oyinbo man and one black woman.
When he saw me he hugged me with fanfare like he always does then he introduced me to his friends. Jan was a black American that was investing in his restaurant in Lagos and Edward was her husband. I didn’t have time to explain anything to him before he suggested that we all go out to the pool side and get something to drink.
I realised I had left my phone in the room so there was no way to call Kike and let her know where I was.
Outside, Johnny insisted that we get a table by the infinity pool. I didn’t know what an infinity pool was, or that the pool at the Raddison Blu was one. He asked a waiter for the wine list and started checking if they had any of the wine brands he imports into the country. He always does that.
“What do you do, Amak,” Jan asked. “Did I get that right? Your name is Amak, right?”
I spelled my name for her but she still pronounced it wrong, not that it mattered to me. I told her I was a student and she wanted to know what I was studying.
“Are you staying at this hotel?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied and I looked at Johnny. I really wanted to have explained the situation to him, in my own way – my own version.
“Wow! You must be rich! This place must be expensive for a student!”
I hated her.
Johnny cocked his head at me with a quizzical look on his face. “Aburo, you now stay at the Raddison?”
“No jor. It’s not like that.”
“Are you staying here alone?” Jan asked. Her husband took a swig from his glass of Star as he watched the back of a girl walking by.
“No. I’m with a friend.”
“Oh, I see.”
“My cousin. She’s not feeling well so I brought her to the hotel.”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, darling,” she said.
I wanted to punch her in the face.
I was aware of Johnny studying me; listening to her questions and to my responses.
“Which cousin is that?” he asked.
“Kike. You don’t know her. Let me go and get her.”
“Just call her to come meet us,” he said.
“I left my phone in the room.”
“Ok. Don’t be long.”
As I left to get Kike – to prove that I was not there with a man – I worried over the look on Johnny’s face. It was a look I’d never seen before; the look of: “I didn’t know you are an ashewo like that.”
Kike took her time getting dressed, especially when I told her my Johnny was at the poolside, with a Black American lady and her oyinbo husband.
We came close to fighting before she was finally ready and we left the room. She was looking really hot; I didn’t even know she had packed the dress she was wearing. I made a mental note not to let her get too close to Johnny.
I searched for Johnny and the woman and her husband. The table we had been at was empty, even our glasses had been cleared away. I walked the length of the poolside, twice, peering at strangers and ignoring their funny looks. I went inside and searched for him, then I called his phone but he didn’t answer. I called and called till I called, and while waiting and hoping that he’d answer my call, he cut off his phone and the busy tone made my tummy sick.
With trembling fingers I sent him a SMS message. “Johnny, where are you?” I texted.
I called again but he didn’t answer until he cut off my call again. I think that was when I panicked.
I composed a long text telling him I was not with a man, that I was really with my cousin, that I expected him to have more faith in me, that if that was what he thought of me then he really didn’t know me.
Kike had found a guy that she knew and she was laughing and flirting with him when I returned to the poolside. She didn’t even notice that anything was wrong with me. I asked if I could use her phone. I called Johnny’s phone with it but he cut off the call again. What did I expect? He probably knew it was me calling with a different number. There was even no point calling him with hidden number.
Kike’s friend offered me a drink but my tommy couldn’t take anything. Against myself I tried Johnny’s number again but this time his phone was off. I suddenly felt angry. I sent him a message telling him to go to hell, or something like that. Then I paid for a bottle of Remi Martin and drank as my shattered heart dictated.