Eleven years ago
For a while now, Ezinne had suspected Ekene of cheating on her. It was suspicious how his phone and messages were pass-worded, he answered his calls away from her ear shot and worst of all she found new pieces of women’s clothing almost all the time in his apartment. Clothing he claimed belonged to his younger sister who sometimes stayed over at his place.
She’d suspected he’d been lying but since she didn’t have a way to prove it, she always let it go but today she had caught him red handed, hand in the till.
It was a saturday and she’d driven to Shoprite at the entertainment centre to get some groceries and toiletries for her self when she’d spotted her so called boyfriend, fiancee, supposed love of her entire life with some short, fat, who’re look alike. Bleached skin complexion, overly made up, fake back length brazillian hair, fake lashes, nails and any other possibly fake thing, in jean shorts so short and tight, she might as well have been wearing underwear. Then there was Ekene, her now soon to be ex-boyfriend pushing the trolley for her while she picked items off the shelves.
Strangely, her heart didn’t shatter into shards, like it did for some instead she felt an annoyance that this was the type of trash that her boyfriend rolled with on the down low. Fake and short!
Bringing out her phone, she dialled his number, following behind them at a considerable distance as they breezed through the aisle casually.
He picked, ” Hey Ezinne, what’s up?”
“Hi kene, sweety” she began so sweetly, she was surprised at her acting skills “could you come pick me up at home, I’m quite bored here and I want to hang out.”
“Ummmm, I’m kinda busy today, rain check, can we do it tomorrow?” He asked
She raised a brow, busy indeed! Going on in a whiny voice now, she said “but baby, tomorrow I’ve got plans with the girls, I want you here now.”
“Ummm…. I’m sorry Zinnie, I’ve got work up to my eyebrows over here… Lemme make it up to you some other time?”
“Really?” She decided to go in for the kill now “By work up to your eyebrows, are you talking bout the short tramp you are presently doing grocery shopping with? The one with the fake everything?”
Stopping in his tracks, realization dawned on his face, he turned, looking around, phone still held to his ear.
“How…. How did…?” Then his eyes met hers and held, stunned at her presence, he just stood there, staring at her in shock, probably uncertain and afraid of her next move. His companion, noticing something amiss followed his gaze and her eyes landed on her also.
She hoped the girl knew she was just the side chic, anyway who cared, she was done with the cheat!
As she was in no mood for a stare competition between the three of them she shook her head at him, giving him the meanest glare she could muster, then did an about turn, making for the exit.
She didn’t feel heartbroken, she was just really annoyed. Annoyed at being lied to, at being made a fool, annoyed at committing to him. Was this the person she was expected to get married to? A lying cheat who cheated on her with someone who wasn’t even half as pretty as she was. A girl so ugly, she needed so much fakeness to boost her looks. Goodness only knew how many others there were!
Ezinne and Ekene had known themselves since forever. They’d been friends since they were kids as their families were really close. Naturally their friendship had blossomed into something more and they’d been dating for a few years but this was the first time she had caught him cheating. She was quite sure he’d been doing it for a long while, she wondered how long.
On getting to her car, her phone began to buzz and she saw it was him calling. She smiled sardonically, picking the call, it had taken him this long to recover and decide on the next step to take.
“What?” She began curtly.
“Zinnie…baby…, please if you’ll just let me explain,”
“Explain what? You mean lie, you have lied to my face one time too many, Kene. You can have a good time with your new girlfriend, I don’t want to hear anything you have to say, and don’t come to my house or you won’t blame me for whatever you see, I’m serious! ” She spat heatedly, hanging up. If he thought he would easily explain himself out of this one, he had to think again.
Mofe was gisting with Aliyu and trying to repair the electricity in the Generals house next door. It was more of an upgrade really, the cables at the main supply had been sparking dangerously for a while now because the current which the load pulled was too heavy for the cables, which were of a lower rating.
He’d been comissioned to make the repairs and had been paid in advance quite handsomely and so he gleefully did the work, gisting with the gateman, Aliyu who liked to give him an update on his family’s progress from time to time
“So Aliyu you say, three of your twelve children just enter university ba?”
He’d just asked the gate man when a loud long honk interrupted them. They both turned toward the gate. It was Ezinne’s car.
Aliyu ran off immediately “Mope, I dey come, madam don come.”
He turned back to the work at hand, he had tried many times without luck, to correct the guy as to the true pronounciation of his name. Now, he just accepted being called ‘Mope’.
Almost done with the eelectrical job, he was looking for ward to resting a bit that saturday since he had nothing else lined up. He was done with developing the application for his final project now and it’s defence was in a few weeks time, he couldn’t wait.
Meanwhile he was waiting keenly to hear from the university he’d applied for in the United States, he’d taken a few tests and had scored pretty good, he hoped he got approved for a scholarship.
He heard ‘the ice princess’ drive in, and recalled the last time they’d spoken, when he’d been quite annoying.
He should have just accepted her apology instead of giving her attitude but like she’d said, he did have a huge ego and he wouldn’t accept being disrespected or treated lowly just cause his bank account didn’t have millions in it. The work he did wasn’t glamorous but just a means to an end, he most definitely wouldn’t be broke forever and was just trying to make do with what life had offered him and so far he wasn’t doing too badly.
Her rudeness ate at him even more because of the feelings he harbored for her. Eric was right, he needed to get a grip on them but he had no idea how to do that. It was quite embarassing really, a grown up adult like himself feeling stupid feelings for some girl who would always look at him as an errand boy.
He’d eaten the food she’d given him and thankfully, he hadn’t spent the night in the toilet. It had been good, jollof rice with some vegetable salad and a nice chunk of chicken lap, a welcome meal from the concoction he usually threw together. He knew she hadn’t cooked it herself, as she never cooked but it had still been welcome.
“Aliyu,” he heard her shout and the man went running to her. He couldn’t see her since she was on the other side of the house but he heard her clearly “See, if Ekene- you know Ekene…..If Ekene comes to this house, I don’t want him coming in, do you hear? Do you hear, Aliyu?”
Trouble in paradise?, he wondered, what could have gone wrong between her and her boyfriend. It had to be big for her to be barring him out of the house. She sounded really pissed, Mofe didn’t wish to be the boyfriend right now.
He heard her go in, the door slamming behind her but minutes later she was out again calling on poor Aliyu again.
“Aliyu, why isn’t there light in the house?” She demanded.
‘Uh oh’ he had a feeling she would be heading in his direction next.
“Oga Mope, I dey repair light.”Aliyu replied her.
“Mofe is repairing the electricity? When will he be done?”
“I no know, madam.”
Next, he heard her rapid footsteps coming in his direction. He braced himself for the confrontation that was coming.
“Mofe!” She called in her default manner, which was ‘rude’. “How long before the electricity comes back on?”
He shrugged, a screw driver in his mouth which he couldn’t remove cos his hands were busy, he replied not looking at her “not long.”
“Not long,” he repeated
This time he gave her an irritated eye, it wasn’t fun repeating himself like this while trying to concentrate on the work at hand.
“Remove that thing from your mouth and speak,” She snapped.
Mofe glanced at her briefly before looking back at his work, he couldn’t help but shake his head. It seemed politeness existed in a distant location from her.
She might be angry at something or someone but he didn’t need her transferring that aggression on to him. She couldn’t just speak to people in that tone.
“Mofe, I’m in no mood for your attitude today, I asked you a simple question, I need the electricity in order to work on my project…..you know what? Just forget it… There’s no point with you!” She said turning and walking off.
He decided to give the girl a break, she was obviously having a bad day. Removing the object from his lips he called her “Hey, Zinnie.”
She turned and he replied gently “I’ll be done soon,” “fifteen minutes tops, that okay by you?”
She nodded, staring at him strangely, probably surprised he’d given her an answer.
He turned back to his work with a slight smile, she looked so cute when she was stunned. For a second there, he might have kissed her, damning the consequences, good thing she’d been far away from his reach.
With a regretful sigh, he wondered how he would ever get over his infatuation with her. ——————————————————-
Fifteen minutes later, he was done and went to wash his hands in the back only to see her in the garden behind the house, moping and staring into space, lost in thought. Her laptop was beside her on the bench, closed.
Frowning, he went ahead to wash his hands. She was acting really weird, this thing with her boyfriend must have been really bad for her to be acting this way.
He hoped she wasn’t contemplating suicide, smiling at his thought he approached her cautiously, not sure how she would react. She would probably tell him to mind his paid duties again, but he had to know she was okay.
“Zinnie?” He called gently and she turned “are you okay?”
“What’s it to you?”She asked,
He shrugged “I don’t know.. you were staring into space…. I wanted to make sure you were still alive.” He joked but she didn’t laugh, instead she turned to face him fully.
“Why? Mofe? What did I do to you that you enjoy taunting me all the time?” She asked pointedly.
“I…was actually joking,” he explained.
She shook her head, going on with her attack “I don’t get you, Mofe, if you don’t like me, why did you help me in the exam hall?”
Mofe was quite shocked at the unexpected question, if she really knew the kind of feelings he felt for her, what he wanted from her, she would run for safety.
“I don’t….not like you, I mean I like you…I mean I don’t have anything against you.” Geez, he was stammering like a kid.
“Then why do you act like you do? You ignore me all the time and when I even try to talk to you, you are always snide or curt.”
“Hey… Don’t blame me, I’m like that because you’re usually rude yourself! You don’t say please or anything, you just demand,” he told her “like I should obey your every will, if you chip in a little courtesy, I won’t act the way I do.”
“I’m not rude, you always catch me at a bad time. The other evening I even tried apologising but you just shut me off.”
Yeah, he’d been a real piece of work that night “I was tired …..I guess we usually get off on the wrong foot?”
She shrugged “I wondered what I did to annoy you so, maybe you took me for a spoilt rich kid who you couldn’t be bothered to speak with,”
“I’m sorry if I gave you that impression…. Call truce?” He asked extending a hand at her, she accepted his hand.
“So…. Since we’re good, I guess that means you’ll begin including the five magic words when you speak to me?” He asked and got a small smile from her finally.
The gesture had crowned his day, seeing her sincerely smile at him for the first time ever.
“I know I might be a paid help but I’m still human afterall.”
“I’m not usually rude, and I don’t intend to be but I guess it always comes out wrong.” She explained quietly “but I’ll try from now onward to add ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ when I talk to Mofe.”
That drew a chuckle out of him, spying her laptop, he asked “how’s your project coming along?”
She shook her head, “damn thing gives errors when I run it, frustrating as hell.” She hissed, “got tired and dumped it.”
He laughed, here was something he could help with ” lemme have a look,” he helped himself to the space beside her on the bench “I don’t mean to brag but I’m not too bad at this sort of thing.”
“Yeah, humble you, Bill Gates!” She said dryly handing him the PC and he laughed again. So she knew what he was called at school.
Opening it up, he quickly scanned through what he saw, shaking his head, he had an idea where the bugs might be coming from “hmmmm…..the user interface you designed is crap,”
She gasped “Thanks Mofe, you do know how to make a girl feel special.” She said dryly and he laughed.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that but we need to work on it. Let’s begin from there.”