What’s in a name?

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A name is an identity, something for which you’re known, which you stand for.

So what’s my hang-up about names?

People have done battle because of a change of name, society attaches so much importance to a name; whatever it may be. Well, as it rightly should. So if I say my name is bla-bla-bla, it is my name. You have no right to change or refine it! Or misspell or mispronounce it.

Here’s the thing: I meet you or I write to you and I introduce myself as; Chinma. What that is saying is; please refer to me as Chinma. Please don’t go fishing, it’s not a time to ask: will that be Miss, Ms. or Mrs. Chinma? Like those irritating customer care agents. Neither do I expect you to reply me mispronouncing or misspelling my name, if you didn’t hear me clearly please seek clarification. Thank you very much.

It’s particularly irritating if it’s a written correspondence and I have written ‘Chinma’ or ‘Chidinma’ as the case may be, and then you reply or refer to me as ‘Chima or Chindinma’. Haba! I know us Nigerians struggle with names of people from other tribes or complicated names, but: the name is there, written in plain text, all you had to do was copy and paste. That’s not difficult nau, I haven’t asked you to spell my name, and it’s not a test, just get the spelling of my name.

You see us Nigerians are finicky about such things. For some, it’s the title: Chief, Dr., Professor, High Chief (definitely different from a mere ‘chief’), Mrs., etc. we all have our names and titles and are finicky about such things.

I think it stems from the fact that our names have meanings and importance; a letter added here or taken out there gives a name a totally different meaning. See the Chinma- Chima example: Chinma- Good God, Chima- God Knows. See why someone will have a problem with you misspelling or mispronouncing his/her name? Or it could be about Chidinma- God is good, Chimdinma- my God is good. In this case, just one letter differentiates the names and its wrong to think just because you don’t understand it that it’s the same. Seyi is not the same as Sayo. Pay attention to the details for that’s where the devil is lurking.

This is like a person saying; this is who I am and you (respondee) are saying; this is who you are! Like seriously? Who are you to change my name? Who are you to decide not to use my title or whatever?

There’s also this thing about special names for certain people based on relationship. If I’m walking on the street and I hear my name it’s Lagos, I won’t turn. Lol, I already have an idea of what kind of relationship I have with the caller or where we’ve met by what he/ she calls me. So that provides clarity. Caveat: If you are present at that meeting, it’s not a call to start calling me honey bun or sweet cheeks because you heard my dear aunty call me that! No, stay in your own lane with regards to what you call me.

There’s also the thing about given names vs preferred names. Say; mama and papa decide to name their child; baby boy, and the child grows and decides to be known as; wizchild. Lol. The rule I will follow for this is; call the person what he has insisted he should be called i.e. what he has introduced himself as. QED.

This name thingy, it can be as e get o, people take serious offence to being called something they will not prefer or not being called what they prefer. It can be the difference between getting a lucrative contract and not getting it. It can be the difference between getting a job and not getting it. Front office and customer facing staff kind-off understand it, hence their asking us; will that be Miss or Mrs.? But…. I think the rule you should follow is: refer to the person as the person has introduced himself. Imagine sending me a request mail referring to me as Chindinma!!! You have successfully pissed me off already nau, case closed.

To avoid this, I will suggest the use of the ma and sir rule. Trust me you can get away with that any day or time. Just politely refer to the person as ma and sir. Uber gets this one, their drivers are trained to ma and sir their passengers to death.

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So, in conclusion; what’s the big deal about a name one might ask? I would say it’s about the fact that it is a differentiating nomenclature. Differentiates A from B, it tells of a story. Mine says my parents looked at me and thought how good God is. Yours might testify that your parents looked at you and felt joy unspeakable or prophesied goodness into your life. Whatever the case may be, it is your name and no one has a right to change it.

For all of you who specialize in misspelling and mispronouncing names; God is watching you. For those who have had or constantly have their names destroyed; I feel your pain, share your story.

Till next week, wishing you love and light!

xoxo chinma

Breaking the Silence: The End & A Beggining

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‘I’m not going to get into how you never see anything wrong with your actions, I’m not going to get into how much you’ve hurt me. But you have and try as I have I can’t get past it. This thing of ours is unlike anything I have ever known; it’s been two years and I can’t get used to it. I don’t want to be friends with you anymore; it hurts too much! Don’t ever contact me; if you do I will block you. Have a good evening.’

Adaeze edited and reread the text. It might not look like much but her heart was in those words. She really needed to pass the message to Chike that they were done for good.

A few hours later he responded. ‘Wow, many words! No worries, I will honor your request. If you want it like this so be it.’

**

Adaeze’s philosophy to breakups had always been; it’s not over until the ex tries to make a comeback and you refuse to go back, avoid Okafor’s law and all…. Then it really is over.

Adaeze tried to move on in spite of the pain of the broken dream and dashed hope. She threw herself into work, life; there was just something about living and not existing, especially when you are living on your own terms and not on the whims and caprices of another in the name of being ‘girl-friend’.

She could go out with her girls without having to check with Chike on convenience or if he would have preferred that they do something else.

The up-side to being in a relationship is it provides for companionship, the downside- is its restrictiveness. When you’re in a relationship you become a part of a pair (as it should be). The downside comes when the relationship is over. Then you find you don’t know who you are anymore. Everything reminds you of your ex; movies watched together, places visited together, you could just be in the middle of a conversation and you say a word that had double entendre and just like that you are back in pity party land.

Adaeze gave herself time to mourn her relationship. She knew she needed to heal. Beyond Chike she knew she needed to get rid of the daddy issues she had. This constant search for a father figure in her relationships needed to end lest she do herself in by settling for a crappy relationship or worse; a crappy marriage.

Linda was a rock through this trying times for Adaeze. Adaeze had always admired Linda’s relationship. Linda had been seeing Tayo Fayemi for about three years at the time and they were the classic ‘point of contact couple’. They rarely had any fights of note, got along famously, were so in sync, could finish off each other’s sentences, and were good old friends. They were getting married the next year. ‘Daeze was sure they were going to do the ‘I’m marrying my best friend’ lol! They were an inspiration and a heartache; the classic Yoruba and Ibo union, their relationship surviving against all odds. They were also a heartache, could drive a sister to envy! Lol!

Adaeze threw herself into helping Linda plan her upcoming wedding. Between work, church and the upcoming wedding, she was kept very busy. Too busy to think about a guy! Lol! At the time, the last thing she needed was a guy distracting her, she just wanted to be alone to ‘find’ herself.

It was a busy Saturday, she was backing out of Sofresh neighborhood market, a parfait in one hand, her phone wedged between her ear and shoulder, her handbag and a shopping bag in the other hand. She bumped into a warm body and spun around so very quickly almost spilling the contents of her cup on the person she bumped into.

“I’m so sorry!” She apologised. “Babes, lemme call you back.” She said into the phone and dropped both the shopping bag on the floor with her handbag on it. She retrieved her phone from her shoulder. “I’m sorry she apologised again. “Hope I didn’t stain you.” She examined his shirt, and well; got a good look at him. He was tall, but not so much; say 5’ 9”, dark and of average build. Adaeze took in the smile, sunglasses and the white ‘Yoruba demon’ attire (as she had come to think of the popular male traditional shirt and trousers) and her defenses rose.

“No you didn’t.” He replied, giving her an appreciative look.

Duh! She could see that for herself. His cocky attitude was putting her off already, she was immediately irritated. Besides, she knew she didn’t look her best, she had been shopping and running errands all day, was in a plain top and leggings, her hair was unmade and she wasn’t wearing any makeup. What was he appreciating?

“Sorry I bumped into you.” She bent to retrieve her hand and shopping bag. She made to walk around him.

“Not so fast beauty. My name is Mofe” He extended his hand in a handshake.

“Nice to meet you Mofe.” She replied with a plastic smile. She raised both hands in an indication that her hands were full.

He followed her out of Sofresh. “Where are you headed?” He asked walking with her.

She pointed to the waiting cab.

He walked with her to the car and extended his phone to her when she got in. “May I have your number?” He asked in perfect politeness.

She looked at him, her perfect smile in place, set to decline. And then she thought……… ’wharrevva

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Breaking the Silence: The Situationship 2

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If only he had left it at that. If only he hadn’t tried to push by asking if she will talk to him this time if he came to her house. For that was when she snapped!

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He first thought was to call him and rant. Second thought; send him a stinker. Pour out her anger and give him a piece of her mind. But then she reflected on who she was dealing with. Railing at Chike won’t make any difference. He was immune, numb as a matter of fact to criticism or suggestions for improvement. She decided to send him a message indicating irrevocably that she was done with whatever it was they were doing. This situationship (for lack of a better word) was over.

She tried to calm herself before sending the message. For if there was one thing she always said to herself it was to never act at a time when emotions are running high. So she called Linda. Linda was her bestest friend in the whole wide world! Lol! They had been neighbors, nursery, primary and Junior-secondary school classmates until Linda’s father got an out of station transfer while they were in SS1. They reunited in University, studied the same course, lived in the same hostel; were practically twins.

“Babe!” She greeted Linda when she answered her call.

“Hey love, how are you doing?” Linda replied drowsily.

“I’m good, but I can tell you’re better. You’re sleeping at this time.” Adaeze teased.

“What’s a girl to do nau? Been running myself ragged for two straight weeks, barely had a moment to breathe.” Linda yawned. “What’s up?”

“It’s Chike.”

Linda hissed into the phone.

“I know you’ve never been his fan but can you listen to me; unbiased?” Adaeze pleaded.

Linda sighed. “Ok darling. What had he done this time?”

Linda had never been a fan of Adaeze’s relationship with Chike and had only tolerated him for the sake of their friendship.

Adaeze poured out her pain to Linda, telling her of Chike’s recent exploits.

“It is well with you and Chike o!” Was Linda’s only response for a bit.

“Chike was the first person I called when I heard the news.” Adaeze went on near tears. “Was it too much to ask for him to just be there for me? Lin, step back am I asking for too much?” She got up off the bed and began pacing. “Maybe you are the wrong person to ask; being female and my friend. I should ask a guy. Because, I don’t get it! This is someone I’m supposed to be in a relationship with but has never been there for me; not once! But he sneezes and I run to his side immediately. And Lin, this isn’t me just praising myself; he has attested to that in an unguarded moment, his brother even said the same thing.

Did I put myself out too much, do I appear like I can carry the weight of the world open my shoulders?” Adaeze was actually sniffling at this point.

“Babes, calm down. You are working yourself up over nothing.” Linda said calmly.

“I am calm. In fact I’m done. I can’t keep doing this. I intend to formally break it off not the unofficial; drifting apart things and we will come back together again! Clean break!” She said affirmatively, wiping her tears.

“My dear; like I said you need to be calm and really think about this.”

“Babes, I’ve thought about it. Can I really continue like this?” Adaeze lay back on the bed face-up. She sighed deeply. “This thing of ours is fruitless o! It doesn’t have a future. Chike himself told me that although he denies it but he said it unconsciously. And you know; n’ibi ere, la ti moo to oro.” Adaeze said in Yoruba, meaning ‘a lot of truths slip out as jokes.’

Both ladies were silent for some seconds.

Linda broke the silence. “You know my problem with this conversation; one word or text from Chike and all your resolve is down in the gutters. Like I don’t know what it is about this guy; na jazz abi? Or is it the age thing? Are you just holding on to him cos you feel age isn’t on your side? This isn’t you Daeze, I can’t understand it. I mean; your exes will strongly testify that this isn’t you. Kilode? I refuse to believe this is love, like how can it be?” Linda asked heatedly. “He’s been trouble from the first moment but you kept on keeping on. You want to change him, are you the Holy Spirit?”

“I ask myself the same questions. I really don’t know what this is about, but I know I’m done.”

“You’re not done until he tries to come back and you stand your ground that you’re done.” Linda reminded her,

“I know. But this is it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes dear I’m sure. Can we talk later, mom needs me now.” She lied to get off the phone for she was very close to tears.

She ended the call and burst into tears. She bawled like a baby. She cried for what could have been, for the lost hope, time wasted, emotional investment and otherwise, for the uncertain future; she cried for all the pain of the moment. And when she was done crying; she composed the text.

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Miriam’s Tale

Hi lovelies, I’ve missed you. It’s been very hectic for me recently, but, I’m back now. Today we begin a new series; Miriam’s Tale.

It’s a story/diary series about Miriam, young wife and mother to two kids who suddenly lost her husband. The series follows her struggles as a widow and single mother, the skeletons Which came out of the closet after her husbands death, and how she was able to get past it all. Enjoy and share.

Miriam's Tale, Chinma Eke's blog

The things adversity make us do……..

We either toughen like eggs in hot water, or soften like carrots. It’s at those times we remember the ability to adapt is one of the primary characteristics of humans. Then we take a good look at our environment; like a good look, not through rose-tinted or sunglasses, but a really good look, through microscopic lens. Everything looks new to us, it’s like: that day is the first day of the rest of our lives. Life is now divided into the before and after.

We become psychic, develop (or become more aware of) our extra senses, we now see beyond our noses. We take note of the fact that the Mama Nkechi’s only said ‘hi’ to us for two seconds today, whereas before the ‘adversity’, it was five to ten minutes of them asking about my entire lineage. But as the days rolled into weeks, they spent less time saying ‘hi’, until they began avoiding me, and next was pretending to not notice me. I don’t know what’s next, but I know it isn’t just her, the neighbours; it’s almost all my friends and acquaintances. They all avoid me and I don’t blame them. I would love to run away from me, right now. It really isn’t a good time being me; my husband died seven months ago, leaving me, jobless with our two kids.

My name is Miriam Okoro, and this is my story.

The beginning is always the best place to begin a tale, so I’ll go back and walk you through how I got to be at this point.

I met my husband while in my final year in university all those many years ago. I was that tall, slim chocolate beauty y’all want to be, lol. So I met him at a wedding. A friend’s brother’s wedding to be precise. My friend Ijeoma had asked me to help with serving her brother’s friends at the after-party at their parent’s house. You know how we used to do after-parties back in the day, where the couple’s friends will see them home after the reception, and the party will continue there.

So, it was at this party I met Ken.  Ken is/was the tall, dark and handsome dream of every living breathing female, the ones our mothers warn us against, but want us to bring home eventually. He made small talk with me every time I served him one of the numerous delicacies available that night, and I shyly responded. When he was leaving, he offered to take me home, and I replied that I lived just down the street and would walk home later. He insisted, and I acquiesced. He didn’t just take me home, he got my phone number as well.

On our first date, he told me he wanted to marry me. I was like; huh? Is that how they marry in your village? Lol! Ofcourse I didn’t believe him, and that cemented the fact in my mind that he was just one of the usual random predators. Ha! He thinks I’m a jjc? No o! I was born and bred in Lagos and I’m pako to the core. I did all the initial gra-gra I could, but all that was inconsequential when a few months into our relationship, I got pregnant.

I know, I know, don’t y’all be judging me and saying “upon all my forming of street smartness”, I know. Anyways, pregnant, all the forming disappeared. I was very grateful when he began the marriage process, in fact; to save myself and my family considerable shame, I might have begged him to marry me.

So, with pregnancy and marriage, I ended up having an extra year in the university, but the birth of my son Daniel made it worthwhile. When I finally graduated, it took another year for me to get posted for my NYSC (shout-out to the Nigerian system). By the time I went for Service, I was pregnant with baby number two. With a lot of stress and strain on my part, I struggled through my service year.

Ken, myself, and our two kids were the picture perfect family (so I thought). We lived in a 3-bedroom flat in an upscale part of town, we had a nice car, and could afford a budget holiday outside the country, you know all those perks that placed us in the upper middle class range. I wasn’t working yet because we had agreed that I wouldn’t until the kids were older and in school.

Then calamity struck. That day dawned like every other day. It was a Saturday; Ken had travelled the day before to Abuja where his parents resided to see them. Ken was such a good person, father, son, husband; he covered all his bases very well, so very well. I spoke with Ken that morning, he called to find out how we were faring, Sara had a slight fever the day before, I had given her a mild analgesic, and maybe she was teething, because I could sense she was more irritated than ill. Poor baby, at two years, she couldn’t yet express herself succinctly, unlike her brother Dan; that one was a born broadcaster.

You know how it goes in all those Nollywood movies, when they dramatize relaying the news of a dead loved one that was my story. That afternoon, his younger brother came around, and in a short while his uncle was at our house too, there I was, attending to my in-laws like a good African wife. Their brother wasn’t in town, wonder how they didn’t know that. Anyways, not my business.

Pastor and Mrs B our friendly middle-aged neighbours came over, and in my mind, I was like; ok, this is getting to be a party. Looking back, I’d like to think the conversation was stilted, or that they were cues, but I didn’t notice anything off.  Jude; my husband’s brother had lived with us for a while after school, before he got a job and moved out on his own, and as such he knew the B’s. It wasn’t until the B’s first daughter, Funmi came over and invited my kids over to their apartment for ice-cream did I guess something was wrong. I informed her that their uncle had brought them some ice-cream which they had just had and as such they couldn’t have any more for the day, when Mrs B and Uncle Francis simultaneously said I should let them go with Funmi. I immediately got goose bumps. I knew then something was wrong, they had bad news and needed the kids out of the way to break it to me.

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Second Chances E3

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Deola was woken to the sweet aroma of food, she could smell fried eggs, she could also smell coffee. Was she dreaming it? She opened her eyes to see her mom smiling to her on her bedside, with a tray beside.

Deola smiled widely. “Good morning mom.” She greeted as she sat-up to examine the contents of the tray. True to her nose, they was fried eggs, lots of it, some bread and two cups of coffee.

Hmmm! Her mom was up to something. Breakfast in bed was her tool to disarm, or when she just wanted to soften a person up. She guessed breakfast was about Kunle. For his sake and for the sake of their working relationship she hoped he hadn’t told her mom anything that would lead to her mom pressuring her.

“I need to use the bathroom.” Deola eased of the bed and went into the bathroom.

Five minutes later, she exited the bathroom, her mom was still on the bed, she smiled, her mom really had something on her mind.

“How are you this morning mom?” She asked sitting beside her and reaching for the cup of coffee.

“I’m very well, and you?”

“I’m good. It’s a beautiful day, it’s not every day you bring me breakfast in bed. Today’s gonna be a good day.” She helped herself to some bread and egg, waiting for her mom to get on with her reason for waking her with breakfast.

However, Mrs Lasisi wasn’t in a hurry to disclose, she made small talk with Deola as they ate together. They talked about Chima and Dayo’s upcoming wedding, and some other upcoming family events.

They were done eating and neither of them had mentioned Kunle or the previous night, and Deola’s curiosity was at its peak.

After they had eaten, Deola cleared the dishes, and prepared for work.

Her mom wasn’t in the house when she was about leaving, she heard her voice from the backyard. She was probably at her vegetable garden, since her mother retired, she became an enthusiastic gardener. She grew vegetables and flowers in her garden.

Deola went to the backyard, and true to her suspicion her mom was weeding. “Mommy.” She called her to draw her attention.

Mrs Lasisi straightened and smiled at Deola. “Are you leaving?”

“Yes mom.”

“Ok. Have a blessed day. You’ll call Kunle baa?”

Deola smiled. Her mom knew how to achieve an ambush. “Yes I will mom.”

“Ok. Enjoy your day.” Mrs Lasisi waved her off.

Deola walked off, an extra spring in her step. She had already decided to speak with Kunle, explain to him why they couldn’t have a relationship.

**********

Deola’s phone rang as she arrived at her shop. It was either Chima or Kunle, it was their ringtone. She parked her car before picking the call, it was Chima.

“Hello…..”

“Please tell me you’re at the shop, ‘cos I’m almost there.” Chima sounded frantic.

“Yea, I just arrived, what’s up?”

“I’ll be with you in a moment.”  Chima ended the call abruptly.

Deola smiled, shaking her head. There was always a crisis with Chima, she was always excited.

Entering her shop, she exchanged pleasantries with her staff and clients.

She dropped her handbag in her office, said a quick word of prayer and went back out to the showroom to attend to the clients.

*********

Chima breezed in a few minutes later, true to her words, she had been close. She ran past the showroom into Deola’s office, causing Deola to follow.

“I need to talk with you.” Chima began immediately.

“Okay……”

“Where do you draw the line on profitability?” Chima asked.

“I don’t understand?” Deola was perplexed. Was it business that had Chima running harried?

“Like, are there people you shouldn’t make profit off?”

“I guess, what’s this about?”

“Ok, Dayo and I chose our wedding rings, we chose from a selection online, from my dealer, and Dayo immediately transferred the cost to my account, but, when I was finalizing my orders for shipping, my dealer informed me he was giving me the rings for free. The wedding rings.”

“Okay, that’s good news, isn’t it?”

“The thing is, Dayo has refused for me to return the money, he insists it’s his duty to buy our wedding rings, and I agree. However, we aren’t paying for the rings, so what’s the money he transferred to my account for? I mean, I made mega profit from the engagement ring ‘cos when he bought it I didn’t know it was for me, and now again, this one?”

Hmmm. This was a dicey one.

“….And D insists that if I return the money, he’ll have to buy the rings elsewhere, I love my ring already. We’ve had it engraved with our names and, and…..” Chima went on, wringing her hands.

“Calm down Chima.” Deola led Chima to sit; it was clear there was more to this than the rings. “Are you ok?”

“No I’m not ok. I’m freaking out here. If it isn’t one thing it’s another. Dayo is so high-handed, he keeps saying I’m too emotional, he keeps treating me like a child, he’s too, too rigid.”

Deola smiled. “I remember the words you used a few months ago were ‘principled’.”

“That was then, this is now, he’s so….. authoritarian.”

Deola laughed. “Is he really, or do you just think so?”

“Ok, that’s not totally true, it’s just, he’s so frustrating. Last night, I would gladly have moved to another continent to escape him, I tried your number countless times it was switched off, where were you?” she accused.

“She was hiding away from me.” Kunle replied from the doorway.

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Twists and Turns E6

“Did I here someone say; tell me more? You guys started the gist before me?” Ify said appearing before them. “Hello darlings, I’m here now.”

Ify breezed in, a beautiful vision in yellow. She wore a yellow and white flowered blouse, with yellow pants. She looked so attractive, I couldn’t help but stare. And Ike stared too. Matter of fact, almost everyone in the restaurant stared.

She stooped and kissed Ada on both cheeks. She walked around the table and did the same to Ike.
She settled into the empty seat, giving both of them a mischievous smile. “So, what did I miss?” She gave her drink order to the hovering waiter.

“We were just catching up. Ike was telling me what he’s been up to post-grad.”

“Oh, ok. Catch me up. What’s been happening?”
The waiter appeared with Ify’s drink, and asked if they were ready to order lunch.
They ordered lunch, and prompted by Ify, Ike retold the abbreviated version of what he’d been up to post school.

“So no Mrs?” Ify asked.

“No Mrs, yet.” He confirmed.

“Oh, ‘yet’. So you’re seeing someone?” Ify probed mischievously.

Lunch arrived, and Ada began eating content to smile and nod as the conversation/inquisition went on around the table. Too bad Ify was work-averse; she would have been a force to be reckoned with in a court room. Her cross-examining tactics would have been legendary.

“Yes I’m seeing someone.”

“Really, tell me more.”

Ike laughed. Ify’s mischievousness was catching. She lightened the mood around the table, drawing away his reserve. He glanced at Ada, eating her meal. She wasn’t saying much, had barely said anything since Ify arrived, but there was something beautiful and peaceful about her silence. He felt a familiar pull of attraction; he had always been attracted to Ada. He shook his head, snapping himself out of his reverie. Ada was way off limits.

Ify noticed Ike watching Ada, and she felt like giving herself a congratulatory hi-five. It was obvious Ike was still attracted to Ada, and he was single too. Her job was half done. “You were telling me about your ‘lady-friend”.” She reminded him. The conversation around the table had gone quiet.

He smiled self-consciously. “Her name is Emem, she’s a nurse at a Children’s hospital.” He said.

“Oh that’s so cool. A lawyer and a nurse, don’t think anyone has ever thought of that combination. And you have future plans?”

He laughed.

Ada decided to intervene then to save him, it was beginning to look like ify wouldn’t let go till Ike had practically shown his undies. “I bet we would know of any future plans in due time. Why don’t we tell Ike about ourselves. I’ll go first, I’m a widow and mother of twins, ….”

“Two adorable darlings.” Ify cooed.

Ada blinked in surprise, like really? When had Ify seen her twins to know if they were adorable or terrible? Like really? She was laying on the sugar too thick.

“That’s the thing Ada, there’s barely anything about us that isn’t public information. His story is more interesting.” She paused as her phone rang. She fished it out of her purse.
“Excuse me, I have to take this.” She apologized as she answered the call. She listened for a few seconds and said; “I’m on my way.” She ended the call and flashed them both an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, I have to go; one of the kids isn’t feeling so good, that was the school.” She was getting up as she spoke.

“Which one of them, I hope it isn’t serious?” Ada asked concerned.

“Oh its nothing serious, just a flu.” She dismissed. “A little sleep and some tlc is what the doctor ordered. I hate to leave you lovelies like this, but……”

“Offcourse we understand.” Ada said.

“Its not a problem.” Ike concurred.

“We should do this again, and soon too.” She blew them both a kiss. “I’ll call you both.” She walked out of the restaurant.

Both Ada and Ike watched her walk away in silence and they both returned to their food.

“So, where were we?” Ada asked when the silence stretched.

He smiled. “We were on the catching-up route, and you were telling me about yourself.”

“Oh forget all that personal stuff. Ify is bored and needs entertainment in her life. How about you tell me how you came to be the new MD of GO?”

He sipped from his glass slowly as though trying to collect his thoughts.

“The full and not the abridged version.” She said with a smile.

“Mark’s secretary called, that he would like to see me. So I went for the meeting.”

“In Abuja?”

“No, we met here in Lagos. We talked about everything; politics, business, everything. Apparently, he knew a lot about me. So he asked me if I would like to run GO.”

“And you said; yes.”

He shrugged.

She laughed. “Don’t mind me, who wouldn’t say yes? Did he tell you how he came to know about you?”

“He didn’t, I guess someone recommended me, I don’t know.” He was also curious, but until he knew for certain, he wasn’t sharing his thoughts with anyone. Most especially, not anyone in the George-Okeke family.

“And you aren’t curious?”

He shrugged non-comital.

“Ok.” She smiled brightly. “So tell me about Emem.” She said.

Twists and Turns E3

There should be an African proverb that says ‘when your enemy suddenly turns your friend, that is when you need to be extra careful’. Ada thought to herself as she remained seated where Ify left her. Or maybe there was such a proverb already, Ada wasn’t sure. But she knew it was very fitting to her situation with Ify. She wasn’t buying all that desperate act. Ify was up to something, but she didn’t know what.

After how many years of being her enemy, Ify walked into her home and expects that she welcome her, hands open wide, and pretend that all is well in the land?

Odiegwu! Like her people say.

Yes, some part of Ify’s story was true; the part about Mark cheating and flaunting his mistress, yes. Still Ada couldn’t shake the notion that there was more to this visit than met the eye. Ify was trying to use her, or wanted something from her, that was definite. The question was; what was Ify after?

Abigail came into the sitting room, bearing a tray with a cup of green tea. Ada smiled fondly at her. Really; what would she do without Abigail?

Abigail handed her the tray and sat while Ada sipped some tea.

“She came to tell me Mark is having an affair.” Ada said after some seconds passed, both ladies savoring their tea in silence.

“Hmmmmm” Was the only response Abigail gave.

“And that she’s feeling unfulfilled.” Ada went on, stifling a giggle. She knew Abigail had never liked Ify, and her response wasn’t surprising.

“Ok.” Abigail said nodding as though absorbing some vital information.

Ada couldn’t help herself any longer, she burst into laughter, almost spilling tea on herself.

Abigail smiled. “You do know you have to be careful, don’t you?”

“Yea, I know.” Ada sobered up. “She’s up to something, I wonder what it is.” She mused.

“Just be careful.” Abigail repeated.

“I will. Meanwhile, have you read the financial for the past year?” Ada asked referring to her late husbands’ conglomerate financial reports. He left Abigail some shares in his company in his will, just as he left to his wife and children.

“Yes I have, we didn’t do so well.”

“I’m not surprised. Mark won’t release the reins, and with his politicking, he isn’t paying full attention to the business. I wish sister Adaobi would do something. George didn’t want me running the company, which was why he setup mine for me.” She shrugged. “I really should let it go.” She got up.”I’ll be upstairs, researching on Psychologists or Psychiatrists for my friend, Ify.” She mocked, leaving the room to go back upstairs.

*****

ABUJA

Ike Phillips emerged from a meeting with Senator Mark George-Okoro on a super-high. He couldn’t believe it, just like that he was now the Managing Director GO Group of companies. It was too good to be true, himself, just ten years after graduating from the University, and nine years out of Law school. Wow! Double wow!

A few days ago, his biggest wish and desire was to make senior partner at the law firm where he worked, today; he had been offered the managing director of a million dollar conglomerate. ‘Million Dollar’, not Naira! He couldn’t get over it.

He smiled at himself in his car rear view mirror. Damn! This was too much to take in. When he got a call from Senator Mark Okoro’s office to meet with the senator, he had been very surprised, he asked the senator’s PA what the meeting was about; she claimed not to know and just confirmed that he’ll keep the appointment.
So, on pins and needles, he had shown up for the meeting, on time and in his best suit, armed with lots of information about Mark Okoro he had gathered from google.
The meeting hadn’t gone the way he’d imagined it will. They had been no ‘endless’ waiting time that was the characteristics of seeing a politician/government official in Nigeria. Ike had been ushered in to see the senator immediately he arrived and the Senator Mark had gotten up in welcome, shaking his hand heartily and ushered him to sit with him on a comfy leather sofa in the plush office, as though there were old friends.

Where Ike had expected an interview of some sort, they had a friendly chat. Mark’s secretary wheeled in a trolley of refreshments and he was encouraged to eat his pick. From afar; Mark Okoro had always struck him as a rich kid playing at politics for the power it afforded. Up close; he was impressed at Mark’s level of intelligence. Mark had begun by asking him about his background in Maritime Law (which was Ike’s specialty), putting Ike at ease. The chat had progressed from that to a wide myriad of spheres of life, and Ike couldn’t help but commend Mark on his versatility.

Mark had jokingly replied; “I have to keep-up, I married a lawyer.” And they both laughed heartily. “Which reminds me; you know my wife Ify, right?”

Ike nodded in agreement. He had been a year ahead of Ify Duru as she was known then in university. Ify and Ada had been best friends back then and he was very surprised when his google search showed that Ada married the father, and Ify; the son. He had a major crush on Ada back then in school, but Ada had been in love with her books. And it had paid off as she had graduated with a first class result.

“She remembers you as well. In fact you come highly recommended by her.” Mark got up and went to the sidebar in the office and poured himself some brandy. He offered some to Ike, who politely declined. “How would you like to run GO Group of companies?” Mark asked out of the blues.

It was a good thing Ike had declined the brandy, because he was sure he would have spit it out right then. Such was the level of his shock. “Pardon?” he asked disbelievingly.

Mark returned to the sofa beside him. “You heard right, how would you like to be the new Managing Director of GO, run the company, represent my interest?”

From then on, Ike barely heard anything else. He had a sneaky suspicion he must have missed some important details, as to his job description. But from then on; he was working on sunshine. He; Ike Philips, Managing Director of a company, just like that? Off course he accepted, who wouldn’t?

They shook hands over it in a gentlemen’s agreement, and Mark said his lawyers would be in touch.

As Ike left Mark’s office, Mark said; “You should reconnect with the ladies: Ify and Ada. I understand you used to have a thing for Ada, and she’s newly widowed. It will do her good to see old friends. Ify will be in touch as to the details.”

Mark’s parting words barely registered. Offcourse he’ll see the ladies, he was the new managing director for their family business, they were bound to run into each other often. For now; all he wanted was to savor his new position as the Managing Director of a million dollar company!

Twists and Turns E2

……Ify sighed. “I came here for us to talk.” She said.

“Ok…… Talk.”

“I…… I don’t want anyone else to hear us, may I come closer?”

Ada nodded her affirmation, curious to hear what had brought Ify to her house in this manner. Ify moved to the chair closest to Ada.

“I need your help.”

“How can I possibly be of help to you?” Ada asked suspiciously.

“My husband is having an affair!” Ify blurted out.

*****

Ada examined Ify carefully, Ify avoided her gaze. Was this the ‘disaster’ she came to share with her? How could she possibly help her with this? When did she become the ‘cheating husband police’?

“Ok….” Ada said slowly. “And…..” She encouraged, trying to draw her out. There had to be more, this couldn’t be the only reason Ify was here. To the best of her knowledge, Ada had no control whatsoever on Mark, Ify’s husband. Matter-of-fact, its safe to assume that Mark hated her, and Ada was indifferent to him.

“I heard about the affair from Mark’s PA, former PA.” Ify continued in a near-whisper. “He told me the girl in question worked for another Senator; Senator Joy. So I went to see Senator Joy.” She paused for a while. “To cut the story short, Senator Joy fired her, Mark fired his PA and hired the girl as his PA.”

“You did what?” Ada couldn’t believe Ify. “You had someone fired from her job on a suspicion that she was dating your husband?”

“Its not mere speculation.” Ify protested. “She really is sleeping with my husband. I’ve heard it from different people; she drives his cars about town, she is almost always at our house in Abuja, the domestic staff confirmed it, and I think Mark knows because when I wanted to go to Abuja to see things for myself, he ordered me not to leave Lagos or come to Abuja! This woman has taken over my husband!” Ify lamented bitterly.

Ada was really at a loss for words.

What!!!
Was this for real or…… Ada thought to herself.
Sounded like the plot of a soap-opera.
In the midst of all these, Ada still couldn’t understand where she could or was supposed to come in.
“I sympathize with you on these, however; I still don’t see where I come in. I have no words of advice to give, no experience with a cheating spouse. I mean, my late husband; of blessed memory never cheated on me, or I don’t think he did. So, I can’t….. I don’t even know what to say. I can’t get past the fact that you had a person fired from her job. I mean; you do know she isn’t your problem, its your cheating husband who is your problem.” Ada said straight up.

“I know. I was desperate. I did the first thing that came to me.”

“And it backfired. Big-time.”

They were both silent, each lost in her thoughts.

Ada really didn’t know what advice she could offer Ify, when what she really wanted to say and do was; stick out her tongue at her in the classic ‘ntorr’. Ify and her husband were always trying to play God, both of them control freaks. She had always wondered how they got along on their own, when they was no one else to make miserable, whose will gave way for the other.

Ada smiled inwardly. One of the benefits of growing up in an orphanage was her ‘poker face’. Want and competition were permanent fixtures in the orphanage, and as such it was important not to wear your heart on your sleeve, and habits formed in childhood lasts us through a lifetime, as such; Ada was confident that her thoughts weren’t showing on her face.

Now back to Ify and Mark. Ify wasn’t really telling her anything she didn’t know already. She’d heard the gist weeks ago about Mark’s latest mistress. Ok, she didn’t know the details because she didn’t care, but, now; she still didn’t care. She’d had years of Ify and her husband constituting themselves into mighty pains in her behind, and she wasn’t about to add to that by taking on their issues.

Ify could sense Ada’s reluctance to get involved or proffer advice. She could tell Ada didn’t want to believe or trust her. She knew Ada; they’d been friends for years before the recent years of strife. Ada trusted reluctantly but totally, and they was very little she couldn’t do for the one she trusted.
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost it. Like my life is without purpose.” Ify got up and began to pace the living room. “I don’t have a job, not sure I want one though.” She grimaced. “I’d resigned myself to being wife and mother. Now for the wife bit; Mark and I live virtually separate lives. And for the mother part; my nanny is more of a mother to my kids than I am.” She stopped in front of a framed picture of Abigail and Ada’s children; on their first birthday. “You know I almost fired her last week, in a bid to reclaim my children, but I lost my nerve. I feel superfluous, purposeless.”

Aha! Now we get to the crux of the matter. Ada thought. The issue wasn’t really about Mark’s infidelity, Ify was also feeling unfulfilled in her life. But still, why come to her? And what was with her and firing or getting people fired?

“You’re the only one I could come to. You know our society, and how we can be, there’s no one to trust.” Ify said earnestly returning to her seat, as though she read her thoughts.

Including you! Ada screamed silently. “I still don’t see how I can help you, I think you need to see a counselor.” She said instead. “We read Law, and now I just buy and sell.” Ada joked, trying to lighten the situation.

Ify laughed. “Yea, I think so too. But I don’t know any. Do you?” She jumped on the counseling idea.

“No, but I’ll inquire.” Ada promised.
Ify brightened instantly, she jumped up and hugged a very surprised Ada. “Thank you. I knew I could always count on you. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Ada slowly extricated herself before Ify smothered her.

Ify sat, sniffling, and Ada rolled her eyes. Ify had always been theatrical, and it was difficult to know when she was acting and when she was for real.

“I have to go now, I promised the kids an afternoon out, and I’ve already taken up most of your day.” She picked up her purse. “You will help me, Ada?” She asked in a demanding tone, standing in front of Ada.

“Off course. I should get the name of a reputable counselor soon.”

Ify nodded. “And with the other stuff? I would like to know my options.”

“Your options as in…?”

Ify shrugged. “I’ve got to go.” She quickly left the room leaving a very shocked Ada staring after her.

What did she mean about knowing her options? Could she?

She shook her head in negation, Ify couldn’t mean that, she loved the power and prestige that came with being married into this family. Not to mention the money.

****

Ify dialed a number on her phone as she walked to her car, it was answered on the other end almost immediately. “She bit and I’m on my way.” Ify said. She ended the call and got into her car and drove off. Waving merrily at the security man at the gate, no trace of the downcast Ify of a few minutes ago.

Twists and Turns

Finally!!!!

Hey beautiful people! First, please accept my apologies for being AWOL for weeks. I have been unavoidably busy, too busy to do one of the things I love which is writing. As a writer I appreciate every reader, even more so everyone who comments, because I know it takes a lot of mental focus to just be still and write something halfway decent. And for anyone to consistently invest their time and contribute their thoughts to another’s work…. Well, that is dedication. I acknowledge it, I appreciate it, and I say “thank you.”

So, here goes Ada’s story; orphan, mother, widow, business woman. Ada wears all these hats and has been through a lot in her twenty-nine years on earth. The story is set in the present with a lot of flashback to the past.
Newly widowed Ada struggles to hold together the business empire left behind by her late husband. She is up against her husbands first son and his wife (her former best friend), and all other threats on the business front.
This is a tale of friendship gone sour, intriguing family drama, treachery and offcourse love.

Enjoy……

***********

Ada George Okeke heard the gate outside open and a car drive in as she got out of the bathroom. She sighed and rolled her eyes, there goes her morning spent lazing around. Mornings like today, when she wasn’t woken up by her five year old twins were rare; truth was she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had such luxury, probably six years ago.

Toweling her body dry, she sat at her dresser to cream her body singing along to a track from Asa’s ‘Beautiful imperfection’ album.
A maid knocked discreetly on her bedroom door.

“Come in.” Ada called to her.

The housekeeper; Abigail entered. “Ada, Madam Ify is here to see you.”

“Madam Ify? Which Ify?” Ada searched her memory and couldn’t come up with an ‘Ify’.

“Master Senator’s wife.”

Ada smiled. It still amazed her how Abigail merged both the ‘master’ and the ‘senator’ title. Abigail had served in this household for close to forty years and refused to quit. She had joined the George Okeke household as a maid in her early teens when the late Chief George Okeke had married the first and late Mrs Okeke, and had remained ever since. She nursed all four children from the first marriage as well as Ada’s twins. Her late husband had tried severally to retire Abigail, but she refused to go; saying she had no life outside of the George Okeke household. Ada was however grateful for Ada’s presence when her husband had died two years ago as she had leaned heavily on Abigail since her marriage to her late husband seven years ago and especially during and after the birth of her twins; George and Ngozi. Abigail had taken the place of the mother Ada never knew, for her birth mother had abandoned her at birth in the hospital where she had been born twenty-nine years ago.

Ada’s smile turned to a frown, Abigail coming up herself to announce the guest rather than sending a younger maid should have been the first giveaway that this was no ordinary guest and no ordinary visit.

Ify, her childhood best-friend who turned her adult nightmare. Ify was here to see her? The last time she’d seen Ify was about a year ago at the reading of her husband’s will (her husband and Ify’s father in-law; Ify was married to Mark, George Okeke’s first son from his first marriage, a serving senator of the federal republic). Ify and her husband had been strongly against the late Chief George marrying Ada and had dedicated themselves to making Ada’s life difficult since the marriage seven years ago. It was still a miracle that they hadn’t contested the terms of the will; for to the greedy, no share is big enough.
Now Ify was here, in her house? And judging by the fact that Ada heard only a single car drive in, she came alone. For if the distinguished senator was with her; he would have come sirens blazing and with a full entourage.

“Ify? Lady Ifeoma Okeke?” Ada asked to confirm, Mark and Ifeoma are a knight and lady of the church.

Abigail smiled sadly. “Yes.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know?”

Ada laughed without mirth. “What have I done recently?” She asked rhetorically, not really expecting a response.

Abigail laughed with her, not responding.

“Did she say what this visit is about?” Ada probed further.

“No, she didn’t. But she came alone, drove herself, looks…….”

Ada waved her hands to urge Abigail on.

Abigail smiled and said; “Get dressed and come and see her.”

Ada considered it for some seconds and shrugged. “Okay.” She had to admit she was curious as to why Ify was here to see her.

“I’ll be in the kitchen should you need me.” Abigail said leaving the room.

“Ok, thanks.”
Ada dressed in a tank top and shorts. She ran a comb through her short spiky hair(she had cut her hair as required by custom while mourning her husband and had found herself loving the short hair look), spraying on her favorite scent, she examined herself in the full length mirror. Satisfied she looked presentable she grabbed her phones and went downstairs to see her ‘august’ guest.

She could smell Ify the moment she descended the stairs. The perfume was so strong it caused her to sneeze. Dragging a lungful of air, she stepped into the sitting room. Ify was typing furiously on her phone and didn’t hear her enter. Ada stood a moment and observed her; from her lace wig to the slight frown marring her beautiful and perfectly made up face. Ify had put on some weight recently, for the ankara skirt and blouse she had on seemed a bit too tight, judging by the ample cleavage struggling to spill out from the low-cut blouse. Or perhaps that was the style.

“Hello Ify.” Ada greeted as she moved into the room. Ify stood, but Ada not wanting to pretend with niceties didn’t go to her for a hug, but chose to sit in the sofa farthest from Ify. She sat and tucked her feet under her, facing ify, her poker face in place.

Unnerved, Ify returned to her seat clearly uncomfortable.

“You haven’t been offered refreshments.” Ada observed. “Mabel” she called out.

“No, no, I’m fine.” Ify protested. “I’ve been offered, I don’t want anything.”

“Scared we’ll poison you?” Ada asked sarcastically. “Nevermind.” She dismissed the maid who responded to her call. The maid curtsied and left.

“How are your kids?” Ify asked lightly.

“They’re good. How are yours?” Ada replied, Ify had three children; two girls and a boy.

“They are fine, they are at home. The house is really quiet, are they asleep?”

“They’re at sister Adaobi’s.” Ada replied referring to her step-daughter, who was so much more older than her that she couldn’t help but attach the ‘sister’ prefix.

“Oh ok.” Ify sighed. “I came here for us to talk.” She said.

“Ok…… Talk.”

“I…… I don’t want anyone else to hear us, may I come closer?”

Ada nodded her affirmation, curious to hear what had brought Ify to her house in this manner. Ify moved to the chair closest to Ada.

“I need your help.”

“How can I possibly be of help to you?” Ada asked suspiciously.

“My husband is having an affair!” Ify blurted out.

To Be Or Not? E7

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‘Mommy is asking for your email and bb pin, she said she wants to give it to her friend whose son just returned from the US.’ “Oh no!” Emily exclaimed aloud. Her mom was on the matchmaking path again.

The thing with mothers is that they remain eternally hopeful; Emily’s mom wasn’t an exception. In the past, she had introduced Emily to all her ‘friends’ sons, Emily began to wonder where her mom got all these ‘friends’ from, because the women weren’t the ones she knew as her mom’s friends growing up. She wondered if there was an association of mothers with unmarried children, and they just exchanged children contacts at random.

Rolling her eyes, Emily closed the message, she would deal with that later, she was almost becoming a pro at handling all the men her mom tried to hook her up with. Besides, she and Julia her sister had devised a plan to give out wrong contact details to the matchmaking party.

Emily was sceptical about people especially men who needed to be match-made. What was wrong with them that they couldn’t see all the beautiful wonderful ladies all around them? Emily had long concluded that these men had to be flawed, how else could their inability to begin a relationship for themselves be explained.

No doubt some of these hook-ups worked, but naa, Emily wasn’t the least bit interested.

“You want to get some ice-cream?” Obi asked, bringing her back to the present.

“Sure.” She accepted, smiling secretly as she remembered the last time she was went to an ice-cream parlour with a man. Obi pulled into the parking lot of a shopping complex, they  both alighted and to get some ice-cream.

At the ice-cream booth, it became obvious Obi was a regular; the attendants were familiar with him and gave him preferential treatment.

When they returned to the car, she teased him about it. “You seem to be a regular everywhere we go, is it the stardom or………..”

“Or…………” He echoed as he drove out of the lot into traffic.

“I was going to ask if you’re taking me to all the places you take your girlfriends.” She asked, somewhat embarrassed at her train of thoughts.

He was silent for a while before replying: “Couldn’t I just be taking you to all my favorite places?” He asked quietly.

“Off course.” She latched onto that. “My curiosity got the better part of me.” She explained. “This ice-cream is really nice.” She changed the topic. “I thought I’d discovered all the good ice-cream places in Lag.”

She was kinda pissed with herself, what was she doing asking such questions, she knew better. Now he would think she was one of the usual Naija desperadoes!!!

It was all Buchi’s fault; yes she was laying this squarely at Buchi’s doorstep. She had been content with just being friends with Obi, it was Buchi who kept insisting a guy and a girl couldn’t just be friends. Where did Buchi get that logic? Emily pursed her lips and focused on the road. The day started off very well, maybe too well, maybe that was why she started thinking off and wishing for things that aren’t possible. But then, nothing is impossible.

Obi parked in-front of her building; Emily hurriedly unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the door to alight. Obi placed a staying hand on her arm and said; “I know what you’re getting at, it isn’t a step I’m ready for now.”

“Ok.” She replied. She got down and waved as he drove off.

Whew!!!! The day had been a day and half.

Walking up the stairs, she dialled her sister’s number.

“Hello Emily.” Her sister answered almost immediately.

“Julia, I got your message.”

“Mom is at it again!” Julia said excitedly.

“I got that. Did you give out the wrong details as we agreed?”

“Yea, I did, but mom checked the number, and noticed it was wrong. She called me out on it, saying I didn’t know my sisters phone number.”

Emily sighed.

“It’s ok, if the person calls, I’ll handle it.” She had gotten to her door. She leaned against the wall to conclude her call, Linda must be in and she wasn’t in the mood to see her yet.

“Ok. Emily, how about that stuff I asked you for, you haven’t said anything.” Julia asked for some money to update her wardrobe, personally, Emily thought julia already had too many clothes, but Emily knew Julia wouldn’t desist till she gave in. So, rather than voice her opinion, she said instead; “I’ll see what I can do at the end of the month.”

Julia screamed for joy through the phone. “Thank you, thanks darling, you’re the bestest big sister in the whole wide world. Thank you!!!”

“You don’t have another sister to compare me with.” Emily replied, smiling as she ended the call.

She rung the bell, it took Linda forever to come to the door, when Emily could hear her laughter through the door. Obviously, she had a guest. Emily gritted her teeth and prayed for patience, they just had a month to go for Linda would finish her course and return to Abuja.

“Hey you, welcome.” Linda smiled brightly as she opened the door and ushered her in. “I have someone here to see you, I found this gentleman hanging around waiting for you when I returned. We’ve been chatting and he’s been telling me how much he loves you.”

Emily hissed out her frustration as she saw the ‘young man’ in question was none other than Korede.

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