It has been over a month since I was discharged from the hospital. I was ready to resume work immediately after I was discharged but Chief wouldn’t hear of it. He was of the opinion that I needed a break to rest and get myself back. As a gesture of appreciation for the fine work I had been doing, Chief had a Honda Accord (End of discussion as it is popularly called) delivered to me the day I was discharged. My mother was overjoyed and full of praises for him. It really did feel nice to be appreciated. In the meantime, Omolara held the fort while I was away. He only called on me when he had a difficulty with some of the workers which I straightened out immediately. I decided the project was in capable hands. I made a mental note to reward him properly.

Lola and I spoke everyday as she decided not to step foot in my house with my mom around in order to avoid a scene. My mom made it quite clear that she wasn’t welcome and after several entreaties which fell on deaf ears, I encouraged my mom to go back home and take care of her business. She had gone into trading in clothing materials after she retired as a principal in one of the secondary schools in Awka, Anambra State. She left after two weeks of stifling pampering and nursing me back to health knowing I was well and able to take good care of myself. However, I think she entered an agreement with Max who always came visiting, more for her cooking than to see me, I believe. I suspected it was to keep a close eye on “that girl” and me.

The funny thing was Lola wasn’t the only one I was in constant contact with. Bola called me everyday to monitor my progress. During my stay at the hospital, we had become quite close. She would come to my room whenever she was free during her shift, mostly at night and we would talk for hours on end till she reluctantly left me to sleep. She was lively, fun to be with, intelligent, witty and very industrious. She told me about herself without leaving much out. Her parents wanted her to be a doctor but her dream had always been to be a nurse and after her 300L MBBS which she passed with flying colours, she summed up courage to face her parents and follow her passion. I found that I enjoyed her company a lot more than Lola’s which seemed to be too cautious, tense and calculated.

The day I was discharged, the look of melancholy on her face struck me even though she forced a smile. I knew I was going to miss her so I took her number promising her a treat as soon as I was fit enough. My mother watched our somewhat emotional exchange with attentiveness. She never said a word until we drove away from the hospital premises waving a teary-eyed Bola and the ever-smiling Dr. Ibrahim.

“Hmm. I don’t understand you sometimes. What is this fascination for Yoruba girls?” She asked.

“Me?” I asked, surprised.

“No, not you. The car seat.” She answered sarcastically. I laughed out loud.

“Nne! *Ibiago ozor!” I teased.

“No, I will say what I’m seeing. Why can’t you just find a nice Igbo girl and settle down, eh?”

“Is that the priority now? Let me get myself first before you bring that up kwanu!” I exclaimed.

“You know Chisom has come back from the UK where she went to do her masters. She will make a very good wife for you.”

“Nne, please let’s not start this again. I told you before that Chisom and I have nothing in common.” I said tiring of her incessant match-making efforts.

“What of Ebele? She is…”

“Who is Ebele?” I interrupted.

“Nonye’s daughter.” When I replied with a blank stare, she continued.

“That my friend that we were in choir together at St. Paul’s. Fair and short…don’t you remember her?” I knew who she was talking about but I wanted to discourage her from pushing it further so I told her I didn’t but my mother is not one to give up easily. She continued relentlessly.

“Her husband was the Permanent Secretary one tim…”

“Oh! I remember now. What about Ebele?” I asked, really bored.

“She’s working now. She has a good job – Zenith bank, I think…”

“But you know I can never marry a banker.” I jumped in.

She sighed. I could tell she was tired of my willful attitude.

“Is her job now the problem. If you don’t want her working in a bank, I’m sure she will quit if you tell her to. After all, God has blessed you…”

“She will just abandon her career for me, just like that?” I sneered.

“Yes oh. I have her number here.” My mom said reaching for her phone inside her bag.

“Mummy! Please stop all this now, haba!”

She went silent for a while. Max who was the designated driver was busy chuckling away. He knew how I and my mother were whenever the issue of marriage came up.

“Hmm. Well, I have tried – God is my witness. I’ve been watching you and that nurse.” As she said this, Max and I burst into laughter.

“Ehn! Laugh oh but you know its true. I don’t know what you see in these Yoruba girls…”

“Nne, **ozugo biko.” I chided. She was always so particular about me settling with an Igbo girl. I wouldn’t mind if I actually met one that caught my fancy but so far, none.

“Better her than that girl.” She said resignedly.

When she left, it felt good to have the house to myself again. Aunty Joy, her husband, their kids and Lola were among my first visitors. They were all impressed with my house and Aunty Joy commented that all that was left was a wife. She said this winking at me and Lola who went red. After a short while, they left promising to come back to visit soon, leaving Lola behind.

It was strange at first, having all this privacy to ourselves but we quickly got over it. From the moment I saw her at the hospital, I realised that I still found her desirable and right now, with her looking so fresh, so beautiful in her short brown dress, I felt an overpowering longing to ravish her body. When I reached out for her, she was supple, pliant. The need I saw in her eyes was surprisingly flattering. All previous tensions and caution gave way to repressed emotions. She surrendered completely as I rid her of her clothing as she struggled with mine as our piece of clothing flew about and made an untidy heap on the marble floor in my sitting room. When I saw her naked skin, I couldn’t believe she was still as beautiful as I remembered – only fuller. That was when the caged animal took over, the cold marble floor welcoming our entangled bodies lost in the heat of passion.

In a few minutes, we were panting and out of breath. She laughed nervously as she always did in time past after we made love and collapsed on my chest. My mind was blank and I was content to bask in the moment. We were about to get started again when my phone vibrated on the glass table. She reached for it and was about to hand it to me when the caller id caught her eyes and she looked at me with a mixture of dismay and displeasure.

I knew immediately who was calling.

………………………..

Malcolm O. Ifi.

Igbo Translations:

*E bia go ozor – You have started again.
**ozugo biko – Its enough please.

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