Hello Yarners, …errm… I don’t know how to say this, but I guess I’ll just say it – Love, Music & Dreams will be off for a while and this is due to logistic reasons – (blame it on the bad guy “logistics”) – let’s just call the break, an interlude …erm … the Team is sorry for any inconvenience caused but trust us to have your back, as we have lined up delicacies to continue keeping your Saturday delightful.
And to the reason why we’re here, this episode being a prelude to the interlude, we have made it a teeny weeny bit longer than previous episodes, so as to keep the taste lingering until the serial resumes. To our feature post of the day -#LMD6 – enjoy!
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Loving you is like trying to touch a star, I know I can never reach you, but I can’t help but try ~ Steve Urkle
Teni had tears in her eyes as she scrolled through Tobi’s pictures on her phone. He always seemed to have a smile on his face as every picture bore that characteristic Tobi smile that she always remembered his face with.
She chuckled, wiping a tear from her face as she scrolled through pictures of Tobi and herself making funny faces and just playing around. He was more than just an elder brother, he was her closest friend.
It was Tobi who made her realize that having the sickle cell disease did not necessarily translate to a death sentence. Seeing him live his life with so much zest and delight encouraged her to do the same, and that was why it broke her heart to see him lying weak on the hospital bed as he suffered a second crisis in two weeks.
The fire in his eyes was still there but his body didn’t seem to have the strength to bear the flames anymore. He tried to give her a reassuring smile as he gazed into her worry stricken face, but all he could do was blink his eyes and twitch his lips slightly as he laboured to breathe.
‘I’ve lived my dream Teni,’ he said softly, ‘I always wanted to fly a plane, and here I am, a pilot.’
‘You’re living your dream,’ she had corrected, not comfortable with his choice of tense. She had stared at him as he forced the words out of his mouth, her fingers intertwined with his as they shared what turned out to be their last moments together.
She was right there in the room when he closed his eyes in death. It looked so much like he was taking a nap until she saw the horror in the eyes of his girlfriend, Muna, who had replaced her by his side and was chatting with him.
Their conversation was inaudible, but she could see Muna giggle at intervals until the scenes changed dramatically when Muna called out in an uncharacteristically loud voice. ‘Tobi’s hands are cold,’ she had said with a voice breaking with fear.
She played back the scenes like it happened last night even though it was three years ago. The reaction of everyone was still very fresh in her memory; the limp body of Muna on the cold hospital floor, the tears rolling down her father’s cheek, the screams of her elder sister Tola, over the phone, when the news was broken to her, and the instant sickening feeling that arrested her body.
Replaying the scenes of Tobi’s death always left her drained and it was an exercise she had promised herself never to engage in anymore but lying on her bed on the eve of what would have been his thirtieth birthday, she couldn’t help but think about the one person who taught her to accept life as a sickle cell patient, and not just to accept life, but to live it to its fullest.
He taught her to live life without fear and even though she could say she had learnt well, there was a fear she was yet to conquer -the fear of falling in love.
She could not bear to imagine making another person as distraught as Muna had been, when Tobi died. Her words at the burial still stung when she remembered them. We shared dreams, she mumbled as the coffin was lowered into the earth, her tone conversational, but it was obvious she was conversing with herself. We wanted two kids, a boy and a girl.
The pain in those words kept her from loving anybody, and anytime it seemed like she was developing strong feelings for anyone, all she needed to do was reflect on Muna’s words and pain, and the supposed strong feelings will slowly ebb.
The tactic had been hugely successful until she met Danny. She was first drawn to him through sheer curiosity as she couldn’t imagine what a mechanical engineering graduate was doing searching for a job in an insurance firm.
‘Why did you apply for this?’ She remembered asking him as they sat together in the waiting room whilst waiting for her sister.
‘Cos I need a job,’ he answered, his eyes searching hers in wonderment at the type of questions she was asking. ‘I’m tired of sitting at home.’
Like he later confessed to her several weeks after, he just couldn’t believe a Nigerian would still be surprised in this era of mass unemployment, that an engineer was applying for an insurance job.
‘You would lose your dream of being an engineer if you eventually get employed here,’ she had reminded him, even though she could see from his eyes that he didn’t really care.
‘My dream is to be a singer not an engineer,’ he laughed almost sadly, his eyes glancing at his phone. ‘I think I lost that dream when I filled my JAMB form.’
‘The Star audition comes up next week, why don’t you go in for it? You never can tell what will happen,’ she had suggested to him.
He paused, looking at her suspiciously.
‘It takes nothing from you and there’s no harm in trying,’ she probed, trying to convince him. ‘And I’ll be there as your number one fan screaming woohoo,’ she continued, giggling as she spoke, a smile replacing the suspicious look on his face when he saw her throwing her hands in the air to mimic a cheer.
Of course Danny passed the first, second and last auditions and his confidence grew with every positive remark he got from the judges. And as he filled out the contract papers prequel to his admission as a contestant into the The STAR music talent competition, her eyes scanned the Personal Details section and stopped at the row tagged Genotype.
She could not explain why she cared about his personal details, just like she could not explain why she cared whether or not he lived his dreams, but what she could explain was that in six weeks of knowing him, he had made her begin to lose her fear of falling in love.
Danny was more than just a sweet singing voice, he was both brilliant and funny, and as each call ended and every message delivered, it became obvious that what she felt for him was more than just friendship -maybe it was time for her to face her fear of falling in love.
She saw the letters, AS scribbled in the box beside Genotype and her heart sank. It felt like the end of a love story that was yet to begin.
She put back the shield over her heart as she tried to remain as platonic with him as possible, and even though it was a difficult thing to do, it was a battle she was determined to win, until he planted a soft kiss on her lips in the park, on the eve of his departure to The Star House.
I’m sorry I kissed you, I know you say nothing can ever happen between us, for reasons I don’t know, but I guessed that if I was ever going to have a real chance at winning this competition, I have to feel like superman, and trust me, kissing you now makes me feel like one.
She remembered the words like he said it, remembered the look in his eyes when he said it, and every time she watched him perform live on stage at the competition, it broke her heart to know that she was in love with someone who was clearly in love with her, but that their love could never happen, because this time, like the message of her budding NGO, love was just not enough.
As much as she tried to protect her heart with the shield that had proved so effective before now, the memory of that stolen kiss on the eve of his departure, had a way of breaching her defenses every time and leaving her vulnerable to a love that had the forbidden tag hanging from it.
Leaving her vulnerable to a love that had the forbidden tag hanging from it.
Daniel sighed as he typed out the last words of the first scene of Episode Four. He read it out quietly to himself as he ran a quick scan through the scene and just when he was about to give himself a good to go, his eyes stopped at the first line of the fifth paragraph, ‘I’ve lived my dream Teni, he said softly’.
He didn’t feel comfortable with the words as he stroked his lower lip in thought, his eyes poring over every word in the statement.
Was it in Tobi’s character to speak so negatively, seeing that he was the one that inspired his sister’s fearless living?
He racked his brain as his fingers ran the cursor up the page to the paragraph, resting a finger on the backspace button, a strained expression on his face as he mulled over the question.
Even the strongest of us can get unbelievably weak sometimes; after-all Superman has kryptonite.
‘True,’ he muttered to himself in relief, as the thought spread a smile across his face like jam on bread.
He rose up from his chair, stretching his limbs as he paced around the living room, his mind working on the next scene of the chapter. He had three more scenes to wrap up episode four and he wanted to make sure every scene was a masterpiece.
The next scene of the chapter from the outline was to be a musical performance by the contestants, while he also planned to show the scheming and rivalry in The Star House to create some drama.
He drew the glass from the table to his lips, sipping water from it like it was some expensive champagne. He hoped Stella would like the story when she read it, as he planned to mail her the first three episodes to get her opinion of the work so far. That she liked the story was just as important to him as winning the competition, as she was his muse.
A muse that he was in love with, but a love that was never going to happen because like Teni and Danny, this love had a forbidden tag on it – a forbidden tag that was placed not by genotype, but by class.
Enitan curled under the cover of the duvet, on the bed, as the raindrops splattered on her window pane. It was an extremely cold night. The kind of night that amplified the importance of a heater – a human heater.
It was nights like these that made being single seem like a curse, especially knowing that she could be nestled in the warmth of Ebuka’s strong arms instead of her present misfortune of hugging the biting cold.
She bit her lips softly, turning uneasily under the duvet as she imagined herself being crushed under the weight of Ebuka’s arms.
Another woman’s man, the soft voice whispered in her head as usual, and as much as it hurt to admit it, the truth was that Ebuka was still another woman’s man and her plan of snatching him for herself had so far failed woefully, that is if the over-used trick of trapping a guy with pregnancy could be referred to as a plan.
That she had never been pregnant for Ebuka after being intimate with him for close to a year was not a mystery as Ebuka always made sure to use protection whenever they made love and at a point even switched to wearing two condoms after an incidence of a burst condom during one of their sessions, until she protested.
She picked up her phone from the bed stool, swiping and tapping on the device as she navigated to the Ladytimer application. The sight of the green on the day’s block on the application’s calendar stirred up something inside of her as she dragged the duvet down to her belly area and sat up on the bed, with her back propped up by her pillows.
PREGNANCY RISK: HIGH
She read the words slowly to herself letting her eyes drift continually to the deep green block on the calendar just two days away, which was her most fertile day of the cycle, and the information on that day usually read PREGNANCY RISK: VERY HIGH.
The thought of having Ebuka under her sheets on any of the green days excited her but the thought of having him unprotected on a deep green day made her hot as the temperature in the room seemed to increase, even though she could still hear the sound of the rain outside the window.
She climbed out of the duvet, flicking her tongue across her lips like she would do an ice cream cone. She was scantily clad in matching black lace panties and bra, hidden behind a transparent pink night coat.
She smiled deviously as the thought flickered across her mind, there was no guarantee that it would work, especially because of its simplicity, but it was a thought that involved a game she liked to play, a game she didn’t know how to lose, a game of seduction.
She tapped on the phone camera, reversing the direction to the selfie mode as she adjusted herself on the bed for a pose. With a deft flick of her fingers, she loosened the knot of the night coat around her belly, exposing an indented belly button, buried in a landscape of smooth and luscious skin as the flash of the phone went off as she tapped on the screen, taking shots of herself.
She browsed through the pictures, searching for the perfect shot that fit into her hastily hatched plan as the images slid past with every swipe of her fingers on the screen.
Her fingers stopped its swiping motion as she stared at the image on her screen. It was an image capable of unsettling the Pope, talk-less of a sinner like Ebuka. It was the perfect picture for the mission.
She tapped on the share button and selected E!baby from her list of contacts and with fingers trembling with excitement, she typed out the accompanying text; candies, melons and everything boys like.
It was the perfect party. The attendants made sure that something to munch was always only a step away, and also, that no glass in the room stayed empty. They kept a keen eye on the refreshment supplies while managing to stay out of sight, as the DJ serenaded the guests with a pop collection that everyone seemed happy to shuffle to.
Stella watched on from her seat as Zainab made a stop at a different group, engage in a chit chat for a couple of minutes, smile at a response and then move on to another group. She was doing a fantastic job as a hostess, keeping the room bubbly with energy inspite of the distraction of the rain.
‘Ma,’ an attendant called her attention to her empty glass as he held out a bottle of KRUG in readiness to refill her glass.
‘No.. No.. thank you,’ Stella declined with a polite wave of hand, her eyes scanning the room for familiar or friendly faces. She’d rested her feet enough after helping Zainab co-ordinate the set-up of the party, especially after they had to relocate the setting from the pool area to the living room because of the rain. It was about time to mingle.
‘Do you think the party is going well?’ Zainab asked, returning to her seat after completing her tour of guests. It was the second time tonight she was asking the question.
Stella sighed. ‘So you mean after that cake kiss you still have doubts about the party?’ Stella replied with a smile.
‘What’s a cake kiss?’ Zainab asked blinking mischievously, ‘If you expect me to know the party is great because of Raheem’s kiss, then forget it,’ She chuckled. ‘Kissing me is like a drug to him, sometimes I wonder if the reason he married me is so he can kiss me anytime he wants to,’ she said, giggling.
Stella’s smile widened into a grin as she listened to Zainab. ‘I have never seen a better organized house party,’ she stated, glancing at the beeping phone in her hand. It was Ebuka’s. He had handed it to her some fifteen minutes ago when a mutual friend asked to speak with her.
‘You can pick your call,’ Zainab prompted, as she watched Stella steal glances at the phones on her palm.
‘No… it’s not mine, it’s Ebuka’s,’ She replied, her eyes cast towards the entrance of the room, searching for the familiar frame of her boyfriend, who had stepped outside with the celebrant, Raheem.
‘And so? I pick Raheem’s call.’
‘He’s your husband,’ Stella countered, uncomfortable with the stare from Zainab.
‘True,’ Zainab agreed, rising to her feet, with her eyes still on the beeping device. ‘But I picked his calls when he was my fiancé and also when he was my boyfriend. It’s what girls do,’ she added, her voice teasing as she strolled off.
Stella looked at the phone on her palms. It had stopped ringing by this time but the notification light was still beeping. She thought to slip the phone into her clutch purse but she was curious to know who Gold was. It was the name displayed on the screen when the phone was ringing. She tapped on the phone and on the screen was a preview of selected messages.
One of the messages caught her attention. It read candies, melons and everything boys like.
She paused. Her heart beating frantically as her finger hung in the air as she made to tap on the message to view it. She knew she would not like what she was about to see but as Ebuka emerged from the entrance and walked towards her, she let her fingers drop, tapping gently on the message, to open up what could well turn out to be Pandora’s box.
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