First things first, congrats to my dear team member PJ and Aideyarn platform manager, Daniel as you two become one.
It takes a special person to form that required bond when you have a thousand and one characters living in your head. One that understands that the frowns and scowls on our faces are not always ours. They are the result of emotions we carry for the ones in our heads.
He calls you his muse, I think you are Godsend.
Wishing you a very happy life together,
Dig in. Sorry I’m posting late. Thank you for Thursday. Those sweet comments moved me. Thank you and have a fab day. I will be back for comments soon, I promise.
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//THE SMILING GENIUS//
Kanyin ended up on Nkem’s bed on the same morning she returned to the university. She had dashed straight out of the car park after seeing Bayo sat in his car, ignoring the questions Austin shot in her direction.
It was thanks to Austin that her father came back home yesterday with her sister and ordered her to return to the university. Later on, Austin strolled into her room with an apologetic smile on his face and confessed his actions.
“Sorry nau,” he had knelt on the floor beside her bed. “I didn’t know the man was trying to rumble me. He asked me how school was today. Then my big mouth opened without my permission and told him school was fine.”
“You remember that I told him that the university is closed for the summer break, abi?” She was cushioned up to her chin in her thick quilt. It felt soft because Anu replaced all the duvets and pillows in the house with beddings filled with fine down feathers last month. Her table lamps were off. Blankets, pillows and shawls heaped on the bed, electric fan on full blast, adding to the insulating warmness of her cosy room.
“I wasn’t expecting him to trick me.” He pushed a pillow out of the way to make room for himself on her bed.
“What are you doing?” She screamed the question at him, startling him.
She heaved a sigh when he stared at her in bewilderment. She understood his confusion. They were friends. He had never needed to ask her before sitting on her bed. When the owner of his shared accommodation evicted him so as to renovate the house, her father asked her if he could move in with them before Austin got asked, citing he couldn’t bring anyone she didn’t like to their home.
“What is wrong with you Kanyin?” He didn’t sit on the spot he cleared, placing his elbows on the spot tentatively. “You barely eat. You have abandoned your studies. We don’t see you in the sitting room these days.”
“Shift joor. Why would I want to be sitting between you and Daddy whilst you watch Sky Sports? Was it not you that spent ten minutes explaining penalty kick… or was it even free kick to me. Please I don’t want my head to ache because I’m trying to watch football. I’m going to watch Scandal now on my phone. Then I will watch Girls Runway. You wanna join me?”
With that, she succeeded in getting rid of him. If only she could get rid of the constant reminder of that night. It was like the rising of tide, creeping and filling up without anyone noticing. She would play music, watch a film, find herself laughing at a Youtube clip and then the taste in her mouth the night it happened would come back.
It came back last night, forcing her awake every time she started to drift off.
“Kay sweetie,” Nkem walked into the room with Shantel, a short, girl in the same year as them who always seemed to leave the room every time she saw them. “I’m going to braid Shantel’s hair. That’s why she is here.”
Kanyin sat up and regarded Shantel with the same mean stare she gave her. Nkem’s hand wandered in Shantel’s thick hair whilst Kanyin tried not to think of how her friend had suddenly become best friends with a girl they both called snorty shorts behind her back.
“She has nice hair, doesn’t she?”
Kanyin grunted in response.
“Nice natural hair.”
“I will wait outside for you.” Shantel raised one of her dumpy hands and patted her hair down.
“Okay sweetie. I will be with you in a sec.” Nkem trudged to the small table next to the wall where all sort of items were dumped because the room had no extra space. Swaying her hips from side to side, the way Kanyin had come to expect from her, she picked up her hair dryer from the table, turning round to give Shantel a wide smile. “Won’t be long.”
Kanyin barely waited for Shantel to leave the room before mouthing ‘what the hell’ at her friend. Nkem shut the door, plonked the hair dryer on the table and got on the bed with Kanyin. They had matching skirts on. Black leather skirts that looked tighter on Nkem because of her plumpness. Kanyin had paid for one for Nkem who became her closest friend shortly after she started at the university. Nkem who came to the UK on a student visa did not have a father like hers. He worked as a federal civil servant in Lagos, spending his salary before he got it.
“You don’t wanna share me Kay, sweetie?” Nkem was smiling now, playing with the ends of her cornrolls. Red hair had been added to the plaits to bulk them up. This suited her fair, smooth skin tone, her oval-shaped head and expertly trimmed eyebrows.
“You can be friends with whoever you like. Kanyin pursed her lips and drew air through the centre of her mouth, elongating the kissing sound to show her disapproval. “You can be friends with people that don’t like you. Wetin be my own.”
“It’s you she has a problem with.”
“She used to date Bayo. That’s what I found out.”
Kanyin didn’t respond. She picked up her phone and checked for missed calls. Five from Bayo. One from her father.
“I’m only doing her hair because of money o. Shebi, I told you Sege is pleading broke ass now that we have done the do. And I don’t want our landlord’s wahala this month. I don’t want that old man to come harass my babies on top small money with those big ogling eyes of his.”
“Your big babies.”
Nkem pointed at her chest. “See them, o.” Her top, as usual fought to keep her breasts in. They laughed together.
“Your landlord’s eyes can spot good things.” Kanyin stretched her legs out. She felt the sort of guilt that tortured her every time someone she knew didn’t have enough money for their basic needs. Her father told her once that they couldn’t help everyone. If they did, they would end up with nothing. “I can’t really ask Daddy for money. He is not talking to me much since the Jade thing.”
“When you took your stepmother’s side… I don’t blame him. What were you thinking?”
“He got my ex bestie pregnant.”
“Well, your dad is sexy. I’m sure the girl seduced him. I don’t blame her sha, if I had her opportunity I would do the same. You see ehn, whenever I see him my heart just starts beating like a drum. Like that time he gave us a lift from your house for a class, omo, I couldn’t breathe when he told me to have a nice day. The man is fit like a sportsman. Yum yum.”
“Nah silly, he told us both to have a nice day. He says that to everyone… well every girl sha.”
“He did this thing with his eyes that you didn’t catch. See, even his eyes and his dimples can tame a girl on their own. ”
“Stop it. Not cool.”
“Cool or not, your father is my fantasy bobo. Did you not see the way Akiah and Lateefa were staring at him when he dropped us off? Lateefa was doing that good Muslim girl thing, putting her hijab on show for him. No one would have believed that, that girl lost her innocence to her cousin six years ago. You better tell your stepmum to come home sharp sharp before one of those babalawo’s pikin take her place. Don’t let anyone mess with my fantasy bobo. The man is too perfect for any girl with millionaire ambition to come mess im up.”
There was a time she felt like that about Bayo. When she thought he was too good looking, too well brought up to be with her. A time when she thrived when she saw envy in the eyes of girls that saw them together.
“On the other hand, Kay sweetheart. If something dey too sweet, im owner will get jedijedi and still dey run after it. Your stepmother likes fine specimen. She go suffer joor. Have you not seen my Sege with his massive oblong head, bush dressing and skinny legs? Which kain girl will fight me for him?”
Nkem left her alone after trying to tempt her to eat again. She said no. Her appetite hadn’t been great for a while. Even her morning tea made her nauseous this morning.
She fell asleep to Davido’s voice. His tracks took every spot on Nkem’s playlist and she succumbed to sleep in the middle of it all, wondering how she could be enjoying the songs after telling her friend songs objectifying women would never win her over. Anu’s ideologies. Strange how the woman had succeeded in building on the foundation of knowledge Grandma embedded in her head, despite the two women not knowing each other.
She woke up to Nkem tapping her and calling out her name at the same time.
“Please Kay. Wake up. Now babe.”
“You finished already?” Kanyin knew she had not been asleep for that long. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Her friend shook her head and looked at her as if she regretted waking her up. She crossed her legs, linked her fingers and sighed. “Go to sleep Kay. We will talk when you wake up.”
Kanyin grabbed hold of the headboard and sat up. She touched her friend’s hand. Nkem’s eyes were now on her hands. When she looked up, she saw the dread in her eyes, obvious in spite of the glitter eyeshadow and black eyeliner adorning them. Her fair face betrayed her feelings too.
“Please, just tell me. Ki lo de? What’s going on?”
“It’s Shantel o. I asked her what her beef is with you.”
“Leave her jo. She doesn’t like me, no big deal.”
“There is a big deal… a big tinko why she doesn’t. The reason why she ran out after dumping a bombshell on me.”
“Maybe she is lying sef…”
“I’m out of here if you don’t talk soon…”
“Shantel said Bayo and his friends raped her. Four, altogether.”
Kanyin got up as soon as the words sank in. She groped around for her phone. She needed to find Austin, leave Manchester and never come back.
“She said Bayo is evil. That the day she dumped him after he burnt her with his cigarette, he came to her house and he and his friends forced their way in and attacked her. She got really angry when I asked why she didn’t report him to the police. She begged say we shouldn’t tell Bayo. She said his brother is a big police man here in this city. Is this true? Kay baby?”
“I need to go.” She was struggling to get in her jacket and when she eventually did the zip got stuck halfway up.
“Calm down Kay.”
Nkem followed her as she ran around collecting the items for her bag, things left out earlier –phone charger, handouts, notebooks and a Palgrave Macmillan book on feminism whilst one hand tugged at her zip.
“I’m calm. Help me get my stuff together. I have to meet Austin before he goes for his next lecture.”
“Okay. As long as you promise to stay away from that Bayo. The frown you get from a nice boy beta than the smile you get from an evil genius.”
“I cross my heart Nkem.”
Kanyin broke her promise minutes after leaving Acems when – neck bent to her phone –she collided with a man who was so tall she had to raise her head up to look at him. Her apology left her mouth but she didn’t hear it. The man blocking her part was Dogo, a strikingly unpleasant man she met once at Bayo’s. His very dark skin, the bulging eyes and the deep vertical mark on his face were not what scared her. It was the way his eyes prodded her. Bayo had claimed that day they were not friends.
He had lied, as at the bottom of the alley way was Bayo, sitting on top of his car, grinning. Kanyin promised herself that she would never take shortcuts anywhere again.
Dogo blocked her path. With one of his hands on her shoulder, he led her to Bayo. She took a breath when Dogo left them to stand at the top of the alleyway after Bayo barked something at him in Patwah.
“I have to go, my dad is waiting.” Kanyin stated.
“That’s why you’ve been ignoring me. Innit Shortee?” He jumped off the bonnet of the car and grabbed her before she could get away.
She felt his breath on her face as his hands closed around her. Despite it irking her, she stared back at him.
How could he act as if he hadn’t been a part of what happened to her? As if his body was not the one pressing hers down three weeks ago?
“My father is waiting. Austin is on his way to pick me up.”
“He can wait. The same way I waited for weeks. Like I missed lecture to wait for you here with Dogo. Mehn. You tortured me, Shortee. Promise you’re gonna make it up to me.”
“That ass needs more action.” His hands were on her bum, squeezing them whilst his eyes searched her. “Come Saturday night. If you are a no show, I will take it personally. I got your house keys at my pad, I can let myself in anytime…”
“What?” She tried to get out of his grasp.
“You left your purse, remember? I have your keys. I can turn up when your idiot daddy is at work on Monday.” He kissed her lips, then her cheek, licking her chin with his stretched tongue. “See yah.” He clicked his fingers and Dogo ran over from his spot.
Even though the car sped away immediately, she broke into a run and did not stop until she reached the taxi station on the main road. She was still trembling when she got home. Her hands were shaking as she tried to fit the key Austin gave to her that morning in the door’s keyhole. When the door opened from the inside, she was more shocked than relieved. Her father stood there, holding a glass of fruit juice in his other hand.
The whiff of perfume that greeted her when she walked in coupled with the glass of juice told her he had a woman in the house with him.
“I’m not feeling well, Daddy. I need to sleep.” She hurried past him before he could say anything.
Invoices and receipts were on her skirt, yet when Idriss rejoined her in the conservatory room where she was on the sofa, she felt uncomfortable with the way his gaze fleeted over her. Right from her fuchsia painted toe nails to her white lacy top with a single button at its top. A slash on the top ran from her neck to the tip of her bra vest. She shouldn’t have agreed to come back here after their meeting finished earlier than planned.
He placed the glass cup on the oak side table and settled himself next to her.
“I think I should take this work home with me.” Calling her father’s house home did not sound right in Anu’s head. She wondered if it ever would.
“We need to get this tax return done.” Tilting sideways towards her, he picked up one of the invoices on her legs, examined it and placed it back, his fingers lingering on parts left uncovered.
“I will leave you to tackle this yourself if you don’t stop. We both know you wouldn’t get anywhere though.”
“This is why I asked you to come over after the meeting. Shebi, you are the number mastermind. Not my fault our book keeper is on holiday.”
“This is why we get things done before it is due. We could have used someone else if you didn’t wait until the day before the deadline.”
She reached for her IPad Pro on the table but he grabbed it before she could pick it up, arching his eyebrows at her.
“We talk first, then you can work.”
He seemed to be taunting her with his eyes to try to get the tablet from him. Anu shifted towards him and regretted her decision immediately. She ended up astride him, his unruly hand on her waist.
“Let me go, Idriss.”
“You sat on me, Aisha mi.”
“I didn’t. You pushed me on your crotch.”
“I miss you, baby.”
His eyes were on her lips for a while before his mouth closed around hers, kissing her with unrestrained passion and explosive anger. His tongue found its way in her mouth, exploring nooks he knew so well. Places he explored wherever, whenever. They never tired of exploring each other until the time she would rather forget last year. When her loss took away her desire.
She told herself she would push him away soon. That letting him do this did not equate to weakness and the hand pushing her skirt up did not awake anything in her.
The sound of her tablet crashing on the tiles compelled her to her senses. She tore her lips from his and jumped off him. She started picking up the discarded invoices and receipts whilst he kept muttering her name.
“This is not happening. Not happening. I’m not doing this with your cheating behind.”
“You make it sound like you were innocent.”
She paused to look at his bearded face. It was as stunning as ever in spite of the pain in his eyes.
“Come with me upstairs baby and I will show you the pictures of you and Bradley that I got sent.”
She shook her head. “I can’t deal with this anymore. I never went behind your back with Bradley. You are only saying it because you feel guilty… because you were the one visiting your mistress and your kids whilst I thought you were at work.”
“I know what evidence I have. My eyes work pretty fine. I know what I saw.”
“I have work to do.”
“But I can forgive you. We can wipe the slate clean. Baby?”
“It is too late.”
“It can never be too late.” He knelt on the floor and grabbed hold of her hands. “I should have had it out with you about the whole Bradley thing. Stupid me. I thought I could wipe it from my brain and be a better husband … Get you to fall for me again.”
“It is too late. Please.”
“It can’t be. I will do anything.”
“Can you forgive adultery?” She blinked away the tears in her eyes and forced the words out before they could become too heavy to be spoken. “I slept with Bradley last night.”
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