Thursday, 4 June 2009

CASH OR CREDIT 4.......

The wait is OVERRR guys, and I promise you is
well worth it! Part 3 can be found here!!

ENJOY
12.35pm



Thursday morning in the domestic terminals of Murtala Mohammed airport Ikeja. The cement floor in the lobby seemed to echo every step made by every passenger and porter, the numerous overhead ceiling fans, whirring unfailing to keep up with the air conditioners and do their bit to cool. Disorganized queues of shoving Nigerians lay before colorful cardboard signs displaying Chanchangi Airlines, Bellview and Virgin Nigeria.
Jen observed, away from this measured madness, safely in the little bookstore located in the only quiet corner of the airport.

As both the international and domestic flights shared similar runways Jen mused on her brief visits home when she was studying abroad in Liverpool. Her friends and other Nigerians living in Diaspora complained bitterly through cold winters, windy autumns and pollen abused springs. Nostalgic for home they viewed Nigeria through rose tinted spectacles. On return, they welcomed the noise of the city and the nosiness of its inhabitants. The surly faces of shop attendants who did not indulge you in plastered smiles; and road rage of speeding motorists on the wide highways. Jen loved travelling in a car, pretending that she wasn’t glued to her bus pass just a few thousand miles away. However, since returning to Nigeria permanently, all the charming quirks had become frustrating. She had become impatient, demanding and a lot more inquisitive. The oyibo mentality of queuing and so on had left her completely and easily as she had abandoned her winter jackets. It took three months in the making but Jen had fallen in love with Lagos again. The real Lagos, with a searing and encompassing love just as you would a real person; and just as one occasionally fought with someone they loved, sometimes she and Lagos would disagree. There have been times when she would get frustrated and make the odd reference to England-compare and contrast- but these instances were few and far between. She loved the hustle and the bustle, the crowds and the pure nonsensical ability of her people to find humor in everything. Come what may, Jennifer was glad she had learnt to laugh at herself.

That humor was standing her in good stead now as she stood in the souvenir shop mulling over the novel Swallow Song by Sefi Atta. She caught her reflection in the shop window and took in the site of the over-sized yellow shirt she had on. Its stiff collar with the white buttons done up haphazardly and the sleeves going all the way down to her finger tips. She looked like a drowned sunflower. Her grey shift dress peeked out just a few hems later, and the look the shop keeper gave her said she thought Jen got dressed in the dark.
“I was cold” Jen said. She didn’t know why she felt the need to explain. Raising her arm up above her head, Jen stretched to reach the Romance Novels- she could complain about their location but she assumed they were kept out of reach to prevent teenagers from secretly purchasing them behind their parents’ backs. Jen didn’t understand, after all a sale is a sale. Struggling to avoid being choked with dust dispelled as she sifted through Harlequin novels, her nose rubbed up against the shirt and she fearfully looked down, hoping her foundation hadn’t soiled his shirt, Esosa’s shirt.

Her mind flashed back to this morning, when he had literally forced her arms through his shirt “for her own good” he had said. Jen was sat on her desk, swinging her legs back and forth. Her back was turned to the elevator and she heard massive thuds, loud but hurried footsteps. She turned to face him and smile good morning, but Esosa wore that speculative look again.
“You’re going to be cold” he said flatly
“Good morning to you too” Jen responded in kind
Esosa smiled at her tone, he really enjoyed winding her up, teasing out her frustrated tone and drawing out arguments. He stared at her on the table wearing that annoyed look on her face that made her brows crease together. Arms that had hung at her sides with the palms resting on her desk were now folded across her chest, fair feet in black heels crossed protectively. Esosa drank in all of her, allowed himself to stare at the face he dreamt of this morning, the body that was unfair for any woman to have perched exquisitely on dark wood. He stared at her slowly and when he had drunk enough to keep him satiated for the rest of the day, his fill for the morning, he got down to business. Placing his brown briefcase on her chair, he briskly slid the catch open lifting out a bulging file spilling over with receipts. He did not ask for coffee and Jen did not offer, lest he call her an air hostess again. “If I want coffee I know where to get it” he would always reply

Jennifer had gotten used to Esosa; well she should as they had spent every single day together for the past month. He was the junior account manger at Etisalat and this was to be the huge launch. Jen was in charge of preparing the documentation regarding the account he was managing. The third person involved was the PR executive but he responded only via emails. PR brought ideas forward; Jen looked at potential profit margins on their implementation and Esosa provided the funds required to make it happen.
Jen was beginning to understand Esosa as well, she was acquainted with his workings at least. Jen had watched him work a thousand times now, he would go over the variable cost, mixed cost and sales mix in excruciating detail. The minute he got immersed he would sit over paper work completely still, like a statue or wax figure. He did not twirl his pen around his fingers like Jen or swivel on the chair like Meg. No calculator, no jottings on scarp paper, Esosa worked it all out in his head. His mental capability still astonished her; it was plain for all to see how intelligent Esosa was, which is probably why he got away with his horrible people skills. Mrs. Shaw could not speak highly enough of him and his attention to detail earned him a fan in even Mariya.

“In order to breakeven we need to have ascertained the behavior of both costs and revenues is linear throughout the relevant range of activity” Esosa started as he sat on Jen’s chair, adjusting its height. He had gotten comfortable already
“Are we implicitly assuming elementary discussions of costs and profits?” Jen replied still sitting on her desk, not fazed that just a minute ago he was staring at her like she was the reason he got out of bed. It was like this every morning, heavy hurried footsteps would announce his arrival; he would walk in and stare at Jen for a full minute, with unashamed awe and longing, taking in every aspect of her- be it a good clothes day or a bad hair one, then heave his shoulders and get straight to work. For the rest of the day, he would be nothing but professional- bent over paperwork, eat his lunch alone, exchange financial jargon with Mariya, eating Meg’s cookies- and when the day was done, he would leave with a hasty goodbye. Jen didn’t understand why he would not just ask her out so she could let him down easy, but instead the early morning stare continued for weeks.
Despite his lacking small talk ability and frank approach to sensitive issues Jen could not fault his number crunching. He was the most brilliant Strategic Economist Jen knew, and he took pride in his job which is an admirable trait. They sat together and dispelled figures, sharing a laugh when the PR man insisted on a fire work display “to incite excitement”
“Are u kidding me? Jen said
“You must be joking? Esosa replied at the same time
They laughed a bit longer and the atmosphere around them turned friendly
“You’re not so bad when you stop being grumpy” Jen stated
“You are not so bad when you are not being overly cheerful” Esosa replied. He looked away quickly because the sight of Jen laughing did things to his insides.
Esosa did not plan on liking Jen, he certainly found her beautiful right from the first day, even when she chirped in that false high pitched voice to him, but as the days wore on he was really growing fond of her. She had an obvious love for her job and she did it well, eager to apologize if she is the wrong and never made promises she could not keep. The deadlines were always met and even when they disagreed on expenditure, the very next morning she would have this huge smile on her face and greet him warmly. She was incapable of holding a grudge and Esosa found that compelling; her optimism exasperated him but he also envied it.
He was growing increasingly concerned for her well-being and now as he looked at her in her dress he knew she was going to shiver on the flight to Abuja. He did not want Jen to be cold, or too hot, he didn’t want her to be anything but content. Jen was someone who deserved to be happy if not for anything but the fact that she was a good person; Esosa had watched her interact with Musa, Sandra and the HR ladies. Jen had no airs about her and treated everyone she came across with respect.
They worked on till 11am when Jen got up to get packed for the airport. He walked her downstairs to the reception area and when she turned to thank him, Esosa placed his rough palms on her shoulders and said “You are going to be cold”
Jen looked down on the goose bumps forming on her arm and wish she’d brought a blazer. Esosa seemed to notice them too and he looked worried.
“They’re only goose bumps” Jen said smiling
“What are you going to do? Give me your shirt” she teased
Esosa unbuttoned his yellow shirt quickly and took it off, before Jen could protest he draped it around her shoulders “I don’t want you to be cold” he said again.

Jen stood in the little bookstore in the airport and stared down at the shirt, glad for its warmth. Esosa had the annoying habit of being right, about everything. Perhaps it was a Benin thing, they had joked during his first week about common Benin traits they shared. He tried to pin his know-it-all attitude on that, but Jen wasn’t buying. Jen bought the novel with the best picture, the leading man had no shirt on and she walked to her terminal to wait for her flight. She was to arrive in Abuja first to lay down some ground work, so she would miss the company of co-workers along the trip. This rendered the flight to Abuja boring and pretty soon she got tired of staring at clouds and opted to transport herself to the ship deck of the very hot pirate in her book. Why can’t I be taken prisoner by a rugged yet sensitive pirate? Jen wondered. She occasionally had to put it down because the intense scenes made her blush. She could only imagine what she looked like, the girl in the yellow shirt with the red face.

She got an odd look from an older lady, who thought it inappropriate that Jen brandished her steamy novel so openly. Jen would never get the hypocrisy, she wasn’t going to disguise the front cover of her novel, so it will be deemed fit to read in public. What was she? 16? Jen thought about telling her so, but decided against it. Esosa was rubbing off on her; to simply say as you thought must be liberating she had to admit.

As the Virgin Nigeria air hostess called out in false fone “landing sweets” Jen had to fight back a smile, there is no way she sounded like that? Esosa was being stupid, comparing her courtesy to that of a flight attendant, but still she laughed.

At the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, Jen identified the company driver a short light-skinned man named Akpan. He held up the placard displaying her name very high, and Jen wondered how long he had been standing like that-his arms must hurt. The black marker managed to misspell her name; his placard read out Gen- Prada & Co. How could he think she was named after a generator? Walking up to him, she shook his extended hand and handed him her luggage, he introduced himself and Jen greeted him politely. She climbed into the back of the black Mercedes, the leather seats were cool to the touch, the air conditioner blared silently and Jen settled back with her book in her lap to watch the scenery. Jen had been Abuja just once, a long time ago for a cousins wedding. She hardly saw any of it, as her and her fellow bridesmaids ran around preparing everything for the ceremony. It was an exhausted Jen that got back on the plane to Lagos.

The radio was tuned to cool fm, and Jen got a tour of Abuja with the accompaniment of Tuface. Akpan had been chauffeuring for 12 years, as he watched Jen relaxed posture, her eyes fixated on the roads, he decided to take the long route. Give her a chance to really enjoy Abuja. Jen looked through polished windows as they drove by landscaped parks with families sitting on the long grass, pass a submerged fish joint situated beside a river. All major companies had moved their headquarters to the Abuja and the structural magnificence took your breath away. Domineering office complexes and gleaming sky scrapers kissed the clouds in the bright sky. Banks resembled museums and hospitals resembled hotels. The street lights stood guarding each wide road, every driver they passed had his seatbelt fastened, and most importantly there was absolutely no traffic. That was a breath of fresh air to this Lagosian. Oh perhaps she spoke too soon, as the car crawled by Independence Avenue and was met by a see of people clad in abayas, hijabs, jellabiyas, burqas and kaftans and niqabs. In explanation Akpan caught her eye in the rearview mirror simply stating “Its Friday”.

The golden globe of the National Mosque shimmered in the light of sun as if diamonds were buried in the orifices of its calligraphy. The four high minarets dominated each cardinal point and it looked magical and inviting just like a place of worship should. The speakers blared out Qur’an verses in Arabic as recited by the Ustaz and Jen listened in wonderment at a language she did not understand but was fascinated by. As a dark tall figure in a soft blue kaftan passed the car, Jen suddenly thought of Kabir, her fingers lightly traced the keys of her blackberry, wanting to re-read the text messages of apologetic longing he had sent to her phone continuously over the past month. Her logical side told her it was a pre-emptive strike deleting as soon as she received. Jen’s heart knew that she needed answers but she was not as yet certain that she could trust herself around Kabir long enough to listen to the explanations he begged her to spare time for. Jen was positive that she no longer desired him, the trust was gone and it is impossible to love without trust. On the other hand, she longed for that connection with someone else. To feel like you met in a previous life time, and it had been agreed that you will be true to one another. Jen had lost her faith and she resented Kabir for that.

The Benz pulled into the hotel grounds and Jen got out gracefully, taking time to stare at the huge water fountain in the center of the roundabout. She bid Akpan farewell, watched her luggage change hands as the porter led her to her room. Jen strolled in and surveyed it appreciatively; she loved the glass wardrobes and purple damask curtains. The shell lamps had been switched on and the TV remote control had been placed on the work surface desk but Jen ignored it and instead connected her iPod into the supplied docking station, turning up the volume of Sweetest Taboo by Sade. She hurriedly unpacked, hoping to squeeze in a shower before her first briefing, maybe even perhaps a chapter from her novel while lounging on the balcony. Walking to her sliding windows Jen pushed aside the gossamer curtains to reveal a beautiful view of the hotel swimming pool. Surprisingly, bile did not rise in her throat, there was no anger, no hurt; she merely stared at the ripples for a long time watching as children in bright trunks frolicked in the clear water. As Jen changed into the wonderfully soft bathrobe, her blackberry buzzed with an email from Shaw… Lobby in thirty minutes… sigh Jen thought. There goes my nice relaxing soak, turning off the taps in her adjoining bathroom Jen decided instead to call her parents and let them know she arrived safely.

Three hours later Jen stood beside the fountain of the hotel, getting lightly sprayed by the water.
“This is a nice end to the day” Esosa said causing Jen to jump
“I thought you could always hear me coming” he said laughing, as Jen put her hands over her mouth in an attempt to control her laughter
“The fountain is the only thing louder than your footsteps” Jen replied
“So” Esosa continued standing beside Jen within spraying distance “how was the briefing”
“More like a lecture” Jen complained “Spent the past couple of weeks working on this account that I started thinking I owned more of a stake in it than I actually do. All I do is prepare documentation, its not my baby and yet im experiencing withdrawal symptoms.”
Esosa stared at Jen’s saddened expression and held her hand, squeezing it tightly. He had worked on enough accounts to understand the attachment especially if work was used as a form of escape, which appeared to be the case with Jennifer. She poured herself into it, her mark was distinct but at the end it was for the big bosses to decide what needed to be done.
“Im treating myself to pashminas” Jen voice rang with determined optimism “at Wuse market”
“I’ll walk with you” Esosa said
“The company car isn’t here yet”
“Its not far, I’ll walk with you” Esosa repeated
“I’m sure you can’t wait” Jen said dryly
“It can’t be that bad, I mean, U’ll be there” Esosa said sincerely and Jen blushed
“The best time to go to the market is early in the morning or just before closing” Esosa said. With that Jen was sold and they began the trek to Wuse market.

Esosa nudged Jen playfully beside him as he slipped into the role of tour guide. Esosa had been to Abuja countless times and he explained how most of the town extended towards the south of Aso rock, the culture of the now displaced Asokoro people who lived in Abuja prior to 1980s when it became a planned city and infrastructure was brought in. Esosa answered Jen questions expertly explaining the division of Phase 1 into five districts and upon Jen’s insistence promised to guide her through the Three Arms Zone which housed the administrative offices of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the Federal Government.

They spoke about work and letting go of “their baby”, Esosa mused on missing Meg’s cookies and Mrs. Shaw’s alert distraction. His admiration for her boss was evident, and Jen wondered about his.
“Mr. Adebayo does not give chances like Shaw does. He has the nasty habit of taking credit for what he did not do” Esosa said with minimal annoyance, shrugging his shoulders like it was a fact of life. Jen could not imagine facing the firing squad in the conference room this afternoon without Shaw continuously praising her initiative. She really did have a great boss.
The two strolled in easy company and Jen took this rare window of opportunity with Esosa in a talkative mood. She asked about his siblings, how many? Where were they? Parents? So he schooled where? How did he find that? Did he always want to work in telecommunications?
“Whoa Jen” Esosa put up his hands in surrender; he stared at her incredibly fascinated.
“I never took you as the curious type”
“Well that’s because you’re never in a talkative mood” Jen said as she kicked a stone with the toe of her shoe
“Ok u can pick one topic” Esosa said. “Only one”
“What are you trying to be, mysterious?” Jen raised an eyebrow
“No, I don’t want you to get bored of me” Esosa replied honestly. Jen looked at him and saw he was being serious. His honesty couldn’t have come at a worse time, a time where trust eluded her.

As they turned into the market square, Esosa seemed to lead the way, holding onto Jen’s elbow he carefully navigated her through the crowds and throng of people stopping in front of a large cement store that hung colorful pashminas. The bright colours hung from wire hangers on the ceilings, behind clear bags protecting them from the dust haze that hung around the market like a sheer orange scarf. The store owner sat on a three-legged wooden stool chewing sugar cane. He spat the chaff into a black polyester bag and beckoned them to enter.
He brandished the pashminas from their clear nylon prisons, dazzling Jen in every spectrum of colour. On realizing Jen had no clear idea of what she wanted he shifted into high sales pitch. The store owner had a silver tongue and talked her into the 70% pashmina/ 30% silk combination. Jen realized she had not thought her purchase through too late. Jen’s head began spinning as she watched the store owner climb up ladders into his attic to get her fuchsia pink, then candy pink, then baby pink. His patience was the stuff of Bibles, Esosa merely stood back and watched, ooh and gasping at the right time, he left Jen to model the scarves in front of a full length mirror; never once attempting to save her from herself as she bought lilac, then violet then indigo hues. After 20 mins of intense sales pitch Jen owned a pashmina scarf, wrap and shawl in every colour of the rainbow. Esosa made no attempt to pay her bill, he sensed Jen would have been outraged if he had tried to, this was her retail therapy. As the market closed down, the sea of people became easier to navigate and Jen was lost in conversation with Esosa, justifying her extravagant purchase.
“Its not a waste of money” she said
“Uh huh” Esosa answered distracted
“The wraps had an elegant sheen, draped nicely and were soft and light.” Jen pleaded
“Plus you just footed the man’s light bill for the next month” Esosa teased
Jen wrinkled her nose and hugged the bag containing the beautiful fabrics close to her chest ignoring the liposuction she had just performed to her bank balance. Jen thought about her weird shopping techniques, she could go months only paying for groceries and bills, then all of sudden she goes mental and “treats” herself.
Jen heard Esosa’s warning to watch where she was going too late and tripped on the Bagco supersack cement bag used to disguise the pothole and tripped badly spraining her ankle. Her foot settled awkwardly in the black heels she had not thought to change while waiting for the company car. Esosa gently helped Jen get to her feet, purchased brown slim sandals from a nearby stall, and kneeling on the dirt road, put them on her feet himself. Jen leaned on him, limping painfully till they got to a clearing where Esosa hailed a cab for the short journey to the hotel. The entirety of their journey Esosa continued chatting as if nothing had happened; mindless facts about the market to keep Jen minds off the stabbing pain in her now very swollen ankle.

As they reached the hotel, and limped into the elevator Esosa hit his floor number and Jen leaned against a mirrored wall panting through the pain.
“Do you know this is the first time I’ve been in an elevator in three months” Jen said
“I noticed” Esosa replied “I thought it was an exercise thing”
Jen scoffed at the word exercise. Esosa swiped his room key, settled Jen on his bed and dropped her shopping bags on the reading chair, he moved around the room as quickly and as noisily as he walked, drawers were shut and faucets were turned on, within minutes Jen’s foot was soaking in a bowl of hot water and dissolved menthol from the Vicks on his bedside table. He coached Jen on slowly rotating her ankle in the heat of the water and rubbed her back murmuring random things in the hope of distracting her. Jen didn’t know why but at that moment she thought of Kabir and what he might have done; he certainly would have insisted they take the company car; conversed fluently in Hausa with the store owner as opposed to the complete idiots Jen and Esosa made of themselves; ignored her protests and paid for the scarves tipping heavily, probably enough to send the store owner’s son to school; carried her back to the car; and now as she sat on this bed he would lay her head on his chest, allowing Jen to inhale all of him and whisper sweet nothings in her ear till she fell asleep.

Jen glanced back at Esosa as he paced the room worriedly staring at her ankle. Esosa didn’t believe in flowers and soft romantic gestures, was a practical guy. When she was cold, he gave her his shirt, she wanted to go shopping he walked with her, he did not attempt to take over the show, or offer to pay, he let her do her be. Jen had never met anyone so quietly confident, so sure of himself, his voice didn’t need to be the loudest in the room to get Esosa noticed. He answered her stupid questions about Abuja even agreeing to be her tour guide later on. Jen appreciated him more than ever.

Jen looked at Esosa properly, as a man and not a colleague for the first time since she’d met him. He was about four inches taller than she was- roughly her height in heels, his head sat on a thick neck and his shoulders squared out beneath, his muscles stood out against his casual white t-shirt and dark blue jeans, very large feet moved so fast Jen could barely make them out. His forehead was square, his ears stuck out a bit, his lips brown…. Jen searched Esosa’s features for something remarkable, and then she saw it as Esosa’s eyelashes fanned out from slightly drooped eyes. Jen had never seen lashes so long and thick, she watched them blink anxiously whenever they glanced her way. Esosa continued to pace, Jen knew it was hurting him that he couldn’t just fix her ankle and make it better
“Esosa…” Jen called to him. He was beginning to wear down the carpet. Esosa rushed to her side, sitting a few feet away from her.
“You promised to tell me everything I needed to know about one aspect of your life”
“So what will u like to know?” Esosa asked as he slowly lifted Jen’s foot from the now lukewarm water placing it gently on a white hotel towel. Pleased to note the swelling had gone down.
“Tell me about school” Jen said adjusting so she lay with her back against the bed headboard facing him.
“Which one?” Esosa asked hiding a smile
“Ah u drive a hard bargain” Jen thought for a bit, “University” she concluded
“I went to Uni in Ghana and studied Strategic Economics” Esosa began. Drying Jen’s foot gently, he slowly massaged aloe vera into her ankle, working his fingers around the sprain but enforcing enough pressure around her lower calves to increase the blood flow.
“Mmm that’s nice” Jen looked at her fair feet in his large calloused palms “If I have only have one option I’m not going to lead you on with questions”
“Fair enough” Esosa looked up and winked at her, “I loved Ghana, every moment I spent there was amazing. The classes were good and my lecturers loved me, my classmates not so much because I was a bit of a know-it-all plus I worked nights in a grocery store and never had time to socialize. They thought I was a snob”
Hi voice sounded far away as he continued “I tried at first, to be both- cool and smart but I did not have the luxury of laziness. My uncle paid my school fees and accommodation but I had to support my allowance. I realized early that I had to make a choice and I choose to be the geek. The only person that I really got along with was Dotse. Her dad owned the store and she helped out on weekends. We became really good friends.”
Esosa looked up and answered Jen’s unspoken question “Yes, we did end up dating, but that was towards the end of my degree. Looking back now it was a very bad idea; nobody ever told me about the perils of dating a friend, especially one whose father is your boss. She thinks I abandoned her, I left her hating me. I got a job offer- three actually- before I’d even graduated. Two from oil companies with offices situated in Ghana”
Jen sensed Esosa’s hesitation as he proceeded in a deep voice “I didn’t accept because I hate the oil industry and everything it stands for. When I was younger, my father worked in Mobil Benin, when the time came to give out his pension; they sent him from pillar to post. The little that came was inconsistent and invaluable to a household of 7 children. Also, I saw what greed had done to my people, farms were abandoned and menial jobs looked down upon; u were nobody if you did not work in oil and gas, I did not want to be a part of the madness. It didn’t matter how good the money was, the guilt that I had become part of the problem would stay with me always. Dotse couldn’t understand that, I returned home and applied instead for a job in telecommunications, and the rest they say is history.
“Your father..” Jen started
“That’s a story for another day” Esosa said patting Jen’s foot, you should rest now.
“I’m not sleepy” Jen protested.

Jen woke up in a dark hotel room with the moon straying through a gap in the cream curtains, the blue duvet had been pulled up to her shoulders and the pillow placed under her head. She twisted her sore foot and felt very little pain, sitting upright slowly and adjusting her vision Jen spied Esosa on the reading table illuminated only by the table lamp bent statue-still over paperwork.
“Mr. Adebayo?” she croaked
“He has a flaw in his master plan and I have to fix it” Esosa looked up smiling
“Dinner” they both said in unison.
Jen rolled off the bed and grabbing her shopping bags agreed to meet Esosa downstairs in 10minutes. Jen got to her room and happily changed out of her grey shift dress that she’d worn all day, a quick shower and she tugged on a strapless blue print maxi dress, slid her feet into the brown sandals Esosa bought her-her only flat shoes, ran a brush through her hair, Vaseline on her lips, grabbed her purse and a red pashmina in case it got chilly and was out the door in record time. Esosa nudged her when they met in the brightly lit hotel lobby and suggested the Lobby Bar for finger food and delicious cocktails or the Obudu Grill if she meant business.
“I mean business” was Jen’s response
As they sat down, at the table nearest the pool, Jen wondered at the half-empty restaurant and glancing at Esosa’s Swatch watch saw that it was quarter to eleven. Jen was about to remark on her hibernation when her mouth dropped open. Esosa turned around to see the reason for her comical look and glanced up at Kabir.
Kabir was still dressed in his work suit and his red neck tie hung in his left hand, he looked exhausted with large bags under his eyes but he greeted Esosa politely and asked Jen how her day had been. Jen nodded her head once and bent her head down staring intently at her menu. The men made small talk on the barrage of meetings they had planned, Jen’s ear pricked up when she heard Kabir invite himself to dinner. Esosa looked questioningly at Jen but Jen said nothing, Kabir made himself comfortable by pulling out a chair beside Jen just as the waiter arrived to take their orders. The night progressed awkwardly and it took Jen a moment to realize why. Kabir acted like Esosa was not even at the table; he occasionally tried to take her hand, asked her about his text messages and made countless offers for a moment of her time so they could talk privately. Jen felt very uncomfortable, plus her body had started to react to his close proximity and his scent was all up in her head. Jen tried to take his intense gaze away from her by including Esosa in the conversation every opportunity she got: Esosa feels the same way about the Christmas bonuses, Esosa said the same thing to me just yesterday, Esosa hates the idea of temps working with confidential files….and on and on it went
Jen told the story of her shopping spree and how she twisted her ankle, praising Esosa’s heroic deeds of getting her back to the hotel in one piece. Kabir turned then facing Esosa squarely for the first since their starters arrived
“Thank you” he said with deep gratitude
“You’re …..err…welcome” Esosa replied raising an eyebrow
“I know your boss, Adebayo” Kabir said
“Really?” Esosa chimed
“Yes, my team designed his Port-Harcourt house”
Esosa didn’t even know his boss had a house in Port but he responded with “Of course”
“Where did u study your Masters?” Kabir asked
“I don’t have a Masters” Esosa replied honestly
Kabir looked stunned and his face took a while to register
“Forgive my ignorance, I hear great things about your work, so I just assumed” Kabir apologized
“Where did you school? Perhaps we know the same people” Kabir tried again
“I schooled in Ghana” Esosa continued straight-faced
“Perhaps not” Kabir concluded

Jen wanted to floor to open up and swallow her and wished she could kick Kabir underneath the table so he could shut-up but feared hurting her foot again. After the tedious meal both her boys walked Jen to her hotel room as both men stood side by side staring at Jen, Kabir with intensity and Esosa with a blank expression Jen swore that she would laugh about this someday. “Thank you” she said to no-one in particular and disappeared behind the door without waiting for an answer.

6am Saturday morning room 376 Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Jen did not sleep too well partly because she’d slept so much earlier in Esosa’s room and partly because she could not help wondering what Esosa must think of her now after Kabir’s open declaration of interest at dinner. Why did he have to be there at that time? She was just getting to know Esosa and now Jen wasn’t sure anymore. Jen thought about room service and picked up her phone to dial when she heard a light knock at her door. Jen slowly got up and draping a robe over her nightgown, pulled the door open. Kabir. He stood in her doorway in sweat pants and a Cambridge University shirt. His black iPod peeked out from his left pocket and as usual he looked to good to be true.
“Im sorry to wake you Jennifer, but I just had to talk to you” he said quietly
“I don’t want you to come in” Jen answered
“I understand. I’ll be quick.” Kabir took a deep breath “Its becoming clear to me that you may never speak to me again and it breaks my heart.” Jennifer snorted.
“Yes, I am engaged to be married, I have been for a while and I thought I was happy. That was all before I met you.” Jennifer shifted uneasily at the door.
“You need to understand that I’ve known Halima all my life. I met her when I was in SS3, she is my best friend. Every emotion I’ve ever experienced has been with her and a result of her. Anger, jealousy, lust, happiness….she is all I know.” Kabir looked at Jen honestly and went on
“The day I met you, was the first time I was uninhibited, I felt this passion rise up and all the emotions turned into one overpowering force that I couldn’t and didn’t want to control. I feel like a new person with you and that night by the po-”
“Don’t” Jen stopped him
Kabir made to touch her but shoved his hands in his trousers at the last minute. “that day in HR, I…..
Jennifer could see stare waver, sense as he picked out the right words to say. She wished for frank honesty and said so
Kabir’s words came out in a rush “I went to Halima to see if I felt the same, if what I believed we shared would hold true. I wanted to test myself against her..
“Measure your love for her against your feelings for me” Jen interrupted
“What I feel for you Jen is new and unexplored, an all encompassing storm that I lose myself in. I cannot call it love, I have felt love and this is deeper, electric. Its magic and it feels right, I just want to be with you all the time.”
Kabir stopped and stared at Jen defeated. “The thought of living without you and the way you make me feel with just a look, melting at your touch, was unbearable, but I don’t want that to be the reason you forgive me. I know I have no right to ask for a second chance, you have been nothing but sincere about your feelings with me, but please trust your heart Jen and remember what it felt like to release yourself to what we have.”


You are still with Halima arent you? said Jen


Errr.....you have realise that its not so easy......we've been together for ages......family ties.......cultural expectattions........Jen got the message.
I hope you can understand the dilema am in, and with that Kabir leaned in slowly; afraid he would frighten Jen, and kissed her lightly on her cheek.
Kabir turned around and walked away, stopping once to glance back at Jen- the longing unmistakable in his eyes; leaning against the closed door jamb Jen sank to the carpet and stared into space.

Hours probably passed, Jen stood up tired. She had not cried as she thought she would, walking over to the telephone she ordered breakfast to be delivered to her room and went to shower. As Jen dressed in white linen trousers and a white silk top she glanced down at her now healed ankle thinking of Esosa. Walking up to her breakfast trolley she lifted the large fruit salad she had requested, grabbed two desert spoons and marched to Esosa’s room the floor below.

Esosa opened his door shirtless leaning wearily on the door jamb. His jeans were low on his waist and Jen stared at his defined six-pac with her mouth open.
“Wassup?” Esosa said rubbing the sleep from groggy eyes. Jennifer held out the large glass bowl containing fruit and watched Esosa’s face lit up.
“I bring good tidings of breakfast” Jen said happily
He opened the door widely and ushered her in. As Jen made herself comfortable on the bed, Esosa dug in, spooning chilled cubes of pineapple into his mouth he was silent for a while.
“You look upset” he said suddenly “Is it about last night?”
“Yes and no” Jen answered honestly “I am sorry about Kabir, he didn’t mean to be rude” Jen apologized
“He wasn’t. You were” Esosa stated
“What?” Jen stared at him “I spent the entire night making sure he did not succeed in excluding you from the conversation”
“No, you spent the entire night deeming me worthy of his attention,” Esosa set the empty bowl down and looked at Jen. “The only person that could exclude me from the conversation is you. I would only have left if you asked me to. Esosa did this? Esosa did that? You kept trying to prove yourself to him that you had done well.”
Jen stared with her mouth open “Kabir..’
“Kabir was nothing but sincere. If you did not want him there, you would have told him to leave when he asked to stay. I would have done the same in his position. He obviously likes you, and had no problem expressing that, but what does it matter, after all we are just friends right?” The question slid from his lips sadly. Jen remained quiet, examining the events of the night through Esosa’s eyes.
“Im so sorry” Jen groaned with her head in her hands “I never meant for it to appear that way, I guess I was just trying to protect you. You have come to mean a lot to me and I wanted that to be clear”
Esosa rose from the bed and pulled a white shirt from his wardrobe, doing up the buttons, he turned to face Jen
“I do not know the situation between you and him but my position is this. I care about you Jen, very deeply. You make me happy and optimistic and wishful. My only desire is to spend whatever time you privilege me to spend with you, making you happy. I wish I could be more eloquent in my choice of words, utter something romantic and dazzle you. I just hope u believe me when I say you are my everything; nothing else is.” Esosa finished with a sigh.
Jen looked at Esosa standing a few feet away from her, his emotions scribed clearly across his face. He looked so vulnerable and frightened, Jen wanted to touch the side of his face and soothe him.
Jen walked by Esosa and out of his room quietly, she did not feel like canvassing the Three Arms today. Jen spent the rest of Saturday in the hotel spa and when dawn broke she stole away to the airport with Akpan at the steering wheel, he could tell Jen had a lot on her mind and minded his business.

Jen sat in her window seat in the Business Class area of Virgin Nigeria; a gift from Shaw for a job well done on the Etisalat account. Jen barely noticed the comfortable seats and declined everything the air hostess offered, she was so confused. Esosa looked at her like she charmed his life; blessing everything around him. Jen chanced a glance at the height from the pedestal Esosa placed her on and got dizzy; she was healing when they met and barely paid him attention. Their progression had been natural and monitored, Jen had grown to respect and care for him greatly. Esosa understood Jen; her moods and quirks, tolerated her exasperating habits with a knowing smile and Jen loved not having to mind her manners because being with Esosa was effortless and as easy as breathing, he made it so refreshing.
Jen turned to the pirate novel in her lap and stared at the hero on the cover, the rogue with a silver tongue. That was her Kabir, he was romantic and his every word dripped with honey. He cared for her at first that Jen was certain of and now he says he loves her. Once upon a time hearing that would have made Jen weep with joy but Kabir hurt her, in the worst way possible; if what he did was so unforgivable why couldn’t she forget him. Tell him to leave her dinner table last night, what does that say? Jen had been telling her heart that she did not long for Kabir but what they shared; the feeling that fantasies and fables weaved their love. Her body tingled with his breath and her heart remembered him too vividly to let go. Esosa with time would own it, but as for now; it only ached for the magic and memory of Kabir.

Jen stared out her window as the plane flew over tightly packed houses and stacked yellow buses on bridges, they had arrived in Lagos. Jen was home, and she was still confused. Do you venture out for the certain or hang on to the fairytale? Do you go for Cash or Credit?




To be continued.......


By S.B

8 comments:

  1. first baby. now lemme go for the long read

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  2. omg i laffed,sighed, smiled and i almost cried i freaking love this story part 5 beta come out on time oh

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  3. Oh come on, where's part 5????? Your friend is a great writer...I can't stop saying that enough

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  4. Seriously the author has to publish a book soon... I would be No. 1 fan, TEAM ESOSA all the way. :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))).

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  5. Awwww.....I feel sooooo awwwwww.....I am tired of saying that S.B should publish o! But I will say it again - all she needs to do is explore what lulu.com has to offer. period. And Let me know when the book is out pls? TEAM ESOSA all the way too!!!

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