Tuesday 7 July 2009


The wait from Part 4 is over, and trust me your patience was well worth it........
Enjoy xxx

Monday morning at the wrought iron entry gates of Holloway Grove, Kabir shielded his eyes from the sun and adjusted his footing; he never came to work this early.

He glanced over at the security guard as he listened to the traffic report on his portable radio, engrossed like it was the stock market. Kabir had been standing for twenty minutes, his cream chinos lightly dusted by gusts of wind and his loafers didn't resemble what they used to. Standing still for so long, Kabir finally gave in and decided to indulge the old man in conversation; more than the perfunctory nod he gave him each morning.
“Good morning” Kabir said in his best English accent; just because the man was Hausa didn’t mean they had to converse in it
“You too” Musa replied surprised Kabir had grown manners. Kabir looked around for something to ask the man about, the weather? Darn, sometimes he was so British. Then he heard the gate creak open and his heart beat a little faster. Jennifer walked in briskly. The gust blew against her black cropped pants and red wrap shirt. Her hair was held back with a black Alice band and she was wearing the friendship bracelet Kabir knew was given to her on her 12th birthday by her best friend. Her heels clicked ever loudly towards the glass doors and Kabir felt his tummy do flips, Jen ignored him like he was furniture; Jen knelt before Musa who greeted her warmly as he received the outstretched apple she offered like it was the seed of life and Jen blushed as he thanked her.
Kabir swallowed through the razor sharp pain in his throat when her smile glazed over him.
Kabir had not hoped for acknowledgement as he planned his ambush, he never would have had the guts to approach her in this manner after three months of a cold front but it seemed there was a breakthrough in Abuja. Jen hadn't told him to go to hell, not verbally.
“Good morning Jennifer”
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Jen asked flatly
“I was hoping I could invite you to spend lunch with me” Kabir tried to peer through her sunglasses, her eyes were strikingly honest
“You think that would be a good idea?”
“I would love it if you thought so”
“I wouldn't have much time to spare” Jen warned
“I’ll bring it to your office; you don't even have to leave your desk” Kabir said
“Ok” Jen shrugged her shoulders and walked into the building
“Oh by the way, Good morning Kabir” she smiled a little and slid into the lobby
Kabir tried to pretend that was not the best news he'd heard in months. Kabir restrained himself from following her in, he heard her walk to the elevator- as an Architect he knew the distance in feet and yards- and decided to give Jen couple more minutes to get to her floor; there is a thin line between a cute ambush and stalking.. His feet moved awkwardly as he felt the old man's stare, he knew how service providers liked to gossip and did not need noses in his business. He turned to the old man and saw as his lips formed a question; Kabir did not intend to stay around for its completion and turning quickly, he walked into the lobby. He would rather stare at the glass sculpture than stand outside chatting idly with the security guard.

Eighth floor Holloway Grove Kabir sat staring at his watch; the Rolex appeared to mock him as the bronze wave diamond set dial refused to move any closer to 12.00. He held the watch with his fingers and played with the oyster case back. The Rolex diamond and white gold wristwatch had been a gift from Halima to him on his graduation day in Cambridge. Diamond and white gold- that’s what they were called; he and Halima.
From secondary school as they danced their first waltz- Prom King and Queen- on the night he walked the gardens of the hotel the school had rented for prom, Kabir swung her Chanel heels in his free hand and the other arm linked with hers. In his tuxedo beside Halima in her white dress, white gold bracelet and bare feet. Kabir had given her his grandmothers’ ring then, a little diamond, certain he would never be happier. She had laughed at him and told him to calm down but she wore it anyway. Kabir still wore the watch and his ring was now a second piercing on Halima’s left ear. Diamonds and white gold; their special little joke.

The sapphire crystals on the face of the watch danced on the plastered wall as the light from the window played on the surface; he glanced at the watch from his fiancée to be punctual to meet his girlfriend, the irony was not lost on Kabir.
“Bros K, you get me now” Alaye said
Kabir looked up at his colleague; he had completely tuned out and had no idea what he would be agreeing to. Recognising the beady look in Alaye’s eye as he adjusted his white agbada, Kabir merely replied “No, I think that’s disgusting” applause broke out in the office with shouts off “I told you that’s not the age of consent”
“I pray for you Alaye” Rita said as she peeled her tangerine. “To think K will be on your side” she shook her head and her polka dot earrings swung from side to side. Kabir had known Rita for three years and she always had polka dots in her attire: jumpers or jewellery, skirts, scarves or shoes. They played a game and each day he would point them out, Kabir knew he had spoken to Rita this morning but he couldn't recall if they had their routine.
“Earrings” he said to her
“I could tell you weren’t in the mood today” Rita replied affectionately. Kabir saw her dimples peek out and said fruitlessly “How old are you Rita?” She merely shook her head and responded with the usual “If I told you, I’d have to kill you”
“We will never give up” Femi added "For all we know you could be as young as Alaye's date last night"
“Ah no” Rita exclaimed “I can assure you i'm not…” Kabir tuned out before she’d even finished, 11.50am the dial said. What is this torture?
“Who are you waiting to see Kabir?” Femi asked beside his ear
“Jennifer” Kabir responded without thinking
The office took a momentary pause, even Alaye stopped describing nipples to stare at Kabir; and then they all seemed to speak at the same time
“I thought you had left this thing” Femi said
“Hey shooo, the babe has been withholding the goods since then” Alaye said
“You need to leave that nice girl alone, you can't offer her anything” Rita sighed
“But nothing" Rita interjected. “You did not see her when she came to look for you that day, as she ran out of the office basically in tears”
Kabir felt it cut deep as he remembered the fateful day he witnessed heartbreak firsthand “but I love her” he protested
“You barely even know her” Femi continued “You know Halima” he added quietly
“I know all I need to” Kabir concluded and he pushed his chair back and stretched his tense muscles. Rita shook her head disapprovingly as he walked to the elevator.

Kabir arrived at the fifth floor still with minutes to spare and saw Jen furiously typing at her desk. He had never been to her office and took a minute to ponder the stares he was receiving, he smiled politely and pointed at Jen and a lady almost hurt herself trying to get out of her chair fast enough to jab Jen and indicate for her to turn around.
Jen greeted him with as much warmth as the Arctic and returned to her screen.
“You look really beautiful today” Kabir said. Jen snorted
“I especially like the powder sugar on the nose touch”
Jen’s finger flew to her nose and sure enough the stupid doughnuts had left their mark. Kabir laughed and said “Don't ruin it. Or else it won't go with the pencil in your hair”
Jen looked him in the eye “You’ve got to be kidding me” but sure enough the HB pencil she had been twirling earlier was right there behind her left ear. Jen had to laugh at herself and Kabir shut his eyes for a moment to bask in the sound of it.
“So I have a treat planned for lunch” He said while he still had her attention
“I thought you were bringing a tray up from the lunch room”
“Oh… yeah… that” Kabir answered distracted as he fiddled with his phone
“What are you doing?” In answer to her question the elevator opened and a tray was wheeled in by Sandra. The plates were covered but the napkins bore the name of the Thai restaurant they had been to. Kabir thanked Sandra with one of his smiles and she giggled her way out. Jen rolled her eyes “Isn’t this a little over the top for lunch?”
“It wouldn’t have to be this way if I was guaranteed dinner” Kabir responded. He watched Jen lift the cover with a blank expression and stare at the spiced noodles she had ordered that night.
“What’s this called? I don’t remember the name” she asked
“Jen's special”
“Your lines get cornier and cornier”
“I am a little out of practice, that’s all”
She laid the napkin on her lap and they ate in polite company. Kabir restrained himself from touching her and made sure the conversation stayed on course avoiding the invisible landmines; they spoke about work, family and travel. Kabir laid out the chocolate fudge cake dessert as Jen stood up to bring them both coffee, as she proceeded down the hall Kabir heard her gasp and looking up quickly he noticed the room had become empty. During their meal, slowly the room had been evacuated but they were so immersed in their world even with the new boundaries that they never noticed the lack of company. Till now.

Their eyes met across the office space and he saw mild panic reflected in hers. For a second, he became elated; if Jen was so nervous about being alone with him that must mean she was still attracted to him. He still had a shot at winning her back; completely. Jen’s eyes began to dart from the elevator to the vacant desks and back again, lips in silent prayer wishing for interruption. The elation died down and Kabir was upset at her reaction. He wasn’t a thug; nothing will happen that Jen didn’t consent to. Playing the game subtlety Kabir stood up, looked at his watch in an exaggerated fashion and said “I think I’ll skip the coffee today”
Jen shot him a look of relief but her lips countered with “Are you sure?”
“Yes” Kabir said definitively. He pretended to ignore Jen wiping her palms on her shirt. Could she be anymore nervous?
“Oh ok” Jen sighed silently. Kabir pretended to ignore that as well
“Thank you for lunch” Jen said with the first genuine warmth she had radiated in his direction
“The receptionist will come up in a minute to take the trolley away”
“Oh I’ll take it down” Jen offered
“No, she will do it” Kabir said “Don’t worry about it.” He turned around and walked into the elevator. As the doors shut, he thought he heard Jen collapse into a chair.

Back on the eighth floor, Kabir stalled in the elevator, he did not feel much like work anyway. He hit the big red button and signals from the ground floor and subsequent floors above were blocked as the elevator’s rolling steel ropes grinded to a halt over the pulley. He stared at the ceiling, Jen was afraid of him. Kabir could not bring himself to understand that. Perhaps ambushing was not the way to go seeing as she no longer trusted him. If he ever hoped to see Jen again, at her will that is – he was going to have to be gentle. Forewarning her would be a good place to start because as long as he lived Kabir never wanted to see Jen’s eyes cloud over with fear as a result of him just being there. Desire yes, Fear no. He also never wanted the tone of her voice pitchy with uncertainty. Low and sultry yes, high and squeaky no. Kabir bit the bullet and sent Jen a text message:

Jen thank you for lunch, it was special, as are you. Perhaps we could have it again; same time, same desk. If you are ever in need of company. Kabir

He waited with breath bated for a reply he was unsure would ever arrive. A minute later his phone beeped:

"Kwana biyu, been a minute. If I don’t hear from you soon I might start thinking you were serious about eloping with Megan Fox…lol. Please get back to me about the band soon or we might lose them. I really want Maroon 5 hint hint. Love you. Halima xxx
P.S- tell Femi I found the perfect date to accompany him. He owes me one. "

Kabir sighed. He didn’t even want to start with wedding plans. How was he going to tell her? More importantly what was he going to tell her? Halima was in Kano with her parents, after which she would go visit his relatives in Adamawa bearing gifts on his behalf. Just as he had done when she had to work and couldn’t make it a few months ago. His family and her family were one strong bond. So many entanglements; he lived with her second cousin before the lease on his apartment in Cambridge came through during his university days, regularly plays golf with her Godfather, went apartment hunting with her younger sister last time he was in London…His phone beeped once more, jolting him from his thoughts.

Next Monday, same time, same desk. P.S- You were right, your lines are less corny already. Practice does make perfect. : ) Jen

Kabir re-read the text several times over and stared at her name in his inbox, he hung his head to hide his smile from himself. Nineteen words and he was a teenager again and Femi wonders why he is so in love with this girl.

So it was every Monday that month, Kabir nestled his way into Jen’s office with lunch.
Second Monday he brought over Chinese, they filled up on spicy spring rolls before Sandra had even wheeled in the beef in black bean sauce and side of rice. Kabir exchanged his Singapore fried rice for Jen egg fried rice because the lady at the restaurant forgot to exclude pork from his dish. This led to a light hearted debate about who owned which fortune cookie. Jennifer’s palm got sore from hitting her desk so much in “objection” to Kabir’s arguments. Lunch ended with sore cheeks on both sides as they laughed their way into an old, familiar rhythm.

Third Monday was Indian takeaway, naan bread and samosas were abused on the fifth floor; as Jen and Kabir dipped into various sauces: yoghurt with cucumber and crushed mustard seeds, sweet and sour date sauce, spicy peach chutney and curry paste. He also felt brave enough to hold her hand for a second- just a second- as they fought over mints.
The arctic winds had turned and Jen permitted Kabir to stay for dessert, he delighted her with Alaye’s escapades over Gaajar Ka Halwa and a dollop of vanilla ice cream topped with sultanas and almonds.

The last Monday of the month Kabir strolled in confidently holding the large takeaway bag at 12.00pm.
Jen disliked the idea of the receptionist bringing it up and consistently disproved of it, Kabir didn’t know why after all it’s her job but now he had to haul it in himself. A lady in a jacket cooed to him but Kabir ignored her. Jen was not at her desk, turning around he transfixed a smile on his face and beckoned the lady forward. She half-jogged to his side and stuttered her way through a greeting, in response Kabir pointed at Jen’s empty desk
“Oh Jennifer abi? She had to drop off a file.”
“Aiya who will chill with you now” she crooned
“Where?” Kabir repeated with steely annoyance. At the last minute he cloaked it with a smile
“Oh!” Her eyes boring holes in his forehead and somehow she had decided to link her arms through his. Kabir wasn’t sure how to untangle himself so he left it there.
“She is at our associate’s place, the mobile company that we had a contract with.” The lady leaned into him “You are an architect abi?” she licked her lips
As she was already too close for comfort Kabir forcedly excused himself before she thought it a good idea to run her hands up his thigh. He dropped off the tapas- his now ruined Spanish fiesta on the desk of a woman he had seen Jen converse with once or twice. He did not care to recall the name, as the brown packaging hit the desk she looked up annoyed but grinned sheepishly when Kabir smiled at her. Declining her offer of something- he never paid attention, he walked out confused. Where had Jennifer gone?

At the end of the working day, Kabir had escorted Femi downstairs to score some suya and he saw Jen saunter in through the gates. The security guard laughed as she twirled across the gravel floor towards him humming a tune. She presented the pale pink bougainvillea flower behind her ear to him with a flourish as he applauded loudly. Her full pale pink skirt lifted as the ruffles played at her knees and her white lace blouse hugged her curves beautifully, taut against her flat stomach. The wide patent belt accentuated her unexplainably tiny waist. Femi next to him had stopped talking and was smiling widely. Jen had those effects on people- elders applaud her and young men drool after her. She stopped when she saw Kabir and he crossed the few feet to her, he heard Femi on his tail.
“Hey Kabir” Jen said a little out of breath
“We are in a good mood” Kabir stated the obvious
“Please share your secret” Femi added
“Its singing” Jen laughed “Where are you two off to?”
“Going to grab some late lunch” Femi answered for them both. He was still grinning from ear to ear.
“I didn’t know we cancelled lunch today” Kabir said ignoring the need to roll Femi’s tongue back into his mouth.
“Oh I am so sorry” Jen apologised “I volunteered to run an errand. I’ll make it up to you and treat you to lunch on Wednesday”
“How about I take you out to lunch this time? No takeaways”
“Err..” Jen hesitated
“I ate lunch all alone” Kabir sulked
“All alone” Femi moaned in unison
“Just there, in the corner. All by myself, dejected, discarded, disposed, abandoned…”
“Depressed, demoralised, cast aside, ousted, put away, flung out,” Femi added
“Ok ok” Jen conceded laughing. “We’ll go out Wednesday”
Fair slender calves and size 7 feet clicked away, Femi put his arm around Kabir and leaning in closely said “Ok now I get it. It doesn’t mean I approve, but I get it”

Wednesday morning, underground parking garage Holloway Grove, Kabir leaned against his titan grey Bentley Continental GT and tapped his keys against his thigh, Jen was taking awhile, and she had to ask her boss for an hour extra for lunch, just in case they ran late. She was certain traffic would be gridlock today. The elevator slid open and Jen stepped out in a stripped blue shirt dress, spotted him and waved. As she walked towards him, Kabir unlocked the passenger door and held it open; Jen slid in with a “Thank You” and fastened her seat belt. Jen raised an eyebrow as she settled in. “So this is your baby? She’s just as pretty as you said.” Portland hides on the leather seats, piano black veneer finish on the dashboard, chrome knuckle and beluga hide on the gear shift as well as an emblem foot pedal gave the interior a rich luxurious feel. “Yeah she’s real gorgeous” Kabir answered.

Kabir slowly pulled out and joined the queue of departing cars, most were going out to lunch, using his free hand popped open the glove compartment and pulled out his Police sunglasses. Jen rummaged in her bag for hers, as the sun flare hit the windscreen; high noon in Lagos.
“Kabir, do you mind if we stop over at Mama Cass? I need to grab lunch”
“I thought we were having lunch together?” Kabir stalled with his foot on the pedal
“It’s for Musa.”
“Musa.” Jen repeated loudly
“A colleague of yours?” Kabir had no idea who she was referring to
“No! Musa my friend at the entry gate, he’s only worked here for five years. You see him every morning” Jen looked aghast
“Oh the securities guard. I thought you meant someone important. We can’t. If we do, we’ll miss our lunch reservation” Kabir inched the car forward, they were second in line to pass through the toll gates.
“It’s important that I do. I promised Sandra I would get his lunch every Wednesday”
“Is that his daughter? Why doesn’t she do it then? The old man is her responsibility”
“Of course not. It’s Sandra at the front desk.”
“The receptionist? Of what concern is she to you?” The car passed the toll gate and cruised through the exit.
“What? She wheeled in lunch for you, directs your calls and hand delivers your mail and you don’t even know her name” Jen was gesticulating wildly
“Why should I?” Kabir replied with his eyes on the road as the car manoeuvred through the avenue
“Its important to know the people you work with. You can’t be this arrogant”
“I do not work with her. I do my job- as an Architect. She is a receptionist. A receptionist!! for heaven’s sake. What could we possibly have in common? Why do you feel the need to fraternise with these people, and even worse run their errands for them?”
Jen looked at Kabir like he had gone mad
“You are a pompous ass”
“They have nothing to offer you.” Kabir said ignoring her comment. “Build relationships with people who are beneficial to you. Lower management: cleaners, gardeners, security and all that is of no use. Do you understand?”
“Excuse me? Was that an order?” Jen turned fully to stare at him, her eyes wide.
“No. I am just telling you how you can better spend your time forming friendships” Kabir said calmly as he cruised through Victoria Island
“EXCUSE ME?” Jen shrieked
“Helping out these people might be good for your conscience now but your career is most important; soon you will have to discard your childish ways and face up to reality.”
“You think a career is what defines a person. Receptionist. Security guard. Junior Auditor.” Jen said. It wasn’t a question
“You are different” Kabir said. Taking note she mentioned her job last “If you would just do as I say, you could have so much potential”
“Do as you say” Jen repeated slowly
“Yes. It would be good for you; I know what I’m talking about”
Jen stared at him for a long time, her body perfectly still. Her eyes widened minutes later and she heaved her shoulders.
“There it is the chink in the armour.” Her voice concluded. “I see everything you’ve ever done differently now. The way you treated the waiter at the Thai restaurant, Temi and Tolu, Even Akpan remembered you- as the rude man who scolded him for being 10 minutes late.”
“The driver in Abuja was 10 minutes late, I like to be punctual. Sue me” Kabir looked away from the road slightly; Jen had a look on her face he did not recognise.
“You are an arrogant jerk Kabir. No one outside you narrow shallow world exists, you think that’s the way to live.”
“That makes no sense Jen, you had a privileged upbringing as well. You are in no position to judge me” Kabir’s voice was dangerously close to the edge. Jen had just insulted him a second time.
“I was taught to respect my elders and be courteous to everyone, regardless of their position in life. I thought that was a default setting in every Nigerian but apparently not. You spare no feeling for people outside your catchment you just throw one of your smiles and expect that to be penance enough”
“What are you saying?”
“I am saying, you are an arrogant jerk and a chauvinist pig.” Kabir could not believe it, a third time.
“Did u really just say that to me?” Kabir’s voice was low
“Pull over at that traffic light and unlock my door”
“Not until we work this out”
“NOW” Jen screamed. Kabir braked in shock and the cars behind began blaring as Jen hurriedly took off her seat belt and jumped out of her seat into the scorching heat. She raised an arm to hail a taxi, Kabir got out as well indicating for her to get back in the car. “What the hell is the matter with you?” he shouted. Jen got into the first cab that slowed down and making sure Kabir heard her, she said to the driver “Mama Cass please”

Monday morning Etisalat offices in Oceanic Bank at 15, Itire Road, Surulere. Esosa scowled as his boss Mr. Adebayo once again took credit for fixing a leak in a big corporate account that Etisalat held with the UAE surrounding their Easy Starter pack.
“Don’t I get a round of applause?” the idiotic boss said. Whoever needs to ask the audience for one, clearly doesn’t deserve it. His colleagues reluctantly put hands together and the mumu had the guts to pretend to be embarrassed. Esosa tried to calm himself by crunching numbers and he eyed his neighbour’s workload enviously. He could not ask for anymore tasks- not under his name at least- because he was already maxed out on overtime. If he dared ask his boss for more work, he would be given something to “take a look at” and next thing the boss will be asking the office for a round of applause- for himself- on a job he has no recollection of.
“Well done” Tony said to Esosa. The whole office followed suit and spontaneous applause broke out on the floor. Esosa waved to everyone and said thank you.
“We know you actually did the work. Adebayo is just a figure head” Tony said once it died down
“When are you going to start your own company eh?” Nkiru asked “So I can come work for you”
Esosa laughed and asked Tony for a look at his workload. “No” he replied
“Any other day I would love to give you my work to do for me but you know HQ is having a reshuffle. I need my stats to be straight. “
“My friend pass it here” Esosa urged
“I said no now. Na by force…” Tony laughed “You blasted through yours now let me wade through mine”
“No its because he works like its his father’s company. If you were like us now and paced yourself” Imade said from behind his glasses. Esosa spread his five fingers wide in a locally known insult.
“It’s because he doesn’t have a girlfriend to keep him busy” Nkiru added waiting for general laughter but all eyes were in one direction.
Esosa looked up and saw Jen tip-toe in her pink skirt and lace blouse giving her the look of a 50’s screen goddess; he got up scraping his chair back loudly and stormed towards her.
“Jen” he said
“Esosa what a surprise” she said at the same time. Esosa raised an eyebrow
“I work here” he said
“Really? I didn’t know that” Jen said staring at the space behind him. Esosa looked at her and tried not to smile. She missed him.
“You missed me” he said
“No I didn’t. In case you didn’t notice this is a bank as well” Jen replied
“There are banks in VI, you didn’t have to come all the way to Surulere”
“I like this branch”
“The one in Adeola Odeku is larger”
“I happened to be in the area”
“Broad Street branch on the Island offers a wider choice”
“The staffs here are more helpful and I had questions to ask”
“This branch specialises in pensions for the over-65s. If that’s the case you look good for your age”
“I am here to meet someone actually”
“Ola, Yemi something….”
“Ola? Yemi?”
“I was told to just come in and introduce myself and I would be directed to the person in question”
Esosa looked at her and held her gaze, he decided to let her have this one. He just couldn’t believe she was here. God does love him.
“Hey, since you’re here by coincidence. Do you want to have lunch?” Jen said trying to be nonchalant and failing. Esosa was quiet as he stared at her; he knew he had overdone the worship when Jen started hopping from one foot to the other.
“Yeah sure. I know a nice place up the street” he said
“I have somewhere in mind actually, on the Island” Jen said trying not to blush
“Wow! Someone is in a charitable mood” Esosa teased
“Yes, thanks to your early departure from Holloway, the money to fix the damage done to our foundations from your one month heavy marching stint has been confirmed as temporary repairs so my salary is intact. The acoustics of our building no longer echo your footsteps, we are safe from Big Foot” Jen flashed him a smile.
“Oh now I know why you’re here. Hang on let me grab you an application for Miss Nigeria.” Esosa pretended to look around for a file. “You have the fake smile and high pitch perfect, you are a natural.”
“Will you be stomping around there as well?”
“Only if you forget to say how much you love World Peace” Esosa countered

The bickering continued until they made it to Esosa’s car. The Cayman blue Toyota AYGO was parked under and shaded by a mango tree. It didn’t even look locked. Esosa saw the look on Jen’s face and said “No don’t worry I only park it here because John looks after it for me”
He pointed at an elderly man sipping from a metal cup in a nearby shop. He waved, Jen did likewise and the man nodded back. As they pulled out, Jen fiddled with the radio and Esosa drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Just having her in his car made him ecstatic.
“I don’t think it will be a good idea to go to the island, there will be too much traffic getting back” Esosa said
“There will be no traffic. We will be back before then”
“Oh you worry too much” she swatted him playfully. “Don’t you care about frown lines?” Esosa stared at Jen and found himself agreeing, as she smiled and told him of the new restaurant they were headed to, he knew it was completely worth it.
They made it to the restaurant in time and experienced the joy of cooking their own meat on slabs of stone. Esosa enjoyed it a lot more than he thought he would, although the first time Jen suggested it he christened it “homemade overpriced suya” to which she had laughed well naturedly. They also shared a table with a group of girls on holiday from schooling abroad who Jen naturally became best friends with. Lunch was full of laughter and wine. Sharing worst pick up lines and top ten things done in time of brokerage. Esosa was the envy of all the men in the restaurant as the only male on a table of giggly, tipsy girls. A silly guy actually gave him the thumbs up on his way out.
As they got into the car on their way back, they drove into a narrow territory and were caught in the worst traffic jam of history.
Esosa turned to Jen and said nothing. He did not need to.
“This is just a little traffic” Jen immediately said
Ten minutes later…
“Its just dragging a bit long, we’ll be speeding in no time” Jen said
Twenty minutes later
“Ok fine. I accept. You were right. Now stop with the look its driving me insane.”
Esosa smiled at her frustration. He wound up the windows and turned the AC on full blast. Jen laid her head back and enjoyed the cool air coming through the dents.
Esosa commented on her outfit “I like the vintage look you’re working, very nice”
“Oh thank you”
“Is it Virgos Lounge?” Esosa asked
“Yes, how did you know?”
“We handled their account a couple of months back. Those ladies are going to be HUGE”
“You have met them. Like the actual girls. As in Oye, Fioye and Nike? Jen was hyperventilating.
Jen hung on his every word. “What were they like?”
“Human” Esosa answered
“I can’t believe you’ve met them”
“That’s generally how it works Jen. It would be illegal if the client didn’t know. If you start breathing, I’ll tell you more”
“Ok absolutely.” Jen took deep breaths
“They want to expand especially with the website up and running and getting so many hits. The challenge was to narrow down where most of the sales were from and open a second flagship store there”
“Where? Where?” Jen jumped on her seat
“South Africa. Sun City to be precise. The floral and cocktail dresses for next season are amazing. We’ve handled fashion accounts before but theirs really stood out for me
Because it’s so feminine. All that lace and ruffles, it makes a guy want to buy flowers and open doors.” Esosa said
“So you like fashion.” Jen looked at him with a quirky smile
“What? Just because I’m a man I can’t have good taste”
Jen took in his blue shirt, blue tie and grey trousers.
“Err…yeah. I think I can see what you were trying to do” She was a horrible liar
“I think I’ll leave the looking beautiful to you” Esosa laughed
“I missed you Esosa” Jen said “Its so boring at work, not really, I mean things are quite nice but there’s no one to… you know…..” Jen looked at him “You’re not there”
Esosa looked at her “What took you so long to come find me?”
“I don’t know” Jen said “I don’t have an answer about what you said in Abuja, it doesn’t seem like I will anytime soon. I didn’t want to show up empty handed”
“Just show up.” Esosa squeezed her hand for a brief moment. “Leave the pining and confused feelings to me”
Jen laughed and he joined in.
As the car crawled by in the go-slow, Jen turned to Esosa to speak just as the radio played a Blast from the Past.
“AHHH” she shrieked “Its Casablanca. My favourite movie”
“Oh come on” Esosa shook his head. “Just when you were so cool…you had to go and say that”
Jen ignored him and started singing the lyrics to the timeless As Time Goes By
You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
Esosa rolled his eyes, and pretended not to hear her.
“Sing along with me” Jen urged
“What makes you think I know the words?”
“Because you are a man of surprisingly good taste and you know everything”
Jen took out her brush from her bag and crooned the second verse into it, her favourite part.
And when two lovers woo
They still say I love you
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by
Jen’s eyes pleaded with him and Esosa found himself humming quietly.
Moonlight and love songs- never out of date
Hearts full of passion- jealously and hate
Woman needs man -and man must have his mate
That no one can deny….
The car on the lane next to theirs honked his horn once, then the driver put his finger to his head and made small circles, yes perhaps they were crazy.
As the final verse was crooned out by Frank Sinatra which he admitted to being his favourite, Esosa knew he had too much red wine as he leaned his head against Jen and their voices harmonised as one
It’s still the same old story
A fight for love or glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by

Esosa was having the best day; he glanced across at Jen who was furiously drumming on his dashboard as he sang along to Sawana by Ghana boys. This girl made him sing in his car, at the top of his voice. She was simply amazing…it had been an hour and they only moved a couple of yards so as they settled for the slow drive back, Jen popped open the bottle of red from the restaurant and handed Esosa a fork as they ate left over fried meat from the takeaway bag- Jen found a pink flower in the bag and placed it behind her ear. Swigging from plastic cups- Esosa later had to switch to water if they hoped to arrive safely- they sung to every song on the radio, regardless of if they knew the words.
Esosa had to go by his office first, Jen wasn’t in a hurry to get back to Holloway so by the time he did drop her off, and it was well the end of the day. She got out of his car twirling in her skirt and humming to Sinatra, Esosa shook his head, and after she reassured him for the umpteenth time that Shaw wouldn’t be upset- hence no need for him to come up, Esosa asked that his regards to be sent to Musa, Sandra and Meg and drove off.


Wednesday HR Holloway Grove, Kabir walked in to find Jen sieving through some movies and conversing in paced Yoruba with one of the women. The lady in her office, who always touched him, said she would be here. He was confused and upset about what had happened earlier. Jen saw him and ran her eyes up and down his body as though wishing it to set on fire. Kabir walked up to her, ignoring the fat woman and asked that they speak outside. He knew Jen would not want to make a scene down here of all places so they walked into the hallway.
“What happened earlier?” Kabir said
“I realised that you are not the person I thought you were”
“I’m not even sure I know what we fought about” Kabir said
“That’s because you don’t listen Kab-”
His phone vibrated cutting her short, he answered without glancing at the caller ID
I don’t care
For heaven sake
Do what I told you to
I’ll call you later…
“Is that how you speak to your fiancée?” Jen asked her eyes open
How did she know it was Halima? He didn’t even mention her name.
“You were saying something…” Kabir diverted the topic. Jen still stared at him.
“What do you want from me Jen? I speak to her this way because my feelings for you confuse me. I am upset at her for something she has nothing to do with. Lately everything I do upsets you as well. Tell me what you want me to change and I will.”
“It’s not that easy, Kabir”
Kabir looked at Jen and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing,
“Is there somebody else?” he had to ask
“Maybe but that has nothing to do with my reaction with you today”
“Are you really angry at me or are you projecting your feelings for me unto this new guy?”
“Don’t insult me Kabir. I can tell one from the other”
“Then tell me what the problem is”
“I am uncomfortable with the way you treat people under you and anyone who speaks to his fiancée in that manner can’t be too much of a gentleman”
“I am in love with you Jen but you confuse me. Three months ago I was perfect and romantic now I am an arrogant jerk and chauvinist pig. I think you need some time” with that Kabir did the hardest thing and walked away from Jen.

To be continued.....

By S.B


  1. I love it, love it, loveeeee it! Tell the writer she has a big fan here. I could tell she was unhurried with this installment. Lovely.

    And her knowledge of the high life... sigh

  2. I love it very much, I actually paused because I didnt want it to end. In describing things, she doesnt let it take over the story, sigh...beautiful writing. I wanna be her friend so I can hear this story in one go, instead of installments. Kudos x

  3. OMO this sory is sick.....when is it ending pls...

  4. am so happy she gona get with Esosa, Kabir is an arrogant jerk...i hope it works out with Jen an Esosa tho...happy ending pls!!!

  5. Why are you guys in a hurry to know the end?? Theres plenty more to come oh, its nt about the desination but the journey so enjoy the ride......lol :-))

  6. Am in love....with the writer! Kai....I had a full workload but saw this link on Twitter and gbam I happened to click it. I could not get away. Its been aaaaaaaagggggggggggeeeeeeesssssssssss since this has happened to me! And never by a Nigerian novel! Kai!
    Pls finish this thing abeg. I have bookmarked you o!!!!
    And go and print d book on lulu.com abeg! I will b the first to buy it there! I will even advertise for you free on my FB page and my blogs!
    The world is waiting....

  7. this was the best part ever!

  8. ps. the shoutout to the virgos lounge girls was mad obvious!

  9. Thank you so much Daydah, we are defo working on making it a book some time in the future, and who knows maybe even a series, we are all addicted to foreign series, and we need a good one with some Nigerian xters!!!
    And yes the shoutout to virgos lounge was intentional!!!lol

  10. Kabir finally sounds human, TEAM ESOSA YEEPEE...!!!!