Jamal Mujahid was sexually frustrated. Rabi worked the morning shift now, making it hard for them to spend time together. Dirty talk on the phone was not the same and eventually they both had to concede defeat to her crazy schedule, his workaholic attitude and cancel their room in the Hilton. Jamal had become accustomed to their routine: last room on the 14th floor, sex, wake up to her beside him, order room service, more sex, freshen up, shower sex, kiss goodbye, groping in the car. Sex with Rabi was amazing and the most potent high he had ever experienced. Deprived of it Jamal suddenly found himself with nothing to occupy his mind but thoughts of when next he could strip her naked, touch her till she quivered, suck on her nipples. He was losing his marbles. He needed a way to blow off steam.
With nowhere to go, Jamal found himself home more often. At first it was awkward Nabila had obviously cultivated a routine that involved her being alone in the house. They stared at each other like children who needed to talk but had nothing to say. Slowly as his presence became more regular she relaxed. He had to admit that she was no longer so annoying; and had taken it down a notch. Gone were the tantrums, sulking and complaints. She smiled when he ate at the table and didn’t bother him if he was in no mood to talk. She was also very concerned with his headaches
“It is not so bad now. You were right it was dehydration. Why are you smiling?”
“You just said I was right” Nabila grinned. Jamal shook head for her, and in that fraction of a moment he figured he probably didn’t hate her anymore.
A hot Thursday afternoon Jamal returned from work to find Nabsy taking a nap on the couch. She slept a lot these days; or maybe he just noticed that because he was home more often. Normally, he would walk past her and up the stairs but her face looked puffed up
“Nabila me ke damun ki- what is wrong with you?”
“I have a headache” she said stirring awake
“Since when?” Jamal peered closer; she looked awful and was breathing heavily
“Tin tini fa- a long time”
“Asibiti- hospital” Jamal reached for his car keys
“Ba na so- I don’t want to”
“Nabila you have been inhaling fertilisers for weeks now. It could be any one of those chemicals you use in the garden. Dan Allah mu tafi- lets go.”
If Nabila wasn’t so lightheaded she would have heard the shadow of concern in her husband’s voice. Jamal heard it; he definitely no longer resented his wife. They lived together peacefully and she actually bid him farewell to work each morning. Nabila tried to rise up but fatigue kept her grounded. “Yanzu- now” he ordered beginning to fear the worst
Jamal drove Nabila to the hospital, having to stop along the way as motion sickness prompted nausea. He parked and held her head as she threw up on the side of the road. He handed an almajiri ₦500 to clean it up and continued on his journey as slowly as possible. He was really worried now. What does she have? Is it contagious? Patiently he sat in the waiting room outside the doctors’ office; glad he knew the GP and could call ahead. Jamal thought about what his father in law, Dr. Danjuma Bello would do to him when he found out Jamal let his daughter get sick, inhale those bloody gardening fumes all day.
The man would have him assassinated; his body would be publicly burnt or drowned at the bottom of Jabi River. Jamal suddenly felt very hot and he pulled on his collar. He jumped up when the nurse informed him the doctor would see him now. Walking in he found Nabila sobbing into a handkerchief and the doctor consoling. Seeing Jamal’s frightened face the doctor spoke “It is good news Jamal. Do not look so worried.” Jamal glanced from his face of mild amusement to Nabila’s of sadness. He did not know who to believe.
“I will leave you two to talk” with that the doctor excused them
“Are you sick?” Jamal asked quietly
“Alhamdullilahi” Jamal exhaled the breathe he didn’t know he had been holding
“Then why are you crying?”
“I am perfectly fine. Nothing is wrong with me” Nabila said with heavy eyes. “Nothing” she repeated. For a second there she had thought, with the fatigue and nausea and heavy smells, she prayed that maybe, perhaps.......
Jamal looked confused “Ki na kuka- you are crying” he explained hoping she would clarify that point for him.
“Can you excuse me for a while?” Nabila said politely
Jamal was worried by the formality in her tone, maybe she was in shock or something. He was just glad he avoided untimely death and would live to fight another day. He stepped out and waited for her to calm herself and get ready. As he drove home, Jamal insisted she stay away from her garden for a while and if she must return to caring for it alone, she had to wear a gas mask. Nabila did not argue.
Over the next week he watched his wife go through a variety of emotions. She was herself, then weepy, then sleepy. Jamal did not know how to deal with this complex layered Nabila so he was extra careful. He thought of what the doctor said on their way out “Take good care of her.” Jamal said he would, so over breakfast as Nabila helped butter his toast she asked if he would invite his squash buddy for lunch after their game on Saturday. Squash, the sport he had taken on to combat his intense longing for Rabi. If Jamal were ever to recommend an aid to sexual desire, bouncing a hollow rubber ball repeatedly against a wall was definitely it.
That Saturday Ikenna Nwosu strolled into his new friend’s house. Nabila was in her garden unable to stay away. She held the hose and watered her African lilies, remembering her promise to twine the stems on her baby’s crib. Ikenna called to her
Nabila waved “Ikenna yade. How nice to see you again” Jamal looked confused, “when did you meet my wife?” Ikenna thought about making a joke but Jamal didn’t seem to have a sense of humour right now.
“Her father consults with the UN and I was with the Minister of Health during a meeting”
“How many Minsters are you friends with?” Jamal asked
“All of them.” Ikenna responded calmly
Jamal focused his attention on his wife, “It was like a month ago. Baba and the Minister left to discuss privately so Ikenna and I had time to talk.” As she spoke Ikenna winked at her to rile Jamal up.
“My friend try that again and you are out of this house wallahi” Jamal warned. Nabila laughed
“The garden is lovely Nabsy” Ikenna continued ignoring his friend. He gazed admiringly at the water feature as it trickled over white stones. The colours were so vibrant and the floral scent strong. He patted her on the shoulder “seriously impressed”
Jamal was yet to get over the fact Ikenna called her Nabsy, what was that? He didn’t remember the last time he called her that. Jamal still didn’t care what Nabila did with her time, but by Allah he was the only one in this marriage that was allowed to have an extra marital affair. He looked as Nabsy excitedly explained her planting technique to a very interested Ikenna.
“That is really cool” he nodded steadily “Do you think this will work on uneven terrain”
“Well not this exact pattern but definitely. You can plant anything once you understand the soil you have to deal with” and Nabsy began to describe what Ikenna could do with his back garden, something about rolling hills, low hedges and climbing vines. Jamal hated being excluded from the conversation
“Kai lets go in” he announced loudly squinting at the sun
They sat down at the table when the chef served pounded yam and efo. Ikenna smacked his lips loudly and complimented the cooking, asking if he would be available to take up another shift
“You tried to steal my wife and now you want to steal my cook” Jamal said without a smile
Nabila didn’t understand what had gotten into Jamal. That was the second time he had referred to her as ‘his wife.’ She didn’t want him to wreck her master plan
“Did you get round to calling my friend like we discussed” Nabila asked Ikenna
“It slipped my mind. Give her my number to buzz me”
“No way. You are the guy. You make the call”
“I might forget. I am so busy with work”
“You are always busy with work”
“Beginning to sound like my ex-wife” Ikenna warned
“Maybe she had a point.” Nabsy mirrored his tone
“You used to be married?” Jamal asked shocked. Nabila looked confused “I thought you guys were friends?”
“Guys don’t talk about stuff like that” Ikenna said
“Call Amaka” she ordered
Ikenna handed over his phone and Nabsy imputed her friend’s number along with a reminder to call.
“She must really be something” Ikenna conceded
“She is already too good for you” Nabila said.
“That is true” Jamal agreed. Heaving a sigh of relief that Ikenna would be focusing on other females.
Ikenna laughed good-naturedly and enjoyed his meal. He tipped the chef, and made Nabsy promise to further discuss his landscaping, thanking her for a wonderful afternoon.
“I like him” Nabila announced as she got ready for bed that night, lowering herself gently to avoid triggering dizziness
“Because you foresee double dates in the future” Jamal responded sarcastically
“Most of your peers just follow you around like lap dogs but Ikenna is on an even keel. You’re good for each other’s ego. Maganin ka wallahi- he’s your medicine”
“How long was he married for?” Jamal asked
“Five years” Nabsy responded
“Where is his wife now?”
“In Switzerland where he left her” Nabila pulled the covers “With half his net worth”
“Ki che Allah- swear to God” Jamal exclaimed fully awake now
“Wallahi. You know how it is there now; the wife is entitled to half of everything”
“So he left the country for her as well. Ba zan iya ba- I can’t do that” Jamal shook his head to emphasis his point
“She was the reason he stayed as long as he did. Offers from Central Bank had been coming in for years, but she didn’t want to move here. So when the marriage dissolved...”
Jamal and his wife talked about Western ways till they fell asleep. Gossiping like school children. It was the first time, in a long while they had gisted.
The next squash game Jamal’s curiosity got the better of him so he asked Ikenna if he had a girlfriend, all under the pretence of protecting Amaka
“You are going to have to be more specific. Will this be the IMF contract or the bail agreement?” Ikenna replied smiling
“It’s not like you are short of flesh and blood women. All you do is stare”
Ikenna wielded his racket like a light sabre. “You know how Nigerian women are now; anyone you date at this age will be expecting a ring within a year. As a recent divorcee, that is just not happening”
Jamal nodded in agreement. Any man in his early thirties was not considered to date for fun. It had to be leading somewhere.
“What’s your marriage like?” Ikenna asked
“I am the husband and I have a wife” Jamal answered straight faced
“No aboki” he knew Jamal hated that name “I mean what is it like, the same person for five years. Same face every morning and all that. Heaven or Hell?”
“You were married once. How do you remember it?” Jamal asked back
“I don’t remember much. I worked too hard, sometimes not returning home till midnight.”
“Just as you do now” Jamal added.
“But we are talking about your marriage. I can’t figure it out. Most husbands I know either gush about their marriage mentioning their wife in all conversation or complain and hit on everything in a skirt. You do neither.” Jamal’s blackberry beeped with a text message.
“I have to go” he said suddenly jumping up. Scrambling his things together he nearly tripped on his way out the door.
“Bros is everything alright?”
“Yes yes. Good game” Jamal gave thumbs up yelling as he ran down the hall and out the sports complex. He raced to his car and sped out the parking lot at break neck speed.
The image of the words on his screen was glued to the forefront of his mind.
You have no idea what I would do to you if you were here. Rabi
Jamal grinned like a Cheshire cat and stepped on the gas. Rabi was just getting off work and Jamal was already waiting for her in the vacant parking lot.
“What took you so long?” she giggled as she got in
Jamal put up the tint windows and reached for her breasts. Rabi leaned into his palms and laughed her husky laugh. She purred when he slid his hand down her scrubs.
“Yes just like that” she whispered in his ear. She was always so responsive to his touch and when Jamal found the silkiness of her centre he felt just how eager. Rabi gave a moan and held on to his wrist her nails digging into skin. He turned on the radio when Rabi straddled him and rolled her waist atop his fingers not bothering to bite her lip. She was so vocal
“Just there. Yes! Oh faster.”
Jamal lay back as Rabi bewitched him with her kisses, pulling down the elastic of his gym shorts and releasing the hard on that had been causing a strain in his pants from the moment he got in his car. She squeezed the engorged head and kissed away the grunt she knew would emerge from Jamal. They shed their clothes in seconds; there were no zippers or buttons to contend with today. Rabi bit his earlobe and murmured nasty promises. Things she would do to him, for him, with him. Releasing his touch from within her; she licked her nectar off his index finger. Nestled between pink pursed lips; she sucked with a promise to replicate elsewhere.
“Bee Bee” Jamal grunted her name breathing fast
He grabbed a fistful of her ass and buried his face in her breasts, rolling his tongue on her nipple till she begged him to bite. Hard just the way she liked it. Jamal took each dark knob and sucked and pinched and kissed. He thrust into her. Hard, fast, deep till she clutched her chest, it was hard for her to breathe now. The AC was on but they were both perspiring, skin got slicker and Rabi relished licking his neck and burying her face in his curls. She spun around with him inside her into reverse cow girl and bounced her ass for his pleasure; smacking herself and calling out his name. Jamal growled like an animal. She made him call her name and he made her call his. Taking turns to set the pace they satisfied each other till their bodies unable to cope longer shivered in release.
“I really needed that” Rabi whispered when she came
“Me too” Jamal said sleepily “Don’t you ever leave me again”
“I’ll try my best” Rabi promised as she settled into the curve of his shoulder and slept.
Sunday saw Nabila in her garden picking flowers for the living room arrangement. “Nabsy are we fighting” Amaka appeared out of nowhere
“Ki hakuri” Nabsy apologised rising to hug her. Amaka side-stepped her embrace
“Sorry now” Nabsy pouted “It has been a crazy couple of days”
They made up and Nabsy stepped back to admire Amaka. “You look nice today” she complimented her skinny jeans and red scoop neck top. Nodded in appreciation at the tiny braids and tugged on her hoop earrings. “That reminds me I have to be somewhere. Can you give me a lift?”
“Yeah of course” Amaka answered confused at the subject change. She brought Nabsy up to date on the twins as she followed directions eventually pulling up in front of a large bungalow. The house was startling white and looked like a giant sugar cube. She walked in behind Nabsy and heard her respond to a male voice.
“What a surprise” he said
Amaka was confused, didn’t Nabila say she had to be here. Why was he surprised?
“I want you to meet someone” Nabila giggled excitedly “This is Amaka” she pulled her into his view. What a view it was. He was dark like the Ghanaian chocolates Amaka indulged in. He had distracting eyes; very bright and mischievous like he was always thinking naughty thoughts. In a Chelsea jersey and cargo pants, he hovered above them both and had to lean in to view Amaka properly. It made her feel dainty and tiny. She loved it.
“I have heard so much about you. Informed that it would be my pleasure for us to meet” he held on to Amaka’s fingertips smiling widely. He didn’t finish his sentence. His eyes did.
Amaka blushed like a 14year old. Think of something witty to say...think think think. But all she did was giggle.
“Amaka darling, this is my friend” Nabsy failed to suppress her smug smile
“Okay” Amaka nodded like a bobble head doll
“Ikenna Nwosu” Amaka pulled her hand away like she had been scalded by hot oil. This was Ikenna Nwosu? The little rat bastard that pointed out her lack of dignity. The one who insulted her. The one who made her cry. Amaka turned around and walked out
“Maka wait” Nabsy ran and got in the car with her “What was all that about?”
“Why would you put me in that situation?” Amaka’s fingers gripped the steering wheel
“What do you mean? I thought you liked him”
“Why do you care huh? Nabila why can’t you learn to butt out of my life”
Nabsy stared at her friend shocked. “I’m-m s-sorry” she stuttered
“So he is your friend” Amaka’s voice rose as the events of that night came back to her. “You weren’t there when he said those things to me”
“He said I had no dignity. Me.”
“Ikenna said that? When?” Nabila kept glancing back at the house
“The night I called him...said he had better things to do” Amaka could feel the weight of unshed tears
“You called him?”
“Femi had just hung up on me as well...”
“Femi called” Nabila interrupted “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because!” Amaka shrieked “You would have judged me. All you do is talk and talk but it is not your life. Is it a crime to love the father of your children? You get in your car and drive home to your husband” She gave a bitter laugh “You don’t know what it is like”
“Amaka you don’t know anything about my marriage”
“You and Jamal have worked things out. I had to come hijack you from your house only to be brought here and embarrassed”
“How was I supposed to know what happened? I am not psychic Amaka and I am tired of apologising for things that are not my fault” Nabsy opened her door and stepped out
“Well excuse me for having a bad day. Go back to your perfect life”
“You are acting like a child”
“Maybe it’s from hanging around my children all day” the minute she said it Amaka wished it back. Nabila turned around and walked back into the sugar cube house.
That evening Amaka moped around staring at her phone. She never lost her temper, it just wasn’t her. She had contemplated various ways to apologise, and steeled her heart for the retaliation she surely deserved. God knows, Nabila had the ammunition.
“Mommy why are you sad?” Chiamaka ever observant climbed into her lap
“Because I was mean to Aunty Nabila and I want to say sorry”
“Why were you mean?”
“I was upset and sometimes adults want everyone else to feel the way they feel”
“Grown ups can be silly. Go play with your brother” She smiled and stroked her daughter’s head.
Amaka walked into the kitchen and dialled Nabila’s number
“Nabsy I am so sorry for my behaviour this afternoon. I never should have said those things to you. I don’t know what came over me; I did not mean a word I swear. What can I do to make it up to you?”
“I can’t discuss this over the phone”
A half hour later, Nabila was at her front door. They shared a tight hug
“I am sorry”
“No I’m sorry”
“You love Femi and that is okay. You never have to justify anything to me. Do you understand?”
Once the twins were tucked in, over chocolate biscuits Amaka agreed Ikenna was a hunk and congratulated Nabsy on her good taste “but he is a jerk.”
“Doesn’t that just make him hotter?”
“No Nabsy. It makes him a jerk” Amaka pinched her
“Why haven’t you touched your coffee?”
“I’ve sworn off caffeine”
“Blasphemy” Amaka slapped her hand on the kitchen counter “You sin against Nescafe. Why would you do th...?”
“I’m three weeks pregnant”
Amaka spat out her tea.