Tuesday 29 January 2013

Palmgrove Letters: Part 3

Palmgroove Letters Part 2 can be found HERE

Moyin walked closer to them, her heels clicking ferociously and Bayo froze. It had been a stressful day and it was about to get even worse. He had seen Nafisat as soon as she walked in. Her long purple dress clung to her every curve as she walked gracefully into the room. She seemed to glide effortlessly, even in the high heels she always wore. She had her characteristic scarf halfway down her head, about to fall to her shoulders where it would remain for the rest of the night. Her long thick hair was tied up in its usual bun. He was obsessed with her hair and played with it more times than he could remember. She had taught him how to braid it, and before she went to bed he would braid and loosen it over and over until she fell asleep on him.
She was scanning the room and he turned around before their eyes could meet. He knew she would be there as he had gone through the list of confirmed guests with his mother in the morning. He had been looking forward to seeing Naffy despite knowing that Moyin would make one of her surprise appearances. Moyin was supposed to be finishing up her masters in Aberdeen, but always seemed to be in Lagos. He knew his mum had not invited her because she could not stand Moyin. On paper they were a match made in heaven. They were both from Shagamu, both lawyers and grew up on the same street. However, they had very different backgrounds because Moyin was 3rd generation old money and Bayo was what was branded as new money.
There wasn’t much he could reply to Moyin’s question, as it was very obvious was going on. His lips were bright red and puffy from Naffy’s lipstick and her Arabian spice perfume lingered all over him.

‘Who is she?’ asked Moyin much calmer now moving even closer to them and scanning Nafisat intently from head to toe. Her face was expressionless but her eyes glared with controlled anger.

Bayo remained silent. Naffy said nothing either and stared back at Moyin unashamedly. The silence felt so loud as they stood in the parking lot with the background music and voices from the party getting louder behind them. Naffy’s phone rang loudly from her purse, breaking the silence and she was so glad for it. 

Naffy stepped away from them and walked towards her purse that had been lying on the floor when she had attempted to remove the clamp. As she opened her purse, she blessed whoever had such perfect timing. She tried not to smile as she opened her purse, knowing it was probably Farida calling to vent about her day. She could hear Bayo whispering something to Moyin who whispered back angrily. 
It was not Farida. It was Nuhu, her fiancĂ©. 

The timing suddenly did not seem so perfect. She knew she could not answer the call because he probably wanted to discuss something about their wedding plans. She needed another smoke. She put the phone on silent and turned around to see Bayo whispering intently to Moyin who was gesticulating angrily. She was a tiny person with a very tiny voice but she seemed to have a lot to say.
‘Since you are kissing my boyfriend, I think it is only right that I know your name. My name is Moyin’ she said with a sarcastic smile. She looked up to Naffy because she was very short, even in her high heels. She spoke really fast and very well, pronouncing all her words properly.
Naffy looked at Bayo, not quite sure how to proceed. She had not been in such a situation before. She had dated people in relationships, but had never had to confront anyone like this. She did not know anything about Moyin, but disliked her instantly.
 ‘I have to go now’ said Naffy looking at Bayo as she brought out her car keys. She refused to engage Moyin who seemed to be acting out a scenario she had played over in her head many times.

‘Oh wow. How pleasant you are. Bayo sure has great taste in whores’ she replied in her tiny voice, trying to provoke a reaction.

‘That is enough Moyin’ said Bayo never taking his eyes off Naffy as she entered her car. He started to walk back towards the hall as Naffy drove off, leaving Moyin standing there. She walked up after Bayo calling his name, and he ignored her. As he got back into the hotel lobby, she caught up to him, her heels clicking loudly with each step and she pulling his hand.

‘Bayo, how dare you walk away from me? I am talking to you....’ said Moyin her voice getting even higher

‘I guess all your surprise visits have finally paid off.’ said Bayo as he pulled his hand from her grasp. He kept walking back into the hall, knowing that she would never cause a scene. She worried too much about appearance and people’s perception to do that. He knew she would stay for the length of the party, ensuring that all his friends and family saw what a perfect girlfriend she was, and then use this to emotionally blackmail him. She was predictable.
He needed a stiff drink to be able to endure the rest of the evening.

Nafisat knew that the party would be awkward, but she had no idea it would get so dramatic. She was upset at herself for not keeping it professional. She had not even been able to see Professor Phillips and she knew her boss would not be pleased.
As she drove past Lagosians making the most of their traffic free weekend, her phone rang again. It was Nuhu. She knew she had to pick up this time or risk an argument later.

‘Hey hey’ she said as she picked up trying to sound cheerful.

‘Nafisat, I called you earlier, where were you?’ he started. He always called her full name.

‘I was at a party for my boss. I did not hear it ring’ she lied easily

‘Oh what party? Where was it? Are you driving yourself at this time? Where is your driver?’ he began

‘Calm down mana’ she started, getting impatient with his questions. ‘It was a party for a member of one our board members, Professor Phillips. It was at Oriental and it isn’t too far away from my house so I am driving myself, I am almost home anyway’ she lied again

‘Why are you driving yourself when you have a driver?’ he asked

‘Because the driver doesn’t work on weekends. This isn’t Kano Nuhu, people here have lives outside of those they work for’ she snapped back at him

‘Well there’s another reason you won’t find me there anytime soon. Besides, why can’t you use one of your uncle’s drivers?’ he replied

‘I am already driving myself so can we drop it please. How have you been?’ attempting to steer the conversation in another direction.

‘I have been good. Got back from Zurich yesterday. I was there with Uncle Ahmed on a delegation.’ He replied

‘Oh, I didn’t know you travelled’ she replied. Then again, they had not spoken to each other in a week and he was never in one place for too long so it was no surprise.

‘Yea I did. It was freezing babe. By the way, great news about on your uncle’s appointment. Can you come to Abuja tomorrow? I am here for the week.’ He replied

Ahh so that is why he called. To summon her for a meeting with her uncle. He could always arrange a meeting without her, but it would be much easier to speak to him when he was at home and relaxed.

‘No I cannot. I have got work during the week, I am not sure about the weekend....’said Naffy

‘Are we really going to have this conversation AGAIN? It is just service year Nafisat. No one is going to die, if you don’t show up at work for a couple of days....’ he began getting annoyed

‘It is my job Nuhu. I cannot leave because you summon me without any notice. I have deadlines, things are expected of me. It is not a joke to me’ she also replied getting upset at his tone. Although she was talking to him through her car speakers, the conversation was distracting her and Lagosians in their impatient manner had begun to honk at her.

She knew her job was a joke to him. She was certainly not working for the money and he could not understand why she took it seriously. He had objected to her coming to Lagos, but since her dad had approved, there was nothing he could do about it. He seized every opportunity to tell her what he thought about her working, and made it clear that as soon as they got married, she would never step foot into an office working for someone else.

‘Alright Nafisat. Ki yi duk abunda kike so. Do whatever you want. Like always. I will be in Abuja this week regardless’ he said ‘I have to go now, I’ve also got work to do that absolutely cannot wait for anything. Bye’ he put down the phone abruptly

She was glad that he had put down the phone and not her. Most of their conversations ended with someone getting annoyed and hanging up. They both had tempers and had little tolerance for arguments so hanging up or walking away worked well with them. Farida would laugh at her again, when she told her about this argument.

She drove home in silence, listening to the Frank Ocean c.d Bayo had made for her.
As she pulled up to her street, she saw a huge line of cars parked outside her house. Her uncle was home with his usual posy of men. Now that he had been appointed the Senate President, she knew the number of men around him would treble. Her aunt never came to Lagos with him and her children were all in boarding school in Switzerland. However, there were never shortages of women around her uncle when he was in Lagos. He particularly liked Benin women as he had lived there for a while when he was younger.

She parked outside and gave the keys to one of the guards who would park it in the house when the guests had left. She walked into the house saying hello to dozens of men before seeing her uncle in the living room. His face lit up as she walked up to him and he pulled her in a bear hug. Like her father, he also had 4 sons but did not have a daughter, and so he spoilt her like his only daughter. He had gotten her the job at Gloval oil, and always encouraged her to do whatever she wanted. He taught her how to ride a bike and had given her her first cigarette when she was 14.
‘Ina gajiya uncle’ she greeted him. His baba riga always smelt of whiskey and expensive cigars. He was an unorthodox muslim that never prayed and ate bacon. His wife was a Kalabari woman who had adopted the Northern lifestyle to perfection and spoke fluent Hausa. Their marriage was one she envied. They still seemed in love despite her uncle’s countless mistresses. As busy as he was, he never forgot a birthday or anniversary.

‘Everyone, this is my Naf Naf’ he announced to the room loudly. ‘She is going to be the first female President of Nigeria’
She smiled at him, wondering why her family could not have such big dreams for her.
‘How have you been my dear? How is Nosa treating you at Gloval?’ he asked in his characteristic loud voice. He was the only person she knew who called her boss by his first name.

 ‘He is working me to death uncle’ she replied

‘Don’t pretend you don’t love it. That reminds me, when are you done with your service again? This Chinese company had been granted approval to start oil exploration here in Lagos. I was just with the Chinese ambassador yesterday and he mentioned that they need some people to head up some units.’ he said

‘That is really funny, because my boss has been trying to partner up with them to do some work. He actually asked me to mention it to you, he says you are impossible to reach these days.’ Said Naffy with a smile

‘Oh really? I have this new P.A, and he seems to select the messages he delivers to me. Call Nosa, let me give him a good talking to.’ He replied good naturedly
She hurriedly got out her phone, knowing this would put her in his very good books. She knew getting even 5 minutes with him now would be a problem. Her boss picked up on the 2nd ring. He was always with his phone.

‘Yes Nafisat’ he answered. He thought ‘Hellos’ and ‘Goodbyes’ were a waste of time.

‘Good evening sir. I have my uncle here’ she said before passing him the phone

‘Junior Nosa, I hear you are giving my baby a hard time’ he started laughing loudly
He walked out of the room with her phone and she followed him at a distant to eavesdrop.

‘Nafs’ someone yelled behind her. She turned around to see Farida walking towards her holding an overnight bag.

‘Hey babe, what are you doing here?’ she asked surprised

‘Are you ok? Your uncle is currently the 3rd most important man in Nigeria and you are asking me that question? By the way, if I hadn't found out he was in town were you planning on calling me?’ she asked her questions rhetorically.

‘Wawia kawai, You don’t have any sense ai’ she retorted. She heard her uncle laughing loudly in the balcony and put her hands on her mouth signalling Farida to be quiet. She needed to hear this conversation.
One of his aides walked past her into the balcony to interrupt him and she cursed Farida for distracting her.
He came back out and handed her phone back. ‘Naf Naf, I have to go. We have a lot to talk about. Schedule a lunch with the three of us ok?

‘Of course Uncle. Who is your head PA now? You change them more often than I anyone I know!’ asked Naffy

‘My baby, it is because they are all incompetent morons! I would schedule my own meetings and type my own speeches if I had more hours in the day! I will be back tonight, but I head out first thing in the morning. Don’t wait up’ he said as he hurried away followed by a bunch of men. He smiled at Farida as she said hello to him on his way out!

‘You couldn't even introduce me properly’ Farida began as the living room emptied out.

‘I still do not understand how knowing my uncle helps you out. He does not need a stylist or personal shopper.’ replied Naffy.

‘Yes but his wife and girlfriends do’ she replied jokingly

They headed upstairs to her living space. It had a large living room, kitchenette, two bathrooms and her bedroom. Bayo teased her that her bedroom alone was twice the size of the penthouse apartment in London he blew all his money on. It had a large walk in wardrobe which was filled with clothes, shoes, bags and accessories, most of which she had not seen in years. She had used Carrie Bradshaw as her inspiration, and had everything neatly colour coded. She had a large wooden dressing table with dozens of perfume bottles, most of which she had taken from her mother. However, the best part of her room was the large transparent double doors that opened to a large balcony. It overlooked the huge houses of Ikoyi with a glimpse of the ocean meeting the horizon. It was here she spent most of her time when she was at home. It was littered with sketches that she hadn’t finished. She mostly sketched in pencil, but had paint and paint brushes stacked neatly in a corner by her cleaner. She only sketched when she was alone.

Farida walked into her room and commented on how pristine it always was and calling her a control freak. For a stylist, Farida was as scattered as could be. She was forever forgetting things, loosing items, missing deadlines and was always late. She made up for this with her incredible social skills and impeccable eye for fashion. She was always well styled, from her makeup to her nails, and never had a hair out of place.
Farida and Naffy met in New York University at the very first African Students meeting of the term. They became friends immediately, bonding because no else could speak Hausa. They fought countless times because Naffy had a temper and Farida was vicious. Farida was every parent’s nightmare. She had no regard for authority or rules and was vindictive. The one thing that Farida loved more than anything, including fashion, was men. Lots of them. She had dated numerous guys, of various races and background. The only thing they had in common was that they were all wealthy. She claimed not believe in love, but Naffy knew that this was because her biggest fear was that she would end up like her mother. She had been raised by her single mother who had been the mistress to one of the richest men in Kano. Her mother had refused to marry her father as his 4th wife, and preferred the role of mistress because it gave her the freedom she desired.
Farida had a strange relationship with her mother that bordered between love and hate, respect and contempt. Every time Farida did something irrational, Naffy would forgive her because she had no other family and few friends. She knew a lot of people, usually important people, but none of them got close enough to be called her friend. She was however, extremely loyal and caring to people she held close. She once spent a night in prison because she did not want to give up the name of a friend that wrote one of her school essays.

‘Do you know how I know you are a freak?’ asked Farida with a smile

‘I know you will tell me anyway’ said Naffy

‘Because your perfume bottles are arranged according to their height’ said Farida examining them closely. ‘Your collection is getting old oh, when next are you going to Kano to get some more?’

‘I haven’t returned my mum’s calls. I think she wants me to come up soon. By the way Nuhu called me today, he says he’s in Abuja for the week and wants me to come up.’ Replied Naffy

‘Oh really? Are you going to go?’ asked Farida

‘Of course not. Unlike you I don’t work for myself, I have people that rely on me.’ Naffy said getting annoyed 

‘How did he respond?’ asked Farida

‘As expected. He doesn't see the point in my job, or being in Lagos and of course he doesn't like being refused. I really don’t understand how he wants to marry me and not get used to me refusing him’ replied Naffy

‘Naffy the Iron lady’ said Farida with a chuckle

‘What do you think?’ asked Naffy with a confused smile

‘I think like me, you will only do what you want to do’ replied Farida, as she tested out her perfumes.
Farida was usually very opinionated, but when it came to Nuhu, Naffy had noticed that Farida chose to stay neutral. During one of their arguments, Naffy had told Farida that she was jealous of her getting married. She seemed hurt by this, and Naffy assumed this was why she never made any comments about her impending nuptials. She hoped it would change over time.

‘I am starving. By the way, how was the party?’ asked Farida turning away from the perfume bottles to watch her

‘It was alright, usual Lagos shindig’ she replied with a small smile. There had been nothing usual about that party. She wondered for a moment how Bayo was doing. She knew he would be stressed and would probably drink a bit too much.

‘I am hungry too. Let me take a shower and we’ll go and get something to eat. I doubt the cook has prepared anything with all the commotion going on in this house’ said Naffy

As she took off her clothes to get into the shower, she asked ‘By the way, do you know a Moyin that lives in Ikoyi? She’s smallish, I think goes to school in England...?

‘Does she have this really high pitched voice and talks really fast? Asked Farida with a smile

‘Yes actually, she does...’ said Naffy.

‘Oh my gosh, I cannot stand that heifer! I met her once at this launch thing. She’s really loaded and well connected though, I could definitely use her as a client’ replied Farida. She never turned her business side off.

‘How do you know her?’ asked Farida

‘I met her at the party tonight’ lied Naffy

‘Yes that is expected, I think she is dating Phillip’s son’ said Farida. She liked to call people by their last names. There was no point asking her how she knew Moyo or who she was dating. Farida made it her business to know these things.

‘Call the driver to get the car ready. Ina son suya, been a while I had suya’ said Naffy as she stepped into the shower.

Farida walked out of the room to get the driver and she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. She knew who it was before she saw the caller I.D.
She picked up without looking at the screen and said in a hushed tone walking quickly down the stairs

‘Nuhu, I told you not to call me tonight, I am at Naf’s house’


Miss B

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hello blogworld,

  I am 25 years old today! I thought I would be depressed because I am a quarter century but I am actually really happy. My friends at work say a lady shouldn't tell her age, so I need to start practicing saying 'I am old enough'! I am now too old to contest for Miss Nigeria!
I am blessed to have the best family in the world. My friends are absolutely amazing and are always there for me. I am healthy and I have achieved everything I set out to. What do I have to complain about?

Well I wish I was 25 sitting on 25mill like Tyga, but other than that life is pretty great!

I pray Allah gives me many more years to come.

Thank you all for reading my posts!

Lots of Love
Miss B

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Palmgrove Letters: Part 2

Palmgroove Letters Part One can be found HERE

As Naffy ran across the terminal in her high heels, she knew she would never make the meeting in time. Damn these Nigerian airlines that never kept to their schedule.   Her meeting in Port Harcourt had gone smoothly and she had all the procurement papers signed. She made it back to the airport in time to hear the announcement that her flight had been delayed for 30 minutes, then an hour, then two. By 2pm she was still in Port Harcourt. Her phone had been ringing none stop as she was trying to brief her boss and the bank directors on the details. With their busy schedules, this meeting had taken months to plan and could not be concluded without the procurement papers that she had just collected. Her boss really should have let her use the company jet. 

As she walked out of Murtala Muhammed Airport, Mr Segun was waiting for her knowing what was at stake. He would have to drive like a maniac to make it from the airport to V.I. The traffic as to be expected on a Friday afternoon moved at snail’s pace. This was one thing she would not miss about Lagos. There was traffic in Kano but it was child's play compared to Lagos. 
She stormed into the Standard Chartered building at 4pm. Keeping such important people waiting actually felt good. As she walked into the big glass conference room, she wished had smoked a cigarette beforehand. 
Her boss stood up and introduced her to the room. 

'This is the lady we have all been waiting for' he said jokingly. 'She has brought us exciting presents in envelopes'. 
The whole room laughed politely.

'I have always maintained that the best gifts always come on paper. Money, shares, agreements etc'. The whole room consisting of 11 men and 1 woman in expensive clothes chuckled. 
Her boss introduced everyone and the fourth man was introduced as 'Professor Abiodun Phillips, one of the members of the board of directors.' No one needed to tell her that he was Bayo's dad. He was tall, dark, broad shoulders with thick glasses. He said 'how do you do young lady' in polished English, like an older and more refined Bayo. 

She suddenly became even more nervous, and her mouth went dry. She really, really should have had that cigarette. 

She did what she had been taught by her American friend every time she had a presentation and got nervous. She pictured everyone naked, chuckled to herself, and then started giving the details of the agreement that she had with oil contractors. Once she got started on the details, her confidence returned and she delivered impeccably. 

As she finished, her boss concluded, 'so lady and gentlemen, according to Nafisat's projections, we are about to become very rich' 
Everyone chucked again. Nafisat took the agreement that had taken her weeks to prepare to every board member to sign amongst general chit chat. Everyone shoke hands and as they were getting ready to leave, Mr Phillips made an announcement. 

‘As most of you know, my wife is imposing a birthday party on me tomorrow. She has insisted I remind you all so please RSVP to her and bring your dancing shoes’. 

Everyone laughed and began to trickle out, congratulating her on a job well done.

She cleared up all the paperwork and closed her laptop while waiting  for her boss to finish his banter in the Lobby. She pulled out her blackberry from her pocket and checked her messages for the first time all day. It flashed red from her low battery as usual. She was surprised that her friends even bothered to contact her because she never replied to personal messages till the end of the day. 

Her boss walked towards her beaming and she knew he was in a good mood. This is a good time to bring up travel with the jet she thought to herself with a smile. 

'Excellent job Nafisat. I expect to see the suggested amendments in my inbox tomorrow morning.' He always expected everything tomorrow morning, regardless of if tomorrow was a weekend or holiday. 

They walked outside where his car was waiting and she got into the back seat of his black Mercedes with him as Mr Segun followed behind then in her car. 

'I am sorry about the delay sir' Nafisat started 'But these airlines are becoming increasingly unreliable, I was having a look at the policy on the company jet the other day, and it seems that some of my travel would be eligible for.....'

Her boss never took his eyes off his IPhone, probably monitoring stock prices. 
He interrupted her and said 'You have to go to Professor Phillips birthday tomorrow on my behalf. Governor Moghalu's daughter's wedding is tomorrow in Enugu so I will be flying out in the morning.' He called his personal assistant immediately and said 'Yes Kate, call Professor Phillip’s wife to RSVP for his birthday tomorrow, Nafisat will be representing me. Yes, the head of the board of S.C. Any word from the embassy? Ok keep me informed'. He put down the phone abruptly, never saying bye. 

'But sir, I have to attend my friend's wedding....' she lied. She knew running into Bayo in Lagos was inevitable, but she did not think it would be this soon, certainly not at his dad's dinner. 

'You have done this many times before, show up for an hour with a gift and make sure you are seen. Continue with your weekend plans' he said abruptly. 'You were saying something about the jet?'

'Erm yes, I looked through the company policy on the jet.....' she started

'I'm sure you know the answer is no' he interrupted with a chuckle never taking his eyes off his phone. 'But if you ask your uncle to facilitate the deal with China, the maybe we can reconsider' he said as they pulled up to the front of Gloval Towers. 

She chuckled because he knew she had no influence over her uncle, and even if she did, she was not travelling on the jet. 

She got out of the car after him and followed him to the office. He gave her some more instructions which she took down before she ran back out to her car. The more he saw her, the more work he would assign. 

'Mr Segun, please take me to Farida's' she instructed as she lit up a cigarette.
'How the meeting?' he asked curiously. He loved to know what was happening in the company so he would boast to his friends at the joint how work was in the Oil and Gas sector' 
'It was good oh, we got them to sign the contract' she replied cheerily. It had been a good day. 

It was another bad day for Bayo. The caterer's cheque had been bounced and they were threatening not to turn up for the party. His mum had called him in panic asking him to fix it, so he was stuck in the bank, closing time on a Friday, trying to withdraw a huge sum to take to them in cash. He had been in the middle of a meeting with his website developers when she had called, and they were getting fed up with him. His mum had a P.A and he didn't understand why he had to run such errands. The caterer's office was on the mainland and he was bracing himself for the traffic ahead. Unlike with his dad, he never delegated work his mum gave to him. 

He had been thinking about Nafisat the whole day. He had not bothered calling or messaging her because he knew she would ignore it. He always told her she should have joined the military like her father. 
He seemed to see her everywhere. She was tall, slim and very fair. She had one of those faces that made it difficult to figure out where she was from. People would stare at her, trying to figure out if she was mixed race, Lebanese or Fulani. She had a cold and withdrawn look, so few people dared to approach her. The few that tried would be quickly shut down. She was not friendly and did not like mindless chit chat. It had been difficult when she lived in the States not to appear rude because Americans loved endless talk. Bayo always teased her that she would have fit in a lot better with the British. 

As he drove to the caterer's with a ton of money in a bag, he remembered when he first saw her. She had walked into his friend's house party and as usual, everyone stared. His friends whistled by his side and said, 'Omo, too many fine chics dey this Lagos, they won kill person' 

Femi, the ladies’ man immediately walked towards her as she said hi to people. He stayed next to Tobi, whose birthday it was, as she walked towards him. 
'Hey Tobs' she said cheerily as she approached him. 'You don dey old oh' 
Tobi chuckled at her attempt at broken English and said 'The only girl whose broken is worse than mine. I don't think it's meant to be spoken in a Pseudo Hausa/American accent' 
'Abegi, free me oh' she replied 
They continued to banter and Femi getting tired of Tobi ignoring him said 'Hi, I'm Femi, since Tobi has no manners'  stretching out his hand.
'Oh hi, I am Nafisat' she replied with a smile. 
'Oh is that Hausa?' he interrupted as she attempted to continue chatting with Tobi
Tobi got the hint and excused himself. 
'No, it is a Muslim name' she replied already sensing that he wanted to chat and looking for an escape.
Lagosians loved to talk, especially the men. She missed the reserved nature of Northern men, who barely approached women in public. 
'Oh really, but you are Hausa now?' he replied mockingly
'No I am not' she replied curtly 
'So where are you from?'
'I am from Borno' said Nafisat
'Ahn Ahn, so how aren't you Hausa' he replied with confidence
'Not everyone from the North is Hausa' she replied. She did not feel the need to give him a geography lesson so she excused herself. 
'I will see you later then?' he asked as she walked away 
She smiled briefly in reply and walked towards a waiter to get some water but what she really wanted was a cigarette. Damn you Farida for not coming with me she thought. She was new to Lagos and didn't know any of Tobi's friends. They had met at MIT and he had become one of her closest friends.
She got to the bar to order a drink. A guy at the bar said 'hey, I think I know you....'
'I don't think so' she replied as she walked away again, not waiting for her drink. She walked outside to look for somewhere private to smoke. Next to Tobi's house was an uncompleted plot and she walked towards it, lighting up her cigarette. She took a very long drag when she heard someone speak from behind her.
'How long has it been since your last fag?' asked Bayo
She turned around to see a tall bespectacled guy with his hands behind his back. 
'Because you took that drag like I did after about 3 months of trying to quit' he continued
Nafisat smiled, 'is it that obvious?' she asked 
'Yes, it really is' said Bayo. 'Sounded like you were taking in some oxygen after being underwater'
'That's what it felt like' replied Naffy
'So how long has it been? A month, 2 months, dare I say 3? asked Bayo
'Its been about 6 hours' said Naffy with a smile. 'I know, I know, my lungs look like the ones on this packet!' 
'I know this amazing secret that can help you stop' said Bayo with a cheeky smile. 
'What makes you think I want to stop?' replied Naffy 
'Are you on the you only live once campaign?' asked Bayo
'I wouldn't quite phrase it like that' said Naffy 'So what's your excuse for being here in the dark?' she asked
He smiled a mischievous smile and said, 'Oh you know, just taking in the beauty of mother nature'
'You mean kushing?' she retorted 
'I have no idea what you are talking about' he said with a straight face. 
'I wouldn't mind some if you care to offer' she smiled 
'I do care to offer' he said as brought his hands from behind his back and passed her his spliff 
She accepted it with eyes glistening and offered him her cigarette 
He declined shaking his head, 'I have given up smoking'
She chuckled, 'You do see the irony here'
'More than you know' he responded 'By the way my name is Bayo' 
'Nafisat' she replied as she took a long drag and passed it to him. 
'This is the part where you ask me what it means or where I am from and the like' 
'Well I know that Nafisat is an Arabic name meaning Something Precious or Priceless and I assume I will get to know where you are from when we get to know each other better' he replied with his know it all attitude.
'When? That's awfully certain of you.' said Naffy
He gave her a knowing smile and said 'I have to get back in Nafisat. It was nice to have met you' 
'Of course, thank you for sharing your mother nature with me' she replied
She watched him walk inside and smiled to herself. He was intriguing. 

It was 5pm on Saturday and Nafisat's bed was piled with clothes as she tried to figure out what to wear to Professor Phillips birthday dinner at Oriental. Farida usually picked out her clothes for her but she had to style people who actually paid her first. She had tried her number endlessly with no response. She decided to wear a dress that Farida had given to her from one of the many events she attended. Farida always bought a size smaller in the hope that she would lose weight but it usually meant that Naffy got to wear them. It was a purple floor length gown with long sleeves. It was made of shiny brocade and she paired it with a gold scarf which she wrapped around her head. 
Bayo had asked her why she bothered to cover her hair on leaving the house since the scarves never seemed to stay on. She had replied that it was for the same reason he left the house with a wallet full of money and it never stayed in!
 Remembering that made her smile. 

She missed him a lot. It was especially hard because they spent most of their time together in her room. Although Bayo loved to go out and socialise, Naffy preferred to stay indoors and sketch. She loved to draw, and her balcony was littered with various sketches that she had started and was yet to complete. She did not particularly like eating so Bayo's attempts to take her to the new 'it' restaurants failed. She did not drink either so she did not like going to bars or clubs. She convinced him to stay indoors with her where they would talk for hours about everything under the sun. Usually Bayo did most of the talking and she would simply watch him intently and listen.  He could talk for hours on end and she never got bored of listening to him. They would smoke shisha, weed and cigarettes until they ran out.

He would eventually leave because his parents’ or someone called him and she would watch him as he got dressed. She always wanted to beg him to stay but something always stopped her. She wasn't sure if it was her pride, stubbornness or the fact that she knew she had no right to him. It was the first time in her life where she wanted something and knew she could not have it. Poverty must be a horrible feeling.

He would leave her sheets smelling of his perfume. She had tried to explain to the cleaner that her sheets didn't need changing daily, just so she would his smell linger, but he would simply change it a day later. 
All across her room and living room upstairs there were memories of him. There were burn marks all over her rug from shisha when they would fight over the pipe. Her walk in wardrobe reminded her of when she hid his phone there because it wouldn't stop ringing. Her dresser reminded her of when he would help zip up her dress as she was getting ready. Her shower reminded her of the time when.....
'snap out of it' she said to herself 
She put on some eyeliner, lipstick and perfume and walked out the door grabbing her car keys. Mr Segun rarely worked on weekends so she would be driving herself. 
As she drove towards Oriental she wished she had more female friends. It would have been more bearable to have someone tag along to these things. Her phone rang out, and she saw that it was Farida returning her calls.
'Woman, where have you been?' asked Naffy
'These fucking Lagos big women will be the death of me. This woman tried on 8 outfits I brought for her and it seems none is 'quite right'. Can you imagine? What the fuck does that even mean?....' yelled Farida
'Calm down, where are you now?' asked Naffy
'Heading for a meeting with that guy from the reality show' replied Farida
'Oh wow, thanks for including me in all your weekend plans dear friend' she said dryly
'Oh my bad sweetie, I assumed you would be going for Professor Phillip’s birthday thing, Ki ya kuri' she apologised
'Wait, how did you know he was having a party, or that I would be going?' asked Naffy
'It is my job to know what’s going on in Lagos babes.' replied Farida. Her phone beeped with an incoming call, 'gotta run hun, potential client calling, kisses' said Farida as she hung up. 
Farida could not be more of an opposite to her if she tried. She had always thought that Farida and Bayo would make a great couple. But he hadn't met any of her friends or family, and she preferred to keep it that way. It was complicated enough as it was. 
As she drove into the hotel parking lot she said a silent prayer 'May I not run into Bayo tonight' 
She walked into the lobby with her high heels clicking, it was not hard to tell which hall belonged to the Professor Phillips. There were loads of distinguished looking men and women in suits and traditional attire waiting to hand in their invitations and get searched by security. 
Naffy smiled at the grandeur of the beautifully decorated hall. Lagosians knew how to throw parties. There was a live band already playing, drowned by the sound of people laughing and socialising. She signed the guest register and dropped the company card and gift, before proceeding to get her picture taken by the official photographer. She was a professional now. 
As she scanned the room looking for Professor Phillips, she saw Bayo. He had his back to her and was whispering something in his mum's ear with a smile on his face. It was obvious he adored her. He wore a black tuxedo, and he didn't need to turn around for her to know he looked very handsome. Her palms started to get sweaty and she suddenly craved a cigarette. 
'Fuck, fuck fuck' she swore under her breath. She knew she would run into him, but not so soon, and certainly not looking this good. He was busy and had not seen her so she walked towards the back to sit amongst people her age. She would not stay longer than an hour, shorter if she was able to grab Professor Phillip's attention earlier, but he was nowhere to be seen. 

She sat at a table laden with food, drinks and plenty of fresh flowers, pondereing how she would get Professor Phillip's attention and avoid Bayo's simultaneously  It was going to be a long night. She had no idea how long. 
As she made small talk with the person sat next to her, she scanned the room again. Professor Phillips certainly was not there or she would have spotted him. 
'So beautiful, you still haven't told me your name' asked the man sat next to her with a full tooth smile. 
'It’s Nafisat' she replied curtly trying not to sound as disinterested as she felt. He did not notice.
'Emeka is the name' he replied in a thick Igbo accent. 

‘How do you know Prof?’ asked Emeka. He had to be exaggerating this Igbo accent thought Nafisat. No one speaks like this.

‘He is a friend of my boss’ she replied curtly ‘I am sorry but you have to excuse me’ she said as she got up to walk towards Professor Philips who had just walked in the door surrounded by a dozen people. She zig zaged amongst the chairs hoping to catch him before he got to his table when she was abruptly stopped by one of the members of the board. She exchanged pleasantries and explained the absence of her boss. By the time she looked up, Professor Phillips was nowhere to be seen.

She changed directions and made her way towards the sea of people around the stage when she saw Bayo amongst the crowd. She spun around abruptly and walked towards the door. 

She was glad for the burst of humid air that wrapped around her when she walked out of the revolving doors of the hotel. She got cold really easily and the air conditioning in the hall had been freezing despite her long sleeve dress. She wrapped her scarf tightly around her and reached for a cigarette. The sun was setting over the ocean and there was a small breeze that carried the smell ocean with it. There were small sail boats  with people being transported from one end of Lagos to another. There were jet skis racing across the water, dwarfed by huge sail boats belonging to the Lagos elite. The water seemed to go on endlessly, until it merged with the sun in the horizon. It was picturesque, and she took a mental picture to sketch later on.

 She walked slowly towards her car, enjoying the view and contemplating if she should stay or go for a ride and return in a bit when there were less people. She had a feeling that this party would go on well into the early hours of the morning.

Suddenly, she heard footsteps behind her and a male voice calling out ‘Aunty Aunty’. She did not turn around.

A man approached her from behind, and said in a deep voice that he had been looking for her. She turned to look at him, still walking, and ignored him.

‘Aunty, na you I dey talk to? No be you park this Messdis for here?’ he said aggressively pointing to her car.

She had no idea who he was, and since the parking lot was getting dark, she continued to walk towards her car. He followed her at a distance, mumbling to her. As she got to her car, she saw that it had been clamped. Behind her car was a sign that said ‘Director Only’ which had definitely not been there when she had parked earlier.

This immediately pissed her off and she turned to him and said
‘What is this? Take that clamp off at once’

‘Aunty no need for all this grammar wey you wan start. You park for unauthorised zone so you must pay fine of N25,000’ he said angrily
‘You are insane’ started Naffy angrily. ‘You had better take this clamp off before I lose my temper’

‘Me I no insane oh. Na my work I dey do. You no shine your eye see sey you no suppose park here....’ he replied also angrily

This enraged her because she knew he was lying. She put her purse on the floor, put out her cigarette on the floor and began attempting to remove the clamp.

‘Ahn ahn, wetin dey worry you?’ he said shocked at her sudden movement. He moved close to her and attempted to pull her away from the clamp.

Naffy’s shock at his touch, sent her into a blinding rage, and she gave him a resounding slap on the face. ‘Don’t you ever touch me’ she said shaking with anger. 

He seemed taken aback at first and then came closer to her in a menacing way. ‘O danpe iya yi tin ya were? shey you dey crase ni? He shouted

She realised the stupidity of her actions. She was alone, in a dark parking lot with a big black angry man whom she had just slapped but she was never one to back down.

‘You have no right to put your hands on me...’ she responded

She heard quick footsteps walking towards the parking lot and she said a silent ‘Alhamdullilahi’ for whoever it was.

He quickly stepped away from her, also turning to see who was coming.

She knew it was Bayo before she saw his face. He had a brisk walk, from too many winter nights walking around campus. His tall, broad shoulders could be made out from the shadows before he came towards them and asked

‘What is going on? Who are you?’

The man seemed irritated by his appearance, as if he had been expecting someone else. He replied ‘I am an officer of the Lagos State Parking Enforcement Board, and I am performing my duty’ suddenly speaking proper English. People hardly spoke to Bayo in broken or slang English as he sounded very intimidating.

‘Come here’ he commanded and took the man aside. Naffy could hear Bayo talking calmly to the man as he switched to Yoruba. This relaxed the man, and after speaking for a while pointing towards Naffy, he started to smile. He suddenly started praising him, calling him Oga mi and my chairman. Bayo handed him a wad of notes, and the man hastily unclamped her car, with a big smile on his face. He walked away with his clamp on his shoulder still calling out Bayo’s name.

Nafisat watched Bayo walk back towards her and said ‘Thank you so....’

‘I cannot believe you can be so stupid’ he started

Naffy was shocked at his outburst, especially because he had never raised his voice at her before. Bayo was always very calm, an attribute she blamed on him being high most of the time.

‘Sorry?’ she replied

‘How can you be so irresponsible so as to endanger yourself like this? He told me that you slapped him? In the middle of this dark parking lot with no one in sight? Do you know what he could have done to you?’ he continued with his outburst

‘I just lost my temp....’ she tried to reply

‘Anything. He could have done anything to you here. He could have beaten you, robbed you, even raped you...’ he started

As he yelled at her, she saw the look of fear in his eyes as he said the last words and she felt so glad he was here. This was not the first time he had put out fires she had started with her temper. She always seemed to be in confrontations in Lagos. Whenever anyone did something she did not agree with, she made it a point to let them know. When she was in Kano or Abuja, no one dared to talk back to her, but Lagosians were aggressive people and would always give her an abrupt response.  

 She had gotten so used to him being there to make peace that she put herself in danger without thinking of the reprecautions.
As she watched him yell at her, her heart longed for him even more. She reached for his hand, pulled him gently towards her and gave him a tight hug. Her head on his chest, she could feel his heartbeat really fast. He slowly began to hug her back, and she felt his heartbeat relax.

‘I am sorry’ she mumbled into his chest, inhaling his Tom Ford perfume. She felt at home being wrapped in his arms. She began to realise that she was treading on very dangerous waters. This was no longer a fun thing.

He pulled her away and stared down at her into her eyes. ‘One day I won’t be here to save you from yourself’ he said to her his usual soft tone

She stared into his eyes, knowing that he was right. She wondered how she had survived without him for the past 26 years. She also wondered if his lips still felt as soft as they did the last time she kissed him. She leaned up towards him to find out. He did not hesitate to kiss her back, holding her waist to him like he always did.

They felt just as soft, and his kiss was just as passionate as she remembered. The shivers down her spine and slight dizziness were exactly as she remembered. She kissed him deeper, and he moaned a little, exactly as she remembered it.

They got lost in themselves forgetting everything around them. There was loud music and sounds from the party from a distance, but everything was tuned out. They both heard quiet footsteps walking towards them, which they both ignored. 

They could not ignore the voice that gasped loudly a few meters from them. They both pulled away abruptly to stare at the source.

‘What the fuck is going on?’ asked a high pitched voice that was coming closer from the dark.

A small woman in a gold strapless dress and red gele with matching lipstick clicked her heels towards them menacingly.

Moyin was back. 


Miss B