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


  1. Always leaving us with a cliff-hanger...Loving it.

    Just to draw ur attn to a few Hausa words tho - "Babban riga" not baba riga. Thot I saw sthn else but can't find it.

    Looking forward to the next post, please don't keep us waiting long

  2. A good read as always. Like Zuby said please dont keep us waiting long for the next post.

  3. OMG!!!! Nuhu and Farida!

    PLEASE can you give us an update on this today? :( don't keep us waiting!

    This is spicy mehn

    heyyy Mashallah!