Tuesday 12 March 2013

Palmgrove Letters: Part 4

Palmgroove Letters Part 3 can be found HERE

Moyin woke up to the sound of her spaniel barking at the door. She ignored the gentle knock, knowing it was the maid sent to wake her up for church. She did not want to go because there was a chance she would run into Bayo. His mum was quite religious, and would probably drag them all to a thanksgiving service. She was too exhausted to put on a brave face. She was getting exhausted with the whole relationship.

They started dating while she was in her first year studying Law at Oxford. Her father and grandfather before her had studied law at Oxford and she always knew she would be the one to carry on the family tradition. She had three older sisters who she was always in constant competition with.  Her eldest sister, Temi was a doctor working in America, the second Tola was an auditor with an accounting firm in Abuja, and the third Tayo was a successful designer with her own fashion house in Lagos. Her mother had overcompensated for not having a son, by making her girls as successful as possible. When Moyin was given a 2nd class for her final project, her mum had flown to Oxford to help her prepare her appeal to ensure she got a higher grade. After 6 months of back and forth letter writing and several re-markings, Moyin was convinced they awarded her a higher grade just to get her mum off their backs. She took this approach with their personal lives as well, and this had been partly why Moyin had not let Bayo go. Her mum loved him, probably more than she did, and Bayo had charmed her, like he had all of her family.

From a young age, Moyin’s mother had taught all her daughters that all men cheat, and it was their job to manage their men’s indiscretions. Moyin’s mother was the last child of the one of the richest men of the south west, and a prominent politician and human rights activist. She fell in love and married her father who was a teacher at a local secondary school. She used her connects to get him a scholarship to Oxford, where he also studied law like her father. He became one of the most prominent and wealthiest lawyers in the country. They had a good marriage until her father got one of his employees pregnant. Only her immediate family knew of the affair, and Moyin had never met her step-brother.

She heard another more forceful knock, which meant her mother had made it her mission to come and wake her up. She knew she had to get out of bed now. Her mum was a morning person and would want to chat about the party.

‘Good morning mum’ she said as she opened the door. Her mum was already dressed and made up.

‘Morning my angel’ she replied cheerily, like she had been up for hours. ‘Why aren’t you dressed?’

‘I don’t feel too well, I think I will rest today’ said Moyin, faking a cough

‘Oh my poor baby’ said her mum, checking her temperature with her hand. ‘Let me get Angela to make you some soup and bring you up some meds. Was last night hectic?’ she asked looking immediately concerned.

‘A little, I just need to rest’ said Moyin fully acting the sick role.

‘Alright my angel, please watch the sermon online and study your bible’ said her mum giving her kiss on the forehead.
Her dog followed her mum out of the room and she shut the door. She needed to be alone.

Her relationship with Bayo currently took up a huge chunk of her life. She had essays pending, her attendance was poor, and the societies she was president of were awaiting her return. She flew into Lagos at every opportunity to be with him. He had gotten distant the past couple of months and it made her even more paranoid than she usually was.  She had caught him in several compromising positions before, but never like yesterday. She played the scenario over and over in her head, wishing she had reacted differently or said something cleverer. The tall girl had taken a dignified silent approach, making her feel like a fool. She was not his type at all. She looked Northern and very composed. When they had been in England, he liked blondes, usually Eastern European girls. All the girls she suspected in Lagos were from within their social circle, and the tall girl certainly was not.
She sent a few messages to her friends, and no one seemed to know who she was talking about. The only Hausa girl her sister Tayo knew was called Farida, but she was curvy and not tall. She probed Tayo more about Farida and then she heard another knock on her door.

She should have known her sister would have found a way to escape church too as she had gone out the previous night.
She grudgingly got out of bed as Frosty, her dog, had started scratching the door to get back in.

‘Why all the questions about Farida?’ asked Tayo as she burst into her room in her pyjamas.

‘You couldn’t even take off your make up before bed. You look like a masquerade.’ teased Moyin

‘Whatever mate. I had a blast’ replied Tayo as she played with Frosty

‘How did you get out of church this morning?’ quizzed Moyin

‘Told mum I was ill’ replied Tayo

‘Damn you. I told her that too. Now she’ll know we are lying. Heathen.’ Said Moyin as she crawled back into bed

‘So wassup with all the questions about Farida?’ asked Tayo

‘I met this hausa girl last night that was friends with Bayo, but I didn’t catch her name’ lied Moyin

She never talked to Tayo about her relationship with Bayo, as her solution was always to break it off. She was not a fan of their relationship because she had known Bayo for so long.

‘Well this one is a ‘stylist’ so she would have looked very well dressed with plenty of make up’ said Tayo rolling her eyes at the word stylist.

‘Is she your competition?’ asked Moyin

‘Not at all. She’s actually bought a few of my pieces to style her clients. She knows alot of people’ said Tayo as she peered at her phone through her thick glasses.

‘Let me have her pin anyway. I think she’s the one’ said Moyin.

‘But you said she’s tall. This girl is about my height’ replied Tayo

‘Well, she was wearing heels and next to me, everyone seems tall’ she joked

‘This is true my midget sister’ teased Tayo. Although I think I have seen her out with a girl that matches your description’

‘So was he surprised to see you?’ asked Tayo as she handed her phone over

‘Ermm... yes, I guess you could say that’ said Moyin with a smile

‘Are you happy Moyin? Really happy? You seem a bit stressed lately’ asked Tayo staring intently at her.

Moyin thought about it. She was not sure if she was happy. She was where she thought she would be at 24. Finishing up her masters and in a serious relationship. She had a job waiting for her at her father’s law firm, and she was being groomed to run it in the future. She was hoping to get married after Tayo, whose boyfriend was poised to propose any minute. But she wasn't as happy as she thought she would be.

Bayo was the most exciting thing in her life. He encouraged her to be adventurous and live in the moment. He was her first everything, and had brought her out of her shell.
She first met him on one of her summer holidays from boarding school. He was Tayo’s friend and would come to their house with a group of their mates to have exam preparation lessons. She would sit upstairs and stare at him the entire time he was around, day dreaming about her 1st crush. All the Usher love songs suddenly made sense. She would ask Tayo a dozen questions about him after making her swear not to mention a word of her undying love to him.

She never had the courage to talk to him, until she met him again a few years later at a conference for African students in London. He was even more handsome than she had remembered, and as usual was the centre of attention. This time she knew she had to talk to him. She sat down at the back plotting her opening line. She never got to use it, as he came up to her giving her a big hug and calling her Tayo’s baby. She fell for him again instantly and had not let him go ever since. She had tried to break up with him once, but had called him two hours later to patch things up. She was determined not to let him go.
Tayo had been talking about her upcoming show the whole time she had tuned out. Her phone blinked red and she picked it up to see a message from Farida.
‘Hello, this is Farida from Rida Beauty Consultants, how can I help you?’
She thought about her response for a minute before she replied:
‘Hi, my name is Moyin, I would like to book a consultation with you please?’

Nafisat woke up at 5.30am as she usually did from years of being woken for morning prayers. These days, she hardly said any prayers. She turned around to see Farida fast asleep, clutching a pillow. She looked so peaceful, in contrast to the volcano that she was when she was awake. She picked up her phone and scrolled through her messages, none from Nuhu.

She walked to the balcony and inhaled the cool morning air, damp from the moisture from the ocean. She stared out lost in her thoughts and pondering what to do with her day. She wanted to spend the day with Bayo the way they used to. He would come to hers after Sunday service with his family and bring her lunch. She usually only ate the starters as he would eat his share and hers because according to him, church made one very hungry. He would leave at night, usually after a call from him mum asking when he was coming home. She had always wondered what it would be like to wake up in the morning next to him.
She missed his dry sense of humour and his infectious laugh. She missed him teasing her about her OCD, and messing up her room to leave as ‘his trademark’. Whenever she tried to stop him or put her things back in place, he would carry and toss her on the bed where they would play fight. He would then kiss her softly and slowly until she gave in to him.

She decided to call him. As the phone rang, her heart beat a little faster and she silently hoped he would not pick up. He did not, and she let out a little sigh of relief. It did not last as her phone rang a moment later.
‘Hey Bayo’ she answered quietly
‘Naf, are you ok?’ he asked with concern.
‘Yes I’m good, how are you?’ she replied. She marvelled at how he could be so caring first thing in the morning.
‘Tired and slightly hung over’ he said sleepily. ‘At least it’s over now, the party took up too much of my time’
Pele’ she said, practising the Yoruba she had picked up from Mr Segun
There was silence between them, pregnant with words unspoken. They enjoyed it and she listened to him breathing as the sun came up over the horizon.

‘Can I see you today?’ she asked with a whisper, scared to realise that she was 
finally admitting her feelings

‘Yes’ he replied with certainty. ‘I will call you after church, let me catch some sleep’
She put down the phone, scared and excited at the same time
She walked back into her room and quietly crawled back into bed trying not to wake Farida, who was already up.

‘Morning love’ said Farida ‘Were you on the phone?’

‘Why are you up?’ she asked diverting from the question

‘I am going to Abuja this morning. Last minute call from a client, I’m not sure when 
I’ll be back’ she replied as she got up and stretched

‘Oh really? When are you leaving?’ asked Naffy

‘My flight is for 8.30, the client booked it for me’ replied Farida

‘Let me call one of my uncle’s drivers then’ said Naffy. She was used to Farida’s work being unpredictable.

She watched Farida get ready in record time, and helped her take her things to the car that was waiting outside. There was a cool breeze that blew the scarf she wrapped around herself. It reminded her of harmattan mornings in Kano, except the winds did not carry dust from the Sahara desert but moisture from the Ocean. 
Farida hugged her tightly as she always did, but lingered for a second longer. She could be very emotional sometimes.

‘I love you Naf’ she said as she got into the car

She watched her drive away and went back into the house which was already a bustle of activity. There were soldiers outside which meant someone important was coming to the house. She walked back into her room, and she knew she would not enjoy any quiet time with Bayo if her uncle was around. She crawled back into bed and sent Bayo a message.
‘Uncle’s around so it’s a madhouse’
He replied a couple of minutes later:
‘Meet me at the beach house at 2’
She smiled as she read the message and fell back asleep.

Bayo woke up at 8am to the sound of people around the house. He thought he had dreamt up his conversation with Naffy until he saw her message. He smiled at it. There was none from Moyo and he knew he would have to go and see her. He had actually been planning on going there after church until he had gotten the call from Naffy. For a second, he considered converting to Islam and marrying two wives. They definitely got that part right.
He went down the stairs and saw his mum giving orders, already dressed for church. This woman is a superhero he thought.
His dad was nowhere to be seen, probably still in bed. He hugged his mum from the back and gave her a big kiss.

Oko mi’ she said smiling, she always called him her husband

‘Did you even sleep at all?’ he asked, marvelling at her boundless energy

‘I will get enough sleep when we get to Atlanta’ she replied. ‘You know we leave tomorrow so I have to ensure everything is in order. Oya, go and get dressed, the service starts at 10’ she ordered

‘Yes ma’am’ he answered giving her a salute. He teased her that she really should have joined the military
He got dressed and walked downstairs to the sound of his parents arguing. He knew it was inevitable but had hoped he would be out of the house before it happened. His dad was a difficult man, who seemed to get worse with age, and his mum was strong willed meaning they were always at loggerheads. As an only child he was always forced to choose sides. Growing up amongst constant conflict, made him hate any confrontations in his own life. Even as a lawyer he avoided it, and his father considered it a sign of weakness. His father was a loud man, and had a reputation in the legal world as a lion which he took pride in. Sometimes, he wondered if they had anything in common, other than their striking physical resemblance.

‘Did I not tell you not to make this service a massive thing? Why are there people in the house this early morning, after last night’s carnival?’ he shouted in Yoruba

‘We are going to this service because everything has been planned so I don’t understand why you are shouting so early in morning’ she replied angrily

‘You can go ahead, but I will certainly not be there. I have to go into the office’ he replied making his way back upstairs, still in his house clothes
He spotted Bayo and said ‘Meet me in the office in an hour, we have something to go over’

He could see that his father was braced for a fight that morning, and was unwilling to engage him. He would postpone the fight to when he got back in the evening, where he would be attacked for not coming into the office as instructed.

‘Let’s go mum’ he told her as he got his car keys.

Ose oko mi’ she replied with a sigh
They got into his convertible and his mum joked that his car was not meant for women that tied gele, as hers were touching the roof of his Mercedes.

‘How is Moyo? Did you invite her for the Thanksgiving?’ she quizzed

She rarely discussed his love life as she knew he was reckless, just like his father.  He was everything she hoped for in a son, but it saddened her that she had not raised him to be better with women.
‘She is fine, I doubt she will be coming this morning though’ he replied clearly not keen on the subject
They gossiped about who got drunk and misbehaved at the party until they arrived at church. He dropped her off at the entrance and went to look for a place to park. He searched his car for his cigarettes and suspected his mum must have hidden it, the way she hid his father’s. She never gave up, it was her most admirable quality.
He smiled as he walked into church, knowing that he had a lot to pray about.

As he drove to the beach house after the service, he wondered how long he could continue this for. He loved Moyo and knew she was his future wife. She had everything he wanted; beauty, intelligence, ambition and courage. She was able to tolerate his indiscretions and forgave easily. No doubt, she had her flaws, but when she made a commitment to anything, she always saw it through, and this was her approach to their relationship. It was the same quality he admired in his mother. Despite this, he could not get Naffy off his mind. To be fair, he had not tried very hard to. A small part of him hoped she would end it because he could not do it himself. He prided himself in being a good boyfriend but the distance and spending time with Naffy had made him neglect her.

He dove past Lekki, towards Aja at top speed, enjoying the traffic free roads. Naffy had come for a party he hosted for his friend at the beach house a while ago and he had been there since then. He stopped over at a supermarket to get some drinks and chocolates because he knew she would not eat proper food. He left Aja behind, turning off the main road and driving on the sand towards the ocean. The beach house was one of ten small bungalows on a private beach owned by his father’s friend. The security guard waved in excitement as he let him in, glad for an upcoming generous tip. He made a mental note to remind Naffy to bring an SUV as the sand was wet from the tide coming inwards. He noticed a few cars parked and figured some of the houses were occupied.
He walked up the wooden steps and opened the house to the musty smell of damp wood. He saw the security guard jogging towards him to tidy up the house. He opened the bedroom door and windows that overlooked stretches of sand, letting in a cool salty breeze. He plugged in the fridge and filled it with things he had bought.
As the security guard worked his way around the house, sweeping and dusting, he decided to lie on the chairs in the veranda and enjoy the afternoon breeze. He closed his eyes for what seemed like a second and when he woke up he saw Naffy’s eyes staring down at him.
He thought he was dreaming of her and called out her name in a sleepy haze. He got up with a startle when he heard Naffy’s voice reply ‘You look so cute when you are asleep’
‘When did you get in? How long have you been here?’ he asked rubbing his eyes slowly

‘Are you so obsessed that you sleep with your phones on your chest?’ she teased 

‘I know important people and they need me all the time’ he joked back ‘And I have friends. You know... as in plural’

‘And yet here you are all alone on the beach on a Sunday afternoon, like a loner. So we are really not too far apart’ she said softly with a smile
He stared at her big brown eyes which were outlined with black khol, and realised how much he had missed them. She was wearing a floral patterned jumpsuit with her hair pulled back and a scarf down her shoulders. Her wide pink lips covered her perfect set of teeth which she pursed into a smile. Her smiles were few but always worth the wait.

‘I have been here staring at you snoring for like an hour now’ she teased. ‘You look a lot less mischievous when you are dressed so formally’

‘No way’ he replied hesitantly, not sure how long he had actually been asleep for

‘I have been here starving Bayo, anything for your girls?’ said Naffy with a smile

‘Allow it. You should give up on these attempts at slangs’ he said standing up to stretch. ‘What time is it?’

‘It’s a quarter to 5’ she replied looking at her gold watch. He looked out at the beach and realised the sun was making its way west and was currently blazing.

‘Oh wow. So you’re hungry? Does that mean you haven’t eaten since Thursday? He asked making his way towards the fridge as she followed him

‘Very funny, if you must know I had suya last night’ replied Naffy

‘You know you are meant to eat more than once in 24 hours right? Nicotine is not part of your dietary requirement. Neither is coffee, chocolates or sweets.” He retorted knowing her usual diet.

‘Stop nagging, you sound like my mum. Let’s find food. Better yet, can you cook for me? she pleaded

‘Cooking ke? No chance love, I am hungry too though, I only bought drinks and chocolates’ he replied as he scanned the fridge.

‘Let’s fish and grill them on the open fire like cavemen’ she said with excitement

‘Good idea, you fish and I’ll grill’ he replied dryly

‘Why do you have to be so sarcastic?’ said Naffy as she hit him with her bag
He saw it coming and caught it mid-air, using the chain straps to pull her closely to him.  Nafisat stood still, her face barely an inch from his, as Bayo breathed deeply inhaling her flowery scent...

His eyes burned into hers. He wanted to devour her, especially as they were alone, on the beach, at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. They weren’t just going to kiss this time. Not when she looked the way she did, and smelled the way she did.

He pulled her hand and led her to the mint green sofa, sitting down at the edge and pulling her down into his lap. Nafisat with a naughty smile put her hands around his neck and kissed him. She kissed Bayo slow and deep, she kissed long and hard, she kissed his cheeks, his hair, his temple, his throat.  Bayo tried not to sigh too loudly, but Naf had a way with her lips. She’s the only girl that he was able to kiss for hours without getting bored. Bayo started to unzip her jumpsuit as he kissed her chest, tugging the straps down, he traced his tongue around the outline of her lace bra. Naf wore stunning lingerie, and he was sure that these were no exception but Bayo could focus on nothing else but her skin that lay waiting for him. He peeled those sheer undergarments off her and tossed them aside.

“I like those” Naf whispered panting. Protesting against his misuse of her wardrobe, even as pangs of pleasure soared through her

“Be Quiet.” Bayo ordered.

She obeyed.

Naf stared up at Bayo as he pulled off his white shirt and formal trousers, tossing them on the pile of clothes on the floor. His church clothes, she reminded herself.
So there they lay, both of them naked, enjoying the sin of what they were doing, and Naf took a moment to dwell on how beautiful Bayo’s body was. The air around them became heated with electricity. He smelt like her perfume now, that flowery scent that he had woken up to and been enticed by. Naf began to grip on to his waist, arching her back and her kisses pouring onto his shoulder, neck and everywhere else her lips could reach. Her breathing was apace and her skin was ablaze beneath his hands. Her hips moved in symphony with his.

Their bodies had begun moving in a familiar rhythm. Her bed, his, a hotel, a beach house...it didn’t matter. When they got together it was the same, it was magic.
Naffy woke up with hunger pangs and turned on the bed, suppressing a smile as she watched Bayo sleeping next to her again. Naffy looked across the wooden floor to the dining area, where she knew the mirror was. Her lips were bruised, her nipples swollen, her hair stood in every direction.

He must have been really tired. She looked at her watch and it was 11.30pm. They had spent a solid couple of hours making love. She tenderly touched her nipples, they were hard from the assault of Bayo’s teeth on them as well as the chilly breeze blowing in through the window. There was music coming from the beach too, from people enjoying the last day of the weekend and as her stomach growled again, she hoped the suya men would still be out on the sands too.
They had tried to get food into their stomachs earlier, and Naf had gone to take a quick shower before they left. That was until Bayo stepped in to give her a hand...lathering the soap on her body slowly as he had kissed her. They had remained in the shower, faces pressed against the glass doors, till the hot water ran out.

Appreciating the Olympic trial her muscles have had today, Naf decided she would go in search of suya herself, then return home victorious to share it with Bayo. She got out of bed as quietly as she could- looking for her clothes in the dark-she got dressed praying it was not on backwards and felt for her slippers with her feet. She groped around in the dark for her bag before realising it would still be on the living room floor. She crept out of the bedroom, shutting the door silently behind her. Walking on her tip toes even though it did not make a difference either way because the sound emanating from the boom-box on the beach would suffice to cover up a murder. Yet Naf did this because it was done in movies, when you wanted to walk quietly. She flicked the switch in the living room but the lights refused to come on. The only source she could see burst in from the windows, and beeped from Bayo’s phones.

Naf headed towards it, innocently hoping to use it only as a visual aid but saw that he had a bunch of unread messages. She knew she should not...she knew it could possibly end badly... but she wanted to read his messages. She talked herself out of it, there was no need to, it was low and she had more self confidence than that, she would hate it if he did the same to her etc

It did not work, she typed in his password, which she had watched him type in a hundred times and scrolled through his messages. There were mostly from guys, asking him where he was. She kept scrolling until she saw an unopened message with several bright red PINGS. The message was from a girl named Cynthia but she did not have a picture up. Naffy wondered why the message had been unopened for several days and opened it to read through. She scrolled up through dozens of unread PINGS and came to the frantic messages from her in capital letters.

Nafisat’s heart stopped beating. 





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