Palmgroove Letters Part 5 can be found HERE
Nafisat sat in
silence for what seemed like minutes. It felt like a scene out of a movie.
Actually the past 24 hours could have been the script of a melodramatic
nollywood movie. Unfortunately, she was the protagonist in this movie and was
not in the least bit entertained. Farida stood perfectly still, her eyes
darting from hers to Nuhus, who had also not said a word. Farida was wearing a
loose blue Kaftan which that exposed her soft shoulders. Her full breasts
spilled out of the top of the dress and she was barefoot. Her hair was pulled
up in a messy bun and she was wearing no make-up. Farida always wore make-up
until 5 minutes before she fell asleep when she would cleanse tone and
moisturise religiously. She had never forgotten for the 7 years they had been
friends, even when she was drunk. There was something about her look that made
her seem more vulnerable. Her perfectly put together look made her seem unapproachable
which was something they had in common. However Farida was warmer and always
had a smile on her face. She was a natural sales woman and could talk to anyone
‘Hey Rida, fancy
seeing you here’ said Naffy with a soft smile breaking the silence
Farida stared back
in silence, and she seemed lost for words. She turned back without a word and
walked into the kitchen, closing the door firmly behind her.
Nafisat turned to
Nuhu and said ‘Guess you didn’t really want me to come to Abuja did you?’
‘I will not insult
your intelligence and make up any stories. It is what it is’
Nuhu’s honesty was
a quality she usually admired, but it meant he was insensitive if he felt he
was telling the truth. He had the most absurd opinions and they once had an argument
that poverty was necessary in order for there to be balance in the society.
‘But why Farida?
You can have anyone else, why my best friend?’ she asked quietly, staring
intently into his eyes.
‘Nafisat, it wasn’t
a calculated move or something....’ he said, reaching out to hold her hand
Her skin crawled at
his touch and she moved away from his reach.
‘I cannot honestly
say I am surprised. Maybe this is why I decided not to call first.’ She replied,
almost to herself
Nafisat got up and
walked towards the door, with Nuhu right behind her calling out her name. Her
head was suddenly spinning and she felt dizzy. Nuhu watched her miss her step
and reached out to steady her. She caught herself in time and gave him a
resounding slap across his cheek.
Ifiok who had been
standing in the corridor watching the drama unfold shouted ‘Ahhhhhh’ before he
put his hand across his mouth to stop himself. He knew his oga fired people for
much smaller transgressions.
No one paid him any
attention, and Nuhu followed unshaken. He pulled at her hand again and this
seemed to make Nafisat loose control. She screamed all manners of profanities
at him in Hausa as she walked towards the gate. Nuhu stopped following her,
because there was nothing to be gained, and watched her walk out of the gates. He
did not really know how to beg.
hastily down the badly lit roads, not sure exactly where to go. Tears rolled
down her eyes, and her heart raced. She had a splitting headache and was
overcome with exhaustion. Nuhu could have been with anyone else, she had
resigned herself to that faith. She knew her marriage was one that would be
fraught with infidelity. After all she was not exactly Holy Mary. But Nuhu was
never one for small scale scandals. He had to pick the one person he knew she
would bother her. She did not have a lot of friends, so his chances of hurting
her with infidelity were slim.
Nafisat walked on
the sidewalk of the poorly lit legislative quarters until she was back on the
main road. She walked on the sidewalks of Apo in the direction she had come in
until she got to the motorway and she could not walk any further. She stood
there, pondering where to go. She did not want to go home but there were few
people she wanted to see in her current state. She wished she could see her
father but he was away at an ECOWAS meeting in Mali.
A black car
suddenly pulled up next to her. The tinted windows came down and she stared
into the car with a curiosity. A dark middle aged man with a pot belly flashed
her a huge smile and asked
‘Where are you
headed, can I give you a ride?’
Normally, she would
respond with a purse of her lips and keep walking. She could not remember the
last time she had been offered a ride actually, as she rarely walked anywhere.
But tonight was not like every other night. She thought she had nothing to lose
and the man looked harmless.
She hopped into the
car before replying, ‘I am heading to Maitama’
‘Oh ok, that’s funny because I am just returning from the
Hilton, but I could take you’ he offered smiling sweetly. He immediately began
to indicate to make a u-turn. He spoke
with an accent, although she could not make out exactly where it was from. He
drove very slowly and carefully, like he was not in any hurry. She was a speed
daemon, and everyone in Lagos was always in a hurry.
‘My name is Kwame
by the way, what is yours?’ he asked smiling sweetly
‘Nafisat, So you
are Ghanian?’ she asked, uncharacteristically forward
‘What gave me away?
Could it be my extremely unique Ghanaian name?’ he asked with a loud laugh
He seemed to be in
a great mood and had a loud voice that echoed in the car.
‘So what brings you
to Nigeria?’ asked Nafisat
‘Well I am a
consultant, and I use that term loosely, there is an Aviation Safety Workshop
that I am running with the Nigerian Government so I am here for the next month…’
He spoke slowly,
with his accent seeming more pronounced now that she could place it. She
listened to him talk about aviation safety records in West Africa with incredible
passion. He seemed to enjoy having someone listen to him, despite the fact that
Naffy barely understood what he was talking about.
‘Well enough about
me and my boring obsession with aeroplanes’ he finally said. ‘What do you do?’
‘I am also a
consultant, but a Financial one’ she replied
‘Ahh I see, and can
I ask why you are walking by the motorway so late at night? It is actually
quite dangerous you know, especially when you are walking the same way as
oncoming traffic, safety statistics show that most accidents with pedestrians
occur because they are not facing oncoming traffic, especially in dimly lit
areas such as here’ said Kwame
‘Well, I did not
exactly plan on walking tonight. I just found out my boyfriend has been
sleeping with my best, actually my only friend. So I was not exactly left with
‘Oh wow, I am
really sorry to hear that’ he sounded genuinely concerned and Nafisat marvelled
at how some people could care so much about a stranger’s problems. Bayo was the
same. He handled so many cases for distant relatives for free and gave it as
much commitment as he did anything he worked on.
‘Matters of the
heart are a delicate thing my dear, one must really proceed with caution’ said
Kwame in a fatherly tone
‘I think all those
emotions are greatly exaggerated by too many Hollywood movies and love songs.
Love only exists for a tiny percentage of people’ replied Nafisat
‘I am afraid I must
insist we have a drink and talk about this. I would like the opportunity to
convince you that Love is the greatest thing on earth’ replied Kwame with a
‘Money is the most
powerful thing on earth. And the love of money is the greatest love there is.
Just take a look at these people hawking at this time of the night in such fast
moving traffic, it is the pursuit of the ultimate love.’
disagree my dear, you will be surprised how much money each of these people
earn is given to a loved one. Their families are usually the reason they work
so hard. How did such a young privileged girl such as yourself get so pessimistic?
asked Kwame with surprise ‘You are clearly not poor because you are so well
spoken and put together’
‘Maybe that is the
reason I am so pessimistic’ Nafisat replied ‘I am a product of money, I spend
more on my nails than most people here earn in a month. I cannot pretend that I do not want to continue this
lifestyle, like I want to know what it is like to not have options or to want something
and not be able to get it. I cannot apologise for this. Love is all well and good
but it does not pay the rent or pay for holidays. This undying never ending
love that we seem to advocate for is not a realistic.’ Nafisat was surprised at
her outburst, but now that she had started, she could not seem to stop.
‘Since you don’t
believe in love then it should not hurt you that your boyfriend and friend are
“You see that’s the
thing..” Nafisat interrupted speaking louder “I am not asking for a 100%
commitment or anything, I am not unrealistic, everyone cheats at some point or
“I actually beg to
disagree..” interrupted Kwame
“but what is
actually hurting me right now is the fact that Farida is my closest friend here,
and for her I know this was not an accident, it was a careful scheme she
plotted to get him because she wants to get back at me. She has her pick of men
because she is sexy, and Nuhu rarely chases after women because they come too
easily to him. I really don’t know why I am so surprised, she has done worse
things to other people since we’ve been friends, I guess I somehow thought I
was an exception, clearly I grossly overestimated her.”
“Why do you seem
more angry than hurt?” asked Kwame
“Because I am so
fucking angry right now. I am angry at Farida, at bloody Nuhu, at Bayo and
mostly at myself for getting caught up in this crazy web of lies and deceit in
the name of love.” Replied Nafisat with tears in her eyes, her voice shaking
Kwame did not reply
to her outburst, he drove through the sporadically lit motorways to Maitama.
She seemed troubled and he felt sorry for her and responsible for her at the
same time. He drove back towards Hilton as she ranted about the problem with
trusting people. She had a lot on her mind and it seemed easier to vent to a
complete stranger who did not know her or her flaws.
noticed that they were already in Maitma. She had been talking for the whole
ride which was well over thirty minutes. She gave him directions to her house
and they took a turn past the Farmer’s Market which was still bustling with
lights and activity despite it being past 8pm.
‘Ahhh so this is
the place my colleagues speak so fondly about’ said Kwame
‘Oh the market, yea
it has quite a lot. I would recommend the fresh smoothies’ said Naffy
‘Should we get some?’
‘Ermm sure why not.
My house is only a few minutes from here actually so I could walk home’ replied
‘You seem to like
walking’ replied Kwame as he parked the car next to the market
‘I actually rarely
walk. I usually drive, but I also do not usually get into a stranger’s cars or
talk about my personal life. Tonight has been an exceptional night in many
‘Well I hope that
is partly a good thing.’ said Kwame
Nafisat smiled as
they got out of the car. They walked into the stalls amongst aggressive traders
selling little bits of everything. She lead him to the stall which was filled
with the loud groans of overworked freezers.
‘So what’s good
here?’ asked Kwame looking around
‘I always go with
the Banana and Mango’ said Naffy
‘Well I don’t like
Bananas, what else would you recommend?’ replied Kwame
‘I have only ever
had that, but I am sure they are all good’ said Naffy
‘Oh I assumed you
came here often’ said Kwame
‘I do. Every day
when I am in Abuja’ replied Naffy
‘And you have the
same thing every single time? Asked Kwame with a look of complete shock on his
‘Err of course. I
like it, why would I want to change it?’ asked Naffy equally surprised at his
apparent shock. ‘It is consistent’
boring’ he laughed in his characteristic loud voice
‘It is safe’ she
‘When has anything
remotely exciting ever been described as ‘safe’? he asked enjoying her getting
The traders watched
them banter not exactly sure what the argument was about.
‘We get plenty
plenty flavours oga’ said the trader. Apple, Mango, Pineapple, Coconut,
Banana…’ he ranted on pointing at each fruit as he mentioned their names
‘Can I have
pineapple and coconut’ he ordered
Nafisat ordered and
insisted on paying as a thank you for the ride. He graciously accepted and sipped
on his smoothie as they walked back to his car.
They drove the few
meters to her house and sat in the car sipping their drinks. ‘So you somehow
know everything about my love life, what about yours?’ asked Naffy
‘Well I am married
with two kids’ he said with a smile. He pulled out his phone and showed her a
few pictures of his family. He had two beautiful girls aged 11 and 7 a plump wife
with warm eyes and dimples.
Nafisat watched him
as he flicked through the pictures, he was so animated as he spoke about them
and had a story to tell about each picture. She felt a pang of jealousy at how
in love he seemed.
‘You are a very
lucky man. You seem to have it all’ said Nafisat quietly
‘Well for a long
time, I did not have anything at all. But sometimes, the thing you crave the
most is right in front of you, but you are ignoring it. Because you are looking
for something grander. Nafisat I have only known you for less than two hours so
this might be completely premature. But unlike most people, your problems seem
to me completely of your own doing. Everyone has a shot at happiness; you just
have to take it. Get rid of people around you that are toxic. Starting with
your boyfriend and best friend. Make new friends. Don’t hold on to the old ones
because you’ve known them for a long time. Most relationships run a natural
course. Find someone who makes you happy all the time and don’t let that person
go. Life is too short to be unhappy my dear, especially for someone as young and
as privileged as yourself.’ said Kwame. He spoke very slowly stretching out his
sentences and laying emphasis on certain words.
Nafisat listened in
silence at his speech. She felt like she was back in her principal’s office in
JS3 when she was called in for calling her teacher a ‘hairy baboon’.
‘Thank you for
that. I actually listened to you. Again exceptional night.’ Nafisat got out of
the car as the security guard knocked on the car window to tell them they could
not park there.
‘And you were right
about the coconut and pineapple. It was lovely.’ She said with a conceding
‘It was nice to
have met you Nafisat. You made an otherwise dull evening interesting’ replied
Nafisat walked up
to her house sipping the last of the pineapple smoothie. It was much nicer than
hers and after Kwame forced her to try it, she ended up taking his. The house
was quiet and Adamu jogged ahead to open the doors. She walked into the room as
he turned on all the lights and the air conditioning. She told him not to
bother as she was going upstairs to her room.
He called out to
her ‘Aunty, akwai letter daga Lagos’
She wondered what
documents her boss could have sent her so soon. She was surprised that no one
from the office had called her all day. She had not given a thought to when she
would go back to Lagos, and wondered if the letter would mean she would have to
go back the following day. She could not afford to be idle with so much on her
Adamu handed her a
blue envelope. She was surprised as all the company documents usually came in
their official white envelopes. She could not imagine who it could be from as
no one knew she was in Abuja. As soon as she flipped it, her heart did a little
She had teased Bayo
incessantly about his illegible handwriting. He had written her name boldly and
his attempt to make it legible made it worse. Naffy sipped the smoothie as she
walked up the stairs contemplating weather to open it.
For some reason,
tonight’s dramatics could not seem to end. She sat at the edge of the bed and
took off her mum’s shoes and rubbed her sore feet. Her mum’s heels were not
really meant for walking, especially not on concrete sidewalks. She knew her
mum would never wear them again once she saw the state of the bottoms.
Nafisat pulled out
a cigarette from her bag and smoked it slowly while staring at the letter. She
was not sure she wanted to open it. A part of her really wanted to know what
Bayo would say. Her muscles still ached from their marathon love making the
previous night and felt genuinely hurt by him because she trusted him. It was
ironic that she trusted him knowing that he, like her, was a cheat. Nafisat
always knew Nuhu was unfaithful, theirs had become more of a relationship of
convenience more than anything else now. They understood what was expected of
them and acted accordingly.
With Bayo all the
rules just seem to fly out of the window. Nafisat thought about Kwame’s little
speech a couple of minutes ago. She decided to give Bayo a chance to tell his
story and tore up the envelope to read his handwritten letter.