DIARY OF A STRANGE WOMAN – 51

Nosa will date any man for the right price. Find out why.

I don’t see Esosa for another three days. With the mattress cover, nothing can make me need the sun for my mattress again. The cover is so thick, the damp smell on the mattress is covered up, which makes me so happy.

For the three days, everyone keeps to their corners of the house. Daddy may be old and broke but he’s still in charge. I imagine he warned Queen too to stay away from me. The truth is that I’m not going anywhere yet. It’s getting to the end of the month, which means I’ve been away for that long, but I’m not yet ready to face my reality.

How will I tell Luke his wife has been calling and hounding me, threatening me too? Fine, his marriage is on the rocks, but I don’t want to be held responsible directly. Well, I am but I might as well let her shoot her own leg. One day he will get to know and be angry enough to expedite the divorce. In the meanwhile, I’m a happy mistress. My account has been credited twice since I got to Benin, which is not a bad thing at all. I wonder if I can keep Luke on this leash…have my cake and eat it with him.

Well, Sazu visits me and we chat for a while. It’s Friday, and he wants to take me to club, but I don’t feel up to it. As I walk him to his car, Esosa drives in. I don’t recognize him at first because he’s in the Rav4. I had thought two different tenants owned the two cars, or a family at least.

Esosa walks resolutely to us. “I thought you’d gone back. Good evening.” He nods at Sazu, who nods right back.

“I’ve got to run.” Sazu gives me a quick hug. “I’ll call tomorrow or Sunday.”

He waves and hurries off. Trust Sazu to know when to back off. He hasn’t shown any interest beyond platonic anyway. He knows me.

“I’m sorry I slept off yesterday.”

“It’s three days now.”

Oh. Yeah. Three days ago. I’m sorry.”

He pouts. “I cooked a feast.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“So, can you come over now?”

I laugh. “You’re just coming back from work. Don’t you want to unwind at least?”

“So you can escape again. No. I’m fine.”

I shrug. “Okay, if you don’t mind.”

His flat is nicely furnished. A two-bedroom cut off what used to be our “upstairs” in my growing up years. Esosa is also a very engaging person, and we spend the evening talking about everything.

He works with a federal government agency in the legal department and seem to be doing well.  His family had always lived in Lagos so coming to Benin, though he is from here was a bit lonely.

“Now I may have a strong reason to return to Lagos,” he says lightly over a meal of peppersoup and rice.

“Why?”

He winks and we both laugh as he talks about his family in Lagos. I’m not so interested in the details as my stomach starts to turn.

His food tasted nice, and I think I had too much.

As the evening progresses, Esosa talks endlessly. I begin to feel nausea, and don’t know how to tell him I have to leave, until I feel it right in my throat.

In the middle of what is supposed to be a funny tale, I stand. “Bathroom.” Is all I got to say before the mess comes gushing out.

I have never been so embarrassed in my life. Well, not in recent times.

Esosa is a perfect gentleman and helps me to the bathroom, where I succeed in emptying my stomach in his toilet. He cleans me up nicely and offers to carry me home because I am so weak I can hardly walk. I refuse of course. Queen will never stop talking about it.

Esosa offers. “Let me take you to the hospital.”

“No, I’m fine. I feel so much better now.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t even ask if you have any allergies to any food.”

I giggle. “It’s not your food. I must have had too much.”

“You need to go to the clinic, anyway. I’ll take you there in the morning.”

Finally, I’m home and on mattress, clutching my stomach. I feel a whole lot better though.

Esosa keeps to his word. It’s Saturday morning and everyone is sleeping late, when he knocks on the door. I quickly prepare, and he takes me to a private clinic where he knows the doctor.

My vitals are taken, and some tests run.

And alas, the doctor calls me into his office.

“Nosa, you’re pregnant.”

 

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DIARY OF A STRANGE WOMAN – 50

Nosa will date any man for the right price. Find out why.

With my mattress out in the sun, and me needing more sleep, I soon forget about Esosa and hop onto the bottom bunk. I feel special fatigue today, maybe because of dragging the heavy mattress out all on my own.

I wake up few times to eat and use the bathroom but don’t do much else through out the day. And night.

In the morning however, I wake up to pee in my face, dripping from the top bunk. I scream and kick the bed so hard, one of the boys fell off. The older one. My goodness, I didn’t know any of them peed on the bed. The dripping continues, and I roll off spitting and cursing.

Queen rushes in in time to rescue her son from my flailing hand. It doesn’t even occur to me she shouldn’t be so close. Shouldn’t she be upstairs or was she about to come wake the boys?

Then I realize she planned this. It’s almost seven, and both boys normally wake up by six. Also, my gaze catches a potty on the top bunk. So, I presume someone peed in the potty, and they bring it on the bed to pour over me.

I am convinced my father’s wife is evil. My first instinct is to beat her up, but she runs upstairs to her room with her boys. My father stops me at the door.

“Nosa, you will leave at this rate. Your problem is getting too much.”

“Daddy, do you know what she did? She put a—”

“My dear, I don’t want to know. This is her house and your trouble is becoming too much.”

Ah, the way of a man with a maid! Such a stupid girl like this has turned my father’s senses. How can he be happy with this girl?

“Apologize to her now, Nosa. Or leave my house.”

I can’t believe my daddy just said that. I take several deep breaths. Do I return to Lagos now, and face the problems I left behind? Am I ready for that? Or tell this little witch what she wants to hear?

“I’m sorry, Queen.”

Daddy turns and gets back into bed. “Now, please go. All of you. I want to sleep.”

I trudge downstairs, and out of the house where my mattress had spent the night, and now covered with the harmattan dew. Maybe I should just junk it and buy another, but Queen will likely mess the new one up too. She doesn’t want me in her house, so she will keep doing things to send me away. The coward cannot face me.

Well, as long as I am not ready to go back to Lagos, and I don’t want to finish my savings on hotels, I will have to humble myself and oblige. But before I leave, Queen will see my revenge. I am planning it. It will be sweet. She will cry for the rest of her life.

With the mattress still so wet, I decide to take it back inside, and buy a full plastic cover for it. Queen goes about the house, humming a happy tune, and preparing her boys for school. When she finally leaves, I take a bath, and call a taxi. Shops will not be open yet, but some nice restaurants in hotels will be. I choose the previous hotel I spent a night in, and order breakfast.

By the time I’m done, I visit a mattress store and buy two full mattress covers. Getting back, Queen is in the kitchen, cooking her tasteless meals. I notice she doesn’t have a job, and I wonder why. Not like her husband is that rich! With my mattress nicely covered, I’m tired and panting, and in need for some sleep, so I lock myself in, and set my alarm so when Queen’s sons return, they will have access.

Now I’m thinking for the silly girl too. Annoying.

 

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DIARY OF A STRANGE WOMAN – 49

Nosa will date any man for the right price. Find out why.

I have never been good at cold wars. I don’t like confrontation either but if you bring it on, I’m all yours. Queen likes cold wars. The next few days, I have a fair dose of how “stupid” she can be fighting her wars. I’ll get into the boy’s room at night to sleep, and my mattress will not be anywhere in view. No one knows where it is. I’ll find it at the back of the house.

On my sixth day, I am woken up with a full bucket of water emptied on my head. Someone tripped the younger son who happened to be carrying cold water to the bathroom, and I suspect the someone is “sneaky, coward Queen”. Thank God it’s cold water. By the way, I still don’t know the names of my half-brothers. After the slap I dealt the older boy on my second day, he has avoided me like a disease, taking his brother with him.

I hear Queen shouting from outside the room for the boys to get ready so they’d not be late for school. I want to pounce on that six-year-old and keep him away from school for a week, but he runs off. I don’t see either brother till their mother carts them away. Did I remember to say my Daddy doesn’t have a car anymore? The boys are taken to school by Queen, either with a neighbor or taxi.

And food has been horrible. Most days, I just go to a buka down the road, and buy my own food. At first, I thought Queen cooks mine specially, but then I see her eat it too, and serve my Daddy.

What a shame! My mum is probably the best cook in Benin. Daddy used to boast he can’t eat any food apart from Mum’s. Now he’s stuck on a woman with two boys I don’t even think are his, and the worst tasting food this side of the Niger. I mean, a pinch of salt may be able to do some tricks.

I move my mattress out of the room into the compound, thankful it’s January, and not a “raining” period. Hopefully this mattress will dry out before evening, or I’ll have to sleep on the stinking couch, or force the younger boy to sleep with his brother on the upper bunk. After all, this is all his fault.

There isn’t much space at the back of the house besides the two parked cars. I haven’t seen any of Daddy’s tenants yet, mainly because I’ve not been out of the house a lot. It’s unlike me to be so lazy most days, just sleeping. I’ve not even read a lot. Eating and sleeping all the time. Even Sazu has given up on trying to get me out of the house.

I gather some stones I find around the fruit trees and drag the mattress over it.

“You need help with that?”

I turn and nearly bump into a hunk. Tall, dark, suited up guy with a deep voice. The mattress is already on the stones, but he helps to make it more balanced.

“Thanks.”

“I’m Esosa Igbinedion.” He stretches his hand.

“I’m sorry my hands are not clean. I’m Nosa.”

“Nosa?” He smiles. “It’s an unusual name for a pretty girl.”

I shrug. “Poor me.”

“Did you just move into the compound?”

“No. I’m visiting my dad.” I arch my neck toward the house.

Oh, you’re landlord’s daughter. Pleased to meet you. I live at the back flat.”

“Pleased to meet you too.”

“Hope we can hang out when I return from work?”

He has a sweet smile. Goodness. I’m in a limbo right now. Supposedly getting married to a multi-millionaire I have ignored his text messages for the last few days. His wife hasn’t called too. Probably she has noticed I’m not in my house. I don’t want to imagine what she’s thinking. Should I be hanging out with a bloke yet?

I rub the back of my neck.

“Please don’t tell me you’re leaving today?”

“No.” I smile. “I’m still around.”

He winks. “Dinner at my place? I cook very well. I’ll be back before 8.”

I shrug. “Why not?”

He beams. “See you then.”

“Okay.”

He walks to the Honda and waves when he drives by me, and I’m thinking, there’s something regally wrong with you, Nosakhare!

 

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DIARY OF A STRANGE WOMAN – 48

Nosa will date any man for the right price. Find out why.

To my surprise Queen ignores her son’s angry protest. Smart girl, because at the moment, I can slap her too.

The cleaners did a good job. I had specifically told them I want the boys’ room to be scratched out, not a thin layer of dust to remain, so I go over to check it out. And yes, it is fantastically clean. I’m not interested in asking Queen for anything, so I arrange a corner for myself. Most of the boxes have been cleared and space for my mattress created. Those cleaners really understand how to follow instructions.

I sit on the lower bunk and wait to hear Queen leave. Afterwards, I go in search of Daddy to let him know I am back.

He’s seated on his bed, wearing his pair of reading glasses but he has nothing to read with him.

“Don’t mind Queen. She can be a real b— at times,” he says.

“She had better know who to challenge.” I scoff. “Why do you say so, anyway?”

“She came in here ranting. I told her you’re an area girl, and you’ll beat her black and blue if she doesn’t behave herself.”

I can’t help but laugh. My daddy is just so wonderful. “Thanks for standing up for me.”

He winks. “Just trying to protect my marriage, dear.”

“Yes o, Daddy!” I continue to laugh.

“Anyway, so when are you going back to Lagos? My wife wants to know.”

Hmm. I don’t know o, Daddy. Right now, I may even stay here in Benin, see if I can get a job.”

Daddy sits up. “What happened in Lagos?”

I am confused on whether to tell him or not. Growing up he was never there for me. He was too angry about having so many daughters and no son. He wanted me to be the boy and made me do boy-chores around the house, which I hated. I would wash the car while my sisters made cookies with Mum in the kitchen and play football with him while the “girls” played Ludo. I hated growing up with this man.

No, my life is none of his business.

“Well, nothing really. I need a change of environment.”

He takes off his glasses and arches an eyebrow. “No lovers at the moment?”

“Daddy, abeg!” I head for the door. “Just wanted you to know I’m home.”

“Queen doesn’t like you being here.”

I snicker. “Unfortunately, she can’t send me away like my mother. And neither can you. I’m in my father’s house.”

I slam the door a little too loud after me.

 

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Thanking God for Aanu

My awesome miracle baby adds another year.

Between this year and the last, you have matured tremendously. I see you growing into a very beautiful young woman, in and out. You take responsibilities seriously at home, at school and in church, and I can’t be more proud of you. I love you, darling. Happy birthday.

DIARY OF A STRANGE WOMAN – 47

Nosa will date any man for the right price. Find out why.

I don’t want to return to my dad’s in the evening so I throw caution to the wind, and spend the night at the hotel. I can’t afford to stay in this hotel all through but the clean environment and quiet helps a lot. Not after the horrible call from Luke’s wife. I don’t even want to see anybody. Not even Sazu. That call took my peace.

I order a healthy meal of isi-ewu, oh I’ve missed the special way it is prepared in Benin. Then later in the night, I order starch and banga. I don’t know what it is with this appetite. I’m craving food I haven’t eaten in forever. But it’s good. Lone makes me happy.

Sazu returns in the evening to take me out but I’m sleepy and drowsy, so I let him go. He promises to pick me back to my dad’s in the morning before he goes to work. Sweet guy. Makes me miss Femi and being with male companion but these are feelings I must purge. When I disentangle from the Chases, I can return to what’s familiar. Or take another risk with a “church brother” in another church, definitely.

To think it’s over three weeks since Tope raped me, and I haven’t been in that church. And no one has called to check on me. I blame them? They have more than enough members!’

The following morning, I’m out of bed in time to get the ride from Sazu.

“You look pale,” he says.

I chuckle. “Forget it, I didn’t go anywhere last night.”

He arches an eyebrow. “And this morning?”

“Lol.”

“Are you up to the club tonight?”

I gasp. “Do you club every night?”

“Does the almighty Nosa William come to Benin every day?”

Oh so this is just for me?”

“Sure.”

“I pity your wife,” I laugh. “Poor girl. See, Sazu, I’m a changed girl o! In fact, na church I dey find now.”

“Church full everywhere. Tonight?”

“I’ll pass.” And am I glad I said that. What do I plan for the evening? Nothing.

“Some friends have a get-together on Saturday. I can pick you up in the evening.”

“So, I won’t see you till Saturday?” Just two days away.

“No. Let me face my wife small as you’re not keen on clubbing every night.”

Na you sabi. Do I know your friends doing the thing on Saturday?”

He mentions a couple of names, but I don’t recognize any. “They were in school the same time with us.”

We continue to chat about how people have changed, and how much I’ve missed, names I can’t put faces to and so on, until we reach Dad’s house.

“Thanks Sazu. See you on Saturday.”

Till then, I’ll just bury myself in food and novels.

Mrs. Queen William is busy getting her sons ready for school in the parlor when I enter the house. The boys, aged nine and six look nothing like my father’s children. It’s incredible how he could believe these rough, ugly things were his. And I am not being mean.

Queen snaps. “The cleaners just came and scattered everything.”

“Good morning to you too.”

“And I asked your mattress delivery people to take it back. There’s no space to put it in this house.”

I take one small puff of air. Is she looking for my trouble?

“I think if someone wants to come to someone’s house, they should tell the person first.” She hisses. “And then come and be changing things like you are one big queen of England.”

So, who’s the small queen of England?

The bigger boy looks at me and gives me a middle finger to my utter shock. Ah, Daddy has entered one-chance with this one o! Still, I just stand there, gazing at her.

“After doing all sorts of jobs nobody has title for, you come and do as if you just returned from one big England.” She looks up from pulling her son’s trousers up to his waist, at me. “You’re not welcome here!”

This girl doesn’t know I have a very long leash, but when it loosens, hmm.

She stands and near-pushes me aside to go into the kitchen, though there’s enough room for her to leave without coming near me.

“Out of my way, asewo!”

The big son gives me the middle finger again and starts to follow his mother into the kitchen. I pull him back and give him the mother of all dirty slaps.

 

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DIARY OF A STRANGE WOMAN – 46

Nosa will date any man for the right price. Find out why.

Sazu has to get back to work in a construction firm where he is an accountant. He drops me at a small but classy hotel and I make one call to a recommended cleaning firm. When the deal is sealed, I go into my first-floor double room, and order a heavy breakfast of cornflakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, orange juice and yogurt.

Then I take a bath…again. I’m fast asleep by the time room service near-knock down my door to deliver. After the meal, I go right back to sleep.

I could set my alarm but I don’t want any disturbance. I think this is the first time in at least two weeks I have some peace and quiet. Well, except the first few days with my mother.

The peace is shattered though by the ringing of my phone, which woke me up. I’ve been asleep for at least three hours but I hate the disturbance.

It’s the same number…Fiona Chase, I presume. Luke sent a message asking how my mother is but I haven’t replied him yet. I guess he’s back from his cruise?

My sane mind lets the phone ring out. The few times I picked up previously yielded nothing with me shouting “hello, who is this?” By a force of habit, I pick up strange numbers, always thought you never know when your “destiny helper” will call per chance. And I only assume this is Mrs. Chase. It may not be.

Each time I remember the scenario I left in Lagos, I shudder. A woman that graphic can be up to anything. She has the means, and my contacts, I can’t afford to take chances with her.

When the phone begins to ring again, I pick it. “Hello, who is this?”

“You’re so rude, and conceited.”

Those words are uttered through a rich female voice and heavy, polished accent. For a moment, it’s like I’ve heard the voice before. One brief second it sounds familiar but immediately, I discard it. Fiona never spoke to me before but yes, this sounds like how her voice will be – rich, husky, confident, accented.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Chase. I don’t appreciate you calling this line. I don’t know what you want, and so I will hang up now. Don’t ever call me again.”

“Really? You don’t know what I want? What do you want? My husband?”

I have faced confrontations before. Honestly, this woman sounds so familiar, it’s like I’m talking to one of my sisters but they don’t sound like this. We all have our “conc” Edo accent. I tried over the years to dump mine but it refused to go, and I don’t know how to “fake” accent like many Lagosians. Once I speak, people know where I’m from.

And just because she sounds like someone I know, I’m speechless. I feel like a cheat. It’s like she’s pleading in her undertone I leave her husband alone. I want to. I want to tell her I am no longer interested in Luke Chase. If his wife can drop a dead bleeding animal on my front door, I am done. I can’t handle such a violent person.

But instead of allowing myself to be distracted by the voice, I snap, “What can your husband do for me? Never call this number again.”

“You shameless idiot!” Her accent slips a bit but she gets it right back on. “You haven’t seen anything yet. I will call your number day and night. I will give it to all my friends to call it too. You will hate your life, believe me.”

“You don’t scare me one bit!” I yell. She does actually. “If you want a fight, Fiona Chase, I will give you one. Stupid woman. Instead of looking for how to see how much you can get out of your divorce, you’re there running after a lost cause.”

She allows me to finish then laughs a deep, throaty laughter, which I think I have heard before.

In the coldest tone I have ever heard in my life, she says, “Challenge accepted.” And hangs up.

Goose bumps cover my body, head to toe.

 

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