Palm lines - Episode 18
After I got back home, Mr. Savage called me to know how I was. I didn't know why he called. "Aren't you breaking your no talking policy?" I asked and he laughed.
"Strangely, I thought of you, so I decided to call"
"I just had a talk with Dad, it wasn't a talk perse... It...." I stalled, "And how do you feel?" He asked and i laughed.
"I feel kind of guilty because it was In front of Feso during a family dinner" "I had my introduction today"
"It wasn't the usual introduction, it was supposed to be Mom, Feso and I but she invited everyone . Dad was obviously interested in my dowry"
"Have you called to apologize?" He asked and I shook my head.
"Na, I'm still angry" I replied.
"Give it time and also give him time" he advised.
"Why do you sound smart all of the sudden?"
"These front hair are not grey for nothing" he answered and I laughed. "Sharon says hi" he added.
"Send her my kisses" I answered.
Dorcas declared Thursday as movie night, she bought a movie with snacks and popcorn for me and sharwarma for her and Kechi.
I slowly watched her eat her sharwarma while I munched on the popcorn. I was no longer watching the movie.
"Men are scams!" Kechi complained from watching the movie and I glanced back at the t.v then I glanced back at Dorcas.
"I don't feel like eating popcorn, it's too dry." I threw a handful into my mouth then I continued chewing.
"But you're eating it"
"Because I don't want to waste it
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. You know how much I hate wasting food" I complained. "Can I taste your sharwarma?" I asked and they both gaze at me in shock.
"Just a taste" I begged and they hesitated.
"The last time you tasted this thing, you vomited"
"It smells good now, can I just have a taste of it. Okay fine! Keep it, so it will not look as if I'm begging for something"
Dorcas gave her half eaten sharwarma to me and I took a bite. It tasted divone!
"Oh my God, I never knew sharwarma tasted this nice"
"Are you serious right now?" Dorcas asked, "This same Sharwarma you preached against" she asked and I kept on eating.
"Kechi can I have yours?" I asked and she laughed.
They both stared strangely at me. "Wonders of pregnancy" Kechi commented. "But I'm not as nice as Dorcas, it's not too late to get your own"
"Seriously?" I asked, "Yes, seriously! Madam Erika go outside and get your own Sharwarma and leave my own in peace"
"Fine!" I answered angrily.
"I'll go" I went into the room, then i changed into a longer trousers.
"Wait oh, she's serious oh" I heard Kechi whisper to Dorcas. "Yes I'm serious"
"You're ruining movie night" she added.
"But I feel like eating Sharwarma" I complained and Dorcas opted to come along with me. "I'm not minister in charge of pregnancy matters for nothing" she wore her slippers.
After one of my antenal appointment days with my doctor, she decided to escort me out. We had previously discussed on my cravings for sharwarma.
She in turn discussed on her own craving. "I ate groundnut and I had pimples all over my face. I even had pimples where pimples shouldn't be" she joked and I laughed.
"That's one thing about pregnancy, it differs in every woman. You're lucky you're still fresh, in fact you're glowing each day"
"Thank you doctor"
"You're welcome, I'll have to stop here. Bye Miss Erika" she walked away and i saw Ugo walk out from a room clapping her hands.
"Erika you're pregnant" she yelled.
"What gave you that ridiculous idea?" I answered. "I heard the doctor quite alright"
"What are you also doing here?"
"I have a doctor's appointment today cause I'm pregnant" "Yeah, that pregnancy I did know of"
"Oh please get over it! I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to feel bad. Besides, you're pregnant outside wedlock. Was that why you invited Feso over"
"Oh please Ugo, who are you deceiving? Was Mama aware you were pregnant before marriage?" I asked and she scoffed.
"What gave you that ridiculous idea?" It was get turn to ask the question.
"I know you're five months gone" "Don't shout it out" Ugo looked around. "I walked past Mama Chioma a while ago" she pulled me into a broom cupboard.
"Please don't tell Mama"
"Why? You're married already"
"Cause Mam always wanted us to do things the right way." She shut her eyes. "When I got pregnant, I didn't want to abort" she paused.
"I had to quickly get married before it shows"
"How would you hide it when the belly shows"
"It hasn't shown much, I really want to tell her it's more than three months but I can't"
"You're scared she'll be disappointed at you as she is with me". I completed and she pulled back. "How long gone are you?" She asked, "Three"
"Three months? Then you lied at dinner about how long you've been with Feso. What's he waiting for? He owns Odogwu's construction. Haba! is he just being plain stupid or stingy?" She asked and I hissed folding my hands.
"He doesn't know?" She asked and I kept mute.
"What's going on?" She asked in ibo and I tried not to cry, my defenses broke and tears poured down.
"It can't be that bad, except the child isn't Feso's child cause i know you. You're not the promiscuous type" she glanced at me.
"Erika!" She yelled.
"Jesus, Sister!" She added.
"How did it happen?"
"I can't explain, it was at your wedding, I was devastated and I had some drinks"
"You know that thing doesn't like your body system" she complained in ibo. "I do, it's just" I sighed.
"It just happened? Someone had s*x with me and I don't even know how he looks like, " I slapped my lap in tears.
"And you didn't ab*rt it?" She asked and I shook my head.
"I wanted to, but I couldn't. I was warned that I would die" "I can't believe this happened on my wedding day" she leaned the wall.
"Why didn't you pin it on Feso?" She asked and I glared at me.
"Me I'm saying it from my perspective, I would have just ab*rted the baby or find someone to pin it on. Not like the baby has a father."
"You should have at least said something to Feso"
"I couldn't out of shame but I will, soon.. I don't know when but I will soon"
Examination soon began, and the marking of scripts began to meet up with quick results delivery. I had series of bad events happening to me, my phone fell into water a day before my reunion with my University colleagues.
I had to settle for Kechi's Nokia 3310 phone.
Amidst my busy schedule, I went for the Reunion. It was nice seeing some faces once again and some faces I wish I didn't have to see like that of Imaobong Sunday- my nemesis those days.
She was now married with three kids. How did I know? I followed her basically on Facebook. I've always wanted to see if her life would be better than mine but quite honestly, from all of her post on Facebook, from her wedding and so on, I knew life has been better than mine.
"Erika, women leader that year" a guy hailed and I chuckled. "Our prayer warrior" Anita added.
"You guys have started again Shea?" I smiled and they laughed.
Soon, we engaged in conversations.
Imaobong called on everyone's attention using a microphone. "I cannot thank everyone enough for accepting to come today. Even with our various occupation and profession. Daniel had to fly all the way from Chicago, Yvonne had to come from New York, some of us had to come from various states. You guys are the best" she appreciated.
"I want to thank God for bringing us here, he is worthy to be praise. This God has seen us through a lot and we cannot be ungrateful to him" she paused.
"I'm a Deaconess in church so, I'm sorry but I love to thank this God" she paused then looked at me with a familiar look.
"You know what again? I am so happy and grateful that of everyone, I mean every lady in 2009 graduating set, we are all married women, well except out dear Erika here" I saw some people sniggered.
"Well we pray for God to open doors the same way he did for us." She prayed and some people chorused "Amen!"
I looked down in shame , "Don't let that b*tch bring you down" Anita whispered to me. Some people are married and they wish to be single again, just bone the idiot"
"I'm sorry about saying it out like this Erika, it's just that it's 2018 and you're still not married. God in heaven will listen to your cries" Imaobong continued, "Did you tell her you were crying before?" Anita asked and I chuckled.
She made me feel better.
"Deaconess oshi, pretentious b*tch. Why I waste my five thousand like this for this thing sef?" She asked.
"Who would have thought that Erika of all people, I mean the school sweetheart, the ACADA of that session would be single. She had everyone drooling, God will help you ehn?"
"Someone should please collect the microphone from that woman" she begged.
"Just leave her"
"Let's welcome our former ACADA and financial secretary, student Union unopposed" she announced and I walked up to the stage.
She handed me a microphone.
"How has life being?" She asked, and I wondered why she would ask that in the first place. "First of what do you think about the reunion and all. I'm brilliant, I've always been brilliant and I thought of this. It's been what? 9 years"
"Yes Imaobong, it's a great idea. It's a platform to meet our old friends and feel at home. We used to be like one family then"
"I heard you're now a teacher in one primary school" she asked. I imagined hitting the microphone on her head, what kind of question?
I tried to keep my cool.
"Well it isn't a primary school, it's a secondary school, University preparatory high school. For parents intending to take their children to school, it's a very good school. Anyone that has ever been under my tutorial, you have my word you won't regret taking your children to school. It's up to every great standard." I advertised.
"We have it in primary and secondary" I answered then I looked at Imaobong who was clearly angry that I didn't feel bad.
"Are you a successful teacher"
"Yes I am, I have attained a lot from being a teacher, the lives I've touched. Teachers are the real heroes. What I've gotten from being a teacher is immeasurable" I answered then a Nokia ring tone filled the air.
Everyone looked around to find out where it was coming from. All eyes were suddenly on me.
Damn! I shut my eyes.
I didn't even realize it was Kechi's phone ringing.
"I was so embarrassed" I complained taking off my shoes.
"Ehya" Dorcas sympathized withholding her laughter. "Feel free to laugh" I said to her and she laughed. "When I even found out it was Kechi calling me, I almost broke the phone."
"I was just calling to find some scoop about the reunion"
"It was one hell of a scoop, cause I bet that everyone's talking about this right now" I answered and she laughed.
"You're not even making me feel bad about it. You're being funny" she added and I busted into tears. "Cause I don't want to cry over this. This was orchestrated by Imaobong"
"She wasn't the one who made the phone ring nah" Kechi answered and I glared at her.
"She wanted me to feel bad and she managed to"
"But that babe is a b*tch oh! Why would she made utterances about you being unmarried" Dorcas asked, "Is it her unmarried?" Kechi asked.
"I for no gree for her" she snapped her fingers. "We would have fought it out that moment, what insolence!" She hissed.
"So you didn't even answer her"
"Silence is the best answer for a fool. Imaobong is clearly one"
Sharon called me up by 12:00 a.m in the morning. "Hello dear" I picked up with a low groan. "Good morning Mam" she greeted.
"You sound weird" she added, "Some people do sleep at this time" I answered.
"Weird, Dad said the same thing" she answered. "What's going on?"
"It's my birthday" she answered and eyes automatically opened wide. I didn't feel sleepy anymore.
"Seriously? And you couldn't tell me"
"I didn't know how it will sound, it will look as though I want you to wish me happy birthday or get me gifts. Well that was what Dad said" she paused.
"I wanted to tell you yesterday"
"You shouldn't have listened to your dad. You know your dad is thoughtless" I commented, "He's here and the phone is on loud speaker!" I heard him say and then I need to witheld my laughter.
"Why would you tell that?" I asked, "Well... Technically and originally, looking at it from the Naija perspective, if a young lady, Dorcas for instance, if she tells me tomorrow's her birthday. I automatically assume she wants gifts and lots of it"
"What if the day had gone by without wishing her a happy birthday. I would have been really angry with myself" "I didn't think of it that way"
"Like I said, thoughtless" I commented.
"Happy birthday Sharon" I wished. "Thank you Ma" "I wish you the best in life, I wish you joy, I wish you love, I wish you excellence in everything you do"
"You're finally fourteen years"
I told Lawrence about the situation with Richard and Erika and he shook his head. "Mehn, this Kain thing sef" he sighed.
"You look more worried, and I'm sure it's not my news working you up"
"Mom, I received a call from the babe she wants me to marry. She's in Lagos and I'm supposed to meet her at one resort like that"
"Just try this thing out nah" i advised.
"Aren't you supposed to stay away from Erika?" He asked and I scoffed. "I'm trying my best, I can't get her completely out of my head"
"She has a boyfriend" he emphasized again and I rolled my eyes. "I know, I believe I will gradually"
I've always loved December, not just because of it's festivities but also because it marked the start of my fatherhood. It was the month Juliet made me a father.
Last year i almost forgot Sharon's birthday because of work and I remembered later in the day but she preferred I come back to Nigeria but I couldn't.
I was on the verge of acquiring a property. I came back with gifts but she didn't accept any. I swore never to miss this year's own.
I heard a knock on the door while I was sleeping. I grudgingly opened the door, I found Sharon in her jammies and her hands folded.
"Who's it?" Cynthia asked, "It's Sharon" I answered, who else could it be?
"It's .." Sharon looked at her phone, " 25 minutes to my birthday and you're still sleeping"
"Can I just sleep for that 25 minutes I'll have my alarm wake me" my eyes were still closed.
"Why do you sound that way"
"Well some people do sleep by this time" i answered.
"I want to show you something" she added and she held my hands to her secret room. "Do you want to know what's behind my secret room?" She asked and I nodded.
"Are you sure?" She asked, "Yes"
"How badly do you want to see it?" She asked and I chuckled.
"Now it sounds like you're flirting with me" I teased her and she raised her brow in disgust.
"I was just kidding" I laughed and she opened the door.
"This is my humble inspiration room" she denotes and I looked around. It had sketch books cellotaped or glued to the walls.
"I know it's amateurish and it looks unkept but.. this is what I've come to like Daddy. I love drawing"
I blinked severally, I didn't know if it was an effect from my breaking heart. I never thought Sharon wot be an Artististic tyt or end up being an artiste.
I finally knew how it felt when daughters tell their parents they're homosexual.
"Happy birthday" I whispered to Sharon and she smiled. "Thank you Daddy"
She picked up her phone, "I have to call Miss Erika, I feel bad for not telling her." "She'll really pounce on you if the day went by without you telling her"
"But you said if I tell her, it will look as though I'm begging for gifts"
"I did?" I asked and she pinched me on my belly.
"I was just giving my honest opinion as a Nigerian" I answered and she picked up her phone dialing Miss Erika's number.
We spoke at length and she gave Sharon her best wishes. She makes Sharon happy.
I slept with Sharon in her secret room, I walked back into the room by past six. Cynthia was already awake.
"Morning" she answered.
"Where were you?"
"With Sharon, she showed me her secret room"
"Did you at least get the keys from her?" She asked and I wondered why. "Why?" I asked and she scoffed.
"David, I told you that room belongs to my mother, the holiday is near already, she's planning on coming"
"There are eight rooms in this house Cynthia, pick another"
"I refused to! Baby I'm your wife, go and talk to her"
"It's her birthday, there's no way I'm bringing up this topic again. Just let it rest" "That room has a good view, mom loves that room"
"Not today, it's her birthday let's just be happy and at least wish her a happy birthday?" "Did she wish me during mine?" She scoffed.
"Be the bigger one here"
"Are you trying to tell me that I'm being immature?" She asked and I scoffed again.
I made preparations for an outing, Sharon, her friends, Miss Erika and Cynthia but Cynthia refused. Tuni stopped by with a boy; I didn't realize Sharon had a boy as a friend.
We had to pick Miss Erika up at her house.
Her friend Kechi didn't even give me breathing space. Her hands were all over my chest.
"My sugar daddy"
I didn't understand why she loved doing that.
Miss Erika soon came out dressed in a flower print a little bit above the knee gown. "I would like to tag along" Kechi begged, "No" I answered.
"We already made reservations already. Sorry" I lied.
"Ehya. You guys have fun!" She chipped in.
We drove over to the resort, I made order for cakes and drinks. After we cut the cakes and had our drinks, the children went over to a session to have their fun.
My eyes lingered on Ade the boy Sharon invited, "What's it?" She asked and I chuckled.
"Nothing... It's just..." I stalled.
"Why do I feel like Sharon likes that boy?" I asked and Erika laughed. "Someone's being protective"
"Don't blame me for being a father" I answered.
"It's just weird, boys can be very funny oh. You don't even want to know the age I started having s*x, I don't trust these boys of nowadays"
"Stop it! When you start harboring that fear, you'll be tempted to overprotect her"
"She's growing up Miss Erika, can you at least advise her on what to do? S*x education" I managed to say and she laughed.
"I wish I can show you your face right now" she laughed again.
Mr Savage passed a file to me, the file had been on a table where we sat. I thought it was business until I opened it.
It was a house in Sharon's name"
"The house I got during Sharon's birthday was willed to her. I never had the chance to give her"
"That's sweet, you should talk to her" I advised and he agreed he'll do it at the end of the day.
"I found out Sharon has a passion for drawing" he chipped in and I smile. "She's really gifted" I answered and he raised his brow in shock.
"Yes, you don't seem thrilled about it"
"It's like I just found out my daughter's a lesbian. I'm disappointed" "Why?"
"An artist? How many artist makes in it Nigeria"
"You're stinkingly rich Mr. Savage, you'll fly her abroad to study" "I don't want to influence her choice, I always thought she would go into a profession"
"Now you sound like Mom when she found out I wanted to be teacher" I snapped and he shrugged.
"Of all profession, she chose that"
"It doesn't matter, the heart wants what it wants. I've always wanted to be a teacher, you pursued an engineering degree before going for estate management, why did you?"
"Passion, I had my mind on business" he answered and I nodded.
"My point exactly"
"We just had cake and you had plenty of it"
"Is it a crime to be hungry?" I asked and he called on a worker. "The lady would love to eat"
"What's your preference Ma?"
"Do you have sharwarma on your menu?" "No Ma"
"Seriously? Get me anything watering, how about pepper soup?" I asked and he nodded. "Yes we do Ma, goat meat or chicken pepper soup?"
"Goat meat will be perfect" I turned to Mr Savage who was vaguely staring at me. "What? Are you scared of the bills?"
"What?" He scoffed.
"Do you want to make it two plates, I don't mind" he answered and I laughed. "Would you like to eat?" I asked and he nodded.
"A plate for me too" he requested and the waiter left.
"Are you pregnant?" He asked then laughed. I suddenly felt uncomfortable.
"Jeez!" He added and I turned towards Sharon and company looking for a topic I could quickly change into.
"How was your reunion yesterday?" He asked and I shrugged. I wish I could just forget about it.
"I really don't want to talk about it" "Why?" He asked and I explained everything to him.
He didn't laugh, he just gave me that serious look but I knew I should be expecting something nonsensical very soon.
"So, I'm curious, very curious, what was the ring tone? Was it the usual Nokia" he made the Nokia popular ring tone sound, "Or the.." he made another sound and I laughed.
"You must have felt like disappearing" "The annoying thing was that, she was with her iPhone, flaunting her nonsense iPhone around and I was with this" I removed the phone from my hand bag and he laughed.
"The ringtone was so loud, like one of those tekno phones made in China" I covered my face withy palms and he laughed. "I felt so embarrassed"
"They might actually think it's a small phone that you have a bigger one" "Not from the way I reacted. I almost died In shame, it's a miracle I'm still alive" I answered and he smiled.
"What happened to your phone?"
"It fell in water. I was supposed to give to someone to repair, but with the limited time and unexpected events, I haven't been able to"
"There's this phone at home, I barely use it but it's new" he began and I shook my head. I knew where this was going, I didn't want him getting me a phone.
"Or I can get you a new one"
"Thanks, I really appreciate it but it's okay. I'll work it out"
"Seriously?" He asked, "So I shouldn't bother?" He asked and I rolled my eyes.. "
Yes" I answered firmly.
"You don't have to listen to her, the lady who marriage-shamed you" he advised.
Read " Hotel Palava " by the same author ( Essien Eno )
. "I can't believe 9 years after school and she's unable to get maturity. You're not going to be single forever, she's wrong" he paused.
"I know" I answered with a smile, then I fixed my lips against a straw dipped in my glass of milk shake. The waiter came afterwards with the goat meat pepper soup.
After Sharon's birthday celebration, I went over to Feso's where I spent the rest of my weekends. He me a new phone, a latest Samsung model , I was.never a phone freaking, and as much as I was hesitant, deep down I was stoked!
On Monday, Feso stopped me in front of the school compound. I walked out of his car, then I sighted Sharon, her dad and Lawrence.
"The whole family came today, why?" "David and I have plans and businesses to sort out" Lawrence answered and I smiled at Sharon.
"Good morning Ma" she greeted and I waved at her.
"Someone's trying to flaunt her new phone" Mr Savage pointed out, it wasn't even intentional! I felt weird, just as I opened.my mouth to defend myself, I heard Feso's voice.
"Erika!" He called out to me and I turned over at him. He was with Kechi's phone. I must have left it in his car.
"What are you doing with these people?" He asked and I wondered why his mood changed.
I slowly turned towards Mr Savage then I pointed at him. "He's the father of Sharon, remember we took her to her house the other day"
"I do, Such a sweet girl doesn't deserve to have a a*shole for a father. Maybe that's why she's messed up" he pointed out, "Better watch it Feso" Lawrence charged towards him and Mr. Savage pulled him back.
I didn't understand what was going on. How in the world did these three get to know themselves???
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