Jide rode aimlessly around surulere environs, his thoughts were in a haze and he was feeling really angry. Minutes ago, he had rolled up the glasses of the car, settling instead for the A.C, it was like a defence mechanism, for he really didn’t want law-breaking motorists or the damn drivers of Molue commercial buses to get him more pissed. They seemed to be everywhere, gliding in and out of lane trying to beat whatever target they’d set for themselves. Wasn’t today supposed to be Sunday, why were they not resting or something? He wondered. Busy city indeed was Lagos. He concluded with a sigh.
As he approached the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, he reduced his speed and considered going in. ‘To do what?’ ‘Whatever there is to do’. He answered the questioner in his mind.
Then Slowly he ebbed his way out of the road and made for a parking space quite close to the entrance of the stadium. His stomach rumbled then as if reminding him that it had not been settled. Jide winced glancing at the time piece, it was quarter to two, and he hadn’t eaten!
The realisation turned his hands on the wheel into a fist, he couldn’t remember when last he’d have to eat lunch late apart from when he had a pile load of work.
Well, not after he got married anyways. Maybe what he needed now was food and not a day in the stadium. He concluded and pulled back to the road, his sights set on any eatery close by.
What was with the new attitude of Daisy he thought as he drove, no doubt, that sullen rude stranger he met earlier on was the smoke behind the clouds, she definitely had nothing palatable to offer, ‘whoever she was, whatever was her name and wherever she appeared from’. Jide cursed bitterly. If he had his way she wouldn’t even be a mile close to his house or his wife. She was nothing than another cog in the wheel in his progress of building up a home he had recently started craving.
Jide eyes shifted to his phone now shrieking helplessly on the passenger seat. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone so he ignored the call, parked at one side of the road and set to choosing where to patronize between the two eateries facing each other. He wasn’t a pro at this things, he didn’t have a favorite ‘cos he hardly patronized them, thanks to his secretary anyways.
The phone resumed its cries, its vibration paining the hell out of Jide’s ears, angry and irritated, he picked the annoying thing. The caller’s ID was hidden. Pressing the receive button, he switched the phone to ‘hands free’ and said nothing, as a rule, he never was the first ‘hello’ to calls like this, if the callers weren’t bold enough to call, they didn’t deserve his courtesy.
Caller: ‘Jide, are you there? Why did you cut me off that way, you promised to call and I’ve been waiting yet…’came the hysterical voice of a female
Jide: Jide sighed and shook his head ‘Grace, what’s the meaning of these?’ he asked calmly.
Caller (Grace): ‘what!’ she shouted.
Jide: ‘why the hell are you calling me with strange numbers and…’
Grace: ‘since you’ve made it a duty to ignore my call, when i call with…’
Jide: ‘you are better than this’. Jide interrupted.
Grace: ‘Really now, am I?’ she snapped ‘Okay okay, I know Jide, but am desperately…’ Grace resorted to whining.
Jide: Not the desperation word please! Jide cringed in disgust. He hated clinging and desperate girls, just like he had envisioned Daisy then. But obviously now, she seemed to be one to keep her distance. To an extent, he was okay with it.
Jide: ‘Grace what do you want? Am sorry we ended, but you gotta move on…’
Grace: ‘No!’ Grace cut in vehemently ‘lets talk about us, the last time you were in a fit of rage and…’
Jide sighed. There was no reasoning with her.
Jide: ‘look am damn hungry and i got no time for…’
Grace: ‘I cooked! Yes i did’ Grace cut in, a hint of excitement in her voice
Grace: ‘…specially for you’.
No response from Jide’s side.
Grace: ‘Am working on my cooking okay, Stella is helping me with it, am…am getting better just for you…’
Jide sighed again. Better wasn’t what she’d prepared last, but since he was really hungry, it wont hurt to give her the benefit of the doubt. Fast foods didn’t thrill him anyway.
Jide: ‘okay okay’ he cut in resignedly. ‘…give me some minutes, i will be there’.
Grace: ‘Oh! Thank you, i promise you wont regret it, am gonna treat you real good, give you the best…’
Jide kicked start the engine drowning out her ramblings. That girl could talk all the way to her house if you let her, 2 year since they had been dating and she didn’t know what kind of man he was? He wasn’t one to give in to so much talk. Everything needn’t be settled by talking always! God! Her nagging had become unbearable of recent.
Grace: ‘…okay, I’d be waiting for you.’ Grace came to an end, she’d noticed Jide wasn’t responding either. ‘…see you then?’ she wanted to be sure.
Jide: ‘Grace am coming’ Jide replied irritated after seconds of hesitation.
Grace: ‘okay’ she said quite inaudibly and the air went silence. She had ended the call.
Jide gave out a long breath. You gotta give it to Grace to talk and nag out your existence! Thank God Daisy didn’t seem to nag or maybe she was successfully covering that aspect of her wifely self, as far as he was concerned, women couldn’t help the act, twas as if they were all born with it. Whatever the case, He was really done and over with this particular nagging chick. She was pretty, independent and all but she had no hold on him anymore, he felt pity for her, but he couldn’t help it, he hadn’t caused it either, the blame rested on Mama, his father and on their choice-bride. They had usurped her position while Daisy somehow finally managed to grip his heart. She could have very well been the Mrs Olukoya, when he eventually decided to settle down. Too bad, he was as helpless as she was in this situation.
Jide could sight her compound now, she lived at an apartment in Ojuelegba, like 30 minutes drive from Aguda where he lived. Everything had worked good for them then…the closure and all. But now, everyone’s got to move on he concluded.
Grace: ‘welcome darling’ Grace said as she moved seductively, towards Jide, her hands wide open for a hug.
Jide raised his hands, his palms facing her, symbolizing her to stop. Grace grimaced and stopped in her track, slowly bringing down her hands.
Grace: ‘a hug wouldn’t hurt’ she said pained.
Jide: ‘nor take us anywhere’ Jide replied walking past her.
Grace: ‘we used to be so good, everything was perfect, we were the best around…’
Jide: Would she allow him land before she began her sorry speech? Jide thought, irritation visible on his face.
Jide: ‘I didn’t come for that…at all’ he said and slumped unto a settee.
Grace: ‘what happened to us?’ Grace continued unpreturbed, she was near tears now.
Not the tears! Jide thought bewildered. Grace was stronger than this, what was wrong with her today. Maybe this was a bad idea after all, but then, what had he expected?
Grace: ‘…why don’t we talk about us, our time together. I love you like I’ve never loved another, 2 years of my life i gave to you, why are you suddenly treating me with so much disgust, did you ever even loved me?’
Jide: ‘I surely did, but now I…’
Grace: ‘But now what? some dumb ass ninny from planet Mars came into the picture, and voila! Am outta the album, just like that?’ Grace voice was ringing out now in anger.
Jide: ‘You make it sound as if i did it on purpose!’ Jide matched her tone.
Grace: ‘you bloody well ain’t doing anything otherwise!’she screamed.
Jide: ‘otherwise like what!’
Grace: ‘Like send the annoying thing outta the house and bring me the rightful Occupant in!’
Jide: ‘you don’t f.ucking tell me what to do, neither do you run my life, you hear me! Okay?’ he shouted staring at Grace who was now towering over him where he sat.
Grace: ‘obviously i don’t! Your grandmama does!’ she retorted.
Jide: ‘that’s it!’ Jide said standing up then started walking towards the door. ‘like i said, I didn’t come for this atall’.
What was wrong with these people anyways, was this a set up to keep him hungry and angry today? Before he could get to the door, Grace zoomed pass him and was now shielding the door with her hands wide outstretched.
Jide: ‘please get out of my way’ he said angrily.
Grace: ‘Don’t go please, am sorry, i didn’t mean for this to happen, my fear of losing you made me…’ Grace was pleading.
This woman was a nutcase Jide thought angrily and lurched to push her away. If he didn’t get out now, with all that was going through him, he feared what he might do.
But Grace didn’t bulge, regardless the push. Hers was the case of a woman fighting desperately to hold on to a man she loved. Resignedly, Jide ceased trying to pull her away, he was as spent as she was and just wanted to settle this amicably…if that was ever possible…and be out of her life for good. All her drama was actually stirring his well of hatred towards her in the negative.
Grace broke down in tears just then, this wasn’t how she had wanted it to end, she had hoped to make headway with winning back his heart and love. But look where her tantrums had ended her efforts. Jide stood, unsure of what to make of this, he’d never seen her cry before. Suddenly, the weight of how deeply he’d hurt her rested on him. But then, he had told her not to expect more, maybe he hadn’t been convincing enough or she had hadn’t been listening atall. But what was wrong with him? How could he just abandon a journey of 2 years for that of few months?
Grace sniffed back tears now and said
Grace: ‘tell me Jide, do you still love me atall’
Jide: ‘Don’t make this any harder’ he replied softly.
Grace: ‘I can handle it, just tell me’… ‘I can handle it, just tell me’
Jide: ‘I don’t, as much as before’ Jide said slowly ‘but that…’ he was adding
Grace: ‘that’s ok, you don’t need to explain’ a pause, then, ‘do you love her…your wife?’ Realising only then that she didn’t even know her name. Or maybe she had forgotten, didn’t matter anyways.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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