By Uzoma Ihejirika
Your girlfriend, Sade, has been avoiding you lately. You are sure of that. Ever since she told you she needed a phone and you told her to be patient with you, to wait a bit, she had started to act funny towards you. All because of a phone!
Now your bladder is calling for your attention. As you heave yourself from bed to go take a leak, pain hurls you back to the bed. Your waist still aches; you make a mental note to go complain to Sir Peter, the chemist, about the ineffectiveness of the drugs he sold to you. Finally, you manage to stand up.
As you near the central toilet at the back of the face-me-I-face-you where you live, you bump into Brother. He is holding a cup and a toothbrush. You know it is too late to hide now.
“Good morning, brother,” he says. “How—”
“What do you want?” You snap.
“Ah, brother, you no go reply my greeting?” he asks.
“What do you want?”
“Well…na your room I dey come sef. Shey my money don ready?”
You muddle your face into a frown.
“You hear me?” he asks.
You say you heard him, but that he should have known that things are hard, that it is not even month’s end yet. “I will pay you next month,” you say.
“Next month!” Brother shakes his head vigorously. “No, no, brother. Next month too far na. Abeg make am de end of dis month.”
You regard him for a while, taking in with disgust the remainder of toothpaste by the side of his mouth. “Okay, I will pay you by the end of this month. And that’s final!”
“Okay,” Brother says with a frown. “I dey go.”
You nod as he walks past you, making for his room, then shake your head at him. He will have to wait much longer for his three thousand naira. You have been saving to get Sade that phone.
Madam Peju’s restaurant is full, as usual. Though there are several familiar faces around, you ignore them all and go to take a seat in a corner. Titi, one of the serving girls, comes over to you.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Afternoon, Titi. Have you seen Sade yet?”
“No sir. She never come work.”
“Wetin you go chop?”
“Give me egusi soup and fufu.”
“Okay. I dey come.”
When Titi brings your food, you ask her, “Do you have any idea where Sade might be?”
Titi stares at you, perplexed. “I no know sir. I don tell you before, Sade never come work yet. Even Madam,” she says, pointing at a woman stirring a pot of soup, “even Madam sef dey complain.”
“Okay, okay, you can go,” you say, waving her away.
As you eat, you cannot help listening in on the banter of the other men. You listen to them recount stories: funny stories, scary stories, crazy stories, you-must-be-joking stories. A man laments the robbery he faced in the hands of traffic officials; another man narrates how he had sex with a ghost posing as a prostitute; another man recounts his ordeals with a female boss; yet another narrates how he had finished, wait for it, not one, not two, but seven cartons of beer.
Your phone rings. You retrieve it from your breast pocket and glance at the screen. Unknown number. The restaurant has become too loud to answer a call. You hurriedly wash your hands and go outside.
You glance at the phone screen. The call is still on.
“Na me, Brother.”
“Brother? How… what is it?”
“Your girlfriend wan talk to you.”
“Help me! Help me!”
“Sade! Sade! Sa—”
“Sa—Sade! Sade! Sa—”
“Shut up joor! Shey my money don ready?
Uzoma Ihejirika was part of the Writivism Workshop 2015. His profile can be viewed here.