I didn’t know I was supposed to call her back, didn’t know she would have wanted me to. I thought it was a one night affair, a spontaneous emergency at the time, so I didn’t understand why she said “You are just another one of them” and when I asked “Another what?” she hung up on me. I didn’t call back, not immediately.
Otusha was one of those rare female living beings that don’t smile much, the ones that wore their mood on the sleeves and maybe that’s why her full beauty never materialized. At least this was the first thing I noticed about her when she called me an idiot as I mistakenly bumped into her at The Palm shopping mall. Her reflex was too sharp, her tongue had venom. Odunsi’s song, desire, just came on from the media store, adjacent Genesis Cinemas. I have bought books there once or twice, the media store. This is what I remember about the day I met Otusha, not the sun or the moon or the stars but Odunsi’s desire.
This was why I never called her back after she accused me of being one of them, the roll call of men who were there before me because I knew I might just be exactly that for her. What’s the point? I am not going to stay anyway, I thought. I understand now what AI Pacino meant in SCENT OF A WOMAN when he yelled at George “I am suffocating in here” in that hotel room. Is like that with me now but mine is slightly different ‘I am choking in here.’
There is a version of my life I see in the books I have read, a version in the women I have laid with and another version I am creating for myself. The age at which most things surprises me has passed like the wind and being cynic about everything has never been a character I picked anywhere but here. That’s why wherever I go I carry this city in my backpack, as a reminder of home that never leaves you.
This place has a way of tricking you into believing you are going to blow the next day, like your luck is just around the next exit but it’s not. You are only fooled if you think so.
People that lived in Lagos never really made it here, at least not all of them, some have to go out, travel overseas, make the fortunes and come back to create the glamour they have always dreamed of. This is one of the virtues of this city of excellence.
So few days before I left, my bag was already packed. Ajadi and I hung out at Val-time. The place looked like it could use some paint and the protruding nails could be hammered back into its original place but we love it here, this place of multi-color plastic chairs and haphazard roll of bars. The beers are chilled, the music blaring from the gigantic speakers are not bad and the girls with their splotched makeup are fairly seductive to look at.
Chika is my favorite girl here, she has the type of nyansh all men want, they pay her more to do so sometimes, but she and I have a different kind of understanding. Though tonight is not one of those nights of understanding; the queue is too long on her door today, the ones that had come to bury their worries or anxieties in between her legs. Some of these men come with different stories of their lives, their disappointments, their fears, and some have the types of excitement that leaves her drained afterward.
Ajadi and I spent the better part of that night on bottles of star and cheering to the brash performances of the local talents.
I wanted to watch Black Panther the following day so I called Tobi to hang out at The Palm. Ajadi was going to meet us after work. I was feeling exuberant, the kind that makes you careless about everything.
Tobi was already waiting for me at the food court, opposite the Games, it was some minutes to four and the next movies were about to start. Black Panther was one of those movies about to start; the queue for it was longer than the rest when we got upstairs to get our tickets as it often happens with new movies. Ajadi had called earlier to ask to reserve a seat for him inside, he was on his way, it was raining, and the traffic in Victoria Island was heavy.
“That girl wey dey sell ticket fine sha” Tobi whispered to me. I looked at her and saw the appeal.
“Hope her nyansh go fine like her face” I and Tobi looked at each other mischievously and laughed. The girls behind us overheard what I just said; they looked at me and just shook their head, as they too laughed to our masculine mischief………To be contine
DISCLAIMER: The models in this photo do not represent the fictional characters in the story and all characters are work of pure imagination.