‘The number you’re trying to call is switched off…” The sensational feminine voice blurts out from the other end of the line.
Ordinarily, if my chest were not reacting to the invisible rock being hurled at it, I would smile and say, onu this girl digodi sexy; her voice is damn too sexy.
But I am in no mood for admirations. My face is weak, too weak that I cannot smile. My heart is beating like Duduke, but not the Duduke that sends butterfly to my stomach and makes me face-palm gleefully. No. This is a different kind of Duduke; more like Surugede – the dance of the spirits.
I sigh. Why is Uche treating me like this? I dial his number one last time, but before the synthesized voice begins to spew those heaven-will-judge words, I hang up. This is the thirtieth time I’m dialing his number in twenty minutes. They say love will make you do stupid things, and I utterly concur.
I take my pen to write, it’s Dr Ejike’s assignment on African Metaphysics, but my hand is wobbly, my vision blurry, as the little drops of tear struggle for freedom from my eyes immurement. I don’t realize my eyes are already damp, and I’ve been staring into space for more than ten minutes, till Obiora nudges me. I don’t also know when he walks and how long he has been standing by my doorway, watching me release those liquid soldiers.
“Mimi ọgịnị? Why are you crying? What’s wrong?” he asks, pulling me close to him and wrapping his arms around me, while rocking and soothing, occasionally whispering ‘ozugo, ebezina,’ in my ears. But I don’t stop. Instead, as if being triggered by an invisible force, my little teardrops morph into Ekulu stream and flow graciously down my cheeks, to my mouth and further to my neck, and I do nothing to stop them.
He picks Phil 431, Prof. Ukandu’s material and gently fans me, because I’m sweating copiously like a Christmas goat. I don’t own a ceiling fan, and even if I do, there’s power outage at the moment and everyone knows how inefficient NEPA is, in that field.
Still sulking, I gently push him away from me and go to my fridge to pick a bottle of cold water. I gulp its content rapidly, as if Uche had clamped a fistful sized roast yam in my throat, meaning for me to choke. As I’m downing that cold liquid, hot tears race down my eyes, and I am sniffing, sucking in snort.
Uche is the absolute love of my life. Though Obiora tells me I’m a fool for clinging to a guy that doesn’t give two fucks about me, I still can’t love him any less…
I had met him as freshman; he was a sophomore Mechanical Engineering student, while I was a clueless fresher who just got admitted into the department of Philosophy.
That Tuesday, I thought the ozone layer had finally depleted and we were doomed to be melted by the acute heat of the sun, for the sun shone in all its majesty as if to prove its relevance to humans.
I was standing under a tree between Mary Slessor Hall and Freedom Square, exhausted by the futile search for my department, when I saw him walk by.
‘Omo, fine boys dey this UNN sha,’ I muttered under my breath and smiled. “Excuse me please,” I called out to him. He was my only hope for a direction to my department, because for some strange reasons, no other person was passing by at the time, and I had met with several buffoons who had fun giving me wrong directions, making me go round and round the school like I was a line in Rihanna’s song, ‘Stay’.
When he turned and flashed that magical smile of his, I felt what Elizabeth felt in the bible when John the Baptist jumped joyously in her belly, only that I had no John in me, and no Mary had visited.
‘Hi,’ he said. He had a pair of cute, hazel eyes, and I wondered if Nina Simone had him in mind when she wrote “I put a spell on you,” because those eyes would hold any human spellbound. His skin was flawless, yellow-paw-paw, no scar, no scratch, nothing. No trace of Nsukka mosquito bites, just a glowing, smooth-textured flesh, an alabaster of gleaming goodness.
‘Please, how do I get to Philosophy Department? You see, I’m tired of running round in circles. One more wrong direction and I’m dead,’ I said in a monotone voice, and sighed dejectedly.
‘Ehya, I see you’re a fresher.’
‘My dear o… That title is really taking its toll on me. You can’t imagine how much I spend on shuttles daily.’
‘I know right. They don’t call this place a den for nothing. I’m heading towards your department, come I’ll show you, he said, and smiled affectionately at me, making me feel a swoosh of nerves.
That was how it all began. And like a bloodthirsty zombie, the more I came close to him, the more I wanted. Something in him compelled me to keep wanting more of him, maybe his blood, maybe his aura.
My bed, an outrageous hotchpotch of colors, has been relieved of its role of being a piece of furniture where I sleep, to being a home for all the clothes I’ve worn, all the plates I’ve used and even bottles of McDowell’s spirit I’ve drowned myself in, since a week ago.
Jasper, the teddy bear Obiora got me last Valentine’s day, because Uche purposely picked a fight with me, just to spend the day with his side-chick, lies carelessly on the floor, a heap of clothes beside it, blending into a new form of rug.
My room is a mess. My wigs and bags and shoes and pieces of tissues, litter everywhere, and I do nothing to salvage my horrendous abode which is already at the cliff of calamity, because Uche has sapped all of my energy, and replaced them with frustrations.
‘Nawa o. Mimi, you’re gradually turning your lodge into a spooky house o. Very soon, we won’t need to watch a horror movie on Netflix; we could just come over to your lodge,’ Obiora says and shrugs.
‘Not funny,’ I whisper, but loud enough for him to hear and smirk.
‘What has that bastard, Uche, done this time?’
‘Watch your tongue please; my boyfriend is not a bastard.’
‘I hear you.’ He flips through the pages of the African Metaphysics material on my table and says without looking up, ‘boyfriend indeed… Tell me, what’s going on?’
‘Who told you Uche has got anything to do with this?’ I ask, determined to pretend that things are cool with Uche, when in all honesty, they’re not. They’ve gone from worse to worst. But I still love him, a lot.
‘Chidiomimi Ezennaya, I’ve known you for six years. As a matter of fact, I know you way more than you can ever imagine. I am your best friend, and I can smell when you’re in trouble, from a million miles away.’
‘Oshey, ndị best friend,’ I say sarcastically, down-turning my lips.
Obiora ignores that statement, stands from my desk and strolls to my bedside. I am standing by my fridge, beside my bed, staring at him, or rather into space, and blinking rapidly, as if to fight back my tears with every ounce of strength in me.
‘Hian, since when did you start drinking spirits? Just because I travelled to Enugu for a week, you’ve turned into a drunk ghoul. Odikwa egwu, you…’
But I am no match for the army of tears that attack me, because I give up, defeated. I stagger towards him and bury my head in his chest, and bleed the salt of my spirit, till I can bleed no more. Without leaving any stone unturned, I cry. I cry because the universe is unfair to me. I cry because I don’t deserve giving all the love I have and receiving nothing in return. I cry because I love Uche so much and don’t deserve the way he treats me. I cry, my shoulders heaving up and down, tears streaming down my eyes in heavy torrents, and forming a confluence in my mouth, a point where the tears and catarrh from my leaky nose meet.
If there’s anyone that has witnessed me in my lowest form of vulnerability, then it would be Obiora.
He understands me more than everyone I know, my parents inclusive. And for some reasons unbeknownst to me, he incessantly senses when I’m in danger and comes running to me, and like a superhero, he always saves the day…
I met him through a friend during my JAMB lesson days and we had become inseparable since then. Though we had our different love lives, we still made out time for each other.
Every Thursday, we’d go over to the cinema and see a movie. And for six years, we had only skipped the routine twice. Obiora was the only friend my parents trusted and allowed into our home. He was a charmer, and it was impossible for anyone not to be indulged by him. He had large, bulbous lips, and a small, pointed nose. And I always teased his creature for being so confused on the day he created Obiora. Apparently, his lips were designed for some other person, and his creator, being out of it that day, switched lips, and gave Obiora that of an enormous-faced human, because his lips were the only massive features in his small face.
He’d laugh, hit me playfully and tell me he was a unique masterpiece, and that I should be grateful to God for sending him, a rare breed to my life. Of course, I’d always been thankful for the gift of him, because I couldn’t imagine what my life would be without him. He always had my back, and we did virtually everything together. Being in the same department wasn’t a coincidence either, because we planned it all from the beginning.
When he started dating Chizzy, I jokingly told her that she should be nice to me, because I was the CEO of Obiora’s life and would decide whom he would end up with, but patently, she didn’t take it as a joke and belligerently despised me because of that. She loathed my existence and made sure to make it conspicuous. She felt I was a threat to her relationship with Obiora, and all efforts by him to salvage the situation were rendered a fiasco.
I was stunned by the fact she thought I was drooling over Obiora, because frankly, I had never seen Obiora beyond what he was, a best friend, and that’s what he would always be.
However, our friendship remained as strong as ever, and when Chizzy saw she could do nothing to break it, she gave up. But that didn’t prevent her from shooting comets at me through her eyes whenever she could.
‘Mimi stop crying, ozugo,’ Obiora rocks me again, caressing my hair, but I don’t stop. This is one thing I enjoy about Obiora’s company, my ability to bare myself completely. With him, I can be anything I want, be it a dancing queen, or a cowering, weeping drunkard. He has always been there for me, as my best friend, coach, consoler, partner in almost all facets of life, except love, of course. He has seen my good and bad, and even ugly days.
I cry for almost fifteen minutes, and when I feel my tear duct has dried up, and shedding one more tear would be suicidal, I say, “Men are scum”.
‘Hmmm, are we going down that road today again?’ Obiora asks, still caressing my hair.
‘He’s not picking my calls, he’s not replying to my texts. He’s just ghosting me,’ I hiss dolefully.
‘Like he always does… Mimi when will you finally realize this guy doesn’t love you. He’s just here for the sex. You’re too good for him.’
‘I hear you,’ I sniff and cough out phlegm.
‘Nyama!’ Obiora cringes. ‘Better go outside and do that nasty thing. That’s why they’re ghosting you.’
‘Idiot! You think this is funny?’
Obiora chuckles and tickles me, while I shove him playfully. My best friend sincerely has the best words for all situations. I feel so much better now that he’s here.
‘Mimi fashi that guy, You deserve better.’
‘Leave Chizzy first. You’re advising me to leave my boyfriend, while you’re enjoying your own relationship. No be ekwensu you be?’
‘Okay, deal. Lets leave our relationships and date,’ he says and eyes me flirtatiously.
‘Go away, Ashawo like you,’ I push him, but he only comes closer.
‘Mimi, I mean it. Leave Uche, he’s the real ashawo. Come and date a premium guy like me.’
‘Premium guy wey no sabi chyke babe… No be Uju connect you and Chizzy?’ I say sardonically, and when he smiles bashfully, I burst into laughter.
‘Now this is what I’m talking about. See how I’m making you laugh like the queen you are? Come to me and you will never cry again.’
‘Obiora, abeg, I’m in no mood for your jokes. What did you even bring from Enugu?’
‘My big gbola o, nothing more…’
I tilt my head backwards and laugh boisterously. I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard. Truthfully without Obiora, my life would have been bland.
‘I have something to tell you, though,’ Obiora says, and I nod. ‘Chizzy broke up with me yesterday.’
‘Jesus! Tell me you’re joking sha.’
‘I’m not. She said she’s not doing again.’
‘Nawa o. And you really love her; that I’m certain of. Does that mean she’s been pretending to be crazy about you all this while?’
‘She says it’s because of you.’
I let out a yelp. ‘Me kwa?’
‘She said I’m in love with you, and I prioritize my friendship with you over our relationship. She had always wanted me to ditch our Thursday movie date and I’d vehemently refused.’
‘Are you serious? Mad o…’
‘She even put me on the spot, by asking me to choose between you and her.’
‘Inukwa. You sha chose her abi?’
‘Why would I choose her?’
‘Because she’s your girlfriend.’
‘I no get time for your wahala now. As you can see, Uche just served me breakfast.’
‘She said I’m in love with you.’
I chuckle. ‘That’s ridiculous. You could have just told her you aren’t.’
‘And what if I am?’ He stares into my eyes, making my stomach twist in knots. ‘What if I no longer want to be your bestie? What if I want something more? What if I want to be everything you’ve always wanted Uche to be? What if I want to be the fucking love of your life?’
‘Hush Mimi, I’m not done talking.’
EZIOMA KALU is a fast rising Nigerian writer and author. In 2021 she self-published an E-book; ‘Weird Obsession and other stories.’ Her works have appeared or forthcoming on some online literary platforms like Kalahari Review, Writers Space Africa – Nigeria, Terror House Magazine, Salamander Ink Magazine and Livina Press.
In 2021, she was one of the contributors of the maiden anthology of Writers Space Africa – Nigeria.
Kalu writes from Enugu, Nigeria, and looks forward to creating a niche for herself in the literary world. Connect with her on: Facebook : Ezioma Kalu., Twitter : Ezioma_Nwanyimma, Instagram : ezioma_kalu.