I arrived in Nigeria from the UK on the 17th of March.
I had gone to attend my daughter’s birthday.
“Daddy, I will be a teenager on March 11th. You must be here,” Zizi told me over Whatsapp and I could see her mother smiling behind her.
Now, I have two kids, Zizi is 13 and her brother, Zulu is 10. Whatever Zizi wants Zizi gets or you will pay for years.
So, next day at work, I walked to my CEO’s office and said I needed to take my remaining leave days
“Dude, you lost them last year,” he said.
“No, I didn’t,” I said as I settled into a seat and reached for the bottle of whisky he pushed towards me.
“You did, man. Don’t make me call HR,” he threatened but from his smile and tone I could tell he was bullshitting.
“Yeah, call HR. I am not scared.”
And he did and HR said I could still take my remaining two weeks before the 31st of March since the New Year begins officially on April 1.
“I need you back on March 23rd,” my CEO said as he signed my leave form.
“Calm down Vic. I will be back before you know it.”
“And buy me that yellow Arsenal jersey,” he said as he handed me the form. “That’s your fine.”
Vic and I have been friends for 24 years right from uni then through two different workplaces before he invited me to join him as partners. He was CEO while I was COO but he always liked to bully me because, as he liked to remind me: “I graduated before you and I am a year older than you.”
I called my travel agent to book a ticket, got my PTA then I headed out. The birthday was low key because the Coronavirus thing was already in the news and Brits were wondering what Boris Johnson’s plans were. The only drama was Zizi refusing to welcome her mother’s new boyfriend because she had asked her mum not to invite him.
“Mum I said don’t invite Dave since Dad was coming,” she said stamping her feet and stomping away from the garden.
“I don’t mind, love. Dave is welcome,” I told her as I welcomed Dave who was clearly embarrassed. Aramide, her mum and my ex, sat there looking crestfallen.
“I will sort this out,” I said as I gave her a peck then went upstairs to calm my daughter.
After the party, I visited a few friends, bought Vic his jersey, rested for a few days and then flew to Abuja to spend some time with my big sister and her husband. Their two sons are studying in Canada so they are always happy to welcome guests to their empty nest.
By the time I got to the airport on Saturday on my way home to Lagos, gist was already flying about that airports may be shut. I arrived in Lagos and took an uber home. Our compound, a mini estate of four apartments was as quiet as usual. The twin sisters who own the estate and who live in the two apartments downstairs were away in their country home Ijebu Ode. So, it was just me and my beautiful, leggy neighbor who lived upstairs in the flat across from mine.
I unpacked. Popped my clothes in the washing machine and then called the cleaning lady and my asun man. I ordered for my usual monthly supply. Living alone, cooking can be a drag so at night I usually pop some asun, peppered goat meat, into the microwave then down it all with some shots of whisky.
Yusuf, the asun man, delivered early Sunday afternoon. I was working out in my living room when he knocked. I peeped and opened the door but just then my neighbor walked out in bum shorts and a striped top.
I was bare chested.
“Eku corona,” I said and she smiled.
“I heard you travelled,” she told me.
“Yup, got back yesterday.”
“Welcome back,” she said as I let in Yusuf.
After Yusuf left, I shared out the asun into the 6 different containers I use then I went outside to bring in my laundry.
The neighbourhood was unusually quiet for a Sunday, I thought, then it hit me. Most of the churches around did not open for service.
I sent a few emails. One to Vic, to say I was back and resuming the next day then I watched a bit of Queen Sono on Netflix because I had read my cousin, Onyeka Nwelue’s review in thelagosreview.ng.
I had some asun, drank two shots of whiskey then settled into bed.
Lying in bed, I wished Chi was around. The night would have been good for some loving. I read a bit of The Carnivorous City, then put off the light and crashed.
I was up early and ready. Once my driver called on the intercom, I picked up my briefcase and headed down stairs. I was already on the staircase when I realized I forgot to pick up Vics jersey. I ran back up, picked it up and headed back down.
“Drive safe,” I heard as I stepped out into the compound.
I looked up and my neighbor was up there. She had a robe on.
“You too,” I said and waved.
The drive to Ikoyi was smooth and all was well until I got to the office and the gate man would not open the gate.
“Oga Vic say we should not allow you to come in,” the guard told me standing afar off.
“Why?” I asked clearly not in the mood for any of Vic’s pranks. Not on my first day back.
“He said you should self-isolation.”
“Self isolate,” I corrected and laughed.
“Is HR in?” I asked and the guard answered from the same distance.
“Yes but MD say if you want answers make you call him.”
“Idiot,” I muttered under my breath as I pulled out my phone and called Vic on whatsapp video.
He was laughing as he answered.
“Shebi I said do not go to the UK,” he managed to say.
“You are a goat, Vic,” I said laughing too.
“Goat or no goat, you cannot enter our compound. Go home.”
“Guy, what will I be doing in the house for two weeks?”
“Shebi, you asked for leave. Take it. 14 days of loneliness awaits you. Bye before you infect me,” he said and cut the phone.
When I looked up, my driver had a worried frown on his face.
“Don’t mind oga Vic. Let’s go home. You can take the next two weeks off.”
I wanted to stop over at Spar but I decided to go home instead. Home, I wrote a list for my driver, gave him my ATM card then sent him off to Spar. He returned about an hour later laden with stuff – cereals, teas, honey, biscuits, wine, juice, soft drinks, stuff that would last for two weeks and beyond.
I gave him ten thousand naira then asked him to go home.
“Rest at home, drink lots of water and if you have a fever or dry cough, call me,” I said as he left.
I shut my door, undressed then turning up the AC settled under the duvet. To hell with Vic. I slept for a few hours then woke up. Served asun in a plate then popped it in the microwave. Once it was done, I sat out on the balcony with a bottle of whisky.
That was when I saw her. My neighbour. The leggy broad. She was sitting out on her balcony reading a book.
“Hey, no work today?”
“My office shut down on Friday for two weeks.”
“Wow, my CEO sent me home to self isolate. I came back from the UK seven days ago but he won’t listen.”
“Lol. I thought you guys are partners,” She said.
“Hey, how do you know that?”
“Chi told me. We gisted once at the back.”
“Where is she though?”
“Right, she sounded very smart,” she said.
“Chi is very smart,”I said in agreement. There was a spell of silence then she asked:
“So, what are you going to do with yourself?”
“No freaking idea. You?”
“Eat, drink, read, netflix and maybe keep a diary.”
“You will get bored. Come over and eat some asun and drink some whisky,” I said and was surprised when she said okay. Three minutes later there was a knock on my door and she was standing there in her red silk robe with a yellow dragon design. Her ample bosom was outlined against it and I could see the shadow of a nipple.
“I hope you didn’t buy that in China,” I asked, pointing to her chest.
“Nah, my boobs are real,” she said as she stepped into my apartment.
“I meant the robe,” I said as I shut the door.
“I know. Just teasing. I bought the robe in New York,” she said as she walked over to the wall.
“Nice paintings and I like what you did with the wall. The glass partition.”
“Thanks,” I said, my eyes following her.
“This is by that light skinned artist, right?” She asked standing in front of a painting.
“Victor Ehikhamenor, yes. You have an eye.”
“I have attended his shows. I have been meaning to buy one of his works but I am focused now on women. Peju Alatishe. Marcellina. Babes.”
I watched her walk from painting to painting then when she was done, she turned to me with a smile.
“ Sit out here, lemme get you a glass,” I said as I led her to the balcony.
I popped some asun in the oven then came out to join her.
“It’s Taiye, right?” I asked as I sat down.
“Yes. Zeal, right, like the trumpeter?”
“Yes. Many people think it’s Seal.”
“My dad had a Zeal Onyia record. Zeal played with Bobby Benson, my dad told me.”
“Wow. I didn’t. What did your dad do?”
“Salesman. Traveled all over and sowed his royal oats,” she said and laughed. “He fathered 12 children. I have a sibling from every senatorial zone.”
“Damn,” I exclaimed then ran in to get the asun as I heard the microwave oven chime.
By the time I got back, Taiye was on her second glass of whisky and her robe had fallen open to show some skin. She had lovely boobs. I sat down before her and feasted my eyes. She saw me looking, wagged a finger then made herself decent. It was getting interesting.
She was a well travelled woman and full of stories.
“So, what do you say we do this again tomorrow night,” I asked as I held the door open for her at about a minute past 11pm.
“No. I talk too much when I am anxious. I will bore you,”
“You didn’t bore me,”I said. “Why are you anxious though?”
“I am like that when I think a guy is hot,” she said as she opened her door.
“Wow, you spend all these hours with me then tell me this when you open your door?” I asked feigning pain.
“Don’t be like that. See you tomorrow,” she said with a demure wave and a wink.
“Sleep tight,” I said and watched her close the door.
I couldn’t fall asleep for a long time.
Continues tomorrow. (Edited by Toni Kan)
Image credit 1