The day after the date, Chinedu called his friend Habib, Aisha‟s brother, as he
walked to his car after work. Habib picked up after the 6th ring. As he waited for
an answer, Chinedu recalled how he stood there staring as Iphey‟s taxi sped off.
It wasn‟t hard to figure out what went wrong with the date. Why had he blurted
out that he was an armed robber? That was certainly what made Iphey‟s attitude
“Hey Habib, what‟s cracking with you and where you at?”
“Hey „Nedu, am good. What‟s the deal?” Habib answered grudgingly.
“What you up to over there „cos you sound like you kina busy or something.”
“Nothing much dude, just doing some overdue laundry over here at the
moment, but I can talk” chimed Habib.
“Anyway I had an incident with your sister‟s friend yesterday, the one that
she setup with me for the blind date? I think I might have spooked her.”
“What happened” Habib asked.
“Well, we were just rambling, you know trying to know each other. She
insisted I talk about myself, so I thought why not? You remember I told you
about the crazy things I did when younger, the stuff with the street gangs that
almost destroyed my life. Well I told her that I used to be an armed robber,
which isn‟t far from the truth really. Shey you get my drift?”
“What did she do?” Habib chuckled.
“I think she got the wrong impression. She ended the date before I could go
into details or say any other thing.”
“You sef, how you go talk that kain thing? Of course she ran away!”
“Well…” Chinedu stuttered. “She asked didn‟t she?”
“U don kolo sha! You like the girl abi na to move on be this?” Habib queried.
“Well it seems like there might be some potential there…”
“Then you need to apologize dude, and in a big way too. Chicks like that sort
of thing, like flowers saying you are sorry…”
“But dude, did I do anything wrong?”
“Then call her and say you were just trying to make conversation.” Habib
“OK. Fine. I will think of something but I‟ll wait till Aisha gets back to me.
She was the one that arranged this so I‟m sure Iphey will tell her how it
happened and she‟ll come blasting me.”
“If you say so…” Habib concurred. “In the mean time, we go still see
“I‟ll meet you at the SWE bar by 10pm if that‟s OK.”
Habib was already on his second bottle of Gulder when Chinedu walked in
the next day.
“My guy why you dey always late?” Habib queried him.
“I like to move by night, thought you already knew that?” Chinedu joked and
both of them laughed it off.
“Yea back to my wahala, Aisha still hasn’t called.” Chinedu started after his
drink was served. “And I kind of felt a connection between me and Iphey. Just
talked to her for an hour and I felt something I have not felt in a while. It was
like we had known each other for a long time and were just catching up.
Well…until I decided to yield to her and opened my big mouth.”
“I have told you that honesty will get you nowhere but you no dey listen.”
Habib spat out.
“Well you know most people I meet get to hear my life story one way or the
other, so this time I decided to bring it up before Iphey hears it somewhere else.
Especially because I feel I might have a relationship with her, a very personal
“I don‟t like this kain lovey dovey gist,” Habib joked. “Abeg make we change
“My guy this one serious oo.” Chinedu laughed before he obliged.
They hung out again the next day and went to Cubes lounge inside the
Silverbird Galleria to meet up with a couple of their friends. Kunle and Jide were
already there with three ladies and Kunle introduced them. Immediately, one of
the ladies started paying a lot of attention to Habib who whispered that she
would make a nice laundry. Chinedu shrugged but was not really interested. His
mind was caught in a loop of Iphey and why Aisha had not called. He knew
Habib would not appreciate him raising the topic here with the new girls so he
decided to snap out of it.
“So Bisi what do you do?” Chinedu asked one of the other ladies after some
“Oh I work for Diamond bank as an account reconciliation protocol officer”
“Hmm…with all those titles you must be the biggest shot in that bank.”
Chinedu teased even as he thought; another diamond banker again.
“Don‟t let those titles fool you o! I‟m one of the smallest fishes.” Bisi replied.
Chinedu couldn‟t stop himself. “Hey I have a friend that works for Diamond
bank; her name is Iphey. What branch are you in?”
Bisi straightened up when she heard the uncommon name. It must be the
same her new colleague who had acted strange at the meeting today. Where had
Iphey met this guy? She was the nice but quiet type and judging by his friends,
Chinedu was the opposite. Bisi sat forward with a smile.
Iphey got out of her car as fast as she could and hurried up the steps of
General Hospital Ikeja. In the corridor beyond the nurse‟s station, she saw was a
slightly harried, fifty-something year old woman with an arm around a sobbing
younger woman. Her heart rose into her throat. It was her mother and sister.
Something really was wrong…her nephew had crises all the time…but this time
was different. Her sister had a strange…aura around her. She was crying like
there was no tomorrow, like all hope was lost.
Iphey swallowed. She didn’t know how to deal with grief. Her legs suddenly
felt like lead, but she managed to lift them one after the other, each step filled
“Mum…Ngoo, what did they say?” she asked, dreading the answer. Her sister
looked over and the despair in her eyes cracked Iphey’s heart. She reached for
“Iphey…Iphey…my baby, the doctors…said…he’s going to…die,” her voice
broke on the last word. “Iphey, what will I do…he’s my life…” she sobbed “my
She clung like a leech and Iphey could do nothing but cry too and murmur
useless soothing words. When she could finally get up, she handed her purse to
her mother and went into Obi’s ward.
He was sleeping so peacefully, but there were so many tubes…It should be
illegal for so many tubes to be attached to one small child, Iphey thought angrily,
what kind of world is this, where the young die and leave the old? Minutes
passed…or was it hours?? Her mother came in and hugged her, offering wordless
support. They stood like that for a long time, looking at the boy beneath the
sheets, each thinking their own thoughts.
“One Chinedu called,” her mother said.
Iphey looked at her mother in shock. “Who?”
“Chinedu…the same number called so many times, I decided to pick it. Who
She pulled out of her mother’s embrace. “Just someone I met some days
“Anything I should know about?”
Should I tell her? Iphey wondered. No, she decided as she put on a smile that
didn‟t quite reach her eyes.
“Not yet mum, I‟ll let you know if there is.”
“You know I want you to settle down soon right?”
“I know but not now…”
Her mother shrugged. “OK but I told him where you were and that you will
call him back later. Anyway, you can go home and have some rest.”
Iphey stared. Trust her mother to make all the arrangements. Iphey hugged
her without a word and said goodbye to her sister who came back in then.
As she drove home, she became depressed and the tears brimmed over again.
Her mother had called after her earlier phone conversation with Aisha. When
she had not heard from Iphey, her mother had flown in from Port Harcourt to be
with her sister in the hospital. Iphey had gone straight over totally ashamed of
herself. She had assumed her sister and nephew were back home. She now
thought of all Ngozi had been through. First with her husband’s mysterious
disappearance, and now her son, Obi, was about to die. She prayed that by some
miracle, the little boy pulled through this.
In her street, she noticed a car parked beside the gate and wondered who it
could be. Could it be him? The headlights shone brightly on the figure leaning
against the wall. It was Chinedu. Her heart gave a very uncomfortable lurch that
had nothing at all to do with her family. She frowned and got out of the car, she
really didn‟t need any distraction right now. All she wanted was to crawl into her
bed and cry her eyes out, for Ngozi and for Obi. She hoped a brusque dismissal
would get him off her case.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Aisha called me after you both spoke earlier…” he trailed off at the sight of
her tears. “Your mother told me about your sister and nephew. Is it very bad…”
She raised her hand and halted him. “I don‟t want to talk about it.”
“Iphey, I‟m sorry I didn‟t call in the past few days. I wanted to hear from you
or Aisha first. I‟ll like to talk to you…”
“Can I just go in please?” She tried to move away.
Chinedu held her hand. It hurts, he realized. It hurts me that she’s hurting. “I
left some friends to come over here after speaking with your mother. You can
talk to me you know?”
Don‟t be nice please, she inwardly pleaded. I can’t take it if you’re nice.
To her utmost horror she began to sob. The sound grabbed his heart and
squeezed. He pulled her into his arms while she wept it out. He gathered little
from her unintelligible gabbling, but it saddened him the more. He pried the keys
from her fingers and opened the door, and then guided her over the threshold.
“First you’re going to sit down, and then I’m going to get you some water.
Where’s the kitchen?”
“First door to the left,” she sniffed. She loved being babied.
He sat her on the couch then he removed her shoes and her jacket. He smiled
at the way her eyes widened.
“Don‟t worry, that‟s all.” He could guess where her thoughts had gone. He
gave her a wink that was absolutely charming…it had her staring stupidly at the
door long after he had left the room.
Good man, she mused. What could have possessed him to be an armed
robber? She fell asleep with the barest hint of a smile on her lips and the slightest
frown on her forehead.
That was the exact expression Chinedu saw on her face when he came back
out. He held the sweating glass in his hand as love budded in his heart for the girl
who had fallen asleep with a stranger in her house.
Thanks for Reading
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