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Online Romance

Episode 03.

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‘Had I been in Samson’s shoes, I would have acted differently,’ I began. ‘Samson’s actions, I think, lacked common sense. He should have known that he was headed down the way of destruction with Delilah when she betrayed him the first time. It was clear that she meant business when she called in the philistines after binding him. That he would continue in the game of death was unthinkable for a wise man, I really would have acted differently…’
‘My friend, will you tell us what you would have done and stop beating about the bush?’ My dad demanded, his voice deeper and louder this time.
I was taken aback, I had thought my audience would be impressed by my speech, but they obviously weren’t.
‘I would have cut all contacts with her, since she obviously didn’t mean well for me.’
‘That’s good,’ my dad boomed. I saw a smile on his face for the first time that morning. Maybe he had given one to my mum inside the bedroom, I didn’t know. ‘Samson should have escaped very fast after Delilah’s first betrayal, but he didn’t. That is why the bible asks us if we shall continue in sin that grace may abound. The answer is a straight God forbid.’ My dad had automatically taken over from my mum. ‘How often do we go after strange women today? How often do we go after strange men today? These are personal questions we need to ask and provide the answers ourselves. May God help us to avoid the allures of strange women in Jesus’ name…’
‘Amen!’ We all responded. My mum closed the daily devotional guide and we closed our bibles.
‘Like Ohis just said, when we have such encounters with strange women, our reaction should be to run…’ I couldn’t remember making any such statement. ‘We are not to wait and expect God to help us. Heaven helps those who help themselves…’ He went on and on for the next ten minutes, with my mum glancing at the wall clock on several occasions. She had to be at work by eight, but my dad’s job was the only one that allowed emergencies. It was eighteen minutes past seven already. We all heaved a sigh of relief when my dad finally called for prayers. My mum immediately took the cue, she probably didn’t trust anyone else to maximise the little time she had remaining.
‘Ivie, plug the electric kettle and go bathe your sister,’ she instructed immediately after we had said The Grace. Dad had already gone into their bedroom. ‘Ohis, go to your dad and get some money for bread. Two loaves should be sufficient for us…’ She hesitated like she was trying to remember something then shook her head. ‘That should be enough.’
Ivie left for the kitchen while I went to my parents’ bedroom. Eseosa clung to my mum and was pointing at her head, at something I couldn’t readily pick out. It was typical Eseosa, she wanted attention always.
My dad gave me a five hundred naira note for the loaves; I had demanded six hundred naira. I had made the mistake of not demanding for more, my dad had the habit of always reducing one’s financial demands. We were used to it, we usually demanded far above our actual needs, so we would still be in a vantage position when he slashes our requests.
I went for my phone before going to get the bread. Tricia Ogbemudia’s photos had loaded, all portraits, few sketches and all beautiful. I accepted her request before leaving the house. I was lucky to find the shop two houses away from ours already open, they rarely opened before eight. I paid for the loaves of bread, pocketed a one hundred naira change and made for home with the loaves. I dumped them on the dining table when I arrived home and went into my room. I could hear some sounds from the bathroom and knew it was Eseosa being bathed.
I fell on my bed immediately I got into the room and started viewing Tricias photos. She was beautiful in them all – smooth and light facial skin, perfectly placed cheekbones, pointed nose, perfectly curved jaws and exquisite hairstyles – I loved them all. I had forgotten about Paul Igbokwe, I had forgotten about the call missed during the morning devotion. I suddenly discovered that I had a pending message, which I reluctantly clicked to open. I wasn’t done admiring the photos. It was from Tricia Ogbemudia, I elatedly discovered.
‘Hello,’ it read.
‘Hi,’ I quickly replied, ‘good morning.’
‘Same here, hope your night was as good as mine?’
‘Yea, it was.’ I didn’t need to ask about hers, she had already told me how it was. The only question that kept popping in my brain was about her identity. Wouldn’t she be offended if I asked her that?
‘I’m sure you don’t know me,’ Tricia typed next. It was as if she could read my thoughts. I quickly responded in the affirmative. ‘I’m Senator John Ogbemudia’s daughter.’
‘You must be joking!’ I responded, excited. So she was his daughter after all?
‘I’m serious,’ she replied. ‘I was in your church two weeks back and saw you then.’
I tried to remember that particular occasion. That was the day I had taken the solo of our choir ministration. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I had performed well. I could remember those that arose that day, when newcomers were asked to do so. A pot-bellied man clad in the same green lacy material as his wife who also arose, and their two beautiful kids, a boy and a girl. Why did Tricia not join them when they were being ushered to special seats reserved for newcomers in the front row? I was going to ask her.
‘Was that your first time there?’
‘But you weren’t among the newcomers welcomed?’
‘I arrived there when the service had just ended; I came to pick a friend in your choir.’
‘Oh, you drive?’ I typed, sending it before realising I shouldn’t have done so. I couldn’t drive and my question could prompt a similar one from her. And who that fellow chorister of mine she was talking about?
‘Not really,’ she replied, ‘I have a personal driver.’
She had a driver! I was dazed. When I couldn’t even drive, a girl probably my age had a car and a personal driver! What was my dad still doing in the medical profession when there was money for the taking in politics?
‘That’s good,’ I typed. ‘What’s the name of your friend?’
‘That’s a secret for now,’ she replied, giving me multiple heartaches. Now every female in the choir would be a suspect.
‘If you insist.’
We chatted on and on until she asked for my number which I didn’t hesitate in sending. What was there to hide? She could have easily gotten it from her friend. And she was a very beautiful girl.
A few seconds later, my phone rang. It was Tricia. We had spoken for almost an hour when Ivie came to my room. She was wondering why I was yet to take my breakfast which was very unusual. It was already past nine and my parents had been gone for over an hour. I rarely left my breakfasts beyond 8.30 A.M.
‘I will be back very soon,’ I told Tricia and arose lazily. I ignored Ivie’s knowing smile as I made for the dining table.
For the first time, I felt the pangs of hunger. My tummy suddenly started giving out rumbles, so loud that Ivie, who was following me, could hear the sounds. She fetched a teacup from the fridge and poured in some hot water from the water flask. I watched her in surprise; she never made my teas in the past.
‘Who was that on the phone with you?’ She asked, spooning some Milo into the cup of hot water.
‘Now I know why you’ve been so nice, amebo!’ I replied.
‘Information is power, bro. You should know that as a mass communicator.’
I knew what she was talking about. Mr Igbe, my H.O.D, had repeatedly used that cliché. Yet, I didn’t think it applied to her sudden pryingness.
She was patient, as was typical of her. Ivie added some sugar to the cup and laid it on the table. Then she removed some bread slices from the nylon holding them. These she placed in a saucer, beside the cup, before drawing out a chair for me. I smiled and sat to eat.
She had drawn out a chair and sat down too, by the time I opened my eyes from the customary prayers that preceded every meal in our house. I found her smile funny and smiled too; I hoped to have a wife like her in the future – a patient and understanding woman like her.
‘Well?’ I asked, taking a bite at a slice of bread.
‘Who was the lady on the phone with you? I know it wasn’t Olanike.’
It was then I remembered the existence of an Olanike. I hadn’t given her a thought since I woke up that morning. She was a girl in Ivie’s department who I had been wooing for almost three months and was only just beginning to show signs of friendliness. Ivie knew all about my intentions for her and had been of much help in maintaining contact between us. Olanike could get lost, for all I cared; Tricia was prettier, richer and sounded homelier.
‘Who told you it was a lady and even if it was, what makes you think it wasn’t Ola?’
‘Cos no conversation with Ola has ever spanned so long and they are never so cheerful and mirthful.’
‘Everything starts in a day, and…’
‘Stop giving off those lies, I know and I’m sure it wasn’t Ola on the phone with you since morning.’
‘What makes you so sure?’ I knew I would eventually tell her about Tricia, but was happy pulling her legs meanwhile.
‘Cos I spoke with Ola on phone while you were making that call.’
‘Huh?’ I muttered, setting down the teacup in my hand. I hadn’t expected that. The taste of the bread in my mouth instantly went sour. ‘What did you talk about?’
‘Now the questions have changed source, I thought you were with Ola a moment ago?’
‘I never said so, what did you guys talk about?’
‘She was worried that your line was still busy after five attempts by her to reach you.’
Ola tried calling me five times? The same Olanike who had abruptly terminated my call the previous day when I told her that she was only shifting the judgement day by refusing to accede to my wooing attempts? I had sent her a text message when she wouldn’t answer my call afterwards, but she never replied. She called me?
‘So, what did you tell her?’ My voice had suddenly gone raspy.
‘I told her it was possible that the network was responsible,’ she paused and looked at my face, ‘that sometimes I was a victim of such erratic network performance.’
I heaved a sigh of relief and resumed sipping of my tea. What was it about Olanike that made me feel that way?
‘You did well,’ I told her and smiled in relief. She had lied, she knew it, but what were sisters for? I quickly gobbled the remaining bread slices and arose. She remained on her chair, watching me.
‘You still haven’t told me who called you for over an hour?’ She gently asked.
I sat back. ‘That was Senator Ogbemudia’s daughter; she sent me a request on facebook this morning.’
‘Senator Ogbemudia!’ She exclaimed. ‘Now I see why the person could call you for over an hour. What’s her business with you?’
‘We are just friends,’ I replied evasively, ‘at least that’s what it is for now.’
‘Are you saying there’s the possibility of things going beyond just friendship?’
I was done with the questions and arose again. She sensed my mood and arose too.
‘I want to go take my bath now,’ I told her and left the table. Ivie smiled and went to her own room. I was in the bathroom some minutes later.
Over the next one week, I and Tricia were always on phone. It was so pronounced that, to prevent my parents asking, I would switch off my phone whenever I was with them. Tricia could call for over an hour and would constantly send me recharge card pins to call her too. I was getting more attached to her every passing day. I dreaded her, I wanted her, I was wary of her. We could talk for over an hour only for her to call me again in less than two hours’ time.
Ola was now more responsive, in fact, the chase had changed direction. Whenever I decided to call her, which was gradually less frequent, she would complain about my tone. She would tell me I was no longer enthusiastic about getting her to accede to my request, an accusation I made no attempt to either accept or refute. While we would speak for long durations on such occasions, courtesy of Tricia’s credit vouchers, I could go without calling her again for the next two days. Soon, the calls started pouring in from her. She would inform me of how she wished the strike action would end soon so she could return to school, so we could see. I was no longer keen on seeing her; I was only being courteous in not telling her so outrightly. Ivie relayed her complaints to me; she told me herself that she couldn’t imagine what was wrong with me. It was surprising that after so much effort to get Olanike, I was now totally oblivious of how she felt. While I failed to tell her so, I now saw Ola as a distraction. Tricia was the girl – fair, pretty and rich. She had two cars, a personal driver and travelled overseas every now and then. She had even offered to take me along once I was able to obtain permission from my parents, something I knew would be difficult if not impossible.
I was eager to meet her and she claimed to want to see me again too. Her curiosity was better satisfied, she had seen me once. She finally agreed to meet me one Monday morning; it had rained all through the night and Morning Devotion had been hell for me, in particular, as I had to be tapped awake several times in the course of it. I was about going back to bed, after the devotion, when my phone rang. I knew who it would be and wasn’t too keen on answering it, the call duration would totally spoil my sleepy mood. I thumbed the answer key anyway.
‘Hello, sweetest heart,’ Tricia’s voice came.
‘Hello, baby,’ I replied, falling on my bed and closing my eyes.
‘How was your night?’ She asked.
‘Twas great, and yours?’
‘Splendid, I dreamt of you.’
‘Really, what did you see me doing?’

‘You held me and whispered in my ears that you would always be there for me.’

To Be Continued… . . .

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