We all picture a pathway to success that would be straight and broad, but truth be told, the path to success is never straight – Anonymous.
* * * * * MONDAY. TIME – 7:23PM At long last, the day ended for Zainab. It hadn’t been as bad as she had thought it would be, well, not totally. She picked up her bag as she walked out of her office, heading to the car park, tonnes of “bye bye ma’am” followed her and she just waved and smiled in response. She got to the car park and saw her Brown Murano neatly parked at the front of the “DIRECTOR” signboard, exactly how she left it, for some strange reasons, she smiled and headed toward the car. She used the car’s remote to unlock the car as she approached it and by the time she got close enough, the doors were already opened, she casually walked in and as she inserted her car keys into the ignition, her phone buzzed. She had a call. She looked at the screen and saw it was a strange number. She tried to recall who she gave her number to recently but no name rang in her head so she picked the call out of curiosity.
She just hoped it wasn’t a TOP employee calling to tell her something that might require her to go back into the office. She kept quiet and waited for the caller to speak first. It was her custom not to speak first when a strange caller calls, she used the advantage to quickly analyse the voice to know if it was familiar and to know how exactly to reply. The caller didn’t speak for a while neither, he too had the same custom as Zainab, so it literally, it was a game of wits, whoever spoke first would be the looser. At first, Zainab wasn’t really bothered, after all it wasn’t her airtime that was wasting but after thirty long seconds and no sound Zainab considered dumping her custom and speaking first. She was about to say hello, when she was cut short at “hell” but the caller who quickly said: “Hello, please is this Zainab?” She shrugged in victory. “Yes, this is her. Who am I speaking to?” “Oh! Great. This is Henry.” The caller replied excitedly, he sounded like he was very familiar with Zainab. Zainab looked confused, she could recall a certain Henry from her Alma mater at Canada and she knew there was no way this was him. “Henry? From where?” She asked. “So you have forgotten me so soon?” Henry asked in a low tone, “well its normal sha, that’s how beautiful ladies treat guys like me.
” Zainab wanted to ask how exactly that response answered her question but she kept her cool and decided to play along. “Ahn ahn!” She exclaimed. “It’s not like that na, I’ve just had a lot in my head of recent and seem to forget a lot of things.” “Yeah yeah. Do you recall that guy that gave you a ride home the day your car got stolen at the club?” Zainab flashed back and immediately recalled the whole incident, and how she indirectly gave him her number in exchange for a ride home. She smiled, he was pretty a fun guy. She recalled that much. “Oh! It’s you? I’m so sorry, but you never called even though I gave you my number about a month ago, what did you expect?” Zainab finally replied. “Hey! I didn’t call because not because I didn’t want to call. It’s just like work has been tedious of recent, and I barely have time for myself.” “Yeah… Right.” Zainab replied, waiting for the reason why he called. He got the message, “anyway, I’m on leave now and I recalled I have the contact of the most beautiful lady from this part of the world but haven’t really taken advantage of the privilege.” “Un-hun.” Zainab replied indifferently, his attitude towards flattery hadn’t changed.
“Well, I was wondering if you could do me the honour of going out with me this weekend.” Zainab leaned back on her seat, “I’m not sure if I’ll be free during the weekend.” She replied, she had no plans and if it was a long term friend she would have jumped on the offer, but this was a different case. “I expected you to say that, so I made my own plans to make sure you change your mind.” “What are you talking about?” Zainab asked, her interest was piqued. “Well, if you say no, I’ll have to hire kidnappers to abduct you from your house on Saturday and make you go out with me by force.” Henry sounded like he truly meant it. “Are you indirectly threatening me?” Zainab asked grinning. “I never said that, let’s just say you must go out with me this weekend by fire by force,” Henry replied and a laughter followed. Zainab smiled, she knew he was kidding about the ‘kidnapping’ threat but she like his approach. “Okay, you know what?” She asked. “What?” “I’ll think about it and see if I’ll be able to clear my schedule for you. No promises made though.” Henry smiled, “I’ll call you on Friday to give you the details.” “Okay.” Zainab replied. “Alright, talk to you later.” Henry replied and hung up. He sat down on the couch in his sitting room and closed his eyes. “Step one accomplished.” He murmured inaudibly.
Jummy was lost in her own thoughts, she was trying to get a suitable reason why John hung up and no matter how deep she thought, no reason seemed suitable or reasonable enough. She was going for a business trip and she told him, so he hung up? What does that even mean? She wondered. She decided to call again and get some answers directly from him. He picked on the third ring. “Hello,” she said. “Yeah, hi.” John replied coldly, Jummy knew the normal John would never reply that way. “John, what’s wrong? The trip is just two weeks, not like I’m going to spend the rest of my life there.” Jummy complained, mumbling words together. John sighed, he realised he had really over reacted, “I’m sorry babe, I’m just having a bad day and adding the fact that I won’t see you in a long while just made my day worse.” “Oh! I’m so sorry.” Jummy had an idea, “okay, you know what?” “What?” John asked excitedly. “The trip is in next tomorrow so I’m going to take a one day leave tomorrow all in the name of preparation for the journey but I’ll spend the whole day with you.” John literally started jumping, “you would do that for me? No work, no interruption? Just you and I?” “Yes! I mean it. Anything for you. But…” She was cut short by the ringing of the office phone. It was probably a business call. “But what?” John asked. “Bit duty calls, I’ll call you later on.” John accepted and let her hung up.
Jummy picked the office phone, “hello.” “Yea, hello. There has been a switch in plans Jummy.” The caller said immediately. Jummy immediately recognised the voice and it was Stephen’s, why he called the office phone instead of her cell phone was a question she had no answer to. “Change of plans? What do you mean?” “The trip? We have to leave first thing tomorrow morning.” Jummy opened her mouth to let out a scream in shock but no sound came out. “Why? What happened.” “I’m currently emailing you all the details. Bye, I need to get prepared.” Stephen replied and hung up. Jummy just sighed out of frustration and laid her head on the desk. John won’t take this sudden change of plan lightly, she thought. It took quite a long time due to the bottle neck traffic she encountered on her way home, but after spending two hours on the road, Zainab finally cruised into her compound. The house was actually Richard’s and Zainab had expected him to come for it immediately he got out of prison but to her greatest surprise, he never came. So she kept on living in it and stashed a huge sum that was enough to rent a nice house in the bank just in case he came suddenly.
“Madam, I dey welcome come ko.” The Hausa gate man waved and greeted her in his horrible mixture of Hausa, English and pidgin. It sounded like a question to Zainab but she didn’t understand what he meant so she did what any one in her shoes would do, she just smiled at him and walked into the house. She dropped her hand bag, undressed and went straight to the shower to freshen up and once she was done, she went to the kitchen to fix something to eat. After opening the fridge and cupboards several times, she emptied the contents of a spaghetti pack into a pot of water and placed it on the fire she lit. Then it was time to wait. She went to the sitting room and switched on the Television set. As soon as it came on, the video of a popular Ghanaian song was playing, it was one of her favourite song and she had no idea the video had been shot. Unlike the current average day video where half unclad girls rolled their butts all over the screen, this was uniquely different and had enough relevance to the song, she silently applauded the director and waited for the name of the director or studio to show on the screen. Maybe I could contact him for a private lesson on directing, since she now had a similar job, she thought.
Finally, the video came to an end, and just before the new song was put on play, the words: “A Richard Anderson Concept” appeared on the screen in a blue Comic Sans Ms font. Zainab smiled, some people just don’t give up, she still wondered why he had to steal the two million from her when he could have just asked and she would have gladly given him without much hesitations. Men and their ego, she thought. She knew the hope she had had before of calling him was like the possibility of Osita Iheme, popularly known as “Paw Paw” in the movie “Aki na Paw Paw”, marrying Mitchelle Obama. Yes, that impossible. After rounding up at work, Jummy finally decided to call John, she knew telling him the new development won’t be nice and fair to him, so she invited him over to her house, which he gladly accepted even though it was already getting late. By 8:30PM, which was exactly an hour later, Jummy got home and quickly freshened up, she laid on her bed and for the first time in a long while, she recalled her family – her parents in particular. Her mum had been a pain in the butt, always reminding her of how old she was and the fact that Jummy hadn’t married yet, let alone bring grandkids home. Jummy didn’t understand what the big deal was in bearing kids and wasn’t just ready so she killed all means of communication with her mum by dumping the SIM her mother had the number to and getting a new one, she knew it was wrong and unfair, but she was tired of the endless phone calls from her mother.
Even when she ignored the call, her mum would call till her battery died. The truth of the matter was even though Jummy acted all “area mama” on the outside, she was a sucker for love and loved kids too, but wasn’t going to have a baby outside wedlock all because of her mother so she patiently waited for the right guy who would come into her life and sweep her off her feet. In her own opinion, that guy was John. She was sure he was the one she had been waiting for all this years and decided there was nothing wrong in making him the father of her baby. She silently decided to give him something she never had hoping to make him and her mum happy at the same time, it seemed like an all win situation. She picked up her phone and dialled her mum number which she knew by heart. Her mum picked on the first ring. “Hello.” “Hello, mammi?” Jummy asked. Her mum immediately recognised the voice, “Jumoke? Na you be this?” “Yes mum, na me. How body dey do you na?” Jummy asked in pidgin, trying to quickly raise a topic before her mum starts to lament on how she disappeared. “I still dey breath sha, even after that ‘winch’ wey dey live for opposite my house don try kill me two times,” her mum replied coldly. She had had no contact whatsoever with any “witch” but well, old age can make people act strangely.
Jummy was used to such response, she knew her mum pretty well, “no worry ma, baba God dey your side.” Jummy played along, she recalled trying to explain to her mother that the fact she woke up later than usual or missed her steps and fell doesn’t mean a witch was trying to kill her, and she recalled how it all ended, Jummy wasn’t ready for a round two. “Yes oh my daughter, you dey correct, I just pray say the same God wey dey my side go allow me see my grand pikin before I go join my mama,” her mum said, indirectly raising the topic Jummy once dreaded. “Don’t worry ma, he would. I’m going to bring my husband to the house very soon,” Jummy said with confidence, suddenly switching to English. She had no doubt John was eventually going to marry her. “Ehn? Isi gini?” (What did you say?) Her mum asked in Igbo, how her mum understood and spoke Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Efik still surprised Jummy. “I said I’m getting married soon and you would have the grand child soon.” Jummy repeated herself, a knock on her door startled her, she knew it was John. “Mum, I go call you back later, I put food for fire.” Jummy lied. She hung up before her mum could reply and went to open the door, she was right, it was John. He wore a slim fitted black polo and black pencil jeans, he looked quite different in the new look, John was always on corporate shirts, never on polo. It was a welcomed look as his broad chest protruded through the polo, Jummy felt she was in for a long night. She let him in and before joining him on the couch, she grabbed a bottle of brandy and two glass cups from the kitchen, they need to get high a little bit. Jummy dropped the drink and went to the bed room to change. She wore a see through night gown with just her panties under and looked at herself in the mirror. She approved the look, no guy in his right senses would be able to resist this, she thought. Little did she know she was in for a shocker.