“What is the ruckus about?” Tokunbo said as he walked to the kitchen.
He had heard some arguments from his room and the voices were getting louder. He had to come down. He was surprised to see Justin sitting comfortably in the living room flipping through channels on the TV.
“Dude you no hear this noise?” He inquired.
“I will advise you, not to go in there, you don’t want to. Trust me” Justin said as he changed the channel yet again. Tokunbo shook his head and walked into the kitchen.
“…..like seriously? Like seriously Priscilla? I have told you to stop burning food. Put a timer or something. I will now have to be the one to wash burnt pots abi?” Maryam yelled, hands akimbo.
“Well if you will just try and cook a bit more often i wouldn’t be stressed out all the time” Priscilla retorted.
“EVERYONE CALM DOWN” Tokunbo yelled. He held his hands in his head.
This was one of the things he was afraid of. It was the weekend after Kevwe had gotten the transfer to the office in Lagos. It was obvious Maryam was already missing her and she was taking it out on everyone. He had been the first to get it when he dropped his plate in the sink after eating without washing. That was on Wednesday, then Justin got a telling for putting his feet on the couch. Even Matthew was no exception as he got ignored throughout a drive home on Friday because he picked her late, now Priscilla.
“Maryam please I would like to see you outside” Tokunbo said gently but with an air that suggested he didn’t want any argument.
They walked through the back door and round the house to where their little shade was. He offered her one of the plastic chairs to sit down and did same on another.
“I know you are hurting, I understand but you do realize she hasn’t left yet. Maryam this has to stop. She is my friend too, heck she is all our friends” Tokunbo said looking at her kindly. Maryam began to cry. He hugged her.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that it is like something is being ripped from me. All the things I complain or shout about are things she doesn’t like and it just seemed because she is going everyone has forgotten about it” Maryam said tearfully.
“Haba it is not so. She always harassed me when I left dirty plates and you know she and Justin lock heads a lot on a lot of things not just the couch issue and it wasn’t fair on Pris, you know Kevwe does most of the cooking” Tokunbo tired to explain.
“I know oh. I’m sorry, really” Maryam said.
“It’s okay but calm down. How do you think she will feel if she hears you are going all Dracula on us? Take it easy on everyone” Tokunbo smiled. His phone rang. “Excuse me” he said pulling it out of his pocket and then he sighed.
“What is it?” Maryam asked.
“Teju” Tokunbo said not so excitedly.
“Good luck” Maryam patted his shoulder as she got up heading back to the kitchen to apologise to Priscilla.
“Hello” Tokunbo said dryly.
“Tokunbo, it has been over a week. No calls, no bbm pings, no texts, nothing from you. You don’t even know if someone is alive or not. You didn’t even care” Teju went off like a tick-tock clock. Tokunbo rubbed his temple.
“Okay” was all he said.
“Are you kidding me right now?” Teju ranted into the phone. It was so loud Tokunbo pulled the phone away from his ears.
“Please stop shouting” Tokunbo said calmly. He knew Teju was shocked at his reaction, exactly the emotion he wanted. “Teju what do you want me to say? You have said it all now” He asked.
“I don’t know? But ‘okay’ isn’t what you should say. I mean Tokunbo a whole week fa” Teju said.
“I knew you were alive Teju. Your BBM dp changing was proof enough. As for why I haven’t contacted you, I can remember you said you would call me, I was respectfully waiting for your call” he finished simply.
“What? I can’t believe this” Teju said. It was obvious she was lost for words.
“Let me guess. First you thought by behaving the way you did I would keep begging until you have had your fill” Tokunbo began, “But I didn’t call and that got you pissed off since you were not getting your daily fix ….”
“Toks….” Teju tried to speak.
“Noo Teju I’m just warming up” Tokunbo said. The anger he had been holding in all the while had started showing up “… you now call forming high and might to accuse me and oh what a shocker for you to find out that Tokunbo isn’t remorseful. Am I close?” He didn’t wait for her to answer.
“I know I was in the wrong. I ADMITTED it” he said trying very hard to control his voice “I apologized, I pleaded but for some unfathomably crazy reason the one I hold dear to my heart wouldn’t budge. So forgive me dear girlfriend for respecting your message and waiting for you to call back”.
He was quiet, she was quiet. It was like a tournament of silence. He had said his piece. He didn’t care anymore. Or at least that was what he told himself.
“I’m sorry Toks” was all Teju could say. Oh shit he didn’t expect that, his defence was already up. Damn girls and their twist and turns.
“Toks are you still there?” Teju asked softly.
“Yes” Tokunbo said.
“Will you please come over let us talk? Please?” Teju said meekly.
“Okay” was all Tokunbo said.
“Thanks” she said. The call rang out with Tokunbo smiling to himself. He guessed this was what they meant about being a man. He got up and walked to the house.
………. ………. ……….
He had called and had decided to see her. Here he was, standing in front of her apartment waiting. All this while wondering why he was here. She took her merry time but she came out.
“Can we please stop this fighting” Justin said as he sat on the car’s bonnet. He had borrowed Matthew’s car and gone to see Michelle. Why? He couldn’t explain. Their conversations throughout the week was short and tense and he was tired of it. Especially with Kevwe leaving he needed a clear head.
“I’m not the one tripping for my house mate” Michelle said folding her hand standing in front of him. He had to admit she had a good shape for a short girl, not close to Kevwe’s but still good.
“Don’t start please” Justin said.
“You know, you keep declaring this and that and yet you never deny that you have feelings for her” Michelle attacked.
“Michelle I told you the first time we met that I did. Do you want me to lie?” Justin said defensively.
“Yes. You told me you HAD feelings, I didn’t expect that it would remain in the present tense” Michelle shot back.
“Just stop. I’m tired of this back and forth with you. Do you see me toasting Kevwe?” Justin complained, “besides you can stop all this your drama. She is moving to Lagos come Monday evening” Justin said absent-minded.
“What???” Michelle exclaimed almost happily.
“Yeah she said I should tell you that you shouldn’t worry about big bad Kev” Justin said looking at her for her reaction.
“huh, oh please she wished I was scared of her” Michelle said waving off the issue. She was now leaning forward playing with his shirt button.
“You could have fooled me” Justin said sarcastically.
“Go joh. I shouldn’t be weary of the people around my baby?” She said affectionately. Justin could not believe this. Just a few minutes ago she was all cold and in an i-don’t-give-a-damn mood. Now she was going all TLC on him.
“Do you mean to tell me that it was actually Kevwe that you were bothered about and yet I got the blame for it?” Justin said. He couldn’t believe he had been suffering all these weeks because Michelle was insecure.
“Please don’t start now. We should be thinking of how to move forward, are you sleeping over?” Michelle winked at Justin incitingly. Justin got off the car bonnet. All of a sudden everything seemed wrong. He didn’t understand girls but all of a sudden he didn’t want to be here.
“I have to go” was all he said. He jumped into the car and sped home. He kept hooting the horn till Musa came out.
“Ah oga na (my oga)” he hailed Justin who paid him no attention but quickly drove in. He ran into the house like he was pressed.
“Hey you, who is chasing you?” Maryam hailed as he walked in.
“Where is Kevwe?” Justin asked hurredly.
“In her room. Hey what is wrong?” Maryam called out in panic. Justin didn’t answer but rushed towards Kevwe’s room. He didn’t knock but just walked in.
Kevwe looked up from the pile of clothes she was sorting out startled.
“Justin what’s ..”
He didn’t let her finish. In two long strides he was beside her, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. No dreams, no interruptions she responded with almost as much passion.
“… Wait what’s going …… Oh” Maryam who was trying to save a supposed fight was shocked but pleased. “I will leave you two to it” she smiled and closed the door.
Justin turned to face Kevwe. Her in his arms just felt right. He smiled, she blushed. He held her close.
………. ………. ……….
The day was gloomy even for a Monday. Excuse the Abuja scorching sun, even with her boss’s happy mood that lead to lunch for everyone, and that silly lab attendant finally giving up on asking her for another date after the tragedy that became of the last one, Maryam was not happy. She had tried not to think about it but it kept coming up in her thoughts. Tokunbo had said it will be alright, she wasn’t so sure. She just had to cope. She stood watching …..
She had been fun while it lasted. Their differences were expected and even though she had been a pain sometimes in the house Tokunbo knew he would miss her. He had left work early not minding what Medusa would have said. He had got her a box of chocolate. Something to hold her mouth during the journey he had told her. He smiled as he wrapped his hand round Maryam following her gaze …..
Matthew smiled as he watched the others. Such bond, such friendship was indescribable. Although the atmosphere was dampened he found solace in the connection the group had created. He didn’t know why it felt like a funeral but it did. He stood close by hoping he would have to carry anyone back to the car. As the plane took off, he gave a mocking salute …..
It had taken a while. She was the odd one out. They had known each other but she, she was new, the odd one out. She couldn’t forget their first meet. Trust her to start it with drama. Priscilla smiled. She had brought her in, forced her to be free and now she was leaving. Priscilla hated goodbyes …..
He stood by the car. He had refused to see her off. He looked up as he saw the plane take off from the runway. Justin knew Kevwe was in the plane. He bought her ticket after all. Since she was sure she was leaving, since that night he knew. But she had told him to move on. Six months was a long time. What was the point? She had said. She in Lagos, he in Abuja they both knew the statistics with long distance relationship. He shook his head …..
“A penny for Una thoughts?” Kevwe had joked on the drive to the airport. No one said anything. It had been awkward from parking to loading up and the drive. They had arrived at the airport and for once the plane was no schedule. She got her ticket and did the necessary procedures before coming back to the gang.
“You all should stop carrying these faces now. Can’t you all look like Matthew?” Kevwe had tried to cheer them up. No one spoke.
“You people are killing my mood oh. I don’t want to cry oh” she said giving a happy-sad smile.
“I’m going to miss you all”.
“We will miss you too” Tokunbo finally spoke up. Just then the announcer for flight called out Kevwe’s flight and urged all not onboard to get on and get settled. She started hugging them all tearfully. Tokunbo was first.
“Take care of Maryam, you and I know she will be a bit out of sorts. So please, for me” she whispered. He nodded.
Matthew was next. “Dude you need to get laid” she said loudly smiling as the rest giggled.
She looked at Priscilla.
“Don’t dare let any nonsense-in-a-hurry twat rush you. You are beautiful, your boo will come. Take care love” she said then hugged her.
She looked at Maryam, her all-time best friend. She shook her head sadly.
“NYSC all again” said Maryam remembering their departure.
“You be good” Kevwe started, Maryam nodded,”
You have fun and give Mide a proper chance” Maryam nodded again covering her mouth in an attempt not to cry.
“Watch these idiots for me, they step aside you call me and I’ll bring my whip” Kevwe laughed tearfully Maryam nodded again. The tears were rolling now. Kevwe hugged her friend as she started to cry as well.
“I love you, please take care of Justin for me”. Kevwe whispers so only Maryam would hear. She felt Maryam nod again. With much difficulty they let go.
Tokunbo, Maryam, Matthew and Priscilla watched as their friend walked away…..
So did Justin. From a distance.