‘Una no get craze’ laughed Chidi as he replaced the phone in its cradle. His wife, Lola raised an eyebrow and smiled.
‘Who was that sweetie?’ she asked, with her beautiful face breaking into a stunning smile. It was the same smile that captured his heart last year when he met her at the gym. He had proposed within 6 months, and three weeks ago, had exchanged their vows in front of a small registry audience. If it was possible to love someone more than life itself, Chidi loved his wife. Every thing about her radiated beauty. He walked towards her and pulled her to her feet.
‘ a few of my old friends from way back- awon paddies’ he replied, nuzzling his face into her neck, and ravishing her subtle scent.
‘ha, hope they know you are now married?’ she teased, and he winked at her, loving the fact that she was so jealous over him. She rolled her eyes walked towards the kitchen to prepare dinner, while he grabbed his car keys.
‘I am off to meet them for a quick catch up…ill be back for 10- don’t miss me ‘said Chidi, as he planted a kiss on her forehead. ‘ I love you’.
He hated leaving her at home alone, but Kayode, one of his friends was in town for just one day, and He hadn’t seen Kay for ages. He reluctantly broke his embrace and shut the door behind him to begin the one hour drive to the Twilight Zone, the bar where his friends were awaiting his arrival.
‘ Chidisco- the newest husband in town!’ was the boisterous greeting that met him at the entrance to Twilight Zone. Chidi knew without a doubt that it was Femo’s voice. He turned to the direction of the voice and gasped with surprise. Kay, Femo, Nnamdi , and Dotun flanked one of the beer infiltrated tables.. Four of them were his close friends from childhood, and surprisingly, none of them had attended his wedding. Kay lived in the UK, while the rest had been away on year long business trips.
‘Femo d millionaire’ shrilled a clearly excited Chidi, as he returned his friends’ tight embrace. The others joined in a group hug, and before long, everyone was re-ordering beer and talking at once.
After 10 minutes of teasing and joking around, they finally fell silent and Chidi braced himself for the torrent of questions that was sure to follow.
Kay cleared his throat, and peered at Chidi through his glasses; a gesture that suggested that Kay wanted to be heard. ‘Chidisco, How you take do am? Why you marry? I mean- it’s a great thing, marriage, but you Chidi?!’ Chidi was not surprised at the question. Before he met his wife, he had been a notorious player. He had loved women, partying and drinking. He wanted to reply, but someone interrupted him.
‘–Allow Chidi, He looks like he is in heaven?’ said Femo, the richest of the lot. Femo was divorced, and had vowed never to remarry.
‘Nna, na Yoruba woman you marry?’ Nnamdi finally spoke, concern masking his shy frame. Nnamdi was the quietest of his friends, and by far the most sensible. They were both from the same Village, and in many ways, it made them closer than the others.. Nnamdi took life seriously and worked harder than he played. He also desperately wanted to get married.
‘Marriage Sha-not me o. There are no good women in the whole world, w’alai!’ added Dotun in his deep baritone voice. Dotun had scars from his last relationship. The woman had cleared his account and rendered him bankrupt.
Kay continued from where he left off; ‘Chidi, marriage is not a bag of chips you know. It’s even easier for you lot in Naija. For jand, you gas to think am well- if you mess up, the woman will clear your life savings’.
They all laughed at Kay’s facial expression. Chidi looked around the table, and pride warmed his heart. He loved his friends and had missed them terribly. His friends had begged him to postpone the wedding till they could attend, but Lola’s parents wouldn’t hear of it. Besides, they had asked him not to over publicise the wedding of their only daughter. And so, he had not really shared anything with his friends until now. As they all sat there, eager to hear his story, he couldn’t wait to tell them all, and possibly convict one of them to change their ways and settle down .
He turned to face Nnamdi. ‘na Yoruba woman. The most wonderful woman I have ever met in my life. The most amazing thing is, I wasn’t even looking. You see, I met her at the gym…’ he began and Femo awwwed loudly, making Chidi smile.
‘You guys remember I was working on that multi million pound bid at my firm’s HQ, Na so one day I go gym…’ He continued; but was stopped mid sentence.
‘—Sorry to interrupt you o, Chidisco, I just remembered one gist I wanted to give you guys’ said, Femo cutting into his conversation.
‘Did you guys hear about that babe that got married three weeks ago – wetin be her name now?’ Femo looked around the table and scratched his head. A pregnant pause followed as they all tried to jug their memory.
‘Not our T.O.J?’
‘It is our T.O.J o!! Chop knuckle Kay!! Imagine, that girl married some bloke in PH ni sha!’
Chidi had no idea of who “our T.O.J was”. So he asked anyway, despite his obvious lack of interest.
‘No vex, Chidi, I heard she met some guy and married him in Port Harcourt jare, that why I asked. T.O.J is that babe ‘we’ slept with a while back. The one that Jide passed to me. Meeeeeen, I carry yansh for the man that married her o!!’ Femo raised his fist in the air and they all laughed, including Chidi. He had heard about the girl, but he couldn’t recall ever meeting her.
Femo patted his back and grinned. ‘Totally irrelevant to your gist, please continue with how you met the Mrs’
Smiling in return, Chidi started to speak again, but someone interrupted him for the second time.
‘I’m not proud of it, but I also slept with her. Her husband must be very understanding…’ That was Nnmadi, the quiet one. Dotun laughed and shook his head.
‘Or under the influence of powerful jazz’ countered Femo.
‘Wait o, didn’t she serve in UCS with that mad woman I dated? That Same T.O.J? She married 3 weeks ago ke?? No way!! I slept with her too, like 2 years ago.. Foolish girl, she almost made me marry her by force o…’ Dotun looked very surprised. ‘See why I say I no go marry? If T.O.J can hook up a man, that means life don finish be dat’
Kay took a swig of beer and nodded his head, ‘Believe me, No one could have enjoyed her as much as I did. She came to Jand two years ago, she literally lived with me’. He laughed heartily,’ Omo, has anyone tasted her efo? Damn, the babe’s cooking is off the chain’
‘Infact, when I heard she got married ehn, I wanted to fly to Naija to flog her husband, is he blind? Abi e no hear her gist?’
Chidi smiled sadly. ‘Anyway, so I walked into the gym, and there on the treadmill was this stunning….’Chidi paused, irritated that Femo was still laughing and disturbing the flow of his story.
‘Femo, wetin do you now?’ Asked Kay, who was also eager to hear Chidi’s love tale
Femo raised both arms in the air and made a surrendering motion.
‘Ah! Titilola Olabisi Johnson married?! Anyone can marry ni yen. I can’t get over it, my guy no vex, continue your story’ He held his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter.
Suddenly, everything stopped moving at that point. Chidi felt himself grow cold. His heart abruptly began to thump and blood rushed to his brain, making his head swirl.
‘ d-describe this T.O.J b-babe abeg’ he managed to blurt out. He hoped the beads of sweat on his forehead were not visible.
‘ ah, you no remember Titi Olabisi Johnson? From Madam Dinuba hall in Uni? Our Titi?? That used to speak one fake fune. Her middle name is Olabisi o; it’s not a posh compound surname. Remember when the razz girl asked everyone to start calling her T.O.J? she must have felt funky’ Dotun offered, stunned that Chidi had no recollection.
‘You know Chidi was in Med school, he probably didn’t know her that well…but then, Titi no dey get restriction. Med school o, business school o, accounting and finance nko? she dey there’ Femo added; and Dotun and Nnamdi collapsed in a heap of laugher.
‘Smallish, light skinned with massive hips- figure 8’ Nnamdi chuckled, as he used his fingers to draw the number 8 on the table. Chidi’s eyes followed Nnamdi’s hand movement as if he was in a trance.
‘Correct figure 8, with one dimple on her right cheek- the babe is fine sha, make we no lie’ added Dotun.
‘Dotun, commot, T.O.J’s dimple is on her left cheek- I know because she lived with me. She has one mad ass beauty spot by her thigh…you know I have a thing for beauty spots.’
‘By the way, Chidi why you wan know, you’ve only been married a few weeks, abi did you marry T.O.J by mistake?’ asked Kay, laughing hysterically at what he thought was a joke.
But it wasn’t. The woman his friends had just described was Lola. Titilola Olabisi Johnson was his wife. It had never crossed his mind. She had never called her self T.O.J., infact; she had said her middle name was Adunni…. That was what he’d seen on her birth certificate. She had lied about her past.
His wife and his friends? All his friends? All four of them? Her dimple…her figure… hell, the beauty spot on her thigh… they had all the intimate details he’d cherished.
The image forced bile to his gullet. Who else? How many more men?
The laughter had died down and everyone was staring at him bizarrely.
Anger, disgust and disbelief crashed on his features, as he grabbed his car keys and stormed out of the bar; to the shock friends. As he slammed his car door shut and screeched away, the last thing he heard was Femo’s fading voice telling him it was all a joke.
He wished it was.
He drove like a mad man until he got home. His mobile rang all through. It was Kay, and Femo. He ignored them all. The moment he let himself into the house, Lola rushed to him for a hug, but stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the wild expression on his face.
‘What’s wrong honey?’ she whispered; her voice ever so sweet and soft. He wanted to hug her and take it back to where they were before he’d left the house. But the horrible, grotesque imaginations of his wife with his four friends clouded his intelligence.
Lola suddenly looked like a pile of dung.
With all the force he could muster, he whispered the three letters that had haunted him since the moment he’d heard them-’ T.O.J’. And with heartbreaking pain, he watched as his wife stiffened instantly. She bit her lips so hard, that they poured blood.
As tears filled her large eyes, she reached for his face; wanting to touch him. But he pushed her away with so much force that she fell to the floor and began sobbing quietly. He tore his gaze away from her and ran into the bedroom.
Shutting the door on himself, he punched a hole in the wall and broke down into uncontrollable sobs…