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|The Heirarchy Of Things. by 1BOBO1: 12:32am On Nov 01, 2013|
Betrayal, Heartbreak, and blackmail are in order for a group of young socialites who must lean on each other as they try to navigate through the pressures of societal demands and the dating scene of a bustling, metropolitan African city.
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|Re: The Heirarchy Of Things. by 1BOBO1: 12:39am On Nov 01, 2013|
CHAPTER ONE: THE ART OF BEING AN SAF.
Most people would think the hardest part of being a single, twenty-seven year old SAF (Single African Female) would fall somewhere between parental and societal disapprovals more than anything else, and they would be correct. Unless, they so happen to have friends like mine, then society as a whole has nothing on these loud-mouthed, incessantly irritating pair. I knew something was up when I got the call from Chioma, asking me to drop by for "friday movie night" two hours ago
"Rita! Listen to me, I don't care what you say, every woman needs a man in their life! Haba, abi you want die virgin?" says Nattie, carelessly spewing rice from her mouth right back into the plate. At thirty, it is safe to say that Nattie has had her fair share of whirlwind romances. She was always the wild one, and while most of the men she dates find this to be her greatest asset, (that, and her body. I mean, seriously, the girl is the walking, talking definition of sex appeal...) her unconventional ideologies on marriage usually have them running back to their mamas to find them innocent, uncomplicated village girls to settle down with.
"Nattie, why are we talking about this again? If I knew 'Friday movie night' meant 'let’s grill Rita night' I would have stayed in my apartment o."
"But she has a point," chips in Chioma, "it's been over five months since you and Ade called it quits, it's time to move on."
"Please, help me tell her, Chichi! It's like the girl wants to die a virgin." Chioma shifts uncomfortably in her seat. Very much like her name, Chioma IS the traditional SAF, she believes in the hierarchy of things. First, you get your bachelors, then you find a man with a good salary, you get married, have sex (for the first time), have babies that look like your husband, then die and go to heaven. But, unlike me, Chioma had done the did at the age of fifteen with her secondary school sweetheart who had dumped her literarily four days afterwards. Swearing never to sleep with another man again, Chioma closed her legs and focused on her studies... until she met Ferdinand, barely a month later... And when that ended three weeks later, she swore off men... Again... Story of her life.
"There's nothing wrong with her virginity!" Chioma spits back, then immediately realizing how defensive she had come across, she quickly fills her mouth with rice. I know this might sound selfcentered, but I'm more than certain that Chioma is envious of me. Or, better still, I think it is my virginity she is so envious of. As we sat in silence, Nattie and I holding back our giggles at Chiomas outburst, the front door opens, and in walks in Noella. Twenty-two years old, and strikingly beautiful, Noella, like her sister, Nattie, is a professional husband snatcher. Okay, fine, maybe not professionally, but the girl seems to only be attracted by married men with lots of cheddar and very little cheese.
"Who died?" She says, referring to the awkward silence in the room.
"Not who, what... Chiomas virginity..." Nattie looks at me and winks, as hard as I try, I can't hold back the giggles that follow. Seconds later, we're all laughing like drunken lunatics. Ah! The power of Nattie's rumbustious humor. No matter how bad the situation is, she always knows just what chords to play to bring upon that sense of tranquility.
"How pathetic. Three singles seating at home on a Friday evening, when your mates are out there fishing." Noella says as she hurriedly takes of her heels and dashes for her bedroom. Nattie sucks her teeth in a way only an irritated African woman can. The room is filled with guilt-cladded silence as we all try to pretend Noella hadn't just hit a sore spot. As much as I hate to admit it, the little wench was right. It was pathetic on so many levels, our predicament. You'd think as women in our prime, we would have so much more to do than sit and throw jabs at each other’s love lives... Or lack thereof.
The sound of clicking heels on Egyptian tiles suddenly envelops the room as Noella reemerges. Now dressed in an upper-thigh length, animal print dress, hair pulled up, lips rouged; there was no questioning that something hot was going down tonight.
"Whoside you dey go?" Nattie asks.
"Elysium, the new club that just opened downtown. You know my friend Sophie, right? It's her birthday today, so we're going there to party." Gushes Noella, proudly.
"Good luck getting in. I heard the place is stupid exclusive because of all the celebs that frequent there." Chioma snickers.
"Yeah, and it's supposed to cost a fortune, too." adds Nattie. Apparently, I'm the only one who is yet to hear of this place, Elysuim.
Noella folds her arms defiantly, sticking out here nose as though she were royalty, addressing commoners. "My friend Sophie is dating this bush-faller guy called, Eli, or something, and he's from some very rich family. In fact, he even booked a whole section in the club for the event. Now, THAT is super exclusive!"
"That explains the dress." Nattie tries mumbling to herself, but we all hear her loud and clear.
"What, this old thing?" Noella twirls around, showing off.
"Well, my butt does look good in it doesn't it. Besides, unlike you three, I intend on snatching me a rich man now that I'm at my prime. Wouldn't want to still be trying my luck at twenty-seven." Her eyes dart towards me, she smirks. Wench!
"That's it!" Barks Nattie bouncing off her chair, "Chioma, Rita, I believe we just got a somewhat indirect... but still relevant invite to the hottest club in town, and I'd be damned if I miss it!"
|Re: The Heirarchy Of Things. by 1BOBO1: 12:45am On Nov 01, 2013|
Kingsley paces about impatiently in the monumental living room, glancing between his wrist watch and the clock mounted on the wall. I don't get this guy; he's always so fidgeting for no reason. If you didn't know him, and you saw him during one of his episodes, you'd think he had just been told the world was about to end. I slowly begin my climb down, praying he'd be too lost in thought to turn around and spot me. One step at a time, I go, until I'm finally at the bottom. Then, I sneak my way 'til I'm standing right behind him. I place my hand on his shoulder, and the next thing I know, Kingsley is halfway to the door. He turns back abruptly, and comes to an instantaneous halt when he realizes it’s me. Idiot.
I bend over, convulsing with laughter.
"Dammit, Eli! You almost scared the shit out of me!" He fumes, face twisted in resignation.
Wiping away the tears on my face, I manage to catch my breath. "I swear, Eli, you have to grow up! This isn't even funny anymore!" He continues, but with more amazement than anger this time.
"Nope, growing up is overrated." I say, as the last hints of hysteria evaporate from my system. "So, shall we?" I ask as I fix myself up, and start heading for the door. "We have a party to attend, after tall." I can feel Kingsley's eyes glaring through me. It's been close to seven years now, since I first met him in secondary school, he and my elder sister have been together since before then, but with the exception of me, only four others knew of their relationship.
"Geez, Eli, how long does it take you to get dressed? We asked everyone to be there by nine, it's already fifteen minutes past." Poor guy... And I do mean that both figuratively and literarily. Unlike me, Kingsley wasn't born to certain... privileges. He is indeed a self-made man, but despite his success as an up and coming business magnet, he still struggles to fit in with our kind of crowd. Either he's always too early or too underdressed, or too overdressed... He just doesn't get it, and lately, I think it has started to really affect him. Even though Kingsley would never admit it, his loving my sister might just prove to be too much of a risk for someone so safe and practical as he.
"What if we get there and they refuse to let us in? What then" Kingsley grumbles to himself.
"They cannot NOT let us in, King. We rented a section of the club remember? We're VIP, man. VIP never waits in line. You should know that by now." Immediately regret the words as they come out, I bite myself to refrain from making matters worse. Way to go Eli, the guy is already a nervous wreck, why don't you add already mounting guilt to top it all off?!
Kingsley stands silently. I can tell my words stung. How to fix this... Aha! Cars! Pulling my keys out of my pocket, I manually unlock my car, making sure the beeping sound chimes twice.
"King, you know I'm all about humility, but just for this one night, can we take my car?" My car being a 2010 white Porsche Panamera, Kingsley always insists we take his Honda civic on outings, for fear of seeming too pretentious.
"Eli, no!" His declaration is weak, I can tell he is tempted, I push further. "Listen, I'll even let you drive." I dangle the keys before him, and watch as he physically and mentally succumbs.
He reaches over to take the keys, but I quickly pull back.
"No no no, I will drive us to Elysium, you can drive us back, seeing as you won't be drinking. Besides, like you said, we're running late... and you drive like my grandmother."
He glowers, looking more like a scorned pre-teen than a man in his mid-twenties. "Fine!" He says moments later, and hops into the passenger side of the car. I follow. "All those people are waiting. What if some of them already left?"
I sit quietly, pretending to consider the possibility that a bunch of hot single individuals who find themselves in a VIP lounge on a Friday night, in the hottest night club in town would skip out on free booze just because their invitee is absent.
"Not a chance." I turn on the engine, making sure to indulge in its soft purr, as it comes to life. The worst that could happen is there are more people in attendance than intended...but, that's always a good thing, right?
|Re: The Heirarchy Of Things. by 1BOBO1: 12:52am On Nov 01, 2013|
It's always a pain attending parties like these; Girls in cheap skirts, acting like they're worth more than they actually are. It's sad really, with the right bank account they actually stand a chance of not looking so ghastly... Oh, well, I guess even God knows some people just aren't worth his blessings.
I push my way through the packed room, hoping to see even one dignified face, amongst the herd, seeing as this party was being thrown by one of the towns golden boys, I was expecting to see some diamond girls. Instead, the rank of cheap silver and fake gold fills the air. Well, what did I expect? The idiot decided to shack up with some village girl, and of course, trash talks to trash and hangs with trash. Hence, the room full of trash. Two more sips from the piss-like bottle of beer, and I've had enough!
I head for the exit door.
"Happy birthday!" The birthday girl, dressed in a fitted African print is surrounded by adoring friends. Not bad. The girl is passable... If you're into that whole "rich kid finds poor girl, and changes her life forever" kind of fairy-tale crap. As I take another sip from my glass, I am suddenly hit by this wave of sweaty armpits so intense that I immediately realize, this couldn't just be a really smelly person. This must be someone's perfume? Jesus, I need to get out of here. Now!
The worst part about not being single is being at events like these, seeing the tremendous potential in the attendees, but knowing you are not free to splurge however you see fit.
"Oh my Goodness, this place is jamming" Nattie exclaims as her head swings back and forth, taking in the grandeur of Elysium. She turns to me with her million dollar smile and says, "thank you for inviting us."
I feign a smile back. See, the thing is, I don't mind her coming along, I just really hate the way she clings to me when we go out. Nattie is one of those women who knows she's beautiful, and is comfortable with it. Why is that a problem? Nothing, exactly. It's just... I need my own space now, you know. I don't need her always drawing the attention to her, and forcing me into the background like she always does. But, things are different now, her age is starting to show, her fingers, her lips, they're all starting to show signs of her thirty years of the pressures that come with being dazzlingly beautiful...
"Now, where's the birthday girl? It's best we give her her present first, before we start gulping down her alcohol." Nattie says as she takes the plastic bag from Chiomas hand and thrusts it towards me. She had insisted we stop by the supermarket to buy Sophie a gift, even with all my protestation. I glare at her, embarrassed not just because no one else seems to be carrying a brand less gift bag, but also because I knew what was IN the gift bag. You want to guess? It was... Teddy bear! A freaking teddy bear for a girl turning 21 years old! I bite my tongue to suppress the shriek that tries to escape my lips because of the thought. I feign another smile as I say, "why don't you guys make yourselves comfortable, while I go look for the birthday girl." I quickly submerge myself into the crowd, before any of them can protest. I look back, and sigh with relief as I realize I have indeed lost them in the crowd. Now, I just need to find my soon-to-be-boyfriend. Oh, Desmond, where are you?
|Re: The Heirarchy Of Things. by 1BOBO1: 1:03am On Nov 01, 2013|
As time passes, I find it gets harder and harder to understand Noella. See, the way ei just take style disappear, as if she's ashamed of being seen with me, or something. We used to be so close, Ella and I. Almost, inseparable. But not anymore. In fact, lately, I get the nagging feeling that she's been making a conscious effort to ignore me., and everything from her scarcity from home, and the the one worded answers she gives for every question seems to only point towards that direction... It couldn't be because of... No. That's absurd. That was such a long time ago, surely, she still isn't holding any grudges, right?
"Nattie, are you okay?" I turn to look at Chioma, pulled out of my trance. She and Rita are starring at me inquiringly. I nod.
"Uh-huh..." It's Rita this time. "So, what do you think?"
"Think about what?" I'm confused.
"Aha! So, you haven't been listening to us, this whole time, after all!" Chioma pushes. She's right. I haven't been listening. Since, Ella's uncomfortable dissapearing-in-the-crowd act about thirty minutes ago, I haven't really been thinking straight, i find my mind dancing somewhere between bobbing my head to the latest coupe-Decale being played by the DJ; listening to Rita and Chiomas random bursts of fashion critiquing of the other party guests... and Ella.
Either way, I try my luck.
"Oh, yeah, I know. That guy really shouldn't pair baggy jeans with a tuxedo jacket and dress shoes. Just doesn't look right." From the look on their faces, I know immediately, that I just flunked the test.
"Darling, we stopped tongue-lashing that guy about five minutes ago, we're now talking about that one doing the Azonto over there." Chioma says, jerking her head towards the present victim of our fashion police. Oh, God! Get this, the girl in question is wearing a bright pink mini dress, black leather knee-high stripper boots, and to top it all off, a brightly bleached blond wig. I throw my head back as my whole body is quickly taken over by gurgling laughter. Leave it to my girls to take me from depressive to hysterics in a matter of seconds.
There's a vibration on the table.
What now? Every time she calls, I am guaranteed the extinction of all the remaining minutes on my recharge card. It's like she can sense when I have just added minutes, because twenty-four hours cannot pass afterwards without her blowing up my phone. Why don't I just ignore her calls, then? Well, AUNTY Angela is one of my mother’s closest, and nosiest friends. One of those women that makes it her business to know everyone else's wahala, which I'm guessing is how a woman hundreds of miles away in the village is well enough informed that the company I work for has open internships for university students/potential employees every year this month, and as you must have guessed, aunty Angela has a son who fits perfectly into this description... Well, almost. The thing is, Thomas, the son in question, is as smart as a block of cement. Need I say more?
The phone stops ringing.
"Your aunt again?" Chioma says, knowing fully well what the answer to her question is. I nod, nonetheless.
"Just tell the old lady that her son did not qualify for the job. Why are you letting her terrorize you?" Nattie adds. As if on cue, the phone starts buzzing again, this time, I don't even need to look down at it to know who it is... You guessed it, aunty Angela! I snatch the phone from the table, and start hurriedly making my way outside, partly because the music was loud... But, mostly because I fear to imagine what aunty Angela would tell my mother... And seventy-five percent of the village if she so much as suspected that I was at a club, especially considering I'm about to tell her her son does not qualify for the internship. Gossip hath no spreader like an angry African woman.
There's a cool breeze in the evening air. I answer.
"Hello, Ah! Rita! How are you doing?" Aunty Angela saws before I even get the chance to give a HELLO. "I have been trying to call you all evening, but you won't answer, so I said to myself, Angela, leave Rita alone, she must not have left the office at seven o'clock today like she always does all weekends." How in Gods name does this woman know my work schedule?!
She continues: "Rita! Is that music I hear? Are you at a party? At this time? Humph! I hope you have not joined all those useful city girls, jumping around from one party to another, from one man to another..." And so it begins...
"No, aunty Angela, it's not like that. You know I will help Thomas if I could. He's like my own little brother... No, aunty Angela, that's not how I meant it, I just meant he's like my family not that I don't think he's man enough for the job... No, aunty Angela, I'm not trying to say you don't know what you're talking about... No aunty Angela, I'm not using technique to call you stupid..." And she goes on and on and on. Whoever this aunty Angela is, she's definitely working on my nerves, and I'm not even the one listening to her absurdities. Nevertheless, this mysterious woman keeps talking to her on the phone with so much—respect. Weird.
I had just stepped out for a quick cigar to wash out the stench from that cheap perfume; Nothing like a good Cuban cigar to restore the senses. I don't understand why poor people are so bent on pretending to be something they're not. It's not that I have anything against self-improvement or anything, but, there're ways you can do it without seeming so desperate--like her. This mystery woman; Dressed in a red body-hugging gown, with a simple gold chain against her chest. Nothing too severe, just the right amount of sexy and classy. She holds the cellphone away from her ear, and I hear snippets of the shrieking voice of whoever is on the other end of the cellphone.
"You know you can just hang up right?" I hear myself say, without knowing what had come over me. Mysterious woman jumps backwards, startled. I can feel her eyes as the measure me up, halfway scared, half way intrigued. The way one looks at a snake, not knowing whether I was a threat, or not. After a few seconds of a good look-over, she straightens up and exhales loudly as it dawns on her that I am not a threat.
"Excuse me?... Where you talking to me?" She manages.
"I said 'you know you can just hand up, right?'" I hate repeating myself.
"Have you been listening in on my conversation this whole time?" Looking more intrigued than irritated. I nod.
"You have no right..."
"I don't know if you have properly taken in your surroundings, but you are standing outside a club...If you wanted a conservative conversation, I doubt this is the ideal location. Besides, I was here before you came along, so..."
With the exceptions of the faded sounds of Gyptian's HOLD YOU Playing in the background, and the honks, and chatter of Downtown traffic—and the barely audible shrieking of aunty Angela through her cellphone receiver--the silence between us is intense yet subtle, like the feeling you get biting into a warm croissant after skiing on the Appalachians trails.
"I can't do that. Not if I ever want to visit my parents again."
I stand up and start walking towards her. She steps back. I lift both hands up, as a sign of peace. I take another step, she doesn't move. Another step— then another.
She stands still, as if transfixed by the chilly African evening, until we are just a few steps apart.
I take the phone from her, she attempts a protest, but is silenced by my index finger.
I press the hang up Nottingham on the phone, and give her back her phone.
"There. If I have to listen to that back and forth banter a moment more, I think I'll go crazy." I say, making sure my voice is low enough to be mysterious, but not so much so that I sound like an intimidated schoolboy.
She shakes her head, as she tries fighting the smile that quickly creeps unto her face.
"My name is Desmond Atah-Bate, you can just call me Desmond for short."
I send forth my hand, my palms now air dried from the sweatiness of warmth of the cigar.
"Rita." She says, taking my hand, smiling from ear to ear, as she finally allows herself to stop fighting the pull of my warm hands, and beaconing charm.
As if she ever even stood a chance.
END OF FIRST CHAPTER! LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK, EH?
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