Three weeks went by. It had been quite clumsy initially but Chioma and Bade had started bonding. Bade was a happier boy. He still had mood swings when the thoughts of his late mother weighed him down but things had started looking up for him.
Florence Akpuru was preparing for her company’s annual general meeting. She had being home late and tired everyday. Chioma was left with most of the household chores, and it was quite tedious.
Washing dishes early in the morning, Chioma looked over her shoulders at her mum who was taking a hurried breakfast. “Mum, school would begin this time next week”. Understanding what her daughter was trying to say, Florence nodded. “The AGM would have been over then and I would be back to help with the chores. I’m sorry we haven’t had time to talk in the past week.”
“That’s what I’ve missed the most”, Chioma said frankly.
“I’ll make it up to you.”
“I know you will”
Clearing up her dishes, she dropped them in the dish washer and gave her daughter a side hug. “I love you”
Chioma smiled back. “I love you too, mum”
Florence was about to leave the kitchen when she remembered. “And, thanks for taking care of Bade. I’m proud of you”.
“It’s been fun mum” she said, wondering whether or not it was a good time to talk about her recent concerns about Bade. She dismissed the thought.
“I hope to catch up on some of the gist next week when I’m less busy.”
“You sure will. Have a beautiful day, mum.”
“I will. Be good”, Miss Akpuru said as she made her way out of the house.
After doing the dishes, Chioma had a bath, took her breakfast and sat on the sofa to read her favorite magazine – the Brio magazine. Not too long after, Bade walked in. “Hello sister!” he said with a mischievous grin.
“Hi brother! What are you up to this morning?”
“Nothing to be worried about. Just want to see my buddies down the street.” He noticed the expression on her face and smiled. “They are nice guys. I wouldn’t have given them a second thought if I didn’t think they were”
“I just don’t like their way of life and I don’t want you joining them.”
Bade studied Chioma for a while, and then said, “I promise I won’t let them have a negative influence on me. I just need to be around some lively guys not some bunch of boring Christian folks like your friends.”
She frowned. “Guess you take me for a boring girl too, then?”
“No, I didn’t mean it like that. Let’s just say I want to have some wild-safe fun, okay?”
“Just be careful”
“I will. See you later in the day.”
“Won’t you even eat breakfast; I made some sandwich for you.”
“Nah, thanks. We already have breakfast figured out. Some chicken and chips”
“For breakfast? That’s too heavy”
“Leave that to the boys. I have to go now. See you soon” he said walking away from her in a Lakers jersey, a Tommy jean that was half way down his behind, and a new Timberland boot.
Chioma’s heart sank at what Bade was gradually becoming but she was grateful he hadn’t pierced his ear or done anything stupid yet. She knew her mother would have known what to do if not for her very busy schedule. She bent her head and said a prayer for her new friend and brother, and continued reading her magazine.
Bade felt both elated and scared at the same time. Elated that he was fast joining the popular guys but scared at the direction his life could turn. Chioma’s words kept coming to his mind as he made his way to ‘The Den’.
‘The Den’ was a fairly large garage where a couple of teenagers met to party, drink, and hook up with girls for sex. They called themselves ‘Yahoozites’. Visitors were allowed to come have fun but to become a yahoozite involved some more commitments that Bade wasn’t ready for. All he wanted was to have a good time.
He had been invited to The Den a week ago by a neighbor next door who met him while he was dumping refuse outside the gate. He hadn’t picked a stick or bottle yet but had made many friends in the past week. He only wondered how long he would last before giving-in to the pressure he was faced with. He had met a few girls that caught his attention; some had actually made passes at him. What am I doing to myself; fraternizing with this kind of people? Somewhere deep within, he respected and admired Chioma’s circle of friends; the love, care, simplicity and modesty that characterized them was irresistible. Yet, a part of him felt he would be missing out on life if he went that way.
Getting to The Den, he nearly turned back. There was a very obscene atmosphere in the garage. He walked in and saw couples together in different corners looking at the big TV screen. He found a spot near a guy who was alone and watched. The film had just started and he saw the title; “A long night”. He wondered what direction the movie director intended to take. Possibly a suspense-filled night of murder or theft or something similar, he thought.
He looked round and saw that all eyes were fixed on the screen. Couples weren’t doing anything improper; they were just cuddled up and engrossed in what was about to show on the life-size plasma screen TV. Bade had always wondered how the yahoozites got so much money to equip The Den and afford all the parties they organized. He just assumed the yahoozites had rich parents.
He took a look at the far end and saw the leader of the yahoozites; Dayo, known as D-one, with two girls. There was a smug expression on his face as he awaited the film to begin. Just then Bade felt like running out. He was sure D-one would have already watched the film before playing it in The Den, and a film that would interest D-one was definitely not going to be good. He was about to stand when he heard excited screams, guys’ and girls’ alike. He followed their gaze to the TV screen and what he saw took his breath away. And at that moment, he knew his life would never remain the same again.
Chioma was about taking a nap when she heard the door shut. She guessed Bade was back from his time with his new found friends. She wanted to go out of her room to tell him lunch was ready but decided he would be able to help himself out if he was hungry. With that, she closed her eyes and slept.
Shutting the door, Bade couldn’t stop the rush of hormones in his body. He could feel himself shaking. For the past two hours, he had experienced the most emotionally draining time of his life. It had been so draining because the good and the bad in him had been fighting, and he was in-between.
The film shown at The Den was a pornographic film; not soft porn but hard porn. He had wanted to leave but he just couldn’t get up. For two good hours, he had seen, heard and imagined so much that his entire being had been consumed with lust and passion. Before the film even ended, couples had helped each other out to satisfying the appetite they had whet. He had no partner and was already nauseated with so much perversion that he couldn’t wait to get out. But before he could leave, the boy sitting next to him told him something that was even more disturbing.
He had said ‘you know Chioma looks like Claire. You saw how good Claire was right? I’m sure Chioma would be sweeter in bed.’ With that, Bade got up and left the garage and decided never to go back to The Den, but not before the seeds of lust had been sown in his heart.
He tried to push the sights of the film and the words of the boy out of his mind but it was impossible. Walking back to the house, he kept remembering the scenes he had watched and at unguarded moments, imagined Chioma doing the same with him.
He was both relieved and glad that Chioma was nowhere in sight when he entered. He couldn’t stand seeing her with what he had just done. Guilt was eating him up. Moreover, he couldn’t trust himself with her anymore. He remembered that some days back, Chioma and her friends had discussed on how to overcome lust. He had been so cynical and judgmental that he had gone to his room. Now, he wished he had heard them. He really wanted to get the thoughts out and the feelings removed but he had no power to do so. He recalled them saying only God, by the Holy Spirit could help, but he didn’t understand how God could help or how he was even supposed to ask for help in the first place.
Bade decided to handle it himself. It would go with time. I’m sure I can handle this. After a few minutes, he was settled and decided to sleep. After about three hours, he was woken up by hunger pangs. It was then he realized he hadn’t eaten. The yahoozites had been too preoccupied with the movie they wanted to watch that they had not made food available.
He made his way to the kitchen and saw that Chioma had made food. At the thought of Chioma, his heart beat quickened. What on earth is this about? Focusing on his food, he ate, enjoying every bit of the meal. As soon as he was done, he washed his plate, put it in the dish drainer and headed for the living room. He put on the TV and watched NBA. After his injury when playing soccer, two years back, he became a basket ball fan. His team, the Lakers, was playing against Chicago Bulls. He was glad to have a distraction.
Barely five minutes into the game, he heard footsteps and knew it was Chioma. She walked in and sat next to him. “How’s the game going, Badez?”
“Great” he replied without looking at her. Chioma had started calling him Badez one day at dinner and the name had stuck; he liked it.
“How was your time out with your buddies?”
“It was fun” he said. She was wearing her perfume and was all dressed; he wondered where she was going.
“Everything okay? You don’t look too pleased to see me.”
Only if you knew what is going on in my mind. But to pacify her, he smiled and said, “I’m good and seeing you is always a pleasure. Thanks for asking.”
“Anyway, I thought I could invite you for a luncheon. I was invited to sing there.”
“What is being launched?”
“And who is launching this book?”
“Femi Makun. He’s such a talented writer.” She placed her hand on his. “You need to meet him”. It was an ordinary touch as they had had before, but it affected Bade differently this time. She was so close, Bade wanted to pull her close and … but he controlled himself.
“I suppose he is”
Chioma wondered if it was jealousy or a complex she read in Bade’s words and expressions. “Why the attitude?”
“You like him, right?” he said, ignoring her question.
Chioma blushed. “I guess I do, I’m not sure. We’re just friends and I’m just getting to know him.”
“He invited you to sing?”
“Yes, he did”, she said, smiling.
Pushing the warring feelings, aside, he decided to be nice and be a good friend. “I bet you’ll be the highlight of the luncheon. I hope you don’t steal the day from him” he teased.
Chioma was obviously relieved. “You really scared me with your being uptight. I sure won’t steal the attention. Thanks Badez. It’s for 2pm; I want to rehearse my lines”.
“What song are you singing?”
“Jesus, giver of all good things”
“I’ve heard you sing that twice already. Why are you singing that again?”
“Femi specifically requested that I sing it”
“Okay then. But do you have to rehearse again; you should be use to it. Sit with me and watch TV till it’s time to leave.”
“I can’t.” she said as she patted Bade’s hand and rose to leave. “The more I practice, the better I get. If I want to be a remarkable singer, I’ve got to rehearse more than ordinary singers would deem necessary. And do you know what I was doing in the last thirty minutes?”
“What?” Bade asked, wondering.
“I was praying; asking that the song would be a blessing to those who listen”. He was too amused to respond. “Please be ready in an hour’s time”. She said and walked to her room, leaving Bade to sort out all his conflicting thoughts.