Sunday, August 23, 2009

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 12)

“Oh boy, it’s not time to give up. It’s time for Plan B” Stanley said.
“That girl succeeded in boning me throughout today. Can you imagine? Since morning till now, even during lunch, Shade didn’t come to say hi. I thought we had something going yesterday. Maybe I was wrong.” Utibe responded.
“You weren’t wrong” It was Okpara this time. “The girl is just fronting. So, like Stanley said, you need to change approach. You thought she would come looking for you but she hasn’t. She wants to exercise her female pride; that’s still fair. So, pursue her. She wants to feel wanted; give it to her.”
“I don’t want her to feel more important than she is” Utibe protested.
“Oh boy, forget that side. The end point is to get in-between her legs, and you must do whatever you have to, even it if makes you look like a love-lost fool. You know what you want and when you get it, you’ll be the boss. She would now be the one clinging desperately to you, either because she wants more or because she has lost her pride and her only choice is to stick to you. That’s power my friend.” Stanley said, slapping Utibe on the back. “At that point, you’ll use her so bad and you’ll then dump her so hard. That’s what girls deserve.”
“Isn’t that rather cruel?” Utibe asked.
“Isn’t that rather cruel?” Stanley repeated, mimicking him and both he and Okpara laughed at their JJC friend. “You better wake up, Utibe. That’s life for you. If you don’t do that to them, they’ll be the ones to do that to you.”
“Shade doesn’t look the type”
“Get this into your chicken head” Okpara said, poking Utibe’s head. “Wickedness no dey show for face. If anybody had told me that my mum would dump my father who loved her for another man, I would have said it’s impossible. But she did. That’s why I can never love any woman. Women, as far as I’m concerned, are sex machines and baby producers – period. If you get your emotions involved with them, they’ll only send you to an early grave.” He paused, trying to keep his temper in control. “You should see the mess my father has become since losing my mum to another man. I won’t be a fool like he was; and I hope you won’t be either.”
Utibe’s ears were full. He had never looked at women, or females, in the way Stanley and Okpara were showing him. His own mother was late; she died when he was seven. But with this he had just heard, he wondered how long his mother would have been faithful to his father had she lived. The stories Utibe had read in the SUN Newspaper, not to talk of the different bad news surrounding marriage only helped to strengthen his conviction that his friends were right.
“Moreover,” Stanley was saying, “we need Shade for our plan, remember?”
“You had better remember” Okpara chipped in.
“So, I advise you go out of your way to find her. Let her feel wanted. Let her feel on top for now. When the die is cast, she would know who the real boss had always been”
“Yes o!” Utibe affirmed as the boys cheered him up. He reveled in the thought of what would be if things worked out as Stanley had analysed. ‘Shade baby, I’m coming for you and when I have you, your life will never remain the same again’ he said to himself, smiling.
There was so much noise in the room. Girls had so much to talk about, especially about the group discussions. Shade, however didn’t have much to talk about. Her day had been so boring. The time she had had with Utibe the previous night had been so swell, she had looked forward to having more time with him, only to be disappointed that he didn’t seem to care so much.
‘How I just wish you would come looking for me, Utibe. You’ll be my man forever’. Those were her thoughts as Tunbosun walked in. As Tunbosun walked in, Shade noticed something for the very first time. Tunbosun was very beautiful. She wondered why she hadn’t noticed earlier. Or was there something about her at the moment that had enhanced the beauty. Shade looked carefully for any extra make-up but didn’t see. It was then, she saw it. Tunbosun was looking happy – alive.
Shade couldn’t help feeling jealous. She was sad, and now, Tunbosun who had just been bland all along was happy.
“You’re staring at me” Tunbosun said, smiling.
That took Shade unawares. She didn’t know she was staring. “Oh, I’m so sorry. You just look so different. Kinda happy”
“Really?” Tunbosun asked.
“Maybe it’s because I think I’ve met someone different.”
Shade raised a brow.
“You know I told you I would show you a real guy when I see him; a guy who would like you for who you are and not want anything in return. Remember?”
“Yeah, I do”, Shade said, wondering what her friend was up to.
“I think I may have found one such guy.” Tunbosun said, clearly delighted,
Shade sincerely wanted to be happy for her friend but jealousy was hanging somewhere in the corner of her heart. She tried to suppress the feeling, deciding to hear her friend out.
“I had just known there was something special about that guy when I saw him in my group. He was made leader, and I, his assistant. He told me I should wait for him in the dinning hall after lunch, that he was going to the hospital to visit his friend in the hospital. That girl that was rushed to the clinic this morning.”
“I see. That was nice of him.”
“I thought so too. I was really impressed.”
“What’s his name?”
“George” She answered, then continued. “Soon after lunch was over, he walked in with another guy he introduced as Uche...”
“Uche?” Shade asked, interrupting her friend.
“Yes. Average height, fair, wears glasses and rather quiet”
“He most likely is the one. I met one Uche guy today. He was sitting next to me in my group. I got to know his name only because we were told to introduce ourselves to the people sitting next to us. That was the only conversation we shared. He was so withdrawn and looked quite dull this morning.”
“He might be the same guy but this Uche was bright and smiling when I saw him”
“Whatever!” Shade said, dismissing the Uche topic.
“Okay, so when they came in, they quickly ate their food, which had been reserved for them, then they did the most tripping thing I have ever seen guys do.”
“What was that?” Shade asked, curious.
“They started packing up the plates everyone had used to eat.” Tunbosun could see that Shade too was surprised. “I had to join them, and I must confess that it was fun. Those guys are something. You should meet them.”
“That would be nice” Shade said, but as she did her mind went back to Utibe. Tunbosun had found special friends, and she was happy for her but she craved for her own Utibe. Utibe may not be like Tunbosun’s friends but she felt he was still okay. But more important was the thought that filled her mind. ‘I think I’m in love with him.’ She wished so hard that he would just walk up to her in the lecture hall and talk to her, that was all she needed and she would give him her heart…and more.
Fatima knew she had better obey God or she would regret it. Immediately, she sat up in bed, and turned slightly to face her room mate.
“Good afternoon ma.” She said but there was no response. Fatima was scared. She hoped she wasn’t too late. “Hello ma” she said louder this time. She was relieved when she saw the woman stir a little, but instead of facing her, the woman waved her off without evening turning or saying a word.
Fatima was at a loss but knew God had something in mind for Him to have urged her on to speak with the woman. Just as she was wondering how to go about it, she heard God whisper something in her ear. She didn’t understand it but she said it anyway.
“It wasn’t your fault that she died” Fatima said, and noticed that the woman went still. ‘Is she listening at all?’ Fatima asked herself. She felt a nudging to say it again. “Please believe me ma. It wasn’t your fault she died.” It was then, Fatima noticed the woman was sniffing. ‘Is she crying?’ She got her answer when the sniffs became sobs.
Fatima knew she needed to move closer but she was constrained by the drip attached to her hand. She looked at the drip stand and saw it had wheels. Perfect! She got up and wheeled it slowly towards the bed of that woman. When she got to the bed, she sat on it and placed a hand on the sobbing woman. “God took her away and now needs you to be strong. He has better plans for you.”
Fatima didn’t know where the words were coming from but she was so sure she was speaking God’s mind. She kept speaking soothing words to the sobbing woman, who was yet to face her. Over thirty minutes passed as Fatima kept speaking words to her, at a point, she leaned over and embraced the woman from behind and started praying in tongues.
Soon after she did that, the woman’s body relaxed gradually till she was eventually calm. She now turned and faced Fatima with a tear-smeared face. “Thank you” she said, barely above a whisper. “You just saved a life”. As she said that she revealed a blade that was hid in her left palm. Fatima was shocked; the message was all too clear. She looked at the woman’s right wrist and saw a little cut.
“I was about taking my life; ready to bleed to death when you said ‘It wasn’t your fault that she died’ a few moments back.”
“Who’s she?”
“My one month old baby girl; the only thing I had left in life after my husband died last month.” She answered, wiping at fresh tears that rolled down her face.
“What happened to her?” Fatima asked.
“It’s a long story, don’t bother.”
“I’m already bothered.” Fatima said smiling. “Moreover, we have the whole evening to ourselves. Why don’t you start from the beginning?”
The woman thought a while and decided to give it a try. As she opened up, Fatima’s heart soared with joy. She had just been privileged again to be an extension of God’s loving arms to a woman in need. How beautiful!

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