Right Next To Hell (RNTH) – Be Careful

Be Careful

“Who’s there?” Funke yelled out of frustration when she heard a loud banging on the door from outside. We were both in the kitchen as she was preparing food. As for me, I was helping her pick the beans. She was making “ewa gonyi” a Yoruba food, one I do not know how it looks or taste. Except she has said to me she would have to mash the beans when it gets properly cooked.

r“I will be back soon. Just help me look the fish,” she said before leaving. Well, apparently, she was frying the fish she would use to make the stew. I was not one to eating beans and stew, but perhaps I would have to manage here. Also, I would have to watch and see how the food would come out. It is probably not as I imagine, maybe better, maybe worse.

rFunke went to get the door, and not too long, she called for me. I was confused as I could not live the kitchen with the fish still frying.

r“Baby girl come fast, don’t waste my time,” Funke said as though it was an emergency. I decided to reduce the heat and went to the sitting room.

r“Michael!” I jumped in excitement, one that I never thought could come out of me.

r“Hey! Fine girl!” he replied with a smile. I almost hugged him. But I had to prevent myself.

r“Did you miss me?” he asked with a wink. I laughed. I haven’t laughed since the day I came to Lagos. And it’s been five days now.

r“I brought you a phone,” he said, handing me a small phone, popularly referred to as Nokia torchlight. I thanked him. Then he asked me to follow him so we could go register a SIM card for me. Funke who had already left for the kitchen came back shouting that I was not allowed to go anywhere until I was done helping her in the kitchen. Michael said he would wait. That he had decided to make out time for me, hence, the reason why he had come. If everyone I met was this nice, I would be at Moshalashi by now with Bintu. I would not have gone through what I did. I thanked Michael and went back to join Funke in the kitchen.

r“Be careful of that Michael, he is a womaniser,” Funke said without a slack. Even though they were friends, she did not seem so fond of him. Perhaps, they have one or two troubles with each other, but if I should be honest, Michael is genuinely nice. And even if he is a womaniser, it doesn’t cut out that fact. Every good person has their flaws, and every bad person has a good side to them as well.

r“Okay!” I said to her not wanting to prolong any discussion that would ridicule anyone or make her think I want to argue with her. I finished selecting the beans and helped her run a few errands until there was nothing left for me to do. I asked her if it was okay for me to go with Michael since there was nothing left.

r“You will eat before leaving,” she said.

r“I will buy something for her to eat outside. Don’t worry, I’ll buy for you as well,” Michael said. Did not know when he stepped in, but that was a life saving moment. I was already not liking the face of the beans after she had mashed it.

rMichael held my hand and dragged me with him.

r“We will get you some new dress,” he said to me as we got into his car. I was shocked. First shocked because it was a different car this time, not the one I saw him with the last time. It was a white lexus car, I didn’t have time to check it well, but I was sure it was. I wanted to ask him if it was his car, but I did not want to sound somehow, so I did not bother to ask. But I was surprised.

r“You want to buy me a dress?” I asked him.

r“Not a dress, some,” he said to me. He doesn’t look it, he does not look like someone who owned the car he was currently driving. He drove past streets and sign boards that I never noticed that night, probably because I was sleeping that night when he brought me to Funke’s house.

r“Funke doesn’t like sharing her clothes. And I don’t like how it looks on you either. Her clothes are cheap,” he said. I scoffed.

r“No clothe is cheap!” I remanded. He raised both hands up, off the steering for a brief moment, and in that moment I was scared. But thankfully, nothing bad happened. I would never get used to a driver letting go of the steering while the vehicle is in motion, not even for a second.

r“So, we’ll go get you your SIM, please choose a good network,” he said looking at me pleadingly. Then he added that after we get the SIM, we would go get some clothes and we would discuss over a meal. He was going to take me to a restaurant. I just smiled. Then I asked him after a while of staying silent about his ethnicity.

r“Funke mentioned you are an urhobo guy, you never mentioned,” I said.

r“Well, you never asked,” he replied.

r“I assumed you were one of all those Igbo guys,” I said to him. Well, my assumption was because most of the boys you would see out there hustling are Igbo guys. And I heard they occupied most of the Lagos markets.

r“Stereotyping is bad for both physical and mental health of everyone involved,” he said. I nodded in agreement. Between, I was feeling guilty.

r“You know, Isoko women are stereotyped in the south as the most hard working women, combined with our urhobo women. People believe they feed their family. It’s mostly true, but it has given the bad ones the leverage to pride on, and it makes men use them for their money and good heart,” he said. I noticed the frown on his face. I guess he had witness such evil happen to someone close to him.

r“And you also know what they say about ijaw ladies?” he asked. But I doubt it was a question. I shook my head pretending not to be aware of the bad tag society has given to most of our women.

r“I do respect you though. And I doubt you are one of those girls who is after money, and thinks she can get it only with her body,” he said.

r“It is not as you say it. Those who do it are wise with it. They just love high life, and they love to be taken care of,” I said in defence of my fellow ijaw women.

r“I know!” he said before parking his car in a parking lot in front of a plaza. There’s this big phone store, and there was a sign post on it that says you could get your SIM card and also register there. I got down from the car first before him. He followed suit. I watched as he made sure the car was properly locked before we left the car. Not just in Lagos, but anywhere in Nigeria, and yes, anywhere in the world, you better ensure your car is locked, so you don’t blame yourself too much in case someone steals your car once you walk away from it to do what you intend doing.

rWe got inside the store and one of the sales rep attended to us. I picked a Glo SIM card. It is one of the most reliable and fast network in the country, so I would best use it. Michael smiled at me approvingly. Then he asked me to pick another SIM. At first, I thought he wanted me to change it but it turns out he wanted me to just pick another SIM card and add it to the one I already picked. Based on its popularity, I decided to pick the South African based network that has spread all over Africa and beyond, “MTN”. We walked over to the section where I’ll get to register. I opted to retrieve my two lines, the ones I had lost. And I asked them to make the previous SIMs invalid. It was done within a jiffy. Just when we were done, Michael took me to the side where phones of different sizes, colour and brands were on display and asked me to pick one. I looked at him both with curiosity and in doubt.

r“Pick a phone Layefa, you can’t live in the current age without a smartphone,” he said.

rI didn’t know which one to pick. What if I pick beyond his budget? I decided to ask the sales rep to show me the cheapest android phone. She showed me one that was at Seventy thousand naira, it would be lesser in dollars, but equal to the same price in naira. It was a Tecno phone.

r“Please give her Samsung,” Michael said. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow. He did not seem to mind me as he went to pick the phone himself. I did not like Samsung, it’s screen was fragile and if it should break, it would take almost half the cost of purchase to replace the screen. That aside, anyone would go for Samsung, and by anyone, I was not excluding myself.

r“I would prefer an Oppo or a Redmi phone,” I said. I was running away from Samsung because of the screen, and I was not the type you could trust a smartphone with and expect it not to hit the ground at least twice a day.

rMichael did not listen to me. He picked the Samsung of his choice and asked the sales rep for the price even though it was clearly written there that the phone was worth two hundred and sixty thousand naira.

rThe sales rep did not bother about the inconvenience, she told him the price while he paid with his card. While handing the phone to me, she whispered in my ear that my boyfriend truly loved me. And in my head, I was like, “people and always assuming things”. But that was just one thing anyone would have thought, even I would think the same if I was the sales rep, but I would not be bold enough to say it out.

r“Don’t you have a girlfriend or a fiancée?” I asked Michael when we got back inside the car.

r“Do you want to be her?” he asked.

r“No! I mean… it is not what I mean… but if she sees you or finds out about you being this favourable to another woman, what would she say?” I asked him.

r“Then she better exist,” he said before driving off.

r“You are hungry. Let’s get you to a nice restaurant first before we go for the clothes,” he said. And in that moment, my heart skipped ten times a beat. A man like this would make my heart love him without my consent. Now I was afraid of him. I was used to being the one who did everything for myself, but this stranger…. He got me tied up in his kindness.


Chapter end

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