Hello, guys! Welcome again. This is the first part of Nimi’s confession to Laye. I hope to post the second part some time this week. Until then, enjoy this. P.S: I wonder how Laye will react when she finds out about Nimi and Ken.
Raymond slid a key into the side door and turned it open. He let himself out into the balcony and released a deep breath. He held the rails and looked down on the mixed coloured roofs around. His eyes rested on an open compound just beyond the trees at the front of his own compound. Two women stood close to each other in what seemed to be a deep conversation. Children played in front of the compound. Raymond allowed his eyes roam the houses on the street, both fenced and unfenced. Each told its own tale. Each had secrets in them and nightmarish challenges.
Just as his own apartment was becoming a nightmare.
He sighed, then he turned around and went in to get his notepad and laptop. The apartment held no appeal whatsoever to him anymore. He pulled a handkerchief over his nose as he moved from the hallway to the bedroom. He left the door ajar when he went in. In quick strides, he found himself beside the nightstand. He picked what he needed and left quickly, closing the door with a slight thud behind him.
“Honey, is that you?” A feminine voice called from somewhere in the house.
Ray paused in his steps and stood on his toes. He made no reply to the question but instead, he tiptoed through the hallway and out to the balcony.
“Whew!” he released a sigh of relief. “That was a close call.”
He pulled a white plastic chair close to him with his leg and dropped his laptop and notepad, then he arranged the table in front of the white chair and positioned his laptop and notepad on it. He took his seat then pulling close to the table. He powered on his system. He turned his neck from one side to the other as he waited for the system to come on. He picked his notepad and went through all he had to do before the balcony became too dark for him to continue working and mosquitoes invaded his privacy. He was grateful that he had done most of his work at the office, and he had little to do now. He would never have been able to meet up with his deadline if not for the extra time he put in at work. He knew he could hardly get a lot done at home and it was all because of one person –Nene.
Ever since she moved in with him months ago the balcony had become his favourite place in the house. He had abandoned the store he converted to an office, the living room and even the master’s bedroom. The balcony was his hideout where Nene had not yet invaded with her spiritualism. That made the balcony the only place free from the obnoxious smell of the incense she burnt regularly to chase away evil spirits lurking around and fighting against their union. He had ensured the safety of his hideout by keeping the key to the balcony to himself. He didn’t want to get back from work one day and find lit candles burning around. He wondered what his neighbours thought of him now. The smell must be getting to them too.
He sighed deeply and scrolled through his system. Her presence bothered him a lot but he couldn’t do anything about it. His mother loved Nene and couldn’t even wait for them to pick a wedding date. It still baffled him that the prophet had seen no harm in two unmarried people moving in together; in fact, he had even supported it, assuring him that Nene’s presence would make it impossible for any girl with a strange spirit to come close to him. Nene had a strong spiritual relationship with God and that would guide him always. His mother had not thought it twice before agreeing on his behalf.
He knew now what they meant by strong spiritual relationship because Nene ensured no day broke without her burning incense and no night passed without the same ritual. She was always in the spirit even when she was in the kitchen. Her tailoring business forgotten, she spent all her time at home “taking care” of his spiritual needs.
She is nothing but a monitoring spirit, Ray muttered under his breath, anger crossed his face. What made him accept her still confused him greatly. Was it his mother’s continuous plea? Or her strong belief in her? He had again fallen in line with what his mother wanted. The same way he broke up with Nimi just for her sake. Now he was stuck with Nene, the spiritualist, still because of his mother.
He ran a hand over his shaved head. How would he ever free himself from this mess without hurting his mother? He had no feelings whatsoever for Nene. She didn’t appeal to him and yet he must stay with her and even marry her. He pounded the table causing his laptop to jump.
What do I do? He wondered, staring at the bright screen of his PC. Just then he heard a slight rap on the glass window behind him. He turned around and found Nene, in a red and white cap, smiling at him. He grimaced, pushed his chair back and went to the front of the window.
“What?” he asked in the coldest tone he could muster, crossing his arms over his chest.
“It’s time to end our fast for today.” She chirped happily.
He looked as confused as he felt. Questions filled his eyes. “What do you mean ‘fast’?” He quizzed. “Are we fasting?”
“You see why I keep telling Mom that you are not taking this relationship seriously. How could you not remember that this week is the consecration week before we choose our wedding date?” She pouted, arms crossing her chest.
Ray opened and closed his mouth. No words came out. He just kept glaring at Nene on the other side of the window.
At his lack of immediate response, Nene continued chiding him. “This attitude of yours is so discouraging. Is this how you want us to start our own family? You don’t even pay attention to simple spiritual injunctions that will help us. I’m standing here talking to you across the window because you locked me in. That’s how poorly you think of me.” Her words were punctuated with tears. She coughed a little. “I’ve made sacrifices for you, Brother Raymond. You should do the same for me.” She turned around and walked to the dining area in a huff.
Who calls her fiancée brother? Raymond wondered. What kind of trouble had he gotten himself into? He felt the onset of a headache as he went back to his seat.
“Week of consecration for a wedding date? Hiya! What nonsense!” He muttered angrily, using the pads of his index and middle fingers to massage his temple.
Headaches would continue if he didn’t find a solution to his so-called relationship with Nene. His answer was with one person. His freedom also depended on that person. Time to take a bold step and damn the consequences. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and punched in her number. His prayer was that she would answer.
Nimi’s body was shaking all over and she couldn’t stop it. She turned the key on the Ladies door and locked herself in. No one must come in and see her in her current state or hear the secrets of her heart as she poured it out to her reflection in the mirror.
She paced the floor length, fists clenched together. A couple of minutes passed and she felt no relief. She heard a knock on the door. She paused and waited for the person to leave. The knock continued for a few more seconds, then she heard it no more.
The person must have gotten tired, she mused. She resumed her pacing. After a while, she stopped and faced the mirror.
“Laye,” she started. “I hope you’ll understand and forgive me. What I’m about to tell you could break your heart but you just have to see things the right way.” She paused and covered her face with her palms. “This is not flowing. Oh, how do I tell her?”
The same question had been on her lips since she started going steady with Ken. That was over a week ago. Each moment she spent with Laye had been laden with guilt. Each time she heard Laye talk about her love for Ken, her heart had skipped beats. She had to do something to stop her friend’s obsession. How to do it was what she didn’t know.
She slumped forward with her head bowed and arms on the sink. “Lord, help me.” The simple prayer left her lips. Praying was becoming a part of her daily routine since the time she had with Ela. She liked the feeling it gave. It was like a place to pour her heart and still feel safe that no one would find out. No one would pity her, and her heart would be at peace. It was quite refreshing.
“Lord, help me.” She prayed again. She closed her eyes and meditated on the scripture Ken had shared with her the previous night. ‘God is a present help in times of trouble.’ It sent warmth through her. She felt strengthened. The trembling had stopped. She moved away from the sink and looked at her reflection again. Just as she opened her mouth to speak, Nathaniel Bassey’s Olowogbogboro –her new ringtone– started playing. Startled, she jumped a little. Her hand went to her suit pocket where she had kept her phone while hurrying into the ladies after briefing. She pulled it out and looked at the screen. The number flashed across caused her to release a long hiss. She turned the ringer off and dropped it back in her pocket.
“What is Raymond’s problem? Why wouldn’t he stop calling me?” She asked, anger glazing her eyes. “I don’t need his drama now. I’ve got plenty of my own. He sho…” She paused when she heard voices outside the door.
“I tell you someone is inside. Someone locked it.” Someone said.
“Are you sure? Maybe the cleaner locked it after cleaning and forgot to return the key.” Another suggested.
“Hmm… maybe. Let’s look for the cleaner then.” The first speaker replied.
Nimi heard the shuffling of feet outside the door. She straightened and walked to the door. She turned it gently. The door clicked and came opened. She peeked down the hallway and hurried away leaving the door ajar. She kept throwing glances back at the two who went to look for the cleaner praying they wouldn’t see her hurrying away. Just as she turned around the corner towards the general work area, she bumped into someone.
“Oh, sor…” She started to apologize then she realized she had bumped into Ela. She placed a hand on her chest. “Thank God it’s you, Ela.” She said, releasing an audible sigh of relief.
“Thank God,” Ela replied. “What’s happening? I noticed you left the conference room in such a hurry. What’s going on?” She quizzed.
Nimi placed a hand on Ela’s shoulder and looked from the right to the left. “Let’s talk somewhere safe.” She whispered.
Ela gave a nod in understanding. She took her hand and pulled her towards the gents. They stopped beside the door.
“Office gossips hardly come here.” Ela winked at Nimi.
Nimi looked doubtful, her eyes scanning the area. “Are you sure?” She asked.
“Trust me,” Ela answered, touching her chest.
Nimi drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. “I want to tell Laye about Ken and me.” She told her.
Ela gave a small smile. “That’s the right thing to do, Nimi.”
Nimi nodded severally, drawing her lower lip in between her teeth. “But why is my heart beating so fast? It’s as if it’s going to burst out of my chest.”
Ela threw a comforting hand around her shoulder. “It’s normal to feel that way, Nimi. Doing the right thing is not always easy but it must be done.” She encouraged.
After a few heartbeats, Nimi gave a single nod. “You’re right, Ela. I’ll do it.” She resolved.
“Does Ken know about this?” Ela asked.
“No,” Nimi answered, shaking her head. “I don’t want to tell him. It will only put Laye down before him and I don’t want that.”
“That’s thoughtful of you, Nimi. God will help you.”
“Amen.” Nimi responded.
Ela held her hands and they prayed together. Nimi echoed loud ‘amens’ to the prayer made by Ela. She needed God to hear and give her a quick answer because she was meeting with Laye during lunch break.