‘Excuse me, ladies,’ Philomena said, ‘I have to take this call.’ She stood and walked into the kitchen with her phone.
The door was pounded again.
Georgina got up to walk to the door.
Loveth held her blouse.
‘What is it?’ Georgina said, turning back to Loveth.
‘Don’t open it,’ Loveth said, her voice only a nervous whisper.
‘I have a feeling something bad is going to happen.’
‘Something bad like what? The apocalypse?’
‘Worse!’ Loveth murmured back.
Georgina shook her head, amused. ‘Psalm 91:7—A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you!’
‘Why then do Christians ever die?’ April asked.
‘Do I know?’ Georgina said.
‘Still boils down to the fact that science bears more relevance than religion!’
‘You think so?’ Georgina said.
‘I know so.’
‘Then why hasn’t science been able to explain all the things that go on in the world?’
‘Bring up an example,’ April said. ‘Just one. Please.’
Georgina rolled her eyes in thought. ‘Can’t now,’ she said, ‘but that doesn’t mean you’ve won!’
‘Don’t I always do?’ April said.
‘What of the apocalypse?’ Loveth said. ‘Can science explain it?’
‘The apocalypse hasn’t happened, dummy!’ April said.
‘But it soon will!’ Loveth said.
‘Of course,’ Georgina agreed. ‘Mathew 24:36—But of that day and hour knoweth no man; not you, not me, not even the angels of heaven, or the sexy ladies of DNB, but my Father only!’
‘Oh please!’ April said. ‘Jesus Christ is not coming again, we all are going to meet him.’
‘But the scripture must be fulfilled!’ Loveth said.
‘Not this one,’ April said, ‘unless another one is written!’
Georgina did the sign of the cross above April at once. ‘God save your soul, ye sister of Sodom!’ She reached and drew the door open.
It was Abuchi.
‘I have been knocking,’ he said.
‘We were having a meeting,’ Georgina said.
‘What type of meeting is that?’ Abuchi asked.
‘Abuchi, what do you have to say about the apocalypse?’ Loveth threw at him.
‘Who is Apollosus?’ Abuchi asked.
Georgina hit him hard on the shoulder. ‘She said apocalypse, iti!’
‘Apocalypse is the supposed end of the world, dear,’ April explained.
‘Oh,’ Abuchi said, ‘uwa mmebi?’
‘The world has ended since 2001 na.’
The girls turned surprised, and confused.
‘How?’ Loveth asked first.
‘The world ended in 2001, we all didn’t make it.’
Georgina started to laugh. ‘Nicodemus iberibe!’
Loveth did not understand. ‘I don’t understand,’ she said
‘Nne, don’t bother yourself, okay,’ Abuchi told her, ‘when the time for the world to end comes, they will surely tell us.’
‘Who will tell us?’ Loveth asked.
‘The people that told us about it in the first place. The same people that told my mother to stop taking her drugs, that God has healed her.’
All the girls were still, only staring.
‘I’m so sorry about her,’ April said.
‘What if it was just her time?’ Georgina asked.
‘And that’s it!’ April quickly agreed. ‘We all are timed beings in this world living as long as our cells can carry us. A man lived for nearly a thousand years in the Bible, but in reality, no one has ever gotten beyond 130!’
‘Even at 80 sef, life has started to become boring to you,’ Abuchi said.
‘That’s correct,’ April said. ‘My grandmother was 80 when she came to live with us. It was a life full of waist pain, rheumatism and constant hissing.’
‘Can we change the topic, please?’ Georgina said.
‘Why?’ April asked.
‘Old age scares the hell out of me!’
‘Let’s talk about feminism then?’ Loveth suggested.
‘Oh please, not another rich-people’s topic,’ Georgina sighed, rolling her eyes.
‘Georgina!’ April screamed.
‘And I always thought you are the realistic one!’
‘Oh please, feminism is not a realistic topic!’
‘What does that mean?’
‘Rich people can afford to concern themselves with such shallow problems like feminism and proof of God’s existence; poor people are more interested in finding food to eat! What else can be more practical than that?’
‘Really?’ April said.
‘So in other words you don’t believe in women’s rights? You think feminism is a shallow topic, right?’
‘April, dear, before the advent of the word “feminism”, I never for once had all these my supposed weaknesses spelt out to me. I’ve always been strong, did the things I wanted to do, even sometimes using my femininity as a helpful device! Then feminism comes along and points out all these my limitations, and constantly tells me that I must fight them first before I can move forward. Before I can succeed. No, I’m not having it. We keep thinking feminism is making us strong, empowering us, but in other words it is only making us weaker.’
‘However is that true, Georgina?’
‘Listen, April, the truth is that we did not choose our gender. Each sex has its ups and downs, and God knows being a man is the last thing I desire in life. If you like stay there and be thinking you don’t have any right until you are a feminist, you don’t know what they call the strength of a woman? Feminism is selfish and in the most part of it anti-women.’
April shook her head. ‘Not true. Not true at all.’
‘April, there is this fun part of being a lady that feminism is constantly washing away, replacing it with this power of aggression that not only promises to liberate us, but also makes me feel guilty of certain things I know nothing about!’
‘For the sake of young growing girls, we need to do this fight now. We need to equalize our privileges.’
‘April, if and when I have a lovely little girl of my own, I will teach her how to grow into a strong upright woman that can always fend for herself, but I will not start preaching how she needs to constantly fight the male folks to achieve this feat! I will not start pointing out to her how inadequate she is, instead I will teach her to enjoy her gender with everything she’s got. I will let her be in control of her own happiness. I will always say it, feminism is more weakening than fortifying!’
‘Tell me how?’
‘When someone keeps telling you you are underprivileged, it makes you constantly angry. It makes you cautious. It changes you. It segregates you. What we really should be fighting against is racism, sexism and stereotyping and the rest, and in that case it becomes a non-gender-specific fight! Take for instance all women gather together today and create their own world, we still are going to be needing dicks. And God knows how much I love dicks!’
April made a face, shaking her head.
‘What’s that face for?’ Georgina asked her. She gestured. ‘Nne, forget that thing o, na all these feminists dem na dem dey like dick pass! If any woman wants to become a man they can go and have sex change surgery na.’
‘That’s the point!’ April said. ‘Women should not have to change their anatomy to enjoy the same privileges as men.’
‘April, abeg leave that thing. Who told you the life of a man is all that rosy in the first place? Man na man, woman na woman. They enjoy this side, we enjoy our own side too, na so life be! We shouldn’t be selfish abeg!’
Philomena walked out of the kitchen then.
‘What’s all the noise about?’ she was saying.
Seeing Abuchi, surprise made her pause, and stiffen.
Abuchi seemed to share the same feeling too.
‘Onyebuchi?’ Philomena called.
‘Ngozika,’ Abuchi returned.
Georgina got up from the bed at once.
Loveth was staring.
April picked a novel she since has finished reading and opened it again.
‘You are now looking so burly, how come?’ Philomena said.
‘My sister, na God o,’ Abuchi said, smiling away.
The frown on Georgina’s face deepened.
‘Wait, you two know each other before?’ Loveth asked.
‘Yes. He used to stay in our compound in PH. With his elder brother, Peter or something.’
‘Cousin actually,’ Abuchi corrected. ‘Peter’s mother is the first-born in my mother’s family.
‘Is Peter not Amala’s elder brother?’ Georgina asked.
‘Yes,’ Abuchi said.
‘How many weeks did you stay in PH that you two met, and even exchanged names?’ Georgina asked again.
Abuchi said nothing to her.
‘Answer me, did you stay in PH for more than one month?’
‘I was in PH for four months,’ Abuchi said.
‘Taa! Which four months?’
‘Georgina what’s your problem?’ Philomena asked. ‘Why are you emasculating him?’
‘Oyibo ka I sulu,’ Georgina said. ‘The level of familiarity I’m seeing here is way beyond four months.’
Philomena smiled. ‘Don’t worry, dear,’ she said to Georgina, ‘I saw it first, handled it first and even swallowed it down!’
Georgina’s eyes bulged further.
Philomena was smiling. She made to touch Georgina and Georgina pushed her hand away. ‘Sokopuo! Ajo mmuo!’
Philomena laughed. She turned to Abuchi. ‘Tell me, Buchi, is it still as big as it is that time?’
‘What is big biko?’ Loveth asked, turning immediately.
With an awkward smile, Abuchi said to Philomena, ‘Nne, I don’t know what you are talking about o.’
‘You don’t know what she is talking about?’ Georgina queried, scowling.
‘You don’t know what she is talking about, okwia? Did you not tell me that you were virgin that first night?’
‘Ha, virgin kwa? Me?’
‘Umu nwoke ana emekwu ihe virgin?’
‘Rie nsi, Abuchi. Rijuo nsi enwe onu there, do you hear me?’
‘Ha,’ Abuchi said.
Philomena came closer to him. ‘Don’t mind her, sweetheart.’ She placed her hand on Abuchi’s chest. ‘You’ve gotten so big, what have you been eating?’
Abuchi was smiling, almost as if he was enjoying Philomena’s touch.
Georgina opened the door and pushed him out.
She turned to Philomena. ‘What was that all for?’
‘What?’ Philomena asked.
‘You flirting and groping him like that, what’s the nonsense for?’
‘Don’t worry,’ Philomena said. ‘We are friends, we can always share.’
‘Gi na onye? Better stick to women and leave my boyfriend alone!’
Loveth’s lips flew wide open immediately.
‘Finally!’ April muttered. Her face didn’t shift from the open novel in her hands.
Georgina turned to her. ‘Finally what?’
April shook her head slightly. ‘Nothing o.’
‘This is the first time to hear you address him as boyfriend,’ Loveth said. ‘Ever!’
‘Aww,’ Philomena said. ‘Really?’
‘I’m telling you!’ Loveth said.
‘It’s just the way they say it,’ Philomena said, ‘true love is beyond language.’
‘Yes o!’ April shouted.
Georgina gestured, shaking her head in pity of them. ‘Lele, ndi ara!’
Few hours after Abuchi left, a knock came on the door again.
‘That must be him again!’ Philomena got up and rushed to the door.
The door open, the ladies discovered it wasn’t Abuchi.
Two boys stood before the doorway, looking mean, huge and strange.
‘Who are you?’ Philomena asked one of the boys, the one closest to her.
The other one pushed her out of the way at once and they stormed into the room.
‘Who among you here is Georgina?’ one of the boys, the taller one, asked.
‘Yes?’ Georgina said.
The other boy pointed. ‘Are you the one?’
‘Who are you?’
‘Get up and follow us!’
‘Follow you to where?’
‘We have a message for you.’
‘My friend, obey before complaining!’
‘Taa! Which stupid message, I na alu na post office?’
The boy was coming towards Georgina when April got up and stopped him. ‘You two leave my room at once!’ she said.
A great hot slap landed on her cheek the same instant.
‘Blood of Jesus!’ April screamed and fell to the bed.
She touched her slapped cheek. It was warm and she could feel lines on her skin.
Georgina got up at once and returned a hotter slap to the boy.
He grabbed Georgina and folded her arms to the back.
Georgina kept squirming to twist free, but the boy’s grip felt like rock.
Philomena picked her phone immediately, her fingers hurrying to get a number dialling.
Loveth started to scream then.
‘Come on, shut up!’ The other boy hit Loveth at once.
A little harder than he’d intended, probably.
Loveth fell, straight and motionless on the carpet.
With the speed of light, the boys vanished.
The girls gathered round their friend.
April checked Loveth again. ‘She is not breathing!’ she cried.