Spirit of the Dead – 1
Dr Titi came by to see Gloria.
Both women had been colleagues sometime in the past, before Titi resigned from her job and went back to school.
Gloria, on the other hand, was more interested in getting hitched with a man. She has always been a girl who age meant a lot to.
Titi, moderately sized for a woman of her age, looked every inch gossipy today.
Hasn’t she always been?
Gloria always wondered why she chose medicine over a career in broadcasting.
For someone as garrulous and rumour-loving as her, the latter would obviously be more fitting.
‘So, girl, what’s the latest gist now?’ Titi dropped her wine glass and turned eager eyes to Gloria.
Gloria would also wonder how many other people Titi might have discussed her marital problems with.
After all, Titi, ever so unapologetic, once said: “All that talk about confidentiality being a core duty of medical practise is absolute hogwash!’
But Gloria took solace in the fact that she has enough ‘juice’ of Titi that any slightest misbehaviour from her would bring an equally damaging scandal coming right back her way.
Their type of friendship is one that has been strangely strengthened by years upon years of catfights and petty blackmails.
‘Well, there’s been some changes,’ Gloria said.
‘Changes? What kind of changes?’
‘I’m going to get another boy.’
‘What happened to Segun? I thought you liked him.’
‘I never said I liked him,’ Gloria corrected. ‘I only said he is okay.’
‘Of course he is. With all that height and—[Titi made the show of a wink]—‘—impressive endowment, why seek another?’
‘Titi, I am not doing this for the pleasure, you should know. I love my husband.’
‘Babes, I know you do. But who says you can’t have a little fun while trying to save your marriage?’
Gloria took a deep breath. ‘My maid said things and I saw reason with all what she said. She also offered to bring me a better choice.’
‘What? You talked to your house girl about this? My God, Gloria!’
Gloria said nothing to defend herself.
‘So you will now rather listen to a common house girl than me?’
‘Your Segun boy seems too public, and even dangerous.’
‘Public? What do you mean by public?’
‘It appears he’s been with a lot of women.’
‘Oh come on, Angel, he is a fine virile man, what do you expect? Male virgins are only seen on Mars.’
Gloria half smiled. ‘Well, my mind is made. I am changing him.’
‘Who is this maid that you are now taking advices from?’
‘Her name is Georgina. My husband brought her.’
‘That means her allegiance falls to him?’
‘No, I definitely can trust her.’
Titi stared at her friend. ‘And who is the better choice she is referring you to?’
‘She said she will bring him in a week.’
Titi was staring at Gloria again. ‘Alright then,’ she finally said, her expression acquiescent. ‘Just make sure you bring him to the clinic for all the necessary tests before anything, okay?’
‘Sure, I will do that.’
Titi checked her wristwatch and then carried her bag. ‘I think I will be on my way now, my shift starts in 10.’
At the door, she turned to Gloria again. ‘And I must advise you to mind how you divulge your affairs to a common house girl. It is never a wise thing to do.’
Gloria nodded. ‘Thank you.’
‘Be well, Angel!’ Titi disappeared through the door.
Loveth turned the door handle and jiggled into the room.
April, curled on the longest of the brown leather couches, quickly turned away and wiped at her eyes.
Loveth flung her purse off into the air and, with one thrown leg after the other, strutted across the room in her newly invented Loveth-style walk.
Midway, she stopped, swung around, drew back and then started back the other way.
She finally stopped when after long minutes April was still quiet and not smiling or laughing.
‘Are you alright?’ she asked April.
‘Yea,’ April said. ‘Yea, I’m fine.’ She wiped at her nose again. ‘Why so happy?’
Loveth’s entire dentition showed in a broad smile. ‘Look, my dear friend,’ she begun, wiggling her upper half now, ‘—you are speaking with the latest Naomi Campbell in town!’
Loveth said nothing else and instead started sashaying again.
‘What is it na?’ April said. ‘Tell me what you mean.’
Loveth stopped again.
She turned to April and then narrated to her how her interview had gone—how she was now to become a model with the same company that interviewed her.
But instead of the smile, or laugh, of excitement she expected from April, the tall and lithe roommate threw her lips wide apart and shrieked out in grief.
Loveth looked shocked.
She stepped closer. ‘April?’ she called. ‘April, what is it?’
April continued to cry.
‘Is everything alright?’
April made no attempt to provide a reply.
‘Talk to me na! I didn’t see the car outside, has it gone bad again? Are you pregnant?’
‘No!’ April cried.
‘Then what is the matter?’
‘I have been sacked!’
‘Sacked?’ Loveth seemed unable to instantly grasp the word. ‘What do you mean by sacked?’
April reached and picked the envelope her boss had given her at the office. She stretched it out to Loveth.
Loveth took the envelope, opened it and brought out the sheet of paper it contained.
She did not read the line of words printed on it to the end.
She stopped halfway, in the middle, and moved to sit with April.
But instead of consoling April, she threw open her own lips and started crying too.
April immediately stopped sobbing.
Loveth’s crying changed gear, turning the entire room into a big box of chaos.
‘Loveth, what is it?’ April was now the one consoling Loveth.
‘I got my own job and you lost your own job!’ Loveth wailed.
‘Yes, and so?’ April said. ‘Is that why you are crying? You should be happy.’
Loveth shook her head. ‘You don’t understand. You don’t know what God did!’
‘He gave you a job; you should be happy!’
‘No!’ Loveth threw out. ‘I asked Him for a job and He simply took your job and gave it to me. I am the cause of your problem.’
April did not understand. Her expression showed it.
‘It is your job that God gave to me, I should have known!’ Loveth went on. ‘I should have known!’
Now April felt faintly amused. Had she been all that a religious person, her reaction might have been different.
She came closer and folded Loveth up. ‘Stop crying jor. I will find another job soon.’
Loveth shook her head. ‘How can you find another job in this bad economy when you don’t even know how to pray?’
‘Well, I didn’t pray before I got the first one.’
‘And look now how it turned out.’
‘Loveth, stop!’ April said. ‘People get sacked all the time, it is not something to commit suicide for.’
‘Hey!’ Loveth made no attempt to become calm. ‘This is not fair na,’ she continued muttering. ‘This is not what I asked for. I will go and return your job o.’ She sniffled. ‘I must go.’
‘What are you saying?’
‘I will go back and tell the man that I am no longer interested.’
‘And why would you do that?’
‘It is not my job.’ Loveth shook her head. ‘It is not.’
‘Shut up and stop being silly, this girl!’ April said.
Someone knocked on the door then, diverting their attention.
April wiped at her face again. ‘Come in, the door is open!’
The door was pushed in and Georgina entered the room. She held a blue plastic bag that contained food items.
Though April and Loveth tried hard to hide it, Georgina was able to sense there was something.
She dropped the bag beside the table at the centre of the room. ‘Why are both of you looking morose, like a dog forced to smoke weed?’
April glanced at Loveth who only glanced back at her.
‘You both are not saying anything?’ Georgina said again.
‘Loveth got a job!’ April said.
‘April lost her job!’ Loveth joined in with immediately.
‘Who got a job and who lost one?’
‘April!’ Loveth said.
‘Loveth!’ April said.
Georgina sighed. ‘Is that why you are both looking like someone suffering from constipation? The person who got the job should take us out for a drink while the one who lost her job should go and make sure the clothes the one with a job will wear is ironed and ready. Life is as simple as that!’
Georgina smiled. ‘I’m sorry, but who dared to fire someone like you? What is their reason?’
‘Sales were bad in two consecutive months.’
‘And how is that your fault? Don’t they know where the president of the country lives? The economy is bad.’
‘My sister help me ask them o,’ April said.
‘Yes na. These days people are more interested in finding what to eat and not the latest house décor to pay for. And it’s not like any of those items your company sold is cheap. Ordinary pillow case is hundred thousand naira, is that not madness?’
April smiled. She found faint relief in the air of humour Georgina brought.
Georgina turned to Loveth. ‘So, Madam New Job, what kind of job did you get? Hope it is not those GMLD people o?’
Loveth clucked and blinked hard at her.
‘She is becoming a model,’ April said.
Georgina’s brows pulled together. ‘What?’
‘Model, as in how?’ Georgina asked. ‘Is the company targeting elephants?’
April made a face and shook her head. ‘If you are referring to her body weight, she is doing plus-size.’
‘Plus-size modelling. It is a category meant for larger figures.’
‘So if there is a category for larger figures, then there should be one for old women like me too na.’
April smiled. ‘You are just thirty, Georgina. Naomi Campbell is over 40 and still very active in modelling.’
‘So are you saying there is still hope for me?’
‘Alright then, but before then, girls, there is a big problem.’
‘What is it?’
‘I think Nwamgbeke’s ghost followed us to Lagos.’
‘What?!!’ April and Loveth chorused.
Just then, the door of the room was banged hard from outside.
And then the lights went out.
A sudden chill descended over the room.
‘Oh my God, something just passed!’ Loveth screamed.