You are having a really rough week. The universe is conspiring against you, testing your resolve to maintain sanity and not commit multiple felonies by breaking something on someone’s head. At moments like this you turn to your love — you have been dating for about 9 months now. You have settled into this relationship like a tea bag at the bottom of a cup of tea that is getting cold. It is your safe zone. Her toothbrush is in your bathroom, two of her t-shirts in the pile of dirty clothes you just gave the laundry guy and her photo on the home screen of your phone. Both her phone numbers are saved on your phone as Baby MTN and Baby Etisalat.
It is just ten minutes past midnight and you really need to speak with her. It rings but she is not picking up. Your stomach churns. You turn to WhatsApp.
Baby, you type.
Message delivered. WhatsApp is there smiling at you, whispering into your ears:
Baby was last seen at 11:58pm.
Maybe she slept off at 11:59, five minutes before you called. You are restless but you know and trust her. She sometimes falls asleep like that, especially when she is watching one of her series on DVD. Sleep begins to snatch you too.
You wake up at 2.53am. You can’t go back to sleep. She must be snoring away in her Apo self-contained apartment. You check WhatsApp anyway. She isn't there but WhatsApp is there, always there, like a dutiful night watch man high on caffeine.
Baby was last seen at 2.45am.
She hasn't responded.
And then it hits you. She spoke to someone at 11:45. Probable at 12.30 when you had dozed off. And again until 2:45. She is not speaking to her mother or any of her older brothers at that ungodly hour. She is certainly not chatting with any of her friends whom she loves and loathes in equal measure. It must be another man.
Who is he? WhatsApp doesn't lie. Is he funny, funnier that you? She claims to be sapiosexual, it is even on her Twitter and Facebook profiles. Is he smart, smarter than you?
When she finally replies at 9 in the morning, you are fuming but groggy from not having slept since 2:53am.
You have no proof. You cannot accuse her of anything in particular. But you know there is something she isn't telling you.
This is how the end begins.
Tania and Jummai had spoken about forming a WhatsApp group to plan Sonia’s wedding. From the time the group was formed 8 months ago it has grown from three persons to twenty five. Each of the original persons invited people they thought would be great to have in the group and even though the wedding has come and gone the group is still as lively as one that was just formed. People have had meltdowns, fights have happened and reconciliations. Some do not speak to each other on the group. But no one has had the guts to leave. Because it is better to have a meltdown or insult someone’s dead mother than to suggest that you want to destroy the lives of everyone in the group by leaving. Nimata tried it and ended up having a physical delegation in her house asking why she wanted to ruin you all. She was added back to the group and there has been relative peace since then.
But you want to leave. You desperately want to walk away. You tried muting the group several times, but each time you would get phone calls to ask why you weren't responding to a question directed at you on the group. Someone even suggested then that you were feeling too big to respond to them because you recently bought a Hyundai Elantra. Another person suggested that perhaps your new iPhone 7 was getting to your head. You never muted the group again. You will not let the devil use you to cause disharmony.
The group is affecting your sanity. There are those who send long Happy New Week and Happy New Month messages. Those who post inspirational quotes every morning. Those who advertise the new shoes they have for sale. And Chioma’s husband who sees it as his God-given responsibility to advice members of the group on subjects ranging from how to keep fit to maintain a healthy relationship with God. Chioma’s husband who has told you several times to come give him a blow job while his wife was away.
You endure this. Because you are not one to rock the boat and ruin people’s lives. It is your sanity versus the sanity of many others. And you choose their sanity.
2. THE SUYA MAN
It is 11.30pm and you have the strongest craving for suya. There is only one still open in your area and even he closes around this time. You put on a t-shirt and rush out hoping to catch him. From a distance you see smoke rising. You are relieved. As you get closer you see that he is packing up to leave. You run toward him.
He still has suya, but the yaji, the suya spice without which suya is mere roasted meat has finished. And so has his onions. You do not have onions at home but even if you did, the onions cut by the suya man always seems different from the onions you cut yourself.
No yaji. Just like something out of that foolish Jamie Oliver’s kitchen when he burnt meat, inserted skewers, added green pepper and tomatoes and had the effrontery to call it Nigerian suya. No onions!
You want to ask him why he even exists. And worse, why he dares to call this meat lacking in any character, suya.