by Ayodele Olofintuade
Kudirat was not in the mood for a party, but it was Chioma’s thirtieth birthday (was that the sixth or seventh time she was celebrating her 30th? Kudirat was not so sure but who cares anyway, her latest boyfriend is the Speaker at the House of Representatives so he can afford to throw her as many 30th birthday parties as she wished.)
As Kudirat and Morieba entered the huge tent a blast of cold air, loud music and even louder conversations met them. As they made a beeline for the celebrant, heads swung round to admire them.
The girls were beautiful. Where Morieba was tall, fair skinned and slim, Kudirat was packed full of curves, dark skinned and short. Both were wearing that managed to be elegant and seductive in the same breath. Their ‘real Brazillian hair’ bought right off the heads of poverty stricken Indian women almost reached their buttocks.
The girls went round the tent exchanging hugs and kisses with their friends to the beat of the fuji musician singing his heart out.
E wo ji to ja to gboba agayin
Iji to ja to gb’Oba Agayin
O gbe Kofi, Nene
I don’t know, I don’t care
Gbogbo won ti s’egbe d’anu o eee
Gbogbo won ti s’egbe d’anu a o ti se yi si
As the musician belted out the song about the King of the Beninoise who was carried away by a storm, women in Aso Ebi made into different styles flooded the dance floor. They carried their gele’s twisted into unbelievable designs on elegantly held heads. They gyrated their bodies and twisted their waists to the music. Not long afterwards men in long flowing Agbadas and Babarigas joined them and started pasting their foreheads with brand new naira notes. The women were provoked into frenzied dance steps, hips were jerked, bosoms shaken while their geles continued to defy the law of gravity.
Kudirat and Morieba joined the musician on stage and started pasting his forehead with freshly minted dollar notes. The musician segued into another song, praising them to the high heavens.
Owo tuntun l’emi nfe
Kudirat o je naira,
O je Euro,
O je pounds,
O tun je dollars repete
O tun je dollars repete
Not to be outdone, a gentleman whose stomach looked like it was going to be delivered of triplets anytime soon joined them on stage and started throwing bales of dollars at Kudirat, Morieba and the musician. The women, momentarily distracted, scrambled for the money and tucked them into conveniently held handbags. Members of the band joined in the scramble for the bales of money too and for a few minutes there was a melee, the two girls triumphantly danced off the stage with most of the money.
They walked briskly towards their table but were accosted halfway by a suave looking young man, he smiled like a crocodile who has just spotted a couple of delectable fish.
“The Senators,” he said nodding towards a table full of overweight men in similar agbada attires, “will like the pleasure of your company.” The girls smiled and started to protest but he wouldn’t hear a word of it.
“They know you girls are not for sale, they are not looking for prostitutes. They just want to get to know two beautiful young ladies. Nobody will force you to do anything against your will. It is good for networking, if nothing else.” His smooth voice was persuasive and then he flashed them what he must consider a charming smile.
“Tell the Senators it will be our pleasure to join them, but we have to pick up our things first. We will come over to your table in the next five minutes.” Morieba said smiling at him. The young man nodded and headed for his table.
“ I thought you said we won’t deal with politicians again.” Kudirat hissed at her friend as soon as the young man was out of earshot.
“I did?” Morieba asked in consternation.
“Yes you did, after the last politician that we picked up at that party a month ago asked if we wouldn’t mind sleeping with his dog.” Kudirat was emphatic, she knows what she was saying and she also knows Morieba.
“Oh well. We turned the idiot down didn’t we?” Morieba said picking up her other bag from underneath the table.
“But we nearly spent a night in a cell.” Kudirat was not convinced.
“We made bail didn’t we?” Morieba picked a second bag and handed it to Kudirat.
“After being accused of stealing from the man?” She was getting worked up. “We were lucky someone was even willing to bail us, after all we are nothing but common prostitutes, as far the police were concerned and we deserved anything that happened to us!”
“We were not lucky. We are well connected. That is the advantage of networking.” She shoved the bag into Kudirat hands and took her phone out of her bag.
“Ortega, hello, can you see us? Good… come and pick the extra bags, we’ll drop them at the next table with Julie dem dem… what? I can’t hear you, the noise is too much, just do as I say, join us outside as soon as you see us leaving. Good.” She shouted into the phone.
“I don’t like this, I don’t like politicians and their little errand boys.” Kudirat was fighting to hold on to her temper.
“Stop being such a sissy, nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Morieba drawled as she pasted a smile on her face. Kudirat looked at her friend’s beautiful face and seemingly innocent smile and ground her teeth in frustration.
“Listen up!” Morieba whispered fiercely, the smile still firmly in place. “take a look around you, would you rather end up with those broke idiots in flowing agbadas who will offer you N50,000 naira tomorrow morning or with a politician who is likely to give you N250,000 naira and to top that off a phone number that you can milk for another N100,000 naira or so later?”
Kudirat sighed and wondered why Morieba can’t simply let them stay at home tonight. She just wants to curl up and read a good book, watch a movie or just listen to music, but Morieba’s mantra is ‘the day of death is the day you can take a holiday.’
Kudirat heaved the bags on Julie’s table
“Ortega is coming to fetch the bags. I will talk to you tomorrow.” Morieba said giving Julie a brief hug. Kudirat followed suit.
“I hate those idiots.” Kudirat muttered as she hugged Julie.
“You hate men, period,” Julie responded, putting the bags under the table.
“I don’t hate men, I just don’t like politicians.” Kudirat protested. “Look at them! Look at the way they waste resources, money that is supposed to be spent on making things work for people is being lavished on drinks, food and women as if their fathers worked for it. Do you know the number of people suffering out there?”
“Oh my God she’s gotten on her political soap box again,” Morieba said from behind her, tugged at her arm and started dragging her off. “Sorry ladies, I’m taking the wet blanket away.”
“Good riddance! As if you’re not one of those women they are lavishing their money on.” Julie sucked her teeth and the other girls at the table laughed uproariously.
Morieba sat next to the fattest man on the table. He looked as if he was a pugilist in a previous life. Kudirat looked around and marvelled at the men’s ugliness, she was shoved next to an overweight midget whose perfume almost chocked her. Her eyes stung from the strength of his perfume. More alcohol and food appeared on the table as if by magic, the assorted drinks disappeared into their hosts at an alarming rate and before long the girls were struggling to remove wandering hands from unmentionable parts of their bodies.
“I lof you,” the midget whispered to Kudirat like those words were the keys to the door of unimaginable wealth.
“Ah Senator, how can you love me? You just met me tonight now.” Kudirat simpered as she peeled his sticky fingers from her bottom.
“You tink I don’t haf monies ni? I haf monies, they are plenty. In fact let me show you,” he said as his hand wandered back to its former position on her buttocks. His other hand went under the table and he came up with a bale of brand new dollar notes which he proceeded to tuck into her blouse. Kudirat was in no mood for these games but she knew she had to play along, she looked up desperately and noted that Morieba’s mark was pasted on her like white on rice. It will take a pair of giant pliers to pry him off her.
Kudirat turned back to her own mark and flashed him a smile, allowing his hand to linger where it was. She leaned closer to the man and allowed him a view of her ample breasts he almost fell off the plastic chair. He reached under the table and shoved another bale into her cleavage. She laughed and took the two bales out and put them into her handbag. She did not take her eyes off him during the whole process, flashing him one of her smiles perfected in front of a mirror.
“I wan marry you,” He whispered hoarsely.
“What about your wife?” She laughed.
“She nor go said anything, I be the husband, she be the wife. I will spend all my monies on top of your head. In fact take eferytin, eferytin. I mean it. You are so fine.” He said putting his hand on her thigh.
“Less go to my house now, now.” He continued as he used his free hand to pick up the glass of rum in front of him. He downed it in one gulp and the guy seated next to him filled it up quickly.
“I’m not that kind of girl o senator,” she laughed peeling his hand off her again.
“Don’t say that now. You are not a small girl,” he said looking down her cleavage, “in fact you her not a small girl at all at all.” He tittered salaciously.
“Tell me about yourself senator. At least I must know something about the person who is so desperate to marry me.” She said.
“Ayam a senator. Eferibody know me. Ayam a feri good pesin. I haf shop where I used to sell spare parts, but now I sell car. New car ni o not Tokunbo second hand car that haf been used by Oyinbo man.”He beat his chest as he spoke, momentarily taking his hand off her.
It was obviously going to be one very long night, Kudirat thought as she took a large gulp of her drink. The ‘sinator’ laughed and clapped in delight like a child watching a masquerade perform a trick.
Thirty minutes later, the Senators were still drinking and eating steadily. Morieba stood up and went back to the dance floor. Kudirat made her excuses and joined her, the Senators followed closely and started throwing money at the girls. The people that were formerly on the dance floor made room for them, hoping that somehow the girls will somehow let something escape. Kudirat clutched her bag closely to her, and watched Morieba closely. After about 10minutes of dance Morieba whispered something into her partner’s ear, walked towards her and grabbed her hand. Kudirat did not hesitate, she tripped after Morieba in her impossibly high heels.
The girls headed for the mobile toilets located behind the tent.
“What’s happening?” Kudirat asked as Morieba passed the toilets.
“We are going home.” Morieba said.
“Why? What’s happening?” Kudirat opened the door of their car as Ortega pulled up beside them, Morieba was one of the most unpredictable people she knew.
“I just got tired of all that bullshit and from the look of things we have recouped the money invested in coming to this party, if not more. God that gorilla’s breath smelt worse than a sewer. I doubt if his mouth had ever felt a brush talk less of a toothpaste. No wonder they are always throwing chairs at one another in the House. Bad breath like that can drive anybody crazy.” Morieba replied slipping into the car and pulling off her gele at the same time.
Kudirat restrained herself from pointing out that Morieba got them into that mess in the first place. In fact Morieba had gotten her into every mess that she had ever been. But on the other hand she had also gotten her into the best part of her life. She will never be Kudirat the street hooker ever again. She’s living the life now and she has no intention of going back to her poverty stricken existence as an illiterate village girl who came over to Lagos as a house girl. It was all thanks to Morieba.
Kudirat leaned her head on the plush upholstery of the car and she laughed as she remembered the day Morieba and herself ran away from their masters. Who can look at them now and imagine both of them had been serving a stupid girl nearly their age who had 5children in the 6years of her marriage to a stupid doctor?
Ortega pulled into the garage of their semi-detached in Victoria Island and the girls went in.
“Don’t bother bringing in the bags Ortega, we’ll pick them up in the morning. Thanks.” Kudirat said as they alighted from the car.
Morieba started taking off her things as soon as they got into the house tears running down her face. Kudirat pulled her lover into her arms and comforted her.
“We’ve made it this far Morieba, we will be fine, we are strong.” Kudirat whispered over and over again as her blouse was soaked in tears.
Ayodele Olofintuade is the author of the children’s book Eno’s Story, nominated for the NLNG Nigerian Prize for Literature, 2011.