Used (A Bankole Banjo short story)


 

The SMS was three words long: I am pregnant.

 

You blinked twice, hoping your eyes would un-see what it had seen. But no, the words stood desolate on your phone screen.

 

Pregnant? How?

 

You sat back and closed your eyes. You recalled that afternoon you met her at Eko Hotel roundabout. You had closed early and was rushing to the Mainland when you saw her about to enter a red Camry. A closer look at the car told you it was a Uber. You double-parked and requested to take her wherever she was going. She was not going to enter until you promised to take her right to her doorstep, wherever that might be. While she pondered your offer, you quickly got down, palmed two crisp one thousand naira notes to the driver and opened her door.

 

Fast-forward three months and you guys had become an item.

Another month later, the SMS dropped, like unwanted fart at a high profile gathering.

 

I am pregnant.

 

“This is trouble mehn,” you muttered as your brain shifted into drive. “This cannot be, no. I just can’t…”

 

The opening beats of KSA’s Merciful God, which had been your ringtone since forever, broke into your thoughts. It was her.

 

“Hey baby,” her voice filtered through the earpiece.

 

“I got your message,” you responded, not bothering with any form of affection. “Why did you let that happen?”

 

Silence was the response you got.

 

“I am talking to you, don’t play deaf and dumb on me now,” you chastised, anger welling up somewhere inside you.

 

The line went dead. She had cut the call.

 

You called back. Again and again. She would not pick. Indeed she never picked nor responded to your many text messages. You became worried as the days gone by. Her line always connected but she never picked. The one time you used a new line to call her, she dropped the call immediately she heard your voice.

 

You went to her office, they told you she had resigned. You began frequenting her various fun places hoping you’d run into her.  You never did.

Every day, you sent a text. Each day, she kept mum on you.

 

Soon you began realising your foolishness. Were you not the one who had professed love tp her at various times? Were you not the one who refused condoms each time you got in the sack with her? Were you not the one who always told her how much you wanted her in your life?

 

Four months after she went blank on you, four months into your misery, you finally gave up.on looking for her. You deleted her number and the long list of unreplied messages on your phone. You moved on. You even impressed on your boss to transfer you to the Ikeja branch of your  office: passing Eko Hotel roundabout every day had become depressing.

 

Ikeja brought back your mojo. The transformation of Opebi, where your office is located, from an idyllic cosmopolis at daytime to a sprawling red light zone at night intrigued you. You registered at one of the high profile strip joints on there so you never have to hustle nor sit in the popular side like everyone else. You were VIP. In weeks, your memory of her faded in the daily lap dances and the weekly executive sessions with the ladies in the dimly lit private rooms.

 

Until that Monday morning.

 

You had woken up with a fever and general debility. Work was not an option. You called in sick and called a Taxify to take you to the hospital. You struggled out of bed when the cab called to say he was around. At the hospital, you went through the motions of the vitals and waited to see the doctor.

 

That was when she walked in, with a man in tow.

 

Your fever disappeared when you saw her with a visible pregnancy. You stood up so she could see you. When she did, she barely broke stride. Instead, she walked on to the ante-natal session her arm linking the man’s. She ignored you like a discarded underwear.

 

You were not going to take this lying low. After all, that was your baby she was carrying. So you waited. Even when it was your turn to see the doctor, you passed it up and allowed those after you go see him. You were not going to miss her on her way back.

 

She saw you first and smiled. Her smile disarmed you but you manned up and stood to meet her.

 

“Hi, how are you?” she asked stretching her hand for a handshake.

 

“ I, I am fine,” you stammered.

 

“Meet my husband of 4 years, Steve, he is just back from his PhD studies in the UK,” she introduced the man beside her. “Baby, meet my friend, the one I told you about that worked with the IT firm on Ligali Ayorinde.”

 

Steve offered a semblance of a smile and enclosed your hand in a firm grip of a handshake. While she did the introductions, your head began to spin like a helicopter rotor.

 

Husband of four years? PhD studies in UK? What is going on?

 

“I’ll see you later,” you heard her say as the headache and fever returned in a blast.

 

The text was sent almost 6 months ago. Three weeks before then, she had gone to the UK on vacation, she had said. When she came back, you tried to sleep with her again but she refused all your attempts. Then she sent the text.

 

It all made sense now. She had gotten pregnant in the UK. For him. And the text and subsequent call was for her to explain to you. But you had jumped the gun. She had decided to stay away from you. For obvious reasons.

 

You turned in time to see them leave the hospital arm in arm, like teenage lovers. There and then you got it. You were used, the foolish victim of a lonely wife.

 

***

 

The End

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A Different Kind of Fall


“I wish I was 16 so I can know what it feels like to fall under anointing too” I hear Biola say in that childish grating voice of hers. Gradually, I stir from my fall, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the sunlit room. Biola is my 14year old younger sister. I hold my head gently as a wave of headache slammed me. Slowly I shake my head trying to recollect what happened and how I came to be on the bare cold cement floor of our new church.

“You were in a trance,” Biola says as she looks down at me from her upright position in front of me. “What does it feel like?” “Did you see Jesus?” “What about those Ogbanje spirits? Mummy said maybe they are the reason you talk in your sleep on those days we played much.” “Does this mean you’re no longer one of them?” On and on came the battering questions as I try to shake off the ache pounding the back of my head.

But what I really am is hungry. I hear my tummy sigh in agreement as Biola runs towards the back of the church building to get my parents. You see it has been days I had any real food as the last 6 days has been about our yearly Family Restoration Week. Usually during this week, the entire family engaged in series of prayers to ward off evil, pray for blessings and do things together to strengthen the family bond. I particularly like the Restoration week because it is that one time when we children get to eat anything we like.

But this year was different. Mummy said it will be an entire week of Fasting; the first three days without food and water. Fourth and fifth day, we will have water alone. By Day Six, we’ll have fruits and on the seventh day, we’ll have family prayers in church which will mark the end of the Week after which we can go back to our normal diet.

Usually we children were not involved in Fasting. However when I went to the kitchen the morning the Fast began, I couldn’t find my food. Mummy said I’m a big girl and only Biola and Segun would not be allowed to Fast. Biola said she didn’t believe I’ll see the Fast through as I love food too much and she dared me to prove her wrong.

So here I am, six days later with only two days of water and one day of fruits in me, ready to let my parents believe I fell under the intensity of prayers rather than tell them I fell because I hadn’t had food in six days. I look up to see my parents approaching, Biola is right behind them. I hear Pastor Sola shout Hallelujah in that frenzied way of his, praising God that the demon has left me. I close my eyes in exasperation as I hear mummy say; “Oh! God you are great. Thank you for saving my baby”. At that, I slowly let myself fall back to the ground.

The Things You Thought You knew


As Bayo left the house that afternoon, you saw the spring in his steps as he headed towards the Red Toyota Camry packed just outside the building. At first glance, you saw a gentleman. Another look at him didn’t tell you he has a wife and two beautiful boys at home as he wasn’t one to put on a wedding band. Many a time, you’ve seen ladies stare at him with hearts in their eyes. You noticed that Bayo wasn’t extraordinarily good-looking with his thin lips, large nose and squinting eyes. But when he smiled, he could be the most beautiful being as the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes beckoned you to just live in the magic of that radiant smile.

Unhappy woman lying on a couch
Unhappy woman lying on a couch

Everyone called him a wife beater. You too have heard the screams and shrieks coming from the room he shared with his wife. As if those weren’t proof enough, almost every other day, you saw telltale signs on his wife, Teni. The black eyes ill-covered by layers and layers of concealer, the almost blackish two lines that seemed a permanent tattoo on the side of her neck as well as the obvious limp in her step all of which weren’t there before.
But that afternoon, all you saw was the good-looking Bayo in a deep-blue Polo shirt with matching shorts and nice brown sandals. His appearance was of someone out for a fun afternoon. You saw him debate with himself for a while before he went back into his apartment.
Earlier you had seen his wife get back from her mother’s place where she had gone visiting. She had told you she was visiting the night before when you met at the supermarket.
What you however didn’t see was Bayo coming back out of the apartment and sneaking back in through the Kitchen which was at the back. You didn’t know he had to quietly sneak into the room he shared with his wife to get his wallet from the pair of trousers he wore the day before. Neither did you hear Teni call “Bayo” as she entered their room in that graceful way of hers- the one that bellies her limp. You didn’t see him almost jump out of his skin in surprise while he watched her pick up the vase by the bedside, testing its weight.
You didn’t hear her ask “Where are you going, Bayo?” without a trace of emotion in her voice.
You didn’t hear him say “Oh Teni, not today please”, almost pleading in that sultry alto voice that reminded you of melting ice cream.
You didn’t see her eyes go darker as he said that. You didn’t sense him quickly gauge the distance between himself and the door knowing only by sheer fate would he reach it before the vase in her hands sought him out.
You were not there when he gently walked towards her, choosing his words carefully as he said, “Teni, it’s just a hangout. You can come too, if you want. But it’s…just a hangout.”
You were not there when their 4-year old son walked into the room, crying; giving Bayo a chance to escape.
What you also didn’t know was that Teni wasn’t the victim. Bayo was. Bayo was the one who almost got scarred with a steaming Iron because he didn’t pick her call while in a meeting. He was the one who had narrowly dodged the kick she threw his way, dislocating her knee in the process. Bayo was the one on the receiving end of a thrown knife that had chipped the wardrobe door and one of the pieces had flew back at her, almost blinding her in the process.
Bayo was the one who had learnt to run when Teni was overcome by the very thing she had sworn not to be- a woman who beat life out of her husband like her mother did.
But you only heard the noise from the room and saw the scars on her.