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Friday, October 2, 2009

Sergio, Mrs S and my mid life crisis

I get home about 5 minutes before Nissah. She’s all starry eyed and breathless as she flops down on the bed, “Vee I’m in love” she declares. I roll my eyes theatrically, if I had a dollar for every time I’d heard that, Bill Gates would be my housekeeper. “I take it your date went well”
She flings her arms over her head, “It was great, you know it was meant to be just a lunch date but as he drove me back to work he said he didn’t think he could wait till our next date to see me and before I could say anything else he’d walked into my office and told my boss he’d like to open an investment account and he’d like me to manage it.”
I smile inwardly, I guess that the fact that Nissah cant add beyond two digit numbers without a calculator did not come up, still it was a great story. “That’s great Nissah” I say more to hurry her along, “That wasn’t even the best part. We went to see a movie and we ended up being the only ones at the theatre, frankly I cant even tell you what the movie was about cos we talked right through it. Vee, it was the most romantic date ever! Then we had drinks at the Lagoon restaurant. He was so open with me, we talked about everything from his childhood to business, even his Dad. Then he just came right out and said that he really liked me, and that he was tired of the rules of dating and all that. So Vee get this, we’re officially a couple and we’re going to the Pink Ball together next weekend.”
“Wow Nissah that’s great” I said. Frankly it all seemed to be happening rather fast, I mean she just met the guy two days ago, and just one date later they were going exclusive? However I wasn’t going to be the one to dampen my friend’s spirit. As high up as Nissah had her head in the clouds, she deserved to be happy. I just hoped this Oderinde whatever person wasn’t going to be just another Mr. never-do-right. Nissah seemed to attract them like bees to honey.
We spent the remainder of the night rehashing every detail of the dream date. Nissah was still fully dressed happily admiring her brand new Steve Maddens as her feet dangled in the air. I think that was the last image my brain registered just before I drifted off to sleep.

The week whizzes by in a blur of lab tests, MRIs, charts and seminars. Pretty much my usual week. My shifts at the hospital are much better because they co-incide with Sergio’s. Truthfully we spend more time gossiping than actually doing any work. Mostly we bitch about HN, Sergio tells me more about his mystery lover. He’s been in love with this mystery woman since I met him and I haven’t even learned so much as a name, we call her Mrs. S, actually I do. Sergio is a huge hulking mass of man, reminds me of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson whom I actually have this huge crush on. Well I did have a crush on Sergio when I started out at Serenity, that was until we became friends. I used to console myself that his lack of interest in me was probably because he was gay, that was until he told me about Mrs. S. Okay at this point all I know is that Mrs. S is an older woman, stuck in a bad marriage because of her kids and that they’ve been having an affair for 2 years. That’s all he’ll tell me, I think it’s because Mrs. S works in the hospital, but he wont tell me that either. He loves her too much to jeopardize what they have. “But don’t you want more?” I’d asked him. “Than just being a booty call?” he’d asked with a smile. “She’s in it for the kids. I can wait that long.” He’d replied. I’d wished then that someone would one day love me like that. Don’t get me wrong I know Seye loves me the way he knows how, but deep down I know that it can never be that way with him.
“So how’s lover boy?” Sergio asks me with a mischievous glint in his eye. He loves to tease me about Seye. Well I cant blame him he probably knows more about my boyfriend than he does about me. We’re at the nurses’ station and I’m playing solitaire on the desktop, “My man is just fine thank you.”
“So when is he going to make an honest woman out of you?” he asks and I snort with laughter. “You mention marriage to Seye and the look on his face changes like you’ve told him you’re taking a scalpel to his testicles.”
Sergio laughs, “Typical commitment phobe”
“Sounds like someone I know” I’d teased.
“It’s not like that and you know it” He’d retorted. I held up my hands in mock surrender. Geez maybe it’s because he’s been around women since nursing school but Serge could be as prickly as a hedgehog especially when it came to his precious Mrs. S. As far as I was concerned Sergio was obsessed with his sugar mummy whoever she was and the woman was just content with having him as a toy boy. Well I wasn’t going to be the one waking him up to smell the coffee. Besides i hated to fight with my only ally at the hospital. Swiftly I changed topics, “So Nissah has a new guy.”
Sergio raised a brow easily and I envied how he did it so effortlessly. “Your friend is a determined young woman” he said dryly. Well that may be because I’d told him about Nissah’s marriage chart. (I’m not a blabbermouth, we needed to bond and that piece of info was too good not to share) Nissah had met Sergio more than once and had been attracted to him certain they’d make perfect caramel coloured babies all for the three minutes before she’d discovered he was actually a nurse and not a doctor. With a smile I recalled how she’d disbelievingly echoed the word “nurse” like it was some kind of newly discovered exotic virus. Sergio had been understandably angry and it had taken about an hour for me to calm him down. Since then it’d have been easier to get George Bush and Osama Bin Laden in one room. The elitist socialite as Sergio had dubbed her could not understand why any normal man would want to be a nurse. She was convinced Sergio was a closet fairy, not that I’d ever told him that. To be fair, I’d thought he was gay too once upon a time, the fact that he didn’t seem to have any male friends at the hospital didn’t help much. Now I understood that Sergio was just a recluse, he probably liked to keep to himself so that his secrets stayed safe, secrets I hoped he’d one day trust me enough to share, not just because I was dead nosy (which I am) but because I hoped one day he’d see me as a true friend worth confiding in. Besides I told him everything, which usually had him yelling “OKAY!!! TMI” Sergio and I spoke IM at the hospital especially when we had to gossip in a crowded room. We didn’t always understand each other till I’d decided to start an IM dictionary. Just the other day I’d penned in OMG SSNWTSEA (oh my God, she should never wear those shoes ever again} but Sergio had crossed it out saying it wasn’t valid IM speak. Thinking about it now made me smile, if he wasn’t so besotted with his mystery sugar mama, maybe Serge and I could…..oh perish the thought! I was ashamed that I still had thoughts like this. It wasn’t as if I still carried a blazing torch for the guy, I just did not understand this chronic need to imagine us married. We got along so well, he made me laugh, he was so easy on the eyes, we were in the same profession. This was what a relationship was supposed to be like, right? We could just sit down and talk for ages, speak our secret speak and look smug when everyone else gave us the “Are you crazy look?”
“What are you thinking?” he asked.
I was almost tempted to tell him that I’d been seeing mini- Sergios and mini-Vee’s running around in oversized diapers, instead I smiled, “Just checking in on my fantasy life”
He stretched to his 6 foot 2 frame, “Well good luck with that, reality calls. I gotta check in on my guys. Sure you can hold the fort on your own for a couple of minutes without falling asleep?”
I snored loudly and he chuckled as he strolled off. Was I really in love with my boyfriend I thought as I watched Serge disappear down the corridor? The way I figure, if I really loved him I wouldn’t “see” any other man, let alone the older-woman-obsessed-male-nurse I worked with. Maybe I was having a mid-life crisis, I thought and for now that was a much more comforting thought than trying to understand what it was I felt for Sergio.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm a Doctor! I Save Lives!!!

“Where u dey?” Seye asks as I answer the phone. This is now our customary greeting. After 3 years of dating we no longer use terms of endearment like darling or sweetheart. Come to think of it we never did. The closest Seye has ever came to this was this period when he took to calling me “boo”
“Hi yourself” I say, “I’m at a party.”
“I called the starcomms phone and the maid said you guys were out.”
I remembered that Seye was one of those people that took advantage of the free weekend calls to call and tell me exactly what had happened in the last episode of Prison Break he’d seen. “What are you up to?”
“I’m at Debo’s. we’re just hanging.” He replies. I take this to mean that they’re watching a game, bottles of cheap wine and Jack Daniels littering the place and thick smoke hanging in the air.
“sounds fun” I say dryly.
“So whose party is it anyway?”
“it’s for a one year old called Mercedes.” I say with a giggle and quickly glance to make sure no one can hear me.
Seye laughs, “What? Are her parents called Prado and Volvo.”
This time I laugh and remember why I love my boyfriend. Our relationship is just easy. We understand each other, he makes me laugh. Well this is apart from the fact that he makes me so angry sometimes I’m literally pulling out my hair. We met at a party for his friend, one I wasn’t actually invited to. Like he said he’d taken one look at me and decided he had to “shag” me. His exact words. The irony of this is that we haven’t had sex yet in the 3 years we’ve been dating. I’m a firm believer in saving myself for marriage. Seye jokingly, says I’m only trying to keep him hooked. I mean he didn’t exactly get the short end of the stick. We just kind of got serious along the line, surprising ourselves and all the people that said we wouldn’t last. I’m not sure Seye has been entirely faithful in the past but I don’t allow myself to dwell on it. It’s not like I have any proof or basis for my suspicion apart from the fact that he is a hot blooded male with sex on the brain. Sex, he is not getting from me.
“so when am I seeing you?” his voice is suddenly deeper and lower. I smile inwardly. My butch man doesn’t want his beer buddies to know he’s missing his woman during their male bonding session.
“when do you want to see me?” I say in my best sexy voice.
“well I’m at VGC, you could come pick me up.”
He groans, “Vee! Take a cab now.”
“Obviously you don’t need to see me that badly” I tease. I don’t actually expect him to say he’d come. I have to have the laziest boyfriend in the world. “Look I’m not on call till 2 tommorrow, I’ll come see you in the morning.”
I hear the smile in his voice as he says, “That sounds nice doc, I’ve got this ache that I’d like you to check out. In fact I’ve had it for 3 years now.”
“Seye Oguntunde pull the shreds of your mind out of the gutter. I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.”
“Yeah, me too.” He mumbles.
“say it” I press more to embarrass him than out of a need to hear him confirm what I already know. He mutters a barely audible reply and I hang up.
I’m about to head back into the party when I spot the Danjuma brood heading out. Nissah waves excitedly as she sees me, she hooks my hand and starts gabbing excitedly about some guy. I’m not paying much attention, as I glance back I spot Raymond. He smiles and gives me a little wave, I smile back and all of a sudden I don’t want to leave.

Seye calls me as early as early as 6am the next morning. I’m half awake as I answer the phone. We speak for less than a minute, then I mutter “Thank God” and pull the covers over my head. “what?” Nissah asks, “the three hour makeout session has been cancelled.”
“Yep.” I mumble, “his Dad sprained his ankle this morning so he has to drive him to some convention in Ilorin.”
“Talk about raining on your parade” she says
“Good thing then that your float is rolling out” I mutter. Since the party she has only been able to talk about Dayo Oderinde. Well he put her out of her misery by calling her and asking her out to lunch. Which is why my friend a new suit and shoes from her "emergency wardrobe" Like he"s gonna ak you how old your shoes are" I’d said when she’d told me. Well, one had to be prepared, Nissah is your typical girl scout. She’s been scouting for her Mr. Right ever since I’ve known her. After a string of Mr. Never-Do-Rights, Nissah had started worrying about her biological clock. I’d come across her filofax once and discovered that she wanted to marry by the time she was 25 and have her 2 kids, a boy first when she was 27 and the girl two years later. i didn’t want to tell her that marriage and family life were not stuff you penned down like you were planning a dinner for 10. She had been my best friend for about fifteen years but Nissah Danjuma never failed to surprise me.
“Aunty Nissah, Oga don ready oh!” the driver called from a safe distance. Ever since Nissah’s aunt had accused him of being a peeping tom, he never came within twenty feet of our flat.
“See you babes. It’s your turn to buy breakfast stuff” she flung over her shoulder as she hurried out in her brand new Steve Madden pumps. I couldn’t help the smile that curled my lips as I drifted off to sleep again.

I decided to be a doctor when I was 7 years old, however then it was borne out of a need to be the other person that wasn’t on the receiving end of a ten inch long needle. My parents had been thrilled of course, because before then I’d wanted to be a dancer, and before that a ninja. My Dad was a pharmacist and owned a popular drugstore in Port Harcourt back in the 90’s. These days he worked with a leading oil company. He had pulled a few strings to get me this housemanship with St. Serenity. The CMD was an old friend and he’d been happy to take on Dr. Greene’s precious daughter. Anytime Dr. Ngeri stopped by when we were on rounds, I have expected him to pull my cheeks and coo at me. The man was more excited than my father had been at my induction. On my first day he had regaled the entire hospital staff with tales of how I used to come to his office with my Dad and play with his “teposcope.” As if that hadn’t been enough, he had pulled me into his arms and given a heart-warming speech about how proud he was of me and since none of his kids had followed in his footsteps (Oh he had three, his first daughter was a hotelier, his only son was an unsuccessful artist waiting to be discovered and his last daughter had ditched Cambridge for modeling) I was basically the daughter he’d wished for. Within the first few hours of showing up the man had managed to tarnish my reputation. All the nurses hated me already, the residents asked me questions all the time hoping to catch me at my worst and my colleagues sucked up to me. Maybe they could make residency if they were friends with the CMD’s pet.
So when I rushed in that afternoon a few seconds past 2, the Head Nurse rolled her huge eyes at me. I couldn’t be bothered, an hour stuck in traffic and the last 10 minutes on an okada where the rider smelled like he’d never heard of soap led to the conclusion that my day couldn’t get any worse. She thrust a file in my hand, “Dr. Adisa wants you to follow up his patient in Room 45. He’s going to be in theatre for the rest of the day.”I opened my mouth to tell her that I was supposed to be in the theatre as well. A neuro-specialist had been flown in for an operation to remove a tumour from a patients brain and it was such an uncommon procedure that I’d be lucky to see another one before the year ran out. Instead I took the file without another word. They hated me already, there was no need to make things worse. By the time I left Room 45 I realized that the nurses really had it in for me. The patient was a lascivious 77 year old man that had had his prostate removed and was attached to a catheter, still that didn’t stop him from trying to play grab-ass with me, which was no easy feat while I attempted to change his catheter.
I was sweating by the time I left the room. I flung a dirty look at HN as I passed, I couldn’t even remember what she was called. At this hospital nobody was called by their names, well except me since I’d always been addressed by an initial. Feeling ravenous I headed to the cafeteria, I took a seat by the glass partition so I could catch a bit of eye gossip. My one friend at the hospital, a male nurse called Sergio (yeah, I’d laughed too) wasn’t on call till evening so I was alone. At least till Dr. M sidled into the seat across me. Now the thing with Dr. M was he was so annoyingly aware of how good looking he was that it had put me off instantly. He smiled constantly and his eyes twinkled genuinely when he laughed. The running story was that within two weeks he managed to bed the entire new intake, I was his latest challenge and quite one at that, seeing as I’d been at St. Serenity for 3 months.
“Miss V.” he drawled
“Hi Dr. M, any hot surgeries today?” I asked hopefully. He normally let me in on his operations. He’d even let me make the first incision once.
“Nah. It’s been a slow day. The most interesting thing I’ve done is writing a hypochondriac woman a prescription for the flutter in her heart.”
“Oh Mrs. Dina” I said as I remembered the first time I’d been saddled with the middle aged woman who came in almost every week certain that whatever ailment she had this time would certainly do her in. “Well her husband’s company will either sack him or cancel their health benefits” I added and Dr. M laughed. At a consultation fee of ten thousand naira and a yearly private membership of about three million naira, St. Serenity wasn’t your average malaria-pop-in clinic. Most of our clients where multi-national corporations and filthy rich individuals.
“So how was your weekend?” Dr. M asked.
“definitely not as interesting as yours.” I replied.
He laughed and his eyes lit up, “I wonder why you have this preconceived idea about me, which by the way is totally wrong.” He said.
I raise my brows, “Really? So you’re telling me you didn’t hang out Friday night for drinks with the guys, meet a nice girl, took her out for lunch on Saturday and to see a movie on Sunday.”
He smiled, “Are you having me followed Vee?”
“Call it intuition Dr. M” I say as I pop the last piece of meat into my mouth, “I gotta run in and check up on Mr. Grab-ass in Room 45.”
“Hmn, now I envy Mr. Grab-ass” he said giving me a wink as I stand up. Dr. M was nice and actually fun to be with if only he’d stop flirting with me.The rest of the day goes on rather uneventfully. I find myself doing the mundane tasks that I’ve become used to, checking blood pressure, filling charts, that sort of thing. I call Seye just to check up on him, he’s upset. Turns out they might have to sleep in ilorin. I’m too busy to hold his hand right now so I feign an emergency and hang up. I love Seye, honestly but I don’t have the girlfriend-maternal instincts he’s constantly trying to drag out of me. I’m tempted to call Nissah and see how she’s doing but I decide to save my call credit and wait for the juicy details when I get home. Besides a lunch date is just an opportunity to plan something more interesting for later. My shift ends at 8, which is not bad, we have a hospital administrator Mrs. O who has a running policy that doctors are more productive when they are less stressed. I love mrs. O I think happily as I skip outside. I mean I have friends on housemanship who practically run the hospitals and work on less than 2 hours sleep daily. I mean it’s all very Grey’s Anatomy minus the dishy doctors and scandalous sex trysts.
To be continued..........

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Balenciaga II

One of Nissah’s little cousins runs over to me with a party cracker, “Aunty Vee, see what they gave me” she says excitedly and pulls it to demonstrate. It goes off with a loud pop. I give a loud clap.
“Halima!” her mother snaps, “Are you trying to get me deaf?”
“Sorry Mum.” Halima says with a giggle. “I’ll get another one Aunty Vee” I watch amused as she runs off.
“Nissah, you and Vee should get something to eat” her aunt suggests. My spirits rise immediately.
“Do we have to go over to the table?” Nissah whines. Nissah has got to be the shyest person I know. She constantly worries she’ll trip and fall flat on her face in public.
Her aunt laughs, “Nissah, you’re never going to meet a man at this rate. If anyone should be hiding back here its Vee.”
My mouth drops open, what exactly is that supposed to mean? I storm off towards the nearest buffet table to keep myself from saying anything that would have me rushing to catch the 5;30 BRT every morning, which was exactly what would happen if I got kicked out of the Alcove Gardens pad. I was faced with absolute confusion as I reached the buffet table, I’d never seen so many different kinds of food in one place, some of which I had absolutely no idea what they were.
‘What would you like?” the immaculately dressed waiter asked me.
“Uhm. I think I need a minute.” Behind me I hear a soft laugh and when I turn I’m faced with the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. That’s the word. He’s beautiful, fair skinned with soft, almost feminine features, clean shaven, the exact opposite of my Seye. The kind of man I’m not attracted to but still I’m staring. Why am I staring? I blink and shake my head once. What’s that word, the one you’re supposed to say when you meet someone. Damn! He’s looking at me strangely.
“Oh, there you are!” a voice behind him says. A striking woman materializes and links her arm through his. It’s Miss Balenciaga. “We’re going inside for drinks”
“I’ll catch up, Phoebe” he says “I want to grab something to eat.”
“Oh just tell her what you want, she’ll bring it inside” she says waving a hand in my direction.
“Excuse me?” I say.
She peers closely at me, “Aren’t you Milli’s girl?”
“Who?” I can’t believe this. Do I look like a maid or a nanny? I’m a qualified doctor! I save lives. Well I will eventually.
She smiles, “oh sorry, you really look like Milli’s girl. Ray, well we’re inside when you’re done.” She hoists her Balenciaga on to her shoulders and stalks off. I’m standing there with the plate in my hand, so angry I can almost feel the smoke coming out of my ears.
“I’m sorry about that.” He says.
I say nothing. I’d had about enough. Suddenly I’m not hungry anymore. I drop the plate and smile at the waiter, “I’ll come back when I’ve made up my mind.”
Nissah and her aunt are nowhere to be found when I get back to the table. There’s a bottle of wine on the table and I help myself to a glass. I’m watching the children play. There are no clowns, just the party planners in matching T-shirts. I’d always wanted to do that, plan parties for kids I mean, I talked about it all through school with my friends. Nobody ever took me seriously. Hell, I didn’t take me seriously. Now, a part of me felt like the pregnant party planner had stolen my dream.
“You guys have to like stand in a line” her young assistant was shouting into the mike with enough attitude to go round ten Beverly Hill teenagers, the children pushed forward hoping to be the one to smash the piƱata. You don’t talk to kids like that and expect results, I thought to myself. Children need motivation, the promise of a reward, a bribe, they don’t want to be told to move back so the stick doesn’t put out their eye. Hell, you could poke their eye out yourself if you promised to give them all the sweets in the pinata. Tell them all the kids in the line get a prize or something.

I’m getting bored and my stomach reminds me I’m still hungry but I don’t feel right. Where the hell is Nissah? Probably off meeting the Oderinde from Singapore while Vee is left to nanny the kids. Well, apparently i have Nanny-like feautures. Hissssss. I bolt to my feet as I spot Mahmud her 2 year old cousin scooping grass into his mouth.
“Hey Mud-man, don’t eat grass. Lets get you some posh grass to eat instead” I say as I pull a stray blade out of his mouth. I pick him up and wander to the buffet table again. I return to my seat with a plate brimming with all I could fit on it and settle Mahmud on my lap. I tear a piece of chicken and hand it to him.

A woman in a lovely green top with beautiful hair that can only be a Brazillian weave smiles at me, “hello. Are these seats taken?” she asks with a tinge of the upper-class British accent.
I shake my head, she turns and motions for someone to come over. Suddenly three nannies appear each carrying a child. Two of them are little girls in matching outfits. Twins.
“Oya, e joko.” She says in easy Yoruba and continues in a fluent string I cant understand. Yeah, yeah, 12 years in the west and I still don’t understand Yoruba but I figure she’s telling the nannies to feed the kids and that she’d be back to check on them. The nannies start to bark at the children immediately her back is turned, smacking their tiny hands with two fingers. Even Mahmud stares transfixed. The girls are twins dressed in matching outfits down to the red bows which seem to be hanging precariously from all of three strands of hair. One of the nannies takes out a huge bib with pink hearts and balloons and attempts to put it on the boy. He protests wildly, pushing it away. As I watch the other nanny take out an identical one and a twin obediently shimmies into it I understand his protests. Unfortunately “Nanny Mcphee” does not and deftly smacks the boy on the arm. He lets out a loud wail. I’m tempted to say something but I don’t. it’s not my business. Okay I don’t mean that in an I can’t be bothered way, it’s just none of my business.
Mahmud and I go through my meal in record time, okay me mostly but he had most of the chicken. I’m not one of those girls that agonize over their weight and eat tiny portions even Mahmud would turn up his nose at.
I look up and it’s Nanny Mcphee, “Yes” I say with what I hope is an easy smile.
“I fit to take the juice…for the children later”
I shrug, “Oh take it.”
She dips slightly as she takes it, “Thank you.” It disappears quickly into her bag.
The food gone, Mahmud gets disinterested and slides down my lap. I find myself alone, deciding that I’d get back at Nissah somehow. Maybe I’d wear her new Next top to work on Monday. It’d definitely stretch. Or I’d take the hygiene cap of her toothbrush, she has this fetish. I’m lost in my thoughts I don’t notice him till he sits down beside me.
“Hi” he says with a smile.
“Hi” I reply dryly. Suddenly I’m not impressed. He’s just a brat plus he’s not my type.
“I just came by to apologise for my friend. Phoebe is a bit absent minded.”
“Really?” I say “absent minded is locking your car keys in the car or forgetting to turn of the iron before you leave home, not assuming that everyone else who doesn’t carry a bag that costs the yearly budget of some families is a hired help.” I didn’t mean to rant, at least not to him, it just sort of came out.
“Well true. Like I said I’m sorry.”
“So what are you apologizing for exactly?” I say boldly, “your friend’s bad behaviour or how it reflects on you?”
He smiles revealing toothpaste ad perfect teeth. “Both.”
For a moment we’re silent, then he says “I’m Raymond.”
“I’m Vee.”
“as in…” he prompts.
“that’s a nice name.” he says.
“that’s a line.” I say
He laughs. “So what do you do?”
“I’m a doctor” I say with a glow. I’ve since overcome my need to say ‘I save lives’
“Oh that’s nice…it’s just that you seem rather young.”
“I get that a lot” I say dismissively like its no big deal as I ponder the possibility that he tweezes his eyebrows. He’s just too put together I think, no stray hair, groomed to perfection.
“So how do you know Milli?” he asks.
I shrug, “I don’t. I’m here with my friend and her family” I glance around, “well at least I was.”
He smiles and settles into his chair and suddenly I’m uncomfortable. I notice a few heads turning in our direction. Well his, all the women, married and unattached are staring at him shamelessly, probably wondering what he’s doing talking to Plain Jane. Don’t get me wrong I do not have a complex, I prefer to think of myself as a realist.
“so what do you do?” I ask him more out of want of something to say.
“I’m an investment banker”

“Oh, that’s nice” I say and then mentally kick myself, of all the unoriginal things that could pop into my mind, that was the best I could do?

He opens his mouth to say something else when my phone rings. I pounce on it quickly, “I’m sorry I have to take this outside.” Actually it’s not that noisy but I just need an excuse to leave, before I manage to shove the rest of my leg further up my mouth. I move hastily away from the noise.

To be continued................

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Balenciaga

Okay. I admit it I’m out of my element. Not in the fish out of water way but more like goldfish swimming with the tilapias. I mean take that woman for instance I’m sure her patent Balenciaga bag costs more than my annual salary and to me my pay’s not that shabby, to her it’s a bag, probably one of a closet full. So you could ask what I was doing at the same party with Miss Balenciaga. I was asking myself the exact same thing.

I was born and grew up mostly in P-Town (that’s what the trendy kids call Port Harcourt now) but I migrated to the west after I was done with primary school and I’ve been in love with Lagos ever since. I mean my entire life is here, my confusing boyfriend whom I love despite the fact that I seem to want to break up with him every two days, my best friends (frankly I have about 10 of them) and all my fave places, like Takwa Bay, The Palms, Silverbird Galleria and oh Nando’s. I mean I love P-Town or rather I love my family which is rooted in P-Town but Lagos has grown on me.

You have to love Lagos, whether you’re the quiet type or the one the bouncers know by name, it’s a town that takes care of everybody.

So back to the Balenciaga party, I mean ok I’m fresh out of medical school, doing my housemanship with a leading private clinic and still so excited I’m scrawling Dr. Yvette Greene on every scrap of paper. Yeah that’s my name Yvette. Apparently I was conceived in Paris, the most romantic city in the world, by the way being conceived in a place doesn’t make you a citizen and frankly that’s unfair. I would make a nice Parisian, rolling my r’s and saying “bon” all the time. Okay back to the point, I tend to roll off tangent at times. I hate being called Yvette so everyone calls me Vee. I share a flat (when I say flat I mean a small cramped one bedroom in Lekki) with my friend Nissah. The good news is it comes absolutely free, Nissah’s uncle lives in the main building and she works with him so the flat comes as a perk with the low paying job, even though her uncle is as rich as Oprah! Okay maybe i tend to exaggerate a bit, but you get the point. So it’s Saturday and the lady of the house is attending some kid’s first birthday party and she asks if Nissah and I would like to tag along. I say ok, I’ve got nothing better to do. Besides there’s no light and we dare not put on the generator, Uncle D probably measures the diesel level with a tape rule. Nissah and I barely cook and its mid-month so the fridge is empty. The prospect of free food has us moving in fast forward. I throw on a top I wore the previous day, on top of faded jeans. Nissah digs in her wardrobe for something nicer and advices me to do the same.

“Nissah it’s a child’s first birthday not a presidential gala.” I’d said as she threw on a new sundress. Now standing there in the back garden of a sprawling estate in VGC I wish I’d listened to her. Everybody looks so chic, that’s everyone but me. Nissah tosses her new weave and smiles like a movie star, her two year old cousin expertly balanced on her hip. I realize just then that I seem to have fallen quite by accident into the world of the Lagos socialites.
“Hello” a tiny woman trills enthusiastically as she walks over to us. Nissah’s aunt smiles as they hug and kiss the air at their chicks. I have never understood why they do that.
“Milli! You look great. I can’t believe Mercedes is already one.” Nissah’s aunt said. Mercedes? I could never seem to understand why people gave their kids names like that. The poor thing would probably grow up into a Mercedes, big, imposing and high-maintenance. Whatever happened to the good old traditional names? (Yeah, I’m one to talk)
“The little things grow so fast” the petite Milli says with a dismissive wave of the hand, “is this your sister?” she asks looking at Nissah with an appraising smile. I’m used to the reactions people get around my friend. She’s tall, dark-skinned and curvy with a heart-shaped pretty face. Nissah is stunning. That’s the word. Frankly I have no problem with the fact that I pale beside her. I’ve grown into my skin and the realization that I’m some guy’s type at least.
“Oh, this is Nissah, Dede’s niece. She’s a stockbroker.”
“Good afternoon” Nissah says with a wide smile. I wonder if the sides of her face ache.
“She’s a pretty one.” Milli says, “Deji’s brother is just in from Singapore, we should seat them together.”
I shift awkwardly from one foot to the other feeling completely ignored, I mean I seem to have faded into thin air, even Nissah seems to have forgotten I’m there. Well actually I have faded in my grey top and washed jeans. Everyone else is in brightly coloured tops and dresses with huge designer bags. I walk behind them silently as Milli, the hostess, leads us to a table. The children are in the middle of the garden playing a game and Nissah’s cousins run off to join them. I and Nissah settle down while her aunt does the rounds. “Did you see Tunji Coker?” Nissah whispers fiercely.
“Who?” I’m rather distracted, wondering which of the three buffet tables I should attack first.
“Tunji Coker, Dextron Consult. True Love’s bachelor of the month.”
“Really?” I’m not that interested. My stomach is growling loudly. Actually almost everyone looks familiar, in that you-know-me-but-don’t-know-me way. “let’s get something to eat.” I say and Nissah gives me her ‘are u crazy’ look.
“What? It’s a buffet.”
“Vee we just got here. We don’t want to look like we’ve been starved. Give it ten minutes.”
“okay” I mutter crossly “but if my stomach starts to growl loudly you cant pretend you don’t know me.” She laughs.

We get to find out that the party is for the third child of Milli Oderinde who is married to the first son of Justice Oderinde, the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Nissah is so excited to learn that. She studied law but was posted to a capital management company for her youth service. I’m more surprised to learn that Milli has had 3 kids with that body. She’s a size 6. A thirty something year old size 6. I’m 23 and I wear a 12, on my good days a 10. I hate her instantly. More so even when she comes to our table to make sure we’re all fine and completely ignores me. I’m a doctor, I want to scream. I’m important too. I don’t have to heft around a Mui Mui or Lulu Guiness bag to be noticed.

To be continued.........