It wasn’t like James Hadley Chase was one writer Teni fancied a lot, she was more of the African literature person, a mix of quality books from Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Camera Laye, Buchi Emecheta, Amos Tutuola strewed her book shelf. When Mope called her to help in packing her drawings from the architecture studio, she had to observe her fetish of holding a book with her while going anywhere. Unfortunately it was Hadley Chase’ My Laugh Comes Last she touched first.
Teni hated going to the Archi studio. The thoughts of Loud music, body odours from several days of no bath, white papers and too many lines that made her feel dizzy. She in her gracious bluntness once told Mope that she smelt really awful after 4days in the studio. The only up side to Teni’s egression to the ‘Archi’ studio was the flock of cute boys always working or doing something else in the studio and yes, Teni would do anything for Mopelola Braimoh.
Teni and Mope had met at The New Wine Church at Sabo in Ife. Although Teni went to an Orthodox Church back with her parents and siblings in Lagos, she knew her life was hers to live now she was fresh in the Ivory tower, she opted for a new generational church, and who wouldn’t want to attend ‘The New Wine’ church with its very beautiful Facade and great music. Mope on the other hand, just did ‘any’ church. Her parents were not Christians, she was invited to the church by her Ex who was trying to win her back, he thought the idea of her seeing him amidst the media crew will give her the impression he is a changed person, after many months of beating her like a bata drum. It was obvious Tunde wanted her back because she was hot, the saying ‘you don’t know what you have till you lose it’ always came to his head anytime he sees Mope. The kind of girl guys would look at twice if she walked past. Mope could easily be a top model if not Architecture, she later told Teni she tried modelling during her pre-degree days, but now she is a bonafide OAU student, Architecture wouldn’t give her time for shows.
Tunde prayed for his luck to flourish.
Teni had sat down beside her during that particular Sunday service she came to ‘The New Wine Church, Mope wore a green polo Ralph Lauren shirt on a Jeans, and a brown scarf. It was a bit casual but still had the guys look at her twice. When the pastor said “turn to your neighbour and say it is well with you” Mope turned to Teni with a very big smile that had more effect on her than the pastor’s preaching. Mope was always alive, boredom usually doesn’t nest where she was.
The pastor called for tithers and Teni had stood up to go pay hers, when Mope noticed the blood stain on Teni’s cream body con gown. She had to do something to help the sisterhood. She stood up, tucked her fingers into Teni’s arm and pulled her back. You have blood stains on your gown , I couldn’t allow you go forward like that“she whispered in her ears mildly as she sat down on the white plastic chair. Teni was both stupefied by the early arrival of her monthly visitor and very grateful for Mope’s smart move.
Tunde’s gaze was fixed on Mope the whole time the Lady on the stage was calling for the first timers, but Mope was totally engrossed with her ‘feminine problems’ chat with Teni to notice the piercing gaze of a mere man that can’t phatom feminine struggle.
After the service, Mope tied her brown scarf around Teni’s waist to cover the stains, and she also wiped the white chair off with her handkerchief to remove the red colouring it got from Teni’s bum, even the boys that sat close to them didn’t know the feminine troubles going on seats away from them. That was the genesis of their friendship.
Tunde walked towards where he had seen Mope sit, but she wasn’t there anymore.
The Suya spot just outside the OAU gate was Mope and Teni’s best Suya spot, maybe it was because Mope loved the view of Obafemi Awolowo university’s gate or Teni’s rapport with the Hausa man one way or the other, they had made the place their personal spot and the Suya man always rewards their loyalty to him by adding a chunk of meat to their purchase. Teni decided to get Suya for them, since she knew food was the only catalyst that speeds up the gist level of Mope. She got there and ordered 400Naira worth. She had her chit chat with Adamu while he fanned the flame and oiled the meat, they both laughed at the Meshai opposite who was having a fight with a drunk customer. He added the customary jara for her, she said goodbye to him and turned to leave only to collide with another person coming to Adamu’s kiosk for Suya. Luckily for her, it was just her Hadley Chase book that fell into a small puddle and not her Suya.
…He ended the phone call he was making and apologized to her for not concentrating on where he was going to, he picked up her book from the puddle and cleaned it with his face towel “I am sorry” he muttered. Teni loved tall guys and she beheld one well built just in front of her, his face well carved like it was chiselled, his muscles all bumping up his shirt and a hair cut that depicts both Gangster and gentleman, his dark skin reminded her of her Dad’s Black Range Rover sport. Never mind she said, as she took her book , looked at him for a last time and walked away without even listening to what else he had to say. He stood behind her and watched her walk off so fast like she had seen a ghost.
Archi studio was just as Teni had pictured it will be, only that this time the stench from the room was so bad she covered her nose with one palm and held the Suya and book on the other as she walked to the back of the studio.
Why you come dey cover your nose now ehn? Mope said over the Brick and Lace ‘Love is wicked‘ song playing from a Laptop ‘not so far away’. With a half smile and a sarcastic look, she passed Teni a stool to sit on.
Babe your studio stinks like a loo, una nose dey on strike? They both laughed hysterically. I know you wish you could switch from Theatre arts to Architecture, but sorry we not show guys here, we are the real deal“Mope taunted her with that line always. She was going to put the Suya on the drawing board before Mope grabbed her hand and said “you know that is a sacred place right?” she dragged another stool closer and they spread the newspaper wrap of the Suya on it.
As Teni expected, the Suya made Mope hyperactive and the gists came out naturally. Mope told her about her new toasters. From the cute ones to the one with bad breathe she always offered mint anytime he came around, and the not so cute ones with cars. She even mentioned her Ex that had been disturbing her for over a year that just called her to know where she was, but she wasn’t really interested in dating him anymore.
Teni wished her life was a bit more fun like Mope’s. When she wasn’t at rehearsal in her department, she was engrossed in one book or another. Mope was her only friend .
Yahooze by Olu Maintain was now playing from the ‘not so far away’ Laptop, Mope started throwing her fingers in the air doing the Yahooze dance while Teni kept half her attention on picking meat from the newspaper on the stool and the other half on the carefree Mope that was now singing along loudly too.
Can I join you girls? A baritone voice spluttered in her ears with each decibel, the voice seemed familiar to Teni. She dropped the meat without much thought and wiped her mouth with the back of her palm. She turned to put a face to the voice and yes it was who she thought it was ….
Life is in phases, stories are in phrases
Life is in chapters, Stories are in chapters