All through the ride back to Ogudu, I was enraged. How dare Pere humiliate me like that?! I felt heartbroken, used and betrayed, and wished I could rewind the hands of time to the night before. With everything in me, I hated myself for not just going home with Voke and Obiora, instead of following Pere home like a fool.
I got home about an hour before Obiora brought Voke home, and my sister listened sympathetically as I raved and ranted about what Pere had done. Whilst she was understandably angry and disappointed by his behaviour, she didn’t spare me any blame.
“You too, why did you follow him home?!” she chided. “Why would you jump right back into his bed, the first time you guys saw after everything that has happened?”
“Ehn ehn! Stop that one right now oh!” I snapped, holding up my hand in defiance. “Whose side are you on anyway?”
Voke shrugged. “Ah okay oh. I didn’t know you only wanted me to listen and not talk. I thought you wanted to hear the truth.”
“How was I supposed to know that Pere was still carrying a huge chip on his shoulder?!” I mumbled angrily. “How was I supposed to know he still has so much anger over what happened?!”
“From what I hear from Obiora, your relationship with Ejiro pained him to his bone marrow. I hear he was even only managing that Daisy, because he knew that was the only thing he had to get back at you. Obiora says your leaving him for a rich guy only just reminded him of his own inadequacies.” Voke said. “Anyway, what’s done is done. He has had his own pound of flesh, no pun intended. I guess everyone is even now. My advise to you is to forget about Pere. Forget about what happened last night, and just continue living your life. You’ve only been home a few months. It won’t take long for you to meet someone else!”
And she was right.
After that day, I did everything I could to put the ugly incident behind me. I threw myself headlong into work, so much so that I soon started getting accolades as ‘the Youth Corper who worked even more than a full staff!’. I minimised my third wheeling with Voke and Obiora, and anytime they felt the need to hang out after work, I found a way to swallow my pride and use public transport to get home. I didn’t run into Pere anywhere, and I was happy about that. I would have been a happy bunny if I never saw him again in my life!
It was soon Christmas of 2009, and we had a small party in the office. I was very involved in the planning and organisation, and everyone remarked about how much better a party it was than previous years’. As the evening drew to a close, one of my colleagues, Etim, pulled me aside.
“Hey, Isio. My friend has been begging me to introduce you to him all evening!” he said, a mischievous grin on his face.
I looked at the person standing next to him, and couldn’t help the smile on my face when I saw the incredibly good looking guy.
“Actually, it’s been over a month.” the handsome guy said. “I’ve been asking Etim for an introduction for over a month. I noticed you when I came to see him sometime in November, and I’ve been on his case ever since.”
Etim shrugged. “Maybe I didn’t, because I want her for myself.”
“Dude, you’re three months away from getting married. Pity some of us still trying to find ‘the one’.”
I laughed at their banter, thoroughly enjoying it. Yes, I knew Etim, and a host of the other Engineers, had a thing for me, and I had carefully averted and dodged all their attention. After the Shell fiasco, there was no way I was going to encourage any office relationship…not even if it was mere toasting. There was no way I wanted, or needed, a repeat with what happened with Ejiro.
“I’m Abdul, by the way.” the handsome guy said, holding out his hand.
As we shook, I got an even better look at him. He was tall and well built, and had the deepest dimples ever. For the first time in forever, I felt butterflies fluttering in my stomach.
“It’s nice to meet you, Abdul.” I said, with a flirtatious smile.
“Abdul and I are headed out for a drink. Do you want to join us?” Etim invited.
I shook my head. As attracted to Abdul as I was, I wasn’t in the mood for socialising, least of all in the rowdy Christmas season when I was bound to run into people I knew. “Nah. I’m a little tired. I want to get a cab and head home.”
“I can drop you at home.” Abdul offered.
Etim laughed. “My guy, forget that one. No be Lekki she dey go. Na mainland! In fact, na Ogudu!”
“It doesn’t matter.” he answered without flinching. “I’ll be glad to drop you.”
“This na Christmas period oh! Traffic go dey!” Etim warned.
Abdul smiled. “What’s a little traffic compared to the company of a beautiful woman?”
At this point, even I couldn’t help but smile.
As we got into Abdul’s car, he looked at me conspiratorially. “How about we grab a quick drink somewhere, before I take you home?”
Suddenly, and without Etim breathing down our necks, the prospect of stopping somewhere briefly didn’t seem as daunting. “Sure. It will even give traffic more time to ease up.” I answered, trying to sound casual.
He drove to an upscale bar in Ikoyi, which thankfully wasn’t full of Christmas merrymakers. Over drinks, we got to know each other better. At 30, he was only about 4 years older than I, but already a Senior Manager with one of the leading banks. He was something of a boy genius, and had finished secondary school at 14, and University at 19. He’d joined the bank immediately after Youth Service, and had been on the fast track ever since. From his expensive watch and brand new car, I could already tell he wasn’t earning the same peanuts his friend Etim was.
“Which of the banks are you with?” I asked, and almost choked on my drink when he mentioned the very same one Pere, my dear ex, worked for.
“Are you okay?” he asked with concern, patting my back.
I smiled and nodded. “I’m fine, thanks.”
A knowing look appeared on his face. “You know someone who works there?”
“My ex boyfriend, actually. Pere Lawson.” I answered, not knowing why I was giving him so much detail.
His brow raised. “Asari-Dokubo? Interesting!”
“You know him?” I asked, half wishing he didn’t.
“He works in my unit.”
I cleared my throat. “You’re his boss?”
Abdul smiled. “I’m actually his boss’ boss.”
I knew it wasn’t far fetched, because even though Pere was feeling himself as a successful banker, the truth is he was still only an Assistant Banking Officer. With only a 3-year age difference between him and Abdul, but with there being at least 6 positions between them, him being the Pere I knew, it would most surely sting.
And I knew something else that would sting even more.
Buoyed by this realisation, my attraction for Abdul went sky high. How awesome it would be to kill two birds with one stone? Bag myself a handsome and rich boyfriend, while also getting my sweet revenge on Pere! It didn’t get any better than that.
That night, true to his word, Abdul drove all the way to Ogudu to drop me at home, and blew my mind even more when he was at my house again the following day. That was how he became a fixture in my life that Christmas holiday, and by the time the New Year 2010 came along, we were a bona fide couple.
My father liked him a lot, and found him to be very charming and intelligent. Almost everytime he came to pick me up, Abdul would engage my father in some discussion or the other…about politics, current affairs, sports, books…pretty much anything. And my old man ate it all up like candy to a kid. Even my mother was soon taken by him.
“Edo State no too far, so we go manage am like that!” she had quipped. It also didn’t hurt that he had a few pennies to his name. Not Ejiro kind of money, but enough for her to be assured I would be well taken care of.
The only person that was apprehensive was Voke.
“Hehn! Isio! You are dating someone who works in the same place as Pere?! Is that wise?”
“Abdul knows all about Pere, so what’s there?!” had been my own defiant response.
Voke had immediately seen through me. “Isio. I hope that’s not your only reason for dating this guy oh! To get back at Pere?”
“Have you seen Abdul at all? Have you seen how handsome and intelligent he is?! And you think I would have no other reason to be with him than to get back at that low life called Pere?!” I retorted. “Listen to yourself, Voke!”
The truth was, even if my original motive had been revenge for Pere, over the weeks, I had grown to genuinely love Abdul, and I soon got to the point where I didn’t think of Pere at all.
At least, not until that fateful day.
It was sometime in mid-April, and Abdul and I had been a couple for about four months. In all that time of dating, even though revenge on Pere had been my initial motivation, I hadn’t been able to bring myself to visit Abdul at work. Thankfully, he hadn’t asked me to either. But that Thursday afternoon, it was unavoidable, as I had to drop some documents he needed to process my visa to Malaysia, where his closest friend, Victor, was getting married. Abdul had asked me to accompany him, and I found it the perfect opportunity to meet his close friends and family…not to mention visit South East Asia. As we’d left it till last minute, I had no choice but to take the documents to his office myself that afternoon, as I didn’t quite want to entrust them in the hands of a courier. Voke was on leave, so I had driven her car to work.
Driving into the bank’s large premises, I called Abdul to let him know I was downstairs. There was no way I was going to risk going inside and bumping into Pere. It had been almost a year since our unfortunate encounter, and the last thing I wanted was to set my eyes on him then.
“I’ll be right down, baby. Maybe we can go for lunch from there? I hope you’re hungry.”
I smiled. “Lunch sounds perfect. My treat.”
“Being with you is a treat.” my boyfriend cooed back. He always knew the right things to say.
He was soon downstairs, and as he kissed my cheek, I caught sight of Pere walking out of the building. Our eyes met, and I could see in his first of all surprise and shock…before anger. Abdul noticed him as well, and from the sly smile that played on his face, I knew my boyfriend was up to no good.
“Hey, Asari!” he called, beckoning to Pere.
Pere hesitated for a minute, before reluctantly making his way to us.
“Why do you keep calling him that?” I asked Abdul under my breath, referencing his continued way of addressing Pere ‘Asari-Dokubo’, even though I knew it had everything to do with him being from the Niger Delta.
“Yes, Sir.” Pere mumbled, when he was before us.
“Asari, my girlfriend says she knows you.” Abdul said mischievously, obviously enjoying himself. “Do you know her?”
Pere’s face was expressionless, save for the slight flare of his nostrils. He nodded slightly. “Yes, I do.”
“It’s such a small world, isn’t it!” Abdul continued, grinning. “Isn’t she the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen in your life?!”
Pere looked at me, his face deadpan. “She’s gorgeous.”
“She is, isn’t she?” Abdul said, his smile dimming slightly as he observed Pere. “Anyways, could you do me a favour? Go to my office and help me grab my jacket, suitcase and the folders on my desk. I’m taking my girlfriend out for lunch…and let’s just say it might be a long one.” he ended this with a wink, and I saw Pere’s jaw clench.
“What are you doing?!” I asked Abdul, when Pere had entered the building.
Abdul laughed. “Just having a little fun, Isio. You don’t know how it’s been eating me up every time I see him…knowing he was once with you. Allow me this once chance to at least have a little fun!”
Before I could answer, Pere returned with Abdul’s things. “Here you go, Sir.”
“Oh, one more thing, Asari.” Abdul called out, as Pere walked away. “Take my girlfriend’s car to the staff car park. We’ll be riding in mine.”
With that, he threw my car keys to Pere, who caught the bunch swiftly. This time, there was a small smile on Pere’s face.
“Yes, Sir.” he answered, and to me, he gave a small bow. “Ma.”
Just then, Abdul’s driver pulled up with his car, and as he helped me into it, I could still feel Pere’s steely gaze on me. A part of me wanted to fist pump the air in triumph, but a bigger part of me felt bad about humiliating him that way.
Thankfully, lunch went well and by the time Abdul dropped me at home later that evening (his driver had already brought Voke’s car home), I had been able to stop feeling so guilty about the encounter.
“Voks, you should have seen Pere’s face!” I giggled later that night, finally able to enjoy reliving what had happened. “He wanted to enter the ground!”
“That’s nice.” Voke answered half-heartedly.
I looked at my sister. Something was not quite right.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She sighed deeply, before fishing out her phone and handing it to me. On the screen were screenshots of chat bubbles.
“I got them from Obiora’s phone.” she said. “There’s one Ijeoma girl that has been flirting with him. She sends him messages constantly, and calls him all the time.”
“Whaaaat?!” I exclaimed. I read the messages in the chat bubbles, and was enraged by how brazenly the Ijeoma girl was flirting. From Obiora’s response, he wasn’t quite leading her on, but he wasn’t warding her off either.
“Why can’t he tell her to buzz off?!” I exclaimed angrily. “Who is this heifer anyway?!”
“One small girl in Medilag. I’ve asked around and she’s probably about 21, 22 years old or so.” she sighed again. “Obiora seems to be enjoying all the attention, and even though he says there’s nothing going on, I can’t help but wonder if his family won’t convince him that an Igbo girl, one who will even soon be a Doctor, won’t be better for him in the long run.”
I thought about the over 10 years my sister had already invested in that relationship, and I knew there was no way I was going to allow that to happen! All thoughts of Pere and Abdul pushed away, I knew it was time to teach this so-called Ijeoma a lesson!
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
Catch up on our other series here: