… continued from Part Nine.
Tony was wide awake now. Faintly on his consciousness registered themselves the peripheral sounds of morning. Over the fence, the neighbour’s pestle was hitting and rolling in the mortar with a quick rhythmic thumping, smooth but noisy, legacy of innumerable generations.
Tony purred like a cat and sighed again into the bright rays of the eager morning sun. Last night’s surprise rain had tinged this morning’s harmattan with the soothing touch of sweet wet bliss.
In the backyard, or from the boys’ quarters, came the voice of the radio. Full of mixed opinions, it jumped from one topic to another like a mad and wise and, above all, delirious mind.
He listened a bit, but his interest soon slipped away from there and reluctantly focused on the issue of Ngozi. It was something he did not want to think about for the simple reason that he did not know what to think about it, how to handle it. So, yet again, like he had done the previous evening when Ada told him of her encounter with Ngozi, he rolled it carefully along the periphery of his thoughts for a few thinking seconds and then pushed it away and began to reflect instead on what 1999, only six days away now, would have to offer.
With this turn of his thoughts, suddenly he heard and perceived the sounds and smells of Yuletide again.
Christmas period in Lagos. No wonder the sun was so bright.
The radio had overcome its indecisiveness and settled down to singing Boney M Christmas songs. Songs that had accompanied him, Christmas after Christmas, from childhood into the harsh forests of adulthood. Songs of which he never tired.
There is no time like Christmas.
A knock on the door and Ada barged in, smelling of a happy, busy kitchen.
“Tah lah!” she called in a sing-song voice, half-skipping in and throwing her arms wide open the way she did almost every morning, as if to say “I’m here!”
And she said: “It’s me again!”
“I perceive that it has not yet come to your notice that my door now swings, and most precariously so indeed, on only one hinge. It would be good to wonder why.”
Ada burst out laughing.
“A mystery for Hercule Poirot,” she replied between laughs.
“Even Hercule couldn’t solve this one. Only you can – with a simple confession; or, rather, admission.”
“Confessions are for convicted felons. As a rule, one should only confess when all the evidence point irrefutably against one. As for admissions, I leave that to presidents and the like.”
“You’ve changed o, you this woman! You now talk like a ring-leader.”
She laughed again.
“Ring-leader of what?”
“Of the things that have ring-leaders. There are many of them. They are always getting caught everyday. Infact, most channels make it a point of duty, as is easy to verify, to show us arrested ring-leaders at least once every week – ”
“And to showcase the unarrested ones at least once everyday,” she added dryly.
“You can’t blame them, when they have nothing else to show.”
“Television is all about advertising –” she began, with the voice of a school-teacher.
“So they’re advertising your fellow-ringleaders. You should be rejoicing. You people have taken over the world.”
“Yes, you should know. Aren’t you the one always watching T.V.?”
Now he growled and jumped out of bed. He found himself laughing although she had just digged him again on a sore spot. He raised his clenched fists and began to bounce. She raised hers too and circled him.
“Ah, do you think it’s all this silly bouncing? It’s not like that, you have to be cool. Approach, let me teach you a painful lesson.”
“I knew today would start with a morale-booster. I just never thought it would be this good – bestowing you with a swollen countenance. But let me apologise in advance –”
As he was talking she rushed forward with jabs.
“Wait wait wait – ” he ran back and began to bounce again. “Hm, I’m warning you o! What! Are you laughing at me?? Ok!”
Now they began to shadow-box in earnest, but made no contact, pulling all punches just before impact, until he began to breathe harder and then leaned against a table.
A worried look immediately came into her eyes.
“How do you feel now? I thought you said –”
“Yes, I’m fine,” he sighed. “I’ve recovered, but I’m still weak physically.”
“You fall ill too often.”
“That’s my destiny.”
They looked at each other without speaking, for a while. Then,
“I’m hungry. Ọkwọ Yuletide bonus is on the culinary way.”
“Hm! Mchm!… ” She made sounds not easy to spell and started to walk out of the room. “When Yuletide comes, you can ask him for your bonus! Me, I’m making my own normal breakfast. If you don’t want to eat it, no problem … But don’t let me catch you near the kitchen!”
He knew she was teasing. Something special was on the way.
“Ah-ah. Am I surprised?” he called after her through the door she’d left customarily ajar. “What else can one truly and honestly expect of a village-apparition…”
Her laughter floated back in, and he smiled too.
… continued in Part 11.
– AKA TERAKA.
If you want to skip the excerpts and read the full story of this delicate, subtle love story, the novella is availaable on
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Available from December 2013.
TWICE IS NOT ENOUGH.