Besides two preplanned social activities and the Ryder Cup golf tournament, I spent my weekend devouring an anthology, “Nigeria in the Twentieth Century,” edited by one of Nigeria’s truly greats scholars, Professor Toyin Falola. And of course there were the weekend dailies and political news shows; and then the catching up with friends and relatives (on the phone). I also have a Sunday ritual: pounded yam with goat meat marinated in egusi soup, downed with two bottles of imported beer.
To the extent that thisconfession is about Wrong Number, well, let me just say that for whatever reason, she did not cross my mind, even though I had spent a considerable amount of time with her on the phone a few days ago, talking about whatever it was we talked about. In earlier times I would have spent the weekend in a floating state — all giddy and flustered and wide-eyed in anticipation of such a call. Not this time. No; not this time. And I don’t know why I didn’t. Or why I wasn’t. It could be a sign of the time. It could be me. It could be anything. Somehow, I just didn’t think of her.
I didn’t think of Amanda until Monday when I was on my way to work. I am a cook in a town where some of the most powerful people make their living. They also display their power and intensions and hubris. Five days a week — from the moment I wake up until the time I walk into my kitchen — I juggle different menus in my head. I think of seafood and wine and steaks and cheese and vegetables. I think of how to make them one and whole. I am not sure whether it is appropriate to make the analogy between cooking and painting and idyllic coitus. Fitting or not, I’ll tell you this: culinary art, in the proper setting, is soulful. It has this divine and amorous feeling to it.
Because I didn’t give her my cell phone number, my thinking was that she would call when the night is almost over. After all, the first time she called, she called right around midnight. If she calls me before midnight, well, my voicemail would be waiting. You know, there is something about my voicemail: depending on what day of the week you call, you might hear the music of Haruna Ishola, The Oriental Brothers, Fella Anikulapo or Rex Lawson. Or even the theme song from “Debbie Does Dallas.” Believe it or not, there are people who call my voicemail over and over and over when Debbie is on. Just as I was thinking and wondering about her, my phone rang. It was Amanda! Oh Jesus, it was Amanda. Not that Amanda; but Amanda, the assistant general manager at the hotel.
The Charlie Rose Show was about to come on when my home phone rang. I let it ring three times and then four times. Suddenly, I felt a slight tremor rippling through my vein and my heart. And so I let the phone ring six times. And then it stopped ringing after the ninth ring. I turned off the television, turned off the light, drew the curtains and then went to sleep. And then the phone rang again and again and again and forever. And then I said, “Hello Amanda…how are you!”
And she said, “Hi Sabella…how was your day…I am only going to be with you for a minute or so. My man needs my attention. However, my best friend, Aimee-Zoë, is on the other line. Aimee, say hello to Sabella…” We all said our hellos and the customary pleasantries lasting three minutes or so. And then Amanda signed off.
Aimee-Zoë and I carried on with the conversation without missing a beat. We talked and talked and talked some more. And we laughed. And Moaned. And Giggled. And chuckled. I felt her breath and warm handshakes. I felt her embrace. I felt her humanity and brilliance of mind. And I thought she was beautiful; but before long, I concluded she must be stunningly beautiful (a fact she confirmed by sending me, by way of instant email, five of her most recent pictures). We talked some more. And talked for hours!
After three years of romantic wilderness, of friends-with-benefits and of touch-and-go…This could lead somewhere…it could, if…Sadly, there is a snag: she is a pious and dedicated Christian. I am a self-righteous agnostic.
But what were we talking about? What did we talk about? Folks, it is all confidential. But suffice to say it was juicy and sweet and loving.
Who knows…may be next Monday…I may “kiss and tell.” May be…May be on Monday…
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