Grace returned into the room, looking depressed as though she had just lost a battle to someone inferior to her. She stared at him, making him what his fate was because the others didn’t follow her. At that point, Bidemi had to look away when he saw the way she was dressed, which despite its supposed simplicity was still seductive to him.
‘Have you eaten?’ She asked wearily.
Her words made his hunger rush back at him as if her words were open-portal for them. The pang of hunger struck him, but this time painfully than the other times. He gritted and tried to make his hunger-reflecting eyes not reveal his pain to her inquisitive stare. After some times he had to remove his gaze from Grace’s and look elsewhere as he began to feel the strong desire to hold her, to kiss her, to watch her forever, and be with her forever.
As if cued about his family, Grace came to him, lifted his head and held it still to look directly at her gaze. His body tingled the moment her finger touched his head, which was rigged with artificial fingernails He knew better than to allow his head remain in her head, so he wriggle and tried to release his head from her hand. But she held his head still. He succumbed. At that moment, he agreed that he had a feeling for her deep down but had been suppressing it all these while it because he did not want to love a bad girl. She whispered now, trying not to speak above the whisper as if she did not want Pearl to hear her voice, as if her voice would cause the underground to fall on them.
‘Have you eaten?’
He wanted to tell her to get lost, but his stomach rumbled.
‘I will give you food, on the condition that you will allow me kiss you for close to a minute’.
He exhaled loudly, then made a mocking laughing sound, and, finally, burst into laughter.
‘Food for kiss’, he said, making Pearl’s head jolt towards him and Grace. He wanted to tell her to go away but his hunger would not allow him. Everybody in his class knew that when he was hungry, he would have a little problem. He remembered the day he was making a presentation, and fainted on stage because he had not eating his breakfast, and lunch as they were having the class in the evening of that day.
‘Ok…’ He said, he would kiss her, but not passionlessly. He saw Pearl’s mouth opened but he overlooked it. He could do anything to get a good food- so far it wasn’t illegal.
. ‘ There is another condition to it’, she said, standing straight, still looking worried. Her creased face made him prepare himself for something bad.
‘Sparrow will take a video coverage of me kissing you’, she muttered with a trembling voice as one of her finger softly traced line on his skin, causing him to flinch. He shook her hand off his body.
‘Well… They will see that I was tied ‘, he said trying to debunk her foolish act.
‘ Sparrow knows how to do it that it will look like you wanted to really meant’.
‘ But what is the essence?’ He asked dejectedly.
‘ Sparrow wants to be sure you are mine’.
‘ But I’m not yours and would never be. Not now. Not forever’.
Her eyes were desperate and sad.’ Why not do it and let it go?’
‘I can’t do that. I can’t even do it. It will tarnish my image in the department and tarnish my spiritual image. I can’t’.
‘But you would have done it behind walls’.
‘ Well..’ he said, looking away from her and staring at Pearl who looked at him as if not doing it would really please her, would give him the chance he wanted with her. Her eyes darted to Grace who had crouched in front of him, and with the way she stared at Grace one would think her eyes would crush Grace.
‘I wanted to give you a holy kiss’, Bidemi said.
Grace opened her mouth and exposed perfect white teeth, one of the few things Bidemi loved in humans.
‘Why not let us use the holy kiss for the picture’, she pleaded, her eyes going red as if Bidemi was failing a test that would send him out of the University. Bidemi shook his head.
‘ Please, let us do it’, she pleaded frightfully, her hands tightening on his leg.
‘ No and you are holding me tight o’.
Then she burst into tears. He wondered what was wrong with her.
‘ Are you alright?’ He asked angrily as she placed her head on his laps,’ get off me jare’.
‘ Bidemi, please do this’, she muttered the moment she raised her head. The glow in her eyes made his heart warm and almost pushed him to succumb to her wish, to make her happy even if it would be for once in a long time.
‘ I said no’…
She stood, moved back, and swallowed hard, sniffing as she trudged out.
Bidemi looked at Pearl and caught her looking away quickly from him, caught a victorious smile disappearing from her lips. He was happy to be able to overcome his worse flaw- hunger. His heart thumbed as the room was plunged into grave silence, even as the hunger returned. His stomach rumbled. The worms within him crawled from one part of the body to the other in search of food, made him wriggle. He imagined them complaining but he wouldn’t sacrifice his stomach for a public show of shame. Pearl leaned back in the chair as if to analyse the whole event, the ropes forming lines around her, like a zebra.
Grace entered again.
She was about to close the door, but seemed to decide against it, and opened it again. She peered outside as if checking for something. When the sound of a closing door entered the room, she withdrew inside.
‘Bidemi, Sparrow wants to kill you’.
Bidemi’s heart flipped. He became more attentive. Pearl’s head sprung forward .
‘ He did not even want to know why you are here’.
Bidemi swallowed hard. He wondered how it felt to die, to stop breathing, to lay calm, to stop living. Despite him not ever imagining he would die through gunshot, he still couldn’t conjure the feeling because that was what Sparrow would use. Grace’s influence seemed useless.
‘I tried everything, but he wouldn’t hear’, she said as if she could read his mind, ‘ he said since you did not love me in return that you have no covering over death’.
Bidemi batted his eyes severally. As he analysed what had just happened there. So, it was for everyone on earth. God created them, loved them and died (in the flesh for them) but not be able to do loving- back for us. As many that refused to love him would surely be scourged by Satan.
‘He allowed me to come back to plead with you to either kiss me for the video coverage and or die. I don’t want you to die’, she lamented, tears streamed down her face. Even the presence of others in the room didn’t make her pride rear its head.
Bidemi did not know what he wanted again, he wished to die on spot and go home- to heaven; wished to stay around and have the chance to talk to Pearl, and spend years appreciating her beauty; wished for many things at once. He looked at Grace again and smiled at himself. He decided to use the opportunity to salvage Grace’s beauty, wondering if he would ever allow her to stay alive if her beauty was as edible as chocolate.
‘Bidemi’, Pearl said, making Grace shudder. Pearl’s voice made a lovely tingling feeling pass through his body. ‘ Please, why not kiss her? Do it’.
Bidemi would have loved to do it at that moment, to gain her trust, to win her heart, to make her forgive him because he had failed her. He would have loved to do it so his heart could cling to hers forever without any fear it being detached, but he was tired of the world. A week before, his father had an accident almost took his life. That same week, the only girl he had seen as a friend, one that could stand to Grace for him died. The doctors said she died of food poisoning. Nothing had still being able to give him the right answer as to what was wrong with the system of the world and that of the country, Nigeria. Nothing could answer the numerous question about Nigeria that formed in his heart frequently, about how they would solve the portion of Nigeria even when little children were corrupt, upgrading their ancestor’s corruption.
Bidemi savored Pearl’s beauty, mesmerized himself in the alluring beauty of Grace and wished he could hold her in his hands to console her as he noticed she was crying.
‘ I can’t.. I don’t to do that’.
‘You shut up. He didn’t agree to me, how will he agree for you’, Grace grumbled.
‘ That’s because you didn’t know the right way’.
‘ So you are the know it all’.
‘ Yes, I know it all.. It’s a natural thing’.
‘ Shut up your mouth before I tear it off your head’.
‘ Grace, e don do?’ Bolu said.
‘ Leave me, mey I deal with the girl. Prostitute’.
‘ Who is a prostitute? Look at me very well’.
‘ Grace, e don do’ Bolu said as Grace moved towards Pearl.
‘ He never do. May I show this stupid husband snatcher’.
‘Who am I snatching from you? Even if I love him. He does not love. Can’t you see from everything he had been doing since’.
Grace moved near her, slapped her and stormed out of the room, banging the door behind her.
‘What is wrong with you?’ Pearl said to him,’ can’t you think straight?’
He stared at the door.
‘ Do you hate her that much?’ She asked, making him look at her sadly.
‘ I do not hate her’, he said, turning his head to face her, ‘I love her, and I do not want to. I’ve fallen for you also, and I can’t live with conflicting mind’.
What was the essence of keeping such a thing in one’s mind when one can say it as a goodbye speech. Pearl opened her mouth and closed it severally. She gave him a glassy stare. She was speechless. Bidemi was not sure which of the news was disturbing her. He didn’t know if she was questioning about his declaration of love for Grace or his declaration of love for her.
Now, he wished Sparrow would open the door, come to him, and shoot him so that he would forget everything he had said. Nothing would make him happier at this time like disappearing out of the room, maybe because as handsome as he was, he had never told any lady he loved them except of course a girl named Tania who he later discovered was his half-sister. So, the word that poured out of his mouth made him wish he had put off the phone, wish those network providers hadn’t call, wish he had not forgotten his phone, and wish many things.
‘ So… You love her’, she said, pouting.
Bidemi understood his word would bring the worse out of her, so he braced himself for whatever she wanted to say.
Now, that he had declared his love for Grace, he think he would prefer a known devil to an unknown angel-Pearl.
‘I think so’, he said delaying his response. He tilted his head to the left and paused, ‘I think so’.
‘ So kiss her’.
He vigorously shook his head, his face tightening as he thrust his chin upward and cocked his eyebrow.
‘ I can’t’, he said, ‘ especially for a video coverage’.
‘ Then, you are a hypocrite’, she said as she pinched her lips together, and rolled her eyes.
‘ Well… That’s what you think ‘.
‘ Okay… If it’s true you are liking me. Stay alive for me’.
Bidemi wanted to laugh at this. He wished he could do it for her, she was beautiful and well mannered unlike Grace, but he was tired of the world.
The only house they relied on as a family was bulldozed, leaving his family to look for another house. The previous day, a stray bullet that was meant to kill him killed a dog beside him. He preferred to die than sin against God. He wondered if he was dying out of love for God or out of his own pride. He convinced himself that what she wanted him to do was a sin against God. Nothing is more useless than him tarnishing the name of God because of his life. He would rather lose his life than save it for an illicit act.
‘ I’m not doing it’.
‘ What’s wrong with you?’ Pearl said. Her voice had reduced because of her depression. ‘ So, you want to die and leave me here?’
‘I’ve not been of any use to you, so why bother you by staying alive’.
Bidemi was ready to die and to help his family. He was tired of others dying for him. Jesus died for him; the dog died for him; his new girlfriend died for him. He was ready to die, at least for a good cause. He would be happy to reduce the number of mouths his parents were feeding and it will not be suicide.
The door opened.
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