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The blue sky was clear, cloudless, not entirely, an after effect of the rainstorm early that morning. Cool icy wind blew, hitting the skin with a firm grip. The street was empty. Different colours of houses lined both sides of the road. Some were decorated with palm trees, variety of flowers, plants, while others stood out with artworks on the walls and sculptures. He stopped the car outside the white house with a big black gate and honked thrice. He heard the sound of metal. The security guard in green and white uniform poked his head out. He was a short man in his mid-forties. He retreated into the compound and opened the gate.
�Good morning sir,� the man stood aside and waved.
He waved back in acknowledgement and drove in. He parked the silver Prado jeep alongside three other cars and killed the engine. He picked the black polythene bag on the front seat and alighted from the vehicle. He closed the door and locked it. He sneezed thrice and thought of a hot bath. It would chase the cold away he reasoned. He turned around and headed for the one storey building. A tall slim figure raced out of the ground floor flat towards him.
�Uncle Bassey, Uncle Bassey, welcome�� she tried to collect the bag in his hand, but he wouldn�t let go.
�You can�t carry it. It is heavy. Thank you,� he tried to smile.
�Where did you go this morning? You left while it was raining.�
He kept on walking. Was she monitoring him?
�Did you go to work? I thought you hardly go to work on Saturdays, except when there is an emergency.�
He glanced at her. When did she start to keep tabs on him? Wasn�t she too young to be nosy? The dark skinned eighteen year old girl towered over him with an inch. Her slim frame looked athletic in the blue jeans and red short-sleeve blouse.
�Uncle Bassey, I think I will study Dentistry like you. You make a lot of money. You drive a very expensive car, you are living in a three bedroom posh apartment in Ikeja G.R.A, and you run your own dental clinic. How old are you? You are a rich young man.�
What in the world!
He halted and looked at her closely. Was that how she saw him, a rich young dentist with an expensive car and a posh apartment? It had not always been that way. One doesn�t become successful in a day.
�Young woman, you should really think about what you want to study. Do not use anybody�s success or failure as a yardstick.�
She beamed at him, white teeth, rosy cheek, dove eyes.
Was she even listening to him at all? �Chinyere!�
�Hmmm�� she blinked, all her thoughts cleared.
He shook his head. She had not heard a thing. He walked past her and stepped into the building. She ran after him.
�Uncle Bassey, how old are you?�
He grunted, �None of your business.�
She walked beside him, marching his speed with quick steps of her own, �Come on, we are neighbours. I am� I am like your sister.�
�You are not my sister,� he eyed her and went up the stairway.
�I know. How old are you?� she followed him.
�You are eighteen years old, add seventeen to that.�
She stopped and pondered. Her eyes widened with realization. Her hand flew to her mouth and her eyes turned pale. She bit at her lower lip and climbed the stairs to the first floor.
�You are like, almost� twice my age.�
He placed the bag on the floor and fished out the door key from the bunch of keys attached to the key-holder, �I am old enough to be your father.�
�You are not my father!� her dark eyes flashed with anger.
He caught a glimpse of her and opened the door. He lifted the bag and walked in, �Have a superb weekend.�
He turned around.
�Can I come in?� her pleading eyes held his expressionless ones.
She folded her arms across her bosom.
�Go home. You mama needs you.�
She eyed him, �My mama is sleeping.�
�Bye Chinyere,� he shut the door and locked it. He carried the bag into the kitchen and dropped it in the sink. It was a good thing that he had
gone to the abattoir early that morning. He had been able to purchase different parts of cow, goat and ram meat. He would be able to make enough soup and stew that would last him for a week or more.
His work at the dental clinic had taken a demanding turn due to the number of people that patronized the place. He was able to hire a doctor, a dentist by profession, who had been like a pillar of support for him in the past three months. He had also employed another nurse. The work load had taken a bad toll on the only nurse in the clinic. Now, she wasn�t alone again. While working at Lagos University Teaching Hospital a few years back, he had never thought he would set up his own clinic, although it had always been his dream. It was when his parents� Calabar restaurant boomed and became a household name that the idea really came to life within him. He believed that before the year ran out, he would be able to set up another clinic in Abuja. If Jesus tarries, by the time he was forty; his dental clinics should be all over the country.
The door-bell rang. His thoughts faded. He turned off the tap at the sink and wiped his wet hands with a napkin hanging on the kitchen window. He hoped it wasn�t Chinyere. She could be a pain in the neck at times. He wasn�t expecting anyone that day. The only person that showed up at his place unannounced was his younger sister. If she was the one at the door, he would drive her away. He cannot stress and cook while someone else would devour the whole thing. She loved spending her weekends with him. It had become a routine after his fianc�e broke up with him. His sister had taken care of him until he was emotionally ready to return to work. Those six months had been unbearable. If not for her, his apartment would have turned into a pigsty. Nevertheless, it didn�t give her the right to raid his kitchen whenever she visited. He strode out of the kitchen and walked towards the front door. He peeped through the door hole and saw his neighbour�s daughter. His brows came together in a frown. He unlocked the door and opened it.
�What are you still doing here?� his stern voice didn�t dissuade her.
�I want to stay with you.�
�Go home,� he glared at her.
�Uncle, please now,� her eyes became misty.
He hissed, took her by the hand and dragged her towards the stairway.
He raced down the stairs, pulling her along. She tried to break free from his grip, but he tightened his hold on her. He halted outside her flat and pressed the door bell.
�Let me go!�
He released her and pressed the bell again. The door flew open and a woman in her early forties stepped out.
�Chinyere, where have you been?�
The girl pouted, stamped her feet and went in.
�I have been looking for this girl�� the woman hissed and looked at him, �Good morning doctor.�
�Morning Madam,� he turned around and returned to his flat. He met two of his neighbours at his door. They lived directly opposite his flat. He
groaned and looked heavenwards.
Oh God� not today.
�Good morning doctor,� they chorused.
�Morning,� he feigned a smile.
�Do you have salt?� the darker and taller one grinned.
�Me I need sugar,� the other squeaked.
He had left his door wide open. His neighbour�s daughter was responsible.
He walked into his flat with gritted teeth and the ladies scurried after him.
�Men, I like coming to your flat. It is so organized,� she looked around her.
�Organized with class,� the darker one settled on a leather chair facing the 40� flat screen LG television.
�Anyone that marries you is lucky�� the other danced around the room, touching and sniffing everything.
�Doctor Bassey, you live like a king,� she winked at him and parted her dark long legs. The purple mini skirt she was wearing barely covered
her lumpy thighs. The matching lilac blouse barely covered her chest.
He looked away in disgust. He had no interest in women who lay all their cards out in the open like wares for sale.
�This is my dream house men,� the other sat beside her friend and flashed him a smile. Her shorts which could hardly be called shorts was similar to a granny pantie, but tighter. Her red blouse could hardly carry her heavy chest. Everything was hanging out like over-ripe plantain.
Did he make a mistake by renting the flat? Since the day he moved in, his female neighbours had been after him like flies hovering over faeces. His neighbour�s daughter wouldn�t give him a breathing space and these ones wanted his attention at all cost. He could never date the likes of them.
If his fianc�e had not called off the wedding, he would have been happily married by now.
�Halima, Simisola, I am kind of busy right now.�
�Doctor�� Halima cooed, adjusted her blouse and ran her hands over her thighs in a slow motion.
Irritation crawled all over him. He turned away and clenched his teeth.
�Doctor Bassey�� Simisola got up, walked up to him and squeezed her heavy bosom. She smiled and blinked her fake long lashes.
He coughed and held the door knob. The girls exchanged glances and chuckled. They walked sluggishly and blew him kisses before stepping out of the apartment. He kicked the door shut with his leg and returned to the kitchen.
I should have been married by now. All this kind of nonsense would have been avoided. This is torture.
He turned on the tap at the sink and continued to clean the red meat. He switched his thoughts to the kind of soup he wanted to prepare that morning
…To be continued