ZIKI’S DISTRESS #2 (SHORT STORY)
The Story so Far:
In the first episode of this story, Ziki was suddenly kicked out by his girlfriend after five years of co-habitation. How does he cope without the luxury of being a gigolo? Let us hear from him below.
I’M NOT THERE YET, BUT I’M MOVING FORWARD
Five months months later
I can’t believe how hot the sun can be! I used to describe myself as brown-skinned and you couldn’t dispute that when I stayed with Yvette. But now, the sun has burnt me black and my cheeks are close to gaunt. I have just a few decent clothes left. And my money is all gone. How did that happen?
When I left Yvette’s duplex at Anthony Village, a cool Lagos neighbourhood, the first thing I did was send N80,000 home for my mum’s medical treatment. My brother had been shouldering the burden all alone. To think that it took a disaster like the one that hit me to make me actually do something for my mum!
I avoided my brother as I’d been doing since I moved out of his house. Rather I called one of my school mates, Tare, and he welcomed me into his efficiency apartment at Oshodi, Lagos. We were smack in the middle of Lagos chaos, with hoodlums called Area Boys, traffic jams and blaring vehicle horns. Tare had a job as a teacher in a private school. We were of the same height and build (5 ft 9″ and slender.). He began to wear my clothes to school. I couldn’t say “No.” After all, he was sheltering me. But I kept him away from my suits, except on Sundays. I was traversing Lagos too in search of a job. Well, when two busy guys are sharing the same wardrobe, the clothes are bound to feel the impact. Add that to the fact that my costly clothes that were drycleaned at Yvette’s expense haven’t taken kindly to constant washing with bar soap.
I also needed to contribute to food. Between transporting himself to school and paying rent, Tare had little left of his N30,000 salary. So I stepped in and started putting decent meals on the table. You can’t believe how fast a hundred grand can go when you do that. I bought poultry, liquid milk and semolina, you know stuff like that which I had got accustomed to. I also bought fragrant imported toiletries, serviettes and so on. I was determined to live well until I got a job. Tare and I ran through the whole stuff in less than two weeks.
(Related: My Penny-pinching Husband)
I came down to powdered milk, garri, Joy soap, etc. to be more realistic. They still cut deeply into my pocket. There’s just no way to manage in this country. No matter how low you go, you’ll still be wiped out, I’m telling you!
So here I am, five months later, jobless and penniless. Yvette had called after the second month and offered to take me back and for a moment, I was tempted ’cause let’s face it, Yvette is the bomb: classy, intelligent, beautiful and rich (underline rich). But I held on to my dignity. If she could kick me to the kerb without notice once, what’s to say she wouldn’t do it again? And I’d had time to think about it and decided I really didn’t want to marry her. Although I doubted I could ever have a woman like her again, I figured that since I wasn’t bringing much to the table, I would always be her slave. A pampered slave though, but a slave nonetheless. That wasn’t healthy.
Looking back, I can see that my other liaisons were meant to give me the experience of being in control which was totally lacking in my relationship with Yvette. A man has got to be in control, otherwise he’s gonna overcompensate in some way like cheating, verbally or physically abusing his woman. Just my point of view anyway.
Back to the present. I’m sitting outside our compound (I have no money to photocopy credentials for job-hunting. I haven’t even had breakfast and it is past noon.) Even though I am under a tree, the heat from the sun has my shirt soaking wet. As I pull it off, a fellow with some flyers approaches me.
He gives me one and announces: “We’re having a special outreach in church this night.”
“Yeah, I don’t have anything better to do.” He thinks I’m being sarcastic. “I mean, I will come. I hope it’s close.”
He peps up. “It’s right by the corner. The time is 9 p.m.You would really come?”
“Yeah, sure! That is if I don’t kill myself before then.”
“Hey man, that is not something to joke about!”
“Who says I’m joking?”
“Can I sit?”
“Sure.” He joins me on the wooden bench and asks why I would want to kill myself. He seems sincere enough, so I tell him the story of my life. I expect him to give me a long sermon on how Jesus will turn my story to glory or one of those clichés but he doesn’t.
“That is some story! Quite similar to mine three years ago.” I have no desire to hear his story. Thankfully, he doesn’t share it. Rather, he asks me an unexpected question.
“Have you eaten today?” I’d told him I couldn’t find a job and I’d run out of money but I didn’t mention not having breakfast.
“So, let’s go and eat at Mama Philo’s.”
Mama Philo’s is a restaurant two houses away. I agree and this fellow, who looks to be about my age (early thirties) buys me a double plate of garri with okro soup and beef. He also buys a double plate of jollof rice with fried fish for me to take home.
(When I earlier said I would honour the invitation, I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure I would but by the time we parted, I decided I would definitely be there and take Tare along if possible.)One wise decision can change the course of a man's life for good. #quote Click To Tweet
After three months
At the risk of sounding trite, I must say that that programme marked a turning point in my life. I took a job which I would have considered an insult in the past, pounding yam and cassava fufu at Mama Philo’s. The pay was N7,000 but I got free food. After one month, I became a janitor in an office complex. Not good enough for a guy with a degree in Chemistry but at least I could feed myself. The pay was N20,000. And just three days ago, I was hired to work in the Quality Control Department of a manufacturing company. Salary: N80,000.
(Related: From Bait to Catch)
The best news of all is that I am now a child of God. And so is Tare. I bear Yvette no ill will. I hear she’s now married and I wish her happiness. I just hope she didn’t do it to spite me though because it happened so soon after she asked me back. I also pray she meets the Lord someday because I learnt first hand from being with her that money can’t buy happiness.
Something else my relationship with her taught me is that what is not yours is not yours no matter how much you’re allowed to use it. In God’s good time, I will have my own wife, a nice house and a car. Meanwhile, I am grateful for what God has brought me through. And by His grace, I will keep moving forward from glory to glory, as the Bible says.
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2017
Would love to hear from you.
Do you think Ziki was right in refusing to go back to Yvette, even though he was suffering and she could have provided him with lots of comfort?
Do you agree with Ziki that, “A man has got to be in control, otherwise he’s gonna overcompensate in some way like cheating, verbally or physically abusing his woman”?
Could the offer of food to Ziki have been inspired and instrumental to getting him to church?
What advice do you have for Ziki at this point?
Any word for Yvette?
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