“Cash money!” “Cash money!” They hailed you. It made you feel good. You were on top of the world and you ordered another round of beer. You told Usoro, the busty sales girl to replace the empty green bottles with fresh ones. You watched her backside shake in rhythm as she moved to the counter. It was what had attracted you. She was your bed mate two nights ago—the first Calabar girl you’d had. You smiled.
Your thoughts darted back to Uduak, the fair slender one you met during the Ilorin NUGA tournament. Your friends had told you stories about people of her ethnicity. Sex machines, that was what they called them. You watched her every move as she punched the ball and made digs in the volley ball game. You watched her braids dangle as she jumped, landed, ran and paced around the volley ball court. You formed a mental image of Uduak’s naked body—her butt bouncing and vibrating and her boobs shaking.
You remember using your best lines and playing Mr. Cool and later playing Mr. Bad Guy. You even showered her with gifts. But Uduak, politely refused to grace your bed.
“But why are they like that. I hear about their exploits in the bedroom all the time?” You asked.
“They eat four-o-four and it affects them, making them behave like bitches. ”
Solomon’s reply to your question elicited laughter. You almost choked as you giggled, when you recollected that four-o-four was a popular expression for dog meat.
“I grew up in Calabar, so I know what I am talking about.” He boasted.
“Let’s not ridicule them,” you tried to speak in their defense, before Katung interrupted.
“Ridicule? Man, who doesn’t want a good bang?” He asked. “The fact is that they are good, and they are every man’s delight,” Katung said. You all laughed once again.
Ike stood up to their defense. “Their girls are not materialistic like our Igbo girls. They love and give their all. It’s not just in bed. They give their all in domestic chores. In the kitchen…”
“O yes! Edikaikong and Afang soup.” Solomon interrupted. “You may be right Ike, but we cannot deny the fact that they are sexy and can do it well.”
You stylishly puffed out the smoke of your cigarette and received cheers from your friends. Usoro brushed her breasts on your shoulders as she bent to drop the drinks on the table. You loved the feeling. But you carefully looked at your right side to make sure Clara would not notice.
Your beer bottle was chilled. You ran a line on the mist covered bottle with your index finger. Water rolled down from the sides of the line you drew. You watched the shiny bubbles in the glass cup as you poured out your drink.
Your phone rang. And Clara was curious to identify the caller, but you quickly grabbed your phone and placed it beside your left ear. From the corner of your eyes, you could see she was straining to hear.
“Daa good evening,” you greeted. It was a conversation that required a quiet place, so you stood up gesturing Clara that you would be back.
She smiled to you because she knew Daa was your way of addressing all of your elder sisters. You had learned to cautiously answer your phone or put it in a silent mode when she was around, after she had vowed to fight the other girls in your life.
“Sister, please listen to me. I make sure Daddy takes his medication. The house is at the roofing stage now. Biko, it is just that my final year thesis is taking a lot of my time and money.”
Your sister was furious. She had been told about your frivolous life on campus and was aware that most of the money she and your other siblings had sent to you were not properly used.
You felt uneasy. You remembered that you had not paid your school fees for the semester. It was the same for the previous semester. You had tipped the accounts officer that came to the hall asking for the receipts.
You remember the financial pledge you made at the Omega club. Clara had just told you about her difficulty in getting her school fees from her parents. You needed to dole out cash to your thesis supervisor. Emeka, your classmate, who did most of the research work for you had threatened not to proceed with chapters four and five if you didn’t pay up. There was also the money you needed for entertaining your boys.
You were meant to receive some money from Daa Ezenwanyi, your eldest sister, through Western Union. Now, you are worried that Daa Oyidiya who you had just spoken to might poison her mind. Both your sisters are registered nurses in the United States.
You did not know when you started sweating profusely as you made various excuses and alibis in a bid to convince Daa on the phone. You told her that all she had been hearing were lies. But she bared the facts to you and while you stammered and unknowingly implicated yourself as you responded, your hatred for whoever gave her steady information grew.
For the first time, you felt helpless because your lies failed to help you. Daa Oyidiya had just dealt you a big and unexpected blow. From telling her she was being misinformed you suddenly changed like a chameleon and began giving reasons for all your actions.
You had staged the most talked about party on campus after your final paper, and Daa Oyidiya told you how it held for two nights with so much booze, marijuana, food and strippers hired from Benin City.
You often boasted to your friends about how you paid Clara’s school fees and gave her an allowance. Your Daa knew this and reminded you of how Clara almost died from complications after undergoing an abortion for you.
You felt like a piece of garbage when she reminded you that she was aware that the building project had not gotten to the lintel stage even though you claimed the builders had started roofing it.
She brought your cult membership. You joined the “fine boys” for protection and respect and had escaped death twice. Daa Oyidiya knew about all this and even told you the name of your brotherhood.
She knew how you struggled with your grades and paid other students to take carry-over courses for you. She called names, places and even reminded you of when such things happened.
Only recently you were released from detention after being exonerated from a kidnap ring. Your closest friends were implicated. Thank God Daa Oyidiya knew nothing about that one.
From the corner of your eyes you could see Clara walking to where you leaned dejectedly on a wall. You felt like pushing her away even before she got near to where you were. You turned your back on her when she got a foot close to you.
“Honey, you have been out for long. Is everything okay?” Clara said softly with worry written all over her face.
“Don’t honey me!” You blurted out.
You walked past her and headed back to the table. Katung, Ike, Solomon and others all had their eyes on you. But you ignored them and beckoned on Usoro to give you the bill. Usoro was shocked that you were leaving the place so soon. She held off on trying to convince you to drink more when she saw the look on your face.
Your phone rang. It was Daa Ezenwanyi this time. You knew Daa Oyidiya must have hinted her everything. It was going to be another hell of a phone call. But you saw it as an excuse to get away from your worried friends. You waved them as you moved some distance away with your phone glued to your ears.
“Cash money! cash money! cash money!” Daa Ezenwanyi called you, thrice over the phone, in a very mocking tone.
“Daa biko gbaharawannu, ” you begged her, telling her how you regretted your lifestyle.
“Amam ihem ga isi ghi gboo, ” she said, heaving a sigh. She could only find a few words because she was angry.
“Daa, please I will make up…”
“You are nothing but an ingrate. If you like, continue with your irresponsibility. Get lost!” She shouted, interrupting you. And the phone went dead.
You wished the ground could open and swallow you. You thought about your room. You needed a quiet place to be all alone.
Usoro was close by. She stretched her hand to show you the bill. You handed her some Naira notes and gestured to her to keep the change. She shook her backside as she walked away, but you did not savor it this time. It looked like poison to you.
You tried to figure out who informed your sister about your escapades. Somebody in the brotherhood had betrayed and revealed everything to your family. Your head ached as you drove back home. Your worry was not about fishing out your traitor but about regaining your sisters’ trust.
You remembered your accumulated debts. And right then you knew Cash Money was finished.
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