Badoo’s lover kept calling for over two years after her death.
Since the interment, they had not missed their daily bedtime phone conversations—just the way it was since they started dating.
The only time they missed the daily routine were the days between her death and her burial.
She first called on the night of the burial. He thought he was hallucinating.
He blamed it on the herbs he had been given by Pa Fakunle.
The loss had taken its toll on his health. The herb, he was told, would help him calm down.
He was on the herb (tasted a bit like lime and lemon) for a week. Indeed it helped him calm down.
He knew it had nothing to do with hallucinations when she called the second night, a rainy night, and he had to put his phone on speaker because the elements made it hard for her to be clearly heard.
That night Badoo was not sure how long his mother had been listening before she called his name. Sade ended the call as soon as she heard his mother call his name.
He was in his boxer shorts on the bed, facing the ceiling, until her mother’s towering figure filled the space before him: “She sounded so much like Sade. Is that her sister?”
“Yes.” He lied. “It is her sister.”
“I didn’t know she had a sister. How come she was not at the burial?”
Badoo exhaled deeply. “She was there Ma. She was overwhelmed, so she avoided the open coffin.”
He sensed that his mother was satisfied by his answer. He was certain she was not in the room when he said, “Sade I love you, I miss you so much.”
The following night he asked Sade why she ended the call abruptly. She said did not know he had put her on speaker. She was okay with his questions, but she wouldn’t want his mother’s nosy questions.
“Darling, where are you?” he would say. “I’m tired of this technology thing. Are you for real?”
“What sort of question is that?”
“Then let’s meet up.”
“We will meet.” She would say with a sigh. “When the time is right.”
Then the silence.
“This is hard for me Baby. I saw your body at the morgue. I saw you in the casket. Tell me, where exactly are you calling from?”
She would snort incredulously. “Don’t tell me you believe I’m calling from the grave.”
“That would have been better. Now I’m beginning to think I’m crazy or something.”
“Maybe crazy about me.” She would say and her giggles would annoy him.
“Sade, this is not funny.”
“You don’t want me to call again?”
“I want to see you! Why are you doing this to me? The sickness, was that part of the act too?”
“This is not an act sweetheart.”
“Then what the hell is it?”
“I love you Badoo. I can’t keep talking when you are like this.”
He hated it when she ended calls because of his temper, so he decided to avoid losing it.
When he called the phone service provider to ask about the calls, the woman who introduced herself as Oluchi chuckled and said she did not mind the joke but she was not in the mood for prank calls.
When he insisted, when he begged to be helped on the issue, the woman said he could be really losing it if indeed he was not just pushing the envelope on prank calls.
There was nothing usual about Sade’s post-death phone conversations. Nothing except his unanswered questions.
She would ask how he was doing. What has he eaten today? How is his job? Is Mr Falajiki still trying to lose weight? I thought you said you would get a new job.
Sade hated his job. She hated the uniform.
“Black upon black; it makes me feel awkward. I am not happy anytime I have to tell somebody that the man I want to marry is a police officer.”
She would giggle when he mentioned Mr Falajiki’s exceptional pot belly that made him look like a pregnant man.
“How much do they pay you people? Mr Falajiki lives on bribes! You would almost think all the fifty naira roadside bribes end in his stomach. You, Badoo, you don’t take bribes; that is why you are so slim and still live with your Mum.”
She knew the news headlines, and the details of the TV soaps; she knew the chart-topping songs. The Champions League, the English Premier League; nothing was surprising to her. She could be on earth.
When Don Jazzy released ‘Great kings of Africa’ she asked if he had downloaded it; when Daniel Nyathi, the bearded villain of ETv’s ‘Scandal’ died she spoke about the show for most of the night.
It was amazing, she said again and again.
The night before the game between AC Milan and Manchester United she predicted a red devils’ win; and so it was the following day.
One evening Badoo sat in the sand, by the shore. He was watching the sea and its waves, enjoying the cool breeze, listening to the palms trees swayed by the wind.
His phone rang. Baby girl told him about the government’s plan to introduce law-enforcement robots as it had been done in the Allied Nations.
“Are you serious?”
“Check it online.”
“Do we always have to follow Europe and America? We don’t need robots to watch our asses!”
“Sweetheart, keep your voice down. Don’t shoot the messenger.” She said with giggles. “I just read it now.”
Then one night she asked him to delete Bunmi Affi’s number.
He met Bunmi on the sandy beach. He was relaxing on the hammock; she was jogging and had run out of breath near him. One word led to another.
They exchanged numbers, both promising to call first. Bunmi called first. They had spoken six times after the call.
Sade mentioned it three nights after the meeting; he would not have guessed that she knew about it.
“Are you spying on me?”
Sade was silent for a short time. “We are still in a relationship. Forget how I get to know these things. Baby let us not over-analyze things. Delete the number. Please.”
He promised her he would delete it, even though he could do it immediately.
She wanted to know why he was so angry about this law-enforcement robots thing. In New York, in Amsterdam, in Tokyo, humanoid robots that look convincingly human have been useful in other ways. Their success in the fire service, and medical field, and as teachers; these has been noted in the Allied Nations.
When she talked about love-and-relationship brands rolling out humanoid robot sex toys, a knowing excitement showed in her eyes. You can program your needs into these latest brands of humanoid robots and get your perfect lover, she explained.
“Their sex is great too,” she added.
“Sade, were you cheating on me with a humanoid robot?”
“What sort of question is that?”
“You seem to know so much about robots. I can confidently call you a robot-lover.”
She stifled a yawn. “Look, these things are in the news. Okay? You’ve been watching too many Nollywood films; those things have dumbed-down your brain. I am just telling you the top news in this global village.”
“How many humanoid robots are following you on twitter?”
“Baby, it’s not as if I have a say in who follows me. We shouldn’t allow fears to build mistrust between us.”
“Listen Sade, I am sick of your shit! If you can’t show your face don’t call this number again. I don’t want this kind of love. Do something to change it if you can because you are the one who started calling! And forget it; I won’t delete Bunmi’s number. If I don’t see you by noon tomorrow I will block your number!”
He did not see her. She stopped calling.
He dialed her number three days after she stopped calling.
Four months later, and he still was missing Sade. He called, but the computerized voice kept saying the number was switched-off.
Mr Falajiki told him he was going crazy when Badoo tried to convince him to initiate a police investigation into Sade’s disappearance.
“You’ve been getting calls from your dead fiancée?”
“Yes sir.” Badoo avoided his eyes.
“For how long?”
“For over two years now sir.”
Mr Falajiki nodded.
“How does she sound?”
“She sounded healthy, she seems well-informed. I’m sure she is on earth.”
“And now you can’t reach her, and she can’t reach you? The number is switched-off?”
Badoo pondered for a moment, convinced for the umpteenth time that he was not losing his mind.
“Badoo, you really need to look after yourself,” Mr. Falajiki said, his arms folded on his belly like a fat frog.
Pa Fakunle visited Badoo one rainy night after the sudden end of Sade’s post-death calls. The old man came in, wet like water hyacinth. More like a drenched chicken.
Badoo knew it was bad news right from the start. Pa Fakunle hardly ever visits anyone; he had no doubt about this. The old man was like a king in Akure. The kind you would have to meet on his throne in private.
“The herb I gave you,” he began to say after Badoo had given him a mug of hot tea. “The one I gave you about the time of Sade’s burial.”
“Yes sir. What about it?”
“Be patient Badoo.”
“I’m patient sir.”
“No you are not. Calm down. Okay? Don’t kill yourself because of a woman. Let me finish what I want to say. Don’t interrupt me.”
“I gave you a portion that was sprinkled with the droppings of ayekooto.”
“What,” he gasped. “Droppings of ayekooto? Sir, did you mean shit? Was it not the right medication?”
Pa Fakunle eyed him for a moment. That got him examining his manner. It’s been said that Pa Fakunle could turn anyone to a tortoise just by speaking to the right leaves.
“I’m sorry son. I prepared it for myself. I should not have given it to you. You are Yoruba isn’t it? You know what ayekooto means?”
“Am I going to die? Is it poisonous? Could it be the thing messing with my head?”
“It cant mess with your head. Would I want you to drink what would mess with my head? I don’t really know what it does, but it is not poisonous. It was a loss to me too. It took me five years to prepare, and I wanted to use it for something. It took getting water from a hundred rivers in six countries.”
Badoo had his hands on his hips; burdened with questions but trying to keep his cool. The old man stood up and faced the door.
“So, what—what is the em cure?” It was as if the words jumped out of him.
“Cure,” the old man said with the smile of the bored. “There is no cure. It is not a sickness. Just be calm and everything would be fine.”
“Everything would be fine? What should we do to make sure of that?”
The old man’s eyes said he did not hear.
“Pa Fakunle, you can’t leave now. It’s still raining.”
“I’m leaving. It is rain, not fire.”
The old man was soon in the rain. He walked on just as he was when he came: like a drenched chicken.
Badoo closed all the glass windows and got the green draperies over them. He lay on the sofa beside the visual wall. He knew he would have to wake up early to get to work at 8 tomorrow morning, but he did not want to be alone in that house all through the night. He would not have thought about leaving the house if his mother had not travelled.
Ingesting a potion that was meant Pa Fakunle could be trouble. If only the old man didn’t have a flair for avoiding obvious questions. Then again the whole thing could be as simple as Pa Fakunle said it was. Either way, Badoo wasn’t going to sit around to find out.
He grabbed his car key on the table. He got his umbrella from the patio; he wasn’t going to wait for the rain to stop.
Galaxy was the usual mix of music and lights. There were separate bars sections with red, blue, green, and yellow lights.
He avoided the crowded round table where married-looking people drank Star and played cards. He avoided the families taking pictures beside the fountain. He avoided the band led by a saxophone-loving masquerade. He loved the masked one and his music and was tempted by the bata, and the omele, and the iya ilu; the backup singers had voices that made him feel something between his legs.
He walked on until he found a place to sit at a corner at the far end of the bar.
Soon, someone joined him in the corner.
He almost threw up. A girl with a body-fitted sky blue lycra blouse sat beside him.
“Bunmi. Hi…” He said with a tight smile.
“What are you doing here? Why have you been ignoring my calls? You’ve been avoiding me?”
“It wasn’t intentional.”
“Seems more like it to me. It is intentional. Ignoring twelve calls is intentional.”
“You know The Times said women have never been as desperate as they had been in this century.”
“I mean women.”
“You talk as if we are some aliens. I’m beginning to like you. Is that abnormal to you? I’ve got to know a bit about you. I care about you. Why this talk about desperate women? Who says desperation is a bad thing?”
“I sure didn’t.”
“Good. I mean, Badoo, you can’t deny the chemistry.”
He nodded. He won’t deny it.
He was sorry. There were some personal issues he had been grappling with; there were things he just thought needed to be trashed out before things got out of hand. That was why he had ignored Bunmi Affi’s calls. It had nothing to do with another woman.
“I’m sorry,” he said with a shy smile; trying not to look at the low neckline of the blouse. But he would speak his mind.
“Bunmi; are those your real breasts? Or silicon?”
He was amused by her smile.
“You are so twenty-first-century.” She said with a wink. “They no longer use silicon for the procedure. But if what you are asking is if these breasts are real, then I’d say, they are.”
They did not have to say something like, “Your place or mine?”
After an unforgetable night with Bunmi, Badoo still couldn’t get Sade off his mind. No one could replace Sade, Badoo was certain. The way she sat on him like a horse rider and those long and deep sounds she made as she moved herself against him; her mouth, slack; her eyes, closed; her breasts, bouncing like balloons.
When he opened his eyes he did not see Bunmi beside him on the bed, but he knew she was still around. He feared his mother could come in anytime soon and start some drama.
Bunmi Affi came out of the bathroom fully dressed, as if the night was beginning again. She could have been up for over an hour; she was all dressed up and ready to go. Badoo grabbed his towel, hurried into the bathroom, and closed the door.
“Your ex called me.” Bunmi Affi said through the closed door.
Badoo stopped the shower. “What did you say?”
“Your ex. She called last night.”
To be Continued…Next Monday: November 14.
About the Author
Feyisayo Anjorin is a writer, an actor, and a director; his writings has appeared in Litro, 365 tomorrows, Bella Naija, and Fiction On the Web. He plays the character “Cassius” on Mnet Africa’s flagship TV soap “Tinsel.”