SILENT CRIES - Episode 4

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - an armed robber during their previous encounter, darker secrets, thankful for the handy smokescreen, She put on her blazer, turnover of at least five hundred million a month, Silverbird last night, the Bank’s official car, an armed robber on a date.

Nnamdi watched her as she slept, taking in the delicately curved lashes, the slight upturn of her nose and her long, tied-back hair. As he did, once again he regretted the reckless streak that had made him tell her that he was an armed robber during their previous encounter.

He shrugged; I guess that's just who I am.             

Ijeoma stirred and opened her eyes. She sat up with a jerk and looked around. How could she have fallen asleep with a guest in her flat?

“Madam, drinks are served.” He bowed with an exaggerated gesture and presented her with the glass. She sat up and took it with a grateful smile.

“How long have I been sleeping?”

Nnamdi smiled back. “Not long enough. After the stress of today, you definitely need some rest. Even your body agrees.”

While Ijeoma drank, her mind turned cartwheels. He was kind and considerate; he was funny; and he was good looking. She did want to like him, but... that history. And how could he be so comfortable and nonchalant about it, too? What exactly had happened to drive him down those darker paths of life? But did she really want to know, anyway? Wasn’t it her curiosity that had saddled her with the burden of this knowledge? What if he revealed even darker secrets - secrets that made it too difficult to bear the contrast between the person she was getting to like and the person she wanted to keep at a distance? A musky scent intruded into her thoughts as Nnamdi settled beside her.

“You seem to be a lot better, but it looks like you also have something on your mind.”

“Oh… I was still thinking about my nephew… I’m praying that he’ll pull through.” Ijeoma was thankful for the handy smokescreen Obi’s hospitalization presented to her.

Nnamdi nodded. “I completely understand. Was it very shocking to hear the news?”

“He’s had asthma attacks before, but nothing like this…” her voice trailed off.

“I hope he pulls through; in any case, he’s in good hands now. There’s not much else we can do except pray.”

They sat together for a while, each lost in thought. Ijeoma broke the silence.
“Oh, I feel very bad; you’ve been very kind. I am a bad host. Can I get you anything?”

Nnamdi laughed. “This isn’t a proper visit; I only came over when your mum told me about your nephew's crisis. I've put some Indomie in the microwave for you; otherwise, I'm happy to just talk. Like I said earlier, once I heard from Tochi, I was hoping we could set another date.”

Again, Ijeoma felt herself torn apart by the self that said “go for it, he’s a great guy” and the other self that said “watch out, he used to be an armed robber!” The cautionary self won.

“Well, I don’t know… right now, my mind is not settled enough to think about that.”

“I understand, and that’s why I’m not asking you for anything immediate. I only want to know if you would like to meet at all.”

Seeing her hesitate further, he added “Think about it. You’ll get the chance to hear about my adventures during my life of crime.”

At that remark, all her apprehension boiled over into indignation. “How can you be so callous and talk about it as an adventure, as though you had been on holiday? Don’t you even feel any remorse?”

Nnamdi nodded his head. So it was the armed robber thing; he had thought as much. “I regret what I did then, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot describe some of them as adventures. Or do you want me e to lie about my past to you?”

“I’m not asking you to lie, but please show a sense of shame! Why should I want to hear about the adventures of an armed robber on a date?”  Nnamdi began to feel irritated; he had meant to bring the issue up in a light-hearted way to diffuse any possible tension, but that sure wasn't working.

“Okay, I’m sorry that I’m not perfect. I’m sorry that my life has this smear you disapprove of. But at least, one good thing is that if I meet someone who made mistakes and turned their life around, I’m less likely to judge them harshly.”

Ijeoma was defensive. “I’m not judging you; I’m just saying that you shouldn't take it so lightly.”

“Really?” Nnamdi smiled bitterly. “Avoiding Tochi's calls and not even calling me to say thanks all this while has nothing to do with me being an armed robber before? Do you remember the anger and force with which you responded to the revelation?”

Seeing that Ijeoma had been embarrassed into silence, he continued in a softer tone. “I don’t blame you; others have judged me before too. I found it wiser to be quiet about my past. Even now, I don’t tell everyone. I only tell people I’ve known for long enough to trust. But sometimes, I take a chance, follow my instincts and tell people who I feel I have strong connection to, even though I’ve just met them; people who I feel will be willing to listen more and judge less.”

He looked into her eyes, and continued. “The trouble is, sometimes, my instincts are wrong.” Nnamdi rose and stretched. “It’s getting late so I must head out.” At the door, he stopped and turned. “My instincts may be wrong sometimes; but somehow, I don’t think this is one of those times. How do I know? Maybe it’s my instinct telling me.”  He smiled wanly and added. “I really hope your nephew makes it out of intensive care. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Have a good night, Ijeoma.”

She listened to the door latch slowly, her head bowed in thought. The ping of the microwave brought her out of it.

Bola was on her BlackBerry as she stepped out of the Bank’s official car. Her last marketing call had been very successful indeed. She was smiling as she walked into the closed banking hall from the back entrance.  Ijeoma and Jane were at the front desk.

“Welcome back.” Ijeoma greeted.

Bola nodded. “Follow me,” she mouthed since she was still on the cell phone.

She walked into the marketing office which was empty; all her colleagues must have left for the day, and settled into her swivel chair. “I will see you once I get off here...ok bye bye.” She pressed the end call button and turned.

Ijeoma was leaning on the door looking at her with a smile. “Hey babes, I've told you to relax with me. Come and sit down, I have gist.” Ijeoma walked over and took the seat opposite.

“I met your boyfriend…”

“Who are you talking about?” Ijeoma looked surprised.

“I met Nnamdi in Silverbird last night. Fine hard-working bobo like that. All he could talk about was you; his friend said he even left us to run to your side…”

“Oh, he’s not my boyfriend ooo abeg…”

“But wouldn’t you like him to be? Maybe if Adaku hears about you both, she'll know you left Ayo for her…”

“Shhushh!. Don’t let anyone hear you say that. I told you about them in confidence.” Bola motioned the zipping her lips.

“I...” Ijeoma moved forward but the ringing intercom cut her off. “Hold on.”

Bola picked it up, listened for a bit and hung up. “Jane said she needs you back, she wants to leave soon.”

“Okay, let’s talk tomorrow.” Ijeoma stood up and left the office.

Bola tidied up her desk, put all the necessary documents in a black folder and slammed it shut. She shrugged into her dark purple blazer, and re-applied her lip gloss. She smacked her lips and walked down the corridor around the corner. On the right stood a beige door, she knocked twice.

“Come in.”

Bola walked in with a smile on her face. “Oga mi…” She walked towards the table.

“I’ve told you to stop calling me that. Wetin sef?”

Ahn ahn, Adaku calm down joor! Body too dey pepper you.” Bola huffed and crossed her arms in annoyance.

The Head of Operations backed down. “Okay Okay sorry! But I don’t know when you’re being sarcastic with the oga thing.”

I just dey hail you. I know that when the time comes, you will help me just like Ayo gave you a double promotion.” Bola uncrossed her arms and sat down.

“You can trust me on that. Did Alhaji give you the account?” Bola took off her blazer and leaned forward with excitement.

“Yes now, don’t you know me again?” She waggled her eyebrows. “Who can resist this?” She bent low till her pendant was hanging in the exposed cleavage.

Adaku laughed. “No forget say na me give you the connections and 411.”

I fit?” Bola sat back and placed the black folder on the desk between them. “He said we should expect turnover of at least five hundred million a month…”

“Wow, with this, you’ll soon be head of marketing and I’ll be branch manager.” Adaku jumped to her feet and came around to hug her.

“So you want to displace your former lover?” Bola laughed. Adaku leaned on the corner of the table.

“Don’t mind that stupid randy goat. He wants to push me over because of small small girls. Did Ijeoma tell you anything else?”

“She said she'll hook him to displace you, and is still bad mouthing you sha...”

“I will show her...” Adaku shook her head and bit a nail.

Bola laughed. “Listen to new gist first. I went out during the weekend and met this guy…”

“Where did you go sef? I hope it wasn’t that razz place in Silverbird?” Adaku interrupted, eyeing her with disdain.

“The place is not razz joor! Please let me finish my story now?”

“Ok, ok continue.”

“As I was saying, I met this guy who asked me if I knew Ijeoma. He wants her. I don’t know how or where she met him but she is one lucky girl, he is very handsome.”

“How is that my concern?”

“Don't you want her to date him and leave Ayo for you?” Adaku pursed her lips.

“Hmmm...that one is her business o. Imagine, less than three months and she wants to pull weight with me. Ayo or no Ayo, she has to leave this branch if not the bank. I can’t stand her.”

Bola got up and faced Adaku. “So Ayo is not getting back with you?”

Adaku sucked her teeth, “So he says but I’m still working on him…”

“That fool! Maybe you should just forget about him.”

“We shall see.”

“Ok o! I have to go now. I’m meeting Alhaji.” She put on her blazer.

“Alright, full gist tomorrow?”

Bola nodded and tapped her folder. “Abeg get the small small girls to open the account. You can add more mistakes to bounce on their head as usual.”

“I need the ammo to show that small girl pepper.”

They both laughed as Bola walked out.


                                           CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 3

Written by:
Ikpo Henry Chigozirim

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SILENT CRIES - Episode 4
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - an armed robber during their previous encounter, darker secrets, thankful for the handy smokescreen, She put on her blazer, turnover of at least five hundred million a month, Silverbird last night, the Bank’s official car, an armed robber on a date. An African Literary Blog
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