Belina (Tender Beauty)
The alarm that went off in my head would have definitely woken the dead. I wanted to tell dad to repeat what he just said but I knew that I was not having problem with my ears. I turned cold eyes at Tunji and said quietly but firmly, “leave”. “What?” He asked looking like a fool. I moved towards him slowly and before he could count one to three, what he heard was ‘kpa’; even though my hand still ached from the hot slap I gave him, I forgot all about it and dad who was busy saying all sorts of rubbish as I push Tunji out of the house.
After slamming the door forcefully, I turned around to face my mistake of a father but I was greeted with a hot slap. The slap was so hard that I practically started seeing things but I steeled myself against crying. ‘Never let them see your tears, it makes you vulnerable’, I remembered the words of my mum.
“You this little brat, you are so stupid. How dare you slap Tunji? You better go after him now and beg him”. Dad growled.
“God forbid. You have no right whatsoever to think you can control my life. Who do you think you are? I am not going anywhere with you and that son of a nobody but you can go if you want to. I am 22 for God’s sake and I have the right to make my own decisions”, I yelled.
“Not while you are under my roof. You have to do what I tell you”. He shot back.
I almost said something but I bit it back. I looked at my dad and as quietly as I could, I said emphatically, “like I said, you can go with him but as for me, you can go with him but as for me, you better think again ‘sir’”. I stormed out of the house.
As I walked on our ever quiet street, my blood flow started normalizing and the incident that I had been trying to keep at bay started pushing itself back to my memory. The slap that dad gave me seemed to also slap back that memory.
Throughout my secondary school, I succeeded in keeping men at arm’s length and didn’t have a boyfriend throughout, despite my numerous admirers. I finished with a remarkable grade and gained admission immediately into UNILAG and also focused on my studies not glancing twice at any guy but my charade was cut short in my third year when I discovered that there are some guys that your eyes can’t finish assessing with one glance.
I sat on the open field one afternoon reading, when one of my annoying toasters came.
“Oh baby”, he drolled, “you too dey read sef”.
I ignored him “Abeli”, he called in his usual way but I ignored him again.
He yanked the book out of my hands and my head jerked up as my eyes drilled holes into him.
“Give me back my book”, I demanded.
“Why didn’t you answer me?”
I stretched forth my hand, “Hand it over now”.
He smiled, “A kiss and I would give you”, he said pouting his lips like a demented beast. I wanted to slap him hard but . . .
“Give the lady her book”, a voice said. That voice chilled me to the bones and I could almost feel the ground shake at the sound but surely, I was hallucinating. That was the voice that shook my world both positively and negatively.
“Enough of all this rubbish”, I thought. I need to solve this problem. After thinking for some minutes, I fished out my phone from my pocket and dialed the only person I could. She picked on the third ring.
“Sweetheart mi”, Prisca said over the receiver.
“Pric, I need your help”.
Tunji sat furiously at the owner’s side of the car on his way home. He was busy clenching his fist like someone who was ready to box the life out of Bashali.
“No woman has ever slapped me”, he thought. He still couldn’t believe that he had actually been slapped. And by a woman? “No matter how beautiful she is, she won’t get away with this”, he thought as he picked up his phone to dial a number.
“Omo deputy governor mi, your excellency sir”, a voice said
“Please shut up Tolu, I need you to do something for me. Someone had the nerve to raise her hands against me”. Tunji said.
“Ehn… A she? She must be dealt with”
“Alright, here is what I want you to do …”
You know at times, you get to a T junction where you know that either way you go is going to change your life one way or the other. I thought about my discussion with Prisca and knew that going with that plan was the best thing I could do.
I got back home and met the house empty. My phone started ringing immediately I sat down and I discovered it was an unknown number. I picked it and waited until I heard a baritone voice at the other end saying “hello”. “Good morning, pls who is this?” I answered. “Is this Miss Belina Badmus?” the speaker asked “Yes pls” “My name is John, calling from Heaven’s gate Chapel. We just want to remind you of the musical concert which would be holding tomorrow” he said.
I opened my mouth as I realized that I had actually forgotten everything about that concert. Though I hadn’t produced any album, I was invited by some churches to minister in songs. “I would be there, thanks a lot”.
I dropped the phone some seconds later and mentally began to search for a nice song for the programme.
Mr Badmus entered the large compound of his friend, chief Olowodolu, and looked round jealously. Every time he entered this place, he always remembers his good old days.
He had nothing less than three buildings in the island, and one small building in the mainland, Ikeja to be precise. He had lived a life of affluence but his business crumbled after five years of marriage. He sold off his properties in the island to pay debts and moved with his family to Ikeja.
“I must be rich again”, he thought as he entered his friend’s sitting room.
“Let us go now Richard, I don’t want to be late o…” Tony and Richard are inseparable friends and have been for five years. Apart from them being medical doctors, they were also in the music line. Being exceedingly handsome, they were the envy of other guys and the desire of ladies. Tony took advantage of this and had so many girl friends by flirting with them but Richard was the quiet type, jovial at times which made him more desirable but he could turn the heart of any girl perhaps unknowingly. Tony seemed to have arrived at his bus-stop where women were concerned and Richard had become indifferent towards them.
Tony attended a musical concert in a church some weeks ago and hadn’t stopped talking about it, for some unexplainable reasons, Richard felt he needed to attend the next edition with Tony.
“For God’s sake Tony, you told me the concert would commence 5 o’clock, this is 4:20, what is the fuss about?” Richard asked looking exasperated. “If we don’t get there in time, all the good seats would have been taken and we would have to seat at the back”. Richard sighed; “Alright then”, he said leaving the movie he was watching for the bedroom.
I looked at myself in my bedroom mirror and smiled. I definitely look stage worthy, I thought to myself. I took out a styling comb and combed my hair to perfection. Thank God for long hair, it could make you look presentable even when you did not make your hair. The blue flowing gown I was putting on always gave me confidence and made me look dashing, even though I was worried about the numerous stares I would be receiving which always made me uncomfortable, I wanted to look my best today. I applied a little powder and lip gloss and set out.
I alighted from a public bus and looked at the address again. Wole, who had made sure I was one of the guest artists had warned me that the church was a big church. I almost passed by a very massive building when I looked at the sign-board and discovered that that was my destination. I opened my mouth as my heart started racing.
“Hello miss” My head jerked round and I discovered I was already at the entrance. “Uhhh, hi”, I said. “Are you one of our artists, ma’am”, the guy obviously an usher asked. “Ehm, Yes. I am Belina Badmus”. The guy checked his file and smiles at me before calling a lady to take me inside. As I stepped inside, my heart almost stopped.
I saw nothing less than 500 people and still saw empty chairs which could easily seat close to three hundred people. The highest number of people I had sang to was 200 and I was totally afraid that day. I considered turning back as I stood transfixed. The lady usher noticed my fright and gave me a comforting smile. She looked at me from head to toe and back again and said, “I am sure you can handle it”.