“James…?” Iphey stared, mouth agape and eyes wide in shock.
“Wetin be that?" The driver asked. "You dey ok?”
“Are you not James?” She demanded as shock and all kinds of emotions coursed through her body. He looked exactly the same as her missing brother-in-law.
“That no be me oo. Who is James? Madam you well so?”
“I’m alright. It’s just that…you look like someone I know.” She continued looking at him intently. “My sister’s husband…”
“I say no be me,” said the cab driver in an unflinching tone. “Where you dey go?”
He did look different. Thinner harder, meaner. The voice was also a bit different from James'…or so she thought. It had been almost three years. She really couldn’t remember what James’ voice was like anymore; partly because of the time lapse and partly because she had almost believed he was dead…
Stop it Iphey, And tell the man where you’re headed!
“Lekki Phase 1…” She finally replied.
Scratching his head, the driver said “Oh…Sorry o! I no dey go that way…I’m closing for today and na Surulere side am going.”
Iphey pierced him with her gaze but again he remained unmoving, “Madam go now make I fit find another passenger.”
“Oh..ok. I’ll just get another cab.” She jumped out, hunger and tiredness now replaced by angst, memories of the nights when she had to stay with her sister. When Ngozi would cry herself sick; her son sick and her husband missing. Lost in her reverie, Iphey almost got knocked down by an Okada rider…
“See, no be me go kpai you o!” He cursed at her.
“Sorry! Sorry...” said a very confused Iphey. Cursing okada riders were the least of her problems at that point. Damn! This had to be the day devil came out with his entire clan. A stressful day at work and now a James look-alike!
She hailed another taxi. Thankfully, this one was headed her way. The thought of what happened a few minutes ago just wouldn’t leave her.
That driver had definitely put her on the edge. He looked so much like James…but that voice, or maybe that was because of the pidgin he was speaking. She had never heard James speak that before, and the taxi driver seemed very fluent. She cursed her car for not starting. Cursed the mechanic for not fixing whatever the problem was.
“Chei! I must be more fatigued than I thought.” She said aloud.
“You say wetin?”
“Abeg, no vex. I was talking to myself” She said embarrassed.
Something about this entire business smacked of lies…or was she paranoid?
Yes. She was paranoid alright. And hungry. And fagged out.
“Lord Help!” She said aloud.
The cab driver obviously worried about the young lady constantly talking to herself said “Take it easy o madam, It is well.”
The first thing she did when she came in was to call her best friend.
“The strangest thing happened today o, Aisha!”
“What happen…Iphey abeg, Hold on, I don’t know what TJ dey call me for now…”
“No wahala…I’m here.”Iphey said in between nervous laughter. Who would believe it? She thought to herself. Should she tell her sister?
Aisha was soon back on the line, hissing “Walai! Can you imagine! It’s that rubbish Mutallab boy that TJ called me to come see!”
Iphey laughed at her. “Say after me, Mutallab is a mu-mu.”
Aisha hissed again. “Tell me joo, wetin happen today? Has Chinedu finally called?”
“Please don’t talk to me about Chinedu!” She had thought of him at work most of her free time but what happened on the way home had pushed him to the back of her mind. And she preferred him to remain there.
“You want make I speak with him again?” Aisha interrupted her thoughts.
Iphey was mortified. “Did you already call him?”
“I’m sorry Iphey, I called him for something to do with Habib, but your name came up.”
Iphey sighed. “It’s OK. I’m tired of that guy oo, and no I won’t call him. After kissing him in public, I think the ball is now firmly in his court."
Aisha agreed. “So wetin you call to tell me?”
“Aisha you won’t believe it…” Just then her doorbell rang.
“Aisha, hold on, someone is at the door.” Iphey she sprang up off the bed and headed back towards to door. It was just as well she had not changed out of her work clothes.
Aisha went on, mischief in her tone “At this time? Or is it him?”
Iphey was busy peering through her windows when Aisha blared in her ears “It’s him! Bad child! You you were just pulling my legs abi?”
“Aisha please go jo!” Iphey said chuckling, one hand unlocking the door. “I’ll call you.”
She froze when she saw who rang her bell. He who now stood in front of her on her doormat that said “WELCOME”.
“Can I come in?”