This is the second part of BEAUTY: The Trilogy.
Without Further Ado, I present…
Something About Her Eyes
Idris sipped his wine, scanning his environment and enjoying the feeling of eyes on him. Sylvia had not told him she had invited him to a gathering of the most important figures in Ibadan. Some girls passed by in swimming suits winking at him suggestively. It looked like he was going to have a lot of fun in this town.
One of the ushers passed by and he signaled for her to come to him. She obeyed. “I want another bottle of this wine whatever it is called. And where is Sylvia? I can’t seem to find her.” He knew she could barely hear his voice above the loud pop music that was playing.
“I won’t get you another drink sir.” The usher replied with a straight face.
“Huh?!” he felt he probably hadn’t heard her right with all the music so he repeated himself again. “I said get me a bloody drink. And get me that Sylvia bitch!”
“I said I won’t get you another drink sir. You are already drunk.” She stomped off.
Idris felt he must have been dreaming. Did a damn waiter at Sylvia’s party just refuse to get him an extra drink? Was she going mad? He scanned for her around the party but didn’t find her. If he found that damn waiter he would wring her neck for speaking to him that way. Damn, didn’t she know him or didn’t she watch tv? He was Mr. Nigeria for chrissakes.
Already tipsy, he staggered around, letting the crazy music sway him like a moth in the wind. A young lady dressed in an orange attire smiled suggestively at him. He gave her a wry smile, his eyes still searching for his waitress.
Ha! There she was serving another person a drink. He would shove her head into that drink wallahi!
He hadn’t even gotten to where she was when like a blind man exploring the streets for the first time, he fell straight into the swimming pool.
He felt someone toweling his wet hair. He felt someone singing sonorously about some awesome god. He felt awkward and out of place. And then he opened his eyes.
She wasn’t beautiful but something in her eyes and in the way she sang depicted a sorrow too deep for even him to imagine. He was sure he had seen her face before.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“The premier hotel. You fell straight into the premier pool during madam’s majestic party and scattered your head. You better stop talking so I can finish applying these ice blocks to it.”
“Who are you?”
“Uli.” An usher at the party.”
He was quiet for a while, watching her work in amazement. Then he started singing her song with her and though she told him to shut up at first, they eventually enjoyed singing the song together.
He closed his eyes after a while and went into a deep slumber.
BEFORE THE PARTY
It was her life and she was in the middle of it. Her hands and knees ached as she scrubbed the white vinyl floor, the tears from her eyes staining her hard work. Uli’s head throbbed as she cleaned. She realized painfully that she had been cleaning the floors of the Premier Hotel for hours.
“You should forget this and die.” The voice in her head told her. “What’s there to live for again?”
She heard the voice of Sylvia, the hotel manager call out her name but she ignored it, silently praying that she had someone else bearing her name. The voice moved closer. She knew it was calling out to her and yet for some unnamed reason she refused to force out a reply.
“Uli!!” Sylvia’s head popped out from the corner like a ghost. She looked at Uli straight in the face. “I have been calling you. Didn’t you hear my voice?”
“You did! And I’m too small to be answered by the maid eh? You do realize I can fire you for this right?” Uli looked back at her blankly. Maybe she just wanted to be fired. Then she would have a reason to stop living her worthless life.
“I’m sorry madam.” She muttered “I’m very tired and I have a headache.”
Sylvia realized that the girl had been working all day and picking a fight with her would be a sin to humanity, although with the mood she was in, a fight with anybody in particular sounded like a treat. Still angry at the girl, she stomped off, her black stiletto heels making deafening noises on the parquet floor.
Uli quickly finished her work, got dressed in her everyday clothes and headed straight back to school. She was a final year student at the University of Ibadan studying Statistics. Besides being a student, she was a cleaner who cleaned shops, hotels and halls to make money that can see her through school take care of her siblings and keep her alive.
Many people had called her a man of her people in the past, back when her father died in a motor accident leaving her mother widowed with four children. Uli had quickly become the father-figure and bread winner of her family. She had worked hard to pay for her Jamb, pay for her sister’s school fees and even in school she still sent money every month to her family. She had no friends in school and even if she wanted to become a ‘runs’ girl to make money, she was not attractive enough to venture into it.
Her life had become broken over the years, filled with work, ambition and grim memories of a past she wished she never had. She is a maid. This is her life and only she is in the middle of it.
There was no model in the entire Ibadan that could stand up to Sylvia Eruja, the only daughter of Seun Eruja, Oyo State’s biggest business tycoon and the owner of the Premier Hotel. Sylvia was tall, well-built and beautiful and she knew it. She stood tall among other female models in her area, owing to the fact that it was her face on most of the billboards, television adverts and fliers. Every brand wanted her spotless face.
As the new manager of her father’s hotel, Sylvia threw parties every month for her esteemed customers and guests. She called it ‘The Majestic Party’. This month she put in all her effort to ensure that this party would make a huge impression on all her guests, especially Idris Alli-Balogun, the love of her life.
She had met Idris last year when he had won the Mr. Nigeria contest in Abuja. Even now she still couldn’t take the picture of his sexy abs on stage walking in a small swimsuit for all to admire his gorgeous body. Right then as he came out, she had felt a rush of desire sweep through her, sending cold shivers down her spine and passing tingling sensations in between her legs. It hadn’t been surprising to her when after the contest she walked up to talk to him.
“Congratulations dearie.” She had said, a big grin plastered on her face. Her turquoise gown was slit open at the front exposing her cleavage so she thrust her chest upwards suggestively at him.
He hugged her back as he adjusted his sash. “Thank you very much Sylvia.”
She was taken aback. “You know my name?”
“Of course. You’re a super model. How wouldn’t I know your name?”
Sylvia smiled, realizing that indeed she was a celebrity. “That was a great performance there on stage. I’m sure you impressed the judges. I was pretty impressed myself.”
“I’m Idris Alli-Balogun.” He said, extending his hand for a handshake. She shook him back, blushing openly and feeling her nipples tighten as his abs moved in his shirt. She licked her lips to relief herself.
Later that night she tossed and turned in her bed, thinking about the hulk of a man she had just met. She had given him her card and hopefully he would call her to meet up for a date. Nothing more would delight Sylvia.
He had called her six months after their first meeting, shortly after her father appointed her as the manager of his most important hotel. Feeling completely elated about the call she had invited to Ibadan to attend her Majestic party.
Now, very excited that she was about to see Idris soon, she called her party planner on his mobile. “Francis where you de?”
“On my way madam. I’m stuck in this Bodija traffic o.”
“Carry yourself here before I change my mind. We have a lot of work to do. I have a party in six days.”
“My full name is Ulinma Mbanefo. I am 21 years old ma.” Uli watched the fat woman scribble into some yellow-paged book. The scowl on her face stayed there as if it was part of her genetic identity.
“Have you worked for this hotel before?”
“Yes ma. I clean and assist the matron every weekend.”
The fat woman snorted. “We are looking for ushers for this year’s majestic party not cleaners. Didn’t you read the notice?”
“I did ma. Please I can do this. Anything you want me to do I will do it.”
“Besides you are not fine gaan! If not that you have a fine figure small…”
“Please ma. I can do this. And you and I know that not many girls are applying because of the low pay this year. You need me more than I need you.”
The woman looked Uli over, realizing that the girl was right; they needed her. This year the new manager has spent less attention to the ushers. Anyways no matter how plain the girl looked, a little make up here and there could hide all the unpleasantness. She passed her the form on her table. “Oya sign here and add your phone number. Usually we do a screening but now there is no need for that.”
Uli signed happily. In six days she would make enough money to pay for her mother’s hospital bill.
AFTER THE PARTY
“You broke up with Sylvia? Guy you de craze?”
Idris winced at the pitch of his friend’s voice. Kola’s eyes now could swallow both Jonah and the shark. “She broke up with me cus I screamed another woman’s name during sex with her.”
Hiss. “Its that university girl abi? So that rat is now more than our supermodel girlfriend. I tire for you o”
“Guy I swear I don’t know what is happening to me. I can’t get that girl off my mind. It feels more like I’ve been shot a bullet in my brain.” Idris fiddled with his new android phone, trying to take his mind off the conversation he was having.
“Okay whatever. Call her and apologize.”
“I don’t want to mehn. I’m tired of the babe sef. She has nothing else to offer me except that her beautiful face and her hot body. I have had enough of her being stupid; it’s sickening.”
“Wake up, bro. Na your university babe fit offer you something abi?”
Idris gave a deep sigh. “She smart and thoughtful. Beauty isn’t everything, you know.”
After Kola left his house, Idris lay down on his couch and pondered to himself. There was something about Uli that kept tugging at his mind. It wasn’t her beauty because to most people’s standard, she had none. Her face was boyish and had lines that marked how hard her life had been. Her hands were rough from scrubbing floors and cleaning toilets. In her eyes one could feel her pain, the cries from her soul, and the essence of her. The way she spoke belied her age and social status. She knew something about everything. And God, when she smiled that smile of hers, the scar on her riding above her cheek, he felt his heart race to all the wrong places.
He hated the fact that he thought about her every now and then, even when he was supposed to be working. He hated the fact that after his first chat with her she had left without a trace. He longed now to talk to her again, to reach out and stroke that scar on her face, to reassure her that everything would be just fine. He wanted to hold those hands and promise to rid them of suffering. He had never felt this way before and this new feeling felt rather unreal, like a dream he would soon awaken from.
He knew that she was a student at the University of Ibadan. She said she was studying statistics and she stayed in idia hall. He knew that with a name like hers, it would not be so difficult to find her.
And so, that sunny Sunday afternoon, Idris like an excited school boy took off in his new Sedan, determined to find Ulinma the girl that had stolen his heart. He would find her and he would keep her.
Something about her eyes assured him that it would be the best time of his life.
Written by: Kainene Nwaobasi @Lady_Aivory_
The Third and Grand Finale of the Trilogy would be up on MONDAY.