I was going to marry her, I hadn’t been searching for a wife but now I knew there would be no need to; I’d found a wife in Cherie Koko.
She was every man’s dream, that’s what she was, at least every man that lived in Ajanpadi, another nondescript habitat for members of the masses like myself. Most men didn’t know her real name, Cherie Koko seemed the consensus. I’d even heard variations like “Cherilious Koko baby”, “Cheronicus Kokolet”, and a few others that were strange to pronounce whenever I went to get a haircut or watch a Champions league at the viewing center, or play lotto at Lucky Sule’s. She was a “trending now” topic. She brought a different vibe to our little world.
We all thought she was from the United States because her accent slayed us by the dozen. Our Cherie could pronounce double Ts with an ‘R’, speak through her nose, and walk like a sick chicken. She was simply awesome and in her, we’d found our eight world wonder.
She lived with Mama Iyabo, the Akara seller, but we’d never seen her eat those delicious, palm oil themed bean cakes. In fact, no one had ever seen her anything but Hot dogs and I felt quite fortunate to be the source of her nutrition never minding that my business was making a loss.
A few weeks back, she had come into my world. I was on my way to work when I stopped at Mama Iyabo’s for a delicious breakfast experience. She definitely looked out of place inadequately employing a duvet as a wrapper. She was classy and I couldn’t get my eyes of her “Hello Kitten” handbag. She took ghetto morning fashion to a whole new level.
Needless to say, I was too ashamed to buy those bean cakes that had nourished me every morning since I moved to Ajanpadi. When she talked to me, I was ‘flabberwhelmed’! I started mumbling something in foolish when Mama Iyabo took pity on me and kindly introduced us. I guess I was the only one that met Segilola, pre-Cherie Koko.
That was the only day being a Gala Sausage Roll hawker did me any real benefit. Segi had asked what I was doing with so many Hot dogs and Mama Iyabo had introduced us on that basis. We became friends when I gave her two free Hot dogs, wondering why the illiterate Nigerian populace called them sausage rolls. Segi had to be right! I even became a Hot dog evangelist, educating whoever cared to listen. I guess that’s how we kicked it off.
In less than a week, every man in Ajanpadi was gearing to be affiliated with Segi, but I was the chosen one. On weekdays, we spent most evenings together at St Jordan’s Cool Spot having drinks and Pepper soup. I chose St Jordan’s because they only played the latest American music. We usually talked about American movies, that is, she talked and I listened. I didn’t know who “Angelica Jolin” was but I felt lucky to be the one nodding like an Agama lizard to her wonderful words. Weekends were even more wonderful with Segi. She had changed my life like the new One Naira note.
Things went on quite well between Cherie and I. She gradually became my reason for going home at night. She was with me the night Jeepy, my cousin from Port Harcourt came to spend the weekend. I’d been looking forward to showing my new found pride off to Jeepy. He had always been the one to beat. I had been envious of Jeepy, even since primary school. He was the one flogged on the general Monday assembly for kissing beautiful Mary. He didn’t stop there, he re-earned those stripes of honor again in our second year of junior secondary school for kissing even more beautiful Chiamaka and another time in our senior secondary classes for doing something more devious with most endowed Janet. The best I managed was the ugly beating I earned for stealing mangoes from the school farm.
Jeepy met us at St. Jordan’s. He smiled excessively when he saw her and I knew I had won our age-old rivalry. Cherie Koko didn’t disappoint, she immediately threw a fancy greeting line at him but Jeepy was quite adequate, he dodged and aptly retaliated. He was smiling confidently and I soon started loosing my ‘victory-esteem’. They immediately started a conversation that sounded like something from one of the movies she talked about and although I tried to chip in one or two comments myself but I was constantly ignored. I didn’t know they were being polite till I pointed out that a ‘Brad Pitt’ must be very deep. Their looks were unforgiving. It took me back to the worst day of my childhood.
The teacher had come into the geography class that Monday morning looking very benevolent towards everyone except me. He gave me the most sour look in the world. He started distributing our marked test papers from the previous week. I soon noticed that I was the only one without my script. He then called out Jeepy, our class captain to read out my test answers. Today I’m sure that Kilimanjaro did not kill anyone and Trinidad doesn’t have three daddies.
I didn’t exist anymore. I should have left with dignity, but I endured on and watched as almost every word gained an “izzy” or “izzle” suffix. Before I knew what was happening, Jeepy became “Young Jeezle”, and my darling was answering to “Chizzy Kizzle”. It almost sounded abominable. I tried to be an “Onyekadigbizzle” but it just wasn’t working for me. I was steadily loosing ground.
Chizzy Kizzle shouldn’t have relaxed into Young Jeezle’s skinny chest, she really shouldn’t have. Maybe if she hadn’t we’d have all gone home peacefully; maybe my jealousy wouldn’t have boiled into action; maybe I wouldn’t have thrown my bowl of “Peppersizzle” where I did; maybe she wouldn’t have cried; maybe he wouldn’t have been foolish enough to throw a punch at me; maybe I wouldn’t have given him the beating of his life.
I still don’t know why she broke that bottle of 33 Export Lager but I’m happy I was the one who moved out of the way; I’m happy I wasn’t the one who tripped and face-long into a serious case for plastic surgery.
… and when next you see that guy smiling happily, selling ‘Hot dogs’ in Lagos traffic in the most merry fashion, please buy one?