Hardy: Chapter 4

I loved the groove, I enjoyed the groove, I lived for the groove, I thrived in the groove, I’m the groove, the groove was the move and the party was grooving.
“Hey AY” I hailed the party coordinator Ayodele Babatunde the Labour Prefect in the ‘jungle’. 

He was an inch taller than me but very dark-skinned and with a lean build. He was enjoying himself with those drinks I deemed untouchables as a proud teetotaller. He was wearing a blue designer’s shirt with matching blue jeans, he raised an hand in acknowledgement.

“AY nice party, you’re the detonating bomb.” Sitting beside him I spotted a pretty maiden. “Who is this pretty damslel?” The damsel was wearing a glittering crimson dress. 

AY giggled. “Hardy this is Linda my girlfriend and Linda this is Hardy my closest pal.”

We exchanged handshakes. Linda was a perfect catch, she was light-skinned, slender, she possessed flirtatious eyes, a pretty face and a thick British accent you just knew she was either a student from the one of those prestigious colleges where my mates in the ‘jungle’ had spread their greedy dragnets to catch mega rich pretty girls or she was one of those excellent actors. 

I was happy for AY not because he had finally gotten himself a girlfriend, he had several before this one but because he had finally stopped picking cheap pesky girls from the all girls boarding branch of the ‘jungle.’ 

“She’s gorgeous.” I held on to her hand and kept my examining eyes on her. She blushed and withdrew her hand shyly, AY just smiled and nodded.

“This party is dull, I haven’t really seen any happening stuff.” I looked around, disappointed at the low turnover of people who were doing next to nothing.

“Relax Hardy, you know the drill. It’s just 7 and by 8 this whole place would be so filled up you won’t even see the ground. Take this unusual time of quietness and relax with your girlfriend or you didn’t bring her again?”

I didn’t answer him; he asked a question that touched my priceless pride. With all that happened today, Zaynab wouldn’t pick my calls for five days but after that period she would accept me and we would continue like as if we never had a problem, it was an established, tried and tested pattern.

That’s one thing about her that has stopped any plans of me ditching her yet, she might have the hottest temper in the world but she was my girl. I did a quick comparison between Linda and Zaynab and Zaynab triumphed in every possible index including beauty and even AY would readily agree with me.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t bring Zaynab again?” 

Silence.

“Or have you finally broken up with her?”

I really wanted to bring Zaynab but she would just not pick my calls. I even went as far as her home but as I got in her younger sis told me she wasn’t in. I knew it was a game, she was in or how else could you explain the sudden hushed sounds and movements when I mentioned my name at the door and the inexplicable delay for the next three minutes or the graveyard silence that followed, or how could you explain her three mobile phones (Samsung S4, HTC 1 and the BlackBerry Passport I bought for her on her birthday in February earlier this year) abandoned carelessly on the dining table. She was clearly in but in order to avoid a racket I left bellowing how sorry I was and leaving an emotional note behind for her.

“No, I haven’t broken up with her yet and I don’t plan to do so ever, she’s just not available.” I tried to smile and appear casual.

“Cheer up man, it’s a good thing she’s not around. I want to introduce you to another girl tonight,you will like her.” 

“Is she one of those Ojo bitches because I’m not interested?” I muttered a silent prayer for Zaynab to come before I fell into the deepest abyss of temptation.

“No, but Zaynab too is from that school.” He laughed. “Just guess the school.” He exchanged a quick smile of agreement with Linda.

“Is she from the PH branch or Calabar, I’m still not interested?” I cringed.

“Cheer up man, she’s much better, she’s Linda’s best friend and looks equally as ravishing as Linda. She attends the prestigious Nigerian Turkish International School. She will soon be back and trust me you will like what you see.” 

I sat down thinking of what to do if Zaynab doesn’t show up, I might just hook up with this ‘you will like what you see’ girl for tonight’s party if she proved as good looking as her friend and that’s it, I would leave the relationship at the acquaintance stage.

“You look so dull, is there something disturbing you Hardy?” Linda asked.

“How can you say something is disturbing him? It’s just his Zaynab he is missing, the prettiest girl in Ojo and beyond.” 

“Is it true?” Linda faced me. 

I felt proud to answer the question. “She is the most beautiful girl I have ever met.”

Linda smiled cynically. “Too bad she is not here for me to judge for myself.”

I exchanged a brief glance with AY. “There is no need for you to meet her, just ask your boyfriend about my her.”

She ducked my proposal expertly well. “Your friend is really depressed.”

I answered her immediately before AY thought of answering. “I really appreciate your concern but all you can do for me is to give me a chilled drink to cure my depression.” I strongly felt insulted by their refusal and inability to render simple courteous service.

AY and Linda laughed wildly especially Linda, she nearly rolled on the sandy ground just to laugh if not for AY’s timely intervention, pure madness! AY you have made a grave mistake dating an eccentric girl, she would turn you into one very soon.

“What’s so funny?” I was angry at been the root of her wild laughter.

“You are one funny boy you know.” Linda said. 

I would chew it as a compliment. 

She quickly spoke, making AY stutter. “C’mon, you mean with drinks in front of you, staring at you, waiting for you to gulp into your parched throat, you still want someone to give you a drink? C’mon this is a free party and everyone drinks anything he finds or is it your first time?”

I didn’t feel insulted because I liked the way she made AY stutter, it was fun to watch. AY would surely speak up for me. 

“First time?” He laughed. “This isn’t his first time here, he has been coming for such parties with me since we were in our final year of junior secondary. He’s just trying to be posh that’s all, you know he lives in a posh environment and enjoys a posh life.”

I would have agreed with him if my mom didn’t exist, it was only then I could happily and truthfully describe my life as posh without complications.

Linda stared to access if I was posh or not. “He wears the latest trends and might pass for posh though his swag is not that hot.” She sipped her bullet and looked at me again, then smiled. “I hear you are the son to Henry Glee, I’m just surprised you are attending such a cheap party.”

“Clearly he doesn’t enjoy attending those rich parties where he meets ugly rich girls who only have money running for them.” 

Go on AY, talk on my behalf while I wait for my beloved Zaynab to come.

“That’s not true; the prettiest girls come to those rich parties because the rich only deal with the finest. What you are saying is just an unusual occurrence when a monstrous girl gets so rich she feels pretty enough to come and of course trust guys that love money, they treat her as such, isn’t that true Hardy?”

What was she talking about? I have never gone for an elite party and met her supposed monstrous rich girls, usually they tend to be live private lives. I nodded.

“Do you just nod your head like an agama lizard all the time or are you just shy?”

I stared at her, poised for a fight and then at AY, back to her and away. I wasn’t excellent at keeping a conversation going for long when it comes to these matters but I certainly wasn’t shy. “I am not a shy guy Linda, I’m just troubled about some private matters.”

“Do the mega-rich have problems at all?” She asked humorously.

“Of course everyone has problems, the bigger you are, the bigger the share you get. Problems are no respecter of person, name a celebrity or a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t yet faced their own large share of the cake, everyone has problems including you.” 

It must have been the way I pointed at her that made her laugh so wildly and again AY had to hold her to prevent her from falling.

“Thank you AY, your friend is a real comedian.” She kept on chortling.

I, a comedian? Then you don’t have an entertainment industry. If she could laugh so wildly for my fruitless gestures then she would be among the few I heard die from hearing extremely funny, vulgar jokes.

AY looked at me, I could tell he was equally as surprised as I was. I was one of the driest guys in school, it was an undisputed fact. My jokes were so outdated; it could exacerbate a person’s annoyance level.

“He’s one of the best in my school.” AY chuckled, painting a clear picture of the ironic situation he intended to create.

“Where the hell is Vanessa? She is wasting my time, this party is dull.” She frowned.

“Don’t worry, our guys will soon reach here and make the whole place lively. Isn’t that true AY?” I smiled, it was my turn to do the reassurance.

“Hardy is 100% right, very soon this place will be so exploded with people you won’t see the ground anymore. Our school boys are quite lively but I’m not sure about the Kings College group.”

“Those boys are bunch of fucked up suckers, only a few will make it here while the others will be busy at home changing diapers.” She hissed.

I looked at AY and our eyes clicked in agreement, we tried to just chuckle but a stronger force coerced us to laugh wildly. It wasn’t the diaper changing part that was so funny or the baby King College boys, no, it’s the way she hissed, the way she squeezed her lips like a twisted rod. She wasn’t pretty when she hissed like that, she looked like an aged Queen Elizabeth. My advice to AY was that he should do everything within his power not to make her hiss or else her face would soon get wrinkled and he would be looking for girlfriend number 8.

“Why are you guys laughing?” She cringed.

“You are a real comedienne of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

“Thank you very much Hardy although my school girls think I’m not that good……hmm you are just trying to compliment me.”

Yes I was. “I’m not joking, South African jokes hardly sell in Nigeria so is it with your jokes, it’s one of a kind, it doesn’t sell with girls but with boys, is it not true Ayo?”

AY spoilt everything by chuckling thus forcing me to chortle. He nodded in agreement. “Yes, everything Hardy said is true. You are really a good comedienne and that is one of the many reasons why I fought for you to be my girlfriend.”

She looked at both of us and smiled. “Thanks for the compliment, I will get back at you guys.” 

We exchanged further puzzled looks at each other; we were still puzzled when she said Vanessa was back. We turned at once to behold the precious Vanessa. AY acted in a more composed manner than me, maybe because he was with Linda and had seen Vanessa earlier. I was completely mesmerized and beguiled by her bombshell dark beauty. 

Vanessa was graciously slender, she had enticing black eyes and probably the most beautiful black girl I had ever seen. She added glamour to black beauty, an undisputable ambassador of Black is Beautiful plus she gave dark a glitter of its own. One thing about the light-skinned Zaynab was that she trumps all beauty description. I compared the two and the fair Zaynab got the better mark slightly excluding her advantageous fairness. I hoped Zaynab would be at the party but on second thought, Vanessa looked a good substitute, a different variant of beauty.

“You are sitting on my phone.” Vanessa tapped me with her unbelievable soft supple hands.

She was smiling warmly and brightly, revealing a beautiful set of 32 I would do anything to see again, sending me to the ethereal world of romantic fantasy. 

I smiled back, giving her the phone. “I’m sorry if I damaged the phone with my carelessness, I can get you another one of your choice.” 

She turned to Linda and AY, her doubtful looks suggested she didn’t know me. She turned to me. “Thank you for your kindness but I’m not sure you can buy the type of phone I desire.”

She assumed wrong, I could buy her the whole Apple Company if she found a way to access my pliant side. She joined us and sat directly opposite me in the table of four, AY faced Linda. I hoped I would become her friend tonight, Hardy doesn’t let ravishing girls like this slip from his grip especially on a lonely night.

Linda laughed. “Come on Vanessa, don’t label a guy poor because he came to a party like this.”

She looked at me and smiled, warming me inside out. “Don’t feel bad, I was just saying the frank truth or can your handsomeness buy me a Samsung S6 Edge that cost over two hundred thousand naira.”

I smiled, the best I could do to suppress my blossoming feelings. “My name is Hardy and the price is one hundred and seventy five thousand, nine hundred and ninety naira.”

She returned my smile. “That phone is so expensive that it’s a prerequisite for any guy that wants to date me to either buy me one or be using it.”

AY and Linda watched us talk, I could tell what kind of progressive thoughts they were incubating, ‘this two would soon hook up and become great friends.’

I had a call, my ‘Stitches’ ringtone made me the centre of attraction. I smiled, this was my chance to make a long lasting impression and draw Vanessa inevitably to me. I gently brought out my phone and revealed it for all to see. It was the new Samsung S6 Edge they had only seen on TV ads and the web, I could easily tell from the way the their eyes popped out. They went green with envy and I could tell they longed to touch the phone even if it’s just for a sec.

I picked the call, it was Amarvi who was calling me. What does that boy want now? To tell me for the 99th time that he wasn’t going to make it due to one false reason or the other.  I’ve given up on that dude and stopped sending him invitations, he would probably just come to dry up the party with his inexperience and I would end up been the hapless tutor.

“Amarvi?”

“Micah I’m at the gate.” 

Only Amarvi called me Micah whenever he wanted to annoy me. Amarvi believed I wasn’t worth the name Hardy, I was just soiling the Hardy brothers’ name but I already had that name before they shot to real prominence and stardom.

Silly boy, stay at the gate and enjoy the party. “Glad you made it. I’m inside so I’m going to stroll towards the gate and get your lousy body in. Are you with anyone?”

“Nope but I called Nnamdi and he said he’s coming with a coaster bus filled with guys and girls, they are very close to FESTAC.”

“Great, I will come and bring you in. Thank God you made it for the first time.”

He hissed, an offence no boy should be allowed to do and go scot-free. Only girls should be given the exclusive privilege to hiss like their tempter the Serpent. 

“I’m waiting Micah.”

I hung up on him, he was a simple kid who was struggling to gain his teenage independence from his parents. I carefully dropped the phone on the table, I could see their eyes transfixed on the phone especially Vanessa who might soon start drooling if nothing was done quickly.

I faced AY. “Amarvi has arrived.”

AY didn’t answer or nod, his eyes were still fixed on the phone and so were Linda’s and Vanessa’s. I looked around and a lot of people had already started flocking in, some were already dancing on the dance floor. I spotted DJ Lambe, a fellow student of the ‘jungle’ doing what he knows how to do best, disc jockeying.

I saw Breezy, Acehood, Sulty and about 9 more of my set mates already in the party premises. Most came alone with no girls, with the massive expectation of luring free girls to the dance floor while the few like Breezy who brought girls were already on the dance floor grooving.

I stood up. “I will be back soon, let me get my friend Amarvi before he gets lost.” 

I faced AY. “Take good and professional care of the girls while I go and bring that little boy in.” 

They were still transfixed by my phone, I picked up the phone, dropped it in my pocket and tapped AY. “C’mon your party is cool.”

I took quick, massive strides to try and get Amarvi in quickly. Those folks just behaved like hypnotised fools, how could they just be transfixed over a phone? Haven’t they seen one before? I pondered at this and even what would be going on over there right now.

The conversation they probably would be having right now was definitely going to be centred on me and would likely go like this: either Vanessa or Linda would start the conversation, maybe Linda, she responds to shock quicker than those two. 

“AY that friend of yours is stinking rich, just look at that phone. You told me that he is the heir apparent to FIRST group of companies, I didn’t really believe you until now, he is far richer than I imagined the heir to be.” 

AY would then buttress the point. “You haven’t seen anything yet, the way he spends in school you would think he hmjust robbed a Swiss bank, successfully carting away with millions of crispy fresh dollars. He spends in hot dollars.”

Vanessa would then be convinced she had found her Mr Perfect. “Does he have a girlfriend?”

Linda would glare sharply at her with jealous eyes and wished she had met me first before she met AY. 

AY would fill in the details and blanks. “He has a girlfriend, they always have heated squabbles but surprisingly they never break up.” 

Vanessa would then ask fearfully, “Is he waiting for her?”

Linda would be cursing her luck more vehemently and AY would say, “He is waiting for her but I doubt she will come.”

“Why?” The two friends would ask instantaneously.

AY would then start suspecting foul play but knowing him as a coolheaded guy, he would not sound the alarm bells yet and would even answer their question nonchalantly. “Whenever he doesn’t bring her to the party and he says she is going to come soon, she never shows up.”

“I will get him.” Vanessa would promise. Linda would rue her luck but try to conceal the feeling but some shades would still be visible and AY would rue my friendly visit.  

I met Amarvi clad in a green ‘Climate Change’ T-shirt and a black chino, looking ill at ease and nervous. Already he was sweating in this cool night weather and looking frightfully at all directions like a runaway market thief, first time for minors always looked like this. Amarvi was a short dark lad that was still under the derisive misconception and fairytale that he would one day grow double his present height. What he doesn’t know or he doesn’t want to accept is that at 15, he still has some few more years to add to his laughable height.

I remember my first time three years ago, I felt out of place then, my school father Faith introduced me to the ‘sweet’ life and gave me a glass of alcohol to drink. It tasted hot and bitter and made me feel a burning sensation in my chest but because of fear of the hunky Faith I drank the whole glass but ever since then I had never tasted alcohol ever again, becoming a proud teetotaller. I turned to smoking cigarettes and I really enjoyed puffing the smoke out till my mother caught me smoking one early morning in my room and beat the addiction out me and ever since then I’ve feared anything smoky. 

I tapped him on the left shoulder, he looked at me and scolded. “You wasted five minutes of my time Micah.”

“Why don’t you just shut up, brace yourself for what is still to come and shut your inexperienced mouth? Let’s go in.”

He followed me inside and I took my time to journey round and see what was happening, giving those three sufficient time to backbite me and still clean up the stink. The time was 7:55 PM and the party was already grooving and almost stretched to full capacity.

I saw Cosmos gulping down a bottle of beer like he was gulping water. Drunkard, I gave him just half an hour and he would be fully under the influence of alcohol. I walked up to him, he was now disgustingly slurping the drink. 

“Take it easy Cosmos or else you won’t find your way back home, you have already taken too much beer for one night!”

He rubbed his jutted pot belly in a circular motion. “I haven’t even yet drank up to three bottles and you are complaining, because you aren’t man enough to drink beer doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, go drink a glass of milk and mix it in Malt and enjoy yourself.” He laughed and turned to Amarvi. “First time?” 

The amateur nodded.

Cosmos nodded sideways. “Don’t follow Hardy footsteps because he doesn’t know anything about parties, only Zaynab that is in that small skull. Come and enjoy a drink with me to take you into the real spirit of partying then we can go and scout for the proper girls.”

I dragged Amarvi away quickly, Cosmos kept laughing like the drunkard he was destined to excel as. He was a class repeater who was supposed to be in SS3 but he was still in SS2 because his ‘parole’ source failed him during our last promotion examination. 

In school we hailed him as ‘parole’ lord because he never reads a book and yet always manages to pass averagely. He always impressively get the examination question papers a week to the start of our exams. I don’t know how but his anonymous source was always 100% correct. He sells them at the fixed rate of five hundred naira for theory, two hundred naira for objective and five hundred naira for practical per subject, so it was the surprise of the year when he repeated. Regretfully I was actively involved in this scam and always his first customer, booking my copies for the whole session during the holidays.

Amarvi laughed. “I came here to enjoy myself, not to be treated like a baby.” 

Amarvi was my good pal and was actively but effortlessly competing to be among the shortest in my set. I could count with my fingers the number of people he was taller than but I needed a calculator to total the number of people he was shorter than. He either followed me or he should prepare to get lost or even worse, be mistaken by the bouncers as an underage child with his undeniable baby face.

“If I don’t take you in and introduce you, the bouncers might just kick you out or do you see your height here?”

Amarvi, a jovial lad hit me on my temple and smiled. “If I can hit you there then I can bring any tall fool down.” 

We toured, waving at all our school folks and the Ojo and normal party folks who I wasn’t sure Amarvi knew.

I got to where Chigzy was and halted, he was smoking really badly and as usual I coughed more times than usual when I was around him than when I was around any other chained smoker. Chigzy wasn’t one of my school boys and from what I knew about him, he attended a private school here in FESTAC, was an orphan under the care of an uncle working in Florida who sends him money regularly that he uses to fuel his addiction.

“How far Chigzy?” 

He puffed out smoke from this mouth like an exhaust pipe. “Hardy I’m cool, how your side?”

“Chigzy everyone is hustling.” I coughed.

He laughed. “So rich kids do hustle?”

“Yes now, when your parents do not give you what you want, you have to strive to get it. My guy, I will see you later.”

Chigzy nodded and continued smoking. 

“Wait.” He paused and adjusted the cigarette. “Who is this short thing with you, is he your school son?”

I laughed, Amarvi didn’t laugh, he was clearly infuriated which he was entitled to but should get ready because more questions like that would crop up as we continued to stay together.

“Yes he is my school son, his name is Amarvi Christian and he is in JSS3.” 

Amarvi slapped me twice with his small weighty hands and I laughed the more to conceal the obvious physical pains I felt. Chigzy looked at me surprised and ready to pound his lightning wrath on him. 

“Your school son is strong-willed, you two must be really close for him to think of slapping you. Hardy you need to teach this kid a lesson or else you would lose the respect of all those junior boys.”

Amarvi hit me again and I laughed loudly, if you listened carefully you would hear the stifled sound of a cry. 

Chigzy shouted in his usual raspy voice. “Junior boy you better stop hitting my man unless I will tell your Senior Prefect and Labour Prefect about it but first I will deal with you.”

Amarvi trembled in fear because of his thick voice and his imposing size and he felt like a junior boy again. I came to his rescue. “Chigzy you should know me by now, I don’t joke with junior boys, and this boy is one of my set boys.”

“It’s a big lie, he’s so short.” He looked at Amarvi and puffed towards his direction making me cough, he was enjoying it. 

“Sorry.” He apologised and puffed again laughing.

“Chigzy this here is my friend and mate Amarvi.” 

We sat down and talked for a while. I got up when I could no longer stand the smoke, my coughing refused to subside and left Amarvi there with Chigzy and headed back to meet AY and the girls. They must have been talking about me because as soon as I got there they stopped talking.

“Hardy you are back.” Linda beamed.

I nodded and took my seat.

“You haven’t drank your beer.” Vanessa said.

Okay, what was going on? I smell something fishy here.

AY answered on my behalf. “He doesn’t take beer, he doesn’t even smoke. I wonder why he isn’t in a night vigil right now.”

“Interesting.” Vanessa smiled towards my direction. 

Unnecessary words and a sudden keen interest, crucial twin attributes of a ‘ravenous’ desperate Naija girl. Checked. ✔

She quickly added. “I don’t drink beer too.”

“Really?” I pretended to be thrilled. I knew the game she was playing, I could play the game well.

“Sure, Vanessa hates drinking beer and smoking too, you two have similar interests.” Linda enthused.

I doubted the possibility of us being likeminded. I looked at Linda in a startling manner then AY. “AY I’m thirsty but I can’t drink your beer, do you have something soft I can get for Vanessa and me?”

“Are you in a church party, go out and get a drink.” AY mocked.

“Fine.” I got up and headed towards Vanessa. 

“I’m going to get a drink for both of us, can you please accompany me to a nearby kiosk?” I smiled in my warmest style.

“I don’t really know this place, this is my first time here and I don’t want to get lost.” She said, acting overly shy for the first time since I met her. 

Pretence and sudden abnormal reluctance, twin attributes of a ‘hard to get’ desperate Naija girl. Checked. ✔

I smiled. “No problem.” Indeed there were problems. “You can wait here while I go get the drinks. May I ask what your preferred choice is?”

Between Vanessa and Linda I could tell that they someone communicated spiritually to each other without exchanging looks. 

“Don’t get me wrong Hardy,  want to follow you but you are still a stranger and I have this extreme fear of strangers.” 

Baseless and irrelevant excuses, ‘winning back’ war tactics of the desperate Naija girl. Checked. ✔

“Stranger?” AY asked puzzled.

Linda looked puzzled at Vanessa as if they had not planned the act together. “Vanessa what nonsense! He is a friend of AY and so he is not a stranger. He is a very good guy and won’t do anything bad to you.” 

She then rounded up the well memorised script in a superb style by turning to face me. “You will take good care of my best friend for me, won’t you Hardy?”

I gave an amazed smile and coughed mildly. “Just to walk to a kiosk and buy a drink for her to drink she requires me to sign a legal document and maybe kneel and beg for her to follow me!”

“Hardy it’s not like—” Vanessa said. 

“What harm can I possibly do? You are just been ridiculous.” I walked away, feigning anger.

Vanessa shouted so loudly she attracted my attention. “I’m really sorry for labelling you a stranger, let’s go and get a drink.”

Easy compromise when the dream fish was slipping off the hook, cunny attribute of a desperate Naija girl. Checked. ✔

I smiled and led the way out of the party. AY and Linda would have deliberately relocated by the time we got back to leave us to enjoy our drink and have a freer and more private atmosphere to talk, I could place a million dollar bet on it.

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