Fiction

Ezioma Kalu: My Best Friend, Naza

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Image: Moondance via Pixabay

There are two known truths in this life. One, tomorrow is not promised; and two, my best friend Naza knows everything about everything. And by everything, I mean every damn thing. Gosh! I give it up for that girl; she’s a real gist monger. What does she not know? She might even be the face behind that mysterious blog we’re all dying to strip of its anonymity, and I’m here taking her lightly. It was from her I heard that Fatima, that thick-waisted celebrity who influences a weight loss product, with a flawless, yellow-paw-paw, no-scar-no-scratch skin that glows like a smooth-textured flesh, an alabaster of gleaming goodness, actually went under the knife for her magnificent figure. Weight loss product in the mud…

I also heard from her that Fr. Mike, our charismatic Parish Priest who just returned from Prague, has two kids from different women. I call her ‘Naza the gist bender,’ because no piece of information can elude her. If you want to hear the real gist behind Big Brother Naija auditions, then you know whom to meet. Or you want your husband to get a vasectomy, but don’t know the right place to go, Naza will give you the numbers of five different medical doctors, leaving you with many options.

As Naza’s friend you can have one hundred problems, but ninety-nine won’t be about knowing who sells what, where and how, because Naza has a vendor or two for virtually anything you would want to buy, except if your own need has gone beyond the sphere of her ‘virtually anything,’ and you want to buy human body parts.

Is it amala you want to buy? Naza has ten plugs scattered in ten different markets for that. How about gold? She will connect you to the most influential jewelers in town. Her agility for sourcing information is unmatched and more than half the time, her stories are genuine. And as her friend, I get to enjoy the exclusive of any gist, before blogs even think of carrying them.

And now she’s telling me how money has been flowing into her account from different streams, since she opened her second Facebook account. It is Saturday, and since the ASUU strike, we always spend the weekend together in my house, because my parents are friendlier than hers, and she’d prefer being herself and chattering like she always does, to cowering in terror whenever she hears her daddy’s voice.

She’s helping me weave my hair all-back, and gisting me the latest. I am sprawled on the floor, the cold tiles making my bum uncomfortable with itches, like I didn’t clean them in the morning, and whimpering whenever she does so little as part my hair, or touch a section of it.

Bia this girl, shebi I’ve asked you to retouch your hair? I don’t understand why anyone would choose suffering over bliss,” she says, as she sprinkles a mixture of water and coconut oil on the fraction she just parted.

I chuckle. “Leave my virgin hair for me like that. I’m a proud African, and I will rock my natural hair the African way.”

“Odiegwu,” she smirks. “At least a part of you still maintains its virginity, even though we know this particular one doesn’t count…”

I pinch her toe and as she lets out a yelp, and at the same time, power is restored. But can the power holders ever restore it as quietly as they took it without causing trouble? Igasikwa… The extension that’s plugged to the wall socket blows, and we flee from the bedside, amidst chants of ‘Obara Jesus.’ I don’t realize that for the two days we have been in utter darkness, void of power and petrol for the generator, my extension has been plugged to the socket. This is exactly why daddy always scolds me, carelessness… Maybe one day I’ll change, but for now, let’s hurl all the blame on the notorious NEPA.

Nna eh, these people should be calming down abeg. What’s with the explosive anger kwanu? If they had burned my home theatre what will I tell daddy?” I say, picking the spoiled extension to discard in the bin. I’d have to buy another one soon, I can’t risk daddy going on his scolding binges, reminding me how I’m too careless for a young girl.

“Rubbish NEPA… Now that we’ve successfully missed the AMVCA Cultural show on Africa Magic, they’re bringing their nonsense light. They should take it back abeg, I don’t need it,” Naza laments, making my weaves too tight.

Eh! Because you don’t know it’s somebody’s hair you’re twisting like this… Break my neck o, shey na me be NEPA ni? Your own no pass AMVCA, you’re not even pitying my poor extension.”

“I can’t waste my pity on stuff like that… Abeg are you connecting your phone to the home theatre, or should I?”

“Let me connect joor. As if you have nice songs in that boring playlist of yours…” I say, reaching for my phone. Soon, the airy falsetto of Billie Eillish fills the room, as she sings “All the good girls go to hell.”

I peer into the small mirror I’m using to check my hair to see if she’s doing a neat job, and I catch a glimpse of Naza nodding her head to the rhythm of the song. I am surprised she’s behaving like a normal human being today. Ordinarily, she’d scoff and say the song is trash and we’re simply overhyping Billie, but today she does none of that. It seems she’s really into the song, and it’s beautiful to see. I will still yab her later about it, but let’s enjoy the moment for now.

She interrupts my thoughts and says, “Good girl no dey pay, shey you know?” And I’m wondering why she’s saying that all of a sudden.

Nawa o, e be like say ashawo don’ dey hungry you, diswan you’re dropping quotes here and there.”

 “You no just get sense,” she says, and shakes her head, like she pities me for being senseless.

Ehem babe you never still gist me about that your second Facebook account… Wetin dey happen? Gist your girl nah,” I say, tilting my head sideways and readying for a bout of gossip.

Asinee,” she claps her hands, puts them on her waist, and gives me the look that says ‘are you ready for this rollercoaster ride?’ hell yeah! I was born ready… “You know since Nneka got that her bobo from Facebook?”

“Which bobo?”

“The one that’s abroad nah, with his dirty dreadlocks and ugly tattoo…”

“Oh okay…”

“She’s been ignoring me since then o, a whole me… Naza Thee Stallion,” she kisses her teeth and continues weaving my hair. “Wo, me I now rushed to open another Facebook specifically to be selling my market, and omo market has been booming o.”

Oshey Angelica the market seller,” I hail, and we both guffaw, till we hold our tummies, writhing in pain.

This girl you no well, I swear… My dear o, I’m not joking. I’ve been catching rich rich guys, fine fine guys, both from Naija and away. Cos e be like say this strike no go end anytime soon, so I say make I dey use those ones dey hol’ body till then.”

“Babe ehn,” I say, turning to face her. “How you take dey run your paroles? What do you tell these guys that make them credit you?”

She smiles and scratches her hair, then nudges me to tilt my head sideways, so she’d continue the weaving. “You just have to be smart, that’s all. Just know the right things to tell them. Do you even know Victoria is pregnant?” She changes the topic.

“Which Victoria?”

“How many do you know? Osita’s younger sister nah…”

“It’s a lie…” I say, widening my eyes.

Eziokwu… You’re talking as if you don’t know me again,” she caresses the last weave, and tells me she’s done.

“Wait o, so that girl is no longer a virgin? Tufia! Children of nowadays…”

“They’re currently looking for an abortion plug sef, but I will not put my mouth in their matter, it’s not me they will land in trouble. They should go and treat their fuck up themselves,” she says, and then the song switches to Ocean’s Eyes by Billie Eillish. “Babe change this song abeg, ahn ahn. Person go just dey play depressing songs, when we no dey mourn…”

Yes, that’s typical Naza …

***

I am reading “All shades of Iberibe” by Kasimma, but my mind keeps kissing the words Naza told me on Saturday, making it impossible for me to concentrate.

Nawa o, Naza is seriously cashing out on Facebook, and I’m here reading. Who reading help?” I mumble, and fling the book on my table. It’s Monday, and Mondays mean sit-your-ass-at-home-and-read-or-play-or-do-whatever. Monday, which used to be the most hectic day of the week, has been rendered useless, more useless than the letter ‘y’ in ‘hymn,’ since the arrest and detention of the IPOB leader.

So, in Enugu, Monday is an extension of Sunday. Monday means staying at home with my parents and changing the T.V. stations at daddy’s whims. Monday means spending hours in the kitchen, making okpa and cooking ofe ede with mummy. Monday means horror, because staying at home all day with Nigerian parents can be devastating, especially when you have a nosey mother like mine, who would barge into your room anytime she deems fit, to ask you about the boy you’re dating, and when you think he will pop the question.

Mummy is a bundle of wahala, but she’s the love of my life regardless. Since the strike, I’ve lost my discernment of days. I do not know which day is which, because of their sameness. If not for the date and time icons on my phone’s lockscreen, I won’t be able to tell when Monday slips into Tuesday, or when Friday slides over to Saturday.

Speaking of phones, I remember I’ve not touched mine all day. So, I creep out of my bed, walk to the wall socket, unplug it, turn on my air conditioner, and fall back on my bed with a mighty thud. If I care about the fact that the bed is made of wood, and will break if I keep jumping on it like John Cena in the wrestling ring, it’s deep in my subconscious. What’s my own? If it breaks, daddy will buy another one; that’s one of the perks of being an only daughter. Though it’s a frigid day, I still turned on the air conditioner and I’m nuzzling in my bed, under my Spongebob duvet. The time is 12:50p.m., and I’m still in my pajamas. I’ll have my bath much later abeg.

I’m thinking of opening another Facebook account, but I don’t know what to say or do to convince people to send me money. Naza says to be smart, but for goodness sake, I don’t know what that is. I don’t know whether my own Facebook account is cursed, or I’m using the wrong application.

Nawa o,” I hiss. “People are getting reasonable guys that are sending them money, but my own Facebook is filled with ndi uchu, crazy people.” I decide to check my Facebook account one last time; maybe I will see a guy I can hold a meaningful conversation with. Who knows, I might just get lucky and get myself a boyfriend, or a guy that’s willing to be sending me money just for existing, or both. So, I click on the Facebook icon on my homescreen, and the first post I see, makes me have an out-of-body experience for a moment.

My secondary school classmate, Nkechi Nwafor, is flaunting a new car she just bought. She is clad in a yellow bum short that barely covers her ass, and a black top, and sitting on the bonnet of her new vehicle, I don’t know the model sha, but I think it’s a Benz, with the caption;

“Steady on my grind, working my ass off, haters be mad. LOL…

Say hello to my new baby…”

A shudder passes through my body as I stare at her picture. “Ashawo,” I curse. “We know the ass you’re working off.”  I can’t believe my eyes. How can Nkechi, that teeny-weeny dunce that used to copy my answers back then in school own a benz, and I’m here looking for who will send me urgent 2k? Girls and hookups… “So Nkechi sef don dey do hookup like this? Na only me still remain for this goody-two-shoes camp. Nawa o,” I shrug. I’m not about to be left behind. I must make the most of my own social media page. So, I log off from my account, and am set to open a new one. Cheers to a new dispensation. May money and more money flow…

***

I am now creating my own second Facebook account, and I’m excited for what it will bring. In this new account, I’ll be a different person. Yes, that Mmesoma Ubah, who always receives ridiculous “Hi angle” messages from stupid boys, is gone. I am rebranding myself, and everything about me should be new and classy. For my name, I choose Winifred Charles, my baptismal name and my father’s English name. At least, I’m not lying about my identity; it’s my name as much as Mmesoma Ubah is, only that the latter is more popular. For my profile picture, I use a picture of my favorite South Korean actress Bae Suzy, the one she’s wearing a black tank top on black ripped jeans; her hair scattered in the air. She’s a screen goddess and the perfect face for my disguise quest.

My profile is set. Profile photo, check. Bio, double check… Oh, my bio is hilarious, it reads, “Psychic in the day, freak at night…” and I wonder how I’m able to come up with that. ‘Psychic’ is not the best word to describe me and I don’t know why that word came to mind first. Maybe it’s because I just heard the female lead call someone a psychic in the episode of ‘Clean with passion for now,’ that’s playing on my laptop.

Talking about psychics, maybe I can become one… “Wait o, I can really become a psychic in this my second account,” I say, squishing my eyebrows, as I bask in my Eureka moment. For my first post, I type;

Hello everyone, my name is Winifred, and I’m a psychic. I just opened this Facebook account, and for that, I’ll be doing a free reading for the first ten people to comment under this post. Ask me any question you have about your life, and I’ll look into the spiritual realm to give you answers. Terms and conditions apply. #psychic. #spirituality. #horoscope. #readings.

I’ve come across posts like this in the past, and always laugh at people’s gullibility as I scroll pass. Why would anyone believe bogus posts like this? Why can’t they smell the fraud that it is from a thousand miles away? Well, today I’m just catching cruise and flexing my new account, wahala for who believe my post o. I’m sure no human with a head on their neck will fall for this hoax, but… is this a ding I hear? Wow, it’s a notification, someone has commented. Jesus! Someone believes this post! Are you kidding me?

“Mmesoma breathe, just breathe and play along. Remember, you’re just catching cruise, be smart, play along,” I say, sucking in a rush of air. The comment says;

Nnedi AdibeHi Winifred, why do I find it difficult finding love? Everyone eventually leaves me. Is there something I’m not doing right?

I am laughing at the poor girl’s stupidity. How on earth will you believe someone whose identity you don’t know? Well, Naza says to be smart, and smart I must be.

I reply her almost immediately;

Winifred CharlesHello Nnedi, have you asked yourself why everyone leaves you eventually? It’s because there’s a spirit in you that repels them. You’re a nice person who goes all out for the people you love, but that foul spirit wants you to be lonely for life. Your case is so deep, that I can’t say everything I’m seeing in the spiritual realm right here. Send me a private message, and I’ll tell you what to do. But you’ll have to pay for consultation. Thanks.

Nnedi AdibeJesus, you’re correct. How did you know? Oh my God you’re so genuine. I’m heading over to your inbox right away. I’ll pay any amount for the solution.

Wait… hol’ up… Did you guys just see that? This girl has fallen for my antic. Like I was just catching cruise o, nothing deep. Now she has sent me a private message. But I’ll keep playing along sha, I have nothing to lose. Jesus! More comments are flooding in… Like are these people for real? How do I undo this? Should I delete the post and deactivate my account? No. Naza says to be smart, and hell yeah I need money like mad. After all, nobody knows my identity, so I can flee whenever I want.

More comments!

Ndubuisi ElioguHi ma’am my business is dwindling by the day, what do I do?

Winifred CharlesDo you realize you have a calling and have been running away from it for so long? Send me a private message and we’ll discuss fully about it. Remember you’ll pay consultation fee o.

Jennifer IretiWahala… Abeg Sandra Bolu, comman see ooo.

Sandra BoluJennifer Ireti abeg wetin dey sup, I just dey enter this blue street.      

Jennifer IretiSandra Bolu, you no go like read your destiny? This lady dey do am for free oo. Come and know why Ogun dey destroy your head. LOL.

Sandra BoluJennifer Ireti, Iya e. You be fool sha, I no blame you.

Precious DanielsIt’s like you’re godsent. I just dey carry my courses over like say tomorrow no dey. What will I do please? I’m tired.

Winifred CharlesHi, Precious Daniels, hope you know you’re a water child? Come to my inbox and I’ll tell you more. I can’t say much publicly. Terms and conditions apply.

Precious Daniels – Right away ma’am…

Mhista TublizzHi, I’m an upcoming artiste, I just need 2k to transport myself to my shoot.

Ahm Dhat Dowpe Faevour –  Mhista Tublizz, Ode. Beggie beggie oshi. Evri post u wl b begn.

Mhista TublizzAhm Dhat Dowpe Faevour, ashawo like you. Common get out and get a life.

I pinch my lips to make sure I’m still alive, and hell yeah, this baby girl is very much alive and kicking. Omo cruise is sweet o, and just like my best friend Naza said the last time, good girl no dey pay. So, people have money like this in this country and we all have been complaining and blaming leaders for being so corrupt, and carting away with our resources? Mbanu, I can’t just sit aside and watch. I have to make the most of this situation. Since these people have a lot of money and are willing to waste it on frivolities, I’m doing them a great favor spending it for them.

Even though I’m charging five thousand naira for my consultation fee, five people have already paid theirs. Just few minutes ago, I was begging Chike, my class representative for urgent 2k, and now I have twenty five thousand naira to my name… Is God not wonderful? The bible says that all things work together for those who trust the Lord almighty and I’m manifesting that now. Because when I opened this bank account with the name Winifred Charles, I didn’t know it would come handy for me. I just did it to qualify for a raffle draw by one of the banks that came for publicity in my school. How did I know a day when I will turn into a yahoo girl will come?

Being a fraudster has never been this easy and smooth, and I’m enjoying every bit of the journey. I will have to buy a giant-sized chicken shawarma and a big pack of Hollandia yogurt in the evening to step it down, you get nah? I’ve craved for those yummy goodness, and thanks to my smartness, I’m getting to take them. Well, let me call Naza and inform her of my latest achievement. Yeah, cheers to a new dispensation.

***

I am now eating my shawarma and drinking a chilled pack of my favorite yogurt, as I video call Naza to give her the gist. Las las good girl no dey pay, and I can’t agree less with Naza who made me realize that. With the way this business is going, I’m thinking of expanding my horizon. Maybe I’ll open another Facebook account and come up with a new trick. I might even set up a team with Naza and plan a heist… I chuckle at my own imagination. Mmeso, try dey calm down kwanu… Take it a step at a time, I think.

Guy, you be winch o, I just check that page now, and omo people dey comment wella. How did you do it? I dun dey fear you like this o,” Naza says and smiles a bright, sincere smile. My best friend is proud of me and it’s cute to see. She’s sitting on a cream, leather cushion, a type neither of our parents can afford, and wearing a bralette on a bum short. She can dress like that in her father’s house, but only when she is ready to move into a foster home, because the Mr. Ifeanyi that I know will rather drink a bucket of paint, than allow such indecent dressing in his home.

So, I ask, “Babe where you dey? Today is sit-at-home o, where you waka enter like this?”

She throws her head backwards and laughs that her stupid laughter that makes her sound like a chicken. “I’m in David’s house. I’ve been here since last night, I told my dad I was coming to yours.”

“And you didn’t give me heads-up? What if they had called?”

“Your number was off, and I know you’d cover up for me nah.”

Ashawo,” I say, and clap my hands to go back to the gist of before. “You no go like make I read your future?”

“Yahoo girl like you…” she laughs. “You think I’m all those your unfortunate customers on Facebook.”

“My dear pray for me o make my ministry dey move well. I’m even thinking of expanding it.”

“It’s greed that will finally kill you. Shey you will not finish one first before you jump into another?”

“My dear o… Babe these people want to drain my battery… Excess notifications… We go talk later jare.” So, I end the call and go back to the Facebook post, but my eyes are threatening to jump out of their sockets because what is this I’m seeing? My post now has a total of five hundred comments and one thousand likes, and it has only been four hours. Since I became a Facebook user five years ago, the most I’ve gotten is a total of two hundred and fifty likes and sixty-two comments. Wow! I’m tripping.

More people want readings, and I’m only responding based on assumptions. It’s as easy as ABC. For Nnedi Adibe, finding love is a herculean task, but it’s not rocket science to give her a befitting reading. This is Africa, and we are brainwashed to believe that every bit of discomfort or misfortune we face in our lives, must have traces of spirituality. So, I dangled the spiritual card, and she fell, head first. Who doesn’t have it tough finding love these days? Even I, the self-acclaimed psychic, am single to stupor, but does that mean I am tied to a spiritual tree somewhere? Igasikwa. The game is the game, and I’m only but a player. And hope you know better to hate the game and not the player? Of course you do.

Common sense is not really common. I just received Ndubuisi’s alert now, and am shaking my head. I checked his profile a moment ago, and he is thirty-three. So, at thirty-three years, he doesn’t understand the concept of inflation, and that Nigeria is consistently sinking deeper into the abyss of recession? Well, I’m not sorry for him. If he doesn’t know that things are hard these days and businesses are going under due to the terrible condition of the country, then I’d rip him off again and again.  Stupid old man…

Well, more people are falling for my scam, and I’m busy living my best life. I hope God understands it’s not easy for me too. In fact, the government is to be blamed. If they had paid ASUU, then the angry lecturers wouldn’t have gone on strike. And if school was in session, then my parents would be sending me my allowance. I won’t have any excuse to be broke or think of dubious ways to make money. The strike is indefinite, and with the state of affairs, I’m afraid it can linger for years. Then I won’t have a certificate, and won’t be able to get a job. So, if I can’t be employed, I have to employ myself at least. This baby girl lifestyle I dream of living, won’t afford itself. These wraps of shawarma and boxes of pizza won’t buy themselves. I have needs, and a baby girl’s got to fend for herself.

Omo this sharwama is the bomb,” I say, as I eat the last strand of cabbage and toss the empty foil inside my bin. “If I quit this scam make I bend.”

***

After a week, and one hundred and fifty thousand naira in my account later, I have become the queen of Facebook. My anonymity is topnotch, as I’m so particular about not creating any loophole, where information about me can seep through. Nobody knows who I am, and I’m not even sure if they care to find out the invisible human behind that fake profile picture. Apart from Bae Suzy who is my profile picture, and Rihanna who is my cover photo, I have no other pictures on my wall. Also, none of my friends from my old account, made it to this new one, because I’m a new creature who has nothing to do with things that have fizzled away.

It’s ironical that I, who used to pray for the strike to end, have changed my prayer point. No, I don’t want the strike to end, not now, not ever. I wasn’t even bright academically, so this is a perfect opportunity to quit school without facing wagging tongues and piercing eyes. Is the universe not blessing me? I’m making easy money from the comfort of my bed daily.

Everyone has problems, and everyone wants an end to them. But it’s only the foolish, impatient ones that want to take a peek into the future to find out what’s delaying it, why it can’t come sooner. What’s the fun of a movie if there are too many spoilers? What’s the fun of life if the future is predictable?

The unpredictable nature of the future makes it more fascinating. Because you don’t know what the future holds, you’re hopeful it will bring good fortunes. But when you already know how your story will end, does it make sense to continue reading it, if the ending is not favorable? Omo these questions are not mine to answer sha, because what’s my own? I’m just trying to live out my own life span and have fun while at it. But who knows my little fun will be short-lived?

I am sleeping jeje on my bed after a long night of readings, and oblivious of the happenings in the Facebook realm. And I would not even know I’m trending, if Mummy Prisca, my mother’s hair stylist doesn’t blow my phone with her call.

“Who is this unlucky jerk disrupting my peace this morning?” I say, amidst a yawn I do nothing to stifle. The corners of my eyes crinkle, as I see the I.D. of my caller, like why is this woman calling me out of the blue?

“Hello Aunty,” I say, swiping at my eyes and yawning loudly.

“What’s this I’m seeing on Facebook?”

“What are you seeing?”

“Are you Winifred Charles?”

I feel my blood pulsate in my eyelids, and the inside of my head become ridiculously blank, as I’m trying so hard to remember who I am, and why Mummy Prisca is asking me these questions.

“I, I, how, like how, ehm, do you know?” I am stuttering like the motherfucker in Ayra Starr’s ‘Away,’ because my life has become a toddler, and toddling away, under my nose.

“Check your Facebook,” she says, and ends the call.

A wave of nausea swells inside me and I pay no attention to it, because it shouldn’t even make it to the list of my worries. I am so nervous and scared, that my heart is beating like it’s on a speed-date, and a shallow pool is forming along my spine.

My phone is buzzing with calls and text messages, but I ignore them all, and manage to open my Facebook page. My clammy hands are jerking, and in my erratic mind, I am watching different scenarios of what would have gone wrong, in three flat screen televisions.  In all, I am busted, and being dragged by the entire nation. My tummy’s up in knots as I click a nervous finger on my notification bar. Apparently, someone has revealed my identity to a blog and I’m being dragged silly by all Zuckerberg’s children. But no one knows my identity… No one, but my best friend Naza…

—————–

Image: Moondance via Pixabay

About the author

Ezioma Kalu

Ezioma Kalu is a fast-rising Nigerian writer and author. In 2021 she self-published an E-book; ‘Weird Obsession and other stories.’ Her works have appeared/are forthcoming on some online literary platforms like Kalahari Review, Writers Space Africa - Nigeria, Terror House Magazine, Libretto Magazine, Salamander Ink Magazine and Livina Press. Kalu writes from Enugu, Nigeria, and looks forward to creating a niche for herself in the literary world. Connect with her on: Facebook: Ezioma Kalu. Twitter: Ezioma_Nwanyimma. Instagram: ezioma_kalu.

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