It was the 26th of December, 2014, more than a month after she’d become the DS, Cecil stood at the door of Daniel Akpan’s house and rang the bell.
Having spent the whole of Christmas day at the office, finally completing the cache of reports on the most important cases handled by the SSS, she’d been glad to receive Eddy’s call.
The dear woman had explained that this was just a pre-meeting to conclude plans for the main, get together event which would be an all night affair, at the end of the month, ushering them into the New Year.
And today was also their night out, or something, Cecil hadn’t really heard that part, she’d been shamelessly grateful that she was being added to an all female affair.
She’d always had to be strong and independent in her job, which meant she had little or no female friends. And she had definitely not experienced gathering with women and planning an event, not since her secondary school days and that seemed like eons ago…another century in fact.
Eddy had explained that they were going to use one of her friends’ home, which would be easily accessible to Cecil, since she was new in town. She was slightly nervous to meet the rest of the women; women she’d read about, their daring exploit to help out a friend had been both foolish and impressive.
But Cecil was nervous because, even though she didn’t have female friends, she was aware of how women generally acted with a new woman coming into their midst. Cecil was nervous of the pettiness common among a group of women, she wished they’d all be as nice as Eddy, though she wasn’t banking on it.
The door finally opened and Cecil straightened, her right hand nervously arranging her skirt while her face broke into an amiable smile.
Her smile stumbled though, because she wasn’t facing who she’d been expecting; a man stood there, looking like he was on his way out.
“Oh, err…you must be the new addition,” Daniel commented with a smile.
“Excuse me?” Cecil asked, confused and wondering what he was talking about.
“The ladies are child-likely excited to have such a celebrity with them. By the way, I’m Daniel Akpan, this is my home, and my wife is Wana, the one that is a bit on the crazy side.”
Daniel widened the already opened door and waved her in with a smile, “Go straight down into the kitchen and then out the back door, you’ll find them there,” he directed.
“Thank you,” Cecil murmured self consciously, she’d not realized they regarded her as celebrity.
“Good luck and have fun,” Daniel waved at her with a wide grin she interpreted as mischievously gleeful, like he knew something she didn’t know, before he shut the door, leaving her standing alone in his elegant sitting room.
Now she was more nervous than she’d been when she’d knocked on the door. The squeals of a lot of children and one or two women shouting reprimands at the kids, reached her ears before she took a deep breath and opened the back door.
She had no idea what she’d been expecting but it definitely wasn’t what she was currently staring at.
A big, round, plastic table occupied part of the interlocked backyard and several women, all…plump, occupied plastic seats around the table. At a glance, Cecil was able to count six or seven children and a teenager who looked like she wanted to be anywhere else but there. The table was covered with so many snacks, Cecil was unable to particularly identify one, at least not from this distance.
Another fair complexioned woman, apart from Eddy noticed her first and then tapped, a dark complexion woman, who was as tall as Eddy, to get her attention.
Cecil didn’t know what to do, her feet had just suddenly ceased to work, so she just stood there. The tall, dark lady turned from shouting at a racing boy of six or so, and finally noticed Cecil, then she was screaming in excitement and hurrying towards her.
“Oh my God, you came! We thought you might not be able to make it, seeing as this isn’t the main event, but a pre-planning. But we’d all hoped that you’d make it and now you are here. Oh my God, you’re so beautiful!” she exclaimed while smiling widely at her and breathing from the exertion of hurrying to her and talking a mile a second.
Cecil glanced at the other tow women, both watching her curiously with calm smiles and she knew she was currently facing Wana, the a bit crazy wife of Daniel and owner of this house.
“Um…I said I would come,” she stammered, not knowing what else to say, and then awkwardly extending the bottle of wine she’d bought on her way over.
Wana received it with a happy grin, “You guys, she brought wine!” she exclaimed, lifting the drink over her head and showing it to the other women who cheered and laughed because the little kids cheered too.
Eddy finally approached with a smile on her face, “You should have offered her a seat before bombarding her with a full dose of you,” she joked and led Cecil to one of the seats around the table.
“I know you described her as impressive but I never thought she’d be so…”
“Classy,” the seated fair complexioned woman provided, “Hi, I’m Debbie John…” she reached out with a smile and Cecil caught her hand in a shake.
“You’re too kind,” she murmured, currently overwhelmed with everyone.
“It’s true, Cecil…can we call you Cecil? Or would you prefer we call you madam? It will be okay, whatever you’re comfortable with…”
“Cecil is fine, except when I’m in the office…”
“Oh, and we heard you took uncle…” Wana had been about to say ‘Ebong’, but Eddy’s wide eyed, stern look stopped her words and she stammered for what to say.
“…err…Williams’ job,” Wana finished lamely, having forgotten that they weren’t supposed to mention Ebong when Cecil got there, at least for this first visit, or else the woman might not return for the main event.
“Williams?” Cecil asked with a confused frown and the women seemed to freeze, they didn’t know how to explain the gaffe.
Eddy chuckled derisively, “That’s how we used to call the former DS, it was a one time joke my husband made and our friends just sort of bought into it. Additionally, I’d warned them not to talk of work today,” Eddy said, giving Wana another stern look.
Wana chuckled, “I’m sorry, that sort of slipped. But we are very grateful for the wine,” she enthused, “Unfortunately, we can’t drink it…at least, not anytime soon.”
Cecil frowned again, this time embarrassed that she might have bought a fake, “Is…is the wine bad?”
“Oh, no, no, no…what Wana is trying to say is that we’re all pregnant,” the short, dark complexioned woman explained with a smile, “By the way, I’m Alero, Morgan Ekpembe’s wife, he works for you.”
“I know Ekpembe,” Cecil said, managing to smile, especially as she recalled the agent’s impressive exploits and the story of him, his wife and King Edem, the currently incarcerated criminal.
She was shocked to find out that they were all pregnant, like they planned it? She might not have had female friends but she was sure women couldn’t plan pregnancies at once.
“Um…congratulations,” she said weakly, and then since she couldn’t bear the curiosity, she asked, “Did you …plan it?”
Wana laughed readily while Eddy looked embarrassed, the other women chuckled.
“Apparently, our husbands did,” Debbie supplied calmly.
“Oh, not mine, I’m almost four months gone,” Alero said, her stomach wasn’t yet obvious but her incessant eating was.
“I don’t understand, like they got together and decided to impregnate their wives?” Cecil’s brow furrowed in consternation, she felt like she’d just walked into a mad house.
Wana laughed again, “Actually, something like that. Well, at least, my husband said it hadn’t been intentional, but Morg had mentioned that his wife was pregnant at their last guys’ night out, and he’d wished we could have another baby. So, after a really emotional quarrel that night, serious make-up sex happened, and viola, I ended up pregnant because we’d been so passionate we forgot to use emergency contraceptives,” she explained while laughing with the other women.
Cecil wondered why they weren’t abashed to be sharing such intimate details of their lives to a total stranger, or was this how female gatherings worked?
“Mommy, MJ is pinching me,” a six year old girl squealed and Debbie turned to her with a weary look. But then she focused a stern look on the smaller girl grinning impishly at her mother.
“MJ stop pinching your sister, or I’m not going to make pancakes for you tomorrow,” Debbie warned.
“Mommy, why are you laughing?” the six year old asked with interest, causing chuckles from the other women.
“It’s adult conversation, BJ, now go and play,” Debbie shushed her children away and watched as the girls ran off to join the other children.
.“Oh mine was intentional alright,” Eddy resumed the narrative, “Slay returned and overnight, he became this solicitous guy. I was getting breakfast in bed and getting a much needed break from bathing our sons and preparing them for school. He took me out to dinner, two nights in a row, all the while covertly following up my menstrual cycle with the Clue app …”
Wana gasped, “He snuck a peek on your menstrual app?” she seemed appalled but was giggling at the same time too.
Eddy sighed wearily, “Worse, I just discovered he has the app hidden in a folder on his phone, he’s been updating it when I menstruate.”
“Isn’t that…I don’t know…weird? I’d definitely be angry,” Cecil sputtered, causing the women to laugh good naturedly.
“Well, we’ve always used mine to know my fertile period and stay away from sex or use emergency protection if we couldn’t. But he kept his own so that he’d know my extreme fertile days, which he’d been working towards.”
“Working towards?” Cecil was still confused.
“The dinners, breakfast in bed…in all that time he didn’t push to make love with me and then on the forth day of his sudden solicitousness, he seduced me. By this time though, I swear, after all he’d been doing, treating me like a queen, I would have swung from the fan naked if he’d asked.”
Cecil couldn’t help joining in their laugh at the image of the plump Eddy swing from the fan. Alero laughed so hard she had to hurry inside to empty her bladder.
“PJ did the same thing but hadn’t put in so much work like Slay apparently had…I guess I’m easy, but the whole situation was curious,” Debbie said, just as Alero returned to the table.
“So curious, and they didn’t stop at a day or two or week, nooo…” Wana continued, telling the story dramatically. “They continued their plan and we became weaker and weaker in their arms, having the best sex of our lives since we entered the second half of this year…”
“Wana!” Debbie called out but laughed like everyone else.
“The ladies kept having conference calls to share their husbands’ caring attitude and I kept wondering why it was such a big deal, Morgan does this kind of things as easily as breathing,” Alero confided.
“Ekpembe?” Cecil asked with wide eyed shock and Wana laughed.
“You see, Alero, that’s another person confirming how mean your husband generally looks…well unless Alero or his children are in the vicinity.”
“I’d never have pegged him a romantic,” Cecil said, “I still can’t believe it, I’ve been here a whole month and never seen him smile.”
“Oh, he is, I can’t even say how many times I’ve been jealous to hear the things he does for Alero,” Eddy added, chuckling.
“Which is why Alero is always pregnant…you’re butter in his hands,” Wana pointed out, causing an eruption of laughter among the women, Cecil too.
“Seriously,” Alero began while wiping tears of mirth from her eyes, “I makeup my mind that I’m going to tell him I’m tired and that we should take a break, at least for a night, but the moment he touches me, I’m gone. At some point I started wondering if he had magic fingers, all he had to do was touch me and my legs become lax.”
“TMI, Alero!” Debbie shouted and laughed with everyone.
“I can explain the magic fingers though, it’s happened to me,” Wana said, clearing her throat after the loud laugh, “When you have continuous sex with your partner and of course because you’re both compatible and in love, your body is easily turned on when he touches you, in fact, it’s like your body can recognize him when he’s near and just goes into readiness for love making.”
“That’s so true,” Eddy concurred.
“Oh, well, I must be living the dream then,” Alero said sarcastically, causing laughter that didn’t seem to be reducing until, Eddy’s second son ran over and complained that he was hungry, rapidly followed by Wana’s son.
“Adult time over,” Wana announced wearily, “We should definitely introduce our kids to you, so you don’t get confused,” she told Cecil who nodded with a smile.
“Start from the oldest…we need Ruth to go and scoop the food for these crazy bunch,” Eddy directed.
“Ruth, come greet aunty Cecil,” Wana called and Cecil stared as the teenager hurried over. Even though she’d looked out of sorts earlier, she was practically skipping now as she hurried over with a smile.
“Good evening, aunty,” Ruth greeted.
“She’s my first, she’s fourteen,” Alero said proudly.
Cecil hugged the kid from the side, smiling up at her from her sitting position. “Beautiful girl,” she said and watched Ruth smile shyly.
“Now hurry into the kitchen and dish their food. The plates are on the counter. Do you remember the color coding?” Wana called after the teenager.
“Yes, aunty Wana,” she replied over her shoulder and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Color coding?” Cecil wanted to know.
“That was Wana’s idea, each family has their colors and everything from water bottles to plates come in those colors, so that they kids don’t overstep each other’s boundaries,” Alero explained.
“And it’s worked, since we all have to entertain the clan at one time or the other, we took up the practice, our homes also have the coding, so the children aren’t confused, they’ve gotten used to it,” Debbie said.
“It’s actually…brilliant,” Cecil said and shockingly, Wana whooped with both her hands in the air.
“You hear that, Ladies, I’m brilliant!”
“Put down your hands and stop scaring the kids. With the way you’re shouting, one would think you won the Pulitzer,” Eddy chuckled, while trying to keep the children, milling around the table in check.
“Who is the oldest after Ruth?” Wana called out, having gotten used to making any mundane task become interesting for kids due to her experience from the orphanage.
“Me!” Tony, Wana’s son squealed, causing his mom to sigh wearily and the other women to laugh.
“Shut up, Tony, you’re six and BJ is older than you,” Wana said with a laugh, but reached out her arm to pull Eddy’s first son towards Cecil.
“This handsome dude here, is Tieneabasi, Eddy’s first son and he’s seven.”
“Good evening, aunty,” the boy greeted, barely able to stand still, he looked so much like his father and would be tall too.
“Good evening, darling…” Cecil barely had her hand on his shoulder when he was shooting off towards the kitchen.
“I really hope, Ruth has his food ready,” Eddy murmured worriedly while holding her second son close.
“I want to follow, T-boy,” her second son complained.
“You will in a short while, you just have to greet aunty first. Don’t you want to greet aunty?”
“I better go help Ruth,” Alero sighed after the little boy had grudgingly nodded.
“Or, we’ll have a riot on our hands soon,” Debbie added and laughed.
“Okay, six year olds, step forward,” Wana called out and laughed when her son hurried forward with an impish grin on his face.
“You’re second, Tony, stand behind BJ,” she directed, and the boy grumbled but he did as told, shifting restlessly while the introductions continued.
“This is Blessing, Debbie’s first girl and she’s six, a few months older than my Tony…”
“I’m six!” he exclaimed from his position.
“We know,” Eddy chuckled.
“We call her BJ as is the culture of their family. The dad is PJ as in Paul John, my friend there is DJ, Debbie John, Blessing John and Miracle John…”
“Yes!” three year old Miracle ran over from where she’d been kicking Tony’s ball, her eyes bright with excitement.
“Yes!” Mike, Alero’s last son, also three, ran over as though he’d heard his name too.
Wana sighed wearily again, “Okay, this won’t work as I envisioned it. The last guy on the line is Abel, Alero’s first son, also a few months older than Tony and there’s Praise, Eddy’s second son, who looks ready to cry, and is four years old and hungry…you can go inside now,” she announced and the group erupted in happy cheers.
Cecil did her best to take in all the information she’d been given, while smiling and hugging the kids and feeling like she had really missed out by not having tried harder for a kid.
“So,” Cecil began while watching the children race to the kitchen with Eddy right behind them, “Eddy has two boys, Tiene and Praise, seven and four years old. Debbie has two girls, BJ and MJ, six and three. Alero has three kids, one girl, Ruth, fourteen, Abel and Mike, six and three. Then you have, Tony…”
“And my adopted daughter, from Daniel’s former marriage, Stacey, she’s twenty and hopefully will still make it for the event.”
“Don’t forget, Richard,” Debbie added, smiling.
“I grew up in an orphanage and I’d been the one to find him where he’d been abandoned as a baby, so I took care of him…that’s story for another day, but yes, he’s one of mine too, and he’s twenty two…”
“And he’s the world’s most independent individual,” Debbie added again, laughing.
“I don’t know what I’ll do with that boy. You know I called him and had to threaten him by the fifth time that I’d never speak to him again if he doesn’t come home, before he grudgingly agreed,” she scoffed and rolled her eyes.
“Look what the cat dragged in!” Eddy exclaimed from the kitchen door, when the ladies turned, Richard loomed behind Eddy, so tall, he could almost compete with Morgan, who was the tallest of the clan.
Wana and Debbie squealed, rushing out of their chairs and racing to the young adult like two teenage girls. Cecil watched the reunion with a fond smile, the young man grinned as he got hugged severally by the women.
Both of them asked him a million questions and he patiently tried to answer them, he didn’t even look uncomfortable that he was being passed from hug to hug between Wana and Debbie.
“Cecil, this is Richard, the one I was just telling you about,” Wana reported excitedly.
“I thought as much,” Cecil replied calmly with a small smile.
“Richard, this is Cecil, the new…”
“Our new friend!” Eddy interrupted brightly while giving Wana the stern look again because she would have made the slip…yet again.
“Yes,” Wana instantly concurred, “She’s part of the clan now.”
Richard chuckled when he heard the name he and his best friend had given their rag tag family, “Good evening, Ma,” he greeted respectfully, his eyes taking in the details of the older woman, a behavior he’d gotten used to when he’d been friends with Stacey.
But he’d messed that up years ago, though he was shocked that he was relegating to the old behavior as he returned home; his heart hammering with the excitement of regaling Stacey later…but that wasn’t going to happen. He was not relating with Stacey again and she would not be returning for the event either.
“Nice to meet you, Richard,” Cecil murmured with a smile while Eddy told her she was going to bring her a plate of food momentarily and when they had the kids settled, they’d be able to jump right into the planning.
“It’s okay, Eddy, I’ll wait,” she replied.
Richard turned and put both his arms on Wana and Debbie’s shoulders. “So, where are the men? As much as I love you women to distraction, I still need to find the men,” he joked.
“Don’t be smart with me boy,” Wana playfully hit him.
“I’m a man,” he said with a mock offended look.
“They went out for their night out…but I think, PJ was hosting them at the house…”
“Really?” he asked excitedly, “Well, I was heading there but thought to drop by here first.”
“Make sure you return here everyday, you hear?” Wana asked, with motherly look on her face.
“Of course, Wana,” he hugged her again, “It’s good to be home. I’ll see you at home, aunty Debbie,” he said and then was hurrying off with the two women following him closely.
Cecil took a deep breath to try and untie the knot of regret that was currently squeezing her heart. She should have accepted Usen’s proposal, even if it would’ve have meant her not actively working in the agency.
These women were fulfilled in their homes and careers, and Cecil was left feeling empty, like she’d been spending decades of her life chasing something as mundane as a career.
She had agreed to marry her late husband because he’d come right out and told her he wasn’t going to stop her ascension in the agency, in fact, he had helped her climb the career ladder. But then, he’d also been a workaholic and over the years, having a kid had just not seemed important enough to them to try.
They would have had to have repeated sex to make a baby, but theirs had been a sporadic joining, happening as an after thought when both of them chanced to be home at the same time, as their work had involved a lot of travelling.
They’d both not had families to impress and so there’d been no pressure to make children.
At the sight of all these adorable kids, Cecil suddenly wished she could have one of her own. Maybe, she could do an in-vitro, she’d heard testimonies of women older than herself having babies.
The thought, though sprouted suddenly, firmly took root in her mind. She would definitely research the process and the price when she got home. For now though, she would enjoy this new group of friends and be grateful to God for small mercies.
DUCT SEASON 4 continues
Your comments bring out the beauty in our stories. Have your say in the comment box below. To share our story, click on the Facebook share button or on the twitter button.
Follow our twitter handle @lagosconvo
Copyright 2018 Lagos Convo.