Published on December 18th, 2012 | by thetoolsman34
“Chioma! Chioma!! Wake up! I need you to listen to me. We need to find cowries.”
“It’s Whiz, you know he’s been hanging with those Nollywood guys. I don’t know what they’ve been feeding him but he just woke me up with a call talking about a cowrie bejeweled outfit for the all-star concert tonight.”
“Nollywood, cowries, what on earth are you talking about Keith?”
“Arrggghhh… wake up Chioma. Either you put your boy in order or find me some freaking cowries within the next few hours so that we don’t have one hell of a lawsuit on our hands when he throws a tantrum and refuses to show up on stage.”
The phone line went dead before I could ask another question or even chip in another word of protest. It’s not that I didn’t get what Keith was saying, and its not as if I did I not expect something silly like that to go down, it’s just that it was 2:00 am on freaking Christmas Eve, how else was I supposed to respond?
I rolled out of my queen-sized bed and couldn’t help but rub my temples. I turned to look at the digital clock on my bedside drawer just to confirm the time again. And to think I had been so thankful to be back in my own home, on my own bed after so long hopping from one uncomfortable hotel bed to the next. But that is my life; I’m not quite sure when or how I signed up for it, but it is and it has been my life for the past four years. I am the manager to the biggest ‘thing’ out of Africa since Mandela; the brightest rising star in the world, the teenage musical genius that is also the constant pain in my behind; the one, the only, Whiz.
I got up from bed, cellphone in hand, housecoat warmly wrapped around me as I began pacing around my room. I took the phone to my ear and made the one call that would determine how the rest of my night would play out. The phone rang endlessly each time; after the fifth time, I knew what I had to do. A little over 3:00am, barely twelve hours to the biggest Christmas concert in Lagos to be headlined by Whiz, I drove out of my apartment building on an unimaginable quest to find cowries.
“How can we work if you keep doing this?”
“If I keep doing what Femi? If I keep doing my job?”
“This… this thing is no longer a job. I’m not even sure it makes you happy anymore – just look at you. He snaps and you respond like a little dog.”
“Well I hope you know this dog can be a b*tch when she wants. Right now you’re not making any sense. You are gone just as much as I am. Always shooting this movie or that movie, in one location or the other…”
“But I always come home. I always come home to wait for my princess.”
“I’m home now Femi. I’m —
“For how long? You see, your phone is already buzzing again. Your baby wants his mother.”
As expected, Whiz wasn’t in his hotel room. Brilliant. I knew it was definitely going to be an interesting morning. I drove out of Eko Hotel and briefly took in the beautiful Christmas lights along Ajose Adeogun before I got on the phone again. Keith didn’t let the phone ring more than once.
“Oh please tell me you’ve found me cowries.”
“Calm down Keith, I’m not a Dibia. You’ll get what you need but I need to know where Whiz is.
“How am I supposed to know? He’s probably in some village or at some shrine with Jimmy, Femi and all those guys he’s been rolling with lately.”
“How informative. You really are helping right now, Keith.”
“Cut out the sarcasm Chi, you’re not the one who has to look through tonnes of Nollywood movies just to come up with a cowrie inspired design in the next few hours. Whatever you do, just please get me as many cowries as you can, and in good time for the show.”
The line went dead again and this time, I concluded, I was on my own.
I sprang from my seat the moment the store attendant pulled opened the doors to the antique store at The Palms Mall. It was just 8:30am, and Keith was already freaking out. Save for his muscular physique, Keith was no different from most celebrity stylists I had met. He is metrosexual to a fault and often comes across as a homosexual. One little glitch in whatever perfectly laid out plans he makes and he becomes an emotional wreck, often crying while everyone watches in amazement. Thinking about it now, I realize it’s probably this different, somewhat weird collection of characters that have helped make Whiz into the success story he is.
The confused look on the shop attendant’s face when I asked if they had cowries in the store brought me out of my reverie. The ridiculousness of Whiz’s request suddenly dawned on me. Cowries were hard to find but I really needed them. For all his talent, Whiz was still a spoiled brat who threw all kinds of silly tantrums whenever he didn’t get what he wanted, and I was getting sick of it.
Three stores and four hours later, still no cowries. I had put my phone on silent after the last call I took from Keith. I had missed calls from Dayo, Uche and pretty much everyone. If I couldn’t find cowries then I had to find our star boy long before time for rehearsals.
“Hi Rachel, its… Oh, ok. I need to know where Whiz… No, it’s an emergency… Thank you.”
It was almost 3:00pm and I had to head back to where I started my day. As much as I had tried to avoid it, it seemed the day had come when I’d have to face one of my fears. I really did not understand Whiz’ seemingly sudden obsession with Nollywood and his recent misadventures with the cast and crew of Femi’s new movie. One thing was certain, if I wanted to set him straight on the cowrie-costume issue, I had to see him and try to talk some sense into him even if it meant seeing Femi, my ex-boyfriend from two weeks ago.
“How many times?”
“I said how many times were you with her?”
“Once. Just once. It was a mistake.”
“I love you Chioma, you know I do. But I just can’t compete with your work like this. I slipped, I know I f*cked up and I’ve been beating myself up about it, why else would I come to confess to you?”
“I’m sorry Femi but I just can’t anymore, I just—“
“Are you breaking up with me?”
“I’m helping you do what it seems you’re not man enough to do.”
Half running and walking, I and Keith turned backstage just as I checked my watch to confirm what I already knew, it was about twenty minutes to the start of the premiere and the loud screaming and yelling coming from the dressing room area confirmed my other fear. By some form of miracle, Keith had come through and all we had to do was fit the outfit. Whiz had finally surfaced and he was screaming his head off. Everyone suddenly went quiet as they registered our arrival. Before I could say a word, Keith walked up to Whiz and presented our labour. A blazer created entirely from interlocked cowries, it almost took us a lifetime to put it together but somehow we managed and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
Whiz finally calmed down long enough to try on the blazer and it was almost comical watching as Keith went from beaming to sobbing when Whiz shrugged off the blazer, tossed it at him.
“Ugh! This thing is too heavy.” Was all the explanation he offered.
I couldn’t take it. I had seen this happen way too many times, I had to do something.
“Come on Whiz, it took us the entire day to put this blazer together. Keith had to hand stitch the whole thing all by himself —“
“And? Didn’t he think I’d have to move on stage when he thought up the design?”
“At least make an appearance in it?”
“Hell no! I’m not going on stage looking like a ritual. What is wrong with you guys? Everyday, I go out there and give great performances just so you can get paid, just so you can keep your jobs and I ask for just one thing and you can’t deliver?
“What does it take to create a fucking blazer, do I also have to do that myself”
“Whiz what are you—“
“No Chioma! It’s a fucking blazer not the Taj Mahal. I’ve not even gone on about how I’ve not gotten a single Christmas gift from anyone here.”
Just then, I spotted Femi as he emerged from one of the dressing rooms probably to see what all the raucous was all about. One long look at Femi and it all came back to me. The hurt, the pain, all the crap I endured all in the name of being the manager of the biggest thing out of Africa. The fights, heartbreaks, miscarriages…
With tears running down my face, I walked over to the over-spoilt brat I call my boss, took one good look at him and with all the strength in me, gave him a bus-driver style uppercut. I ignored everyone’s reaction, took one look around and announced to everyone, especially Femi who I noticed walking towards me.
I took Keith by the hand and led him away. I stopped by the door and gave a final backward glance.
“Have yourself a Merry Christmas, Asshole!”
Christmas should never be spent alone. It’s a time to show love and care for each other but it’s also a time to reflect, forgive and try to make things right. Don’t ever wait till it’s too late to say ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I love you’ or ‘Stuff it’.
Merry Christmas y’all.
To the next writer I give a brand new beautiful raffia mat woven with the colors of the rainbow.