“Go forth, the mass is ended, the Priest said, just before kissing the altar.
“Thanks be to God,” Kemi heard herself say above the other voices. Her enthusiasm was clearly because she had many things to be thankful for, and Church had a way of reminding her of that.
Mangodo shot her a glance from where he had insisted on sitting; two rows behind her. He had told Kemi he didn’t want to be too close to the sanctuary. He hadn’t been feeling particularly religious all week.
Kemi waited for the Priest and the mass servers to walk in a procession, all the way into the sacristy, before she came out of her pew, genuflected at the aisle of the Church, and went in search of Mangodo, who had rushed out soon after the procession disappeared.
“Stop acting like an Angel, Kemi,” Mangodo said as he saw Kemi walk down the steps of one of the rear entrances to the Church. There were people everywhere. Mangodo wondered how these well dressed folks found time to come to Church in the midst of their various engagements.
“And you my friend, stop acting like the Devil.” Kemi threw her hands up and bowed in a dramatic way toward Mangodo.
“Well, maybe I am,” Mangodo said. He removed one hand from inside his well ironed brown trousers and pressed the ‘open’ button on his car remote controller. The Honda Accord 2006 model made a stunted siren response and wound down its windscreens.
“No you’re not,” Kemi said across her shoulders as she went round to the passenger side.
“It’s not for you to say o. You’re not God.” Mangodo got behind the wheel, waited for Kemi to strap herself in, and engaged the gear.
“I love the way you do that.” Kemi said.
“The way I do what?” Mangodo asked, as he moved the gear stick from the ‘P’ sign to the ‘R’, and eased the automobile out of the parking lot.
“The way you romance the gear nah. Like it’s your closest pal.”
Mangodo laughed out loud. “Jesus! Kemi! What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing jore. I just told you my mind. Here is a doctor whose best friend is a car. Not nice, is it?”
Mangodo smiled. “Well, I did tell you I’m a demon.”
“No you’re not. Okay, maybe a bit. But there’s hope for you.” Kemi pushed the sound system on. She pressed a button and a song filled the car.
As Mangodo drove the car outside the Church compound, he couldn’t help but sing the lyrics of the song out loud, “I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life, it’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right…”
Kemi nodded her head to the sound of Mangodo’s voice. She was impressed. Who would have thought the young doctor had time for movies. The song was ‘Man in the Mirror.’ She had first heard it when she saw the movie, ‘Joyful Noise’. She raised her voice a notch, drowning Mangodo’s. “…I see the kids in the streets, with not enough to eat, who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs, a summer disregard, a broken bottle top… Did you see Joyful Noise?” Kemi asked.
“Did you see the movie, Joyful Noise?”
Mangodo had no time to answer before the chorus of the song came up. He raised his voice and tapped his fingers to the rhythm of the song on the steering wheel, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”
Kemi almost screamed the next lines, “I’m asking him to change his ways…”
Then both of them continued, “and no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place
(If you want to make the world a better place). Take a look at yourself, and then make a change. (Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)…”
“So did you see the movie?” Kemi asked again. They were both laughing at their behaviour.
“No dear. Didn’t see any movie.” Mangodo was racing along the express now. They were a little behind time for their night therapy session. The mass had taken more time than they hoped, and he was trying to make up for lost time.
“So how come you know the song?” Kemi wondered.
“Man in the Mirror?”
“Babe, that song has been around since 1988.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Kemi was genuinely surprised.
“I kid you not. Man in the Mirror was released by Michael Jackson in January 1988.”
“Wow! Michael Jackson?”
“Yes ma’am. I’m addicted to Michael Jackson. I should know. It was recorded in May 1987, released in January 1988, and was nominated for the Grammy Awards in the Song of the Year Category later that year. It’s one of the two songs on Jackson’s ‘Bad’ Album that he didn’t write himself. It was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard.”
“The way you’re going, you should be a Michael Jackson professor.”
“Nah. I love medicine just fine.” Mangodo said.
“What happened earlier today sha?” Kemi asked, changing the topic.
“During therapy nah.”
Mangodo flinched. He didn’t want to talk about it.
Kemi didn’t notice the mood swing. “One moment you were all enthusiastic, and the next, you were all quiet.”
Mangodo didn’t respond.
“It’s not easy to talk about the past. You said so yourself.”
“But you were the one assuring me not to worry nah. You were the one saying we were in good hands and all that. And then it comes to your turn and you suddenly lose the vibes?”
Mangodo turned the car into a side street. They were gradually approaching their destination.
“I was ready to talk about it initially. But it’s difficult. I can’t even deal myself. The moment that Sophie woman began picking at my memories, I just couldn’t hold it together anymore. I have never admitted to anyone that it was because of me that Stella died.”
“Who’s Stella?” Kemi asked.
Mangodo bit his lips. He had said too much.
“Hey,” Kemi’s voice was a lot gentler now. “Who’s Stella?”
Mangodo heaved a sigh. “She was my younger sister.”
“Oh dear! But you always say you’re an only child”.
Mangodo turned the car off the express into a side street. “Well, that’s what almost everyone thinks. That’s what I tell them.”
“She overdosed on Tramadol.”
“Oh God,” Kemi whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“I was the one who introduced her to it in our final year. How was I to know it would kill her? I was using it to stay awake and read for days non-stop. When she complained she couldn’t keep up, I told her my secret. She knew the risks, but wanted to try it too. We were always in a competition of sorts. We did everything together. But her system reacted crazily to the Tramadol. Before I could rush her to the hospital that night, it was too late. I expended all my medical knowledge trying to save her. But she died anyway.
“Oh my God!”
“Yes Kemi, you’re in love with the man who killed his own twin sister.”
It was Kemi’s turn to be silent. The mention of love in these circumstances didn’t sound quite right.
Ivy stepped out of the Bus. She had followed the directions to the letter, and finally they were here. There were cars everywhere, the kind that suggested that the party inside wasn’t for common folk.
As the girls came off the bus one after the other, Ivy dialed Senator Yuri’s number. The phone rang once at the other end before the Senator’s voice answered.
“We’re here.” Ivy said.
“Okay darling. I’ll be right there.”
As Ivy hung up, another call came in. She raised her phone to her ears, “Hello!”
“Hello Ivy. It’s Kemi.”
Ivy rolled her eyes, “I know nah.”
“Aren’t you coming for tonight’s session?”
“No please. I’m in the middle of something right now, can I call you back?” Ivy didn’t wait for a response before she hung up. She quickly patted her hair one last time, and catwalked after the ladies she had come with.
To be continued…
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2019.