It wasn’t until the break period that Violet had the chance to talk to Enita. Enita was seated behind her table, an array of earrings and necklaces in front of her. She looked up when she felt someone arrive in front of her.
“Mrs. Violet, you want to buy any piece of jewelry?” She was already raising a pair of earrings to Violet.
Violet shook her head. “Why did you tell C-Jay about my personal matter?” She went straight to the point.
Enita frowned in confusion. “Tell C-Jay what? I thought you told him yourself? He was talking as though he already knew about it?”
“What exactly did you tell him?” She placed her buttocks on the edge of the table.
“Well, not tell him per se. We kinda talked about it.” Enita grimaced slightly. “Thinking about it now, I was the person doing most of the talking.”
Violet sighed, her eyes running through the earrings on the table. She picked a pair. “How much is this one?”
Enita’s eyes brightened. She leaned forward. “Because you are my biggest customer, I will sell it one thousand for you. The price is almost two-five.”
Violet chuckled, shaking her head. “So what exactly did you tell him? Did you talk about me losing weight and all those things about my family?”
“You should ask what we didn’t talk about and honestly, the answer would be nothing.” Enita avoided her eyes, picking and dropping the earrings on her table.
“God! Why can’t you just keep your mouth shut?” Violet groaned. “You are the only person aside from Chinwe that I spoke to about this. Now a third person knows. Tell me,” She leaned closer to Enita, “You didn’t tell any other person aside C-Jay, right?”
Enita shook her head furiously. “I swear, I didn’t say anything to anybody. You and C-Jay are quite close, so I imagined it was natural that he knew.”
Violet was short of words. “I don’t go around telling people these things you know.”
“I know now. I’m sorry. It really wasn’t my intention.” Enita placed a hand on Violet’s arm and looked at her with eyes filled with apology.
Violet gently brushed her hand away and straightened up. “It’s alright. The damage has been done. I’ll look for a way to manage it.” She made to return to her table.
“Yes, this hair, who made it for you? It’s so fine.” Enita had gotten up and was now running her hand through the braided wig on Violet’s head.
Violet smiled. “It’s someone from my street. This is the first time I’m patronizing her. Is it good?”
Enita was studying the strands of braided hair. “She tried. It’s tight all around. But I have someone that can do better than this. The hair I came with for the sports competition, she is the one that made it. You will like her work.”
“Ah! Eni-Eni, if you don’t try to make me buy something for one day, will your name change to Ngozi, eh?” Violet slapped her hand away lightly.
“Na the struggle o.” Enita returned to her seat laughing. “You won’t blame me for trying. Who else buys things from me the way you do?”
“You should be telling me to save my money. Every day if it is not a perfume I’m buying, it is earrings or hair. And all of them are from you. Kai!” Violet shook her head in mock pity.
“All of them is to make you look good. You can’t deny it. With the way you dress, I’m sure your husband doesn’t have the time or heart to be looking outside again. Am I right?” She winked at Violet.
Violet flipped her hair and blew at her fingernails. “When he has all these,” She gestured at the length of her body, “What else does he need.” They burst out in laughter.
When Violet returned to her table, she was still smiling. She reached for her blue flask as soon as she sat down. Missing breakfast was something she had gotten used to, but after the marathon of last night, she was extremely famished. She moaned in relief and delight when the first spoon of rice disappeared into her mouth and came out empty. She reached for her phone and another smile appeared on her face when she saw a message from Oyim.
What more can a man ask for in a woman? I hope you are enjoying your day. Sorry I didn’t wake you up. I was running late as well. (A wink emoticon.)
She shook her head and quickly typed out a message to send to him. She hit send and giggled to herself.
The smile on her face was wiped out by the single word. C-Jay was seating beside her. She cleared her throat but didn’t reply, still spooning her food into her mouth and looking at her phone.
“Vee, are you still angry with me? I’m really sorry.” C-Jay continued, leaning towards her with his chair.
Violet leaned forward on her table and quickly dialed a number on her phone. She was glad when the number picked up. She jumped into a conversation that would continue to the end of the break period. Beside her, C-Jay watched her for a while, waiting until with a sigh he realized that he was being ignored. He turned back to his table and picked a book. From the side of her eye, Violet saw this and the tension that gathered in her muscles at ‘Hey’ disappeared. She relaxed to enjoy the call to her sister while she continued eating.
Violet was going crazy, really crazy. It was six days, her marriage was going smoothly. Her children were getting the best care they needed and her husband was treating her like a queen, yet she couldn’t get over the kiss with C-Jay. Just what was the reason for this? She placed the pot from which she finished scooping out soup from on the sink with a loud bang and cringed at the loud noise it made. I really should stop thinking about him, she told herself for the thousandth time that week. It was useless, she knew. She covered the bowls of soup and started transferring them to the freezer in the kitchen. It didn’t help that C-Jay had not stopped trying to apologize to her throughout the school week. Thank God it’s a Friday. She closed the freezer.
C-Jay had gone all out in his bid to apologize to her during the week. After she pointedly ignored him on Monday, the next day, he dropped a box of strawberries on her table. Just like that! She had gaped at the transparent box of strawberries, and the first thought that came to her mind was to ask where he had gotten it from. The few times she had been able to buy the red berries were when she visited the Shoprite Malls in Onitsha and Enugu. In between her and her children’s love for the fruit, it never lasted more than two nights in the fridge. She’d eyed him suspiciously, torn between refusing it and taking it home for her children. They would love it. The former won. She returned it with a heavy heart to his table when he went for a class. When he returned and saw the box back on the table, he tried to return it to her. At that time, Enita had seen the box of strawberries from where she sat at her table and had come to take some. She went back to her table with the whole box. Even when she offered some to Violet, Violet still refused to take it.
The next day, Violet prepared mentally to resist the allure of anything he brought. This time, it was an apology card that was waiting for her on her table when she returned. Without opening it, she tossed it at the bottom of her drawer. It was still there.
As she cleaned up the kitchen, she asked herself why she was still bothered about the matter. She had realized earlier on that she’d stopped being angry about the forced kiss. She was beginning to see it in another light. God! What is wrong with me? Her hand tightened around the mop she was dragging through the ground.
She and C-Jay had been coursemates for almost five years. Despite this, they were not close, they had never been close all through the period of their ‘coursemate-hood’. Then why was he suddenly all in her face about wanting to care for her now? What was so different about the Violet of now and the Violet of then? Or… She sighed. She shouldn’t even be thinking of why he claimed to want to take care of her. She was married. She had children. She had a happy family. Why should she be thinking of another man?
“Sochi!” She called out. Silence greeted her. She opened her mouth to call out again, then slapped her forehead when she remembered that her husband had taken the three of them to get ice-cream.
She squeezed the mop and put it in its position behind the door. After she poured out the dirty water in the gutter outside the kitchen, she retired to the parlor to wait for her family to come home, determined not to think of C-Jay or the kiss, or anything connected to any man aside from her husband.