Tolani again?

Isioma shut the hot noon sun out and walked into the cool interior of the house. At the top of the stairs, the open door caught her eye. She shuffled over, her rather large purse trailing behind her. What was Tolani doing with a mobile phone, and in Gladys’s room too?

The new maid kept the phone at a safe distance from her ear as she stammered, "Oga, no one like that for here.”

“Oga nobody dey for house.” Tolani repeated another couple of times.

"I no know who you ask for...” The girl put the phone down on the bedside table and only then noticed her standing by the door.

"Tolani, what are you doing with that phone?” Isioma asked. “Who gave you a phone and why are you here?” She plodded to the closest bed and sat down. In the four days since Tolani arrived, she had given her more headache than Bunmi had in the same number of years. She kicked off her slippers and stretched out her legs. She didn’t have time for this; Christmas was just a few days away and she had a party to plan.

“Madam, no be my phone be dat. When the phone ring, I come here to pick am.”

“Give me the phone.” Tolani picked up the phone again and handed it to her. “Oh no, this phone belongs to Gladys. She must have forgotten it. Who was that calling?”

“One oga but I no know who him be.”

“"It must have been a wrong number. Did he just call today?”

“Madam, the oga dey call here every day since on Sunday.”

“He has been calling every day? And who has he been asking for?”

"He say he wan speak to one Gladys. I tell am say the person no live for here..."

"What? But that is my niece's name!” Isioma shouted and sat up. "Don't you know that? You met her the day you arrived before she travelled.”

"The small madam? Hey, I no know. You just say make I dey call her auntie..."

Isioma glared at her. She interrupted her without pause, "Did you get his name?

"Him name na... hem...”

“I’m sure it was Edward…

“That’s it. Yes ma, him name na Edward..."

"God! Why didn't you tell me this before now?”

"I sorry madam, I forget. I no know who him be and you no dey house when he call. The man dey very very angry today..."

"Why won't he be angry?” Aunt Isioma wasn’t speaking to Tolani anymore. She dashed to her feet and strode to her own room. In the next minute she had dialed a number.

"Good afternoon Aunt Isioma."

“Good afternoon my dear, how come you answered your mother’s phone?”

“Mama is not here now and she’s been allowing me to use this. I think I have misplaced my phone somewhere in the flat. Or I may have lost it along the line on my way back to Enugu."

“Your phone was in your room here. I just found out this afternoon.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear. I have been worried sick.”

“Then you won’t be happy to hear this. I don't know what to with this new girl.”

"What has she done this time?”

"Do you know she doesn't even know your name? Edward has been calling your phone daily. She will go into your room, pick the call and inform him that there's no one here by that name. And she never even told me about it."

There was a long pause. “Gladys, are you there?”

“Aunt Isioma I am here. I am just so relieved. I'd made up my mind to make the first step and call Edward with Mama’s phone. I was worried about a rejection so it’s good to know the reception I’ll get.”

“I suggest you do that right away.”

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