Another excerpt of my novel. This one focuses on the other sister, Mani, who lives in Nigeria, and is a single, successful career woman. The sisters share a father and the same journey of self-actualization and emotional fulfillment.
The Book of Mani
The phone rang just as she clicked ‘send’. “Great.” She muttered to herself, “What now?” as she leaned over to grab the phone and swivel over to her ‘phone spot’, a little nook with a long bay window that overlooked the lagoon.
“This is Mani.” There was no trace of any irritation in her voice, and her cryptic speech was softened by her low, smoky voice, efficient and professional, yet without being too ‘receptionist perky’.
“Of course, it’s Mani, I bloody called you, innit?” The voice on the other end was Peter’s, doing a mock cockney accent.
“Mr. Odukoya, wonderful to hear from you,” Mani said, a slight smile tugging at the corner of her lips, perfectly glossed in a becoming shade of coral.
“Yeah, it is, isn’t it? I’m a pretty wonderful fella, they tell me…”. His voice was teasing, a flirtatious phone caress- she felt herself getting warm as she crossed the room swiftly to shut the door. “How you dey?” She asked, reverting to the more familiar pidgin English.
“Like I no dey,” came his flippant reply. ” I’ve missed you, Mani,” he was serious now, the earnest Peter that she found so endearing, all traces of the privileged playboy gone. “It’s been ages…”.
She laughed out loud at that one, throwing her head back, enjoying the deliciousness of being desired by one you in turn, desired. “Yeah, I guess three days is ages in ‘Peterland’, huh? Mister ‘iwantwhatiwantwheniwantit’!” He laughed along with her. “You better believe it. Okay, so I’m hot for you, how we wan do am?”. His tone was appropriately jocular, as befitting a ‘friend’s’ husband, but it still couldn’t mask the sexual tension between them. I’m hot for you too,she thought to herself silently.
“Abeg oh – more like you’re hot for Toma oil.” She chided him in a ‘don’t go there, I’m friends with your heavily pregnant wife kinda way’. But she made sure the undertones of flirtation were not completely erased- partly because, well, that was their thing – harmless and light. Denoting it as more would make things unnecessarily awkward and truth be told, they both enjoyed their little banter. Besides, she ratherliked Peter. So sue me. She rolled her eyes at her inner moral compass.
“Well, that too. Now that you bring it up, where are we on that?” Peter was all business now, the positioning and branding of his oil servicing company, Toma oil, once again his primary focus.
Mani switched gears along with him and scooted back to her desk, fingers flying over the keys of her laptop. “You’ve got mail, Peter. I think you’ll be pleased.”
“That’s why I pay you the big bucks, Mani.” The affectionate caress in his voice was back. Mani suddenly remembered the half finished letter she was writing to her sister, Leslie.
“So, email me with your comments when you’ve had a look-see, okay? Gotta go, love.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow. Bye.” Click. She smiled at the mild irritation in his tone. He so hated being dismissed, and this was one of their another one of their little games, who would get off the phone first. Even if the person would find an excuse to call right back.
Yawning, she gave a faint sigh and shrugged her shoulders, while glancing at her slim Piaget watch in one fluid motion. Seven thirty p.m – no sense in trying to leave the island at this hour- traffic would be madness, best get back to letter writing. She gazed longingly at the laptop on her desk. It would be so much easier just to send an email, but she and Leslie had decided after a few attempts that ‘Lols’ and ‘OMGs’ just wouldn’t cut it. Just about everything got lost in translation, and absolutely nothing felt as good as getting that envelope every week or so and reading Leslie’s cursive writing, complete with the smiley faces and doodling that almost always accompanied her letters.
Dear Sister, (it had started as a joke, this ‘sister’ thing. With Mani telling Leslie how if they’d been raised in the same household she would have been calling her sister as a mark of respect, it had been a done deal for Leslie. “Sister it is.” she’d said.)
I must love you, I really must. I just cut short my conversation with the magnetic P.O to finish this letter.
There’s much, much more, but not today. So, do we like? 🙂