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Seeing Off Kisses
by Naija Stories   (Author)
Read First Three Chapters

ONE SUNDAY MORNING
IN ATLANTA

Okon Itiaba stumbled out of the black Ford Taurus sedan and then steadied himself. A couple of passers-by approached him as if to offer assistance. He smiled but waved them off.
He slammed the door shut behind him and then pocketed the car keys. His shoes crunched against the gravel as he walked towards the church.
He wanted to make the start of sermon, but parking out here in the boondocks meant that it wasn’t going to happen.
Well, that’s what you get for arriving late, he thought to himself.
He stopped and blew into his cupped palm. The smell of beer on his breath made him wince.
He was already in deep doo-doo for something else with Ekanyin, his mother, who was visiting Atlanta from Nigeria. Smelling like beer in church would make matters worse. He’d been successful in talking her into staying with Mariam, his sister; getting her to give him a pass on attending church today was like moving a mountain.
Ekanyin had found out – from that amebo sister of his – that he’d not been to church for four Sundays in a row, despite his claims to the contrary. And then to pour kerosene into the flames, he answered her phone call last night while in a night club! This, after telling her his cell phone had been run over by a car.
If only he’d studied the number more carefully. How did he know that his mother would be playing sleuth by calling him on someone else’s phone? He actually thought that it was Tanya, his date, and wanted to yell at her for not being at the club at the time they both agreed to. With such a start, the conversation with his mother had been a thing of beauty.
“I thought you said that your phone was dead?” Ekanyin had asked in Efik.
“Yes, uh, em,” Okon stuttered.
“It’s a miracle.”
“Um, em. Yes, it is.” Even he wanted to slap himself upside the head for such a dopey comeback.
Yeah, a miracle indeed. It was certainly going to take a miracle to explain that one to Ekanyin. He just hoped that she kept the lid on it until after church.
As he neared the church building, he wondered why he’d answered the call.
Anger was a bad adviser, he reminded himself.
“Good morning,” the spiffily-dressed doorman greeted. He offered Okon a glossy-covered Sunday handout. Okon replied with a grunt, and then yanked the handout out of the gentleman’s hand.
Tacky, he thought to himself.
He hoped that his actions did not set off alarm bells. He remembered attending his mother’s Pentecostal church in Nigeria. Those people could sniff out the devil in human form a mile away. Not this group. They smiled and welcomed all comers, even ones like him who’d made their way straight from the night clubs within and without the environs.
He’d hoped to slip into the sanctuary of the church and melt into the congregation, thereby avoiding Ekanyin altogether.
No chance.
Sitting right next to the entrance, just past the ushers’ bench – a very unusual place for her to sit, by the way – was his mother, whose gele crown made her stand out from the American congregants.
Ekanyin tapped the space next to her, directing Okon to sit there. “A to uke adi ufok Abasi, where are you coming from to attend church?”
“Ufok mmi, my house.”
“Why didn’t you answer your phone at home?”
“I must have been in the bathroom.”
“You don’t smell like you’ve been in the bathroom.”
“It must be my cologne.”
“I’m sure that the cologne’s name is beer. We’ll talk about that when we get to your apartment.”
“Good thinking, Mother. I suggest that we wait until then before you ask me all these questions.”
A stern-looking usher shot him a glance and said, “Ssssh!”
“After all I’m here, right?” Okon continued.
“Mother, he’s talking back to you,” Miriam suggested. “He shouldn’t do that.”
“Mind your own business, amebo!” Okon shot back.
“The usher said to be quiet!” Miriam said.
“So obey him and be quiet, Miriam!” He made a face at her.
“Why are you upset?” Ekanyin whispered at Okon.
“I’m not upset.”
“You could have fooled me. Where’s your Bible?”
“I forgot it.”
She placed a notebook and pen on his lap. “Take notes.”
He gazed at his sister, who sat on the other side of his mother. It was all her fault. If only she’d kept her big mouth shut. He mouthed the words, “I’ll pay you back. Watch,” and then showed her, behind Ekanyin’s back, a clenched fist. She leaned back to avoid her mother’s notice and then stuck out her tongue at him. His mother noticed his lack of focus and tapped gently on the notebook.
Okon opened the notebook and copied the date and title of the Pastor’s sermon as shown on the big screen monitor. However, when he raised his head to focus, what arrested his mind instead were two shapely female butts that had suddenly come to view because their shapely female owners had risen to applaud the pastor’s passionate salutations.
Damnit!
That’s why he’d stopped coming to church altogether. This, right before his eyes, was the problem. At times as such he’d tried, very hard, to always keep his mind focused. But – oh God, forgive him – he’d always failed.
He realized then and there that his mind was his problem. He needed to have a serious conversation with it. It should not be embarrassing him like this. These days, he’d taken to wearing shades – even at night – in a bid to shield ladies’ exposed flesh from his sinful gaze.
Was his mind that transparent?
That’s why he couldn’t be all he wanted to be in the church. And, he was sure about this, that’s why the Muslims made their women cover themselves up when they are in public.
How could a man concentrate on the immediate task of worshipping his God when round, shapely, juicy female butts like the ones in front of him always got in the way?
“Are you writing what he’s preaching?” Ekanyin asked, her eyes studying him with laser-like precision.
“Yes, uh, ma.” He drew breath to calm his nerves. He purposely raised his head to view the ceiling of the church.
Nice ceiling.
It was shaped like the inside of a calabash, white and stately. It was the same ceiling he’d seen a thousand times. He played peek-a-boo with a couple of the lights, and then gave an unsolicited mental opinion on the light fixtures from a particular angle:
That one needs repairs… no, looks like it’s intentionally focused on the pastor. Now that one…
At the end, he learned nothing new. He kept his gaze up for a few more seconds, and then he lowered it.
Pheeeww!
The ladies in front of him were now seated. He leaned to his left to ask the preteen sitting next to him what the Pastor had just said. He frowned with irritation when she wiggled her precocious little nose at him and then shifted away from him. He whipped out a dollar bill and waved it at her; she tugged at her mother, who quickly moved the kid to the other side of her, away from Okon.

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Product Details
Author: Naija Stories
Publisher: NS Publishing
Publication date: 2012
Pages: 58
Product dimensions: 413 x 600
More About This eBook
Overview
Seeing off Kisses and Other Stories are stories set in Nigeria which illustrate the bittersweet nature of romance. They include stories about a reunion of a couple after a long absence, the decay of a once-healthy relationship and a how a young boy plucks up the courage to approach the girl of his dreams - stories that all show the amazing variety of outcomes when relationships are started.
Editorial Reviews
About Author
Naija Stories is a social network for Nigerian writers of all skill levels and readers of both genre novels and literary fiction. It is an avenue for readers and publishers to discover new authors and for writers to share their work, gain recognition, and connect with their audience and each other.
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