If this is your first time here, welcome to my online home. I’m Unoma and today I have the pleasure of hosting a #ChapterReveal for a dear friend and sister scribe of mine, Yejide Kilanko.
I read her upcoming release some years ago and I am so happy, you will finally get to meet the characters that had me fussing, crying, happy, laughing and any other reader emotion you could come up with.
The Book Description
Twelve years in America and Eziafa Okereke has nothing to show for it. Desperate to re-write his story, Eziafa returns to Nigeria to find a woman he can mold to his taste. Eighteen-year-old Zina has big dreams. An arranged marriage to a much older man isn’t one of them. Trapped by family expectations, Zina marries Eziafa, moves to Houston, and trains as a nurse. Buffeted by a series of disillusions, the couple stagger through a turbulent marriage until Zina decides to change the rules of engagement
Sounds juicy huh… I know I know I need to quit raving and get to the reason you are here.
Ladies & Gents, the reveal…
Eziafakaego Okereke pulled the small towel from his trouser pocket and wiped the sweat off his face. He draped the damp cloth across the back of his neck. Living through twelve years of long and harsh Minnesota winters made the sweltering Houston heat hard to bear. He picked up the barbecue tongs and placed the last set of marinated pork ribs on the sizzling grill. There was a plus side to the humid weather. It brought back precious memories of Oji, his home village. After so many years of grey and black, he was dreaming in colour again.
“My guy, ji sie ike.”
Eziafa turned to smile at his best friend. Felix had acquired a full head of grey hair by 30. Eziafa was still startled every time he saw the hair. Felix refused to dye it.
“How goes the grilling battle?” Felix asked.
Eziafa scowled. His grill duty was Felix’s fault. When he’d asked him to join the Houston Igbo Cultural Association, Eziafa’s first response was no. The last thing he needed was insults from small boys jingling shiny coins in baggy jeans pockets.
To get Felix off his back, Eziafa attended an association meeting. By evening’s end, Eziafa found himself paying membership dues. He could not say no when an elder assigned him grill duty for the party.
“Didn’t you say you would help?” Eziafa asked.
Felix flashed crooked white teeth as he handed over a chilled bottle of palm wine. “No vex. Nkolika asked me to run an errand.”
Eziafa pursed his lips. “Shameless woman wrappa. I knew you would have an excuse.”
“People are raving over the barbecue,” Felix said.
The compliment made Eziafa smile. “They are?”
“Yes. Maybe you should forget about driving a taxi and open a shish kebab hut?”
Eziafa downed a third of the palm wine and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“That’s not why I moved here.”
“I know. You can run the kebab hut on the side. We all need multiple streams of income.”
His childhood friend had always been one to encourage. “I’ll add it to my list of possible ventures.”
Felix gave him a thumbs-up. “Obikwelu and I are going to buy more ice.” “I’ll be here,” Eziafa said.
Felix’s wife, Nkolika, came for the final pan of ribs. “Well done o,” she said, smiling.
Nkolika’s fresh face made it seem as though she was getting younger as her husband was aging. She could have passed as an older sister to her teen daughters. Eziafa smiled his thanks.
After cleaning the grill, he went back into the high school auditorium which was vibrating with loud music and conversation. It was a wonder they managed to hear themselves think.
Grateful for the air conditioning, Eziafa made his way down the long buffet table. He heaped home-made food on two Styrofoam plates, and sat on the nearest empty chair. The women had outdone themselves.
The pounded yam’s texture was just how Eziafa liked it. The starchy morsels didn’t stick to his fingers. Generous amounts of spicy okra soup warmed his stomach. Eziafa licked his fingers. He would coax some take-home food from Nkolika.
A peal of laughter made Eziafa look up from his plate. The sound came from a young woman seated at the other end of the table. As she threw her head back in another burst of laughter, Eziafa’s eyes were free to caress the caramel skin showcased by a bright yellow halter-top. Gnawing on a chicken drumstick he imagined his fingers grazing her soft skin. Even though she seemed oblivious to his curious stare, Eziafa forced his gaze away. She could be someone’s wife.
He jumped at the tap on his shoulder. It was Felix. Annoyed, Eziafa kissed his teeth.
“This man. You almost gave me a heart attack.”
Felix grinned. “No vex. I wanted to let you know we’re seated at a table by the door.”
Eziafa had good reason to stay where he was. “I’ll join you guys later.”
Felix left. Eziafa stole a glance at the woman’s ring finger. It was bare. Her phone conversation dragged on. Eziafa’s growing impatience had him tapping fingers on the side of his chair.
As soon as she put her cell phone down, he pushed back his chair, straightened his shirt over a round stomach and walked over to her. Hoping a big smile masked his nervousness he said: “Hello. I’m Eziafa Okereke.”
She shook his offered hand. “Jovita Asika. I don’t believe we’ve met?”
He held on to her soft hand. “No. It would be impossible to forget your face.”
Jovita gave him a sceptical look as she released his hand. “I’m sure that’s what you tell all the ladies you meet.”
Eziafa grinned. Jovita was built the way he liked his women, voluptuous and several inches taller than him.
“Only the beautiful ones,” he said.
“Hmm.” Jovita pointed at the chair beside her. “I guess listening to a little more flattery wouldn’t hurt.”
Eziafa sat. “I’d love to have a private conversation with you.”
“Oh. Okay. I do need to make a quick run to the ladies’ room. Can we meet up at the bar?”
Eziafa jumped to his feet. “I’ll be waiting.”
Five minutes and forty seconds later, Jovita joined him. To save money, the association executives decided against an open bar. Jovita ordered an extra dirty vodka martini. She also insisted on paying for his bottle of beer. Eziafa felt better when she agreed that he would pay for their second round of drinks. A woman shouldn’t be buying his drinks.
They sat in a small room off the auditorium. Ajar, the door did little to muffle the boisterous party sounds. Jovita lowered her cocktail glass to the small table. “So, what do you want to talk about?” she asked.
Jovita swirled her drink. The stuffed olives settled to the bottom of the glass. “Well, before I give up my secrets, you must tell me about yourself.”
He cleared his throat. “There is not much to say.”
She gave him an encouraging smile. “Humour me.”
Eziafa’s nervous energy dissipated as he talked about moving to America and his life in Minnesota. Jovita revealed she was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Like him, she moved to Houston in search of better opportunities. She worked as a real estate agent and an interior decorator.
“So, what do you do for a living?” she asked.
Eziafa shifted in his seat as he watched for the anticipated change in Jovita’s expression. “I’m a taxicab driver.”
“That’s a fun job.”
Eziafa frowned. “Are you mocking me?”
Jovita’s hand settled on his bare arm. “No way. You can’t interact with that many people without having some good stories to tell.”
Eziafa cleared his throat. Jovita’s warm touch was messing with his mind. If she moved closer, he would make up all the stories she wanted to hear. “I haven’t started the job,” he said.
“But, it’s why I moved to Houston.”
Jovita smiled. “Ah. Welcome to H-town. There are lots of things to see and do here.”
He was still adjusting to the sounds and sights of the sprawling city. “Maybe you can give me a tour?”
Jovita gave a non-committal shrug. “It would depend on my availability.”
Eziafa leaned forward when Jovita took a second glance at her wristwatch. He wasn’t ready for the evening to end. “You have to go?” he asked.
“Yeah. I hadn’t planned to stay this long.”
“You have other plans?”
“No. I’m just low-key mad. Earlier, I wasn’t impressed when one of the older women mocked my attempts to speak Igbo. She said I was an A.B.N.”
“What does that mean?”
“Dem dey call me, American-Born Naija.”
Surprised by her perfect Pidgin English, Eziafa hooted with laughter.
Jovita frowned. “It’s not funny.”
His laughter died. “Sorry. I didn’t expect to hear those words from you.”
“My parents speak pidgin to each other.”
“You sound authentic. I’m sure your Igbo is also excellent.”
“My Igbo sucks. I should have paid attention during the lessons my parents arranged. Still, I don’t understand why, instead of teaching me the proper pronunciation, these women laugh at me. Then when they speak Igbo to me and I respond in English, they’re quick to say
I’m conceited.” She sighed. “I don’t even know why I keep coming to the meetings.”
“It is good to associate with your people. Whether at home or abroad, there is strength in numbers.”
“Not when my own people think I’m a second-class Igbo person,” she said.
Eziafa doubted the women meant Jovita any harm. “Don’t mind them,” he said.
“It’s easy for you to say.”
“I can offer some free Igbo language lessons.”
“Hmm. This American capitalist is curious about something. What’s in it for you?”
Eziafa cleared his throat. “As a true Igbo man, I’m committed to the language’s globalization.”
Jovita’s hearty laugh rang out in the small room. “That’s plain bull.”
“It’s the truth.”
The wall clock chimed six
times. “Time for me to leave.” She fished the last stuffed olive from her glass and popped it in her mouth.
Eziafa rose to his feet as she pushed back her chair. “Will your car turn into a pumpkin if you don’t?” he asked.
Jovita rolled her eyes. “I no longer believe in fairy tales and I’m not leaving my pricey
Louboutin shoe behind.”
“That’s too bad. I would have taken the bus to find you.”
“You’re funny,” she said.
“It’s been nice, no, great, talking to you.”
Eziafa cleared his throat. “So, what’s your phone number? I hope your boyfriend won’t mind you taking calls from other men.”
“This Nigerian way of soliciting information pisses me off,” Jovita said. “Would it kill you to ask a direct question?”
He grinned. “It’s not how we do things.”
“That’s what my parents say. God forbid you guys learn to do things differently.”
Eziafa shrugged. “Why fix something that’s not broke?”
“There is nothing wrong with growing,” Jovita said. “To answer your unasked question, I don’t have a boyfriend. And even if I did, trust me, he wouldn’t tell me whose calls to take or not to take.” Jovita pulled a business card from her purse and handed it to him.
He pocketed the card. “I can apply for the boyfriend position?”
“I never said I was looking for a man.”
Eziafa lifted his chin. “With all humility, I can say my impressive resumé has changed many doubtful minds. You will want to keep it on file for future opportunities.”
“Your confidence is admirable,” she said.
“You inspire me.”
Jovita cocked her head. “I do?”
Eziafa nodded. If he played his cards right, his self-imposed celibacy could come to a satisfying end. “You’ll hear all about your massive influence during our first date.”
Jovita was silent as they headed for the door. He held it open. “After you.”
She raised her eyebrow. “A quasi-gentleman.”
Eziafa licked his lips. “The truth is I need a grown woman like you. Someone brave and
competent enough to unwrap this … em … complex package.”
Jovita’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “You should make that line the primary goal on your resumé.”
Eziafa winked. “I love insider tips.”
…sounds good? I told you. Readers are in for a treat. Now, let’s get to know the author.
Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. Her debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, a Canadian national bestseller, was longlisted for the 2016 Nigeria Literature Prize. A writer of poetry and short stories, Kilanko is also the author of a novella, Chasing Butterflies, and two children’s picture books, There Is An Elephant In My Wardrobe and Juba and The Fireball. Her next novel, A Good Name, is forthcoming in November 2021. Kilanko lives in Ontario, Canada, where she practices as a therapist in children’s mental health.
A Good Name preorder links: Canada / U. S / U. K
Hope you enjoyed the reveal. Peace & Blessings