Three is a Crowd_Chapter 5


Jameelah wasn’t going to stop, that much was certain. Demi picked up the phone and turned away from her family.


“I’m coming over.”

“Jam…I’m really not…”

“I’m almost there.”

At that moment, Demi heard the sharp horn of Jameelah’s vehicle beeping relentlessly. Of course, it wouldn’t make Baba walk any faster – he was incapable of doing anything quickly. She dropped her phone on the bed and picked up the first top she saw in her drawer.

“Who is that?” her mum asked.


Her mum hissed, for no real reason and turned on her heel. Moradeke sat on the bed.

“How’s Jumjum?”

“She’s great. Can you get the door? I’m half naked.”

“Oh. Yea. Sure.”

Moradeke left the room and Demi breathed in a few moments of peace before Jameelah burst into the room, flicking her wrists and stressing her words.


Demi turned around, with her left arm half in her black top and her right arm pulling the material over her head. Jameelah opened her eyes as wide as they could go and grabbed Demi’s hands.

“I heard!”

“No kidding.”

“Have you cried yet?”

“A little.”

Jameelah’s hands leapt from Demi’s hands and grabbed her shoulders pulling her into a tight hug. The scent of jasmine filled Demi’s senses. She relaxed into her friend’s embrace and the tears fell again.

“I really liked him Jam.”

“I know. I know. And you would have had him if it wasn’t for that witch.”

“But what if I wouldn’t have? What if he likes skinny girls?”

Jameelah laughed and released her friend.


Jameelah was the poster girl for plus size. She had wide hips, large breasts and thick lips. But every other thing about her was disproportionately small. Her body mimicked two inequality signs facing each other. Jameelah’s instagram page was followed by every man or woman who hated slim girls; every man or woman who couldn’t believe big was beautiful and every individual who just liked Jameelah’s innate sense of style. She had become so popular that she now modeled for several Lagos fashion designers.

But Demi did not share Jameelah’s love for the plus image and she wasn’t as fit as her friend either.

Demi slipped her second arm into the top and pulled the ends until it sat comfortably over her chest. She had not bothered with a bra, as she was planning to spend the rest of the day feeling sorry for herself.

Her friend dragged the swivel chair that was tucked before Demi’s desk and sat upon it. Demi’s room was more like an office than a bedroom. She had two bookshelves set beside her window, which looked out on the estate street. The second window in her room was opposite her bedroom door and she had placed her desk in front of it, so she could look out when she was tired of staring at her laptop.

She believed blue was the colour of her personality – and several online tests had confirmed it – so her room was a combination of dark blue and light blue, with a strip of red wallpaper.

She sat on her bed, which was situated at an angle from the fourth wall. The wall was littered with post it notes that she used to remind herself of the things she would otherwise forget. Or was too scared to do. The blue one at the bottom read – ask Tosin out – in her big scrawly writing. She reached out, grabbed it, scrunched it into a ball and tossed it into her bin. She made the basket.

“Tell me everything!”

Demi recounted the story to her friend who listened, her eyes trained on Demi, not once glancing at the phone which vibrated so often it was amazing she was still able to grip it.

“So you had no clue he was into her?”

“I mean…they talked a lot…but I thought she was talking to him about me.”


Demi recalled how Dotun had often twirled her braid around her finger as she leaned in and whispered to Tosin. She left the comb in her thick hair and dropped her head into her hands.

“I’m so stupid.”

“No, you’re just r-e-a-l-l-y trusting.”

“You know, she even eyed me after I…ruined her cake.”

“That girl’s marriage can never succeed!”

Demi wasn’t sure how the failure of Dotun’s marriage would in any way benefit her but she said nothing. Her friend was just trying to comfort her. She took her afro comb from the desk; there was no space left in her room for a dressing table, which had worried her mother no end. She grabbed a fistful of her hair and meticulously ran the comb through it.

“I’ve told you before that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, especially if you want to be proposed to this year.”

“Jam…I can’t even get one boyfriend, so balancing more than one isn’t even on the table right now.”

“Do you want one of mine?”

Demi rolled her eyes. Jameelah had an endless supply of magas – men she used for various needs. They weren’t physical or financial needs, she just liked the attention. Femi satisfied her desire for midnight conversations, Chisom took her on extravagant dates, Hassan was brooding and played the bad boy in her life, and Taiwo was thoughtful and constantly checked on her. These were the ones Demi knew about; the relationships never lasted long and the men were quickly replaced.

“I don’t think that life is for me Jam.”

“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”

“Besides, you’re still unmarried.”

Jameelah shrugged.

“It suits me to be…for n-o-w. But trust me, I know how to get a proposal out of a-n-y one of the men in my life.”

“Even Hassan?”

“E-v-e-n Hassan.”

“What about love?”

“What a-b-o-u-t it?”

“Don’t you want to love your husband?”

“Eh…after I marry him…the love w-i-l-l come. We are women, we will always love whichever man we spend plenty of time with…as long as he is n-o-t an ogre.”

She considered telling her friend about the man she met at the gym, who certainly wasn’t an ogre. But what was the point? Even if she ran into him again, what were the chances that he would be interested in her? Demi picked up her phone; this phase of her life deserved it’s own soundtrack. She was thinking 90s. It was the best time to be sad in love. She decided to go hardcore and played – Girl in the life magazine. That song always made her teary.

“Ok,” cried Jameelah, “We are not doing that! If you want to listen to music, play Marry or Yes/No.”

Demi blinked.

“Or…ooo…ooo…Say Hi to Your Mumsi.”

Demi pressed her lips together. And increased the volume of the Boyz to Men track. The bedroom door opened and Moradeke’s head peered through.

“Mum wants to know if you are going to eat.”

“Yes!” cried Jameelah. Of course she would eat, all her food went to her hips and bum. Demi followed her friend out of the room and into the living room where her father was already seated at the table, with his face behind a newspaper.

“Good morning, daddy.”

“Good morning sir.”

They knelt down for him briefly and her father grunted without taking his eyes from the article he read. Her mother rolled her eyes.

“It isn’t polite to read at the table.”

Demi’s father grunted but she was certain he hadn’t heard a word of the not so subtle hint, as all he did was flip a page and continue to read the paper. Titi, their housegirl, brought out a dish of food and Demi went to the kitchen to help her bring the rest of it. Her mother, sister and friend carried the brunch conversation; her father read the newspaper and ate his meal in silence and she allowed her thoughts to carry her far far away.

About the author

Oyinkan Braithwaite

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May 2019
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