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Added: May 21
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Must Read: Two Realms (Romance Thriller) - Season 1 - Episode 29
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It never was an easy task to paint two identical things. It was one of those paintings that kept the painter up all night, and if generous enough, spared the painter two hours of sleep. Ivie was done with the female. She backed from the board and admired the crawling figure of the baby girl she had created. Her ears needed some touch. Ivie grazed the surface with pale-yellow.

Now, it was time for the twin. She debated on if to give him same blonde skin as the girl, or tan, or chocolate. Or the customer’s skin colour, which was perhaps ebony. She went for that and did the blends in the palette.

Satisfied at the attained mixture, she dipped her brush into the palette and extracted some of the mix. She let the image form itself in her head and reproduced it on the board, periodically taking eyes to the baby girl to ensure a perfect resemblance or something close.

The gold car of the previous day drove and settled at the gallery’s front. The customer. She had wanted to be done before he arrived. A little more patience from him would have won her that. The man opened and she sighed on seeing him. He was tan and not ebony.


“Is that my work?”
he muttered, enough to be heard.


“Yes, I’m still on it.”


He advanced to her and peered at the board with no smile, making it seem the painting was not good enough.


“If you’re not satisfied, I can do a new one.”

“It isn’t bad.”
He sat on the bench, which gave him a good view of all corners. “I brought the photos of what you’ll be working on.”

She la!d her brush on the palette. “I should see them.”

He brought out two photos from his bag and set them on the table.

One was a photo of a cherry tree orchard, a beautiful one, full of green leaves mixed with traces of red. She would paint double of it and keep one for herself. She glanced at him. Most men did not appreciate things like this. How many men did she even know? She mocked herself. But no one would expect a man like this to have a mind for Art. Art was not for men who glued sombreness to their looks. The other was a picture of him, a much younger him with a different skin shade. Ebony.




“I’ll be done in two days, Wednesday.”
she said. “No three,” she corrected, on remembering the extra orchard painting she wanted for herself.


“Thursday. Expect me then. When will you be done with the babies?”

“I should be done by tomorrow.”


He nodded slowly.

She returned to the board and let the image flow from her fingertips into the board. He gawked at her as though she was painting him. At times, his eyes drifted from the board to her face, and those times weren’t few. If only there were other ways of telling him to stop gawking without using her mouth.


“You don’t have to watch me.”
Her stomach itched on saying that. It was never a bad thing for a buyer to watch the painter paint the booked work.


“I’m waiting. You could be done today.”

“I don’t guarantee that, and even if it happens, it won’t dry today.”


“Don’t you have a dryer?”


“Using a dryer could result to bad work.”

“How long will it take to get dried? Without a dryer.”


“By Thursday it should be fully dried.”


He studied his wristwatch. “I’ll wait. I love to see painters paint.”

She quit arguing and allowed him watch as it could help train her in painting people seated in front of her. The baby’s middle, she brushed with a foam and added layers of tan upon layers.



“What’s your name?”
he asked as though it was his right to know.


“Ivie.”

“Second name, please?”



Her hands quivered at his words. Any more quivering might alter her painting. Why did he want a second name? She prayed she carried a face bad enough to tell him she hated the distractions. “Oboh.”


“Oboh,”
he repeated. “Bodiaye?”

Now, he spoke her native dialect, probably just to show he could. She pondered on if to respond in same, or in English, or keep mute. He was a customer. Keeping mute wouldn’t be the best. “I’m fine.”

“You’re Esan.”



She nodded. If only the man could stop talking and allow her finish the work peacefully.



“I spent some time in your land,”
he said.

Good he reverted to English. Having a conversation with a customer in the native tongue would have been the most eerie thing.


“I’m Bakare Damijo.”


She knifed out some black from a can and pasted it on the rough board, and then began spreading it to a thin film.



“Would you be done in the next hour?”
he asked.

“I can’t say.”

The sunrays turned orange and dimmed the room, yet he had made no motion to leave. He probably loved the work since he simply stared and uttered no complains. Neither did he utter praises. She did the finishing—trimming of the edges, and was happy enough to have avoided vivid errors even with the disturbance. She snuck a glance to him. With the look he carried, it was hard to guess if he loved the work or not. Few comments from him would have made things better.



“I’ll go place it under the fan.”
She lifted the board and walked to the fan, turned it on and placed the board underneath.


“Doesn’t that spoil the work as you said?”


“It doesn’t. Using something more artificial, like a paint dryer or a hairspray is what does that.”

“With this, how long will it take to dry?”
He interlocked fingers and pressed them against themselves.


“Hours or days.”
He slid palms down his face and stood. “I’m leaving. I’ll be back on Thursday.”



Six thousand naira for the twins and he did not complain. With the disturbances and distractions, she should have charged higher. The cost for the orchard and his picture would be discussed when she was done.


He rubbed his palms together and eased to the door. She exhaled and staggered to her desk, picked the photos of the orchard and the customer. The photo of the orchard seemed virtual and board-friendly, unlike the customer’s. It would not be easy drawing his figure, especially the nose. She cupped her waist at both sides and yawned to the air.

What she needed was a deep sleep on the wide bed waiting for her at home. The gallery messes would be attended to the next morning.

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