Friday 4 January 2019


The Milan Fashion Week came too soon, and she did not feature. A month after her contract signing, even in her wildest dreams she would not have expected to share the runway with Solena Del Sol, Antonella Marie and Sylvia Schiavonni, the biggest names in the business on the female divide of things, yes, there are two sexes and one sun. However, in a month Hannah was already in TV commercials, Delta Springs soap was the first group, and Osvaldo took care of the paper works. The pay was nice, and the bonus packages even nicer; a five year supply of toiletries, a car in each of those five years, and a special pay for her appearance in promo shows. She liked what she was getting, and how life was gradually changing for her and for her parents who had now moved to New York-into a more decent apartment befitting the parents of a would-be supermodel. She also liked her manager, Mr. Morales, and Osvaldo, her lawyer, who was now standing proxy. The working relationship with Osvaldo was becoming very good, and could only get better. He boarded planes with her, stayed backstage at every shoot and didn’t fail to proofread every agreement. It was only a matter of time before the colours would get more colourful, the birdsong get more melodious, the Manhattan sunset get more beautiful, and their eyes meet in realization of mutual fondness.
It was during a shoot for a toothpaste advert, the Advert director had complained about Hannah’s performance in the video, they had to repeat the clip a number of times, still the fastidious fellow found faults. Osvaldo had to step forward with some tips that worked out perfectly. As the director smiled satisfactorily and gave his approval to the next performance, Hannah hugged Osvaldo in blatant excitement. It was time to withdraw from the embrace and then their eyes met. 
“Sorry.” Osvaldo apologized in chivalrous politeness as he looked away, pretending to be shy.
“Oh, its nothing.” Hannah replied, looking away too in honest shyness. 
That night she was wrapped in a blanket of thoughts, the cute looks of Mr. Lopez in all its masculine glory appeared and disappeared in her mind like a phantom, and her heart twinkled with the excitement of a nun seeing a Marian apparition. She flashed back to when they first met, replayed the details of each succeeding event and wondered why she hadn’t liked him sooner. She had never been in love, and since early teenage had fought off the pubescent allure of having a lover. Mother had counseled that she was still too young to hang out in the rascally youth of millennial America. She was asked to focus and study for a degree; that a proper Hispanic Eduardo would come looking for her, then they’d get married in a Catholic chapel, and live happily ever after. However, it is said that the poor would seem to want nothing beyond his needs until he tastes the good things of life. Hannah had in a few months seen a bit of luxury, and had acquired a taste for the better things of life. Money was not a problem any longer even for the parents, and millennial America hadn’t been as bad as her parents supposed. Also, Osvaldo was Hispanic, if religious, would certainly be a proper Catholic, all the boxes ticked. It only remained to be seen if he would make a move. After all, it was now long overdue, she was now feeling the vacuum of a mate, someone aside her parents, with whom to share her joy and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses and fears and hopes. The vacuum had felt in its hollowness and nagging the tickling, nay, yearning of an empty womb. Yes, dear Ewatomi, there are a number of things one is not expected to do unless he does it well, such are flying an airplane or performing a surgery, but there are things one must do for himself even if he does it badly and such are wiping one’s bum or falling in love. Hannah thought that even for a first try she could hardly go wrong in love. She smiled to herself, and sighed happily at the warmth of her thoughts in this winter night.   

Tuesday 1 January 2019


Dear Ewatomi,

Time and time again I smile at the thought of you, and upon this fondness I always wish and hope that you are fine. Neither a strike of the foot against a stone or pebble nor slip off a banana peel, I wish for you, but that you should be in one piece, ever happy, and smiling. I often imagine that like Lionel Messi’s misfortune of not being able to watch himself play live, how unfortunate it is for you not to be someone else and to be able to admire the beauty that is Ewatomi. Well, enough said, and now I should ask ‘how are you?’ expecting that you understand it not to be a customary question to which one would throw out ‘fine’ like the blink of an eye. I ask it expecting that you tell me how things are with you in copious details.
How are you? Hope you are fine? Really fine? I believe that my amateur recommendations worked out fine with your stomach upset; and perhaps that you have learnt the lesson on staying faithful to one fruit at a time: and I guess that you would avoid fruit salad for a while or at least not try out weird combinations anymore. 
As I promised in my last letter I will tell you the story of Hannah, a young lady who got into a man’s life with the naivety of a wildebeest who, though seeking shade but having no idea how delicious it looked, wandered into the lions’ den. But before I get it on with, I would request that you pay attention to the details as I would try my best to make them as elaborate as possible, at the end of this story I would go ahead to explain why I have shared it. It is important that I started this letter extolling your beauty-it is so obvious that it has become boring lauding it-because Hannah Quintero is such a beauty, and her story parallels your circumstances, side by side, as lanes on a track, till just before tragedy. Hannah was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the only child of Pueto Rican immigrants, she received the best education her middleclass parents could afford. And though her brilliance was above average, her beauty, as you would expect, made all the difference and opened doors for her. Life really started for her on the night she won the local beauty pageantry. The stage was lit in pyros and the noise of camera clicks was swallowed up in applause and cheers. She could pick her mother’s tiny voice from the back of that hall; for her mother it was a proud night, but for her there was no surprise, she always had it coming, and this was only a start. She lowered her eyes against the flash of camera lights and rose them again slowly and enchantingly. She was sure her face would be on the front page of the local newspaper the following morning.
Now, something was beginning to get her attention, she stopped her waving momentarily to pick it; amidst the applause was the voice of a man joking in Spanish, he was right on the stage, at the door to the backstage speaking with the compere. They were speaking about her, Hannah knew, she heard the compere say that she was ‘one for the future’, to which the Spanish speaker replied that if she wasn’t the future of modelling, that there would be no future. Hannah had gotten the man’s voice, now she needed to get his face, especially now that she had also heard the man being called ‘Don Pedro Morales’. A friend had told her about a certain Don Pedro who holds all the keys to a successful career in modelling.
By dint of faith and fate, Hannah would get to have an audience with him only after a fortnight, and quite conveniently, upon the man’s request. The door opened before her to the sight of a huge fellow, bald, chubby faced, and a moustache trimmed within the width of his nose; the unmistakable Don Pedro Morales. He was sitting behind a busy desk; open files and scattered papers, records and journals. With him was a younger man, whom Hannah at once took for his associate. Tall and with shimmering black hair tied to the back like a ponytail, his eyes neatly roofed by a pair of bushy brows, this younger fellow was as handsome as a three piece suit David Beckham, cigar between lips, riding in a limousine and reading a Mandarin Magazine; basically the alternate James Bond. But Hannah was still too apprehensive to take stock of his statistics. 
“Welcome, welcome,” Pedro Morales rose to his feet beaming from ear to ear, his frame covering a better part of the huge window behind him which would offer a tourist’s perfect view of the famous Manhattan sunset.
“Thank you,” Hannah replied as she accepted the outstretched arm. Her eyes paced around the huge office as Mr. Morales made the introductions.
“This here is Osvaldo Lopez,” he said of the younger man, “my most trusted associate in this business. His looks ain’t worth a Peso but his mind… a goldmine.” And pointing to Hannah, whom he had offered a seat said to the younger man, “This here is Hannah Quintero, the hottest free agent in the business, the pick, the cherry on the cake…” 
“The cherry on the cherry cake.” The associate enthused, smiling at Hannah. “Nice to meet you.”
Hannah smiled shyly as she shook his hand, not understanding what he meant by the cherry on the cherry cake. 
Mr. Morales made a quick work of convincing Hannah to sign up with his model management agency, extolling with understandable bias the achievements and prestige of his company. Being a successful professional model had always been her dream, ‘the Latina Noami Campel’ was a name she hoped to be branded with someday, and on this day, in this elaborate office, on the twentieth floor of this tower the journey to that someday was just turning a page. Mr. Morales brought out a prepared document containing the terms of the agreement carefully drafted, he asked her to read through and recommend changes to terms she wasn’t comfortable with. Hannah read through the document, and smiled. 
“But am I not supposed to have a legal representation-a lawyer?” she asked upon looking up from the document.
“Yes, you are. Which is why Mr. Lopez is here; best lawyer you can find around. I personally recommend him, and I don’t think you’d refuse my recommendation this early in business. Would you?”
Hannah thought long and deep. Things were happening too fast, barely a month earlier she successfully passed through the audition for the local beauty pageantry. Two weeks after that, she won, and now she was about to sign her first professional contract. What could go wrong when others have gone right? What could go wrong in accepting Mr. Osvaldo Lopez as his lawyer? And don’t they say that it is a risk not to take a risk? She took the leap, shook hands with Mr. Lopez and signed the deal. Life for her would never remain the same.