Written by Opeyemi Okunnuga
‘Fame is fickle my dear’ she smiled wryly ‘one minute it is carrying you on its wings’ she threw both hands sideways describing wings
‘You’re soaring above the universe and pandering to the adulation of the world; you’re untouchable’ she had a distant look on her face.
‘The next minute you’re the world, watching it carry another person like it never carried anyone before them’
‘It’s a painful divorce that leaves you with a drained body and a bleeding heart. It’s a curse darling; the curse of fame’ she paused.
She looked into my eyes and warmly said ‘Welcome’
‘Welcome?’ I was puzzled.
She let out a cackle and said – ‘to the club of has-beens baby, welcome to the club of has-beens’
‘Don’t… don’t call me that, I’m not your baby, nor am I a baby, it’s patronizing’ I said fiercely
‘Well, I’m sorry Jade, job hazard – I am nothing more than a glorified stay-at-home mum these days’ she smiled knowingly.
‘You didn’t even ask me if I did it’ I queried.
‘That matters little my dear, the reputation scandal gives you; that’s the grim reaper’ she replied.
‘I’m going to bounce back you know’ I said, confidently munching on my meal. ‘My publicist and agent are some of the best in the business; they’ll handle this, besides, things like this always blow over, you of all people should know that’ I continued munching on my food. She smiled like she knew something I didn’t.
‘It’s not the first scandal I’ve had in my career’ I said, dismissing her insinuations.
There was that loud silly laugh again. ‘I see you’re still in denial’ she said ‘that’s the first stage of grief darling; I guess you’re on course’
‘What are you talking about for crying out loud?’ I stared at her, incredulous.
‘When I was in the hospital’ she started ‘I heard a doctor and some interns discuss the five stages of…’
‘I know all about the stages of grief‘ I interjected, ‘they’re for people who have lost a loved one and I darling didn’t lose anyone’
‘But you have’ she insisted, ‘you have lost a loved one. You have lost Jada.’ she said emphatically.
‘Take a look at yourself, how many endorsement deals, shows and collaborations have you lost in the last month, not to talk of your tour that had to be cancelled by your label.’
‘Wow, you really keep up, stay-at-home mum’
‘And it’s only the beginning’ she continued, ignoring me. ‘The award-winning, chart-topping Jada is gone dear, now I’m just here at this restaurant talking to some girl named Jadesola Dada; the shadow of the once Africa famous musician – Jada’
I looked at her again; this was Sarah Ekong, the legendary actress who was president of the Actors’ Guild before I was born.
‘You know Sarah, I heard you had a nervous breakdown, add psychosis to that’ I stood as I spoke and picked up my phone, ‘I promise you, you will be disappointed, but I hope your misery finds the company it seeks, perhaps in a nursing home’
‘No please’ she stood up after me, clearly enjoying herself, ‘Don’t abandon your meal on my account’ I could hear the pity in her voice.
‘You may have it’ I replied ‘Maybe it would soothe your aching soul’ I said as I left her standing at the table.
The following two months were fraught with tension and pain for me. I went through a nerve-wracking court case that was drawn out unnecessarily to the pleasure of the media.
One cold and rainy afternoon, as I stepped out of the Ikeja Court building I was met with a barrage of cameras, pressmen in raincoats, boots, umbrellas, microphones and questions. Helen, who has been my publicist for three years now, insisted I must take a few questions and make a statement that reflects calmness and strength. I’d rather not, but I never question Helen’s judgement.
I heard shouts of ‘Jada! Jada!’ as cameras and microphones were thrust in my face.
I stopped to face them and Helen picked the reporters one after the other, the questions rolled over one another.
‘Are you going to prison Jada?’
‘Did you really have sex with the 13-year-old?’
‘When will you go back on tour?’
‘How is this affecting your family?’
‘Do you think you’ll end up like Sarah Ekong?’
‘I’m sorry what?’ my interest was piqued.
The reporter from The Daily Scoop spoke up –
‘Sarah Ekong was found dead in her bath tub this morning Jada’
Helen whispered in my ear ‘Suicide, give your condolences and refuse to comment further’
‘What was your question again?’ I asked
‘What do you say to people who say you will end up just like Sarah?’
I have been a storyteller since I was a kid, often found surrounded by an audience of my friends and school mates, listening keenly as I retold stories I had read from books I had no business reading.
Now as an adult, I tell stories with film and digital media.
You can follow me on @opeokunnuga on Instagram, Tiktok and Twitter.
@Opeyemi Okunnuga on Facebook and YouTube.