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Chapter 19 (Fierce By Paula Oko)

POSTED 12/20/2017 14:39:57
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In the weeks that followed Trish cancelled all of Mani's bookings and issued a statement to the public that Mani was currently stressed out and needed some personal time to heal. Of course that was a big fat lie because in truth Mani had checked into a private rehabilitation center.
When Ehi had asked why the truth wasn't being told to the public, Trish response was that even though everyone in the industry knows most of the models are addicts they were willing to throw a blind eye so long as it never makes its way to the public and that if Mani's true situation ever got out then she might as well kiss her career goodbye because no one will like to work with her.
Ehi was currently in the dressing room getting ready. She was about to go live on air on a TV show to promote her shoe line. She had signed a contract with a shoe giant to design and release her own sneakers line.
"You are up next Ms. Ehi." a lady said and she stood up and walked to the side of the stage that was not visible to the audience. Soon she was called upon and she walked graciously towards the host. They exchanged pleasantries and sat down.
"It's such a dream come true to have you on my show. It's so hard to get you on anything that's not modeling or movies." the host Theresa teased.
Laughing she responded "No it's not difficult to get me on your show you probably didn't ask right." She said laughing and was joined by the host.
"So tell me, should we be expecting another movie from you anytime soon?"
"Not really though I will be appearing on a couple of episodes in a TV series in October"
"A new series or something already on air?"
"It's already on air."
"Oh that's good so what's the name?" She turned and faced the camera "you are about to get an exclusive here on hanging out with Theresa."
Ehi waved her hands in the air "No exclusive people. I'm not supposed to talk about that until it's time. But then again you heard about that here first." she said laughing.
Theresa had a frown on her face "Oh my goodness, you had us excited for no reason but you are right we did get an exclusive not just the one we wanted. Okay so tell us how is Mani doing?"
"She is fine. She is doing great."
"That's nice to hear and I think it's good she has a good support system especially with you and Christian. So does that mean you would be taking a break too so as not to exhaust yourself?"
"Of course. Before now all I thought about was work, work and work but now, I can't wait to go on vacation. I'm thinking of taking three weeks or a month off and just have fun."
"Yeah that would be a nice idea. You pamper yourself and then you return looking like a snack."
"Yeap. That's the plan." she said laughing.
"I don't know how to put this but it's like we know and at the same time we don't know you." She turned to the audience and they all nodded in agreement. "No one knows anything about you. It's like one day you didn't exist and the next day you did. Why is that?"
"For starters I am not an alien." she said and everyone laughed. "I grew up in Albuquerque and I moved to New York when I was sixteen to pursue a career in modeling and I met Mani shortly after I moved here and she introduced me to Christian and that's how it has been ever since."
"Young lady, we know that part. We want something fresh."
"Too bad, y'all ain't getting nothing from me. It's called private life for a reason. And I want to be stingy with that." she replied chuckling.
"OK, have it your way but I am going to find out one way or the other. There have always been a debate on your ethnicity, can you put an end to that right now?"
Ehi looked at the audience and smiled before turning back to the host "I have Filipino, Mexican, West Indian... you know Vietnamese blood from my father's side while my mum is black. She is from Nigeria actually."
Theresa nodded thoughtfully before continuing "Wow that's interesting. I guess you identify with all."
Ehi took a deep breath before replying "Not really. I haven't met anyone from my father's side, shit I don't even know my father. For me it has always been my mum and for so long I have identified as black, not biracial not anything else just black." She said lifting her hands up in frustration.
Theresa looked at her intensely" Has that had an impact on your career?"
Ehi shrugged "I guess you can say in a negative way. For instance when I was still new in the business. I would attend casting for some shows and I would be told to my face that I didn't fit what they were looking for. You know, it was like... like I was not black enough and at the same time not Asian enough. I didn't have Afro hair so I couldn't partake in a shoot for black women. I mean people came up with ridiculous things to say every day and it really did hurt you know... I can't even say everything here because the list goes on and on. There was even a lady who told me to give up my dreams of ever being a model. That at 6'2 I was too tall and exotic to ever make it." She turned to the camera and continued "Well, lady I hope you are watching your TV now because I debunked that." The audience started applauding when she was done speaking.
Theresa waited for the applause to die down "What did you during this period?"
Laughing she replied "I cried a lot. Honestly I was crying almost every day but I had a great support system in my manager back then and of course Mani and Christian. I can't even count how many times Mani got into a fight with someone for disrespecting me. Sometimes the fight was so serious the organizers sent her away–" everyone burst in to laughter at this "—hey that's Mani she goes from zero to a hundred quick. But I love her for that and more." The audience clapped at that.
Theresa added "Yes Mani is a sweetheart. And by the way, your friendship with her is goals. Last Halloween a lot of people dressed as the two of you and as a feminist I am here for it because it's women empowering you know...It's always refreshing seeing you girls together."
She smiled shyly "Thanks a lot for that. The funny thing about our friendship is that a lot of people thought we would be enemies. You know the fashion industry always pit black girls against each other. I mean as it is there are already few of us and somehow we are not supposed to get along because there can only be one black model at a time. Mani and I never had such fights and even though a lot of people wouldn't publicly say it, we have inspired others not to fall for that trap you know. I actually think that as women of colour we should stick together because we are more powerful that way."
Theresa nodded her head "I agree with you on everything you just said. It's difficult being a black person in the industry. I'm a white woman and I know that." Everyone laughed at that. "Ehi earlier on you said you have never met your father and you didn't look bothered saying that so I wonder, if you had the opportunity to get to know him or even see him would you take it?" Ehi looked at the host but she wasn’t really seeing her. Memories of her mum insulting her and calling her a product of rape kept playing before her. She knew she had to thread softly or else she was going to let everything she has been hiding for years out. She took a deep breath and exhaled" I'm never going to watch out for him, if that's what you are asking but if our paths ever crossed I will speak to him because there are a lot of things I need clarity on."
"That's fully understandable and I think you are a better person than me because I would have hired a private investigator and when we found him, I will show him my bank account and tell him how he isn't getting nothing from me." she chuckled as the rest of the audience laughed. "Moving on I have to ask this erm... How do you feel about Stephanie and your ex Mannah dating?"
She had been warned earlier that Theresa always went for the kill but she hadn't expected her to be this direct. "I don't feel anything. " she replied cautiously.
"So you don't feel anything that both of you have dated each other exes?"
"I really don't feel anything."
"Okay if you say so. Now tell us about your shoe."
"It's called Ehi after me of course and it's something I have been working on for a while now. I wanted something you could wear at all times and still look fly in it. You could use them to jog or even go to the gym and you could also wear them in your everyday life activities. It's easy to wear and more than anything there are very comfortable." "Wow all that in one shoe. Wow simply astonishing."
"Yes and they come in different colors and are also affordable."
"True." Theresa faced the camera and continued "You have heard it from the horse's mouth. They will be available tomorrow and you can get them in selected stores. But before that our audience in the studio would all be going home with a pair." she said and the audience started to clap and scream. Looking across to Ehi.
"It was really a pleasure speaking with you and I know how difficult it was for you opening up to us and I say a big thank you to that. I hope you stop by another time."
"It was my pleasure too and I will definitely be back."
"It's time for a commercial break and when we return we get to meet the winner of the just concluded Clara Saints singing competition and she will be performing her debut single live next."
Ehi stood up the same time Theresa did and they hugged each other before she left the stage. She found Trish by the side waiting for her.
"I'm in big trouble am I not?" she asked tensely.
"Not really. You did marvelously well and the press will chew on that. I doubt anyone would bother you on the Stephanie and Mannah’s stupid relationship. "She waved her hands in the air like a mad person "I know you were supposed to visit two radio stations today but it just became three. It would have been a lot more but I don't want to stretch you. Everyone wants to know more about your family history so my advice on that is to tell them something and at the same time don't tell them anything." Ehi looked at her in disbelief "What does that mean exactly? Can you speak English please?"
Trish smiled at that "I meant you shouldn't really add to what you have already said. Just tease them here and there because if you divulge more, the story in the papers wouldn't be about your shoe but on your parents. You feel me?" She said sounding like Christian.
"Oh yeah, I feel you." She replied and they burst into laughter.
Ehi was able to survive the radio tour with a grotesque parody of a smile plastered on her face. Every person who interviewed her wanted to know more about her situation. She couldn't really blame them, she has always been private about her life until now.
The next day she flew to LA to further promote the shoe and she brought the twins along. Whenever she was not promoting her shoe line, they were out sightseeing. She usually dressed in ways that people wouldn't recognize her in. She always had on extremely big clothes with long wigs with bangs and big sunglasses. The children who were oblivious to everything she was doing to give them a happy childhood thought she was playing dress up. They spent another week in LA before returning to New York.
Ehi almost had a heart attack when she walked in one evening and found Theodora lying on the floor in the bathroom. When she went over to where she was, she found her daughter sleeping when she asked why she chose to sleep on the floor Theodora's response was that Mani went on vacation after sleeping on the bathroom floor so she wanted a vacation too. Ehi was so scared and all she did was to wrap her hands around her daughter. That weekend she took the children to see Mani and from there they took a private plane to Hawaii and stayed there for two weeks. The break was much needed and when she returned she felt refreshed herself and wished they could travel like that often.
All that followed after the short break was work. When she wasn't walking the runway, she was taking part in a campaign. Mani returned home in August and they threw a welcome party for her. It was low-key and few people were invited. Ehi was chosen to appear in the Victoria Secret fashion show while Mani was made a Victoria's Secret Angel.
They all spent Christmas in Paris with Trish and her daughter Maureen. She had Maureen for an African American football quarterback who was married to an actress. When the news about Maureen had hit the news it had cause such a ruckus and the media had shamed her for trying to break up a black family.
Trish went out of her way to shed Maureen from the public eyes. Maureen was six years old now and good friends with the twins. Even though her father was still married to his wife she still had a good relationship with her other siblings.
It was on their last day in Paris when they received a call that their building was on fire.

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