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Aisha asks Ifemelu how long she has been in the United States, which Ifemelu first tries to ignore by thinking again of her cousin Dike but finally answers, lying, that she has been there for fifteen years.
Aisha, like Ifemelu’s aunt, seems shocked that Ifemelu would choose to return home, but Ifemelu lies to her like she has to her parents, saying that she is going back to get married.
Ifemelu sits down to wait, discussing the nationalities of the braiders (Mali and Senegal) and listening to the manager yell over the phone in English and French.
The email is short and brusque, letting him know she’s coming back to Nigeria soon but giving few details; however, Obinze focuses on the fact that she calls him “Ceiling” (23).
He thinks briefly of the previous set of emails they exchanged in which she told him she was dating a black American (leading Obinze to Google him spitefully); in response, he replied that he had never been happier in his life. Obinze soon arrives home to his wife, who is made-up and ready to leave for an event, and his sweet daughter.
Now, he thinks back to the origin of the nickname she called him: when they were young and beginning to experiment sexually, she once told him that while he touched her her “eyes were open but [she] did not see the ceiling.” Soon, this became both her secret word for fooling around and for him; once, when his friends asked why she called him that, she lied purposefully to taunt them all. He changes into the outfit laid out for him by his wife and they head out of the house to Chief’s party.
Breaking his reverie, Obinze’s wife calls, asking as always “Kedu ebe I no? Throughout the party, Obinze goes back and forth between being present in the superficial conversations of the present and reflecting on the actions that got him to this place, making himself into something of a devotee to Chief and eventually getting his shot at a business selling large properties.