Saving Dapo II
Read Episode I here.
“When are you travelling, maami?”
Mrs. Adeoba looked at her third child and second daughter – and the corners of her lips curled up. She pushed up her steel frame glasses and picked up the paper she’d set aside when the girl came in. “I’ll leave as soon as you bring me a son-in-law,” she said.
Yemisi sighed. “Maami, what am I going to do – abduct a man in the middle of the street?”
“If that’s what you have to do, then yes!”
Her departing footsteps made no sound. “Okay then,” she said over her shoulder. “When I bring home a man who beats me, uses me like a –“
Mrs. Adeoba jumped up, forgotten newspaper falling free. “O oto be! You dare not, you hear me?! God knows in thirty nine years of marriage your father has never laid a hand on me,” her voice softened. “Except for when we are…”
“Okay okay! Maami, that’s enough information!” she looked at her mother in mock horror. “I don’t want to imagine you and daddy – not in that kind of state!”
Mrs. Adeoba laughed. “Egbe ni e. Small girl! Abi you’re trying to impress your mother?”
Not too tall but stately with intimidating carriage, Mrs. Adeoba looked like a cross between Joke Silva and Liz Benson as she gracefully glided across the carpet towards her daughter. Yemisi caught a whiff of the Chanel perfume she bought her mum last time she went shopping as the woman leaned in close and asked, “Come o, abi you’re a virgin?”
She hid her shocked expression over the woman’s shoulder as she hugged her. “I love you, Maami. I will bring you a son-in-law when it’s time.”
“What we’re looking at for the client is a sustainable model that can promote them and move units of the product at the same time,” Yemisi finished speaking and turned to the male figure sitting at the head of the table.
He nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Anything else?”
Scanning the faces across the table, she felt some measure of relief, shoving her hands in the pockets of her jeans. The usual troublemakers – guys who liked to raise issues for the sake of raising them were not available yet. She had a number of things to attend to and she was still worried about Dapo.
It had dropped into her consciousness as they were rounding up their conversation the night before that he was drinking again, but she had decided not to push it then. But she was concerned because she was sure the Mope thing got to him more than he was willing to admit.
Oladapo Ojo. Sad young man with a heart of gold.
She was seeing him as she had the first time – when Deolu, his roommate started sparking Amaka, her roommate. It was strange that they were both in three hundred level, attended the same church, lived right next door to each other – and were both willing to swear they had never run into each other before then. They had remained friends even after Deolu and Amaka ended. She was one of the few people he stayed in touch with after graduation. He hardly discussed his relations with her or anyone for that matter, so it had come something as a surprise when he’d called and told her about running into Mope again.
“Do you plan to sit there daydreaming all day – or do you have something better to do?” the CEO asked.
She started. “Yes sir!”
Sometime later, when everything had stabilized she called Dapo.
“Guy how far?” he said as soon as he picked. He liked calling her ‘my guy’ because; according to him, she was like his homeboy. And even though she didn’t like being referred to as a guy she understood the sentiment and indulged him.
He sounded like he was trying to be jovial. “You drank again yesterday did you not?” She accused him.
He was breathing through his mouth. “Yemisi, what do you want me to say?”
I…nothing,” she sighed. “I just worry, you know? I know how much you cared about her…and how hard it must have been to tell her – only for it to be too late. I just hope you’re not regretting it.”
“You know me – no regrets.”
The pretence at flippancy was gone. Dapo sounded like a man whose heart has just been scraped raw. “I just hate that it took this long for her to know how much I really cared. You dig?”
“I do, Dapo. How I do.” It hurt her to hear him sound this way. It made her feel small; knowing he was hurting and feeling like there was nothing she could do to change that. “I…”
“You remember the first time you saw me and her?” Dapo asked.
She smiled at the memory. “Sure I do. I had gone home after being sick for a while – and I just got back so I came over to say hi…”
“And you saw me holding hands with this absolutely divine creature. Yes o!”
“You couldn’t imagine my shock. Still haven’t figured what got me more – that you had a girlfriend on campus or that you were holding hands with her!”
She had to hold the phone away from her ear so that Dapo’s booming laughter would not harm to it. She smiled. She had made him laugh.
“Do you have any idea how special you are? Meanwhile, you won’t believe what Grace did to me this morning.”
“Uh oh! What did that she do…” her voice trailed off as the automatic prompt told her she was almost out of credit.
“Dapo dear, I have to go. I’m almost out of credit.”
“Okay. I’d call you back but you definitely have work. You just made my day – again.”
“After all, what are friends for?” she answered. “It’s okay dear. We’ll see soon enough.”
“Okay…” the line went dead.
“Please do you have a minute?”
It was Adura, the new junior strategist.
“Sure,” Yemisi responded, pushing her chair away from the desk and turning to face the standing girl. “Pull up a chair. What’s on your mind?”
The younger girl was embarrassed. “Well…em…Yemisi…I…” she stopped and roughened her hair. “I’m…I’m scared,” she finally said, looking away.
Yemisi couldn’t keep the surprise out of her voice. “Scared?”
Adura’s hands played tango as she studiously studied them. “Well…I’ve never handled a campaign by myself before. I keep making mistakes – if you hadn’t looked over the costing…” she shivered. “I would have eaten two-point-five million naira beans. Imagine that!”
Yemisi chuckled. “You want to know something interesting?”
“If you weren’t scared, if you weren’t making mistakes I would be worried. I mean, of course some mistakes can be very costly as you almost found out – but they come with the job.”
She rubbed the younger girl’s arm with her left hand – the right was still clutching the phone. “That’s why I’m here. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. People will forget how long it took to do the job – but they’ll remember if you did a good job or not.”
Adura released pent-up breath and smiled. “Thank you so so much.”
“Anytime. Again – that’s why I’m here.”
The girl curtsied, drawing another smile to Yemisi’s lips. She moved back to her table and was about to put the phone down when it began to ring.
She put it to her ear and began.
“I didn’t think you’d call back –“
The voice that interrupted wasn’t the one she was expecting. “Sorry. It’s not him – whoever that is.”
Her eyebrow wrinkled. That sounded familiar.
“Who are you?”
“You no longer recognize my voice…tell me, has it been that long?”
She grabbed her belly, feeling as though all substance had suddenly been sucked from it. She wasn’t expecting to hear him – ever again.
“Priye?” She hated the neediness in her voice.
A chuckle sent tingles into the hand holding the phone. “Guess things haven’t changed much. How are you, Princess?”
“Don’t call me that!” Startled at her own vehemence, Yemisi looked around guiltily to see if anyone heard. No one was paying her any attention.
She dropped low in her seat. “What do you want?” she whispered.
He had stopped smiling. She could hear it.
“I miss you. I don’t like that I did not tell you before I traveled and that made nonsense of my feelings – made it look like I didn’t really care. I did…I mean I do.”
Yemisi looked at her nails; they looked blurry. The sudden wetness of her eyes hurt – deeply upset her. Inhaling and willing back the tears, she closed her eyes, opened them and cleared her throat.
“Are you back?”
“Not yet – but I soon will be. I’d like to see you when I arrive.”
“Call me,” Yemisi answered, trying not to smile.
“I will! Take care…Princess.” He laughed and hung up.
She had a moment of wondering why the clammy feeling in her belly was still there. I should be happy, she thought. He’s back and wants to see me.
Is that what you want?
Yemisi ignored that completely. She reached for her phone and dialed Dapo’s number before she remembered she’d run out of credit.
She wanted to talk to him again – but more importantly, it bothered her that an encounter with his ex could drive him back to drink despite years of abstaining. She wished there was some way she could…
No. She would not wish. There had to be something she could do to help instead of just wishing.
She opened Google and typed how to help heartbroken friend.
The day was almost over before her mind brightened with illumination from an idea.