A man picks his son up from school. “We’re going home,” he says. The boy nods.
The man is unusually excited. As they drive home through afternoon Ikorodu Road traffic, he cannot stop talking. The boy doesn’t respond; he just keeps looking outside the window.
After a while the man notices and stops talking. “What is it?” he asks, somewhat impatiently. There are times he doesn’t understand this nine year old of his.
The boy looks away from the world outside and faces his father. “Why do you and mummy fight so much?” he asks. “Why can you not stop yelling at each other?”
The man opens his mouth – and then closes it. “You won’t understand,” he says with an air of finality.
The car is silent; even the air is stiff and still.
Twenty-nine years later. A man picks his son up from school.
They get into a car and drive towards home; this time both of them are lost in thoughts as different as their ages.
“Dad,” the boy suddenly asks. “Why do you and mummy hate each other?”
The car suddenly jerks to the right, throwing the boy against his father in spite of the seatbelt. The man curses softly and rights the car, waving through the window at the shouting motorist he almost hit.
And then, he looks at his son.
“You won’t understand – “ he begins to say, and he remembers a question similar to that, in a car similar to this, asked by a boy similar to his own
He exhales softly. “I don’t hate your mother. In fact, I think she hates me. And I don’t blame her. Things are just not what I promised her they would be.”
The boy shook his head. “But mummy doesn’t hate you – unless you pray for people you hate. She cries a lot but she still prays for you.”
The man is struck dumb. “How do you know that?” he finally manages to get out.
The boy’s look says I thought you knew everything!
“Pa, I’m her son. Of course I know.”
A danfo swerves suddenly into his path and cuts him off; the okada man to his left starts swearing his way and waving angrily.
The man doesn’t notice any of these things.
Instead he’s thinking about a small woman; thinking about a light that used to make her brown eyes look like refined gold. He’s thinking about that and trying to figure out exactly when that light went out.
Of course it’s his fault. There’s no other explanation.
The leather of the steering wheel creaked as he unconsciously tightens his grip around it. He remembers a man too short of temper to explain to his son why two of the most important people in his life were always yelling at each other. He remembers a woman too tired to do anything except yell at her husband, cry with her children and smoke cigarettes. He remembers a boy too angry and confused to care; he remembers hearing that boy promising to be different with his own children.
What happened to that boy?
The man looks at the boy beside him now, at the confused, sad and yet hopeful look on the young, upturned face. “Don’t worry Dapo,” the man says, taking his right hand from the steering wheel and rubbing the boy’s head. “I will fix it. Everything is my fault, and I will make it right again.”
Dapo’s smile is doubtful – but it’s there. “You promise?”
The man frowns playfully. “Does daddy lie?”
Dapo’s face assumes a mischievous look – and at that moment he is; at least physically, the younger version of his dad. “Sometimes,” he says.
The man’s frown deepens – and then, the boy suddenly shrieks in laughter as the man’s darting hand tickles underneath his arm. “Stop it dad!”
“Never – hahahahahahahahaha!”
And the two of them drive home, in car carrying happiness.
“How bad is he?”
They were standing in the lobby of the hospital; same hospital he had come to meet her when Efe had gotten herself in trouble; same hospital he met Sophia in.
So long ago…
Igo; demure in red blouse and blue jeans, looked everywhere but at Frank as she answered. “I haven’t seen him – nobody has been allowed to see him. But the doctor says it’s real bad.” She gripped his arm and finally met his eyes, concern making hers darker. “Frank, she poured boiling oil on him!”
The floor swung up and hit Frank in the face with no apologies. He staggered and would have fallen if it wasn’t for Igo’s grip on his arm. She held him steady and led him to a bench set against the wall.
“Excuse me,” she said to a frowning woman who shifted grudgingly as though she had wet the bench. Igo set Frank down gently and touched his forehead.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m – I’m fine. I just…” Her palm felt soft and warm; her face glistened in spite of the worry that put wrinkles where they didn’t belong. The neck of her blouse fell loose; presenting a lighter shade of skin, lighter than her face and arms. He could also see two protuberances; two black-wrapped protuberances…
Hastily he looked away.
“Frank?” Igo said plaintively as she took her hand away from his head and straightened.
“Where is Stella now?” he asked through gritted teeth.
“Nobody knows. She called Efe and together they brought Fola to the hospital, and then she said she wanted to go see to her kids. She didn’t come back. Efe says the house was empty when she went by there on her way back home. She probably just took the kids and left for God knows where.”
Frank’s hand came up; he wanted to say something, but he changed his mind. Igo, who could tell what he was thinking said, “She’s at home with her family. She just waited for me to get here before leaving.”
Nodding gratefully, he rubbed his forehead. A small throb had begun somewhere in the back of his head and he felt overwhelmingly tired. He tried not to think of his friend, a few meters away…
“Which one of you is here for Fola – “ the woman, a doctor recognizable by the stethoscope hanging almost negligently around her neck, adjusted the reading glasses she was wearing and looked at the file open in her hand. “…Mr. Fola Akanji?” She looked up and squeezed her face.
“Here,” Frank rose and, with Igo hanging onto his arm, stepped away from the wall and towards the woman.
She met them halfway. “I’m Dr. Sheye.” Her handshake was firm. “Your friend is stable but in critical. He suffered third degree burns to his face, upper body and arms.” Frank’s ears started roaring; he heard the doctor through layer after layer of static. Beside him Igo tensed; her nails were cutting into his arm.
He struggled to focus on what the doctor was saying.
“…might lose sight in one eye, facial tissues are badly damaged, extensive surgery will be required and maybe some grafting, but for now, the focus is to keep him alive.”
Frank tried to talk; but for some reason, he couldn’t.
Igo asked; “When can we see him?”
Dr. Sheye shook her head. “It’ll be some time yet. But he’s okay, and we’ll do our best to care for him. You pray too, okay?”
Igo nodded. “Yes we will, thank you.”
The doctor turned to go – and then turned back. “Are you related to Mr. Fola?”
She removed her glasses – and he saw empathy in her eyes, something he would never have thought possible. “Who did this to him? His file says it was boiling oil.”
Frank swallowed. “It was his wife.”
She shook her head. “That is…that is horrifying.” Putting her glasses back on, she touched his arm lightly. “We’ll do our best.”
Her sensible shoes made almost no sound as she turned away and disappeared into the door she came out from.
“I appreciate your being here,” Frank said softly.
“Oh Frank,” Igo said, raising her head from his shoulder where it had been resting, “Of course. Efe called me in a panic after Stella called her. I’m sure you understand Stella wouldn’t call you herself.”
“She knows I’ll probably kill her or something.” He closed his eyes and leaned his head against hers, which she’d put back on his shoulder. “And he was telling me he was fixing things o, just last week or so.” He sighed. “This life sha.”
“I didn’t even know things were this bad between them,” Igo said softly. “Baby – I mean Frank, were we ever at this point? The point where you started to feel as though you had to hit me to make me listen or shut up?”
“I should be asking you that. She’s the one who’s been doing the beating na.”
There was a moment; a small pocket of time in which Igo looked at Frank with an I cannot believe you said that expression while trying not to laugh. But then Frank decided to top it with a wink.
Igo’s laughter was explosive – so explosive, dozing people in the lobby started awake and some nurses came running to see what the noise was about. The only thing they saw were a running couple; a man holding the arm of a woman as they ran towards the exit. Frenzied laughter followed the running figures; frenzied laughter and a drawn out hiss from a frowning woman seated on a bench.
“We aren’t supposed to be laughing about this,” Igo managed to choke out amidst spurts of laughter.
“So stop na,” Frank said, hands on knees gasping for breath. “Man, I haven’t run that hard in a while.”
Igo stopped laughing and looked at him. “And smoking and drinking – Frank, you don’t take care of yourself like you used to.”
The frown that colored his face made him look unfriendly. “Why would I? You left me, remember?”
“But I didn’t leave you Frank! I…you pushed me away, you asked for the divorce! I didn’t have a say in how the whole thing played out! I just stood and watched!”
He was suddenly subdued. “I know. And not a day goes by I don’t wish – “
His phone started to ring.
Cursing softly, he kept his gaze on Igo’s face as he struggled to pull out the device. After a few minutes of struggling he was able to get the phone out of his pocket. It was Priye calling.
“Guy where you dey?” Was his friend’s raucous salutation.
“Where I dey?” Frank intoned. “Which kain question be dat? Wetin happen?”
“Guy cool down na. We dey fight ni? I dey travel tomorrow – uncle say make I show villa na im I reason am say make we commot dis night. After I free you now, I go call Folly…”
The woman he hadn’t stopped looking at could see depression set on his features. Reaching out a hand, she rubbed his shoulder nearest her, sending some warmth into it. He nodded gratefully before speaking into the phone; “Guy, na hospital I dey so o. I dey hospital with Folly.”
There was a moment’s pause – and then, “Which hospital una dey?”
Frank told him which hospital it was. “I’m on my way,” was all Priye said and hung up.
“Priye?” Igo asked.
Frank nodded. “He can be annoying at times, but he’s a loyal friend. He didn’t even ask what happened, just said he’s on his way.”
“Well – “
Frank’s phone started to ring again. This time it was Sofia.
“Hi baby,” came the gushing reply. “You didn’t let me know you were home and I was getting worried. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Frank was grateful as he felt rather than saw Igo walk away to give him some space. “I just ran into a little traffic. How is everyone?”
She chuckled softly. “Ales is happy for me, mummy is using the age difference between us as an excuse to be grouchy; dad is…well; dad.” She laughed again. “Everything is fine! Stop worrying so much, you hear?”
“Okay,” Frank mumbled. “I’m glad at least they’re not fighting us.”
“No o,” she answered, sounding surprised that he would think such a thing. “Why would anyone want to do that?”
“I don’t know…maybe – “
“I already told you to stop worrying! Everything will be fine; I promise.”
“Okay.” He sighed.
“Goodnight, my darling.”
Frank looked at the warm phone, wondering why he didn’t tell her where he was. The first excuse that jumped into his mind was that he didn’t want her to worry; but as he looked at the red-blouse-wearing woman walking towards him, he wondered if it was something else.
“Can we got back inside?” she asked, hugging herself for warmth. “It’s cold here.”
“Okay,” Frank said, putting an arm around her.
Together they disappeared into the brightly-lit interior of the hospital.
Frank started awake suddenly; Igo was shaking him gently. “Frank, Fola is conscious. We can see him now.”
He raised his head from her thighs where it had been resting and stood up, stretching and yawning. She rubbed his shoulders lightly and smiled at him. “Are you okay?” she asked.
He nodded, querying the warm feeling he had from being around her. He wanted to touch her, he wanted to hold her and say nothing, just lose himself in the warmth that was her. He was actually stretching a hand to pull her back as she preceded him into the corridor that led to the ward
Why am I thinking these things now? Which kain wahala be dis now?
when guilt assailed him and he flinched. Igo saw the movement from the corner of her eye and stopped. “Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked him again.
He nodded. “I’m just, you know nervous. I don’t know what to expect.”
The nurse leading them turned and addressed them in a voice as stiff as her demeanor; “You will please be quiet; you will not agitate or stress the patient. Also you must; under no circumstances show any reaction when you see patient. He will be looking at your faces for a clue of how bad he looks; he must not know. Else, he might give up fighting and give up.”
Frank wanted to point the absurdity of her closing sentence but thought the better of it. “We understand,” he said instead, rubbing his hand on Igo’s back in a circular motion. She wriggled and looked at him over shoulder. “That feels nice, thank you.”
Instantly he took his hand away from her back.
Her face registered surprise. “Why are you stopping now?”
He shrugged. “You are not supposed to enjoy that. You’re supposed to take it as a matter of course. The money you paid does not include enjoying it.”
“Oh you – “ she swung her purse at his head; he ducked and she missed, almost slamming herself into the wall. The nurse turned and frowned at them; Frank waved an apology while trying not laugh as Igo righted herself. She frowned at him and slowly drew her forefinger across her throat. Frank started to laugh –
The nurse cleared her throat. “Come in quietly,” she said sternly.
In spite of the nurse’s warning and what they also knew, Igo couldn’t contain her gasp of horror at the sight that was once a healthy, handsome man of thirty-something years. Now, Fola looked like a survivor of the zombie apocalypse depicted in the Resident Evil game. His injuries were burns and so couldn’t be wrapped; the gory details were clear to see.
One side of his face and his entire chest were a mass of purpling flesh. His left eye streamed water, his undamaged right hand clenched and unclenched as though trying to grasp air. But for a few patches here and there along his left leg, his lower body was untouched.
There was strangled sob from behind him; Frank heard Igo rush out of the ward. He could barely hold his tears in himself; they crawled slowly from behind his eyes as he looked at what was left of his friend.
“He is in a lot of pain but we’ve sedated him and he will go under soon enough. The Dr. just thought you would want to see him; to see for yourself how he’s doing.”
Frank nodded. “Thank you,” he said, swallowing painfully to get the words out. As he watched, his friend’s clutching hand slowed – and then dropped onto the bed. For a terrifying moment, Frank thought he’d died.
“He’s asleep. Let’s leave him alone for now.”
As he stepped outside the ward, the first thing he saw leaning against the opposite wall was a weeping Igo. She raised her head and looked at him.
“I’m so sorry. I just couldn’t….” she shuddered. “Frank, what sort of woman does this to her husband? What sort of woman?”
He opened his arms to her and she collapsed sobbing against his chest. Frank looked up, finally understanding why blaming God for things never made sense.
The bitter taste of defeat;
Sourness of an orange too sweet,
Kisses of life from poisoned lips,
Sigh. It’s not always like this.
Yet; that’s all I know now
It’ll change; the word will show how,
Trade my cross for a fly gown
And smile; I’ll always be at peace.
I won’t know peace till I’ve said my piece,
You want peace of mind? Here’s a piece of mine!
Another Valentine’s Day, Still me one and the same,
Too many hearts stuck in about-to-be-lovers’ lane
Another Valentine’s Day, still the same me again
No matter what I go thru I’ll never see love as lame
Swum the highest mountains, climbed the deepest lakes
Laid on bitches panting after the most serious of heartbreaks
Soundless whispers; asking how much more can a heart take?
I’m silent, focused on how much I can make my art make
Stupid Cupid set his aside; struck by my poisoned arrow,
Laughing in his casket, joking “I’ll be back tomorrow”.
Know what loneliness is? Making other people happy; giving so much of yourself and not having a place to refill from.
It’s been all over the news – Robin Williams, ace actor, comedian, all-round talent and funnyman is dead. Lauren Bacall, another fantastic actress from generations ago died yesterday (12th). These are people who spent years on the screen, making people happy by giving a face to their most private thoughts.
But I won’t even talk about Bacall as much as I will Robin Williams. She died of a stroke, natural caused – and she was 89.
Robin, on the other hand was 63 and it was classified as an apparent suicide. I met Robin in Ms. Doubtfire, and even though I thought romance movie are somehow – I liked his performance. I thought it was brilliant; the way he went from husband to nanny without breaking a sweat. Then there’s Good Will Hunting, Jumanji, Insomnia, Popeye, Seize The Day…those were my personal favorites.
And then, there’s the genie…
He had a face that was synonymous with mischief. There was always a devil dancing behind his eyes; whether he was being a father, a teacher or a nanny or even a bad guy.
Man, he was creepy in Insomnia.
I’d rather not talk about his personal life; I’m fast learning how crazy – how far away from one’s work life things can be behind the scenes. I want to talk about his resume; how he made people happy with roughly 80 movies and several stand-up appearances – and didn’t seem to have much of that in his life.
Note – I said ‘seem’.
But he had marks around his wrist, and he was found hanging from a belt around his neck. Could be a staged murder, but I want to go with the suicide angle.
Word has it he checked into rehab for alcoholism earlier this year, and he’s been struggling with depression. So of course, the suicide looks good.
Why would someone, like Robin who was a funnyman find it so hard to be happy himself?
Allow me share a little something.
Stuff like Twitter and Facebook, designed to bridge the gap between human and human interaction has unintentionally widened that gap. I need you to think of the last time you had face-to-face interaction with anyone other than your colleagues or the mama-put woman – or the Okada man. I need you think of your last two relationships, or maybe three or four; depending on *clears throat*
I was kidding.
Anyways, where did you meet this person? I might be stretching it far – but chances are you met them online.
How did that go?
I notice; also, that guys don’t have game anymore. And by game; I’m talking about lyrics. Flow. Skill – knowing how to make moves on a woman, make her feel like she’s all that counts.
We just don’t try anymore. And the excuse is – it’s pointless. Why use all the flows, the game – why learn, when it’s about money these days?
I’m sure you’re wondering what all that has to do with Robin.
Well, we are a misunderstood generation, and no one is as guilty of misunderstanding us than ourselves. Everybody assumed Robin was fine – till breaking news told us he’s dead.
And all of a sudden, he’s described with ‘was’. Past tense.
We all have issues, and we’ve learnt to bottle it up inside because frankly, no one cares. I don’t want to hear about your issues – hell, your life is probably better than mine!
And they’re probably right.
But I’m yet to meet someone who has had ‘enough hugs for the day’. I’m yet to meet someone who didn’t want to hear nice things said about them in an ideal situation; and I’m yet to meet someone who hates compliments.
Robin was alone when he died, as it usually is with people who commit suicide. So as ‘connecting’ as social media is, I am yet to find a substitute for a welcoming pair of arms.
And please – no Ebola jokes.
How about checking on people we used to be close to? How about hanging out with some pals this weekend? How about catching a movie with him/her? How about hugging a colleague at work today? How about being nice to that Chicken Republic waitress? How about putting down some poetry for her –
In fact, I just inspired myself. I am leaving right now to go pen a few lines for her. Really.
In other news, you can order your love letters here. I’m serious.
So. Let Robin be that reminder that, no one is so strong they don’t need niceness anymore. A simple but genuine ‘hey, how’s it going?’ might just be what that person needs. Seize the day, my friends. Make someone happy today – as cliche and annoying as that might sound, it might be the antidote you need too.
Care. A bit more.
R. I. P. Robin Williams
Read previous episodes here.
Yemisi was nervous; watching the door as she was.
She did not want to call Dapo again; she had called him like fifty times in the past hour – and that wasn’t exactly bringing him any closer.
She had to be patient.
Her cocktail was beginning to warm; she put it down gently after taking a long pull from it and put it down – studying the hand she had carried it with.
It was trembling.
Hastily she put the hand in her lap and wished the whole thing with Dapo and his cousin would just disappear.
In fact; she would like to just disappear.
She hadn’t tried to sort through her feelings; every time she thought about Remi she felt as though she was betraying Dapo – and even though it had always been like that; the feeling was ten times worse now she knew they were related.
What do I do?
“The cocktail can’t be that bad,” a familiar baritone spoke from her elbow making her jump in fright. She laughed in spite of herself.
“Trust you to make an entrance,” she said before standing up and turning slightly to hug the tall figure beaming at her. She let the tension ease away from her shoulders and back, relaxing into his embrace and closing her eyes at his scent. “You smell so good,” she said.
Dapo’s laughter rumbled from his chest. “That’s Mosun’s handiwork. The whole world must know I have a sister who just returned to the country.” He released her but held on to her left hand, standing back to look at her from top to bottom, taking in her blue Ankara gown and brown sandals. “You’re really beautiful tonight,” he said with a straight face.
Yemisi looked down shyly – and then looked up, meeting his eyes. “Thank you. You look good yourself.”
And he did, in a white shirt, blue jeans and brown boat shoes. He smiled and handed her into her seat before sitting himself directly opposite her. “I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic is crazy.”
She nodded. “I’m grateful you still came sef. Didn’t you just return from IB?”
“We have plenty to talk about. How did your send-forth go?”
Yemisi looked away, her eyes filling with tears. “It was just sad. You know, sometimes you never know what you mean to people until it’s too late to do anything about it.” Reaching into her silver purse, she pulled out a white handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. “I laughed plenty too.”
She put her unoccupied hand over his. “I missed you there too. Adura wanted so much to meet you – she was hurt when I told her you weren’t coming. And the boss’ speech?” she shook her head. “It would have been easier if you were there.”
Dapo couldn’t resist. “Me – or Remi?”
He saw a flash of hurt appear in her eyes and wished he had not made that crack. She made to pull her hand away but he quickly covered it with his other one. She shook her head, but she stopped pulling away.
“We need to talk about that, Yemisi.”
“I know, Dapo. But whatever it is I’m feeling, I know the difference between you two. And if I say I miss you; Dapo, I’m talking about you. Understand?”
He nodded solemnly. “I know – and I’m sorry I made such a lame joke.”
Yemisi nodded. “That’s okay. I feel guilty myself – because there are times I have wished I hadn’t started anything with you, and I would just have met Remi and everything would be perfect.”
“That wouldn’t make such a great story,” Dapo interjected. “There’s always something bigger over the horizon.”
“But doesn’t that mean we should all keep chasing straws?”
“‘Bigger’ is relative, Yemisi. When you find your ‘bigger’, you and only you can know it. And besides – there’s always the next thing – ‘bigger’.”
She raised both her hands in mock surrender. “You win!”
Dapo signaled the nearest waiter. “Wouldn’t you rather have some ice with that drink – or would just have a new one?” he asked Yemisi.
“Yes; a new one would be good thank you.”
“I want a huge chapman – she would just have a regular cocktail.” He considered for a bit. “I would like some meats too – something I can chew on as I drink,” he said. The waiter nodded and slid off.
“Did you really think I would set you up to meet Remi like that?” he asked the girl sitting in front of him.
She averted her eyes. “I honestly didn’t know what to think! Seeing him at the wedding like that –“ She sighed. “You’re the one who
always says there’s no such thing as coincidence. Really – what would you have thought?”
Dapo shook his head. “I would have trusted you.”
“Don’t be so hard on me, Dapo – “ she broke off as the waiter appeared with their drinks, and sat silently as Dapo carried her drink off the tray and placed it in front of her before carrying his. The waiter bent over and whispered something in his ear. He nodded.
“Meats will be done in a moment,” he said as the waiter slid off again. “Why he thought it necessary to whisper will forever baffle me.” He lifted his drink and took a long pull. “You were asking me not to be hard on you – should we use your actions as a benchmark?”
Yemisi sighed. Dapo was on the warpath – there was no stopping him. In fact, if anything she could expect it to get worse. She looked at the smile playing around his lips and thought to herself how someone so – could be so –
“Don’t mind me – I’m just having myself a bit of fun at your expense.” He stirred his drink with the straw he was holding but he wasn’t looking at it. Instead, his eyes were on her face.
“You know one thing I’ve been meaning to ask you since that awkward moment?”
At her nod he continued. “I was wondering – were you that upset because you thought I had something to do with your meeting with Remi; or was it just guilt?”
Yemisi started from her seat; mouth half-open in denial – and then she slumped back, wrapping her arms around shoulders that suddenly felt really cold.
“You know,” she sounded like a turned-down radio set. “That’s one question I have been asking myself – but I haven’t been willing to look too closely at the answer. ‘Why was I so hard on you’? I knew; deep down you couldn’t have done anything that elaborate; too many parts of it depended on coincidence – which you and I know you’re not exactly a fan of –“
She broke off as Dapo pointed at her drink. The ice was a lot less than she remembered; so she lifted it and took a sip, enjoying the cold liquid as it streamed down her throat and seemed to make fluttering nerves somewhat steadier. She watched as the same waiter set a steaming plate of meat in front of her; and set her drink down before reaching for one.
“Don’t look so serious – it’s not that serious.”
Yemisi slowly bit into the piece of meat, enjoying the sticky warmth of various seasonings as they flooded her mouth. “Hmmm hmm,” she moaned out loud, looking at Dapo through half-closed lids. “This is really good!”
He smiled in response. “They should feel complimented – a top chef just approved their cooking!”
She looked at Dapo with shinny, grateful eyes; “It is true isn’t it?”
He nodded wisely, understanding what she meant. “Yes indeed it is. How does it feel?”
“It feels – surreal. I still wake up feeling like I should get going else I’ll be stuck in early-morning traffic; and then I remember I’m self-employed. An entrepreneur.”
Dapo raised his glass. “Hear hear!” and drained it, sucking away at the straw long after the glass was empty. Yemisi could barely contain her laughter.
“So what’s next, CEO?” he asked after their laughter had subsided.
“Well, I feel some self-development is in order so I registered for some cooking courses; immediately after which I’ll be headed to Poise for some on grooming too.”
Dapo nodded. “I like that. Maybe you’ll show up a judge on the next Knorr Taste Quest.”
Yemisi smiled. “Who knows?”
Dapo nodded and for the next few moments the only sounds from their table were clinking glasses and chewing jaws. Yemisi raised her drink to her lips and eyed Dapo over the rim of the glass.
“I like it when you smile, you know. Your face relaxes – and you look so young.”
He looked away from her piercing gaze in embarrassment. “Well ah – thank you. It’s really nice to hear that.”
She slowly lowered her glass and shifted uncomfortably. “You know, I’m really fond of you – I really care and worry; which is what prompted me to ask you out in the first place.”
“I know that,” Dapo said quietly.
“It did hurt when you said what you said – about saying yes to me when you could have said no. It made me feel as though you were…as though you said yes only because you felt sorry for me.”
“Yeah. That was a really thoughtless thing to say – and I really didn’t mean it. I agreed because I wanted to date you too; that and no other reason. I’m really sorry.”
Yemisi pressed his hand briefly. “It’s okay,” she sighed. “It’s okay. I have grown so much between then and now – I mean, I now have my own business to say the least.” She looked at him, her heart in her eyes. “Dapo, the time we spent together was…it redefined all of my ideas concerning what a relationship should be like – should be about. I learned a lot about myself, about guys and stuff – and it made me a better person because as timid as I was, as insecure as I used to be, I saw something I wanted – something I wanted so much I did not consider the consequences. I just went for it. And boy – am I glad I did.” She looked away, an intimate smile caressing her lips.
Dapo had never seen her look any more beautiful.
“I love you, Dapo. I always have and I always will. There’s this – there’s this kind of steadfastness you have; a kind of ‘always there’ presence that I have come to rely on. I know I don’t have to look too far to find you; I know you’re always somewhere around me. I have come to love that – about you, I mean.”
Her light skin darkened around her cheeks and she lowered her eyes briefly before facing him again. “I love you. Maybe not the want-to-jump-on-you-and-rip-your-clothes-off type, but the I-feel-safe-in-your-arms type.”
Dapo cleared his throat. “Gee thanks. That’s really encouraging – I’m only good enough for brotherly hugs!”
But he smiled at her brightly and held onto her hand.
“I’d rather have brotherly hugs than none.” He inhaled sharply. “Yemisi, I know how you feel about me. And it’s okay. We did find something – in fact; we found plenty things. Don’t you know how easy it is to forget people who matter? This whole thing has made me and you closer – I have rediscovered a friendship of life; for life. I’m thankful for that.”
Yemisi’s eyes watered. “Are we breaking up?”
A throaty chuckled emanated from Dapo’s chest. “Do friends – do siblings break up?”
The car taking Remi to the airport was quiet. The occupants were lost in thoughts of various variations.
Dapo, behind the steering wheel was thinking about that night three weeks ago – the night he returned from Ibadan and saw Yemisi.
It went well – all things considered.
Yeah. That it did.
I think it was particularly thoughtful we did not mention that Mope is still single.
Yeah. That would have been a bad idea. Even if it wasn’t meant to be, no woman likes the idea that another is preferred to her.
That – is correct.
So – I would expect that after so many dates Yemi and Remi would have plenty to say to each other.
We expect that too.
Or maybe they’ve said everything.
Maybe that too.
Remi; sitting beside Dapo was softly caressing the hand in his grip and thinking about the owner of the hand.
This is crazy. This is stupid. How can I be this in love with this girl?
She’s so sweat, so calm, so kind, so considerate. All soft and firm at once.
I wish I didn’t have to return so early. I wish I could just tell her how I feel – but I’m worried she might start to feel like some
family heirloom. Like family hand-me-downs.
However did Dapo let her go so easily?
Who cares? My luck.
But Dapo na one kain guy sha o! And wait…
Is she over him sef?
Yemisi; seated behind the two of them was also lost in thoughts of her own.
She was thinking about the guy rubbing her hand.
What does this guy want sef?
Just rubbing my hand as if it’s an ATM card.
She chuckled quietly at her own joke.
And became thoughtful again.
But what does he want?
Takes me to the cinema – and spends the whole movie holding my hand. Na hand-hold I wan chop?!
At least make a move. Or say something. Or say something more.
He keeps looking in my eyes and sighing.
Would have grabbed and kissed him too – the way the butterflies were misbehaving.
I had a rethink in time though – and I concluded it’ll be wise to wait. Let someone else do the asking for a change.
She looked up and met Dapo’s eyes in the rearview mirror. He smiled and winked at her.
“So why are you guys quiet?”
Remi jumped and let go of the hand he had been holding on the far side of his seat as though it was red hot. Dapo smiled as Yemisi
blushed and looked out of the window. He adjusted the rear-view mirror and cleared his throat.
“I suggest the two of you go check in – or at least Yemisi help Remi check in while I look for a place to park.”
Yemisi looked around, startled. They were in front of the departure area of Murtala International.
Aware of some trembling in her thighs, she shot Dapo a grateful look through the mirror before scrambling out of the car on Remi’s
They both stood and watched their cupid drive off and then walked towards the entrance; Yemisi grabbing her companion’s hand.
“I still can’t over the fact that you’re traveling with a backpack,” she stated as they cleared the policemen at the entrance.
Remi shrugged. “I wasn’t planning to stay for long – this long sef.”
“What changed your mind?”
He eyed her from his ‘Idris Elba’ height. “You really think you need to ask that?”
She nodded – and then they were at the Arik checking-in section. “I’ll be right back,” He said as he walked towards the pretty attendant who was grinning, leaving a disgruntled Yemisi standing at the line, arms folded against her chest.
“When is he going to kiss you? Shall I ask him?”
Yemisi tried to look stern but failed miserably, smiling up at Dapo as he materialized beside her. “Who send you message?” she asked.
“I want to know – that’s all. Can’t I ask?”
“No you can’t,” Yemisi answered, hugging his arm. “He should take his time – all the time he wants or needs so it won’t as though someone helped him make up his mind or coerced him into something he’d rather not be doing.”
Dapo eyed her. “All of a sudden you’re so smart.”
She chuckled. “That’s what saving Dapo did for this woman. Made her wiser and stronger – more mature.”
“Saving Dapo? What’s that – a Nollywood movie?”
Yemisi punched his shoulder lightly. “You never know.”
She rested her head against his shoulder and watched as Remi walked over.
“What happens now?”
Remi looked everywhere but at Yemisi. “Now I’m supposed to – “
Yemisi; who was hanging onto every word Remi was saying did not see the almost imperceptible nod Dapo gave over her head. The only thing she knew was that Remi stopped talking and gently took her hand.
But he was already walking away from them.
Remi looked at Yemisi. “I guess maybe I didn’t know what to say to you, Yemisi. You have to admit this is one helluva strange
He scratched his jaw. “Yeah – I mean, who would have thought I would run into a girl in an eatery, fall in love with her – only to find that she’s my cousin’s girl?”
“Yeah! I mean – waitaminute,” Yemisi interrupted herself. “What did you say?”
“I said who would have thought…”
She waved her hand impatiently. “I heard all that. I mean the almost-last part.”
Remi grinned. “Hmm…it went something like…” he leaned closer to her and whispered; “I have fallen in love with you, Yemisi. Totally, completely…”
She shook away his hand. “That’s what you should said since, you idiot!” She said as she slowly slipped her arms around his neck. Remi laughed as they kissed.
And Dapo, who was watching from the confectionary stands shook his head, grabbed the Bounty chocolate bar he had been struggling with for the past minute and walked away.
He was not smiling.
Yemisi snuggled in Remi’s arms, heart tripping a mile a minute. “So how long are you leaving me for?”
“It won’t be too long – maybe five months at most,” Remi winced as he saw the hurt that flashed in her eyes. Maybe he should have given her a non-committal answer.
“At least I have something to look forward to,” she answered, tangling her fingers with his. “Remi, I love you too. You know, sometimes those words sound like clichés and repeated phrases – but they are true sometimes too – and they have never been
truer for me than now.”
He bent his head slightly and kissed her, and did not stop till it seemed as though she was catching a bad case of vertigo. “Wait for me, Yemi. Wait.”
Remi smiled and looked over her head for his cousin. “Where is this bullheaded – “
“I think it’s time,” Yemisi said in a trembling voice – and pointed to a couple who were scrambling towards the departure point.
They had been ahead of Remi on the check-in line.
“Time to go, cousin.” Dapo spoke from Yemisi’s elbow making her jump.
“What is wrong with you sef?” she freed her right hand from Remi’s embrace and hit Dapo in the chest with it. “Just be disappearing and reappearing like one thief!”
He chuckled dryly. “I have been standing behind the two of you since – your romance has been turning my belly is why I kept quite.” He winked at Yemisi. “Time to go, cousin,” he said again.
Remi nodded. “I know. Okay.” He bent at the waist and planted a soft kiss on Yemisi’s lips.
Remi broke off and pulled his cousin in a hug. “You don’t have to tell me anything;” Dapo said. “You don’t tell me to take care of my friend. You behave yourself.”
Remi pulled away from the hug, intending to swing away but Dapo pulled him back. “Behave yourself,” he said again.
“Why are you repeating yourself again and again?” Yemisi asked, pushing herself into Remi’s arms.
“Because he does not hear anything once,” Dapo answered, scowl marring his otherwise smooth forehead. “I’ll be waiting for you over there,” he told Yemisi and walked off.
Standing as he was, thinking about Mope as he was, Dapo did not notice Yemisi till he felt a hand pull his sleeve. He turned and there she was.
“Hey, you – “
He broke off the moment his eyes met hers.
She looked like she ought to look – tears in her eyes, smudged lipstick and all; but there was something more – something that
made her eyes shine like stars.
She looked like she was seeing things.
“Hey…are you okay?”
She swallowed and nodded repeatedly for a few seconds before she could frame an answer.
“Yes…em…yes. I’m okay.” She paused. “At least I think so.” She looked up at Dapo, smiling brightly as tears slowly started trickling down her cheeks. “Your cousin just asked me to marry him.”
Thank you so much for staying with us through this journey!
We hope you won’t leave!
Have an amazing week.
They don’t understand what we have
They’re not stupid
They just don’t think anything like this could exist
The aroma wakes me; I don’t know what she’s cooking
All I know is it got me good – got me thinking
Got me up from a dream in which I was wishing
REM – eyes closed but still blinking
I’m a man, I’m her king; that’s what she says
I got an appetite that needs to feed all day
She’s got that covered; me, she can feed all day
She tells me I have my own space in her kitchen always
She can do wahala; not only does she cook, she cleans
Wipes the whole house down until it gleams
Her friends think she’s stupid; mine think I’ve got it made
They think I’ve got two in one; a wife and a maid
What do they know?
When they said ‘eat breakfast like a king’
I’m sure they meant me
I sneak to the dinning; table covered with several dishes
This aroma woke me up; time to see what she was cooking
A meal of kings.
A meal of love served steaming hot;
She tells me; ‘love is a verb baby, forget that not’,
It’s a constant with us; even when we hurt,”
I said, “Baby can I see what else is in the pot?”
A spicy stew containing thick pieces of romance;
Something she said she learnt somewhere out in France,
The smell is heavenly; the taste – what great spice
Hope, trust and faith enough to last a long night
My drink is determination; cold from cold storage
She knows I need motivation and courage
She’s brave; understands what a man needs
A man determined to make it in this nation of needs
She says there’s dessert – uh oh I laugh
When it comes to dessert, we can carry last
It does come – but not at all as what I expect
Leaves me speechless with something that I can respect
A bit of thigh, of flesh, of underwear
A costume made entirely of beads; I stare!
I swallow; I can call in late but she asks me to wait;
She says “go; hurry but come back running”
That’s what I need
That’s what any man needs to survive
A meal made with, from, of love
Even if it’s one fist of garri in a can
That man can never starve