Meena’s Diary#22

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I sat on the floor of Sa’as posh living room, enjoying my drink of Sorghum popularly called Kunu Zaki. Sa’a makes the best Kunu on this side of the world. It’s a good thing one can’t get drunk on it. I had devoured the snack, Alkaki and was literally begging for more.
“You are in one serious happy mood. It’s good to have the old Meena back,” Hauwau commented with her usual lovely smile.
“I could not agree more,” chimed in Sa’a in her sing-song voice.

“I am happier to get myself back. It’s been too long,” I grimaced at my blatant lie. They will hate when they found out the truth.

“How’s your relationship with JK?” Hauwa whispered than asked, afraid to ask the question, but too curious to hold back.

“Fine as can be after the storm,” I responded carefreely but refused to give more details.
Carefree was the right word to describe my state of mind. I have let go of all the pain and hurt and forging ahead with my life. At least I think I have.
What I did not tell my friends was that this was one of our last times together before I got out of town.

I had kept this information way from them knowing that they would talk me out of it. I did not want anyone to change my mind.

We laughed and caught up with what was happening in our lives. I knew this was what I had missed in my months of wallowing in self-pity and this was what I was going to lose when I moved away. A girl got to do what she has to do.

There were times, I felt my friends were in conspiracy with JK, but I was not able to put my fingers as to what or why I felt that way.

The other day, JK had said something similar to what Hauwau had said to me earlier in the day, and that could not be a coincidence, but I had not dwelled on it too much. It is possible these friends of mine were putting pressure on JK, but I was past caring whether he made it right or not. He was free to live his life the way he wanted it. When I was all settled, we will discuss visiting and holiday rights for the girls.

After hours of gisting. I told my friends I had to call it a day. I had a date with  JK when I got home.
To be honest, the man has bent over backwards for me in the last couple of months, but the sad truth was it did not get to me. The scary part was my ability to pretend I was receptive to all his guilt and peace offering while my mind was already made up.

For my last night, I was going to make him remember what we shared and hoped he recalled for the rest of his life what he willingly threw away for a moment of carelessness.

I ordered food from his favourite Chinese restaurant. I went all out to look for a bottle of wine I know he’ll love and had our favourite movie; one of the Fast and Furious in the DVD.

Tomorrow, I ‘ll be gone like the wind lost into thin air.

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Tomorrow’s sunset #3

Oladele Peters, Moses Akale and Toni Adesida were all classmates at the prestigious Federal University of Technology, Minna, where they studied Architecture. They met as pre-degree students, Ola and Moses were 18 years at the time while Tooni was 16, all fresh from college but with one thing in common; a passion for houses.

Over the Sunset

Ola was the only one who knew from day one that he wanted to study architecture, Toni was more of interior design, but since they did not have the course at the university, she felt the closest to it was Architecture. Moses had no clue.

They had met during their first day on campus and bonded fast although from different parts of the country but from the same western region.

On this fateful day, while they were filling their forms for their course of study after the pre-degree program, Moses brought out a dice from his pocket – one for Estate Management, three for Quantity Survey, and five for Architecture. Those were some of the courses in the School of Environmental Studies. Two, four and six will point me to the School of Science, two for Computer Science, four for Geology and six for he was scratching his head and Ola shouted, “back to your village!”

“Nah,” Tooni joined in cheekily. “We’ll send him to biochemistry or microbiology. He could help with research in the cure for cancer. His gambling dice could help him there.” Tooni brought out a coin and started tossing it up and trying to catch while laughing hysterically.

Tooni and Ola never thought Moses was that serious, until the dice fell on five, and he settled to fill his form. They both were looking at him like he had grown horns out of his ears.
“You serious about this dice thing man?” Ola asked shielding his eyes from the hot scorching sun while trying to look at Moses with disbelief.
“I have used it for every major decision, and it is yet to fail me,” He explained shrugging his shoulders.

“For my senior school leaving certificate, I asked how many A’s. I threw the dice and gave me five. I got five when the result came out.”

“It gave you five for architecture now, maybe the dice just falls on five every time and you know it that’s why you put architecture on five,” Tooni argued.

She challenged him to change the numbers and throw again. He put architecture on one this time, and the dice fell on one.

“Unbelievable!” Exclaimed Ola.
“We should be using this dice more often,” Tooni joked.
“Who would you marry? How many children will you have,” Tooni chanted one of the folklore songs she used to sing as a child while pretending to skip with an imaginary rope.

“Wouldn’t life be so easy if all decisions I made were from the toss of a dice?”
“Should I eat or not?” Tooni laughed so hard she failed to see the look of anger on Moses’ face.
“That’s enough Tooni,” Ola called out nodding at Moses.
“I am out of here,” Moses hissed. You know where to find me when you are all done making fun.”
Tooni ran off to pull him back which did nothing to his 6.2 inches lanky frame.
“I am sorry,” she apologised, stifling the laughter threatening to erupt out of her as she replaced it with a smile that inflicted pains to her cheek muscles.
“You can use your dice for all you want just ignore us when we joke about it,”
Ola nodded at him when he came back. A nod that said it all.
Tooni looked at them both and shook her head.
“I wonder why I am still hanging out with you guys when you start all this your secret code languages.”
“You are better off with us that all the other hungry sharks out there wishing yo devour you. We are here to protect you,” said Moses a little smile tugging at his mouth with crinkles around his eyes.

“Let’s fill these forms and get on with our registration,” said Toke authoritatively, she hated it when they went big brother on her. She had enough of being babied at home. She was a big girl away from home in university and on her own, making all the decisions and able to protect herself. No one will boss her out here.

Thirteen years after, they have remained not only close friends but Partners in Architex Designs. A company they formed and ran together. It was a scary venture for them but after working in other Architecture firms and kept feeling there was something more they could offer. They decided to put money together and set up the firm.

In the early days, they face rejection after rejection that they contemplated shutting down the company. Suddenly, things turned around for them after they designed a house for one of the bank Managing Directors in Victoria Garden City.

They had only gotten the job because Moses uncle decided to take a chance on them. He gave them the job after much pestering from Moses. He got more than he bargained for as his house became a cynosure on the Island. His friends wanted him to connect them to his Architects.

He was so pleased with their work that he asked them to design the Bank’s new head office in Victoria Island. From that moment, they have received more contracts than they could handle having to expand from a team of three Architects to twenty, all in the space of two years.

Five years after they started the business, running a small architectural firm raking in billions of dollars across the country and continent. They recently got a bid to be the exclusive architect for a project in London handled by one of the world’s top construction company with head office in Beijing.

Moses despised dice back at college was still being used by him much to their chagrin. However, they had come to accept the place of the dice as the fourth partner in the company but not without Tooni and Ola’s objection.

Tomorrow’s sunset

Tooni smiled out of her reverie as she was tugged at by one of her young charges. It was hilarious to see her mum struggling with trying so hard not to mention the issue of marriage. Mrs Adesida had received a call from one of their distant cousins to inform her he was getting married and would be bringing his fiancée to see her. As soon as she dropped the phone, she sighed. “That was Moji’s son he is twenty-six and is getting married.” Over the Sunset
Tooni scowled ready to put up as much resistance she could muster should her mother go into her usual “marriage talk” again. However, she shrugged noncommittally. “Good for him.”

“ Is that all you are going to say?” Mrs Adesida asked with a huge disappointment evident on her face.
“Mother what do you want me to say?” Tooni asked exasperatedly.
Mrs Adesida sighed again, heaved and broke into a song and dance as she gave Tooni a hug. “Your visit means a lot to me. I won’t overshadow our time with a quarrel. However, do know that not talking about it does not make it go away.”

Another tug and this time she could hear from a far away distance “Auntie Tooni Auntie Tooni, see my drawing” the young child announced proudly.

Tooni gathered her thoughts together and chided herself was woolgathering while working.

Tooni Adesida volunteered with a young achiever club in the city where she took the ages 7-10 drawing lessons for one hour every Wednesday.
The time with the children was one of the things she looked forward to every week. They were all a delight to work. She never seemed to be more amazed at the kind of work they turned it. Raw talents that need direction and guidance and the world would not know what hit them when the next Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci resurfaces.

Once all the kids had left, Tooni spent the few minutes she had to arrange the room used and out away all the pencils, paintbrushes used .she was so engrossed that she did not hear when her colleague came behind her.
She squealed in fright. ” I did not hear you come in.”
“Sorry I scared you,” Amanda apologised and went on in one breath.
“I came by to let you know that little Tooni lost her mum to cancer .”
Little Tooni as the name stuck was a seven-year-old girl in her class who was also her namesake.
“Aww, that is so sad,” said Tooni trying to imagine what her life would have been should she had lost her mother. But she had lost her father at a tender age. She remembered the heaviness and loss that hung around the family like a cloak. She could not wish a loss of a loved one on her enemies, but this was one of the harsh realities of life that even children could not be shielded.

“I never noticed. Little Tooni has carried on with the same demeanour as she always has. Very excited and enthusiastic about her drawings and the class. She is so friendly with all the other children,” Tooni shared her observation with her colleague.

However, Amanda had a different reason for sharing the loss of the girl’s mother.
“what I am trying to say to you is that you might need to speak a few words of condolence to her dad.”

“ Why?” asked Tooni puzzled. “I rarely see the parents when they come to pick children. You should inform them at the reception.”

“I was thinking it would be a good avenue for you to meet the man. He is a widower, and this might be an opportunity.”
Tooni’s eyes went round as this bizarre scene playing before her. She closed her eyes and shook her head from side to side.  Trying to Calm the seething anger welling inside of her

“How callous can you be. Should I be dumb enough to go with your advice, would it to a man who is mourning the loss of his dear wife? Or do I look like someone on a manhunt, husband hunt or whatever hunt you all think I should embark?”

“No Tooni, you do not look like it, but your life oozes it even if you think you hide it well.”

Tooni did not think she heard Amanda well.
“Amanda, what you have said is not only mean, but it shows that you have never been and cannot be my friend. I am on no manhunt, that I am not married is not a design of mine, that I hope to be married someday might be my mothers wish, but mine is to live my life and enjoy it married or not. So if you think my life oozes manhunt. You have better check again as you sure are receiving wrong signals which might be a reflection of what you are feeling. I thought you were my friend. But now I know better”

“I am your friend Tooni, which is the reason I am concerned. I might be approaching it in a wrong manner and that I apologise”

“I have not asked for your help and please stay away from me,” Tooni whispered agngrily.
“I am sorry,” Amanda raised her hand in defence. As Tooni walked away from her without a backward glance.

*****
The birds were chirping away a lovely soprano on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. Tooni sat out in the garden enjoying the morning sunshine just lazing with a book. How to meet date and marry a guy in 21 days. She bought the book out of curiosity and found the book not only hilarious but crazy.

She still would not accept she was on a manhunt, but sometimes she could not deny the thought of what her life would be like if she were married and had a family.

“I was not going to push any buttons like go look for any man, but there might be some information that could be helpful in this book,” she reasoned.

“Good morning Madam,” Sule the security man cum gardener called out.

Sule has been with Tooni ever since she moved into the area. He joined her as a single man, got married and went on to have five children that often left Tooni in wonder how he coped with living expenses on his meagre salary.

Good morning Sule,” Tooni responded, curious about the smile on his face.
“Sule you look so happy today. what can I do for you?”

“Ha Madam, I been happy wai! I get Amarya coming to me. He responded in his poor English mixed with his local Hausa language.
‘Amarya,” Tooni called out, with a questioning look and a frown on her brows and eyes mirroring her confusion.
“Yes Oga Madam, Amarya. My second wife.”
The book Toke was holding felt from her hands as she gazed at the man in bewilderment.
“Sule, you are getting married again?” she croaked in disbelief.

“Yes, Oga madam. My Amarya is a beautiful young girl and from my village. She would come and help Uwargida with all the housework and children.”

“But Sule, you have five children, and you are barely coping financially. Another wife means more children. How do you intend to take care of them?”

Sule smiled so stupidly, Tooni felt like slapping the smile off his face. What illiteracy could do to a man transcends beyond his generation? He was building a village without any means of giving those children a means to prepare for the future

“Allah will take care of the children. Oga madam. Do not worry.”

Too dumbfounded for words, Tooni went back to reading her book but the sanctity of the moment had been broken. She found herself on the same page for ten minutes as her mind kept processing what Sule had told her.

She was shocked when she looked up, and he was still there.
“Sule?”
“Oga Madam I’d been wan tell you that our neighbour,” he paused pointing to the walled house on her right.

Tooni recalled the walls were not always this high when she first moved in ten years ago. You could literally have a conversation with your number over the fence but as the years when by, the walls got taller and taller. You had neighbours, you had no clue what they looked like even if you met in the shopping mall.
Lowering his voice as if he was aware someone one on the other side was listening to their conversation.
“His wife have died.
“His wife died,” Tooni corrected wondering why she bothered.
“His wife died,” he repeated proudly.

She shook her head. The man never ceases to amaze her. Somedays, he would speak impeccable English, and some other days she would cringe as he mixed both present and past tenses interjecting the wrong verbs or adjectives.
“I been say you suppose to greet him. As his wife died, if he wants to marry, he go marry you.”
She cursed on her breath with the little Hausa words she had been able to garner from her security “shege danbanza dan buro uba,”

Oga” Madam,” Tooni was shocked he still dared to stand there like he had dementia.
If it was in the office, the man was as good as fired. She fumed under her breath.
“Sule, Please leave now before I do what both of us would regret,” she gritted her teeth as she picked her glass cup of orange juice, book and walked back to the house leaving behind a shattered serenity.  Her world is being thrown into a tupsy-turvy.

The one moment her mother was struggling to stop the pressure, her friends and gardener took over the baton. She did not know which was worse but that of the gardener sucked more.

 

Tomorrow’s Sunset

The sky blue so vibrant did not mirror Tooni’s feeling of dread as she meandered the drive into her Mother’s residence. There was no admiration for the beautiful cut flowers that surrounded the house or the magnificent trees that walled both sides of the drive. She had designed the house while her mother with her green thumb had done wonders to the driveway and the gardens. In an area mainly covered with cement and concrete, theirs stood out with every kind of trees, shrubs, flowers in different shades of colours that heralded a beauty so pure calling the inner you to a feeling of peace and calm the world no longer experienced freely.

Over the Sunset

Coming home was one of Tooni’s favourite things to do, but recently she was getting weighed down by her mother’s constant barging on her single state.
She has the words from their last conversation in her head for days till she thought she was going crazy. Suddenly it felt the whole world around her was conspiring to push her over the edge to the marriage cliff with little or no regard how she got there. It seemed she could marry a dog for all they care. Just bring a Mr something to change your status and complete who you are.

“Tooni, you are not growing any younger. At your age I was married and had Gbile your brother was 15, Bukky 14, Taiye and Kehinde were already 12, Bola was 11, and you were 7.”
“Mami, your time was different from ours o!” Tooni emphasised. “Did you not tell me your parents were the ones that arranged your marriage with Baami?”

“Not really, your father was a family friend, he proposed, I liked him, and my parents were happy for us to get married.

“If you want me to arrange one for you. I can.”

“Ah, mami koto be,” Tooni was quick to reply in their local language meaning, “It has not come to that. My time will come,” she went on to reassure her mother.

“My time will come, is what you have been telling me for over ten years. Do you want me to go to the grave without cuddling my grandchildren?”

“Mami you have almost twenty-one grandchildren with Bola’s fourth child on the way,” Tooni argued.

“It’s your grandchildren I want. Grandchildren can never be enough.”
Mami folded her hands across her bosom and pushed her chin forward challenging her youngest daughter.

Mami, as her children fondly called her, was the matriarch of the Adesida family. She lost her husband in her early forties and was left to take care of the children alone. A teacher then at the government local primary school in the nineties, there was not much income the profession could bring, but she traded alongside to ensure her children got the best education.

There were nights of endless tears and hunger, but she encouraged her children to be the best they could be, strive to ace their studies and dream big. The season would pass quickly. And true to her words, looking back, the years passed quickly, although it did not seem so while going through the hardship.

Toni had barely gotten to the driveway when her mum ran out of the house retying her wrapper that was threatening to fall. Dressed in navy blue leaf pattened Ankara Buba and Iro attire. She looked warm and elegant. Tooni smiled as she watched the excitement on her mother’s face forgetting every apprehension she felt as she drove into the gates.

Mrs Adesida always welcomed her children home with this same warmth and excitement. She never failed to make homecoming a big affair for her children. Whenever they arrived back from school in their younger days, her welcome always put to shame the welcome ceremony for the visit of Queen of England to Nigeria in 1956.

Mami treated her children and everyone around her with love, dignity and value. She has always been an epitome of kindness and hospitality. She was rarely seen to be offended, and you could not stay angry at her for too long.
Tooni, felt the lift in her spirit as she got out of the car and fell into her mother’s warm embrace. All worries of Mami’s nagging vanished into thin air.

“My beautiful mum. The best mum in the whole world” she eulogised.
Mami, are you growing younger? You are looking more beautiful than the last time I saw you.”

She slapped her daughter gently on the shoulder, “Tooni, you had better start talking, with all your patronising, there seems to be something you want from me,” Mami joked with a twinkle in her eyes.
Should it had been possible, you would have seen her blushing through her dark skin.

Mami was a beauty queen in her younger days, not the ones ran by the National beauty pageants but the one acclaimed by her village. There had been many requests for her hand in marriage from the eligible young men at that time. However, she settled for, a friend to her cousin she met at one of the village festivals, during his visit for the holidays from the university much to the chagrin of the young men in the village.

The years had not been kind to Mami with the death of her husband and the curve balls thrown her way, but she had aged with grace and beauty.

“No, Mami, I don’t need anything. It is a fact you are beautiful, inside out.”

“Let’s go inside, I have prepared pounded yam with egusi soup, stockfish and bushmeat for you.”

“Mami, my size six figure is on the verge of extinction with all that food,” Tooni protested.

“Who? You? Tooni, should you eat a whale you would remain the size you are,” Mami refuted her youngest daughter affectionately.

Tooni might not be married the way she wanted, but the girl was a bundle of accomplishment, beauty, grace and humility.

Mami wiped the tears threatening to fall. Losing her husband almost killed her but looking at the five children they had, she knew she had to be alive and healthy for them. The children had been her motivation to move on in the face of adversity, poverty and lack.

Her labour paid off as they were all doing well in their respective fields and home. Mami could not be happier with their achievement. God had wiped away her misery.

Mami resolved not to engage in any husband talk this visit. She would enjoy their time together. Tooni’s patronising was surely working. She chuckled to herself as she linked her hands in her daughters and they walked into her home.

Omowashe Omorishe#37

I picked the bottle of wine before me, reading the label to be sure the drink was non-alcoholic. I needed my sanity to be intact when the air hostess discovered that she had made a mistake and needed to return me to economy class.

second-chance

I wrinkled my nose at the mere thought filled me with distaste. After experiencing the comfort and luxury of business class, you don’t want to be anywhere else. I poured out the wine into the wine glass by my seat and took a sip. I swirled the drink around my tongue savouring the rich grape taste.

“Hey, stranger!”

I almost dropped my cup with fear. My mind is playing games on me. I hope I do not need to visit a psychiatric doctor. I was not only seeing things, but I have also started hearing things. The next set of people I might begin to see would be Peju and the twins! I tried to make light of my present predicament.

“Hey stranger!” came the deep baritone voice, I knew so well.
It took me some few seconds to realise that I was not hallucinating but sitting before me, was Drew Akande.
I gasped in unbelief.

“You!” I squealed with delight but lowered my voice looking around, but none of the two other people in the far corner of the plane seems to look our way.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as a soft, warm feeling starting up my toes and gradually engulfing the whole of me.

“Travelling,” he answered with a smile and a look of innocence, I could bet my two cents were for the Oscars but had my heart racing with excitement.

“You were the one…..” I mouthed.

It was all coming together. The business class was Drew.

“Yes, that’s me, your royal highness, at your service,”  said Drew raising his glass of champagne in mock salute.

“To a new world of happiness and possibilities on your adventure.”

“You call a degree an adventure?” I asked rolling my eyes with amusement. Why was I complaining anyway? I was neither coerced nor mandated by anyone. I choose this journey of my own free will.
What was I thinking? Throwing everything I had accomplished for a whim to get out of a reminder of my misfortune.

Lately, my heart had decided to betray me. Accusation and counter-accusation were playing back and forth in my mind. I would never be the other woman. I should not interpret his friendship for any romantic gesture. I needed to keep my head and enjoy the camaraderie.

I was amazed at the length he went to schedule his flight with mine. Ahead of his scheduled meeting four days away.

“I might never see you again and want to create memories. You know…..” Drew’s deep baritone voice washed over me.

I nodded even when I did not know. But I was contented to have this time together. Perhaps, I will keep it as part of my memoirs of a great friend and former boss.

I was contented to lie back and bask it in his presence. Stealing looks at him through my half closed eyes.

Drew is the traditional tall, dark and handsome guy. Piercing eyes that could be quite intimidating, with a strong chin showing character. Outside the no-nonsense exterior, he was a man with a good heart. Too kind to a fault. He would make that lucky girl a good husband.

I shook my head to reign in my thoughts. I would lose my friend once he’s married.

Why had he not mentioned her to me? I was aware that sometimes ago there was no special someone in the picture, that he did tell me. But I guess time happened for him, and he found her while mine went downhill.

Perhaps the reason he never brought it up.

“A penny for your thoughts?”

“Sorry dude not even a quarter of a million dollar would do,” I teased back.
I would rather die than let a guy know I had fallen for him. Not an already taken guy. I smiled sadly and wondered at what point I fell in love with this hunk of a guy with a heart of gold. Love has stolen sweetly on me while I was not looking, the only snag is, it was too late. I could not fight it when I did not even know it was upon me.

A tear fell off my eyes as I abruptly wiped it away embarrassed at my display of weakness.

“You okay?” Drew asked with deep concern etched on his face.

How I could gaze into those eyes for a zillion years memorising every line, look and expression to take me through the coming days when my heart will hurt and as time passed the pain will slowly ebb away, I hoped. I was drowning in a loss of what I did not have and could never have. I loved Drew. I have always loved him. I do not know when or where or how it all started, but on this flight to England, it became clear as crystal and hurt so bad that I could feel the pain in my heart like a hot iron on my skin.

“Yeah, I got something in my eyes,” I forced a laugh that sounded hollow to my ears.
“You are so bad at lying,” Drew chuckled as he unlatched his seatbelt and came over to kneel at my seat.
Luckily, the “fasten on your seat belt” light was off.

“You have not left the shores of Africa, and you are missing home already. How do you suppose you’ll  cope for the next 18 months?”

I smiled with relief. Thank goodness Drew could not read minds. He would be left aghast at my thoughts.
Grateful for the lifeline. I agreed too quickly to the theory of missing friends and family.

“You are such a pathetic liar,” he teased.

With eyes opened wide, I stared at him, hoping whatever psychic ability he had would not do a number on me.
“You are now a mind reader?” I shuddered.

“You could change your mind you know, “he continued like I had not spoken eyes boring into mine.

“No way,” I answered too vehemently in a bid to break up the emotional atmosphere that engulfed us.

“I do not want to be 50 and regret never taking that step.”

“Hmmm, yeah I can agree on that,” he said thoughtfully.

“I do not want to be 70 with a toothless mouth, sitting on a cane chair, looking in the sky and wondering why I ever let that girl go.”

I shifted uncomfortably wincing at the pain I felt cut my heart as a reminder that this debonair of a guy kneeling before me with such expressive handsome eyes was not mine.

“It is about time you told me about her but what do you mean letting her go? From what I can see you both look great together.

“Who?” Drew had this amazed look on his face like I had grown a horn or something scarier.

“Your fiancée, the girl in the picture at your house,” I blurted out.

I was like a rat in a trap, the more I tried to escape the more entangled I became saying the wrong things.

“My fiancée? Oh! You mean Ella! That’s my kid sister.”

I felt hot with shame and embarrassment. Followed by a spark of hope and then a huge disappointment. There was still someone else.
So this is the point the guy you love tells you he loves someone else.

LANA! I shouted my name in my head. Get a grip on yourself. Don’t throw away a great friendship. I scolded myself and pushed away the melancholy threatening to engulf me.

“So who is this lucky girl?” I asked too brightly anyone with keen eyes could read through me. It must have been a brilliant act because Drew believed me.
“Yeah, you should meet her soon, if you haven’t already.”

“Is it someone I know?” I continued pestering him acting too excitedly while intense pain punctuated every word and move? I should be declared the winner at the next Oscars for my excellent performance.

“It would be my honour, your majesty,” I mimicked a bow from my seat to hide the tears that threatened to fall.

What is wrong with me? 35,000 feet above sea level was sure messing my emotions.

Drew stood up from his where he knelt beside my seat all the while. He looked like he wanted to say something but decided against it. There was a look in his eyes I could not read. I guessed he did not want to talk about her. I should respect that.

I feigned a yawn and closed my eyes. Finding it hard to swallow. I wanted to lie on my bed and cry the pain out.

Love perhaps might never be for me after all.

THE END.

Watch out for the sequel Winter 2018

Drew struggles with how to make Lana see she is the most important person to him juggling between his frequent visit to London from Lagos.
Lana is thrown into another season of grief as she loses someone special to her and fails to see love staring at her.
To solve her problems she further entangles herself in a web of deceit and betrayal.

 

 

 

 

 

Omowashe Omorishe #36

second-chance

It’s so surreal that I am leaving Naija this evening. You know the feeling you get when you are stepping out into the unknown. It’s both trepidation and excitement.

Peju organised a surprised send forth this afternoon. I was surprised to see most of my friends at work. How did they get off work to come?

We shared and laughed off our heads as my friends shared funny moments at work. Peju recalled the visit we made to the Kiri Kiri prisons at the start of our career. How I was dressed to the nines on that fateful day only to meet inmates who cared less how I looked but when they would one day be free like me.

I wiped away the tears that fell freely. I was leaving valuable friendships and family behind. At this moment, it was hard to remember why I was going away.

I received quite some gifts and keepsakes.Peju presented a framed office group picture. It was one of the Bank’s award night where we had won the Branch of the year.

“Wow! Where did you get the picture? It is beautiful. See our Manager looking every inch the business guru.”

“Is that all you see?” Peju asked with a glint of mischief in her eyes.

“Unlike you, I see a guy smitten by you and who is yet to come to terms with what to do, but it is written all over him.”

“I hate to put a snag to your fantasy, Peju. The guy is not available. Please don’t put me in trouble. There is one correct babe around. In these days of jealous girlfriends, jumping around with acid. I don’t want to be a victim.

“You sure Drew is taken?”

“100%, like I know my name.”

Peju looked so comical with the look of disappointment on her face that I lost the battle to stifle my laughter.

“Stop playing cupid Peju. I am fine with or without love. Romance does not define my life. I should not be jumping straight into the arms of any guy who gives me a second of his time. I am not desperate.

Drew and I are good friends who understand each other. We have a great friendship that I would not destroy because I am unable to differentiate between friendship and lust.

“It’s just that the signs are all out there. That guy adores you,” argued Peju.

“He does, I agree but not in the way you are thinking. He adores my work and dedication while we worked together, turned mother hen when I fell ill, and we have fallen into the rhythm of having a platonic friendship.

“Recipe for true love,” remarked Peju.

“I give up,” I muttered, exasperatedly clueless how to make Peju understand her romantic dreams for Andrew and I were never going to happen. The thought alone filled me with sadness, but it was not something I could explain. The logic would be once he gets married, the dynamics of our friendship would change.

“Is Drew aware you are leaving today?” Peju asked undeterred.

“Yes, I went to tell him last night. He was mad. I could not comprehend why he was more upset that the rest of you. You could think he was losing a multi-billion dollar contract. His ranting might be justified, but I do believe it was overboard but all I did was apologise for peace sake rather than aggravate an already bad situation.

But you know what? You all will be okay, and within one week, you would have forgotten whether I am around or not. Moving to the other side of the globe is better than moving to the other side of the universe. A big thanks to technology. We can always communicate with ease.”

“Would my babies be talking to you on the phone?”

“Yep in their gibberish language. I will be cooing blowing the twins kisses. I promise to come in every three months just for them. I do take my Godmother duties seriously,” I assured Peju.

I could see her trying not to tear up, and I did appreciate. I was not sure I could hold off my tears if she started hers.

“I am trying to be strong, and little things like the twins were tearing me apart,” I mumbled incoherently hugging my best friend fiercely.

 

******

 

The day went in a blur. I was finally able to catch my breath when I took my seat on my plane. Six hours of sleep was a luxury I was looking forward to with delight.

I had barely settled down to begin my anticipated sleep when an air hostess came over to inform me of a change in my seat from economy to first class

“There must have been a mistake,” I argued knowing what ticket I booked and how much I paid. It was nothing near a first class.

She checked my seat number and name and reconfirmed if I was Lana of which I affirmed. All my explanations that she must have the wrong Lana seem to fall on deaf ears.

“Please, could you identify your hand luggage? I will help you with that while you follow me. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”

I chucked. How inconvenient is moving from economy to first class?

I was still trying to figure out what was going on but I guess there would be an explanation. I hope the airline does not come back with another mix-up story as I definitely will not go back to the economy class.

Sinking into the plush cream leather seat, I closed my eyes savouring the luxury that engulfed me and like a lullaby lured me to nap.

I must be dreaming.

Why am I seeing Drew? He is seating opposite me on the plane working on his laptop like he was doing last night at his place. I was on a plane and not in his garden.

Rubbing my eyes, trying to distinguish between dreams and reality. I stretched like a shire cat and observed around me.

Shaking my head, in a bid to wipe out the image before me. How could my subconscious be conjuring Drew? Peju had messed up my head with all that talk. Laughing out loud, I assured myself I would be fine.

I picked the bottle of wine before me, reading it to be sure it was non-alcoholic. I needed my sanity to be intact when the air hostess discovered that she made a mistake. Wrinkling my nose with disgust, the mere thought of going back to economy class filled me with distaste. The airline would hear a thing or two from me if it came to that.

I poured out the wine into the wine glass and took a sip enjoying the taste of the grape. No need to worry about the future.

Hey stranger!

I almost dropped my wine glass with fear.Now I needed to visit a psychiatric doctor.I was not only hallucinating Drew being on the plane with me, but it had gotten worse that I could hear his voice.

 

 

 

 

Omowashe Omorishe#35

Drew……

Today I knew I was in love with Lana. There was no point fighting it. If ever I had no clue to define the emotion. The loss of having her close by only opened my eyes to what I felt. It was love. It had been love all along. And for the first time in my life, I had a situation I was at a loss what to do.

second-chance

For two weeks. I had taken off work and was supervising the setup of the investment company. I had gotten my father to buy into that to add to his conglomerates. I would manage the investment arm while working with him on the rest of the companies till when it was time for me to take over entirely.

The time just flew by with so much to do. Sometimes I remembered Lana and would plan to call or drop a text, but it would be well into midnight, I forgot I had not. I was in and out of the country jetting between five destinations trying to seal a deal. It had indeed been exhausting for me.

Today was a caution to rest and take it slow as I came in last night from New York fatigued.I took my phone to call Lana when another call came in. My attention was needed again at the office. I groaned as I rushed out.

At 4 pm, I quickly placed a call but her line was busy, so I sent a text.
“Howdy stranger. Can I check you up today?”
The chat dropped but remained unread. I got caught in the activities of the day. I tried calling two hours later. This time, she picked the call.

“Hey, stranger!” I called out.
“I could say that for you too,” she responded with an excitement that was contagious.
“Yeah,” I replied dryly. Guilty as charged
“How’s my favourite friend doing? ”
“I am fine better than I have ever been.”
“Wonderful! I am excited to hear that. Would you be free this weekend? We could go somewhere of your choice to catch up.”

I could hear her groan on the other side of the phone. That was Lana with a filled up schedule.

“What about tonight?” she asked.

“Tonight?” I was surprised. Weeknight outings were never her thing to do.

“Yeah if you are free. I have something to tell you, and I want to do it in person.”

A million reasons flew through my mind. But I seem to be getting ahead of myself.
“What time, it’s already half six.”

“8:00 pm is fine.”
“Any specific place?”
“Nah, anywhere, but come to think of it let me come by your place,” she offered.

The red alert was up. Lana rarely came by my place. She had been over to my house just once.

“That’s fine. Since it’s my place, do you want me to cook or order?”
“Cook?” I could hear her scream over the phone.

“Please order.How do I pay for such personal services?” you want to run me bankrupt?”

“Is that your worry? I thought money was never your problem.

I should not use my life savings on engaging a personal chef.” I could hear laugh over the phone.

“Joking! I will buy Chinese on my way. You can provide the drink.”

Perfecto! See you then. I managed the little Spanish I knew.

One more reason why she was a dear friend. She came to you as an equal friend not dropping any burden at your doorstep.

I switched off my phone and concentrated on reviewing the proposal before me. I should be able to leave work half seven and make it home shortly before 8.00pm.

 

**********

 

I made it back home at the same time Lana was driving through my driveway.

Lana came out struggling with the boxes of food and her handbag. She looked gorgeous in a simple white top on blue jeans, big round channel O earrings, cropped hair and light make up.

I drank in her looks, perfection to the T’s.

“Hey, please help me out and stop looking at me that way,” she scolded.
“Taking the boxes,” I laughed to cover my embarrassment.

“What way?”

She replaces a frown on her face with her eyes hitting both inner corners.

“That’s a scary look. I doubt that was what you saw.”

“Nah,” her favourite expression for No.

I took her in a big hug wrapping her with my hands filled with the boxes of food, placing a light kiss on her hair.
“You are good?” I asked searching her face.
“Perfect Drew.”

I felt a tug at my heart the way she called my name.
What was wrong with me? I must be tired.

We walked into the house. I placed the food on the worktable in my open plan kitchen opening the sliding doors so we could seat outside in the garden.

“Beautiful night. Lana exclaimed looking up the dark sky.
“I love looking at the stars and lucky us the weather was just right to stay out.”

“Give me a second,” I requested as I went upstairs to change into a more casual outfit.

I came back watching Lana as she gazed into a recent picture of my sister and me.
“She is lovely,” she said to me turning around with a wistful look on her face.
“How come I never get to see her?”
“She lives abroad but should be home anytime soon.”
“You are lucky to have her.”
“You can say that again. I won’t trade her, for anyone else.”

The wistful look was back in her eyes so fleeting a less observant eye would have missed it.

“You ready?” she asked linking her hand into mine as she dragged me outside to the garden like she owned the house.

I served the drink while Lana busied herself putting the Chinese food in the paper plates the brought along.

We settled in the lounge chairs eating our meal as the silence of the night engulfed us under the bright stars shining from the sky above.
“The meal was wonderful that I am feeling so sleepy. I am ashamed, and I came to visit” Lana stifled a yawn.

“Feel free. You can rest while I catch some work.”
“You sure?” she asked with those large almond eyes gazing at me in the dark in a bid to reassure herself.

“Yeah, I would send some emails quickly and come pour some cold water on you, half an hour later if you are not awake by then,” I offered wickedly.
“Very tempting,” Lana retorted sarcastically.

She stifled another yawn, and I was almost bowling over with laughter with the look of embarrassment she wore so angelically.

“You better take that needed rest, or you might be sleeping over here tonight,” I warned.

I could as well have been talking to myself as she was already fast asleep.

I chuckled only Lana could ask for a visit and fall asleep.

An excellent opportunity for me to go on the conference call I had forgotten.I adjusted her head with a soft pillow and threw a blanket over her feet. She slept so soundly that I doubted if she would wake up should a hurricane hit the area.

 

Lana is a beautiful girl. I watched the smile on her face with was contagious. I found myself smiling too. I wondered what it would be like to wake up each morning beholding her face. I needed to get a grip on myself. Why all these thoughts.

I settled in the seat opposite her putting on a table lamp with light enough for me to work while keeping her other end still in darkness. Whatever, has she done to be that fatigued? I wondered but thankful for the warm weather which made it comfortable to sit out there.

I lost track of time and place while working. Not until Lana stirred did remember I had company.
Sometimes I could be that pathetic, always caught up in work. I was lucky to love what I did or else my life would have been empty and miserable. So where work was concerned it was recreation for me.

“Hey sleeping beauty,” I called out.
“What says the time?” asked Lana, struggling to sit up and doing it gracefully.

I resisted the urge to help her up. I did not trust myself.
Something was messing with my head, and I needed to get my acts together, or I lose the trust and friendship I have built over the time with Lana

I glanced at my watch and winced aghast.
“Half Eleven.”
“Half what!” She screamed scrambling to get her things.

“Oh, Drew, I am so sorry, what sort of person am I. I came to see you and practically slept all through.” she wailed.

“Don’t worry. You seemed quite tired though. Are you sure you are okay? Are you using your medications?” I asked concerned for her health.
“I am perfectly fine, please don’t go Mother Hen on Me.” she raised her hand and rolled those lovely eyes.

“I got to go. My flight is tomorrow.”
“Flight?” I asked perplexed.
“Where are you going?”
“Oh,” she groaned.
“I am such a scatterbrain. That’s what I came to tell you. I am going back to school. Cambridge UK. It is a two-year program. I should be back, but I can not be too sure. I would also have the opportunity of spending time with my mother,” gushed Lana all in one breath.

I swallowed hard. I was angry. It seemed Lana would have left without bothering to inform me, had I not called her today.

“When did you decide this?”
“Oh, two weeks ago. I had the offer last year and deferred it. I had forgotten about it. I was lucky to remember within the time frame, or I would have lost out completely.

Maybe loosing out would not have been a bad idea. I thought to myself. At the same time criticising myself at my selfishness.

“And when were you going to tell me?”
“I am sorry. That’s what I have been doing all week. My friends are so mad at me right now that no amount of explanation or apology is being accepted. Please don’t add to the number,” pleased Lana.

“It’s a lifetime opportunity especially with all the drama happening in my life now. A change would help. I hope.”

I let out a loud breath. Exasperated. Why did I not see this coming? Putting my hands in my pocket, I walked away from her to the end of the garden starring into space.

Lana had become a very integral part of my life. She seeped into my subconscious that it was a routine to reach out to her always. There were times I deliberately did not contact her giving her all the space that she needs, but I do not think I would ever mean anything to her more than a friend.
Her decision to go back to school was a clear indicator that she did not think of me more than a friend.
“Is there anything wrong,” Lana asked coming behind me.
I turned almost bumping into her.
“Nope, why do you ask?”
“I feel like you are upset with me or something.”
“I won’t tell you that I am not. I am so upset I could toss you into the Red sea right now,” I pretended to want to carry her.

She moved back. Laughing. “No, you won’t.”
“I can. I challenged Lana. “What friend comes up to you and tells you, I am going to school in the UK; Cambridge,” I mimicked her.

Lana slapped my arm in protest, laughing so hard that the tensed atmosphere became lighter, protesting I was unfair.

“A friend who values you and would miss you so much,” she said.
Should she ask for the stars at that moment, I would not hesitate to hand them over to her

I took her hands in mine.
“I will miss you is an understatement, Lana.”
I wanted to say more, but I could see the confusion in her eyes.

“Let’s get you back home quickly. Tomorrow is a long day for you,” I kept back my words.

Today I knew I was in love with Lana. There was no point fighting it. If ever I had no clue to define the emotion. The loss of having her close by only opened my eyes to what I felt. It was love. It had been love all along. And for the first time in my life, I had a situation I was at a loss what to do.