Archive | August, 2012

Tribute

26 Aug

She struck me as a very proud person. It seemed to me like she was unnecessarily haughty. Maybe it’s because she was beautiful in every sense of the word, maybe it’s because she had all the characteristics of the ‘Perfect Girl’. I carried on this wrong notion about her being proud until I got to know her personally. Just like a lot of the girls in our university, she only ‘rolled’ with her ‘home girls,’ sharing snide comments, laughter and hushed conversations amongst one another.

We were members of the same singing group, she sings Alto while I sing Tenor. During rehearsals, we were arranged such that Alto singers and Tenor singers were sitting side by side, and as fate would have it I was sitting very close to her that evening. We started talking amidst singing and jesting about each other’s errors in the parts we sang. By the time rehearsals was over, we walked down to our halls together enjoying the company of each other. Though we were worlds apart, she was so down to earth with me, trading banters with me until we had to depart for our separate halls lest we got embarrassed by the security personnel stationed around school.

That evening with her though short-lived sparked a fire in my heart to cherish our friendship forever. I could boldly wave at her anywhere in school or out of school without the fear of being shunned. Though I couldn’t summon the courage to ask her to hang out with me on a normal school night, I grew to cherish the one hour thirty minutes we would spend together at rehearsals.

The first tempest that rocked our ‘friend-ship’ was when we had to minister in a church outside school, we were supposed to come out in full but only twelve of us showed up. We had earlier decided to put on white shirts on black skirts/trousers so we were all looking very ‘choirly’, she was putting on a long sleeve white shirt with a skirt that firmly hugged her bum. Her shoes were what led to our first spat, she had on a lovely pair of purple ‘your feet look gorgeous’ shoes, that really stood out. We were sitting in a semi-circle outside the hall where we would minister, so I was facing her directly. Instead of passing a comment about her shoes, I made an unconscious decision that would cloud our friendship for almost a year; I brought out my phone and took a picture of her legs + shoes.

That action cost me a whole year’s worth of friendship with a very wonderful person, because she thought I was taking an entirely different picture. Though it wasn’t until much later I found out from a mutual friend why she was pissed at me, I was devastated that I could lose such a friend because of such a trivial issue.

In her final semester, we ‘made up’ and our friendship continued though it wasn’t as close as it was earlier, we managed to remain close pals until we parted ways.

I was at a church youth program in Benin city, a few days to the end when I received the phone call

‘Tolu is it true?’

‘Is what true?’ I answered, excusing myself from my friends for some privacy

His voice shook as he replied ‘I heard Dolu is dead….’

‘w-w-which Dolu? I stammered back,

‘Same Dolu now, ‘philly’ Dolu’ he continued

By this time, my heart was beating faster than ever,

‘When, How, what happened?’ I prompted, trying to hold back the sobs in my throat

‘Today, I heard she was sick and I’ve been calling her sister but I can’t get through, I just wanted to be sure’ he replied.

‘I’ll get back to you, let me try to reach some friends too’ I answered and disconnected the call.

‘God pls, not Dolu’ I prayed in my mind as I walked towards one of the vendors selling recharge cards nearby. Just as I loaded my phone, I received a notification for a direct message from twitter and on opening it, I saw it was another school mate wondering if I’ve heard the news and checking for its authenticity. I started to reply, but it was rudely confirmed when I saw a tweet by another friend saying R.I.P to her.

I held on to the wall for support as my legs nearly gave way under me. The heavens seemed to join in my despair because suddenly it started to rain. I didn’t  mind the downpour, tears poured down my cheeks as I stood right there looking up to the heavens and wondering why? Why? Why? I lost track of time, oblivious to how I got back to the hostel.

It’s been a year now and I really miss her lovely smile, her cheerful countenance, the loving warmth of her embrace, how down-to-earth she was.

R.I.P Abe Adurodolu

 

 

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The Workshop

9 Aug

Its been a while (yet again) I know…… Well, I have a lot of stories now so not to worry, I’ll never take this long before a post again. Needed that “short, unannounced break though’ Enjoy 😀

 

The shrill call of birds filled the air, the noise from the crickets was really annoying. Frogs and toads joined in the chaos, adding another decibel to my already pumping head. ‘this is supposed to be Lekki phase one’ I say to the cab man amidst clenched teeth ‘ the noise and smell here is just too disgusting like we’re in a typical village.’

‘Oga na so we see am o’ He cheerfully answers, whistling a native Onyeka Onwenu classic.

‘How are you guys surviving in this place? I’m very sure this area breeds mosquitoes’ I continue

‘Wetin we go do now? Our body don dey kakaraka, mosquito no fit do us anything again’ He replies in Pidgin English displaying teeth checkered with white and brown stains.

I sigh, the events of the past month flashing through my mind.

***

‘I’m not having this baby Telon, not again’ she had screamed at me, almost pushing me down as she stormed out of the room

‘Baby wait’ I called out, scrambling to my feet from my yet unbalanced position.

‘How do I make her realize that the only way she can be accepted into my family is if she has a child for me?’ I wondered.

I heard the garage door whine to a close just as I descended the stairs, then the rev of a car engine as she zoomed off.

I quickly grabbed my car keys and went after her. I knew Temi as a careful driver and even more careful when she’s angry but it was beginning to drizzle and the roads would be very slippery. I started the car and backed out the driveway, saying a quick ‘thank you’ for whatever it is that had made me listen to her request to  install trackers on our cars.

‘It’s for our security, in case the cars are stolen’ she crooned into my neck that night after a hot shower together.

‘But they are insured baby, besides we have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) installed already, we don’t have to be extremists’ I answered brushing my lips against hers in a bid to end the conversation.

She deftly shifted and held my face in her hands, ‘we have to do this baby please,’ then gave me that ‘lost puppy’ look I couldn’t resist.

‘Alright then, I’ll get the guys to work on it’ I had replied, kissing her long and deep as our fingers began once again to explore.

I switched on the GPS system and typed in my wife’s car number, initiating a search protocol for her. A red blob popped out on the LED screen and I could read her location as approximately 10km from the house. I mapped out a route to intersect her as I drove down the street, almost hitting a lone jogger stretching out on the curb.

I hit the highway at 10km above the speed limit yet it seemed like the faster I drove the faster the blob went farther away from me. I dialed her number but got her voicemail. By a stroke of luck, I sighted cars slowing down due to traffic, a few kilometers ahead. I pulled over and stepped out into the rain, trying to locate her car from the long line of vehicles stuck in the traffic.

Sirens from emergency vehicles soon flooded my ear-drums, traffic was at a stand-still. The emergency response team caught up with me as they made their way towards the intersection where the traffic build-up began.

‘I hope she makes it’ I heard a young boy with freckled face whisper to the girl beside him,

‘That’s even if she’s alive’ she replied and shuddered.

My heart thumped louder as I neared the accident scene, several thoughts running through my mind ‘Please keep Temi safe, keep my baby safe’ I pleaded, looking up to whoever was listening.

I wasn’t a big believer in any religion; Temi is the ‘Church-goer’ but I could only hope that ‘He’ was listening and would answer.

I saw the tail-lights of the mangled car first, they shone even brighter in the slight drizzle. A Truck was overturned on the other side of the road, with several building materials littering the street. The rain had increased now, but it was yet to wash away the tell tale signs of blood on the windscreen of both cars. I sank to my knees, tears streaming down my face as I crawled to the remains of her car.

‘Temi…’ I called out stretching my hands toward the car but was quickly restrained by a member of the medical team.

‘Sir, could you please come with me?’ He said, not waiting for an answer and half carried, half dragged me to the curb, ‘are you alright? Are you hurt?’ He asked, eyes expertly searching me for injuries,

‘I’m fine…’ I replied amidst tears, ‘that’s my wife’s car’ I added, pointing at the remains of Temi’s car.

He took a step back ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, but there was no one in that car,’ he signaled for one of the police officers examining the scene.

‘What’s her name?’ the police officer inquired going through a small notebook ‘Sir, her name?’ she prompted again, tapping me lightly on the arm.

‘Temi Thabila’ I replied still shocked at the revelation that she wasn’t even in the vehicle. I watched as she flipped the pages of the book, searching for my wife’s name.

‘No Mr Thabila, I’ve not spoken to anyone with that name around here’ she replied.

‘But that’s her car, s-she just drove out of the house an hour ago,’ I stuttered,  ‘and I’m sure she didn’t stop because I followed  almost immediately’ I added.

‘She’s of average height, dark skinned, well rounded figure. Very attractive, she’s hard to miss…’ I rambled on and on but was cut short by a sudden cry from one of the other police officers

‘Over here! We need some help over here, she’s trapped,’

I sprinted in the general direction of the shout, knocking off the restraining hands of the nurse. The police had expertly cordoned the area off, so by the time I was able to get through, she was already placed on a stretcher. I looked on helplessly as my wife was wheeled into the ambulance, too shocked to make a move.

***

‘Oga I say na the hotel be this?’ I hear the cab man ask in irritation at me, he must have asked the question a couple of times I intoned, from the way he was staring.

‘Yes it is, thank you’ I reply, counting a couple of thousand naira notes, ‘its five thousand yes?’ I inquire, stretching it towards him

‘Ehn, shebi I tell you before’ he answers.

I watch as he pulls out of the parking lot, and make my way to the reception. “Are you the representative of Fidelity Bank?” I ask the smiling receptionist

‘No sir, but he’ll be here to join you in a minute,’ She replies ‘Please sit.’

I nod simply and take a seat.

‘How was your trip sir?’ She probes

‘Fine’ I reply, hoping she catches the tone of finality in the reply.

To my relief, my phone vibrates, saving me from further inquiries.

‘Hello, this is Telon’

‘Hi, I’m calling from John Hopkins University Teaching Hospital’ the voice answers

‘Yes, how’s my wife? Is she out of the coma? Can I talk to her now? I ask, now agitated

‘Please hold on’

I would have cancelled the trip to stay with her but for the arrival of her mother who insisted that I take some time off.

‘You look like a derelict,’ she had said immediately ‘take some time off, I’ll be with her ok?’

‘But ma, she’s my wife I want to be with her.’ I had countered

‘And she’s my daughter, No ‘buts’,’ she replied ‘just go for the workshop and I’ll be here’

And that ended the conversation; she had her way for getting you to do exactly what she wanted, the same with Temi. She ended up packing my bag and even making sure I got to the airport on time.

‘Hello Telon, are you there?’ my mother-in-law’s voice cut into my reverie

‘Hello ma, how is she now? Can I talk to her?’

‘She’s dead Telon’, she replies her voice breaking ‘she never woke up from the coma’….

I opened my eyes to the face of an obviously worried man, eyes fixed at mine almost as if he was looking into my soul. I looked around room, trying to figure out where I was, and then it came to me;

‘Temi is dead…. and I am miles away from her, I wasn’t able to hold her hand like we promised each other, but she was doing so well and the doctor had said she would be awake anytime soon…’ I cleared my throat and asked for some water.

‘Are you okay sir?’ The spectacled man asked, ‘I’m Uche, the representative of Fidelity Bank, sorry I couldn’t pick you from the Airport.’

‘I’m better now’ I replied, thinking “Will I ever be fine?”

‘Alright sir, I’ll leave you to rest now, dinner will be brought up, just call the restaurant here’ He gestured towards the intercom. ‘I have to make sure the other facilitators are settled in, see you in the morning.’ He added and left the room.

I laid my head back as a single tear rolled out of my eye, then another until I was crying uncontrollably.

I look at the eager faces of the participants of the workshop as I make my way to the front to give the opening remarks, wondering if I can actually go through with this.

‘Good Morning’ I begin and smile back at them hoping I won’t have an emotional breakdown at the end of this.

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