I was in my office this afternoon and trying to meet a deadline for a presentation on Friday that weekend. I hate to be late and unprepared, so I skipped lunch and busied with the work.
After about an hour, my phone rang.
‘‘Hello, Lola, is this what we agreed on? I waited for one good hour for you yet you didn’t show up or even tried to call….’’ I had to take the phone from my ear and it was then I saw who the caller was.
‘‘Oh my God!’’ I whispered, then put the phone back to my ears and started apologizing. ‘’I’m Sorry Damian, really I am. I’ve got this presentation on Friday and I’m seriously behind time. Please forgive me….’’ I went on and on and on. Then minutes later, we ended the call. Damian was hurt but my apologies were well accepted.
Damian. Who is he?
Well not much of a character but a boss who’s been asking me out lately. He’s handsome, humble, and well, wealthy. His dad is the Chairman of the organization I work with and he who is a barrister is the company’s legal relations head. So maybe not my boss directly. We had agreed on lunch and he had suggested it be at the company’s restaurant but I didn’t like the idea and I told him. So he chose another posh one not far from the company but I forgot about the date.
He didn’t seem to be so angry because as I closed that day he was waiting for me already at the car park.
‘’Here.” He handed me a package. ‘’I had to turn your lunch in to dinner and order it.’’
‘‘Oh’’ I smiled and touched the package to feel the warm food. Believe me I could start eating it right there in front of him as I was so hungry. ‘’Thank you sir’’ I said, ‘’And I’m Sorry again I forgot about the date.’’
‘’It’s alright, I understand how much you put effort into your job, one more reason why I want to get to know this girl.’’ He said that so warmly I was flattered. His face straightened a bit now, somewhere in between my ‘boss’ and my pester. ‘’When do we do the date now? I want a day that suits you.’’
‘‘Errrr….’’ I stuttered a little and tried to patronize him, ‘‘I would want it to be a celebration of our collaboration with the government after the presentation on Friday.’’ I said and he smiled but it didn’t last.
“That means we’ll have to wait for about a month or so?
“No, we hope it’s going to be less than that.”
He looked at me and bit inside his lips thoughtfully, “What about we celebrate something else?” he asked. I popped my eyes to ask what. “A friend is proposing to his girlfriend on Saturday, you know, the surprise-proposal thing, so let’s go together. Is that fine?”
Without thinking, I nodded. I didn’t feel like going out with him to the proposal but I didn’t want to turn him down again as that wasn’t an office environment. We said good bye and I drove away, his eyes watching till I was out of sight.
I reached for the food beside me as I got on the highway and the traffic became lighter. The sky was getting dark and I felt I could eat my gift food without eyes staring. The aroma of good food hit my nose as I opened the pack, carefully I brought it to my laps and check.
“Oh my God!’’ I almost shouted the phrase this time. The food had come from the restaurant for the date, it was spaghetti bolognaise with peppered snails. With joy in my heart, I blessed the food and started eating.
My parents were in the sitting room when I got home. I greeted them and we chatted a little before I left for my room. Since the Coles incident, neither of them has been bold enough to ask me if I was now seeing someone even though it was always written on their faces that they would like to know.
As I climbed up the stairs and made for my room I overheard Shola talking on the phone and crying as she talked. I waited to eavesdrop but couldn’t get the root of the conversation so I went into my room.9
I freshened up and change into some pyjamas. As I stepped out of the room, she was at my door already. “Aunty Lola, welcome” She greeted, doing the half kneeling movement.
“How are you, Shola.”
“I’m fine ma,’’ she replied politely, “I said to tell you that your dinner is served.’’
“Oh, o se. But don’t worry, I have eaten already. What did you cook, Maybe I could take it to work tomorrow?”
“It’s fried yam, egg sauce and chicken Ma.” She replied.
“Oh, that will be fine for tomorrow.’’ I told her and she bowed and made to leave.
“Shola.’’ I called her. When she turned, I took her by the hand and pulled her gently into my room. We sat on my bed.“
Ki lo n pa e ngbe?” I asked her why she had been crying.
She looked at me, obviously shocked that I had known she had been crying. She shook her head wordlessly but I probed further, giving her time and assuring her that she could tell me. Since the Coles incident too, nobody had raised the issue with her and believe me if I knew it had to do with why she had been crying, I wouldn’t have meddled. But, would asking be wrong if I had known too?