I apologize for not posting this yesterday. It was my husband’s birthday and I was off duty. Well, here it is. Please, do drop your comments. The thing is I see the hits on this series; it shows me the number of people who read it but sadly, there is no response. Come on guys, say something. Criticise it, like it, just drop a line. It’s not that hard. I know you pay subscription on your phone to browse so definitely, it’s like you’re paying for your time here in some way. But we the writers, we get nothing in return. WordPress doesn’t give us any salaries. We pay more on airtime to keep posting these things. The only way we are encouraged to continue is if you let us know that we’re not wasting our time. So many writers have quit because of lack of feedback. I, for one would drop a story if no one shows that they’re even reading. Some people will only comment to ask for password and once you give them, you will never hear from them. Haba. It’s really discouraging.
Everyone wants to be appreciated in even the smallest of ways. Help us grow so that five, ten years from now this zeal will not be dead.
Have a change of heart and let us know how you feel about things you read here.
As they made their way down the stairs out of Dapo’s office, Yemisi walked through the decisions she’d made over the past twenty-four hours mentally. She hoped Dapo would willingly play along – but she couldn’t be sure.
She was bothered by his silence.
“So what’s this about, Yemisi?” Dapo said suddenly.
She sighed. She could see the signs.
“What’s what about?” she asked innocently while thinking how to tell him what she intended to. Dapo abruptly turned around and started walking in the opposite direction.
“Hey!” she yelled as she started after him. “Hey…what the hell are you doing?”
He stopped and turned. “Am I supposed to just follow you? Do I have any idea where to?” Dapo gasped and covered his mouth. “What if you’re kidnapping me for money rituals?” he whispered.
Tension left Yemisi’s body in a rush of exhaled air. “You gorilla! Do you really think I would…I could hurt you?”
Dapo’s head looked like a sprung Jack-In-The-Box as he turned this way and that, examining Yemisi critically. After almost a minute of that, he slowly straightened. “Twenty-four hours ago I would have said ‘no’ without restraint. But within those twenty-four hours you’ve gone from ‘friend’ to ‘cousin’ to ‘scammer’ – I don’t know you anymore!”
“Go jo,” Yemisi sulked, her pull on his arm contradicting her words. Dapo laughed and followed. “Where’s your car?” he asked as she headed towards the open gate.
“I decided not to drive today jare. I knew I was coming here so…” she shrugged.
As they got to the road in front of
Dapo’s office, Kazeem appeared in the distance.
Yemisi felt Dapo’s body tighten and she wondered what the issue was. Her eyes followed his and she saw a portly-looking guy who looked like the light-skinned version of Wande Coal roll in their direction. She began to feel uncomfortable, silently insulting Dapo for not telling her what was wrong with her appearance.
It had to be something major, the way the guy was staring.
“Dapo! How na?” Kazeem hailed.
“I dey,” Dapo answered – and stopped as he realized he was talking to air. Kazeem was standing next to Yemisi and he was drooling.
“Hi, my name is Kaz. And you are?” he said as he snatched Yemisi’s only available hand up in a handshake.
She coughed to cover up Dapo’s groan as the Cockney cum American cum core Ajegunle Yoruba accent hit his ears. Glaring at him covertly, she smiled winningly at Kazeem. “I’m Yemisi, Dapo’s cousin,” she replied, slowly but firmly pulling her hand out of his grasp.
“Guy madam dey call you,” Dapo told Kazeem churlishly and literally pulled Yemisi away. She turned and waved to the guy who was standing staring after them before eying Dapo coyly.
“Why are you jealous?”
Dapo was surprised. “No o, I just don’t like him. He’s the official heckler.”
“Aw, I think he’s cool,” Yemisi cooed.
Dapo’s answer was not to her. “Taxi!” he yelled suddenly.
“So where to, hotshot?”
She took Dapo’s hand. “There’s this amala joint I know on the mainland – it’s near Ozone. White House. Been there?”
“If I call you ‘guy’ now you go begin vex. What sort of girl knows all the ‘Mama Puts’ in Lagos?!”
“The kind of girl who can manage you,” Yemisi smiled in his direction.
“Take us to Ozone, please,” she told the taxi driver.
“Your money na two thousand o,” the man said grumpily.
Dapo had no patience for old cabmen. They had the tendency to nag. “Babe abeg let’s go down,” he said.
Yemisi placed a restraining hand on his arm. “Baba, we’ll give you one thousand five.”
“Okay. Let’s go,” the man said.
Dapo looked outside the window as the imposing Victoria Island landscape rushed by. She stole looks at him at regular intervals – wondering what he was thinking but reluctant to interrupt.
“So you came all the way from Ikeja to V.I to take me to eat Amala at Sabo.” He shook his head slowly, a small smile on his face. “Couldn’t you have asked me to meet you there, you kolosome somebody?!”
“Would you have come if I had asked you?”
The stern look on his face made her feel like she was reporting to her boss.
“If you had a serious reason – serious enough for me to stab work, yes,” he said.
“I’ll keep it in mind for next time,”
Yemisi replied, rubbing his arm gently. She hoped he wouldn’t ask her what it was about again – at least not till they were at their destination.
There was no traffic at that time of the day so within a few minutes they were walking into the White House after a small argument on who should pay the cab man and why. Looking at Yemisi, it was easy to tell who lost.
“I would get into a cab with a woman and she would pay?! Heaven forbid.”
“Obviously you’ve suddenly started thinking a woman’s place is in the kitchen abi? Maybe you want to return to your office!” she retorted angrily.
“Calm down, babe. You know I don’t think that,” he said. “I just think a man should be able to handle his business. And taking care of whichever woman he’s with at whatever junction in time is his business. That’s what I think anyways,” Dapo finished.
“Two things. One; it’s a wonder you aren’t broke yet, with the number of girls you hang around. Two –” she broke off, avoiding his playful swing at her head. “Two; this was my idea, so it’s only right that I take care of it.”
They had placed their orders and Dapo was carrying the steaming plates of Amala and Gbegiri to a table closest to the wall before he said anything.
“That’s okay then – just let the cab thing go; abeg. I’m hungry.”
Yemisi smiled and for a while, the only sounds were the chewing, swallowing and belching that came with the appreciation of good food. It was almost twenty minutes before Dapo rinsed his hands and moaned.
“Thank you for bringing me here, Yemisi. You know how far. In fact, chop knuckle.”
She bumped her knuckles against Dapo’s proffered one. “I just thought some variation would do you good,” she said. “I don’t want to keep worrying whether you’re eating or not.”
Dapo made no comment as he unscrewed the cap of his Etana water bottle and raised it to his lips. “To you then,” he said and drank.
They were walking towards Ozone when Dapo asked, “What’s on your mind?”
She didn’t pretend misunderstanding him. “Well, it’s like this –“
Dapo’s right hand suddenly barred her from crossing the road. Yemisi froze as an Okada screamed past, and then Dapo lowered his arm and took her left hand in his right one. Her thoughts were jumbled as they crossed, but she found the warmth from his hand reassuring.
“I can’t help but worry about you,” she began. “No, let me finish. I know you said I shouldn’t and I really shouldn’t, because you’re no child and should be able to take care of yourself. But sometimes, the strongest people are the weakest.”
“Everyone needs to be someone’s baby,” Dapo interjected and nodded for her to continue.
Sudden change in temperature alerted her to the fact that they were in Ozone already, so she waited while Dapo pushed the elevator button. They hopped into the first one that came down and as they were ferried up, he asked again, “What’s on your mind?”
“I know you don’t like being fussed over, which is why you would downplay the effect the Mope episode had on you. Look, I was there, remember? You came to me the first time you saw Mope, and you said to me, ‘Guy, I just met my wife.’ And though I was tempted to ignore you, I saw something in your eyes that I had never seen before that night, something I never saw again. I know how you felt about her.”
And I kept hoping that somehow, the two of you would find each other again, and that light would come back into your eyes. And then you called me to say you had seen her but that she was getting married….” Her sigh was heavy. “You died a little that night,” she said.
“Cried, actually.” Dapo’s smile was more like a grimace, and he looked like he’d rather just forget the whole thing – but Yemisi pressed on, her voice becoming firmer as she got into the spirit of what she was saying.
“I can believe that. You also got drunk, didn’t you?”
The elevator stopped and they hopped out on the second floor. Dapo led the way, quietly weaving through lounging couples not letting go of her hand. He did not stop till they got to the escalator and ascended towards the cinema floor.
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
At Yemisi’s cocked head and raised eyebrow he reiterated, “What’s on your mind?”
“Slow down coach,” she grinned, ruffling her hair. “You’ll know when I get there.”
Dapo was moving before the escalator stopped, and pulled her gently but firmly. Rounding the bend they made for the first table which happened to be empty. Yemisi smiled and sat on the stool Dapo pulled back for her and waited till he was seated.
“I don’t want to be outside looking in anymore, Dapo. I don’t want to be awake nights wondering what’s happening with you – if you’ve eaten or if you’re fine and so on. I want to be right there with you, rain shine and all that jazz.”
She smiled a little at the warmth from Dapo’s left hand as she held it in both of hers. Looking in his eyes, she said;
“Will you go out with me?”
To be continued…
Seun Odukoya is the winner of the 2011 Chistell International Short Story
competition. He fell in love
with words at a very tender age, thanks to parents who fed him novels and poetry books, which led to his discovery of the use of writing to best
He is currently working on a full-length
romance novel alongside other short
stories. He released his first book, a short story collection titled For Days and A Night (ebook) in December
2012 and his free comic Songs About AIDS a year later. Some of his greatest writing influences are Stephen King and Louis L’amour amongst a host of others.
When he is not writing, he enjoys reading, watching movies and listening to music.
You can catch up with Seun and his
Follow him on twitter @seunodukoya.