“I hope you do like the scenery, at least.” Toba said. He was looking at her and hadn’t taken his eyes off her even for a second. He was acting as though he had never seen her in his entire life. He had told her for the third time that evening that she was beautiful. Yes she knew that she was beautiful but a bit of her felt he was exaggerating. Or maybe not.
They were having drinks at the outdoor section of the Lagos Motor Boat Club on Awolowo road. His father was a member of the board of trustees. She reached for her silk scarf and covered her arms with it. It felt chilly with the evening breeze. She nodded. Yes the scenery was beautiful but she had other concerns on her mind.
She landed at the airport very early that morning and had headed straight to the office. She wanted to ask for the day off to clear her head but she was only just returning from an all-expense paid two day vacation bequeathed to her by her boss. She had some files to work on as expected. In the course of the day, more work was added. It did not help that the Youth Corper Sharon still knew next to nothing about property law. All she was good at was checking blogs and gisting about the latest celebrity marriage or break up.
Tony tried hard to distract her mind with work. She didn’t even know where to begin. She had opened different documents on her computer but she found her self stuck on simple clauses and terms. The only person logically and rationally responsible for her fear was Jimi whom she had ended things with already. She hadn’t been intimate with him in about three to four weeks but she had been with him so many times before the fight that she did not even know how to calculate when conception could have occurred.
She asked Sharon to cover for her as she needed to attend to a family emergency. Hurriedly, she packed her stuff into her purse and walked out of the office ignoring Yvonne who wanted to know where she was headed. She sat in her car downstairs and sighed, wiping off the beads of sweat that were starting to gather on her forehead, nose and her philtrum. She held the key of the car but somehow did not recall how to start the engine. She did not know where to drive to. Home? Jimi’s? The hospital? Her mother’s?
She reached for her phone and unlocked it. There was a message from Dan asking if she was back in town. There was another from Toba who had already called when she landed. He wanted to know if she was okay as she hadn’t sounded too cheerful when they spoke. She ignored both and scrolled through her contacts to find the one person she could talk to.
“Where are you? Stop panicking babe.” Feyisetan said.
“Don’t tell me to stop panicking! How can I stop panicking? I am doomed! Where do I start from?” Tony burst into tears.
She noticed one of the security men looking at her. He started to walk towards her. She couldn’t let anyone see her like that. She immediately started the car and stepped on the accelerator, not minding if she committed a hit and run. She continued to drive along Ozumba Mbadiwe. She did not know where to turn. She headed on to the Lekki Epe express way and somehow at the end of it all found herself driving down Remi Olowude street at Oniru. She found somewhere solitary and parked the car. She locked the doors and started crying uncontrollably.
Feyisetan called back. Tony ignored it the first two times but answered it when Feyisetan sent a text that she would tell her parents if Tony did not pick up.
“Where are you?”
“I don’t know. Somewhere in Oniru.”
“Are you alright? I hope you aren’t trying to commit suicide or do something silly to yourself because of this situation.”
“I don’t know Feyi. I don’t.”
“Where exactly are you?”
“Towards Lagos Court of Arbitration.”
Feyisetan was a makeup artist and not a lawyer or a client in need of arbitration.
“The old Elevation Church road. Straight down.”
“Okay. I will be with you soon. And if you find somewhere to buy water start drinking now. I’m coming with a kit.”
Jimi looked at his wrist watch. It was still morning. He turned behind and his colleague Nnenna had dozed off already with her glossy lips parted and her big eye balls equally partly shut. The false eye lashes looked like a decayed assembly of house flies. She was a rather large lady with equally large features; large bosoms, large hips, and her rather large and tinted afro Diana Ross hair style did not do her much justice. Ejike, his other colleague was busy chatting on Facebook as usual, looking for the next possible way to scam someone by selling fake slimming products and bleaching creams.
The company was a four staffed one. The boss rarely showed up except there was something serious. It was two days after pay day so it was certain that the boss was not coming. He always avoided coming to work when he hadn’t paid salaries. Perhaps it was his guilty conscience. The front desk girl was also the cleaner and the admin staff and sometimes Human Resources. She was also the office caterer. She made fruit salad and small chops from home and sold it to the staff and other offices that shared the duplex with them. She had graduated from small chops and fruit salad and added jollof rice and white rice to the menu. The boss had complained many times but he stopped complaining when no one was listening. Jimi had just finished a pack of her jollof rice and it didn’t help that there was no cold water. The office fridge was not working properly so whatever bottles or sachets of water that went in there were sure to come out in the same lukewarm temperature, if not warmer.
He reached for his phone to make some calls. There was a new project that his flat mate had introduced him to. It seemed lucrative and it was likely that this one would be different from the previous ones. It didn’t even require as much work. It involved recruiting boys from Aba market for an Indian garment factory that was looking to set up in Lagos. His flat mate had registered a consulting business which would serve as the recruitment agency. All they needed was to get the right staff on board and the company would pay the agents for their services. The Indian guys also requested that the samples pieces made by the boys be shipped to Asia for them to carry out a proper market survey. This was where Jimi was needed. The flat mate owned the company and he wanted Jimi to contribute the capital before he was made an equal share holder.
He saw a call come in the minute he picked up his phone. And almost immediately, it was ended. He thought she would call back but she did not. He wanted to call back but then again he decided against it.
He missed her and he needed her. Tony had been his support both emotionally and financially. He knew he had failed so far in life. He considered himself a failure. All the hopes he had as a child had never materialized and all he had was the apology of a job as a staff with a failing media company. He started to realize just how naked he really was when Tony left him. Well, she had called it space. He hoped for hope, hoping against hope that they would get back together. He loved her and he wanted her back but it still hurt him that he had spent his entire savings, including the money he planned to pay back her loan with, in purchasing the engagement ring. He had tried to impress her but it had come crumbling on his head.
He dialed her number again. It continued to ring. She did not answer it. He knew she was there and could see his call. He knew that she had called him deliberately but ended it abruptly. Maybe she wanted him back but just did not have the courage to face him? Perhaps.