For a Sunday evening, the square was sure crowded!
Dafe had thought a Sunday evening out at O’jez Restaurant would be a great idea knowing Monday loomed and hardworking employees like him would most certainly be busy prepping for a new work-week. Obviously not tonight, Lagosians still want to unwind and justifiably so too. The state of the nation demands so. Everyone comes here for the fish peppersoup served in massive local pots. If the spice in the soup doesn’t unknot your brain in readiness for a long week of critical thinking, then nothing else would.
Finding a perfect spot took a lot of effort. He eventually settled for a table set for two directly under the open skies, away from the deafening sound of the speakers, and far from the flashing night lights. Nodding towards one of the attendants, he made his order of Lager.
For a guy, Dafe had a bit of hair; thick and somewhat wavy. A wide humorous mouth, slightly crooked nose but altogether roughly handsome nonetheless.
It was almost ten o’clock before his date arrived. Dafe had known Omorose for a little over a year now but beyond the perfunctory “hellos,” and “see you tomorrows,” no actual conversation had been engaged in until two moons ago…
“This is an awful way to spend Christmas Eve, sitting behind your desk still, choosing not to mingle with anyone. Do you say much in words at all?”
There was a brief silence of awareness before his target took her face off the screen to look in his direction. Five seconds glance. Back to screen. Into his face again she stared, like someone unsure of the right retort.
“There is not a lot to say truly,” Omo finally said closing her laptop just so slightly out of respect.
Without seeking her consent, Dafe moved aside the stack of files at the edge of her long brown desk so he could perch for a while. He had an odd expression on his face, like he was urging her to keep talking. She wouldn’t take the bait. No! Her mama definitely didn’t teach her facial language while growing up was Dafe’s conclusion. He continued almost in the same baiting tone, “Work here would be made simpler and easier for you if you socialized more, you know?” “Don’t you know about the great universal law of friendliness? Have a smile on your face always, even when you don’t feel like it.”
“First off,” she said as casually as she could “People who try to simplify their lives are usually ones not up to the task and afraid of failure. I fall in neither category and secondly, I do smile around everyone here. It’s my choice not to engage in idle chats when there’s so much the company expects me to deliver on… ”
Dafe watched her closely as she spoke. Loving the way her eyes twitched. She was exceptionally beautiful and calm on the surface but he suspects there’s a whole more fire in her veins as her scathing words portray.
Then a sudden fall, teeth clenching followed by a nasty frothing at the mouth.
Springing into action, Dafe quickly protected her fall using his thigh as cushion. Unsure if to scream for help or if to simply hold her hands till the seizure abates, he settled for the latter. In this situation, he knew not to put anything in her mouth and in the deepest recess of his mind didn’t want to cause her any embarrassment by calling on other colleagues.
It was a long arduous 120 seconds waiting for her jerking limbs to regain some control, the only other sounds in the office were the tick of the clock and his palpitating heart.
“Sorry I skipped my anti-seizure drugs this morning because I switched bags last minute and -” she stopped, suddenly feeling a surge of emotions.
“I can take you home if you want, it’s almost noon and thankfully it’s a half day’s work today.”
“Thank you,” she said, ending the awkwardness. She lifted her body, then her face. He proceeded to help her then took her head like a trophy between his hands, he kissed her forehead, the tip of her nose, her closed eyes then he whispered something she didn’t quite catch holding her tightly as strongly as his shaky hands would let him.
Events in the past eight weeks had moved quickly. There are many things he has come to know about her and one thing remains unchanged, she still loathes excessive cordiality. In the early days of their budding friendship, Dafe had been extremely careful not to come across as a pitier rather to help her see this epilepsy as only a small fraction of her life and not the entirety of it.
“Here is my star,” Dafe said as she walked up to him looking all sparkly in her little red dress. They shared a quick kiss on both cheeks before sitting side by side. “I had no idea it was so late, I let my makeup exercise get the best of the time,” Omo said with an apologetic back rub.
The uniformed attendant came back for their orders and they went on to have small talks. They talked for a very long time, at first on a purely philosophical level about the importance of strong value systems in homes, schools and corporate organizations. “Let us talk about the im-po-ssi-ble,” Dafe steered the conversation abruptly, emphasizing the “impossible” with a show of quote and unquote sign.
“Would you like to try dating me for real? I won’t jerk you around nor take advantage – scout’s honour. I’ll treat you normally as I have since knowing you.” He wanted to hear her thoughts but still continued, punctuating each word with genuine expression of longing in his eyes. “I know you like control but hey, I will dare you sometimes. Rest assuredly though; I’ll be a good man for you.”