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Ese was quiet the entire flight back to Abuja. She sat with her two girls beside her while Bobby had the seat behind her next to her mother. She thought about her entire life and the way things had turned out and it made her sad. Why did bad things happen to good people? What exactly had she done wrong to deserve the least of all that had happened to her? Who had she offended?
They got into Abuja soon enough and she watched her daughters skip off the plane while a hostess tried to keep them under control. She smiled. Her daughters were a handful. Bobby came behind her alongside her mother. They claimed their luggage and walked out to the car park. Bobby got her into a cab and haggled with the driver over the price. When it was settled, he paid the driver and walked over to where she sat at the back.
“Go home and get some rest, I’ll call you.”
“Aren’t we sharing a cab?”
“No. I need to take care of a few things. I’ll call you.”
He tapped the roof of the cab and the driver went off. He dialed a number and waited patiently until a male voice came through the line
“Guy, how far, I just dey enter the gate now. You go soon see me.”
He hung up and walked further down the road. Soon enough, he spotted Jakes’ car as it pulled up a few metres away from him. He threw his backpack in the back seat and got in the front.
“You look a mess. Was Benin really that bad?”
“Na so dem dey carry greet person for your village abi?”
“No vex jare, na as I see am, I talk am. How you dey?”
“I’m alright. Just tired.”
“She’s fine. Getting better I guess.”
Jakes turned to look at Bobby for a second then turned his eyes back to the road.
“I think you’re developing a soft spot for her.”
Bobby turned sharply.
“Don’t be ridiculous! She just became a widow.”
Jakes said nothing.
“Wait a minute; what has Kayode been filling your head with?”
“It’s not Kayode. It’s you. The woman’s husband dies and you’re all over her, fussing, travelling with her for the burial, getting worried when she’s kidnapped, looking after her mother and her daughters-”
“Just stop. Really. You know me, I’m a nice person. Must I have some ulterior motive for being nice to a widow whose late husband was my colleague?”
“Calm down. Don’t get all defensive. I didn’t say you had an ulterior motive-”
“Don’t ask me to calm down. You just said I have something with her. That’s ridiculous and I am extremely disappointed.”
“Don’t get all riled up. I’m just telling you the truth. Everyone is already saying it at the office. I thought I’d give you a heads up. Just be careful.”
Bobby rubbed his forehead. Irritation crawled up his spine. People were just stupid. So he couldn’t be nice without reason? He reclined his seat and shut his eyes.
♪♪ She no want designer, she no want Ferrari, she say na my love o. You belong to me and I belong to her o… ♪♪
Teni looked at the young men singing and dancing before her and she could not hold the laughter.
“You guys should stop o. My hand no dey”
They didn’t listen to her.
♪♪ Babyyyyy, you go killi somebody. They say love is blind but he dey see am for her eyes o ♪♪
Teni held her stomach and continued laughing.
“Seriously, you guys need help.”
They stopped finally and all three of them burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter.
“Tee, it was hilarious,” one of them said.
“You needed to have been there” the other added.
Teni had tears in her eyes as she continued laughing. The guys were giving her an account of how their Director had tried to woo some young girl and failed. They were singing Davido’s “Aye” in mockery of him.
“Honestly, she could be his daughter. All these old men sef that will be chasing young girls up and down. They’ll be spoiling market for us.”
Teni could not stop laughing.
“Lord! That’s enough. Make una comot abeg. I no get power.”
“E never finish o. Ah. The girl really made a scene in that restaurant. Called him a shameless old man and said he thought money was everything. She said she wasn’t cheap and she did not want his money. Apparently, she has a boyfriend who isn’t rich and he tried to take advantage of that but the girl was not interested. She loved her boyfriend and no amount of money in the world would change that”
The other guy continued.
“Na him make us dey sing
She no want designer, she no want Ferrari, she say na my love o. You belong to me and I belong to her o…”
None of them noticed the director walk in.
“I see you have nothing important to do. Three of you, my office, right now.”
The director walked out as quietly as he had come in. The three of them looked surprised.
“Great. Now we’re in trouble.”
Teni looked at the two guys and rolled her eyes. She checked the time on her wrist watch; 4:30pm. Hopefully he would not detain them for too long.
“The man be like winch. I didn’t even know when he came in.”
Teni looked at Bode, the one who spoke and shook her head.
“Shey you won’t stop talking, till we enter more trouble.”
She led the way out of her office and soon they were with the director. The man looked at them with an evil smile and asked them to seat down. He produced a large, bulky folder and placed it before them.
“I need you three to sort through these documents and give me a summary report of the submissions made by the different agencies. Check through their financial statements Teni, make sure nothing is amiss there. I expect you to finish this before you leave the office today. I’ve got a meeting with those agencies tomorrow morning so get to work.”
Teni’s mouth popped open and she blinked several times. She tried to speak but no words came. She took a deep breath instead and pushed her chair back. The resentment was already building and she knew it was only a matter of time before it became pure, unrefined anger. See what the two idiots had caused.
“You’ll be working here so go get your laptops quickly. I presume you’ll be needing them. Be back here in two minutes.”
Teni said nothing and she walked out of the office. She knew he was lying. There was no meeting the following day. He just wanted to punish them. She cursed the guys for choosing her office as their gossip spot.
Benjamin dialed his phone for the sixth time that evening and listened to it as it rang out. It was 7:30pm. Teni had stood him up twice. He smiled. The player had gotten played. Nice. To think he’d actually taken his time to plan a three course meal for her. Oh well. He shrugged. He would just eat out. He packed most of the ingredients into his deep freezer and went into his room to change into something casual. He turned off his phone and drove to Zuma garden.
Teni was almost crying in frustration. She checked her watch and it was 8:00pm. They were almost done. She eyed her ‘partners-in-crime’ who sat not too far from her and temporarily distracted herself with thoughts of how to make them pay. She was missing out on a good dinner because of them. She thought of Benjamin again and she felt bad. She’d forgotten his phone at home and she did not have his number saved on her phone. She was sure by now he thought she’d stood him up again. She shook her head as though to rid it of distractions and went back to her laptop. Another twenty minutes of intense concentration and she was done. She saved the document, opened her email and sent the documents to the director who was still at the office with them. He looked very comfortable in his chair and had not bothered to say a word to them since they commenced the assignment.
“I’m done sir.”
He looked up from his laptop. He’d been watching a movie.
“Have you sent to my email?”
“Yes sir, I have.”
The other guys looked up too and informed him that they were done with their task.
He smiled and bid them good night.
As soon as they walked out of the office, Teni dropped her laptop on the floor, reached out and pinched both of them on their arms. She held on and twisted till they cried out in pain.
“That was for costing me a dinner date tonight.”
Bode looked at her in surprise as he rubbed his arm.
“You? Dinner date? I thought you hated men?”
She hissed and picked up her laptop.
“I don’t hate men, I just said I’m never getting married.”
Emma shook his head.
“You’re sha strange. Me, I’m not even in the mood. See how that old man just treated us like secondary school kids. It felt like being in detention.”
Teni scowled at them and walked on.
“You were acting like kids.”
She got to her office, packed up her things and headed to her car. She met the guys downstairs again and this time they apologized for getting her into trouble. She waved it off and offered to drop them off at Berger roundabout.
Benjamin was driving home at 11:00pm when his phone rang. Teni was calling him. He ignored the call and let it ring out. She must have cooked up a nice excuse for him. He turned up the volume of his car stereo and silenced the phone. He wasn’t going to get angry. It had been a good night and he had no regrets. He’d run into some old friends and they’d had a great time catching up, he’d all but forgotten about Teni. Maybe he should just let go of the phone. He could always buy another one. Teni was proving to be too much trouble already.
Teni dropped the guys off at Berger and continued on her way home. She decided to drive through City gate rather than Games village and she didn’t even know why. About four hundred metres after the City Gate, she saw a car upturned on the other side of the road. She slowed down and drove carefully towards it. The accident looked like it had just happened. She alighted and walked as fast as she could to the young man who lay beside the car with blood pouring from his mouth. Teni was frightened. No one else was stopping. She squatted beside him and tried to assess the damage but it was dark and she could barely see. He lifted his hand and pointed to the car.
“…phone… my phone…”
“Please, don’t talk.”
She rushed to the upturned car and tried to find his phone. Luckily, she was able to. She rushed back to his side, scrolling through his contacts and thinking of who to call.
“Jakes” he whispered.
With trembling fingers, she found Jakes and dialed the number. It rang out but he didn’t pick.
“He’s not picking.”
She dialed the number, looking around frantically. She saw three young men approach her. They looked like nomads. Bobby picked while she tried to wave to the guys approaching from a distance.
“Kay, how far?”
She spoke frantically
“Hi, my name is Teni. The guy has been involved in an accident. He looks pretty bad-”
She saw the nomads come close and she took the phone off her ear, raised her voice and waved to them.
“Dan Allah, ku taimake ni!”
She turned her attention back to the phone to hear the other guy desperately asking where she was.
“It’s just after City Gate but I want to take him to National hospital now. Please come meet me there if you can.”
She hung up before he could respond and turned to the nomads who were beside her. She spoke rapid fire Hausa to them asking that they help lift the young man into her car. One of the nomads eyed her suspiciously like she might have hit him but she shook her head and stressed that she was just trying to help.
The men came around eventually and they placed him in her car. One of them sat at the back and supported the young man who was still bleeding but had stopped talking. Teni’s heart was racing and she said a desperate prayer that the young man would live. She drove against traffic and was lucky not to run into any car as she raced to the hospital. Once there, the young man was taken off her hands and she found a place to sit while she waited for his friend to show up. She’d retrieved his wallet from his back pocket and found an ID that read Kayode Bankole. He worked with some NGO.
It was already 10:00pm when Bobby showed up and Teni was grateful that she could hand over the matter to someone else.
“I think he was drunk. The doctor said there was a high level of alcohol in his blood.”
Bobby shook his head.
“Kayode doesn’t listen. We have told him about drinking and driving but he never listens. I’ve had a stressful time the last few days. The last thing I need now is to babysit anyone.”
Teni looked at him unsure of what to make of the entire situation. This man’s friend lay almost dead and he was grumbling.
“You shouldn’t say that. He needs your sympathy now, not a scolding.”
“You don’t know me, you don’t know my friend so you shouldn’t tell me what to say and what not to say.
You did well by bringing him here. You can leave now.”
Teni was irritated. She’d had a bad day as well and this stranger was coming to lecture her. She retrieved a complementary card from the wallet before handing it to Bobby, determined to check up on him the following day and then walked away. She drove home, took a hot bath and then picked up Benjamin’s phone to call him. She had completely forgotten about him. There were six missed calls from him and she felt bad. It was 11:00pm but she figured she’d call him all the same. Hopefully he was still awake. She dialed once, twice, three times but he didn’t pick up. She dropped the phone and climbed into bed. She was too tired to even eat.