BLINKERED- GRACE OCHIGBO
“But are you sure, I shouldn’t accompany you?” Tosin’s voice came over the phone. I let out a horrible laughter, holding the phone to my ear with a raised shoulder as I tied a blue scarf round my head before my bedroom’s standing mirror.
“Wait Tosin, you drove me down home yesterday. In fact, if I let you, you would come to my school every day. That’s aside the daily extremely long calls you bombard me with. You also don’t mind following me all around too, do you?” I asked rolling my eyes as though he could see me, “Are you that jobless?”
Tosin cleared his throat and gave a mild chuckle before replying,
“Well, I could at least escape the punishment of God by not failing in my responsibilities to you as your guardian angel.”
I hissed amidst my laughter. That ‘guardian angel’ issue doesn’t come across as funny to me always. It’s rather irritating. “You really need to get a life Tosin, like seriously. Get a life. Nigeria is not same as the U.S.” I quickly drew my eyebrows, trying to hurry up my dressing. Daddy’s horn just blared loudly again for the second time. I guess ‘making up’ is typical of ladies… regardless of where we are going
Tosin giggled. “You can be generous enough to come get one for me…”
“… Oh my God! Tosin, I have to run. Talk to you later” I interrupted him and hung up the phone before getting any reply. I threw the phone into my handbag, quickly picked up my handkerchief and ran out of my bedroom.
I hurriedly opened the back door of the car and sat very fast hoping daddy wouldn’t say anything. But guess I know my father so well. He must express his displeasure at any ‘ill-attitude’ displayed- as he always called it. They’ve both been waiting for me to get dressed for quite long. All thanks to Tosin’s ‘forever’ calls.
“Young lady, next time you don’t want to keep your appointment, you better tell me on time” Dad yelled
I didn’t have any explanation; he deserved to be angry anyway. I have wasted their time.
“I am sorry dad! I am sorry mum” I said politely like an innocent child
Dad kick-start the car and drove gently out of our compound.
“C’mon, you know I won’t be telling you if I gave it a second thought. I mean this whole idea sounds crazy to me, it should come across to you as funny too” Jerry said, dropping the carton of drinks on the tiles in the lobby and holding his phone firmly against his ears with the other hand.
“I know Dearie, I don’t just know why am so uncomfortable with this whole idea, seriously!” Lara said on the other side with a downcast voice
“Come off it, Lara! Now you are making me look as though I don’t even trust my own self. Christ! You think my parents would just prescribe a girl for me from nowhere like a drug from a pharmaceutical and am just supposed to embrace her? I am older than that for God’s sake, and they both know it” He explained with slight irritation in his voice.
“It could be any girl Jerry. It could even be our madam” Lara said. Her voice was getting softer than normal.
Jerry laughed out loud. “Give yourself rest my dear, it can’t be her. This one in question was born when I was two years old thereabout, and we left here for Lagos about that same time according to Mum… I have not the slightest idea what they are saying. Its only school that brought me back to Kogi state, so whatever history there is? That is their damn business. I am only accepting to meet her because my dad literally begged me yesterday. Else!! You needed to see how enraged I was.” Jerry said
Lara sighed “I hope so Jerry…”
Jerry laughed again. Lara was going ‘one-worded’ on him again. She does this anytime her mind is unsettled about something. She just has this instinctive part of her she upholds so much. He didn’t understand why she was worried over nothing. As far as he was concerned, his parent’s can’t talk him into doing what he wouldn’t want to do. His mind is already made and that is; nothing can work regardless of whoever the ‘arranged girl’ is.
“Alright Babe, I have to go now. Mum got me working since morning, because of the so-called graduation party this evening. She invited church members over. God! I am so tired of that woman. Let me go keep these drinks in the fridge before she starts screaming all over again” He said as he picked up the carton of drinks he dropped on the floor earlier.
Lara gave out a mild chuckle, “You are not even grateful you have a mother that stays with you and loves you as well. Have a great party ahead”
Jerry hissed. “Grateful ke? Don’t even play on my conscience… Alright bye”
“Wait…” Jerry paused to listen to Lara “Jerry! You still haven’t told me you love me”
Jerry took a deep breath and dropped the carton again. He stood speechless for a while not knowing the best answer to give to Lara. Love, is one word he has been extremely careful to use since Tonia.
“You see what I’m saying? It’s taking you forever to say you love me Jerry!” Lara’s breaking voice brought him back.
“Oh no! Lara, let’s not start this morning…” He tried to pacify her,
“Babe, you know I care a lot about you. You know all these, don’t you?” He paused for a while and then continued, “For love? We will get there Lara, just a little more time! Please”
Lara kept mute.
Dr Wale saw us off to where we parked our car. We have been here for over an hour. I ran my normal tests and as usual, I was told “the dialysis seems good” when we all know am gradually vacating this planet by each passing day. Even though we are still praying for a life donor in no distant time from now, if not! Well, am hopeful and am living.
“Am sure you have met your namesake?” He asked placing his right hand on my back
“Yes Doctor. She took the bulk of my sessions after the matron went on leave” I answered quite politely
He chuckled. “Yea, she told me that. She prefers working anywhere else other than this hospital. I guess she is one smart kid like you. You should be good friends” He said, smiling.
“I would love to sir. Alright sir” I replied and quickly entered the car.
He shook hands with dad and mum and made to leave for his office. Mum easily gets moody after every appointment with my doctor. Her cheerless face says a lot about how many things are going through her mind right now. Am sure she is praying for a miracle in her heart. Aren’t we all praying for a miracle?
“Honey, you will drop us over at the boutique, there is no need going back home again. The day has been long spent” Mummy told her husband as they entered into the car.
“You and Tonia?” Dad asked as he thrust the car key into its hole
“Yes! Of course, Dad. Have your forgotten your daughter’s marketing prowess so soon?” I asked feigning seriousness. Dad saw my face through the mirror and smiled,
“How can I forget? You that won award for ‘best entrepreneur of the year’ five years in a row” Dad scorned. Mum and I burst out into a loud laughter but dad still maintained his serious look, and that made us laugh even more.
“It’s okay Dad, please!” I pleaded when my belly was almost bursting out with laughter. Dad jokes a lot when he chooses to and I’m always his victim.
He killed the engine in front of our boutique, TSD Fashion&Accessories. The contemporary boutique is situated in the heart of Lokoja. And ever since I was little I have watched mummy’s business blossom more and more. She has customers coming from all over the country to purchase her goods and even seems to have monopoly over the textile business as all top government officials in this Kogi capital city- Lokoja- buys clothing materials only from us. Mum said she named the boutiques after the initials of me and my siblings. Her cheerful, attractively dressed and smart sales girls have set up everything and customers are already packed full in there. It is always that busy.
“We have to hurry Honey, it’s like there is a lot of work here today, you know how it is during festive seasons” Mum said, hugging dad lightly. She opened the door to step out while I tried to pack all the bags and loads she dumped on the back seat.
“It is as usual Honey; I guess the Sallah makes it more obvious. But don’t forget to come early for Jake’s son’s graduation party.” Dad added as mum stepped out, “And Tonia, you must look exceptionally gorgeous to that party tonight” he said turning in my direction
I smirked. “Me? What is so peculiar about me?”
Dad made a snort as well.
“Honey, I will explain things to her, you can go. Oya! Tonia lets hurry” Mum said impatiently as she hurried over to my place and helped me with what I was carrying. We walked hastily into the boutique and dad zoomed off.
“Ma’am, this is one of the most classic laces you can get around in this country. My boss orders her goods from the Arab emirates and our customers’ satisfaction is guaranteed.” I spoke confidently to one of our customers while taking her round the show glasses. She seemed to be confused about what exactly to buy; every textile she saw looks so sheen to her
“Really, I can attest to that. This one is so beautiful, this too and even that” she said pointing greedily at the beautiful laces hung in the show glasses.
“This is Honiton lace and it goes for a hundred and fifty thousand naira for five yards. That other one is called Alencon and it goes for two hundred and fifty and this embroidered lace…” I said raising the clothes up from the glass and placing them on the table as I called their prices “goes for a hundred and seventy. All are the same number of yards, and basically the best quality but I guess the difference in the manufacturers explains the reason for the slight difference in price.” I explained, placing a smile firmly on my face. Business ethics, you know!
The woman was dressed in beautiful orange chiffon skirt and blouse with neatly tied ‘gele’ on her head and her glasses placed on her nose like my doctor. She is quite old in age, am sure but I think her make-up artist is really doing an awesome work- Her uniformly toned ‘Mary-Kayed’ face, neatly drawn eyebrows and the light pink lip stick adorning her lips – are the basis of my inference. And as I always say, education has its way of keeping us young.
“Hello madam…” Mum said as she came over to join us. We have actually spent more than normal time, trying to make a decision. The elderly woman smiled at my mum. If I am not being mistaken, she has some aura of intimidating excellence around her and that’s so glaring in her carriage as well.
“When Mariam directed me to this place, I didn’t take her serious. I even opted to buy the materials on my way to Nigeria but I considered the extra baggage charges. Now look at me confused about making a decision.” The customer explained letting out a big grin that displayed her teeth. I don’t want to comment on that for now because I would be compelled to consider using dental braces to get mine that arranged.
“Oh! You are the one Dr Mariam Azeez, the honourable commissioner for health told me about? We are very honoured to have you ma” my mum responded excitedly.
“Our elite women group sews a uniform every festive period and I was appointed to take charge of it this time. I can’t seem to be able to select any, everything here is so beau…ti…ful” she stressed, this time staring with ardent desire at both the materials in her hand, those on the table and even the ones in the show glass.
“If you don’t mind Ma’am, I think you should choose this…” I opined giving her the embroidered lace and trying to help her with her difficulty in selecting from the chunk of laces on the table. “It looks better since it’s the association year cloth or sallah festivity cloth, as the case may be. And who knows, you could buy one more association cloth before the year runs out and next year and on and on, before you know it, you will have all these beautiful laces in your bedroom’s wardrobe”
She looked at me, nodding her head convincingly as she laughed to my gestures and displays
“You are right young lady; I will just shut my eyes and have this one I guess.” She concluded going with my suggestion
“Yes Ma’am! I would package the 20 pieces for you. Just remember to tell the honourable commissioner that I helped out with the decision” I said jokingly
She and mum laughed.
“Of course! I’ll.”
She seem to be very impressed with me already,
“Much more than buying the clothes, I may have to hire your extremely smart sales girl for some time. Would you let me, madam?” she asked beckoning to my mum.
Mum tittered lightly. “She is my first daughter, don’t mind her, she could be very dramatic at times”
“Wow, she told me you were her boss. Didn’t realise she was just being courteous” She explained, with a broad grin plastered on her face.
I laughed within myself proudly as mum walked over to her office. The woman turned to me while I was still packaging the laces into our customized leather bags.
“And I can’t forget to add that I already like you a lot” she said. I felt flattered impressing another of my mum’s customers again. I truly should be given a trophy
“It’s my pleasure, thank you Ma’am.” I replied politely
“I am Dr Bukky, and you are?”
I replied handing the paper bags to the salesgirls as we helped her to her car.
To be continued.
BLINKERED – EPISODE Fifteen
BLINKERED- GRACE OCHIGBO