BLINKERED- GRACE OCHIGBO
Finishing exams after three weeks at a stretch isn’t a small thing. I mean, I look slimmer than my default slim self as I speak. That hospitalisation and dialysis sessions really took a torn on my flesh. Gosh! Mummy won’t be happy seeing me this thin and at the same time I can’t wait to get back home and receive her ‘flesh-gaining therapy’. Everybody seems to have gone home from school and even from my lodge, including Gracey- my roommate of life. Only 300level exams in my Faculty dragged into this week. Whether it’s because we would be going on our Industrial training which will last for six months from the beginning of next semester or because they always wanna prove that they are the most hand working department, I don’t really know which was the case… but all thanks to God am finally done. And trust me! After mum called last night, I had to pack my clothes because she promised to come take me home and she can be hasty a lot so I didn’t want a rush hour scenario.
I alighted in front of my lodge gate from the bike I took from school. Yes! Lemme reserve some energy for the ‘rainy days’ as the elders would say. I saw a black Toyota camry parked just before our entrance earlier on from afar and my heart started racing. Could it be that mum have already arrived here before me? She will twist my ear for keeping her waiting. I had to play a while after our exams- we were taking pictures and the likes in class. I won’t be seeing a lot of them for about half a whole year anyway so that’s pardonable. Oh! Was that why she was calling? The class was very noisy, I couldn’t have heard her. I have entered ‘wahala’ today.
“Huummmm!!! ojo agba o (God, thank you)”
I exclaimed heaving a deep sigh of relief when I saw the car wasn’t mum’s. I dashed hurriedly into the compound and through the common room, heading straight in the direction of my room. I can’t take chances anymore.
“I thought you said your practical exams was to end by 12pm, why did you keep me waiting here for too long”
I stopped in my steps as the voice startled me to my bones. I quickly turned in the direction of the voice to see Tosin sitting on one of the cushions in our common room. I guess I was in so much hurry that I didn’t notice him at all- I couldn’t have anyway, because of where he was sitting. I ran towards him and punched him hard on his chest before he could realise it.
“Must you always be like this? Playing unnecessary pranks and scaring me all the time, Tosin?” I asked, hitting him the more. He got up and my hand couldn’t hit his chest well enough anymore. Our height difference is quite clear. He had the basketballer’s height.
“I am sorry ma’am” He said coyly and was about to mimic prostration.
I impulsively held him before he could try that. I don’t know how a British-raised Yoruba young man got to know so much about his home culture. Blood is thicker than reality indeed! It was funny to me and I didn’t hesitate to laugh.
“Is this for real?” I asked myself as l marvelled over how interesting my friendship with Tosin has been over the past one week. I think the birthday special got me somewhat more relaxed and comfortable around him.
“I had to kneel, Ma’am, don’t want the boss madam to give me a query. Her voice was already becoming too harsh for goodwill.” He said, demonstrating like a staff before his director. That got me laughing the more.
“So now, Mr Guardian Angel, what are you doing here? Or do you now have a babe in my compound?” I asked teasingly amidst laughter
He readjusted his polo and wore back his face cap before replying me.
“Well…Yes of course I have a babe here!” He replied firmly.
My eyes popped open. I felt some pangs of jealousy flush over me but I tried to keep it in. He smiled and continued
“I asked her mum if I could come pick her up after her last paper today instead and as blessed as I am, her mum agreed, that is why am standing right in front of her”
I chuckled proudly at the flattering gestures he made whilst speaking,
“But what is it between you and mum? No! Seriously, it’s high time her husband started monitoring you! How could she be entrusting her precious daughter’s life in the hands of a miserable stranger like you” I asked eyeballing him playfully
He laughed for the first time
“That’s not for you to worry Dear; you are safe with your guardian angel”
“Come help me carry my bag if you want to take me home, I can’t continue listening to your heresies” I said, running in the direction of my room.
“God! Why are you punishing me with guarding such a girl?” He questioned, loud enough for me to hear before following after me and into my room
“You know, I still don’t know why people celebrate university graduation right? We most times don’t realise on time that we just moved from being undergraduates to unemployed.” He paused and drew a long hiss before continuing,
“While you guys in 300level are shouting ‘I can’t wait to finish’, I’ve spent barely a week at home and I am tired as tired as anything already. The thought of waiting for close to another one month before law school is killing me the more. Here is unlike Lagos, I mean, it’s like am in some cemetery or something. I don’t just understand! At times, I feel shut out of the whole world entirely. I still don’t know why my parents came back here really” Jerry complained bitterly over the phone from his sitting position on his mum’s car in the garage just in front of the house.
Lara laughed mockingly from the other end. Jerry didn’t bulge as he continued
“Seriously dear, I wish I didn’t graduate this year, and with the kind of mum l have self, she has been loading my little stomach with litres of food more than it can take. I’ve added weight ehn! In fact, I have resulted to jogging every morning now. Pot belly cannot be my portion in Jesus Name” He said again, Lara kept on laughing as she didn’t know where to come in.
Jerry’s tone was very hilarious and he knew what he was saying sounded funny but it was a serious matter to him. Boredom seems to be eating him up lately. He may be a reserved person but not comfy with boredom at all. The worst is he now follows a stereotyped-routine life. From family devotion first thing in the morning, and the remaining day is spent either on food or surfing the net. Watching movie wasn’t so much his thing but now, he has no choice- seasonal movies- All thanks to idleness. He hated repetition, he didn’t like running in a circle.
“Babe! You know the craziest thing? Mum is arranging graduation party for me in this house tomorrow evening. Mehn! That woman can celebrate for Africa abeg” He sounded frustrated as he laid his back against the windscreen.
“Aww! Wow! You didn’t even tell me, would have dropped by to attend it before I go to Lagos. It would have been an awesome opportunity to get to see your family again, you know?” Lara screamed out in disappointment
Jerry let out a scornful laughter,
“I like the party idea and am complaining abi? That’s mum’s cup of coffee o. And I remembered you said your dad was in town and you guys are travelling back to Lagos after today’s exams?” Jerry asked.
“Yeah! But you know daddy would understand if I explain to him nau, Jerry, just say you didn’t want me to come” Lara murmured feigning anger in her voice.
Jerry smiled, “Am sorry Darling if you see it that way. Coming to my house is a usual thing for you since childhood, stop making me feel like the bad one. But all in all, I wasn’t interested in the party. It just reminds one of unemployment jare.” He said, hissing again
“Better enjoy it o, for your own good” Lara admonished
“I will make it up to you Babe, don’t worry! I have missed you this one week you know? I pray and am praying too that I get posted to Lagos for Law school”
“I pray so too Darling, missed you more” Lara said. She noticed her dad flashing a glance at her as she spoke those words but she ignored him.
“Before your dad huh? I am out of here!” Jerry retorted and she chuckled
“Bye and safe journey dear” Jerry said before hanging up
“Who are you missing more, daughter?” Hon. Busayo Akintola asked immediately Lara dropped the call, with an inquisitive look on his face. He was an elderly man in his late sixty’s and still up and doing on his ‘Good luck’s attire’- as it is often called. Being a member of the House of Representatives in Lagos state, politics and business seem to be his daily bread.
Lara smiled as she adjusted in the backseat of the moving vehicle beside her dad.
“That was Jerry, Dad” she replied
“I heard the name already woman! Who is Jerry is what I wanna know?” He asked, almost sounding provoked at Lara’s hesitation in giving the correct response to his question,
“Ha! Daddy, since when?” She asked rhetorically
Lara thought for a while quietly as her daddy stared at her, still demanding an answer.
“Dad, Jerry is my boyfriend” She let out sharply
Jerry sat up on the car as his mum came closer.
“Who were you talking to over the phone a while ago?” His mother asked
He looked dazed initially but he remembered soon, picking up his phone
“Oh! Lara, you remember her, my friend!” He replied simply. He knew his mom too well, she could make a big deal out of everything and he sincerely wasn’t ready for that now.
She cleared her throat and leaned her hand against the car beside Jerry
“A friend you are already missing within a space of just a week? It’s unlike you, son!”
“Mom, you really shouldn’t be eavesdropping on my calls you know, am no longer in primary school” He said out loud.
His mother smiled patting his back,
“I understand dear, you are now a Law graduate and I’m proud of you. But I have to eaves drop so you don’t make a big mistake…” She said in a rather calm tone that mellowed down Jerry’s rising anger
He turned to face her, his jaw dropped as he blinked his eyes,
“What do you mean by that? What big mistake?”
“The mistake of rejecting the perfect girl I and your dad has carefully fished out for you” His mum said.
And as though a gallon of petrol just got lit, Jerry jumped down from the car immediately. Anger was welling up within him. He tried to keep calm but he wasn’t well able to anymore. The ball of anger was so big, he couldn’t swallow it in
“What? Mom! Fished out? You are arranging a woman for me without my knowledge? Is anything wrong with the both of you?” He yelled at the top of his voice now. Asking all the questions together and waiting for no reply
His mom tried to pacify him, asking him to bring down his voice
“It’s not a do or die thing son; you could back out if you want to. Just so you meet her at your graduation party tomorrow” Juliet Onuh explained to the deaf ears of her son. He was mad again, he had never liked people planning things for him and his parents are so fond of that. He hated it with passion and has cautioned them a lot of times.
“Damn it” Jerry said slamming his hands on the car angrily, “For how long do I remind you mom that am not a kid? How long?” He continued yelling at his mom till some thoughts came to his mind, “Why am I spending energy with you, I should see dad right away”
He blurted and walked away angrily into the building slamming the door hard behind him. His mom stood for some minutes wondering how she was ever going to convince her son about this. He could be very difficult to bend especially when he has been pushed against his tolerance limit.
Juliet shrugged and walked back into the house.
To be continued.
P.S; You can join the numerous people sharing their experiences with/about sickle cell with me. Just a mail to; firstname.lastname@example.org (0= zero). Awaiting yours.