BLINKERED- GRACE OCHIGBO
Earlier this morning…
Tosin dragged himself into his bathroom slippers and headed towards the door.
“MTN Number you are trying to call is currently switched off, please…” Came out loudly from the speaker of the android phone in his hand. He hissed while the voice rattled on. He was really pissed off this time, maybe by that automated female customer care representative’s voice or by the painful fact that he is getting that answer for the umpteenth time this morning. He threw the phone on to the bed angrily and retied his towel more firmly round about his waist. He had a rethink and went to pick up the phone from where he just threw it. He instantly dialled another number and waited for it to ring
Abigail Abuh on the other side dropped the teapot on the dining table and smiled at the name of the caller on her Blackberry z10 as it blared out “gbadabi” by her most favourite Igala artist Abigail Omonu. She hurriedly placed the phone against her ear after picking it,
“Good morning Tosin, how are you today?” She greeted cheerfully
“Very well, thank you Ma’am, a very good morning to you.” He said in a rather polite tone with his characteristic British accent coming out more clearly and continued without hesitation “I am still unable to reach Tonia Ma’am”
“Oh dear! Sorry about that! Poor girl! She has a lot on her mind lately and her examinations are not just helping matters. I think she now switches on her phone only when she wants to call us and switches it back off because I tried it also a while ago. She even had to flash us this morning before we could reach her. It must be challenging for her having an exam on her birthday for the first time in her whole life” Abigail explained
Tosin took a deep breath and smiled sheepishly at the sweet revelation he just got. Did Tonia’s mum just save him from an uphill task unknown to her? Seems so!
He cleared his throat and spoke up a little more now
“No problem Ma’am! But is there any way I can reach her?”
He pushed his luck further perhaps he might get something useful to work with again. He needed to see Tonia, more so that it’s her birthday today, a special ‘something’ won’t be too much to give, no matter how small.
He waited patiently as Abigail quietly searched her mind for a possible solution
“Yes… Grace!” Tonia’s mum said aloud, almost startling him
“Grace…?” He asked sounding confused
“Yes! Grace is her roommate and best friend in school. I will text Grace’s number to you once I drop this call. If she also doesn’t have exam today, then she could be of immense help”
Tosin heaved a sigh of relief… “Thanks so much Ma’am, I appreciate”
“You are welcome Son!”
“An awesome day ahead Ma’am” Tosin said politely and dropped the call.
“Woo!!! Finally I got it” Tosin screamed as he raced excitedly round his room. He paused when his mind fell on something
“What to do!? I don’t have an idea! That Grace girl had better not have any exam today too”
He said, laughing heartily as he pushed open the door to his bathroom.
“You are yet to tell me what is going on between you and my mum that she keeps leaking my secrets to a total stranger like you” I asked Tosin, giving him a wicked stare. He was speeding rather too fast for my comfort.
“C’mon already! Birthdays are no secrets. More so, she didn’t directly tell me, it just fell into our discussion this morning, I could have as well gotten it from someone or somewhere else…” He bragged without looking in my direction, blared the horn so intensely that he scared a motorcyclist out of the road
“You will get arrested by the cops if you drive at an unhealthy speed such as this where you came from, wouldn’t you?” I questioned him nervously.
On a more sincere note, the speed was beginning to scare the life out of me. I won’t want the papers to carry news about the lady that died on her birthday in an automobile accident. How I wish I could bring this car to a halt right now but he was the one on the wheel and there was little or nothing I could do at this point.
“Sorry Sweetheart! I have an appointment to keep” He said sarcastically still not releasing his leg from the accelerator
‘Appointment? What the heck? Did he just pick me up from school to meet up with some appointments?’ I hissed out loudly as these thoughts ran through my mind. Tosin was already beginning to provoke me. Worse is, I couldn’t even get him to tell me exactly where we were headed. He already drove past the entrance to my street few minutes ago. I fixed my eyes on him continuously till he pulled up in front of a restaurant just beside the Good Shepherd Medical Centre where I take my dialysis sessions. I looked dazed as he stepped out of the car, adjusted his neatly ironed black blazers and walked over to open the car door for me in the gentleman fashion. I stepped down still trying to be calm.
“What are we doing here Tosin?” I asked angrily even more now that I noticed his over formal dressing.
“I told you I had an appointment here, Ma’am.” He was still smiling and this irritated me the more. He held my hand and literally pulled me along with him into the big Country Kitchen restaurant. I yanked my hand off his and followed behind him. Yes! I don’t want to be seen holding hands with Tosin in public, at least, not yet.
I could feel eyes turning in our direction. He was considerably tall beside me for my height and we are quite a good combo right now. We walked majestically past the exquisite lounge towards the VIP section. He opened the door and made me enter before him.
“Why is everywhere dark, Tosin!? Tell me what is going on here” I asked. My voice echoed as it was getting jittery, I couldn’t see anything in this thick darkness that filled the room. I looked sideways and I saw alphabets popping out as though there were appearing from the wall. There must be a projector somewhere in the room but it was too dark to see anything else. I was stunned by what the alphabets were forming and before I could turn to face Tosin, lights came everywhere.
I heard “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TONIA” chorused from behind me and turned quickly to see Grace and Licia holding a big cake with lots of candles on it. I just stared with my mouth widely opened unable to believe my eyes. I looked in front and saw the table full of all kinds of delicacies both indigenous and foreign.
This is indeed going to be my best birthday ever because it felt like I was over the moon literally almost floating in air. I could hardly contain my joy right now, I felt like jumping on Tosin. I even nearly fell over him in elation earlier; my bright smile that seemed plastered on my face was infectious lighting up the whole room. I was giggling excitedly too as Grace and Licia hugged me saying their wishes one after the other. I looked up at Tosin who just stood at the door smiling all the while, as usual.
“Thank you Tosin! I feel so… special” I managed to utter
He drew closer and held my face
“You are special Darling! Happy Birthday!”
He said and hugged me warmly
Jerry lay on his bed dejected. It was as though the whole weight of the world rested on his broad shoulders at this moment. He felt stabbed within his ribs by Lara’s display and considering Grace wasn’t even an option. He wouldn’t stand the sight of Tonia if he eventually starts any relationship with Grace, plus he wouldn’t want to start something merely because he is deeply hurt. He rolled from one side of the bed to the other and finally gathered his energy. He picked up his phone and dialled Tonia’s line…
“Iyawo mi, ololufe mi, ore mi alayo mi, I’ll love you forever” came her caller tune
His heartbeat raced faster against his ribs as the phone started ringing. He stared at the phone as though some signals would leave his eyes and provoke quick response. He waited eagerly till the phone rang out again for the second time. He threw the phone angrily on the rugged floor and buried his head in his pillow.
That feeling when the day you gave up on suddenly turned out to be your best, all thanks to guardian angel, Tosin. I was all smiles while eating my birthday special meal and there was nothing like table manners right now. I’ll just enjoy every bit of the moment. The foods really were special and yummy. Looked special, tasted special and to crown it all, I felt really special. Who cares about my friends on social media right now? I don’t even know where my phone is.
“Gracey! You! See, the next time you, Licia and Tosin join forces to surprise me like this? You both would be in jail” I warned cynically, digging my fork and knife into the bowl of chicken.
They all laughed heartily and I continued staring at Tosin
“Gentleman, why are you being so nice sef?”
He cleared his throat and I knew he was buying time to get the appropriate hilarious answer to give while he adjusted in his seat.
“No way! We must maintain Table manners.” Grace screamed out just when Tosin was about to respond
“Oh! It is now you know table manners right? What happened to what I have been saying since?” I asked her, raising my left eyebrow and lowering the right one.
They all laughed again
“It’s your day girl, you are pardoned to break any rule, but we aren’t! OYO is your case my sister! You just talked about jail; we have to be careful right?” Licia questioned them in a teasing tone
“Yes!!!” Grace and Tosin chorused loudly before bursting into a more thunderous laughter.
“Well… I …” I started, trying to calm them down
“So sorry I came late, I needed to dress an emergency wound and stabilise the patient before leaving the ward” a familiar voice interrupted me from behind.
We all turned in the direction of the voice
Toyosi and I chorused again in surprise. Frankly, I just can’t understand the coincidences with meeting this girl everywhere lately. First, it was a ride from my street, then the hospital as my new nurse and now at my birthday special. This must be divine right?
“Oh! You both know each other?!” Tosin asked looking stunned. Toyosi gently dropped her bag and coat on an empty chair before pulling out another to sit
“We should be asking you that, Tosin” I voiced out with some empty guts. Toyosi served Jolof rice into a plate without waiting for no one and started eating immediately. She must be starving.
“Oh! Really? Are you serious right now? You should be asking me if I knew my own younger sister?” He asked fixing his gaze at me.
I gasped as his word struck me
“Your younger sister? Is she Moppet?” I looked bug-eyed
“Oh! Dad! Not again! It’s bad enough that he calls me Moppet in the house, must he go around telling everybody?” Toyosi mused bitterly with food in her mouth. The others watched on like they were seeing the series movie ’empire’.
I looked at Toyosi who was frowning but still eating. That made me smile
“Dr Wale calls me Moppet too”
The rice on her fork almost poured on her uniform as she shook. She was at loss for words. I could see goose bumps appearing on her body and her hair stood on ends as she looked apprehensively at me
“You are my namesake dad always talked about and wanted me to meet?”
I smiled … “Yes I am.”
She tightened her lips into a slit as we both concentrated on each other unable to talk further. The others quietly watched us with the ‘what is happening here’ look.
To be continued.