A DAY AFTER 3

EPISODE THREE: GRATITUDE

Whenever I passed by Berger, I will see him, sitting at  the corner of the street with his long stick and ragged bag; His hairs were strands of dreads locked for either centuries or  God knows how long; His clothes were pieces of ragged-white turned brown by the combined effect of dust blown at him from non-challant road users and the wind itself. His skin was  dark, not the  typical complexion of a  beautiful black skin king, but from the myriads of days without water and soap to lather on the body. He knew nothing about our world or so I thought. Whenever a passerby  walked towards him, he would pose like an angry lion, waving   his  rugged stick  in the air.

On his right,  he had a packet of cigarettes with which he snapped at road users, On his left he held one of the sticks which unlit he would bask in the guise of smoking something to calm the nerves. On a good day, a jolly-good fellow would throw  a lighter at him and he would gracefully enjoy his pipemeal. A day came, I decided to throw  a candy at him, he waved his rugged stick at me, picked the candy,  placed it in his ragged and dusty bag,  looked up from the bag and grinned.  Bewildered, I wondered if he understood the language of our world- the language of  love, resentment, painful-gains  and chaotic- harmony.

I thought I could show kindness to him but didn’t know how to about it. First, if he was  psychic as he seemed then I would have to devise ways of expressing care without his marking my face; second, what on Earth  would I offer him that will be tangible and helpful to him,  considering my status in life and his condition.

An idea popped into my head, I could throw some crispy mints at him, and he would pick them and placed it in his decayed bag as he did  with the candy but what if hoodlums attack and take the little coins from him? Not even his rugged stick will save him from them.  After about thirty (30) minutes of conversing within, I made my way to the GTbank at Omole Phase two (2) inserted my Naira MasterCard  into the Automated Teller Machine, (ATM) withdrew some cash from the little savings I made during my NYSC, entered a shopping mall and got some goodies.
By the time I  was done shopping, it was already late in the evening.  Knowing I could fall into the hands of one of the hoodlums, I took my goodie bag and made for  Annie’s  house which was like a stone throw from the mall.

The next day, I woke early,  without waiting to bid farewell to Annie, I  took the bag of goodies and  I went straight to his usual spot.

Carefully I  dropped the bag filled with clothes, candy, soaps, eateries, money and what have you; They weren’t perfect but I found satisfaction dropping that goodie bag some miles away from him.
As though he knew it was for him, He carelessly dropped the unlit cigarette and made for the bag.
I watched him with so much curiosity as he seemed to count every single item on the bag; suddenly, his eyes shifted from the bag to someone across the road- me.
My heart raced as he fixed his dark- grey, sun-burned pupils on me, slowly I moved from where I stood, He rose with the bag and made towards me,  I  slowly moved from where I stood,  towards the direction of the Agberos, at least they may be kind enough to save me from him.

Without removing his gaze from mine, he crossed the road coming  towards me,  I increased my pace, but he seemed to be faster than I was. I started running  as fast as I could turning around he was running after me. Just when I thought, I would be caught up by an act of kindness to a complete stranger, he Stoped, bowed and mutterred something that seemed like gratitude.

Relieved I went back home. At least I  neither fell into his hands nor that of the hoodlums not knowing which would have posed more danger.

The day after,  I made yet a visit to his usual spot; to my surprise, he had his hair trimmed, his red  shirt sparkled in the dazzling December Sun. My cheeks fluttered as he slowly walked  towards me, though I was afraid, I at least knew he wasn’t deranged . He stoped at  a reasonable distance from where I stood, forced a smile,  with clouded eyes, he   echoed:

“Ese, Eni to Olorun ran,Oluwa maa bukun fun yin” [Thank You God-sent, God bless you]

I went back to Anie’s house smiling, grateful to God that I saved a life out of my life savings.  At least I still had to appreciate her for letting me bash into her house unannounced and leaving before She woke.

At 12:00 pm, I found myself at my sister’s house, the whole family was already celebrating the arrival of the new baby.

A DAY AFTER

EPISODE 1: AFTER POP

The curious faces greeted me as I swayed to my desk, picking the hand over note, I placed it on Ini’s palm. He examined the paper like a frightened child, threw it on the table and made for my palm. He suddenly stopped as though he was controlled by some force. With a heive, he stretched his palms to mine, Fixing his gaze on mine . In his eyes I saw that plea but my mind was made up and he seemed to read everything single thought on my mind at the moment.

“Eddie won’t you stay?”

“I can’t Ini, I bet you’ll be fine”

He released my palm and smiled. I knew there was more to that smile. Hardly had he came than I talked of leaving. He tried a thousand times to talk me into staying, but I wanted an environment where I would feel relevant. With all support, I got from Anie and Co., I sometimes felt lost when I had issues related to my profession. They saw me as a professional and expected all my projects to be of standard; I had challenges which they couldn’t relate to, all they cared about were the results.

Mrs. Utitofon had organized a send forth party for me. In no time the table was set. Soft music played while We sat round eating Potatoes Chips with stew. It was the only day I ever received a hug from my employer. Although She seldom smiles, she smiled so much that it got me at the verge of tears. She told me I added colour to her personal life and the Company; I found it ridiculous because she never compliments my effort. She had an eagle eye with which she could picture all the mistakes in my project without even looking at it. When it comes to Mrs. Utitofon, one thing was certain: “The boss is always right”. The only option I had was to comply with her terms. On several occassions, She told me I wasn’t enough, Countless times had she told me I was Sturdy. But a girl has to keep her head high.

After the launch, I took pictures with Ini and Bolu, then I felt a pat on my shoulder,

” Edidiong I know I may have been rude to you, but your projects and ideas were perfect. I would rather you stay”

She smiled and walked away, I wondered why she kept the compliment till a day after my POP. It would have probably changed my perception about the firm. But I guess it was too late. One last look at Anie and Co. and I bidded farewell to the Bodija. My sister was heavily pregnant at the time, I had to travel next day.

The Journey to Lagos was an unpleasant one: The piercing sun seared through boiling skins which inturn dripped salty liquids generating enough heat in the sardine packed bus; The traffic partnered with the street Vendors who flung their goods at every single vehicle that afternoon; Occasionally there would be sighs from passengers, but the sighs were too low compared to the horns of Earth breaking Vehicles and other ear blocking sounds

Reality knocked at mind and took it away from the happenings around. Mmeyene, a girl I met in the Lodge took her position as the first in the list of issues my mind had to deal with. Before our POP, She had gotten a job with a top notch Accounting firm. She was married and expecting a baby in the next two months. My life on the contrary was a mess. Dad had promised a position in a manufacturing company but I had no interest in it. I guess the only attractive thing about the company was the huge pay; however, passion was my drive. I had the intension of furthering my studies, but a lady needs a job to keep up. I was in a serious relationship with Edima but I had doubts about spending my forever with him. He was nice and homely but very manipulative and controlling….
“Madam, No be for Berger you wan drop”
It was the Conductor,
“Olodo, wetin this dull face dey find for Lagos sef?”
I ignored his tantrums, paid my fare and alighted. I crossed the pedestrian bridge, and took a bike to Omole Phase 2.
It was the begginning of a new life and the fear of living up to expectation gripped me.Barely had I reached home than my phone buzzed, It was Edikan.

“Hey girl”
“Hey”
“Congrats on your POP Yay!!!”
“Thanks “
“You know we gonna pop champagne today And I’m taking my baby to Chicken Republic right away”
“Not really in the mode, I’ve got a slight headache”
“Common girl, meet me at 6:00pm, don’t keep a boo waiting… Love ya”
He hunged up…
© writingcarrel 2020