Fam!!! Funny enough, I am not emotional about ending 8 to 5. Although, between you and I, I am only ending it because I have exams soon and a girl needs to zoom in. (That almost sounds like an over-zealous prayer secretary will say.) I have enjoyed writing it- infusing it with real life and pushing myself a bit more. I consider it such an honour to have had your undivided attention for the last 4 or so months. I hope it has been worth your while. I am looking forward to what the next project would push me to do. For now, I will be going back to my first love- short stories. I have been getting some love from Nigeria over the last two weeks. Team Naija, I see you! 🇳🇬 Do say hi or leave a comment. We would love to meet you 🙂 Shoutouts to the silent reader I met this weekend who made me promise not to do this. At least I didn’t mention your name 😉 Follower Friday has taken off! Could be you this week! Special birthday wishes to Naa Awula, Dr Tele and Yasmin (aka Gagert, aka Kafui). As always, happy reading!
‘..to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse..’
Edem fought the urge to laugh at the irony of it all. He was sitting in the front row of a church, watching a girl who had almost broken his virginity get married to a man he knew she did not love. The best part was that the girl was allegedly his sister. He would have preferred to have been seated with the PwC guys at the back or to not be here all together, but Grams insisted that he make an effort to get to know the people who were his relatives.
So far, so good.
He was still not ready to call his father Daddy or Father, but at least they had conversations every now and then about everything and anything. His ‘aunties’ doted over him, constantly asking him if he needed to eat something. His younger cousins were fun to be with. Watching them dance at the engagement after party helped him to laugh. He had not done that in a really long while. He had still not spoken to Akwesi. They had never gone this long without speaking to each other. He missed him. He missed Maame Esi too, but he knew better than to try to call her and check up on her. It was time to get his life back on track.
Joseph squinted at the screen.
These damn clients. Everyday revert, everyday changes.
He had started working with a small advertising firm not too far off from Oxford Street as a copywriter. His political days were over, at least until 2020. Now the only heartbreak he had to nurse was the one inflicted by the Black Stars. Even Korantemaa had become a distant memory. He had gone back to being celibate, deliberately ignoring all the hints the client service executives were sending his way.
Mawuli had gone into ‘solitary confinement’ with the military so he really didn’t have friends he could talk to.
Maybe it is time to join a dance class or something.
Maku bounced baby Tim on her lap. He barbled some baby nonsense that only he could understand. Living with her mother had made her appreciate a lot of things she took for granted when she was a child. She had come to rely on her counsel and her company.
Sitting outside after the kids had had their baths and gone to bed was one of her favourite things. The smell of baby powder, the comfort of suffering through baby related stress together and the gentle breeze slightly fragranced by the forget me nots at the side of the house all made the end of the day a big highlight for her.
She had not seen Robert in the last 10 or so months. He didn’t turn up for the naming. He didn’t even acknowledge the invitation. As fate would have it, baby Tim was the spitting image of his father. As her mother said, ‘it is God’s own way of playing pranks on men who don’t want accept their responsibilities. The children they fight so hard against end up looking exactly like them.
Quitting her job had taken courage. But then so had walking out of the abortion clinic that day. Dracula did not approve. Letting go off the affections of an office boyfriend proved to be more difficult than she had anticipated, especially at a time like this. Her leap of faith became a huge jump when she started the consultancy. Having experience in working with capital markets certainly made it easy for her to get contracts. These days she worked from home, baby Tim suckling on her left breast while she replied an email.
It wasn’t always smooth. There were days when she missed the safe, predictable nature of an 8 to 5 job, but she was happy. Once baby Tim was weaned off the breast milk, she could attend evening classes or even do a correspondence class online. Even though she always acted like she was fine, there were still days when she cried herself under the shower because Robert wasn’t coming back.
She knew that he had heard about all the changes in her life. She knew that he knew that Tim was his photocopy. She knew that he knew that she knew. Sometimes she wished she didn’t know. Anytime she felt overwhelmed, she did the one thing that had given her solace ever since that day at the abortion clinic- she prayed.
Akwesi looked down at his hands.
This was the first time he had been to see her since the ‘break up’.
This was Maame Esi’s idea.
I don’t deserve her.
‘I love you, Akwesi. You. I am not confused or in doubt or anything like that. If I was, I would break up with you and keep my distance from Edem because every gossip in town would be dragging my name into the mud about splitting two childhood friends. You know I don’t have a problem adjusting to change. My parents’ divorce was one crash course. Yes, I have a very soft spot for him, but that is where it ends. He is like a brother to me. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true.’
Somehow Maame Esi’s speech was meant to convince two people. She knew she had been walking dangerously close to the borderline and that spending time with Edem was only compounding problems but the accident shook her. She had honestly thought she was going to die and it made her reevaluate her choices. Even on her hospital bed, she had tried several times to get Akwasi to resolve all the problems in his life. She had added Joseph and Edem back to the group chat, forced him to make peace with Joseph and was now working on him making amends with Edem.
‘Even if you hate Edem’s guts, you can’t possibly take it out on Grams. That is not the Akwesi I fell in love with. Go and see her.’
So today when Maame Esi had finally been discharged and brought home, he drove to Edem’s house. He knew Edem would be at work and this way, he could tell Maame Esi that he had made the effort. It wasn’t that he was being difficult. The truth was that he was ashamed. He had allowed his feelings of betrayal with Joseph to spill over into his encounter with Edem. He didn’t know how to redo it.
‘It’s been too long, Akwesi. Where have you been?’
Classic Grams, acting as if she doesn’t know what has happened. She had thankfully recovered from the stroke. Now she spoke a lot slower than she used to and walked with the help of a cane but other than that, she was back to being Grams.
‘Been around oo. I am sorry it took me so long to come see you.’
‘You came. That’s what matters.’
The door opened and they both turned to see Edem, entering the house.
‘Grams, I decided to work from home tod-‘
There was silence for what seemed like a decade but in reality, it was only a minute.
‘Yo! Wossup? You go chop kenkey and domedo?’, Edem asked, gesturing towards the bag he was holding.
‘Sure fam. Can’t leave you to get a potbelly on your own.’
Just like that, it was a new day.
Grams smiled at Edem and mouthed, ‘That’s my boy.’
This is not a drill. Please exit the building.
The automated voice kept repeating the warning.
Edem shut his rose gold MacBook and lifted the documents off the table. He kept the door open while the ladies rushed past him with their heels in their hands and slippers on their feet.
Is this by force? Wearing heels you can’t run in.
He shook his head as he hurried down the fire escape.
People had huddled together at the car park, looking up at the building. There was no sign of fire or smoke anywhere.
‘It must be a false alarm.’
‘Why do they keep doing this?’
‘They don’t pay me enough to be running down these stairs.’
That outburst from the size 16 woman in the office beneath theirs made everyone laugh. She was huffing and puffing like the proverbial wolf in the three little pigs story.
‘Ei Ewurade, my heart. Maybe I should join the boys for body twetwa exercises after work.’
This time, even Edem was laughing. Apparently body twetwa was what some of the girls called the boys who had ripped chests, with lines that could pass for meandering tributaries of a river.
One of the cars parked ahead of Edem was reversing towards him so he stepped backwards. He bumped into something. Or someone, judging from the soft gasp he heard.
‘I am so sorry.’
‘No, it’s my fault. I should have looked behind before moving.’
She smiled. Not that she needed to. Edem was already swooning.
‘Edem. Edem Afadzinu.’
‘I know. Baaba Hayford.’
‘You do?’ His eyes widened.
Her smile deepened. She was clearly enjoying this.
‘No, I am not a stalker. My cousin works in your office. You walked past her cubicle once and I asked her your name. Let’s just say I am good with names.’
‘Wait, how long ago was this? Coz I have been on leave for a while now.’
‘I did say I was good with names, didn’t I?’
‘Well, I was just wondering how I would have missed seeing you.’
Looks like the Akwasi in me has arisen.
Edem smiled quietly to himself. She was truly beautiful. Her hair was slightly curly and because she was sweating, a few strands had clung to her forehead. If there was ever a perfect nose, she was the one who had it. She also had a chinple, smack in the middle of her chin that deepened when she smiled. She was wearing a rose pink chiffon top with trousers that had nicely drawn out her hips and legs. She didn’t have heels on, her ballet pumps looked sensible and comfortable at the same time.
There was something else about her that he could not quite put his finger on. She wasn’t being coy or seductive. She was being blunt and mischievous. He liked it. He liked it a lot.
‘So you know we are going on a date soon, right?’
He took a leap of faith, waiting to see if she would reciprocate.
‘Depends on how soon soon is.’ The chinple deepened once again.
I like you Baaba. I like you a lot.
‘How about now? They can’t seem to locate the fire anyway.’
‘Oh right, the fire.’
She laughed. He laughed.
‘Now works just fine. I just need to tell my cousin.’
‘Just to be sure, you don’t work at PWC, neither do you plan on working there, right?’
‘No, I don’t.’
‘And you are not related to me either.’
Baaba laughed again.
‘I sense a story coming. But I don’t want to talk about exes on our first date. Wait, will there be another date?’
‘There most certainly will. And it is one heck of a story.’