Greetings good people!
The story continues… happy trails.
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“So… tell me how you met this Jane?” Ekene asked clearing the table.
“Well…” Tobe began with a contemplative look on his face, “I did not meet her as much as we met each other”.
“What does that even mean?” Ekene asked with furrowed brows, “How una take talk reach level of suicide and operation kpa-kpa?”
“Well… the first words I said to her were ‘I’m sorry I saved your life’”
“Eh?!” Ekene’s eyes grew wide in shock at those words. “Juicy details… STAT!”
“Hais!!!” Tobe sighed in defeat. He hated telling incomplete stories, he knew only the beginning of this story – seeing as he only just met the girl – he had no idea how their story would play out. “Where to start?!”
“Oya bring back our wine na…”
“Sharrap and open the Castillo!”
The day began like any other third Thursday of every month for Tobe. He woke up in the morning and brushed up his teeth, said a thank you prayer, had his bath and hunted something to eat.
He wasted away most of his morning listening to the pitter-patter of semi-constant drizzle of raindrops on the roof as he surfed the net and chatted with his editor who was also his manager. He had a manuscript that he had been working on for nearly five months and while he was almost done, he felt it was missing something important. He did not know what; he just felt it was missing something.
At a few minutes past 10am, he made his way to the Samsara Specialist Hospital, Jabi. Armed with a red umbrella and his authentic leather satchel that contained his journal where he recorded ideas for his myriad stories and poems and his schedules as well as his Samsung tablet, he walked into the hospital with a bright smile as he dodged the puddles of water that percolated in little pockets along the uneven drive-way of the hospital, but what did he care. He had an appointment with a beautiful woman who made him remember the good times.
As Tobe slowly made his way into the hospital, a certain dark skinned lady with a bright pink punk hair cut, which was covered at the moment with a black beret, sat before an elderly doctor who held a few result slips and the girl could tell from the way he held his face – that sour pout that bring to mind the not-so-awesome taste of garlic and ginger juice – that he had nothing good to say.
“That bad, huh?” She asked with great indifference that was more worrisome to the elderly doctor than it was shocking.
“Err… Jane. I don’t know how to say this, but it seems we would have to schedule more tests and find out the true source of the… where are you going?”
She merely sighed and gathered her gold and black clutch and phone from the table and walked out of the doctor’s office, ignoring his attempts to call her back into his office. She already knew the results of her tests; she merely needed to confirm what she was fairly certain of. There was no need for further tests; this was not her first rodeo. She had no intentions to complicate issues any more than was necessary.
She wore a white mens’ office shirt tucked into black high-waist jeans which she held up with a black and gold cross-belt. It was a retro 80’s look but her fleshy – to the point of almost chubby – yet curvy five foot-eight inches frame brought her get-up to life. She walked with her head held high and her steps seemed determined like she had made up her mind about something that she had been contemplating for a while.
Tobe, at this, point was seated across from the beautiful Dr. Ebere who was more of a friend to him than his specialist; and though she learned to smile and tease her witty patient who only came to the hospital to fulfill all righteousness, she grew more and more worried by the state of his deteriorating medical condition. She was even more worried by his total lack of worry and care at the gravity of his condition. It was not that he was not bothered; she understood that he did not care what happened to him anymore.
Perish or not, he left his life in the hand of his Maker.
Dr. Ebere had done all within her power to change his way of thinking, tried to get him more invested in the pursuit of his cure and miracle. He was, however, largely disinterested in anything that demanded more than a few moments thought; he was tired of the fighting already and Dr Ebere felt heartbroken that such a young man with so much to give the world was giving up on the world at such a young age.
She had gone through the motions of taking his vitals and taking the necessary samples, the same samples she took only a month ago; they had to keep taking them, there was nothing else she could do to help him if he would not accept to take the new treatments she had been studying up on. Less than an hour after he walked into her office, he left with a smile that the beautiful doctor thought was as plastic as the bouquet of plastic and cloth flowers on her office table.
“At least try to iron your clothes”, she said as he walked out the door to which he responded with a careless shrug. Dr Ebere could only shake her head at the state of one of the most intellectual people she had ever met in her life.
“God… if you have a plan in all this, then show your hand soon. Please!”
While the beautiful doctor said her silent prayers, the pink haired beauty stood by the busy Jabi expressway, watching the speeding cars that zipped past her on their merry way to only God know where. When she was younger, she had always wondered why adults always seemed to be in a hurry even when they were not truly busy.
While she did not bother her mind with such nonsensical thoughts anymore, she still loved to guess how urgent a driver’s needs were by the speed of his car. It was a waste of thought power, but it was a good way to pass the time until her chariot arrived.
Sometimes, she would go as far as creating a whole life for the drivers behind the steering wheels, giving them wives who were either in labour, or mistresses who was waiting for them in some clandestine rendezvous point while sending threads of tantalizing nude pictures to torment the poor hormonal fellow who was about to lose his mind with urgency. One time she gave a fellow a broken appendix and he was speeding his way to the hospital in spite of the debilitating pain he was going through.
As she stood there creating lives for the swiftest cars that zipped past her, she ignored all the hungry eyes that stared at her, some even seemed to strip her of her clothes as they objectified her. She could not be bothered by flies at the moment. She always had a pretty face and a good body, she always knew she was attractive to a certain brand of men (which most Nigerian men fell into that class of curvy-chubby chasers), but she never really found men interesting. They almost always ever wanted one thing from a woman with a body like hers and she had no interest in men at the moment, she had not felt any such interests in years.
“Ah! My chariot is here”, she said aloud as she took a step towards the edge of the pedestrian walk.
Tobe, who was making his way to the bus-stop just beyond the hospital gate, still had a smile plastered to his face. He swung his umbrella in his left hand, holding it in the middle of its clothed length watching in slight amusement as the hooked handle danced before him with every step he took, his senses were greatly tickled as he watched the glossy brown of the plastic handle catch the weak light of the sun that had finally peeked out from behind the curtains of grey clouds.
His thoughts were on the vicissitudes of life and how all things change in time.
He thought back to the time when he was sure he was going to be a lawyer, how he and his brother, Obieze, made plans of conquering the world and effecting a change in Nigeria that was already in a steady state of decline at the time. He remembered a time when there security and stability and opportunity was very common-place in the country though it came with the yoke of military rulers.
Tobe felt they were the kind of leaders Nigerians need. These incompetent politicians and their foolish and childish attempt at politics were painful to watch and he knew Nigerians suffered even worse from the folly of their leaders.
Not that he cared anymore, he just thought back to the time when he did, when his brother was still alive and he yet knew joy.
His train of thoughts was derailed by the unexpected vibration of his phone in his pocket which startled him so much that he jerked his umbrella totting arm so far and so hard that it hooked into the black and gold cross-belt of a pink haired, beret wearing lady who seemed poised to cross the road at the very instant his umbrella got hooked onto her belt.
As he returned his arms to his side, he, without knowing it, pulled the lady who was dressed in a white mens’ shirt and black high waist jeans back and away from the road, just in time for a heavy-duty truck to thunder past the duo who fell over each other, one for loss of balance, the other in an attempt to catch the victim of his startled jerk from falling onto the muddy floor.
“NOOOO!!!” the pink haired lady cried in anguish.
“I’m sorry!” Tobe said in a low voice as he looked from the lady beneath him on the ground and at the truck that just sped past her only moments ago and then back to her. “I’m so so so sorry!!!”
He leapt to his feet, helping her stand up as he pulled a white handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to the pink-haired lady who had a defeated look on her brows.
“I’m very sorry; I didn’t mean to do that”.
“It’s ok”, she said as she took the offered piece of cloth to clean what she could off the mud-stains on her body. “I guess today is not my day”.
“I swear…” Tobe continued, “I didn’t mean to stop you”.
“What do you mean?” she asked with a confused look in her eyes.
“I didn’t mean to”, Tobe began, “I don’t know what you are going through for you to consider hugging that truck… literally” Tobe paused as he made an awkward hugging gesture with an umbrella in one hand, “but I did not meant to stop you”.
“…” She was stunned into silence at his words. “What are you talking about?”
“I, of all people, should know better than anyone how tiring this life is. I know how difficult it is to convince oneself to take one’s life, I know how much courage and bravery it takes to let it all go and cut your losses…” Tobe said with a serious expression on his face. “I am sorry I saved your life”.
“If what you say is true, and you stopped me from killing myself, shouldn’t you be trying to stop me from making another attempt?” she asked with a raised brow, returning his soiled handkerchief.
“Why would I wanna do that?” he asked with equally raised brow, accepting the proffered handkerchief, nonchalantly tossing it over his shoulder.
“Every time I consider calling it quits as you just did, I somehow manage to talk myself out of it within minutes. If and when I can’t talk myself out of it, I somehow – always – end up in a position where something important needs to be accomplished before I can do the deed and by the time that’s done, I no longer have the strength of heart to go through with it!”
Tobe said it all in one breath, which caused him to draw in a huge breath at the end of his little speech. He did not let the pink haired beauty, who had lost her beret in the little tumble in the mud, speak before he continued.
“To think that I would be clumsy enough to obstruct someone who had gone through all the gruelling process of making up her mind to carrying out the final act… I feel so terrible” He held his hands to his chest with a contrite and repentant look on his face. “I’m truly sorry!”
“Insane…” The pink haired girl found herself chuckling at the seamless flow of apology that flowed from the lips of the fair-skinned, heavily bearded and handsome stranger who had dragged her away from her chariot of choice – a heavy duty truck – and thereby interrupted her planned meeting with Anubis, the guardian of the underworld. She felt a bit relieved that she was not dead and somewhat terrified at the thought of what she very nearly did minutes ago.
With a heavy sigh, she stretched out her right hand to greet her handsome saviour, “Jane”.
“Insane Jane…” Tobe responded with a lopsided smile, “Interesting… I am Tobe”, smiling as he shook her soft hands. His smile grew deeper as her eyes flew open at the name he called her.
“Well, if you really wanna apologise to me, take me somewhere nice and feed me… I’ll consider our accounts settled if I am pleased by your peace offerings”. She said as she looked around for her beret.
“How about we start by getting you home first so you can change your clothes, it’s quite the mess you’ve got back there”. He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head as he spoke, there was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he took an eyeful of her generous derriere.
“Why does that sound like a compliment?” She asked with a false glare.
“If you feel so then you are welcome…”
They shared a laugh as he hailed a cab and made their way to Coldstone where they spent most of their afternoon.
To be continued