Chioma looked very peaceful as she lay on her bed in her small, yet neat and beautifully decorated bedroom. The chirping of the birds just by her window and the rays of the sun that fell on her beautiful oval face, down her petite body, served as no disruption to the smooth flow of her sleep. The knock on her bedroom door and the ensuing sound of her mother’s footsteps as she walked into her room could not interrupt her sleep either. She was soundly and happily asleep.
Mrs. Okolie looked at how Chioma lay all too comfortably in bed at 7:20 in the morning and frowned. Sleeping was the last thing she expected Chioma to be doing.
She shook her head and sat beside her on the bed, the weight of her big buttocks dispelling the air that once occupied the inside of the mattress and flattening it by some inches. She wanted to tap Chioma gently but Chioma, smiling in her sleep and turning her back to her, obviously enjoying her sleep, got her angry. With the heavy hit of her right hand on Chioma’s back, she jolted her out of dreamland.
“For goodness sake mummy!” Chioma frowned as she sat up, rubbing her back. The after effect of the slap she received on her back made her feel as though hot pepper had been poured on it. “Why did you hit me like that?”
“Is that your ‘good morning?’” Mrs. Okolie asked
“Good morning,” Chioma sulked
“Will you get out of bed now before you see my red eyes?” Mrs. Okolie shouted
“Get up for what? What’s happening today?” she asked lazily scratching her chin
“Won’t you go to work today? Just take a look at the time, it’s almost seven-thirty”
Chioma’s jaw dropped when she realized she was already late for work. She quickly yanked her blanket off her body and made to get out of bed to have her bath but her mother stopped her.
“You’ve not said good morning to God yet young lady,”
“Mummy I’m already late. I will pray in the bathroom,”
“You should have woken up earlier,”
”Why didn’t you wake me up early enough?”
“You’re blaming me now? When I asked you to stop pinging and Whatsapping at 11 p.m. yesterday, what did you tell me? Only God knows what time you slept,”
“Mummy it’s not whatsapping. Just say texting,”
“Bia Chioma did you just call me an illiterate?”
Oh my days! Chioma said to herself wondering when she called her mother an illiterate.
“Okay I’m sorry mum, it’s my fault I woke up late. Can I go and have my bath now?”
“Nwa m you’re free to do whatever you like but just know that you wouldn’t have woken up this morning if that God you refused to thank didn’t wake you up,”
Chioma shook her head. Her mother had always been like this, she knew exactly what to say to make her do the right thing. She closed her eyes in that spot and said a prayer, thanking God for waking her up and asked that her supervisor would not get angry at her for being late.
“Let me excuse myself while you get ready for work,” her mother said and left the room.
It was 7:47 a.m. when Chioma was done bathing. By the time she was done getting dressed, it was already 8:05 a.m. Making a decision to board a BRT to avoid any hold up, she left the house and headed for Stadium bus stop, Surulere.
Bode Olufemi was having a fine morning. Nothing could make him feel bad especially on this special day. It was October 28, the day he clocked 30 and the day he’d also get the answer that would change his life for better. He smiled at the thought of that and sipped coffee from his favorite mug.
He’d written in his diary his plans for the day and he was ready to follow through with them. His first stop would be George’s Aid, a hospital in the Lekki environs which boasted of a private facility that offered on premise and home healthcare services to its clients. Jide George, an older friend from the university, who he ran into over the weekend at Ikeja City Mall had established the hospital after his return from the UK a little over two years ago. He was doing quite well with his establishment and he really wanted Bode to come visit him at the hospital that morning. Bode had gladly accepted the invite.
His next stop would be Seun’s workplace in Victoria Island. His office was a stone throw from hers so it would be no stress for him. It was her birthday too and he really wanted to surprise her. He was going to sweep her off her feet with what he’d planned for her. He smiled.
His phone rang from the living room, interrupting his thoughts. That must be Seun, he thought as he walked to the living room from the kitchen where he’d been standing, to get his phone. He hadn’t heard from her all morning. He called her a couple of times when he woke up but she didn’t answer any of his calls. He hoped she was the one calling him. Maybe she has read my birthday wish to her this morning. He picked his phone so see the caller ID. He frowned. His network provider was at it again with their incessant call adverts.
“Nothing can make me feel bad,” he said and sipped more coffee “I’ll just pretend that didn’t just happen. My day is going to be lit”
“Hey man, what’s up?” Soji greeted as he walked into Demola’s office.
“Hi,” Demola responded flatly. He wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, the news he received the night before troubled him.
“Would you be attending Bode’s dinner today?” Soji asked ignoring Demola’s countenance
“Should that even be a question? We’re talking about my best friend here,”
“Baba no vex,” Soji said switching to Nigerian pidgin “I just wanted to be sure. My car is bad and I was thinking of tagging along”
“There’s no problem” Demola sat up in his chair “Just make sure you’re ready when I am”
“Yeah sure. I have no other choice”
“Have you heard from Bode yet? I haven’t seen him all morning”
“He called to tell me he’ll be running late. He said he needs to be at two places of importance to him before coming to the office”
“Oh I see”
“Even though he’s our friend, he’s also our boss. We have no say over where he goes”
“You’re funny,” Soji laughed “Let me get back to work now, I’ll see you later” Soji said and left Demola’s office.
The queue at the bus station was quite long. Chioma couldn’t believe her day was going the way it was going. She wanted to cry knowing that her supervisor was lateness intolerant. Why did I wake up late? She asked herself. She was at the end of the line and there was no hope of her getting into the first BRT that would arrive. She took a decision to call an Uber, she wasn’t ready to board a danfo.
Crossing over to the other side of the road, Chioma opened her bag and took out her phone to call her supervisor first. She scrolled through her contact list for her supervisor’s number and as she made to dial it, a car splashed muddy water on her clothes.
“What in the world!” She screamed in annoyance. “Why would anyone add this to my worries?”
The driver, realizing what he had done, quickly reversed and got out of the car to apologize to the lady he splashed water on. “I’m really sorry Miss, It was a mistake,” he apologized
“Mistake?” Chioma’s fair face reddened in anger as she screamed at the driver. “I woke up late for work, the bus stop is filled with a myriad of people and there’s no BRT in sight and you decided out of all the million things you can do in this world to splash water on me? God, what is this?”
“Can I give you a ride back home so you can change your clothes? Please,” he begged, scared that Chioma would slap him at any moment.
Chioma stopped talking and examined the young man standing before her. He was well shaven and smelled good. His perfume had to be one of the expensive kind. The grey suit he was wearing sat well on his obviously well-built body. His black brogues shone in the sun and Chioma felt she could actually see her face in them.
“Can I give you a ride back home if you don’t mind?” he asked again
“Sure, do you have a choice?”
“Oh no, I don’t.” He laughed “Let’s get going, I’m also late for a meeting,”
She rolled her eyes.
“Okay, I shouldn’t have said that,” he smiled
“You standing there and smiling at me won’t get me home,”
“Yeah. You’re right,” he said and opened the car door for her to get in.
“You’re going to drop me off at my house and leave immediately, is that clear?” she said in a commanding tone and got into his car.
“Yes ma’am,” he smiled again
Chioma scrolled through her contact list again and dialed her boss’s number. She got to him at the first dial and explained what happened. She smiled when the conversation was over–she had been given the permission to be late. Part of her thanked the stranger knowing it would have been worse for her if he hadn’t splashed muddy water on her.
“So where are we headed?” the man asked after the call, interrupting her moment of joy
“Masha in Surulere. You know where that is?”
“Good, I stay on Fadeyi Street. I’ll direct you to my house once we get to my street”
“Okay.” He said and started the car
Chioma looked at the man again and felt bad at the way she reacted. He had obviously gone out of his way to take her back home. How many people would do that? She wondered
“Thanks for offering to take me back home. Other people would have zoomed off,”
“Well I’m not other people.”
“I’m also sorry for screaming at you. That must have been embarrassing,”
“It’s okay, I understand” Nothing could make him feel bad
“I’m Chioma,” she said, flashing a smile
“Hi Chioma, I’m Bode” he smiled back at her “nice to meet you”
Bode Olufemi parked his car into the only space left in the parking lot of JeddEnt, a leading information security company in Victoria Island, Lagos. He turned off the ignition and looked at the time from his wristwatch. It was already past twelve. He had hoped to get to JeddEnt before noon but as it turned out, he had to make a change of course after accidentally splashing dirty water on a lady while he was en route to Jide’s hospital. He got out of the car and took out a gift pack from the back seat of his car and walked into the building.
“Good morning,” he greeted the front desk officer
“Good morning sir, how can I help you?” she asked with a smile
“You’re new here,” he noticed
“Yes, I am.”
“That’s good. Well I’m here to see Seun Abe, is she on seat?”
“Do you have an appointment with her?”
“Okay. Let me call her office” she said and dialed Seun’s office.
“Hello,” a lady in Seun’s office greeted
“Hello, there’s someone here to see Miss Seun”
“Hold on, let me get her” the lady said and called Seun to the intercom
“Hello,” Seun greeted
“Hello Miss Seun, there’s a man here to see you”
“What’s his name?”
“His name is err…” She looked to Bode for an answer
“Bode Olufemi,” Bode told her
“Bode Olufemi,” she repeated
“Okay, send him up”
“Alright ma,” she said and ended the call “Do you know your way to her office?”
“Yes, I do”
“Okay, here’s a visitor’s tag. Please wear it and sign in here” she handed him a log book
“Thank you,” he said and took the elevator to the third floor where Seun’s office was.
Seun heaved a sigh but it wasn’t that of relief. Hearing that Bode was in the building had stirred a flood of fear and guilt in her. Does Bode know what Demola and I did? She wondered as she buried her head in her palms for a few seconds. Even if he doesn’t know, how do I face him?
He called her a number of times that morning but she had intentionally missed his calls. She knew it was their birthday but she couldn’t bear talking to him, not after the news she got the night before. She raised her head and said a little prayer in her heart before walking to the elevator to wait for him.
“Hey babe,” she greeted when the elevator door opened.
“Happy birthday baby,” he handed her the gift pack and kissed her forehead
“You didn’t tell me you were coming,”
“If you hadn’t missed my calls this morning, you would have known I would be here today”
“You don’t need to apologize. You were busy, I understand,” he said making an excuse for her
Seun smiled and led him to the visitor’s lounge “Happy birthday Bode, sorry I’m just saying this”
“It’s fine. I came here not to judge you but for a different and special purpose”
“Really?” she raised her brows, the guilt she felt earlier slowly dissipating
“I came all the way to let you know that I love you Seun and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You are everything to me and more. You see, from the day we first met, a different and amazing chapter of my life got opened and I want us to write the next chapter together.” He paused. “I know this is the least romantic place to do this but permit my actions”
“Bode?” she said his name as he went on one knee.
Bode smiled at her reaction and took out the beautiful, white gold engagement ring he bought her from his pocket. Raising the ring, he asked “Will you marry me Seun?”
God what do I do? What on earth have I gotten myself into?
“You’re not saying anything Seun,” Bode smiled in impatient expectation
“Yes Bode, yes I’ll marry you” she forced a smile and stretched her left hand so he could put the ring on her finger.
“For a second I thought you’d say no”
“Why would I?”
“I know you won’t,” He got up and pulled back a stray strand of hair from her face making her blush. Looking at her at that moment felt like he had the world in his hands. He was ecstatic. He was delighted. He was psyched. He had gotten the answer that would change his life for the best. Truly, he was having a fine day. “I’ll pick you up after close of work for the dinner tonight. I should let you get back to work now”
“I’ll be expecting you.” She said admiring the ring
“Bye love” he said kissing her forehead again before walking out of the visitor’s lounge
“Bye Bode” she said as she watched him leave. When she was sure he had gotten into the elevator, she placed both hands on her head and said in a low tone “God, I’m finally done for”
Thank you for reading!