There was nothing as good as a game of spider solitaire to while away time thought Matthew as he sat in the waiting area of the hospital playing with his phone and wondering what exactly was taking so long? Where was this doctor now? He had no plans to stay in this hospital all night.
It had been a long day. He shook his head as he thought of his cousin. Maryam was so dramatic. She didn’t even let him finish before she hung up. He had been trying repeatedly to call her back but to no avail. Whether it was because she was to scared or too worried to pick, he couldn’t tell. He was sure of one thing though, they were on their way.
It had all started as he left the bank to pick up some documents from his car. It was almost 4pm and he knew he would not be done till maybe 6pm so he decided to cross the tee-junction to the mallam who set up shop selling Suya (locally barbequed meat) just across the bank and buy some to aid his spirit as he worked. As he spoke to the mallam he mentally calculated that there was no way his co-workers would let him be once they perceive the aroma of the suya and decided to buy five sticks instead.
A long screech, a loud bang and collusion of metal against metal ……. it all happened so fast. Matthew turn sharply just as he was about to pay the man. Looking in the direction of the noise he saw a truck had ran into a car which seemed to be turning into the road that lead to the bank. He forgot what he went to get and started jogging towards the carnage. His pace quickened when he realized it was one of the bank’s official vehicles. Getting close he saw his boss and a driver in the car, his boss out cold and the driver disillusioned with blood trickling down his ear. Quickly he signaled to the security guards who came to help. Thank God for kind by-standers; in less than five minutes they had got them out and had a second car from the bank drive them to the hospital. The driver had a concussion and a cut under his ear which was stitched and he was sent home to rest but Matthew’s boss had been with the doctor for long. All they had told him was he had a severe fracture on his leg.
It was almost 9pm now and although he felt sorry for the man, he wanted to go home. Baby sitting or not, his boss would have his head on a pike if he wasn’t at work prompt and early tomorrow. Matthew had called the family but they had not come back from their holiday trip. He wasn’t happy about the accident but hopped it would have a positive impact on his boss.
“MATTHEW!!!” Matthew raised his head from his phone screen as he heard the familiar voice of his cousin.
“Hey!! Hey you!!! EXCUSE ME!!!” a high pitched voice called. Maryam was already half way to where Matthew sat, the rest just entering; when she heard the rude call. One of the nurses on duty at the reception desk was looking at her irritably. She stopped and turned.
“Yes” Maryam answered confused.
“Don’t you know this is a hospital” the nurse said sharply in a thick Igbo accent. “You don’t know you shouldn’t shout like that? There are patients here” the other nurse giggled like a child.
“Oh sorr…..” Maryam started to apologize still confused.
“Come oh, see this one oh” from behind Maryam, Kevwe spoke up to the nurse. “Is something wrong with you? Is that how you speak to people that come to the hospital?”
The nurse was taken aback not expecting Kevwe’s outburst.
“What do you mean, didn’t you see …….” the nurse started, trying to get back control of the confrontation but Kevwe quickly cut her short.
“Something is definitely wrong with you” Kevwe said walking towards the reception desk. Maryam covered his face, Priscilla, Tokunbo and Justin smiled in anticipation, they knew this nurse had just bought trouble.
“So someone who thought her cousin was in a car accident, injured maybe even dying finds him whole and hearty and she exclaim with joy? Which planet are you from? And which patients are here?” She said looking around at the scanty waiting hall.
“This is not the emergency ward or the ICU so what is your problem? Abi do you go into the theater and tell delivering mothers to keep their voice down too?” Kevwe asked sarcastically, her voice rising.
The nurse’s former arrogance must have gone into hiding because she wasn’t looking so bold any more.
“Errm…. I didn’t mean …. But …. I didn’t ……” the nurse stuttered.
“You didn’t think. You and your mebo friend were looking for who to use and entertain abi?” Kevwe asked, she was now facing the two nurse. Just then an older nurse walked out of a small office.
“What is going on here please” she said very professionally.
“It’s this girl oh. We were just happy to see our friend and she just attacked us rudely” Kevwe stated.
“Errm, matron they were ….” the nurse started to explain.
“AGAIN NKECHI!!! How many people will complain about you in this hospital?” The matron said. Turning to Kevwe and Maryam she said “please I apologize for her bad behaviour”.
“Thank you ma” Maryam quickly said before Kevwe thought of something else to put on the girl. “Kevwe oya lets go” she said pulling her friend who gave the nurse a nasty look.
“KEVWE!!!!” Matthew hailed as Maryam hugged him “you must show yourself shaaa” he said to Kevwe.
“I tire oh” Tokunbo said laughing. “But the nurse deserved it sha. What’s her beef?”
“Abi. See what the matron said now. Na people like her if you leave they will want to form using power on your head. Abeggi” Kevwe rolled her eyes and waved her hand as if dismissing the topic. “And you, you gave us a scare” she pointed at Matthew.
“Don’t mind Maryam oh” Matthew said.
“Me? You told me you guys had an accident and you were heading to the hospital” Maryam said defensively.
“I said our car was involved in an accident and I was heading to the hospital with my boss and the driver for their treatment and I won’t be coming home in time” Matthew said.
“I didn’t hear that part oh” Maryam said.
“Because you hung up now. And where is your phone, been calling like forever” Matthew laughed at his cousin as he watched her search her jeans pocket.
“Arrgh I must have dropped it in the house in the rush to get here” Maryam said feeling stupid.
“I am safe and that’s what matters” Matthew said trying to console Maryam as he hugged her “the driver just needed stitches but oga’s own is bad. They said he has a sever fracture and they have been with him ever since”.
“Oboy thank God everyone is safe oh, and that na company car not our own oh” Justin said absent mindedly.
“JUSTIN!!!” Tokunbo, Priscilla and Maryam called out.
“Wetin na? We were all thinking it, I just said it out loud” he said defensively. Matthew laughed.
“The car is fine” Matthew patted his back “but it is parked in the bank. So it’s a drop cab we will take back home. Let me get feedback from the doctor and we can leave” he said and left the group to speak with nurse Nkechi.
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“Take AM!!! Your fada!!!” Justin screamed passionately. He was always like that when he was gaming especially when it was Gears of War.
“Dude calm down and cover me” Matthew said. He was playing two player game with Justin. They had moved the PlayStation 3 console down stairs to the living room to take advantage of the big screen. Living with Tokunbo and Justin had made Matthew loosen up and ‘live a little’ like Justin put it.
“I got him boss” Justin replied like a diligent sergeant as he controlled his character towards the unfortunate victim and wasted a magazine on him.
It was a calm Saturday. Matthew had gone for his routine check up on his boss who was recuperating well and whose attitude had changed it seemed. The man was not as bothered about work and if everyone was doing their job as Matthew thought he would. He seemed more calm and appreciative of everything. Matthew finally met his wife who was a fun, simple woman. It was always matchups like this that made him wonder how people tend to hook up with men like his boss. Justin had been so excited all week. He had gone shopping, washed, and ironed his clothes as he was to start work the coming Monday. He had followed Matthew today. Said he was feeling nice.
Priscilla who had been bent over a note book and her laptop since morning working on the next lesson for her class, had been fighting hard to concentrate since they started their game.
“Can you guys please keep it down? Creating a lesson is one of the toughest things to do as a teacher” she said pushing up her reading glasses as she looked at them.
“Sorry” the guys chorused. They both looked at each other and burst out laughing. Then a growling sound came from Matthew’s stomach.
“Oboy, am famished. Did Kevwe or anybody cook?” Matthew asked looking at Justin.
“Guy like seriously? Why na me you go ask?” Justin inquired.
“Chill dude. You need to let it go. She was wrong, we made her know. Let’s move on” Matthew said, turning to Priscilla he asked “Pris, did Kevwe make anything?”
“Just because she helps run a restaurant and loves cooking doesn’t necessarily mean she is to always cook oh” Priscilla said without raising her head. Matthew gave up. Dropping the game pad he laid on the floor.
Justin chuckled. He knew that feeling. His mind fell on what Matthew had said earlier on. To be honest he really didn’t hold anything against Kevwe, he just didn’t feel like settling, but maybe Matthew was right, he might as well let it go.
Just then the main door opened and in came Tokunbo closely followed by Maryam.
“Toks give it a rest” Maryam said. They obviously had been discussing something outside.
“Oh please. What was she feeling like? Na una dey shout ‘be a gentleman’, then one makes an effort and it is thrown back in his face” Tokunbo said bitterly. Justin, Matthew and Pricilla had now turned facing both of them. Their aproko (gossip) antennas were on high alert.
Tokunbo noticed and turned “and why are you guys all looking at me” he said a bit too rudely.
“And a good evening to you too Mr. Na-me-vex-pass” Priscilla retorted. Justin and Matthew turned on surprise at her reply. Nudging Matthew, Justin said “I’m starting to like this babe oh. Thought she was the quiet type”.
Priscilla wasn’t done. “It will be nice to calm down. I hate when people transfer aggression” she said then fixing her glasses again, she went back to her work. Even Maryam had her mouth hanging.
“Bro why the vexing now?” Justin broke the awkward silence that had crept in. “Thought you were supposed to be happy after your romantic first date” Justin said smiling sheepishly as he put emphasis on the ‘romantic’ part.Tokunbo had recently met ignited some emotional connection with a college and they had just gone on their first date.
Tokunbo took a deep breath and sat down.
“I’m sorry for my outburst people. Pris don’t be offended. I hate TOA (Transfer Of Aggression) too” Tokunbo said. “Just that this babe just got on my nerve”.
“What happened?” Justin said ignoring the apology.
“I took this young lady out oh” Tokunbo started.
“She has a name dude. Be nice” Maryam scolded as she left the living room to drop her things.
“Don’t start abeg” Tokunbo said, Maryam snorted at him jokingly. “We were having fun oh till it was time to pay the bill. I removed my wallet, she ma open purse. Imagine, she insisted on paying”.
“So how did you handle it” Matthew who had been quiet now spoke up.
“Thinking it was all this ‘test’ thing, I insisted I should pay” Tokunbo said.
“Then what went wrong?” asked Justin.
“She got pissed oh. That what is wrong if she pays? I became confused. When did ladies in this country ever want to pay the bills?” Tokunbo asked, “At the end we had to split the bill and left in silence” he ended.
Maryam came back in as he ended and added “met him on the way home from the saloon and he has been yapping ever since”.
“But who should pay the bills?” Matthew asked. As if on cue, Justin sat up. He knew when debate was stirring up and Matthew had just stirred one up.
“I feel a proper gentleman should…” Priscilla said from the dinning as she smiled at Tokunbo in admiration. He smiled back. “… But I always carry ‘if he can’t’ money sha” Priscilla finished her statement.
“Huh?” Justin sat up with a puzzled look.
“Yes now. Nna (friend) if he can’t pay, I’ll pay. I don’t like embarrassment biko (please)” Priscilla said. They all laughed.
“Me, I see nothing wrong in what the babe did oh. 50-50 things. Both of you are working, both of you be paying. If it was me in my unemployed state, I for leave her to pay all sef” Justin said.
“You are just a cheapee” Maryam said shaking her head. How you get girls the way you do still baffles me”.
Justin grinned “by my fascinating charm my darling” he said.
“I pity you” Maryam replied back. “I feel there is nothing wrong in mixing it. Definitely courtesy demands that the guy offers to pay but sometimes we girls don’t want you guys feeling we depend on you”.
“Even when I appreciate your offer but tell you it is my treat? And I thought it was men that had the ego” Tokunbo said.
“If you did that then she didn’t try and it’s her loss” Priscilla said a bit too quickly. And bent over her notes almost as quickly.
“See Toks it was your first date, she doesn’t know you so well” Maryam said.
“With such attitude it might be our last” Tokunbo said.
“I smell friend zoning in the air” Justin said looking everywhere except at Tokunbo.
“Abi, his usual tactic” Maryam said with a bit of bitterness in her voice. “Oya since you want to spend money go and buy pizza for us, I saw the schedule of DSTV earlier, Best Man Holiday will soon start. We could do pizza and movie” Maryam said innocently at Tokunbo.
“Ain’t down for no chick flick” Justin said getting up heading to the door “Toks make we go, I go branch for Otims side collect my watch”.
Opening the door to the cold harmattan evening he came face to face with Kevwe.
“Hi” Kevwe said bluntly.
“Hi” Justin said awkwardly. Trying to get out of the way he moved left but so did she, trying to move right to avoid her but she did same again.
“Sorry” he said and stepped aside. She looked at him for some seconds as she passed and he noticed tears then she quickly walked away saying brief hellos to everyone and heading to her room. Before he could process it Tokunbo was beside him and they headed out.
. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .
Justin woke up. A quiet snore came from the second mattress across the room. Tokunbo was fast asleep. He threw his blanket and the harmattan winds bit into his exposed chest. He was not bothered about the weather. No doubt, his secondary school days with Tokunbo had contributed to it. In a military boarding school you needed to be tough. Justin got up and wandered downstairs with the aim of getting a cup of water before going back to bed. Before switching on the light in the living room, he noticed the kitchen lights were already on. Who was having a night cap?
He opened the kitchen door and there, sitting beside a bottle of groundnuts and a can of Snapps was Kevwe.
“Awkward” Justin shouted in his head. He wished he could rewind himself back to his bed. He wasn’t in the mood for her at all.
“Hey” Kevwe said cutting into his thoughts. “You plan on standing there all night?” He noticed he had been standing since he opened the door. Quickly he walked in and headed to the fridge which was beside the high stool she sat on.
She went back to her drink backing him. He took a bottle of water, closed the fridge, poured a cup, and leaning no the counter started to drink. As he did he noticed three more cans of Snaaps in the trash can. Interesting.
“Can’t you drink any quieter?” Kevwe said “I can hear the gulps”.
His first instincts was to react but frankly he was not in the mood, he didn’t have her strength. He poured the water left in the cup in the sink and turned to replace the bottle back in the fridge.
“See Justin am sorry” Kevwe said still not turning to face him. “I said some hurtful things and am sorry. I can be picky and bossy…” she started
“…. and annoying” Justin added stepping back. She didn’t react. He thought he even heard a faint giggle.
“Yeah and annoying” Kevwe said and then she stood up to face him. She had tears in her eyes. “But I am sorry” she said. And before he knew what was happening she reached up and kissed him, full on the mouth. Then she walked away.
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