“Have you heard about this ‘ello bae’ challenge that is trendy on instagram?” Justin walked into the living room. “One guy started the hashtag thing and it is going viral”
It was Tuesday evening, the sun was setting and the old AC finally seemed to be working. Everyone was back from work and were all relaxing in the living room. Even Priscilla whose perception of hanging out included a book in her lap was totally relaxed watching a movie with Maryam and Kevwe who were sitting on the three-seater. Tokunbo was engrossed in a novel and Matthew was playing his usual game of spider solitaire.
“What’s that one now?” Priscilla asked. She never was a fan of social media. She didn’t even have an instagram page. Her excuse, it didn’t work on her Blackberry phone and she had no plan of buying any android phone.
“One cool rapper like this started this challenge of sending your special one a funny but sweet message. You record it and post it and you get to win some prize, I think a dinner for two or so. The clips are too hilarious” Justin said laughing.
“I don’t follow popular people” Tokunbo said as he picked Justin’s phone to check the handle he spoke of, “and before you say I am hating it is not that I don’t like them but they flood my instagram page. So I’ll rather go search for them”.
“See my problem with android phones? Just be buying data every time, and I hear instagram drains your MB” Priscilla complained.
“Igbo girl” Kevwe laughed, “Valentine is really in the air. But the sweetest part is no elections, so all Kenny’s excuses are null and void” Kevwe said happily.
“If he has used the money meant for boo fa?” Maryam said laughing.
“He dare not. The wrath of Zeus will not compare to what I will unleash” Kevwe said.
“You are just a mean bully” Tokunbo teased.
“He likes me like that” Kevwe replied smiling. Looking around she asked “so all of una, what’s the plan now, what is happening for Val?”
It seemed like she had just asked a ‘don’t-go-there’ question because all of a sudden everyone seemed much more engrossed in what they were doing before. Kevwe started to laugh.
“Maryam how far? Where is smooth talking Ayomide taking you to?” Kevwe teased. Maryam ignored her.
“Toks you far? Any surprises for Teju?” Kevwe asked.
“Huh, you said” Tokunbo pretended not to have heard her well.
“Our latest lover boy” Kevwe faced Justin who had sat on the carpet beside Matthew, “where are you taking Miss prime and proper to?”
“Kevwe what plans do YOU have for Kenny?” Matthew asked interrupting Justin’s answer. Everyone looked up at Kevwe interested in her answer.
“Why you go turn am on me now Elder?” She said laughing uncomfortably.
“Shey you are asking all of us” Maryam said joined in.
“She didn’t ask me and Matthew oh” Priscilla quickly interjected, “by the way, I’ll be spending it trying to get fat. What can a single girl do right?” She said sounding a bit sarcastic.
“Haba I didn’t mean it like that now Pris” Kevwe said feeling bad.
“I know don’t mind me. Abeg if you all don’t have plans we could do a small party/barbecue. Get friends over and dance” Priscilla said.
“I don’t believe in Valentine and the whole couples must go over the moon to prove their love on that day” Tokunbo said quietly. “What happens to the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year? Shouldn’t love be shown constantly? Besides Teju is travelling”.
“Mide has not said anything. Funny we haven’t spoken in two days. Which is odd. He is always bugging my phone. Anyway we are not dating so I am not expecting anything and I will be working on Saturday sef” Maryam said without shifting her eyes from the television screen.
“I was planning on watching movies all day. It is going to be a completely free day for me. I don’t take my holidays lightly” Matthew said.
“Una just dey kill my vibe” Kevwe said. “The way you are all talking I’m afraid Kenny will be thinking along this lines. I better think of something special to do for Kenny”.
And so Valentine day came. . .
Maryam looked at the glass of chapman in her hand and shook her head. This Valentine day shaaaaaaa:-
The day started like any day. She woke up, met Kevwe in the kitchen drinking coffee. Made herself a cup of her fruit mixture, went back up to have her bath and prepare for work. But there was a plus, she was seeing Mide today. She tried to act normal in front of the others but inside she was super excited.
Ayomide had called two days ago to apologize for not being in touch. His office had sent him to inspect a damaged oil rig which was offshore. Communication was difficult till he had gotten back on dry land. He was on his way back to Abuja and she could only imagine what he had in store for her.
She had arrived the clinic and everyone smiled at her and greeted her warmly, too-warmly she thought. She wondered why till she got to her desk. A cake in form of a dog carrier was surrounded with roses. A card sat beside it, she hurriedly opened it amidst ooos and aaahs from the other female staff.
“Because you love animals….
Happy Val, Mide.”
She read it out and everyone said how sweet it was of him. She quickly called him but he didn’t pick. He sent a reply saying he was in a meeting but his second surprise should be with her at 12noon. The excitement only increased. She tried to focus on work but kept looking at the time. At exactly 12 noon a young lady walked in. She had 3bags. In each bag was a full outfit. Gowns, shoes, jewelry to match, from the labels designer stuff too. She was to pick one to wear for dinner with Mide. She quickly called him. He was in a hurry and hushed her about the expenses and encouraged her to pick one and be ready by 6pm. She picked a red gown and heels to go.
Her fellow workers were amazed. So was she. Saturdays where always half days so by 1pm she was on her way home. After gisting Priscilla and Maryam about her day, they helped her get ready for 6pm that was when he said he would come pick her up.
It was now 7.30pm…..
She rolled her eyes as Justin busted into yet another fit of laughter.
Valentine was one of Justin’s favorite days whenever he had money. Not because of all the love and cuddles and gifts and all but because he tried to outdo the previous year’s record of number of girls he took out and had his way with. A game, he and Otims started in their final year in school. Tokunbo refused to join saying it was a waste of time and money and an easy way to get an STD.
This year it was ….. ‘Complicated’. He had been so pre-occupied with all Kevwe’s drama and meeting Michelle that his normal ritual seemed unachievable. In truth he wasn’t looking forward to doing it despite all the taunts from Otims about being beaten this year and he only became more sure of it when he received a couple of text messages from two old flings about spending valentine with them. He didn’t reply.
He had woken up and stayed in his room playing video games for over two hours till Tokunbo had dragged him downstairs. He had met Michelle making breakfast for him in the kitchen. It was her surprise for him.
“Shey you said they told you to call me to cook for you now”
He remembered he had teased her some time back about what Kevwe had said. She had said it as a joke but Kevwe who was also present had given him the finger, for snitching she had said. Michelle knew how to cook. For the food really tasted good. He had spent his day with her and had forgot about Otims and their silly competition.
Towards evening she had made him take her and Priscilla out and also to the market to get the things for the impromptu barbecue, she had accused him of being stingy to the house despite the fact he was no longer unemployed. He laughed heartily as she and Priscilla teased him. Who knew Priscilla could be this much fun.
Priscilla had made up her mind she was going to enjoy Valentine and use it as an opportunity to add weight. After a stern warning from her mom who saw one of her pictures on facebook via her amebo sister (another reason she wasn’t a fan of social media) she had no choice.
She had woken up happy. She met Michelle in the kitchen who had come to surprise Justin. She always thought couple’s love was a sweet thing and was happy Justin had someone. So she volunteered to help Michelle. Kevwe came down and was surprisingly pleasant to Michelle and even took the joke about cooking from Michelle well. Or so Priscilla thought. She left the house early though, for ‘le boo’s house’ as she put it.
After much persuasion from Michelle despite her defense that she didn’t want to be a third wheel in their outing, she followed Justin and Michelle out but she seemed to have looked extra good or maybe it was the Val vibe, because a lot of guys made advances at her. One in particular asked for her number which Michelle bullied out of her and before they drove off in Matthew’s car back to the house he followed them and gave her a note. It read:
I would like you to be my Val next year. So you don’t say it is because of valentine, I’ll love to first take you to dinner sometime other than today. I hope you pick my call. Happy Val. IK.
She blushed all the way home as Michelle and Justin teased her. It was a fun day. As they got things ready in their favorite spot she felt joy. Looking around at how far she had come. Then her eyes fell on Tokunbo as he held Maryam’s hand.
Tokunbo had known his fate before the day had started so it was easy. Teju had a wedding to attend in Lagos, a childhood friend that was dear to her. He couldn’t argue since he knew he would kill Justin if he missed his wedding. He had taken her to the airport on Friday. He didn’t believe in the whole “go-red-crazy because it is valentine” vibe but it seemed necessary to at least show some affection, so while she was getting her tickets sorted, he slid in her favorite perfume, a box of chocolate, a rose and a card which read
“Not so crazy about Valentine but I’m sure crazy about you. Happy Val, Toks”
He had gone to work and Teju had called. She had been totally surprised at the gesture since he had repeatedly but codedly said he didn’t do valentine. She sounded so happy despite the fact he really didn’t do much. That gladdened his heart, it was this feeling he lived for, being appreciated, being able to touch in little ways. He watched as Maryam had come home all excited and it hurt him to see her this way now. No one liked being stood up. He stretched and held her hand. She smiled faintly.
Both he and Maryam turned towards the gate as the heard raised voices in an argument. Kevwe was home.
Kevwe had been planning this for a while now. It was why the fixing of the national elections really pissed her off. It was part of the reasons her and Kenny had been fighting these past weeks. But thankfully the government had got sense and shifted it. Today was going to be a rejuvenation of her relationship she thought to herself.
She had woken up feeling fresh. She came out to the living room to meet Michelle. No, no one was going to spoil her mood. She was pleasant and greeted her. Went for her cup of coffee, took her bath came back to meet Michelle in the kitchen, HER SANCTAURY. She kept her cool. Put the cake she had baked for Kenny in a foil paper and wrapped it. She even ignored Michelle’s sly comment and had to give Justin the finger in irritation. She left the house straight for Kenny’s place.
He was still sleeping so she let herself in. Made breakfast and went to his room. He smiled once she kissed him good morning and pulled her to himself. (Errrrm let’s just say he wasn’t opportune to eat the food LOL). After rumpling the sheets he took her shopping, when they came back they watched a movie together and then he gave her his present. She rushed to open it. It was a pair of high heeled boots, brown in colour. It was the same set of shoes she had seen when they went shopping but he said he couldn’t afford. She kissed him with gratitude and then gave him her present with the cake. It was a new suit. She could tell he loved it. He picked her and spun her round amidst laughter.
The day was going well till she said she had to go because Maryam had called. He was not happy but said he would drop her off. All she did was gist about the morning incident and Kenny flared up. Saying she spoke too much about Justin. Justin this. Justin that. She got defensive and in her usual manner went crazy which resulted in a heated argument. They had reached the house and where outside the car shouting. It got so heated that Kenny grabbed her and shook her hard.
It was the first time she was so glad to see Matthew.
Matthew’s idea of a good Valentine was to do something nice to someone who wasn’t expecting it. To put a smile on their face and let them know there is love in the world.
His day started with a game of Spider Solitaire. He was addicted. He had come down to the commotion in the kitchen. And after seeing Michelle and her gesture he decided to do his first act of love. He called Justin aside and offered him the car keys, told him it was his for the whole day. The smile and surprise on Justin’s face was like a full bowl of breakfast. He then took his bath and proceeded to sleeping for most of the morning. He woke up energized and decided to go get his second act of love.
On his way he stopped to visit his boss whose recovery was better. The man no longer needed crutches to walk. He was so glad to see Matthew he popped a bottle of an expensive wine just for the moment. Once it was evening Matthew headed home. All for him to drop from the cab and meet Kenny man-handling Kevwe.
“I think you should leave” Matthew said sternly to Kenny.
“I didn’t …. I was ….. Fine, I’ll leave” was all Kenny could said. He got into his car and drove off. Matthew hugged Kevwe. Just then the gate opened and heads popped out.
“Don’t say anything to them please” she whispered still shaking.
“Okay” he said kindly. He paid the taxi man and picked his things from the car. The others took Kevwe in.
As Matthew passed the gate man he gave him a handshake. “Musa well done oh. Here, use this to buy something for yourself”. A thousand Naira note moved from hand to hand.
gode oga” Musa said happily.
Matthew walked to where the private barbecue was going on.
“Hey guys” he said. “Hey” they all answered. He looked around and there was a mixture of expressions. Some were sad, others happy, yet other had the expression of controlled happiness.
“Some of you had a great day, some didn’t” Matthew said looking around “but let’s remember that we have life and we have each other. That said, happy Val” and without he passed on the gifts he had bought to each person. Even Michelle.
Shouts of “Elder”, “thanks Elder”, “so sweet of you Matthew” filled the air. As everyone was opening their presents, Maryam’s phone rang.
“Maryam….(static noise)… Maryam can you hear me” Ayomide’s voice was so shaky Maryam could hardly hear.
“Ayo, where are you? I can’t hear you well” Maryam said straining to hear.
“….. Maryam I’m sorr…. (static noise) ……ssssshh found out …… (static noice) ….. baby …. heading to the hospit….. will call as soon as i ca…… (more static noise).
****** ****** *******
Muyiwa blogs at htttp://abluntnigerian.wordpress.com
You can follow him on instagram/twitter – @mfadarated.