Ola packed his bag and baggage and said goodbye to the town of Ijebu Ode. The mini city that had been his home for the last for years. The town where he had learnt and achieved a lot. He had previously sent most of his belongings to his mother’s place. He had with him only those he would need at the NYSC orientation camp in Iyana Ipaja, Lagos state.
Ola arrived home into the waiting and welcoming hands of his uncles and aunts. He had sorely missed them just as they had missed him. He rested a bit before devouring a sumptuous plate of Amala and Ewedu soup with a big chunk of beef. He stepped it down with a 1litre pack of Fumman Orange juice. Then he went for his nightly ritual, his stroll.
He walked the length of the street and missed his friend. He called Daniel and they talked about the need for early arrival at th camp the following day. He also called his mother and a few other friends of interest to him. He began the long stroll beck home.
As he approached his house, a saw a familiar figure in the darkness. He strained his eyes to identify the figure and as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he recognised the person. It was Tope. She was talking with another girl who Ola did not know. He approached them and ”Good evening Tope.” he greeted. They both looked up to see the person who had just walked in on them. Tope recognised him and Ola could see the shock registered on her face. She recovered quickly.
”Good evening brother Ola.” she replied. Ola was stunned. Were his ears playing pranks on him? Tope had called him ‘brother Ola’. He couldn’t believe it as five year old memories were flooding his brain.
”How is everything and you?” he asked still trying to smart from the shock.
”Everything is fine, sir. I have missed you alot. Since you left for school, I had written JAMB twice and each time I failed. Then I knew that if you had been around, it would have been different. But my mum got a special centre for me this year and guess what, brother Ola.” Ola couldn’t guess as he was still finding it hard to register the transformation in Tope to warrant her change of attitude towards him. Her voice brought him out of his reverie.
”I passed it and the post UME. Now, I am an undergraduate of your school and I will be studying Mass Communication, your course!” she said gleefully. Ola was happy for her. At least she had taught him well.
”Make sure you see me tomorrow morning before I leave for camp. I will give you some names and numbers of some people in school. They will help you. Just tell them you are my sister. Congratulations Tope. And be a good girl on campus.” he said as he turned to go. Tope dragged him back and said ”Congrats too on your first class sir. I hope to emulate you. You are a model to many of us around here. And you can bet I will be gentle on campus. Good night sir and have fun in camp.” She then gave him a full kiss on his lips. His first kiss ever! He left for home.
The Lagos State NYSC Orientation camp at Iyana Ipaja was a beehive of activities that Monday morning as graduates from all over the country came to answer the call of their fatherland. Ola got out of the taxi cab that brought him there. His aunt had insisted on a cab against the hustle of the Danfo. He had to get there early to register and do things before the rush. He paid the driver and got his things out of the cab. Then he called Daniel who was already in the camp and together, they went through the registration formalities. In less than four hours of their arrival, they were through with it and were taking their usual stroll around. They were now officially Corpers.
At the orientation camp, things happened, but not for both of them. They had no time for the ladies except a few who knew them from school. Though they were in different platoons, they never left each other’s sight. They both worked at the Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS). They never partook in the parades, when it was time for the parade rehearsal, they were either in the hostel or in the OBS office. The Mammy market seriously missed them. But the mosque and chapel on camp never missed them for a day. They also played football for their platoons. Both of them met in the final with Ola scoring the winning goal. They had fun in their own way.
Three weeks went swiftly and they were posted to their Places of Primary Assignment. Daniel was posted to an advertising agency, Florid Communications in Ikeja, while Ola was posted to a Public Relations outfit, Pellarry Communicatins, on the Lagos Island. They both lived in Oyingbo.
They worked assiduously for their firms and after their service, they were both retained with a handsome pay packet to take home after tax.
For Ola and his family, things were getting better. How better can it get?
Ola grew in leaps and bounds. He grew academically, professionally, financially and even spiritually. By his twenty eighth birthday, he had a Masters degree certificate in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan, he was a member of eight professional bodies, he had been awarded the best staff of the year in his organisation and he had become a prized asset wanted by every communication outfit in the country. His current employers never joked with his welfare, hence making him one of the highest paid workers in the communication sector.
He did not eat with all his fingers too. His family were the most affected by his rise on the success ladder. His parents, particularly, and siblings were moved to a more befitting accommodation and his siblings education became his duty. His extended family members also were not left out as they also received from him what they needed as at when due.
He had moved from Oyingbo to a three bedroom flat on the Island just as his friend had also moved to his own flat in the Ikeja axis.
His future was also of concern to him. He had invested heavily in all kinds of shares, stocks and bonds. He also had two pieces of land in his hometown, Sagamu.
As fulfilled as it may seem he was, Ola’s life had an empty vacuum that needed to be filled. He felt empty and worthless anytime he left work and had to drive home to meet it just the way he had left it in the morning. He needed a wife.
Deep in the recesses of his heart, he still nursed the hope of finding his teenage sweetheart, Adetutu. He set machineries in motion to find her. He went to their family house at Ayegbami where he was directed to her parents new abode in the G. R. A quarters in Sabo, Sagamu. He went there and met with her mother who told him the heart shattering news that Tutu had gotten married just a year before. Co incidentally, she lived on the Lagos Island. He thanked her profusely and set about confirming the news himself.
At work the following day, he called her. ”Hello, who is this o?”
her voice on the phone brought back nostalgic memories.
”Hello. This is Adeona Olaoluwa. Am I talking to Adetutu Jejeloye?”
”Ah! Ola! So it’s you. It’s been a long time o. You are speaking with Mrs. Tutu Adeola o. How have you been? Where are you?” Tutu bombarded him with questions. But as the reality dawned on him that he had lost her for good, sorrowful tears welled up in his eyes.
”What if I say we should meet at your place this weekend? Am I welcome?” Ola asked hoping that it would be a lie.
”No problem. I will like to see your face again after how many years. It’s almost thirteen years o. We have a lot to talk about.” she said. He already had the address but she still gave him. And with a promise that they would see, he ended the call.
His eyes were red from unshed tears as he reminisced the meeting and parting of the two of them. He could not but shed tears of regret. He should have kept in touch with her. He had gone back too late. What a mistake he had done by losing her!
Saturday came, so was the meeting between two long lost friends or say lovers. It was not too difficult locating her house, he knew his way around the Island. The house was a four storeyed affair and each storey was a four bedroom flat. On seeing the house, he knew that she had married well. Tutu and her husband lived on the second floor. Her husband was at home and he was the one who opened the door for Ola. It was an emotional reunion as both Ola and Tutu both cried on seeing each other. Tutu’s tears were that of happiness at finding a lost friend, Ola’s were that of sadness and joy because Tutu was pregnant. What more confirmation did he need that she was married?
After the introductions by Tutu, her husband left the two friends to catch up on each other and Ola never failed to express his regret at losing her. She said that it wasn’t his fault but that it was destiny that dealt them both a cruel blow. She encouraged him to move on and and get over her because she would love to see his children and talk to his wife. Ola promised to pick himself up but admitted that it would not be easy because Tutu’s memories will forever live with him. They talked about their journeys over the years and were happy for each other for the level of their success.
Ola left later in the day partially happy that he jad at last found her but highly sad that he had lost her to another man.
Thus he began his search for his missing rib. He wasn’t to search for long because time and chance which leads to the actualisation of destiny led him to her. He was in his office one day attending to some files when Funmi walked in….
Ola looked up from his table to behold a dark skinned, average heighted and slender beauty in front of him. She was spotting a white shirt under the trouser suit she wore. On her head was a white cap. He could not see her feet but they were encased in black stilettos. She was graceful.
His secretary had a few minutes earlier called him that somebody from the M. D’s office was there to see him. As she entered the office, she had caught his attention and he could not help staring at her.
”Please sit down. Miss…” he said after almost a minute of looking at her. He felt a little embarrassed.
”Funmilola Olaore.” she said as she helped herself to one of the comfy chairs in front of him.
”I was told you came from the M. D’s office. Hope I don’t have a query from him?” he said light naturedly.
”No sir. You have no query. I am his new secretary. He asked me to come and see you in respect of the Abeokuta deal. He had been busy and will not be coming to the office today.” she stated.
”Okay. I am now at rest. He should have called me and I would have gone to his house with the files and we would finalise it there. But it’s okay. I will brief you on the level of progress and we can take it up from there. You are welcome to Pellary Communications.” he said with a chuckle.
”Thank you sir but I am not new here sir. I served at the head office and I just requested to be transferred here after I had been retained.” she said with a smile.
”Wow! Thank God we have a beautiful face amongst us at last!” he exclaimed jokingly.
They set about the business of the day and in no time she left his office for hers.
All through the day, Ola could not stop fantasising about Funmi. He thought of how perfect she looked with the right curves at the right places. Moreover, she seems cool and intelligent enough for him.
As the weeks grew, his visit to the M. D’s office, on the second floor of their office complex, became his second work place. As the the official and unofficial visits increased, the familiarity between them grew. In no time, they had become friends. Ola will drop her at home before going to his own.
Funmi was a twenty two year old lady who graduated in Secretarial Administration from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. She was the third of four children of Dr. and Mrs. Olaoye. They hailed from Abeokuta. She lived with her parents and younger brother on Freeman Street on the Lagos Island. The main reason she requested for transfer from the head office located on the ever busy Allen Avenue area of Ikeja. Theirs was a Muslim family and her Muslim name was Fateemah.
Ola grew in confidence as their friendship grew. He had learnt the basic things he needed to know about her. He felt he needed to take her away from their Freeman abode into his own house. Everyday, he was more convinced he needed her to become his wife.
Funmi had seen the rough side of life when it comes to relationships. In her twenty two years on earth, She had been with three different guys who had broken her heart after she had been utterly committed body and soul to the well being of the relationship. The last one with Idrees had been the worst as he had double dated all along only to tell her that he was sorry after a one and half year stint with her. She had decided to go on a long break from relationships but she found herself falling slowly in love with Ola with the passing of each day. There was just something unique, raw and untainted about the guy that she had found difficult to unearth. ‘If he comes with his proposal, I won’t hold back. But God, let thy will be done. I can’t control my heart.’ she had thought aloud one day when she was alone at home.
Ola was restless. He needed to say something to Funmi. The longer he waited, the shorter his chances. He had not done such in a long while and as such he had become rusty in the act. Then as he took his stroll one wet evening, an idea occured to him. From where it came, he knew not. When he got home, he brought out his writing pad and penned her a poem about how he felt:
There are fishes and fishes
The shark feareth none
For he ruleth the waters…
There are cats and cats
The Lion feareth none
For he ruleth all cats…
There are faces
Many I have seen
Count I have lost of them
Yet yours stand out:
Bright as the daylight
Shining like the Spartan’s armour
Peace it speaks
Happiness it brings to my heart.
How lucky would I
Have been if such a face
As yours were to be mine
To see at night
To see at dawn…
To forever have in my arms…
Ola typed and printed it. He enveloped it and dropped it on her table the following Monday morning with a rose flower and a note identifying the sender.
Funmi got to her office to find an envelope and a rose flower on her table. She opened the envelope to find a poem dedicated to her. How she loves poetry! After reading, she knew who it was. She stood up and…
…to be continued