Welcome, fam. Thanks for stopping by. Get on the journey with Ebika and Tolu. It’s going to be a long but interesting ride. Don’t get tired!
Time was against her. Ebika checked her wristwatch for the umpteenth time since she joined the ATM queue in front of Royalty Bank. She grimaced when she realized she had been on the queue for over thirty minutes. She tapped her feet impatiently. She counted the persons before her now. There were three persons left. She frowned deeply. It shouldn’t take long anymore, if only the man using the ATM at that time would hurry up. He seemed to be making withdrawals for his entire family. People around started murmuring. The man remained unperturbed. He had his back to them, his broads shoulders raised confidently. Ebika finally lost her cool.
Putting up her best imitation of British English accent she called to him. “Hello, Sir. I hope you know there are people waiting on this queue to use the ATM.” She said. Heads turned towards her. She kept her face serious, adjusting her glasses a little. It wasn’t the time to count the number of persons she had charmed with her accent. “You should not remain there like it is your living room.” She added.
The man turned to look at her. When he didn’t turn back to the ATM after a few seconds, Ebika’s confident waned. What if he was a Professor or a Linguist? She pondered. Has he sensed my British accent is not the real deal? Her heart beat against her ribcage in fear. He must be someone important, she observed, looking him over. He was smartly dressed in a grey suit that hung perfectly on his lean but muscular body. His shoulders reminded her of wrestlers in WWE. She swallowed when she looked at his face. His beard was neatly-trimmed around his strong jawline. When her eyes met his, his was twinkling. A strange feeling crept up her body. There was something oddly familiar about him.
“Oga, face wetin you dey do abeg. We no come here come play.” The man immediately behind him fired at him.
That broke the magic of the moment. The man went back to what he was doing. Ebika shook herself. What was that about? She wondered. Why does he look familiar? She rubbed her forehead. Nothing came to her.
She let it go when it was her turn to use the ATM. The feeling of urgency from before hit her again. She typed in her details and went on to transfer money to her younger sister. Her heart thumped lightly as she awaited the service report. It soon flashed on the screen. Her eyes grew with disappointment as she read the reply: issuer not available; contact your bank.
“Oh, God!” She screamed in deep frustration, banging her hand against the machine. Her card was injected.
The person behind her stepped up to her in front of the machine. She eyed him angrily. “Please, I’m not through with what I’m doing. Give me space.” She said.
The man hesitated, but when she refused to move away from the machine, he went back to the queue. She tried the transfer again and got the same reply. Her eyes glistened with tears as she took her card and stepped away from the machine. She took off her glasses and dropped them in her bag. Enough with the fashion, she was not in the mood anymore.
How would her sister get the drugs now that she couldn’t transfer the money needed to her? She swiped off the first tear that came down her cheek. She inhaled deeply, fighting for control. What good would it do if she broke down in tears now? She would try another ATM. Just as that decision took root in her heart, her phone bleeped, notifying her of text message. She pulled it out of her bag and read the message.
She placed her left hand on her head. Everything was going from bad to worse. The message was a debit alert from her bank. Debit alert? She cried within her, for money I didn’t even withdraw. Oh God! What she had left in her account could not cover the money for the drugs. Her legs wobbled under her. She walked on shaky legs to the rail that lined the right side of the bank and leaned against it.
Who will help me with this now? She pondered, flipping through her phone. She thought of her friend Doubara but shook it off. Doubara just paid her house rent. The next person that came to her mind brought a frown to her already sorrowful face. Her cousin Douye would never help. She was always broke. Sharing an apartment with Douye for the past couple of years have proven that her cousin was quite dependent. She would have parted ways with her if not that the apartment was free, and Douye had her good sides. Who else? A light smile touched her face when she thought of Binaebi. Yes, Bina is the right person. Why didn’t I think about him before breaking down? She chided herself.
She dialled his number quickly. After the first two calls went unanswered, her hope dwindled. She gave it a third try and he answered then.
“Hi, Dear.” She called, her face brightened with hope. She straightened against the rail.
“Hi.” His voice came across the line.
“I really need your help, Bina.” She told him.
“What?” He asked, sounding distracted.
She heard voices in the background. It wasn’t surprising since Bina worked as a customer care agent for one of the telecommunications company in the country. She took a quick look at her watch. It was a bad time to call, but she couldn’t help it.
“I need you to transfer some cash to me. I want to send it to my sister for my mother’s drugs. It’s urgent.” She told him.
He was silent for a few seconds. She took the phone off her ears to be sure he hadn’t gone off, but the call timer was still reading.
“Bina.” She barked down the line in impatience.
“Sorry about that.” He replied in a whisper. “Listen, Ebika, I can’t do anything now. My team leader just sent me a warning sign. We’ll talk later.”
The line went dead. Her tears came then. Bina was her last hope. What would she tell her younger sister? She threw her head back and closed her eyes tightly. Lord, I need Your help, she prayed silently. I’m at a lost at what next to do. Please, don’t let anything happen to my mother.
A hand touched her lightly causing her to jump. Her eyes flew open. Her fingers wound around the rail in a tight grip. She looked up and came face to face with the man from the queue earlier. The setting sun cast a light glow on his shiny dark hair, richly oiled. She squinted at him, wondering what he wanted with her.
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P.S. My birthday is on Sunday!!! yehhhhh!!!!!
photo credit: Google images. Design: Temitope Ezekiel Idowu DD