Glad to have you back, friends. As a post birthday celebration, I have also uploaded episode three. Enjoy reading! Please share your thoughts.
“Ebikaboere Daumiebi?” He called in a tone of uncertainty, searching her face.
Ebika pushed away from the rail. She fixed him with piercing eyes. He knew her full name. She angled her head from one side to the other. He looked vaguely familiar.
“You’re Ebika, right?” He asked.
Ebika gave a small nod. The man’s lips curled up in an excited smile. “Oh, my God! Ebika.” He called excitedly, taking her hand.
“I can’t seem to place you.” Ebika admitted shamefacedly since the man seemed to know her very well.
The man gave a deep throaty laugh, his eyes dancing in joy. “It’s me, Ebika: Burutolu Smooth.”
Ebika processed the name in few seconds. She jumped when she connected the name to a time in her past. “Burutolu! Tolu!” She pointed a finger at him. Her eyes dilated with unbelief.
“Yes, Ebika, it’s Tolu, your Tolu.”
Time stood still as they embraced each other. When they eased off each other the first time, they stared at each other for some seconds and then hugged again.
“I can’t believe it’s you, Ebika.” He said, looking her over with eyes filled with admiration.
“Neither can I. You have really changed, Tolu.” She replied
He shrugged. “Just a little work-out and I turned out this way.” He pointed to his body.
“Hmm…” Ebika gave an approving nod. “It turned out way nicer than it was back then.”
“Come on, are you saying I wasn’t good looking back in school?” He questioned.
A playful glint came into Ebika’s eyes. Her lips curled up in mirth. “Huh, not so good.” She teased him.
He placed a hand on his chest. “That hurts.” He took her hand and placed it on his chest.
Ebika giggled. “It’s good to know you haven’t lost your sense of humour. You always know how to make me laugh.”
He bowed. “I serve to please, my lady.”
She laughed some more. Her laughter was interrupted by the chiming of her phone. She looked at the screen. Her laughter fizzled out immediately she saw the name of the caller. She let out a heavy sigh. The call was her reality check: money for her mother’s drugs.
“Hello, Ere.” She said.
“Ebika, the nurses are on my neck. They need the drugs now. I haven’t received the alert.” Her sister told her in a panicky tone.
Ebika’s eyes watered a little. “I’m sorry, Ere, but I’m having difficulty sending the money. Please, bear with me. I’ll try and do something before today runs out.” She replied. She bent her head to shield her face from Tolu’s piercing eyes. He was listening to every word.
“Chei, Ebika, please do something o.”
“I will. Just take care of mother.”
She ended the call and dropped the phone in her handbag. Her brow drew together in deep worry. “It was nice seeing you again, Tolu, but I have to attend to something very urgent.” She informed him.
His eyes held hers in a steady gaze. “What is the problem?” He inquired.
Ebika hesitated. Tolu sensed it. He took her hand. “Ebika, I’m not a stranger, remember. Forget the years gone by, I’m still the Burutolu you know. Tell me what is wrong.” He urged her in a soft tone.
Ebika looked at him. This is the Tolu she had dated for two years back in the university. The same Tolu who had taken care of her so much. The one who had willingly given her the key to his house when she couldn’t get hostel accommodation and went to squat with his friend in the hostel. The Tolu she had fallen in love with from the first day they met, when he returned her missing purse with all her belongings intact. Should it count now that he disappeared at the beginning of their third year without a backward glance? Could she trust him?
“Trust me, Ebika.” He urged, reading the distrust in her eyes.
She sighed. She was desperate anyway. What does it matter if she had to confide in her boyfriend from years ago? “My mom has been in the hospital for two weeks now. She has been on drugs and injections for some days. I was supposed to send money to my younger sister to buy her drugs, but my bank has network issues. I got a debit alert minutes ago. What I have left is not enough for the drugs. Even if I want to send cash to her, the banks are closed now.” She peeked at her watch and gave a nod. “Yes, it’s past four already. She just called now to tell me the drugs are needed urgently.”
“How much?” He asked.
Ebika’s eyes met his. She saw the deep concern in them. Is this the answer to my prayer, Lord? She asked within her. “It’s twenty thousand naira.” She told him.
“Just that?” He asked, bringing out his wallet. Ebika gave a small nod, watching as he took out different cards. He picked one out of them. “Let’s go. I’ll send the money to your sister.” He nodded towards the ATM, returning the wallet to the inner pocket of his jacket.
Ebika stood rooted to the spot, mouth gaped. She watched his large, confident strides as he marched to the machine. He was almost there when he noticed she hadn’t followed. He came back to meet her.
“Ebika, let’s send the money to your sister.” He touched her shoulder.
She blinked severally. “You’re going to help me?” She asked with disbelieving eyes.
He shrugged in response and took her hand. He led her to the machine. The queue had reduced so they had access to the machine quickly. He slotted in his card and typed in his details. He left her to do the rest. The transaction was successful. Ebika turned grateful eyes to him.
“Tolu, you don’t know what this means to me.” She held his left hand with her two hands, her eyes lifted to his. “You just put a very big smile on my face and my sister’s face.” She told him a hoarse whisper.
He smiled down at her. “Thanks to God, my dear.” He shook her lower jaw.
“I’ll pay you back once the bank rolls back my money. It shouldn’t take long before they do that.” She assured him.
He shook his head. “Don’t pay back, Ebika. Take it as a reunion gift.”
She stopped in her tracks. “Seriously, Tolu?” She quizzed.
“Seriously.” He answered.
She hugged him. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” She cried in delight.
Tolu laughed. “Don’t squeeze me, Ebika.” He joked.
Her sister called her then to tell her she received the credit alert. Ebika told her to pay for the drugs and take care of their mother. Tolu didn’t leave her. After the call, he offered to take her home. She declined and told him she was going to the market instead. He insisted on taking her to the market. He led her to a Lexus jeep parked in the bank’s car park.
“Is this your car?” She asked in sheer amazement.
“Yes.” He pressed a button on the car key to unlock the door. He opened the passenger door for her. “Get in.” He said.
Ebika didn’t. She faced him instead, arms akimbo. “Wow! Tolu, things have really changed for you.” she said, her pencil-thin eyebrows rose in admiration.
He chuckled lightly. “Let’s just say God has really blessed me.” He told her simply.
A burning desire to know more filled her heart but she decided not to bombard him with questions on their first meeting. She entered the car, and he drove her to the market. All the while they chatted about their time together back in Creek Haven University. He later dropped her off in the apartment she shared with her cousin after they had exchanged phone numbers.
She called him later in the night when she had settled for the night to show her appreciation. He asked about her mother, and she related what her sister had told her few minutes before she called him: her mother was stable. He was happy to hear that, and then he expressed his joy for finding her again. He assured her he’d keep in touch. When she ended the call, fantasies of yester years crept into her mind and stayed there. Fantasies that had been created by her and Tolu.
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