Happy Sunday, Fam. Happy reading!
Ebika stretched her taut muscles. She closed and opened her palms, flexing her numb fingers. Working as a copy editor for HiBooks Agency had its benefits, but it wasn’t all rosy. She had been typing since she got to work that morning. She checked her wristwatch and confirmed it was time for lunch break. She pushed back her chair and got up. Most of the booths around hers were empty, indicating that people had gone for lunch. She better join them.
She took the stairs down to the Agency’s cafeteria. She was hit by the sweet aroma of Banga soup when she stepped into the cafeteria. She sniffed the air with all pleasure. Banga soup will do this afternoon, she said within her. She sauntered to the serving point and requested for Banga soup and Starch. She picked a tray and took her lunch to the end of the room. Most tables in the room were occupied. People sat in groups to chat over lunch. Someone called to her to join them, but she politely declined. She needed to be all alone to enjoy her meal. Her regular seat kept her face to the wall, away from the eyes of her colleagues.
She placed her meal on the table and said a short prayer. She swallowed each morsel of starch with great pleasure. The fresh fish in the soup melted in her mouth as she enjoyed its sweet taste. She closed her eyes while she chewed. Nothing like good food, she muttered in delight. Her bleeping phone broke into her magical food moment. Her brows drew in a deep frown. She picked the phone and looked at the caller ID. The call was from her friend, Doubara.
“Doubie, how far?” She said when she picked the call. She licked the soup rolling down her fingers.
“Nothing much o. How is work going?” Doubara asked.
Ebika sighed. “The usual o: stressful. We’re on break now.” She replied.
“I called to inform you that I have sent the style for the choir uniform to your whatsapp. You can check it out and tell me what you think.” Doubara told her.
“Oh okay. I’ll turn on my data once I end the call, then I’ll get back to you.”
“Alright then. See you in church.”
“Yeah. Enjoy the rest of your day.” Ebika ended the call. She turned on her phone’s data and waited for it to connect. While it was connecting, she went back to enjoying her meal. Several notifications popped up when it was finally connected. She picked up the phone.
“Three hundred and forty five messages from whatsapp?” She groaned. “I’ll have to leave all these groups I was added to.” She scrolled through the messages, ignoring the group chats for personal chats. She saw the style Doubara had sent. The style was quiet simple: peplum top on straight skirt with a small cut at the side. She nodded her approval. She looked through her other personal chats and saw messages from Tolu. She sat up immediately and read through them.
Tolu: Hi, my dear. How is your day going? I hope it’s not like mine. I’ve been swarmed with work all morning, but you have been on my mind all through. I took a break a while ago to chat a little and when I refreshed my contacts, I saw you. I couldn’t resist dropping a message.
Ebika’s lips widened with a smile. She read the message again. She pushed the tray away from her and washed her hand. She picked up her phone and replied his chat.
Ebika: My day has been busy too. I’m just at the cafeteria taking lunch. Although, thoughts of you haven’t crossed my mind since I got to the office this morning.
His response came immediately.
Tolu: Ouch! That hurts, Ebika. I’m so unimportant that your work took precedence over me. That’s not fair.
Ebika laughed a little when she read his reply. She typed her response quickly.
Ebika: Well, you left me with no choice. I can’t be thinking about a stranger, you know.
Tolu: What if I don’t want to be a stranger anymore? What if I want to be as close to you as I was before?
Ebika: We’ll see about that.
She noticed the cafeteria was emptying. Her break was almost over.
Ebika: Back to work for me. Let’s chat later.
Tolu: Ok, but I mean what I said earlier about getting close to you.
Ebika: I’ll say it again: we’ll see about that, Tolu. Bye.
She ended the chat and finished the rest of her food. She went back to her booth in the office. All around hands flew over the keyboard of computer systems, trying to meet up the deadline of a magazine publication. Despite the urgency in the air, she couldn’t get back to work. She leaned against her chair and allowed thoughts of Tolu wash over her.
Eight years! Eight years after Creek Haven University. Where has Tolu been all these while? She ruminated. Why this strong connection between us despite the years gone by? Where are we heading to with this new friendship? Maybe I should tell him about Bina. Her eyes widened at that thought. She nodded slowly. He could also have someone. That thought caused a slight frown on her face. She shook her head. I’ll just take things gradually. There’s no need to rush. It’s not as if he proposed to me. We are only trying to build friendship again.
She sat forward and powered her system, getting set to work. As she typed in her staff password, a funny thought crossed her mind: What if Bina was not in the picture, and Tolu was willing, what would be her response?
She met with Doubara later that day in church. She told her the style was good. While they were still talking about the material to use for the style, Bina joined them.
“Good evening, Sister Doubara.” He greeted.
Doubara smiled at him. “Good evening, Bro Bina.” She jabbed Ebika’s ribs playfully, winking at her.
Ebika didn’t smile. She folded her arms and looked away from Bina.
“Hello, Ebika.” Bina said to her, touching her elbow lightly.
“Let me discuss with the others, Ebika. We’ll talk later.” Doubara told her, retreating.
“Can we talk, Ebika?” Bina asked.
She kept silent for a while, but then she sighed. “Alright. Let’s talk outside.”
They walked out of the church’s main auditorium towards the children auditorium. They faced each other then.
“I know you are angry with me.” Bina stated.
“Good you know, Bina.” She muttered.
“Ebika, I’m sorry. You know I was on afternoon shift. There was no way I could have made the transfer. I called you very early this morning so we could find a way around it.” He explained, his eyes scrunched together in a pleading look.
“It’s okay.” Ebika told him, giving a shrug. “I was able to make the transfer, and Ere got mother’s drugs. She’s doing well.”
“Praise God!” He exclaimed in joy.
Ebika looked at him then. She noticed his worn polo and black trouser. Her eyes went to his loafers. It was the same loafers he wore all the time during evening service. Being a foot taller than him, she was able to look over his head. It was shaved completely. No strand of hair could be seen on his head. His head brought to mind a smooth tiled floor where one’s reflection could be seen. His rectangular face that showed his wide forehead, buttoned nose and full lips couldn’t really pass him as handsome. He could be said to be pleasant looking.
She shook herself. Why was she analysing his appearance like this? It wasn’t like she was noticing all these for the first time. Bina never kept any hair on his head because he was bald. She never complained before, but she was suddenly comparing it to a rich, dark, shiny afro someone kept. The image stuck to her mind even as she listened to Bina.
“I hope you remember my aunty’s dinner invite to us tomorrow evening.” He said. She nodded in response. “I’ll be on morning duty so I’ll come and pick you from the office.” He informed her.
“It’s okay. We could chat on whatsapp this night to discuss what we’ll wear.” She suggested.
Bina laughed. “The last time I was online was two weeks ago, and that was because I was on leave. Just wear what is nice, and I’ll do the same. Besides, we don’t want to send the wrong message to people by dressing alike.”
Ebika’s shoulders sagged in defeat. “I hope you wear something better than nice.” She said in a small voice.
He didn’t say anything to that. He just laughed again like she just said the best joke of the day. “Let me drop you at home.” He offered.
She agreed. She tried not to compare his old volvo to a certain Lexus R300.
Fireworks!!!! Yeah! Ebika and Tolu! hmmmm. Friends, encourage me by sharing your thoughts. Let me know if you are enjoying this story. Don’t forget to share with your friends.