“You don’t cross my mind, you live in it”
Song – Before You Go by Lewis Capaldi
The Williams building was arguably the tallest building in Asokoro. From a mile, anyone could see the top tower of the building hiding among the clouds. I pushed through the revolving doors of the lobby. Bolu had called me earlier that he had gotten Ademidun’s profile. Her fragile hands brushing her hair away was all I could think of. She reminded me of a broken porcelain doll. Those almond-shaped eyes burning through mine. I stepped into the vestibules of the Williams HQ. The receptionist at the waiting area stood with a wide smile.
“Chinelo, how are you doing?” The bright red top and chiseled jacket she wore made her stand out from the dull color of the reception. Chinelo was part Ibo and Yoruba. She always wore her natural hair but today she was on a chic braid that cupped her face beautifully. Her dark eyes were warm and she wore nude lipstick.
“I’m good. Tolu isn’t here yet, but you have a lunch meeting for twelve. I already paged you the schedule for today and the Agro Company’s proposal is on your desk.” With a nod, I took the hallway all the way down to the end and made for the office beside the board meeting room. The mahogany work desk backed the floor to ceiling windows which displayed beautiful view of Asokoro. There were two seating areas which included my work desk and the set of black sofa and center table that sat at the far corner of the room; by its side, a massive flat-screen hung on the wall streaming the daily news. I picked up a book from the two distinctive shelves where I kept my antiques and picture frames. Hanging my coat on the coat hanger by my seat, I loosened my sleeves and lowered myself into the revolving chair. I was going over the Agro Company’s file when the doors flung open. It was Bolu. He held the doorknob grinning.
“Sorry to drop by unannounced” He barked. He wasn’t sorry, that I could tell. He kicked off his shoes and moved his feet in a frenzy motion against the rug. He made it a habit to do that every time.
“Why don’t you get better shoes?”
“I have better shoes” He retorted .And he dived for the sofa and folded his legs.
“Enitan, believe me when I say the traffic was hectic.” I nodded.
“I believe you. Do you have it?” Bolu waved the file I hadn’t noticed earlier in the air and slapped it on my desk. Then he reeled off,
“Ademidun Osikoya, born on October 22, 1996. An indigene of Ogun state to be precise Ijebu-Ode. Deceased mum and a drunk dad, schooled in Lagos all her life. Tertiary institution, the University of Lagos. Was posted to Gwaripa for NYSC, Lives at no 7, Wuse street with a friend, Demilade. Height: 5 ft 8, Weight: 55Kg, Blood group: O-, Genotype: AA. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease,. Works at—“ My ears perked.
“What did you say?” I knotted my brows and looked at him before flipping through the file on my table. I skimmed through the pages and my eyes fell on it. Her medical records. It was there, Parkinson’s disease. Ademidun had been diagnosed with it in November 2019. I scanned through the paper looking for the stage but it wasn’t mentioned.
“I couldn’t get that. This was how much I could get.” I sighed and went over every bit of details again.
“It’s crazy right?” Bolu said. My intercom rang and I hit the button. Chinelo’s voice aired out.
“It’s 15 minutes to your Lunch date at the Shu garden Chinese restaurant”
“Alright, page Dele to take the car to front of the building” Bolu was occupied rummaging through the small fridge by the shelf.
“This fridge needs to be restocked.” He said, pulling out an orange juice, he gulped it noisily.
“I have a lunch date with my mum, we’ll talk later. And don’t forget to send the memo from the last meeting to Tolu.” I put on my coat and walked out. The Shu garden traditional bamboo entrance held up hanging ornate designs from the top. I found my way towards the private lounge leaving the main area which was overcrowded and smoke-filled from the grill barbecue. The tables were traditionally crafted with padded cushions surrounding them. The thought of folding my legs in an uncomfortable position made my head turn. I tried not to stare at a group of men who puffed their cigarettes heavily as I moved towards the secluded area. My mum sat at a table opposite the window. To my relief, there were high tables and chairs here. My mum sighted me from the entrance and her eyes lit up. I bent over her, placing a kiss on her cheek. And I pulled the chair out. A waiter stalked towards us and placed a menu on our table.
“Mum, how are you doing?” I asked. Her long black gown blended with her tone and her hair was neatly tucked underneath a yellow turban. The corner of her eyes crinkled and she crossed her feet beneath the table.
“I’m good Enitan. I picked this spot because I knew you wouldn’t be comfortable in the other area. So, how have you been?” she intertwined her fingers on the table and gave me a smile that barely touched her eyes. I knew something was wrong, she wasn’t one to beat about the bush. Her gaze drifted to the window then settled on the glasshouse view of Asokoro. I placed my palm over hers on the table drawing her attention to me.
“Mum, what is it? It has to be something important for you to be taking part of my business hour.” I said looking straight at her.
“It’s your dad.” She replied. I groaned internally. This wasn’t the first time she fussed over my dad. Not second. Not third. I was beginning to lose count by the day.
“What about him?” I asked. My brows furrowed.
“I just found out that he had a child with her.” A tear threatened to drop and she sniffed. “and that’s not even the worse part, she would be twenty-two next month, to think he kept this from me, from us, for twenty-two years.” She swiped at her face but the tears came anyway. I sat there looking and feeling nothing compared to how she was. I handed her a handkerchief and she blew loudly in it. I racked my brain for comforting words to tell her but now came. I tried to be surprised by what I just heard but I failed. It was my dad; he had been this way for as long as I could remember. The night he left my mum for the other woman was when I knew with him anything could happen. It hurt so much to see my mum raise my brother and me and it hurt even more when she agreed to take him back after everything he did. The hurt was there in her eyes and in the way her body shook.
“Does Gbotemi know about it?” I asked trying to shift the mood.
“No, I decided to tell you before him. I just couldn’t keep it to myself. Besides, I don’t think he would be bothered by it.” Of course. He loved our dad so much that he was always willing to understand his actions. I was the only one who cared to call him out for his actions. I picked up the menu and scanned it.
“Why don’t we eat before anything else huh?”. She nodded and mirrored my action, picking her menu.
I lay in my bed as Abuja came to life. The karaoke bar across was awfully quiet tonight, someone must have called the police on them. The yellow street light seeped in through my window, piercing the darkness in my room. I could hear the droplets of water hit the bathtub. And it sent an eerie sound in the room. I picked my phone from the bedside table. Nine thirty pm. I went to the kitchen to make coffee. Opening the fridge, I found it empty. I couldn’t take coffee alone. I grabbed my car key from the plate on the table and left. Most storekeepers had begun closing their stores and the road sellers packed their umbrellas. The lights which illuminated the sidewalks were either turned off or blurred out. A few road sellers turned sat with oil lamps, swatting mosquitoes with newspapers. I turned to my left and I saw a blinking storefront. Bakeshop. I parked my car by the side of the bakery shop and let myself in. The bell rang alerting whoever that someone came in. The place was empty but the pastries were still displayed in the front counter. I walked towards the counter when a dark head popped from the back. Just as I remembered. That supple ebony skin and deep dark eyes stared at me. Ademidun, she was on a red apron and her hair was packed in the same tight bun I saw it in the last time, I wondered if her scalp bled from the packing it that way. She tucked her hands into her apron and moved behind the counter. Her lips were fuller than I imagined but they were pale and cracked from the harsh weather.
“Hello, welcome to Yummies bakeshop, how can I help you?”
“Do you have bagels and donuts?” I replied.
“Yes we do.”
“Okay, I’ll have two of each.” She bent behind the counter and packed them into two paper bags. The bakeshop was a small one and had a tight seating space. It seemed like the bakeshop commenced business just recently. I collected the paper bags from her and my thumb grazed her fingers. A delicious shudder coursed through me. Ademidun looked everywhere except my face.
“That would a thousand naira.” She said softly. I swiped my credit card over the pay machine..
“Are you alone?” I asked peering into the back.
“Yes, I was about to close the shop when you came in.” I nodded and my eyes fell on her trembling hands. She followed my gaze and tucked her hands beneath her apron.
“Huh?” Ademidun replied and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear—I pointed towards her hands and repeated.
“Resting tremor, it happens when you are nervous.” She stared at the computer then back at me.
“Uhm I forgot to thank you properly for the other day. Thank you.” She said and her cheeks dimpled..
“I doubt you’d find a ride home at this time. If you don’t mind I could take you home.”
“No, don’t bother. I can manage.”
“I insist.” Ademidun looked at me unsure.
“I don’t bite. Plus you can put 911 on speed dial, just to make you feel better.”
She weighed the options in her head and began untying her apron. I held the door open for her. She entered, crossing her feet.
“So where do you stay?” Ademidun spared me a glance, her eyes were almost half shut and her forehead creased.
“The new Brick red estate, Block 15B.” Then she pushed her head into the chair. The bakeshop was far from where she lived. Didn’t people consider the location of their workplaces anymore? We arrived at her estate, and I understood the name. Every house in the area was made from brick. A brick red house which was fenced by two-story buildings held the number “15B”. The windows and wall had left hanging down from the roof and the bushes which surrounded it were due for a trim. It reminded me of a home abandoned by the highway. The security lights were broken and the only light which illuminated the house came from the street light across the road. I turned to face her and she was asleep. The phone that she had held on to tightly throughout the ride now sat in her laps. Her head was tilted to the window and the strands of hair that escaped her bun shaded her face. The rise and fall in her chest only showed her exhaustion. I carried her to the doorstep. She squirmed in my arms before nuzzling her face in my chest. I expected her to weigh more than she did. Any more pressure and I could hurt her. Aside from the tiredness, her face gave away there was something else on it. I trudged up the steps leading to her front door. I tapped my feet over the foot mat and I could feel a key. Someone was in already. I knocked, shifting on my feet. Seconds later, the door flung open, revealing a dark lady. I looked over her head before bringing my eyes to her face. She had on a bright hair bonnet and stood in a bunny-shaped slipper. Her lips that were straightened earlier curved upwards. The streaks of a failed attempt to clean her makeup off gave her a weird look. This had to be the housemate Bolu mentioned earlier. Demilade trained her eyes on me before dropping it to Ademidun who drowsily mumbled some incoherent words. She moved from the doorway ushering me into the house and led me down the tight passage. She pushed the first door on the left open and I walked in, gently placing Ademidun on the mini-sized bed. Ademidun stretched over the sheets before snuggling into a pillow. I caught a smile stretch across her lips.
“Thanks for bringing her home. I told her to let me know when she was done at work but she refused.” She shook her head both ways. “She can be really stubborn at times.”
“It’s nothing.” I stopped at the door before turning to face her.
“I’m Demilade” she said, slightly resting on the door.
“Enitan Williams” . Demilade’s eyes widened and they ran down my body slowly. Her mouth hung lowly. I cleared my throat and she smiled, this time wider.
“I should get going.”
“Thanks again.” She called out.
Next posttt! Friday 🥰