“I can conquer the world with one hand as long as you’re holding the other.”
Song- Wonderful by Burna boy
THE days passed by in a blur. And the Bakeshop was empty today. I buried my nose in the famous book “Purple hibiscus”. This wasn’t my first time reading the book but I felt a certain connection with Kambili which made me repeat the book over and over. Bayo took the day off he had to travel down to Lagos to tender to some family issues so I didn’t have to worry about answering tables because I was behind the front desk. A shadow fell over the book and my hands moved over the keyboard. Thinking it was a co-worker, I stretched my hand to receive the order slip not looking up. After waiting for a minute, and still nothing. I dragged my gaze from the book and looked up. Enitan stood in his signature suit and tie. I swallowed and sat up behind the desk. Why did he have to look sinfully good? And there was me sitting in my ruffled apron with an old work hair bonnet. He rested his elbow on the desk, showing his sculpted long fingers. I looked at the wall clock that hung over the entrance. Office hours weren’t over and it wasn’t lunch hour either.
“Do you keep your customers waiting like this?”
“What are you doing here?” He looked back at the shop sign outside and replied.
“Patronizing of course.” I furrowed my brows. He could have sent anyone here to “patronize”. “Is all these necessary?” He looked around the shop.
“Yes. It is.”
“Ah. I see.” He leaned forward and drummed his fingers on the desk.
“Come with me. Work time is over for you.” My mouth hung lowly and I stared at him.
“I said come with me.” He repeated.
I don’t even know you. You could be a serial killer who preys on ladies.”
“Ah.” He drawled lazily. “I see. But you were comfortable to get into the car with me last time.”
“It seemed like the only option then.” Enitan nodded and pushed his face forward. Any more inch and his face would be up against mine.
“I didn’t get a thank you the last time. And if I remember this would be the second time.” I scoffed and folded my arms.
“So is this what it’s all about?”
“What’s so wrong in getting to know your beneficiary?” Beneficiary. The toast I had earlier now left a bad taste on my tongue. I couldn’t think of a comeback. Everything in me wanted to throw the help he had rendered back in his face. But I didn’t have enough money to repay him even if I wanted to.
“I can’t just leave. I mean, not everyone gets to do things without being queried.” There, I knew I had struck a chord. He smirked.
“Well pretty I hate to break it to you but you can.”
“I already spoke to the owner. Bayo I guess?” I furrowed my brows even more. “He said a co worker would take it from you. So I don’t think you have any excuse not to come. Or do you have somewhere else to be?”
Enitan smirked again and straightened. What if I had said no?
“I knew you couldn’t say no. Now don’t keep me waiting any longer.” I went to the back and appeared with my bag.
“I guess so.” We got into his car and the smell of new leather engulfed me. Enitan leaned over and strapped me in the seat.
“So where to?” I asked.
“Hmm. Anxious are we? Don’t worry you’ll see.”. The music that played in the car was soothingly good and I leaned into the chair. Enitan’s chirpy mood was now replaced with an expressionless face. He faced forward, his gaze not leaving the road. A part of his chin was dimpled and the beards there were scarcely arranged. He had a deep cut by his left ear making the skin on that part thin and stretched. We stopped at Limi hospital. This was by far the biggest hospital in Abuja. if I worked my whole life, I didn’t think I would be able to afford the smallest treatment here.
“What are we doing here?” The question came out foolish even to me, but I didn’t care.
“To get you treated. What else?” He shot back.
“I don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to?” He repeated slowly.
“We’re here already. We might as well just go through it.”
In one fluid moment he was holding out my door. We stepped into hall buzzing with people in scrubs and crocs running around. The high ceiling held up bright white lights which reflected on the tiles. The man at the door addressed Enitan by name and he tipped his cap at me. I was starting to convince myself that following him was a bad idea. I looked back at the entrance from where we stood. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to leave now. Enitan grabbed my hand and we went to the reception.
“You’ll have to wait for your turn. Please sit…” She looked up and her eyes warmed when she saw Enitan..
“Mr. Enitan Williams. It’s been a while sir.” Then she looked at Enitan then me, then back at Enitan..
“I could say the same, Tamilore. Is Dr. Ajibade in?”
“Yes he is. Hold on, let me let him know you’re here.” First name basis I thought. Seemed like he was familiar with almost everyone here..
“This is our family hospital. We’ve not had a reason to be here in a while but then it doesn’t look like things have changed much. You should try their cafeteria’s noodles. You’d love it.” If he was joking or serious, I didn’t want to know. It wasn’t news that hospital foods were terrible. I’ve had my good share of them and nothing could make me think otherwise.
Tamilore put the receiver down and said. “You can go in.”
“Alright.” He winked at her and led me to the elevator. The ride up was painfully slow or maybe it was the way his thumb drew delicious circles on my hand. With every graze of his thumb, sparks flew in me. I wanted to retract my hands but I couldn’t deny I enjoyed the way it made me feel. We stood at the door with the inscription “Doctor Ajibade.”, I squeezed his palm and he squeezed mine back. And he turned the doorknob.
“Enitan, look how much you’ve grown.” The slim man pushed to his feet and adjusted the rim of the glasses on his nose. His stethoscope hung on his neck and he had small white hairs splayed on his head. He was starting to bend over. “How have you been son?” Enitan shook him firmly.
“I’ve been good. Looks like you’re aging backward.” He joked. Dr. Ajibade bent over letting out short breaths of laughter. For a moment I feared he might fall.
“Of course. I can’t let you young lads have all the fun out of life.”
Enitan laughed. “Nice of you to join in on the party then.” The mans gaze shifted to me.
“Oh. Meet Ademidun…A friend.” My breath hitched in my throat and I coughed to clear my airway. The buzzing in my ear took a minute before it stopped.
“ Ademidun. What a beauty. Nice to meet you” He said and patted the back of my palm. I wanted to get it over and done with. Enitan moved to place his hands on the small of my back, drawing me close to him. It took a lot of self-control not to wipe the smug look off his face.
“Please sit.” Dr. Ajibade stretched his hands towards the chairs.
“So what brings you here?”
“She has Parkinson’s.” Enitan replied. Dr. Ajibade’s picked up his note pad then settled his eyes on me.
“One.” I replied. He scribbled on the note pad and pushed the rim of his glasses up.
“Stiff movements in any part of your body?”
“No.” I shook my head.
“Alright then. I’ll put you on medications.” He turned to face Enitan “You don’t mind her undergoing physiotherapy and uhm maybe… surgery.” My heart pace quickened. Surgery was the last thing I wanted right now. The therapy sessions, I could manage. Enitan saw me shift uncomfortably in my chair. His eyes burnt into me as it roamed my face.
“The surgery can wait but right now the therapy sessions can begin. I don’t want anything happening to her.” My chest tightened and I looked at him. For the first time, I couldn’t tell what his eyes held but they made my batter. Doc. Ajibade tore a page from his note pad and gave it to Enitan.
“He’s the best therapist in Abuja.” He brimmed and turned in his chair. Enitan nodded and folded the paper..
“I appreciate this.” He shook Doc. Ajibade firmly before we stood to our feet.
“My regards to your mother and Gbotemi.”
Enitan made sure we grabbed something to eat at the hospital’s cafeteria before we left. He made a fuss about picking from the menu before settling for ofada which used to be his regular here.
“A friend?” I mused.
“Would you preferred something intimate?” He replied lazily. His face held a mischievous smirk and he sipped on his coke.
“So how do I pay off this benefit?”
“Who said anything about paying anything off? He purred
Then he leaned forward and brushed my lips with his thumb. I froze and I squeezed on my doughnut.
“You had a little sugar on your face.” I could feel heat creeping up my neck.
“Thanks.” And Enitan did it again. This time slowly. I arched my brows and he shrugged.
“Because I wanted to.” The cafeteria suddenly became so small and tight.
“We should leave.”
“Where do you want to go?” He asked. I was still uneasy and my head felt light. Staying on hospital grounds for too long added to my stress.
“Home it is then, let’s hope this time I get invited in. Properly.”
“Gee. Thanks for today and the other day and—”
“Always happy to help pretty. A pleasure.”