She woke up to the sound of pigeon birds cooing by her windows. They were the only guest to ever visit and she always welcomed them by putting grains by the slabs of her two bedroom and sitting room windows. She had first noticed them on her second morning in the apartment while cleaning the dust from her window. They had stayed put even while she cleaned. They would flutter their feathers whenever she tried to touch them. No one had been caring for them in that building because the apartment was newly built so she concluded they were just friendly. From then on, she had started feeding them with grains. After eating in the morning, they would fly away and return by noon or sometimes in the evening so she always made sure there was enough to feed them during the day.
Getting up from the bed, she went into her kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She switched on the electric jug, took grains from her kitchen cupboard and went to feed the birds. She caught sight of the shop owner by the end of the street looking up at her direction; she drew her curtains and went back into the kitchen. She washed her hands made her tea and went to the sitting room. Standing she put on the TV and checked the news channels. In the news, it was reported that the president has been flown out for proper medical care; there was another talk of a certain former leader of the House of Representatives being chased for money laundering by law enforcement agencies. Changing to a music channel, there was an ongoing remembrance video of a very young musical rapper who had died after a car accident the year before. She watched for a while then finished her tea.
She had nothing to do. She had nowhere to be or go to. She decided she would take a walk later. More so, she would need to get toiletries and some food items so going out of the house was certain. The earlier she got to it, the better for her. She got up from the couch, went into her bathroom and took a long shower.
Dressed in t-shirt and joggers, she sprayed some perfume with no makeup on, she tied the hair extension she wore in a knot, wore rubber flip flop. She picked her purse with some money in it and her mobile phone. She was descending the stairs when her phone rang with the caller id showing it to be one of her very close friends. She was the only married friend she had and with two kids.
“Hello! Her friend said sounding very excited. ‘I’m throwing a party next month. It’s for my hubby’s fortieth birthday. Babe, you must come. Are you home? So I can give you the details proper.”
“No! I’m not home.” she replied. She had wanted to tell her she had moved when her friend asked her again if she was out of town and she quickly replied yes.
“Okay then give me a call me when you get back. The party is an all-white affair. Don’t forget, next month.” Then she dropped the call.
Her friend was a happy go person. She never worried about anything. They had met when she was working at the bank; she was pregnant with her second child and had come to resolve a non-reversed cash debit transaction made on her account through the ATM machine.
Her friend had been coming and going for few days with the issue unresolved due to the fluctuations in the banks network. Seeing her distress and conditions, she had offered her assistance by asking her to stop coming to the bank to check. She had promised to inform her when her issue has been resolved and they had exchanged numbers. She had also encouraged her friend to activate an short message notification on her account so as to enable her get transaction alerts on her phone.
The day the reversal was made; her friend had called to thank her and asked if she would like to have drinks with her after work, she had declined because she was going on a date with her boyfriend then. One time she had sent her husband to her in the bank to get the statement of her account because she was due to travel abroad for her second child delivery. That was the first time she had met her friend’s husband. She would soon come to know much later that despite her friend’s flamboyancy, her husband was a quiet and very reserve family man to the core.
Her walk had taken her towards the mini market in the community towards the express way leading back to town and the airport. The people of the community were very reserve in nature but also friendly too. After taking note of her environment, she decided to go back taking another route. She counted up to five routes leading to the community. She then saw an opened kiosk and inquire if she could buy airtime on her phone. While loading the airtime, she was approached by a man, who greeted her smiling and asked if she doesn’t him paying for her purchase.
Caught off guard by the man’s question, she quickly opened her wallet, paid for the airtime and walked away from the kiosk. The man followed her some few yards talking to her without getting any response, and then turned back. Fearing he might follow her, she decided to follow another route home.
She saw the security man clearing the grass outside of the gate and quickly informed him she wasn’t expecting anyone so if anyone ask after her, he was to tell whoever it was to give her a call and not let anyone near her flat.
By the time she got in, it was already twelve noon, so she had another shower, made herself some noodle’s with lettuce, fried omelet eggs and a cold drink for lunch. She was lying on her bed thinking about her encounter with the man who had offered to pay for her airtime voucher when her phone rang. She picked it and saw it was an unregistered number on her phone answering the caller; it turned out to be her ex-boyfriend.
“Love, did you get my message? What happened? Where are you? I have checked you at home and was told you’ve vacated your apartment. What’s going on? Are you there?’’
Calmly she responded “I’m with you. “Yes I’ve vacated the old place. I’m alright though, thanks for asking.”
“So when and how do we see? Do I come pick you at your new place then?’’ He had asked.
“It’s not necessary. We’ll see when we see.” She replied
“What do you mean?” He asked repeating her last statement. “What’s with the strange behavior?” He asked and without waiting for a reply he continued “Let me know whenever you are okay and ready to talk. I don’t have time for your childish games’’. With that he dropped the call hissing loudly enough for her to hear.
She had gotten the perfect response from him. He wouldn’t ever call her again. He has too much ego. She was now free.
There was a knock at her door. It was quarter past 6 pm in the evening, it was a Friday. Most of her neighbors were now returning home from work, especially the ones who had their own businesses in town. She had been reading through her recipe book. She went to her door and asked who it was; the security guard replied that he wanted to see her. She opened her door, went out to meet him at her balcony while closing the door. The security guard was with someone whom he introduced as his brother who will take his place while he traveled to his home town up north to see to his farm.
He would be away for three months and he was leaving the next day. She asked if he had introduced him to the rest of her neighbors and he answered that he had done so. She then excused herself to go in and got something for him. She came back giving him some cash and reminded him to explain to his brother to always confirm from her if she was expecting any visitor before letting anyone through to see her. He said he had done so and that’s why he brought him to her. He thanked her for the cash and took his leave. She stayed on looking over towards the highway and saw that the traffic was already building.
As she turned to leave, her next door neighbor’s wife whose kitchen back door was next to her apartment, opened and greeted her while emptying the trash. They chatted for a while before she went in. She returned to reading her recipe book, making notes on what to buy on her next shopping.
She heard her phone ring. It was underneath her pillows. It was her married friend who was calling. She picked the call feigning excitement.
“Hello girlfriend,” she said.
“Babe, hope you haven’t forgotten about my hubby’s birthday party? It’s been two weeks that I last called you. Are you back?”
“No, I haven’t and hello to you too, and yes I am back’’ she said stressing on the “I am’’.
“How are the kids?” She asked.
“Oh they are fine. So can we hook up today?”
“Babe, there’s traffic everywhere and I really don’t want to go out tonight, please. But we can see tomorrow Saturday when the roads will be free,” she pleaded.
Her friend agreed, they fixed time and the place. After that she called her cab driver and told him what time to pick her the next day. The cab man was elderly. He was the only one who knew her house. She had first met him one early morning on her way to work whilst still working at the bank, he had driven her to work and asked if she had lower denomination of cash to pay for her fare as she was his first passenger that morning. After checking she realized all the notes she carried were in high denominations so she had asked him to stop her before going too far from her where he had picked her.
He had refused saying they would find a way and began telling her it was still early in the morning and that wasn’t a good way to start the day’s business and he may not make a good sale for that day. She had smiled, knowing what he had meant. She understood him because he had spoken her native Yoruba dialect. On getting to her office building, he had told her to hold onto his payment till he comes in the evening to pick her if she doesn’t mind. She was happy with the arrangement and so had exchanged numbers with him. It was a smart move on his part. From then on, he became her regular cab driver. She often refers people to him, especially those going to the airport and also waiting to be picked. His prices were reasonable affordable too.
Sighing to herself, she knew she would have to talk to her friend about her present state. It was almost 7 pm, she went to the kitchen, re-heated the spaghetti and the meat sauce she had had for lunch, set it on a tray and went to her sitting room to watch the evening news while she ate.
Alighting from the cab, wearing a brownish sun shade, she scanned to see where her friend was seated in the lounge bar. It was crowded as she suspected it would be so she had taken extra time on her looks. She knew she could run into any one, her friend spotted her and waved to her. She turned and told her cab driver to expect her call when she was through but still paid him. Bracing herself for the short walk to where her friend was seated, she was thankful she had worn a wedged a high heeled multicolored shoe and a black dress. Her bohemian hair extension had been parted from the side. She knew she was stunning. Her shoes gave her the balance. Smiling as she got closer to her friend, they hugged and complimented each other. Seated, she placed an order for a Chapman drink with a double portion of French fries for both of them.
While waiting for their orders, they talked about her friend’s husband’s party and what was needed. Her friend had everything well planned, she just wanted her presence. When their drink and food arrived, the waiter explained to them that the bill had been taken care of and gave her a complimentary card which she had passed to her friend. Her friend, who had recognized the name, then asked the waiter to remember to extend their appreciation to him.
When the waiter was out of hearing, her friend excitedly had told her about the man who had paid their bill and whose son he was. Indifferently, she responded she knew the name too but doesn’t know him personally.
Holding her hands, her friend had told her she knew she had parted with her boyfriend. She had read about her ex-boyfriends engagement from the gossip column of one of the city’s magazine and also confirmed it from her brother in law who had helped her investigate the girl whose mother owned a bar in town where some notables and even expatriate often hang out.
Sighing she gave her friend a weak smile and said although she had been hurt by so many things her ex- boyfriend had done even before she heard of the engagement, she was fine and all was now in the past.
Encouraged by her words, her friend told her not to worry as someone who would make her happy will show up soon. They talked some more about her new bed spread, cushions and throw pillow designs, how to expand the business into interior decor and getting contracts from hotel owners.
It was almost 7 pm, when her friend left her, by then the crowd at the lounge had decreased. Despite the town boasting of different relaxation spot and many to choose from, it was almost impossible not to bump into the same set of crowd elsewhere as the trend was to go from one spot to the other.
She put a call through to the cab man to pick her while she waited for him at the lounge. As is her culture, she texted her friend appreciating her for having time to see her and thanked her for buying her lunch.
Dropping her phone on the table, she looked up to see a man approaching her table. He was tall; she quickly looked away to the heavily lighted street. The man reaching her table cleared his throats and asked if he could sit with her.
She nodded and continued to look away.
“So I see your friend left,” the man said.
Surprised, she turned to look at him. Smiling, the man introduced himself and apologized for being cocky. He continued that he needed it in order to be able to approach her.
That statement made her laugh and he joined in. Her phone rang and she excused herself still seated to speak to the cab man. He was calling to apologize for coming late; he had driven a passenger to the airport but was now at the city gate, he would be with her soon.
When she finished her call, she faced the man seated in front of her smiling and thanked him for his generosity.
“Thank you for accepting my little show of appreciation on your beauty.”
“The way you walked in here earlier was so captivating. God truly spent some time on you.”
She blushed, smiled and thanked him for his kind words.
“You are welcome and keep up the good looks”. They both laughed. He cleared his throats and continued. “This will sound weird but I will say it anyway. Please don’t take offence. I would seriously like to see you again. I know you will soon be leaving, I mean I heard you on the phone now. So please may I have your number before your driver gets here.”
“He’s not my driver she replied. I don’t have a car. He’s a cab man I pay to take me around.”
“Oh I’m sorry! Please may I have your number?”
“Yes, you may.” Smiling, she called it out to him and he saved it and thanked her. Just then, the cab man arrived and called to inform her. She quickly gathered her phone and purse. The man asked if she didn’t mind him walking her to the cab. She thanked him for his gesture and they both walked quietly to meet the cab man. Trying to open the back door for her to seat, she quickly explained that she always sit in front with the driver and thanked him for being courteous.
That night on her bed, after she had sent another message to her friend about the man who had paid for their lunch, and after she had also prayed, she began to question whether she had done the right thing giving the man her number. She hadn’t wanted to be rude especially knowing the son of whom he was. Her new business venture needed someone like him to open doors in difficult places for her. Hopefully, her friend will advise her on what to do. Yawning, she fell into deep sleep.