But more importantly, her life had been saved. She had escaped a plane crash narrowly.
Time had passed and she had finally gotten a job. She had felt so bad seeing her mates who hadn't even made good grades get good jobs. The frustrating part was that, the companies and firms she applied to actually called her for interviews. But when she did her medicals, feeling like she had already gotten the job, they came with one excuse or the other.
Her present job wasn't exactly her dream one. She had been offered employment in the Legal department of the company. It was a new oil servicing firm. Her Law school fees was even more expensive than her salary. She wished she could decline the offer but she needed to make some money, no matter how meager. She had thought of starting her own business but she didn't even know what kind of business she wanted to run. Her mom had urged her to take the job, even if it was temporarily.
It was Monday morning. Her Blackberry alarm went off at 5 am. She needed to get up that early because her house at Ikeja, to the office at Victoria Island, was quite a distance and she had to ride with her neigbour, Mrs Idowu, who also worked at V.I.
She jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and ran the shower. She was about ironing her chiffon blouse when the electricity was interrupted. She cursed and started to look for something else to wear, dumping a pile of clothes on the floor. She looked at the clock. It was 5.37 AM. Her neigbour would call her phone any time soon. She finally settled for a dress that didn't need ironing, and threw a matching blazer over it.
Her mom was awake already, making breakfast.
"Aren't you having breakfast?" Mrs Cole asked.
Derin didn't see her face clearly. The kitchen was dark except for the dim light from the rechargeable lamp.
"I can't wait. Mrs Idowu will soon call me. I'm late." Derin replied.
"Okay. Have a nice day. Call me when you get to work."
Derin dashed out just as her phone began to ring.
She got to work about five minutes to resumption time. Good. She had time to do her make up and brush her hair, before work started. Only three of her colleagues had resumed already. They were five in the department altogether; three ladies and two men.
She was just applying her eyeliner when the head of the department walked in, raising his voice.
"Who's responsible for Chevron's file? They've been calling me endlessly. Wasn't it supposed to be delivered to their office on Friday? Where is Anita?"The HOD yelled.
Anita wasn't at work yet. She had called Derin already that she was stuck in traffic.
"She...she stepped out sir." Derin said, not knowing what else to say, and trying not to get Anita in trouble.
"Do you know where she kept the documents and if she's through with working on it? I need it taken to Lekki right away." He ranted.
Derin had helped Anita work on it, and they had finished it except that the traffic had been bad on Friday and so Anita had said she would take it first thing on Monday. But apparently, she had forgotten the documents at work.
She found the documents in Anita's drawer, then she sealed them in the company's official envelope and then grabbed her blazer. The HOD had given her the name and number of the person she was supposed to deliver the documents to at Chevron.
She stepped out of the Taxi and walked into the reception. She filled the visitor's register with her details and walked into the main building then took the elevator to the 4th Floor. She was looking around for the right office. She decided to ask someone. There was a young man waiting for the elevator to stop at that floor.
"Hi, Good morning," Derin started, walking towards him.
"Hi..." He smiled.
"Please can you show me how to get to Procurement? I need to deliver these documents to someone there."
He looked at his watch, then sighed.
"I'll have to take you there. Let's go." He said.
She followed behind him like a little puppy. They finally got there, only for her to be told that the person she was supposed to see was not in. She dropped the document with his secretary and then started to leave. After she signed out, she walked to the road, waiting to call a cab back to the office. Then a silver Hyundai honked and pulled over beside her. It was the same guy that had helped her find the office a while ago. After a little convincing, she got into the car after he wouldn't shut the door he had opened.
"I helped you and now you think I'll bite you?" He laughed.
Derin didn't say anything.
"Where are you headed?" He asked.
"Em...Saka Tinubu at V.I." She replied.
"I'm going to Ikoyi."
"So I didn't get your name. I'm Tobi." He said, getting into the Lekki-Epe express.
"Derinsola." She said.
They got talking up until he dropped her right at work. She smiled and said thanks, and then they exchanged numbers.
Tobi waited till close of work. At 4.30 PM sharp, he called Derin. He had enjoyed talking with her, and he had to admit he found her quite intelligent and fun to talk to. Derin had been nice at first, but when the calls began to span into every hour, followed by text messages almost every minute, she began to front. He wasn't different from the other guys she had dated in the past. Once they discovered she was a sickler, they started to cut off ties with her.
There was something about this Tobi though. He was more persistent than any guy she had ever met, and she enjoyed the chase. The height of it was when he started sending roses to her office. She finally decided to give it a thought. If she was going to have a relationship, she wanted some serious commitment...something that could, as they say, lead to marriage. She shivered at the thought of marriage. She had never seen herself being alive up to that age, not to talk of getting married. But with Tobi, the hope came with the package. She decided she was going to be open with him and tell him straight from the start that she was SS. It was left to him to accept her or not.
A month after, there was a Derin and Tobi. Every one at her office knew there was an obvious change. Even her mother. She was more cheerful than she had ever been all her adult life.
A month after and she was hopelessly in love with Tobi. She knew he was a great guy. Every single person she had introduced him to had approved of him without thinking twice. What else could a girl want? He was good looking, spiritual, focused, and worked as an Engineer with an Oil company. Bliss!
Tobi shared the same feelings. There was just something special about Derin. She was different from every other girl he had met. He knew she was the one. Even if it was just a month, he had no doubts or skepticism that Derin Cole was the woman he wanted to marry.
Derin looked at herself again in the mirror at the Female Convenience in the office. She had reapplied her make-up so she wouldn't look tired. She had a date with Tobi. Anita had teased her that maybe he wanted to pop the big question but she didn't think so. They had only just begun to date, although, Derin wished he would pop the question pretty soon. She couldn't understand her conviction about this guy. She just knew she had never felt that way about any one.
He was right on time. By 5 PM, he was already waiting for her at the car park downstairs. She hugged Anita and grabbed her purse, then hurried down the stairs.
They were having dinner at a small Asian restaurant at Victoria Island. Images of different rings started to pop in her head, but she had to psyche herself back to reality. It was too early. He hadn't even met her mother yet, neither had she met his family. They were still just getting to know each other.
He held her hand and smiled, looking into her eyes.
"I really do love you, Derin." Tobi said.
Derin smiled back. She didn't know what to say.
"I love you too." She replied.
"I am so happy we're in this together. I've never been this happy with anyone else, and I think I've gotten to this point where I need to start thinking about the next step in my life."
Her heart skipped a beat. Next step? I love you? I'm happy?
Those words were only pointing at one thing.
"I want to know if you feel the same way about me too? Do you think you can spend the rest of your life with me?" He asked.
Do you think? He was just asking a question. He wasn't exactly asking her to marry him.
"Well...sure. I love you. But we're still getting to know each other." She replied.
Derin knew she was scared. She had never planned for marriage. But Tobi had started to make her change her mind. All she pictured with him was getting married and having a family together.
"Exactly. That's why I brought us here. I want us to talk. I feel there's still a lot I don't know about you. I've told you basically everything about me. You know what my folks do, you know my past, and you know my present...and I want you to be in my future."
"Is that a pick-up line, Tobi?"
He laughed too.
"Okay, seriously. I think we have talked about everything important. Is there anything you'd like to know?"
She said, sipping her glass of Chapman.
"Yeah. Are you HIV positive or negative?" He laughed. She burst out laughing too.
"You're a chicken." She teased him, shaking her head.
"So, really, we haven't talked about our past or our exes. I think it's important if we wanna go serious with this." He said.
"Okay. You go first." She replied.
"Well, my ex left me because she said she couldn't risk some things. She's AS genotype, and I'm AS too. I really did like her but she said she couldn't bear the risk of us having a sickle cell child. And really, I see reason with her. I've lost some close friends to this SS thing, and I wouldn't want to risk having an SS baby. They go through so much suffering and I don't think I can even cope with it."
Derin sipped her drink, but her throat was closed. Her heart shook within her. She knew she had decided she would tell him her genotype anyways, but somehow, she'd been busy falling in love with him that she hadn't found the time to talk about it. And there he was saying he and his ex broke up because of this.
"Are you okay, Babe?" Tobi's shook her arms.
She was lost in thought.
"I need to go home." She said, grabbing her purse.
*Survived the Shoah