I've received some requests for email notifications. Um....i've navigated this blogspot settings and I think the only way I can is if I get your e-mails so that I add them to the mailing list when I post new episodes.
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Now to the story...lol.
It was June 11th. It was Shomi's supposed birthday. She wasn't really into celebrating birthdays. In fact, she had never celebrated a birthday. She didn't really have many friends. She found it weird too. She just wasn't one to keep in touch and do the whole friend thing. Maybe it was because she hadn't grown up with other kids. Madam Joyce had always made sure she worked all day and cleaned at night and the cycle continued. And when she had started to go to school, she was always so eager to get back home so that she could continue work. The little times she had to herself were for studying, studying, and more studying.
She hadn't planned anything special for the day. She wasn't even so sure if it was really her birthday. Madam Joyce had just picked a random date and dashed her.
She had just woken up. The time was 5.00 AM. She had to hurry up and get her cooking ingredients together, then she had to call the taxi man she always used. She knew she had to be grateful that she was no longer just the Akara girl at the bus stop stand. She had climbed a few entrepreneurship steps but she still wanted more. She could count her needs on her fingers already. She needed an operational vehicle so she could do deliveries for customers who wanted home delivery instead of always having to spend on taxis. She wanted to open a real breakfast place too, just like the stand where the whole business had started. But she wanted something more organized, with seats and tables, and menus. She would make more money for sure, but first, she needed money for capital.
It was the need for capital that had driven her to cheat on Dapo. Well, she didn't think she had cheated technically. Dapo had told her to leave his house, and she had thought it was just a matter of time before he left her eventually anyway. Yeah. She knew he was going to leave her someday. What did she have to offer the man other than well-made Akara? She wasn't classy like him. She couldn't even think of their relationship having any longevity. She knew his high-class parents would not approve of her. She didn't even have a family, if at all he was going to marry her. How would she look on the wedding day, with just Madam Joyce to represent her own side of the wedding? It wasn't just that. He was a man, no matter how nice he was being to her. He would take from her sexually, and when he'd had his fill of her, like the law of diminishing returns, he would toss her away and not want her any more. He would find a rich jand girl and maybe marry her. She didn't want to be the unwanted girl she had always been all her life. And she could only achieve that by making a name for herself. That's exactly where her focus was. She was going to do anything to be an independent and important person. She had to be a person first before she started talking about being an independent woman. She needed some currency identity and a real status, not just a census head. She was done being the helpless and hopeless little girl. She wasn't going to be at any one's mercy...at any man's mercy.
She was getting her things together when she heard her phone ring. Maybe it was her Taxi man. He always came by 5.40 A.M. She was right.
By 9.00 A.M, after she was done with the breakfast serve at the company canteen, she got another call. Maybe it was someone that wanted special delivery. She was right again.
"Hi, is this Shomi?" The person said.
"Yes, good morning..." She replied.
"Okay. I got your number from someone. I want you to make twenty pieces of Akara for me. I want the fish and chicken Akara." The person said.
"Oh okay. Fine. Where is your address?"
She scribbled the address on a piece of paper. It was a restaurant though. She was surprised. Why would a restaurant want her to deliver twenty pieces of Akara? Or maybe they wanted to employ her and wanted to try samples? Maybe it was a disguised interview? It would be a perfect birthday gift!
The customer had said he wanted his order delivered by 12.30 PM. She rushed home and got to work immediately. She wasn't going to use newspapers. She had bought foil paper and some paper towels. After the Akara was done, she put them in the paper towels but then the oil began to seep through. She wrapped it anyways and then wrapped it again in foil so that the bundle was twice wrapped. She looked at her clock. It was 11.40 AM. She could have just gone to meet Madam Joyce at the stand and get Akara from her but she wanted to prepare this Akara with some more effort. She had fried yam too, even if the customer hadn't asked for it.
By 12.30 PM on the dot, her phone started to ring. That was one up-to-time customer. She'd only just gotten there about five minutes ago. He told her to come into the restaurant. She adjusted her dress and her hair, then she walked in. The security man smiled at her and she smiled back too. Then she realized that she didn't even know the name of the customer. As she picked her phone to dial the number, she heard someone call her name. It was a waiter.
"Good afternoon Ma. I suppose you are Shomi?" He said. It seemed every staff of the restaurant had the same smile. She nodded, smiling back. Maybe it was a policy thing.
"Please come with me." He said, leading her to a table.
She waited for about five minutes. The waiter had served her a glass of water. She declined it. She didn't want to pay 800 Naira for a glass of water. It seemed such an expensive place.
"Hello, Shomi," He said.
She turned around, and then her eyes followed him as he came to fill the seat opposite her.
"Dapo what are you doing here?" Shomi said, surprised. She was beginning to get upset.
"I ordered for Akara." He smiled.
She shook her head. She couldn't believe that she had wasted her time, trying so hard to give the Akara her best shot because she had thought it was possibly a knocking job.
"I need to leave!" She said.
Dapo held her hand so she wouldn't.
"Please, Babe. Please sit. Don't leave."
Shomi eye balled him, then she sat still.
"What do you want?" She finally said.
"What do you mean me? We broke up. It's been weeks since this has been going on."
"I know, and it's been killing me because I miss you."
Shomi looked the other way.
"I know I shouldn't have raised my voice and told you to get out of my house. I should understand that it's a new relationship and we're still getting to know each other. I'm so sorry." Dapo said calmly. He held her hand and started to rub the back of it. She didn't lift her hand off. So he continued with some hope.
"You don't know jack about me. You called me a whore." She said, still looking away.
"I'm sorry about it. I was hurt seeing you with another man."
She was silent for a while.
"I didn't sleep with him. I asked him to loan me the money. I'm not that kind of woman. I am not! I am not my mother!" She said. For the first time, Dapo saw this strong woman cry. He looked around. He didn't want people to start looking so he held her hand and led her outside so they could talk in his car.
"I'm sorry for breaking down there." She said. Her voice had changed. She wasn't crying anymore. She sounded official now.
"Please don't apologize, my Love. Please talk to me. I'm your man. I need you to be able to talk to me and be open with me." Dapo said.
Shomi shook her head.
"I'm fine. It was just an outburst." She said.
"Okay," Dapo sighed. "Let's go back inside. Happy birthday baby."
Shomi laughed. She had totally forgotten that it was her birthday.
The day had gone so well. Dapo had told her he wanted to spend the whole day with her. After lunch at the restaurant, they went to see a movie together, and then he took her to somewhere at Lekki where they car-raced. He watched every movement of every moment with her. She was so happy and excited, and he could tell this wasn't something she might have ever done before. He couldn't explain it. He just knew he loved her so very much and he wanted to take care of her. He wanted to make her happy. He couldn't turn a blind eye to the sad little girl that he saw, trapped inside her soul. He wanted to set that girl free. Seeing her have fun now made him so sure that she wasn't as uptight as she seemed.
"Thank you so much for today. I'm so happy!" She said, and this time, she hugged him first, without him having to reach out. He smiled. That was a start. They were now in front of her block. He had brought her back home. Madam Joyce had called her phone a million times wanting to know where she was.
"I have one more thing for you." He said.
"What's it?" She said, surprised.
"I was so angry about you getting money from that guy. I really was, and I love you, but you need to know that I won't take you cheating on me or doing stuff like that. I will not." He said, his face straighter than ever before.
"Okay." She replied with that Kristen Stewart kind of expressionless look.
Dapo shook his head. He had thought she would apologize, but she didn't.
"I got you a shop. I rented a place for you at Ikeja. You can move your stand there and make your business bigger. I haven't paid for the place yet though. I wanna know what you think first, if you want it..."
"Oh my goodness! Oh I can't believe this!" She started to cry this time. She couldn't hold back her tears no matter how much she tried. That was the best birthday gift ever. And that was the exact thing she had prayed/wished for that morning. Maybe it was a sign that Dapo was the right man for her...just maybe.
"Come in. I think it's high time I introduced you formally to Madam Joyce as my boyfriend." She smiled.
James looked at the printed CV that the boy at the cyber cafe gave to him.
"Thank you." He smiled, then he folded it into an envelope and gave a crumpled hundred Naira note to the boy.
He got on an okada and then described to the rider the place where he was going.
Shoyce Breakfast Place.
His neighbour, a taxi man, had told him that one of his regular customers who sold Akara now had a restaurant and that they were looking to recruit a driver for deliveries and running-around. He didn't care how badly the job would pay. He just wanted to earn something. He was getting desperate.
The boss was a young woman. In fact, very young. She was pretty, but quite simple. The restaurant was new but the kind of crowd they had there was overwhelming. There were only two servers; an old woman and another girl. He had waited for the boss at a table, but his stomach kept on growling. He was hungry and the aroma of the freshly served Akara and Ogi on the other table attacked his senses. The Ogi looked very nice. They had splashed evaporated milk and sprinkled granulated sugar over it. There was a jar of honey and the literal imagination of a land flowing with milk and honey started to run through his mind.
"Good afternoon," The lady said, taking a seat beside him. He stood up to shake her hand and then he sat down.
"So, my taxi man told me you're a very good driver." Shomi, the co-owner of Shoyce Breakfast Place said.
"Yes ma. My name is James. I have my CV here." He handed the enevelope to her.
Shomi opened it and then went through the CV. She remembered for a bit, the days she had written endless CVs and cover letters, looking for a job.
"Let's talk about your salary. How much do you want to earn?" She asked.
James rubbed his palms together.
"Like fifty thousand will not be bad madam." He said.
Shomi laughed out loud.
"Abeg, you think say na Sheraton you wan work? I will pay you fifteen thousand and maybe I can re-consider it later after some time."
James sighed. A whole Chemistry graduate. He had made sure the cyber cafe boy had typed B.SC Chemistry in Bold upper case.
"It's okay ma. I will take it." He said.
They agreed he would start two days after. Shomi asked the other attendant to serve him some breakfast. She couldn't continue to pretend that she didn't hear his stomach growl.
"So are you employing him?" Madam Joyce asked as Shomi went back to join her.
"Yes. We will. Are you okay with it?"
"I agree with whatever decision you take, my dear."
Shomi smiled. Madam Joyce had never called her my dear before. She looked at the woman;
Her heart began to beat faster. What if Dapo's parents didn't approve of her?
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