3 Days to My Birthday…
I wake up and stare at the ceiling for a while. Looking at my phone to check the time, I see that it’s some minutes past 6 am.
I turn and face the wall and force myself back to sleep, by closing my eyes tightly. It works, and the next time I wake up, it is around 9 am, and I grumble at my ringing phone for waking me up.
I look at the screen and see that the caller ID is my best friend.
“Hello,” I say, not caring to hide my displeasure.
“Don’t tell me you are still sleeping,” he says, ignoring my displeasure.
“By this time? Oya stand up from that bed.”
I know it is a mock order, but I sit up anyway. My best friend has always had that power over me. He is older, but that is not the reason I listen to him. He has been there for me, and has proven to be worth my respect, so I see him as important enough to respect and listen to.
So I sit up, and I grumble.
“You don stand up?” he asks.
“Yes Sir,” I reply.
“Very good. So what’s your plan for your birthday?” he asks.
I’m so surprised and pleased he remembered my birthday, that tears fill my eyes, and I am temporarily silent.
“Hello! You no wan talk?”
“I’m surprised you remembered,” I explain.
“What’s your plan?” he repeats his question.
“I don’t know. I’m broke, I’m sad, I’m afraid. I’m turning 30 and I don’t know what I am doing with my life.”
I am aware that I am whining and sounding ungrateful, but I don’t care; I am talking to my best friend.
“Sorry,” he says, listening for the rest of my complaints.
“I had money now, I would have lodged myself in a good hotel the night before my birthday, and get room service throughout until the morning after my day. That way I would have been waited on and pampered.”
“The tin wey dey hungry you no dey here,” he says with a chuckle.
I ignore him, and continue; I’m on a roll.
“I will order good food and some juice, watch television and sleep on the big bed, with nothing or anyone to disturb me.”
“Well done,” he replies, the laughter still in his voice.
“How you dey?” I ask. He has been a good friend and I really wanted to know how he was.
“I just dey,” he replied. “How Ngozi?”
Ngozi is the name of one of my younger sisters. He usually asks about her, telling me he might get married to her.
“She’s fine,” I say, wondering why he was not interested in my fantasy for my birthday, until a voice reminded me that I was obviously joking, so there was no reason for him to take it seriously.
“Abeg send me her number,” he says. “I wan greet am; e don tey,”
“Okay, I go send am now. Hope you are really fine?”
“Yes I am. Nne, no worry about your birthday, just be happy and grateful that you are counting years, when some people counted only days.”
He says his goodbye and goes off.
Minding my wounded calf, I kneel down to pray.
After my prayer, I acknowledge that talking with my best friend made me happy, happier than I’ve been in a long while.
Energised, I go out and clean the parlour and kitchen. As I work, I realise that his words had given me hope. I am counting years, and would count more.
I finish with the house chores and go to my laptop, and start writing down my experience of the day before. I am writing when I begin to get angry again with the sender of the address.
I message him of his mistake, and how I had walked up and down an unknown estate looking like a confused Lagosian, when I was in fact a Lagosian to the core, born and bred in the state.
Minutes after I send the message, I get a reply with an apology, and expressed happiness that I finally found the place.
I am wondering why he is not more apologetic when my grumbling stomach reminds me that I am hungry. I decide to tell my best friend since I was on my own when he decided to check up on me. I also realise that I am yet to send him Ngozi’s number.
So I send the text, “080********. I am hungry and I am broke, and I have a wound on my calf from looking for job yesterday. Help!!!”
“I hope you realise you are turning 30 and not 13,” a voice says. “You should stop begging for money, especially with your manipulative tactics.”
It’s the first time I am hearing a voice today.
I am wondering if I had been out of line, and I go back to writing my story. I am just finishing the story and about to begin the editing when I get a credit alert of 3000 naira.
I smile with glee, postpone the editing, and begin planning how to cook egusi soup.
As I get a piece of paper to write my list, the voice reminds me to return tithe. I pause.
“Do I have to? It’s not an income!” I reply.
“But it is an increase,” another voice responds.
I shut up.
“You didn’t work for this, more can come from where you don’t expect.”
Taking a deep breath, I write out my tithe and offering amount. I calculate for the rest and before long I am on my way out to the market.
I greet my mother on my way out, and I see the slight surprise on her face, as she apparently expects me to be sad or still in bed.
She asks me how my day went yesterday, and I show her my wounded calf. She is angry at the wound and asks me where I was looking when the tricycle injured me. I try to explain that I looked, but he came out of nowhere.
She gives me a look which tells me how stupid the excuse sounds, and I tell her I am going to the market to get things for soup.
The announcement improve her mood, and I wish I had more to give her all what she wants.
My mother enjoys eating Eba. We were quite little when I and my sibling realised that. Brought up in the city, we didn’t understand why, but we acknowledged it. We get a hunger for Eba once in a while, but my mother can eat it every day. I could never understand it.
Seeing her happy at the news, I send a word of blessing to my best friend and realise that I am yet to thank him. I quickly run back to my hole and call him.
“God bless you,” I say, immediately he picked up.
“Amen,” he replies, “I was about to call you now, God save you. I for yab that bad character comot for your body.”
“No vex, na over happiness worry me. I wan go market now.”
“Okay, buy well o.”
“Yes Sir, thank you.”
“I hear, bye bye.”
I walk out back to the parlour and my mother asks who gave me money, and I tell her it is my best friend, a little miffed that she was still asking me the source of my income at my age.
“I have to ask,” she explains, reading my expression. Then she asks another, more annoying, question, “What is between you and your best friend?”
“He’s my best friend, nothing more. He has a girlfriend!” I exclaim.
This is not the first time my mother is asking me about my relationship with my best friend. She has met him, and knows him, but she keeps asking me. Sometimes I wonder if she asks to know if things have changed, and he was now my future husband.
I know she wishes to see me married, and knowing I am this close to a man without any romantic feelings attached must make her wonder what’s wrong with her first daughter.
I tell her to have a great day, and walk out to the ATM for the money and from there I go to the market.
By the time I return, I am relieved to see that she has left. I hurriedly cook and eat, relishing in the joy of a belly full of good food.
Energised by the smooth flow of the day, I fetch water and edit my work.
As evening draws near, and knowing my mother would soon return, I dish out her food and place it on her stool, then I rush my bath and quickly retire to my hole.
I didn’t want more questions which indirectly talks about my lack of a relationship.
I stay in my hole pressing my phone, and before long, the excitement of the day catches up with me and my eyes shut down in sleep.
Today was a good day.
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