Amadi Briggs was sitting on his bed and resting his back against the pillow which served as a soft cushion between his back and the bedroom wall. The plasma television hanging on the wall was tuned on to M- net Action Dstv channel, a Hollywood production was showing on the screen. Amadi wasn’t watching the movie, he was rather engrossed in his Samsung Galaxy S5 android phone. His fingers swiped the screen continuously as he played the fast paced Temple Run game. Amadi was determined on completing the 1000m Allergic to Gold objective. It was a calm Saturday night and PHCN had graciously provided power supply to the Peter Odili Road axis of Port Harcourt city.
Amadi’s second phone, a Nokia Lumia, suddenly rang out with a loud ringtone. The noisy sound startled him and he paused the game. He took a quick glance at the time piece on top of the bed and it showed that the time was 11:25 pm, Amadi shrugged, “who could be calling at such a late hour?”. He picked up the phone.
“Hi sweetheart, it is me Maria!” A soft feminine voice answered.
“Hey baby, did you change your number? How are you doing?” Amadi replied with a smile on his face.
“I am cool, I am using my other line, I ran out of credit on my MTN” she answered and continued, “I called to find out if you have heard the news?”
“Elections have been postponed from Valentine ’sDay, it will now hold on 28th March. This is good news sweedie! We are gonna celebrate valentine at last! I am coming over on the 13th” Maria announced excitedly.
Alarm bells rang through his mind “Good news? This is bad news!” George said silently to himself.
“Maria are you sure of this? When did they announce the shift?”
“It was announced twenty minutes ago, Jega the INEC chairman gave a live press conference on AIT. I can’t wait for valentine day to come sweetie!”
“Okay, I will quickly check it out, I will call you tomorrow” Amadi said in a deflated tone.
“Sweetheart you don’t sound pleased with the info, what is wrong?” Maria inquired, her voice sounded worried.
“Don’t mind my voice, I was sleeping, your call woke me up” Amadi lied, “I had a hectic day at the office today. Let’s talk later dear”
“Alright, sorry for interrupting your sleep. Sweet dreams tonight, dream of me and you, I looove you”
“I love you too dear” He replied in a low tone and ended the call.
Amadi threw the phone on the bed and held his head in his hands.
Why did INEC decide to postpone the election billed for Valentine’s Day? He had been banking on the elections to avoid celebrating valentine. He just couldn’t afford any celebration with the present state of his finances. These INEC officials were spoil sports!
The phone rang out again. He picked it up and gave a short sigh of regret as he saw the caller id, Suzzy was calling.
“Hello Amadi, good evening, I just thought I should say hi, just wanted to hear your voice tonight”
“You called to say hi by 11pm?” he muttered in his mind but replied “Oh thanks dear, wassup with you?” Amadi was in lover boy mood.
“I am fine, where are you at now?”
“I am at home, any problem?”
“Well….nothing really, Sweetheart have you heard the news?”
“Jonathan has postponed elections because he knows that Buhari will win him. The good thing now is that Valentine day is now free for us to enjoy ourselves”
“Really? You mean INEC has cancelled the election?” Amadi questioned as if he was hearing the news for the first time.
“Yes dear. Forget about them jare, they know what they are doing with their stupid politics. For me it is sai Buhari all the way!”
“I thought you were a Jonathanian”
“I was before but I have seen the need for change. I want change! Er…er, dear, I will be coming over on Valentine’s Day. We need to chill out, relax and do stuff that lovers do”
“No wahala, I will be expecting you”
“Yeeeah sweedie you are the best! I know my valentine gift has been parceled for me already”
“Good night and sweet dreams….I love you”
George dropped the phone with a frown engraved on his face. He grabbed the remote control and quickly tuned the television to AIT. It was the late night news and the breaking news headline was boldly displayed on the screen.
INEC POSTPONES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS BY SIX WEEKS TO MARCH 28
A surge of panic gripped him as he listened to the newscaster reading out the press release by INEC. Valentine’s Day was holding after all. How was he going to cope with the plethora of women around him who were all looking up to him to fulfill their Valentine fantasies? Things were at a dismal state presently.
The sharp bbm notification tone on his phone reminded him that he had a new message. He picked up the phone. The message was from one of his contacts; Annabel.
“Hey boo, they have cancelled elections. I will be coming to spend valentine with you. Please reply me when you see this” She added a heart smiley to the message.
Amadi enlarged the display picture of the girl. Tall, slim, pretty face, long legs, he had met her at friend’s birthday party four months ago. They exchanged pins at the party and one week later he asked her out. They have been chatting and hanging out together regularly. He liked her.
Amadi replied the message with a kiss smiley and quickly turned off the phone. He had had enough breaking news updates.
He sat at the edge of his bed and began thinking.
He felt a huge sense of betrayal by INEC by their singular action of postponing the election. He was good looking, 31 years of age, had a good job with one of the new generation banks, drove a Ra4 2010 model and lived in a nice apartment. As a banker you had to appear neat, suave and polished. It was official policy at COMPANION BANK that all staff wore trendy clothes that would give them the modern corporate look. Attaining the ideal corporate look entailed buying the best suits, shirts, ties and shoes, most of which were imported and expensive. A large portion of his earnings went into his wardrobe. He had been on the banking job for four years and now he was neck deep in debt.
He had lived a carefree life where he believed that money was meant to be spent at will. His mum had talked him into making some investments. He joined the savings scheme that was set up by his colleagues in the office. When the revolving loan got to his turn, he used the money to buy an expensive plot of land in Old GRA axis of the city and had started the process of moulding blocks for the construction of his residential building. A large portion of his salary was sunk into buying building materials and payment of the workers on the site.
His Ra4 jeep was not easy to maintain. His flashy lifestyle led him to borrowing money to keep up with the façade of the charming and flashy young banker. With the debts piled up in front of him things had to change. He had to make adjustments in his lifestyle. Basically he couldn’t afford wasteful spending anymore, Port Harcourt is a damn expensive city. Job security wasn’t guaranteed in Companion Bank. Many staff members had been laid off at the beginning of the year and there was a rumour that many more would be retrenched before the end of the year’s first quarter.
Having confirmed the news, Amadi took the remote control and changed the channel back to the action movie.
Women were his major weakness, they threw themselves at him; young girls, university undergraduates and single ladies who all believed that a banker was made up of money. All he had to do was to show up with his good looks and flash his car keys and they will fall head over heels. He had dated many women and had many girlfriends.
Maria is 23 years, an economics undergraduate in African Renaissance University, a private university in Delta state. He had met her while attending a finance conference in Asaba. The light complexioned girl intrigued him and he established contact with her. He told her he loved her and she believed him. She visits him occasionally on weekends to play the dutiful girlfriend. He spends money on her and knows that she nurses the faint hope that someday he would propose marriage to her.
Suzzy is 27 years old, a beautiful lady working at the MTN Head Office on Aba road. He had met her when he stopped by the office five months ago to resolve some issues with his sim card and to get a new internet dongle. She was the one who attended to him and he had wasted no time in getting her number. They have been seeing regularly and she accompanies him to events and parties. He knows that she also nurses the faint hope that he would propose to her.
Annabel is 21 years old, a crazy girl, ten years his junior. Annabel was petty; always demanding for things from him. He had met her at a birthday party held in Eagle Island. He liked her adventurous spirit. They have been seeing each other for some time and he has been splashing her with money and gifts. She officially knew him as her boo. She was a Jambite and he had given her money to purchase a jamb form and had also paid for her tutorial classes. He sometimes drives to her mother’s female boutique in Rumoula to check up on her. Annabel also believed that he would marry her.
It would be funny and tragic if all of them turn up at the same time to spend valentine with him. He had to make sure that didn’t happen.
By his standards as a banker, his budget for valentine shouldn’t be less than N40, 000.
Valentine in the garden city is meant to be glamorous. The city has a bubbly night life with many fun places to go to. If he had money he would have celebrated the love season with Maria. They would have been spoilt for choice in terms of places to go to; The Silverbird cinema at mile 1 in Diobu, the Genesis deluxe cinema at GRA phase 2, the diverse night clubs; Barracuda, Illusions, T’s place, Shell club etc. The many ‘bole’ and roasted chicken joints, the suya joints, the comedy and music show at Aztech Arcum on Stadium Road; then they would round up with a romantic night in one of Hotel Presidential’s cozy rooms.
The truth was that he simply didn’t have money for valentine. There won’t be any valentine, election postponed or not! Any girlfriend who turned up on Valentine’s Day was only setting up herself for a huge disappointment.
Amadi turned off the television and assumed his original position on the bed and continued with the Temple Run game.
The story continues….
By Iniobong Umoh
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