Fiction

The Blues – 3

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here

Part 3


My wife had been ignoring the baby, even when he cried. It’s 2 days post-delivery and my ‘Post-delivery Fatigue Syndrome’ diagnosis is beginning to sound lame. We had to make do with infant formula, my mom doing all the feeding. I brought the baby with me yet again as I made for her bedside, but my wife wouldn’t acknowledge the two of us. Then I said, “I’ve been thinking we should name him Gabriel. He doesn’t look like a Solomon to me.” She just kept looking at the baby as if he was some stranger, I tried to place the baby on her laps but she just pushed my hands away. She looked at me and said, “I don’t feel like touching or holding the baby. I don’t know how to act around the baby. I’m just so tired.”
“Just hold the baby, please”, I begged. It was obvious that the orderlies and nurses were eavesdropping. In fact one of them was bold enough to step close to mop the floor though we spilled nothing! Several episodes of same followed and on one of those final efforts, as if overwhelmed by some magical force, my wife stretched out her hand and held the baby. She looked at him for a long time, then smiled. We were eventually discharged on the third day and I was glad to take both mother and child home at last! Home has proven to be the best cure; with both grandmas around, as well as my sister. Sade had stayed out of bed, even breastfed the baby. It was such a relief because I always really worried for her. Breast engorgement is another painful thing I didn’t want her to go through. Day 4 and 5 were largely uneventful but I still kept a close watch on my wife.

Sade woke me up at 2 a.m. the following day and said, “are you sure that is our baby?” In that moment, I knew my night was over. “Of course he is! Why would you think otherwise?” But the ultrasound said it was a girl, she argued. Ultrasounds aren’t 100% accurate, Sade. I made a mental note of looking through the motherhood book she was reading while pregnant. She trusted the book more than she trusted me apparently. “I know something happened to my baby,” she continued. “I heard her cry then she stopped.” Of course, newborns cry and stop and it is a he, not ‘she’ dearie. “They also took my baby away, she started again. Only to clean and weigh her! I replied impatiently.


Sade had gotten better after the naming ceremony but I was losing my mind at work. I had been looking forward to the delivery and so had she. Maybe for different reasons; but hers had all the excitement. She was all ecstatic one minute and ice-cold the next, unpredictable, and yes it frustrated my spirit, soul and body! My consultant called me into his office at work one morning. “Sit down, Olaniyi.” You know something’s wrong when your boss calls you by your first name. I moved to defend myself, I had documented without signing out. A little misdemeanor, but a sign of great indiscipline with this man. “Olaniyi, I have not called you into my office to castigate you over the case note; that is settled. You seem absent minded, and that so unlike you! What is the matter, is your workload too much?” No sir. Are you worried about your exams? “No sir!” I cleared my throat.
“Well, I want reasons young man.” The famous stern voice was returning. “You have a promising future ahead of you. Medicine isn’t something you do absent mindedly. If you keep this up, you are bound to make a mistake which could affect your career.” Sir, I promise to be more focused. He peered at me through his glasses while I squirmed on my seat.
A cold drink or a hot tea?
I adjusted my tie, “a drink sir“. He went to his fridge and brought me a light beer then he took one for himself. He opened his and I followed suit. Although I wasn’t one to take alcohol, I took a sip after him. I felt a bit more relaxed.
Then the old man started telling of how he almost lost his mind after the birth of his first son. “I married late; I’d had a quiet life for 40 years then came this wailing buster. My wife sleeps deeply. I was the one who rocked and fed at night. I almost made a mess of my master’s thesis.” He launched into stories and stories till I started laughing. Then I told him about my wife. How she cries and is always tired. How she is always having fears about the baby and at times showing utter neglect. I told of him of her self-neglect. He listened intently. I went on and on, till I had emptied my heart, and the bottle of beer.
He looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Your wife is having the blues. The earlier you accept the diagnosis, the earlier you would seek help for her sake. Forget about investigating if someone in the family has had this before and take active measures.” By all means pray but let the young lady see a psychiatrist. She wouldn’t forgive you if she were to miss these first days of her child’s life.
Those few months showed me I’m made up of stronger stuff than I think. Our families have been supportive, and I have learnt to ignore the gossips and the ignorant. I’ve learnt to pray, and I’ve come to realize this – a wife is the most delicate and the most important piece in a man’s world. Now I can really appreciate just how scared I was. I thought I had lost my wife! It was not been easy at all- the therapy sessions, the side effects of medications. I had to take an extended leave from work. My wife has won the bout against post-partum depression/psychosis with me as her coach and God as referee. Only she could explain what she went through. I saw the agony and could recognize her pain. For someone who is connected to her body, soul and spirit, I could almost touch the grief or absolutely share it with her. It was just like labor! I did not allow her to suffer in silence. We sought professional and spiritual help. She now thinks the boy is the most beautiful baby in the world. I enjoy watching her do all and more than she has planned!

My Folasade is finally back! Now Gabriel has the love, attention and devotion of mummy and daddy. I can’t wait to watch him grow!

*** the end ***

The Blues – 2

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra

Read Part 1 here


Part 2

It’s the same hospital where I work. The same unit where I am a junior resident. One of my favorite colleagues and senior, Dr. Mrs Olga examined Sade and sent us straight to the delivery room. She clapped my shoulder and said, “you really wanted to deliver this baby at home, what changed your mind?” I couldn’t tell her I had slept while my wife went through labor alone. So much for my preparation against today, the rocking techniques and Lamaze videos we had watched together.
The nurses were more than eager to satisfy all my wife’s whims. We were in the most comfortable delivery room. My mom, who made her way down to the hospital immediately her drowsy and somewhat confused son called her, was allowed to stay. She stayed close and never missed a single sweat that dotted my wife’s brow. I stood close by watching. She had grown less chatty, or so it seemed. She told me over and over that she wasn’t mad at me for sleeping but I still felt so bad.
The head nurse came in and asked if I would wear a glove and an overall on my scrub. I obliged but I was more than satisfied to let her take the delivery while I held and encouraged my wife. She was placed on fluids while I initially declined augmentation. The contractions were strong enough as my wife’s abdomen seemed to vibrate with each wave of contraction. The amniotic membrane was ruptured artificially and at that point it was foolhardy to refuse augmentation. Dr. Olga didn’t bother asking, she went straight ahead.
Sade complied with every command, as the head of the baby crowned.
“Push!!!!!”
She pushed and tears gushed out of her eyes. Mom said it was a bad omen and started reprimanding her…”women don’t cry during labor, it’s bad omen for the baby.” I had to tell mom to let her be, our baby is a blessing from God. It cannot be anything otherwise. My little outburst seemed to give Sade some extra impetus as she gave hard pushes; then it happened – he arrived!

I cannot describe the relief I had when I heard him cry immediately he came out. At least it was all good news thus far. He was the most beautiful bloody-body covered with whitish-dirt I’ve ever seen! I held him for a while, before he was yanked off me by the midwife to be cleaned up. I thought he looked like an angel, a baby angel if one ever existed. Maybe we should name him Raphael, no, Gabriel would be better… “Dr. Olaniyi!” I was brought out of my mini trance. “Your wife, do you think she’ll need a repair? She has a little tear.” For someone who had spent almost a year in obstetrics, I seemed confused. “Please let Dr. Olga examine and decide” I mumbled, as I held Sade’s hand. She seemed to have regained some of her strength, as she asked if I covered the delivery on camera. I smiled and told her the camera was the very last thing on my mind. Truly no amount of preparation could brace one up for the reality. Nothing had gone as I planned, as we planned. In fact I had planned to do a video recording of every moment. My wife and I had had good laughs at how hard she would bite me and call me the most terrible man in the world. She would speak in tongues and sing hosanna in the highest sopranos. In one case scenario, she even sent me out of the labor ward. All we had at that moment was alternate reality.


Suddenly Sade closed her eyes and turned away from me. No eager smile or eyes searching out the crying infant. I asked how she felt and she said she didn’t know. I put on a new pair of gloves quickly to confirm she wasn’t bleeding, since Dr. Olga seemed to be preparing for an emergency caesarean section. I asked for more intravenous fluid because I figured she might be hypoglycemic and exhausted from the whole process. I quickly ordered mom to stay with her while I got something for her to eat.
The nursing sister at the postnatal ward called my name. I was amidst a bunch of my colleagues from the pediatrics department who were on a ward round at the postnatal ward. I ran into them whilst returning from my trip to get Sade her favorite meal. It was a happy atmosphere filled with congratulatory jokes. The nurses had told my colleagues that I was all fidgety in the labor ward, that I kept wringing my hands as if that wasn’t what I did every day. She even went as far as saying I kept making groaning sounds while my wife pushed, like I was the one in labor!
“Doctor, can I have a word with you?” the nurse said as she arrived where we all stood. Alarmed at the tone of her voice, I followed her and asked what the matter was. We tried initiating early breastfeeding for your baby in line with baby-friendly initiatives but your wife has declined breastfeeding. She said she doesn’t feel like it. Should I give him infant formula for now or would you like to speak with her? “It’s okay. I’m going to check on her, thank you”, I replied.
“Folashade, how do you feel?”, I asked as I arrived her bedside. Smiling up at me, she exclaimed “refreshed! “ She was sitting up in bed and looking way better than the woman I saw being wheeled into the post-natal ward hours earlier.

“Would you like to eat now? I asked. “Yesssss!!! Is it moi moi?” Sade, no moi moi please, I got you rice and meat. She gave me a peck, rearranged the bed spread and requested for a tray. I talked while she ate. Then I stood up to throw away the take away pack when she was done and I went to carry the baby from the baby cot beside us. After about 5 minutes of hoping she would take the baby from me and start feeding, I realized something was indeed wrong. I went further to ask gently when she would like to start breastfeeding but she only dismissed us – myself and the baby with a wave of the hand!

To be continued …

The Blues – 1

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra

I’m sitting down quietly listening to my wife ramble on and on about the tiny pink shoes she got at the market today while shopping with my eldest sister. Clearly she couldn’t wait to have the baby put them on, our unborn child.
My wife, Omofolasade, is 32 weeks pregnant, and gone were the days of just a bump. She was never really sick except for the persistent malaria that turned out to be our first baby. It was as if the diagnosis brought on the healing. And since, ‘Omofolasade mi’ hasn’t stopped planning or imagining: how the baby would sound when he or she cries, the cute little faces s/he would make.

I remember her picking up a popular book for soon-to-be mothers and how she would bombard me with question after question. I also remember the numerous, unplanned ultrasounds I had to dutifully attend because she was worried she couldn’t perceive quickening at 18 weeks. Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?!
Now that she is so round, I come home and watch her every move to her total discomfort. She could ask for the moon and I would die trying to get it for her. Gone was my hour glass babe, at least for now. I can’t seem to shrug off this feeling that I actually did this to her; and everyone appears to be rooting – except the scared me!
I also fear that my chatterbox wife is gone temporarily. Sade complains about how slowly I drive. She would make a sudden turn in her sleep and I would be on the alert. She is not near delivery but I cannot wait for all this to be over. The changes are rolling in at an alarming rate; medical training doesn’t prepare you for what it would feel like when it is your wife. Now I can understand the confused look the husbands of my patients always wear.

Sade had gone into the room and is back with the smallest shoes I have ever seen in my life. It couldn’t accommodate my two fingers. I couldn’t help but smile. A tiny someone that is totally mine is on the way.


It all started with vomiting and dyspepsia at about 1 a.m. that fateful day. I really needed to sleep as I had just finished a 48 hours call. I warned Sade the night before not to eat more than a wrap of moi moi. I’m all too used to the aftermath of such escapades in times past in her non-pregnant state – indigestion and excess gas, to mention a few. She was coming too close to tears so I gave in, she hadn’t eaten all day too. She’d ordered for moi moi and was waiting for me to return so we could eat it together. I however made sure I extracted a promise from her that this would be the last moi moi session before the baby comes.
After offering all the assistance I could, I cajoled her to take antacids. I sat on the bath while she tried to use the toilet for 30 mins, a grouchy me handed my wife over to mom and went to sleep on the couch.
Sade said she was better when I was woken an hour later and so we went to bed. A shrill cry woke me up 45 minutes later. As I looked at my wife, she explained that she’d been having back pain for two days, but that particular one felt different. ‘My stomach gets tight then the back pain hits’, she explained.

I got up, much more alert than ever. I checked my wristwatch, it was just past midnight. I held my wife close and massaged her back for as long as nature would allow me before slumber set in yet again. I was woken 45 minutes later with yet another cry. This time it was her chest. Instinctively I grabbed my stethoscope and listened to her chest, it was the weirdest thing I’ve done in a while – listen to my wife’s breath via an instrument! But then what I heard was reassuring. I also did some more examinations, and reassured Sade, or so I thought I did. I still got no sleep till 6 am, after I had watched her sleep for one full hour, I cuddled her and then closed my eyes… “Honey, wake up!”, “wake up!” It was Sade yet again. Now I really wished I could just carry this pregnancy! It was nine o’ clock. “I think we should go to the hospital” she said. I simply didn’t have the strength – physical or mental, to argue. I got up, put on my scrubs that I had worn for the call the previous day, and made for the door. I then remembered I had left my wife in the room!

To be continued…

Learning from the Ants 2

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra Akinnadeju

The Unhygienic Competition

This piece is a continuation of my study with the ants, my little cousins and nephew.

My not so little nephew, Ayo; and my little female cousin, Bolu had this thing going throughout the holiday – a very special love-hate relationship. It all started when mom declared Bolu the best behaved kid of the season. What is not to love? Unlike the boys, she is not rambunctious (except when they are all after my phone); she doesn’t track dust or mud through the house after playing football; you need not force her to take her bath, wear a clean dress or wash the dirty one; there was no occasional bladder spillage before hitting the toilet – something the boys tagged puberty from excessive playfulness and disruption of bed time, whatever that means. She is all girl!

So Ayo tried to beat Bolu to it by being the best at his chores. Although there is no separation of chores by gender in my house, there is a pattern with room for overlap. The girls run the kitchen while the boys run errands mostly outside the house. In addition to keeping the sink empty of dirty plates, Bolu also ran errands. Ayo hated this interference because even out here he seems unable to shake off this kitchen champ. When trying to be first at running errands outdoor won’t do, he denied any attempt from Bolu to assist and when the praise singing didn’t turn in his favor, he became mean to her.

I’ve been in Ayo’s shoes, despising someone in school for being a know-it-all, envying someone at home or downright spiteful of someone in church ‘cause they appear to be everyone’s favourite. Sometimes we even pick on people for things they have no control over, like being taller than us, being prettier or having a better handwriting. Petty, isn’t it?

God gave us all diverse abilities as he saw fit Ephesians 4:7. That someone is getting the attention doesn’t mean we are less important. I did choose Ayo over Bolu for any errand, because he doesn’t mind getting dirty (and yes those were needed sometimes) plus he would sprint back and forth in record time. The chores result mostly in the meals then the dirty plates. My little nephew didn’t realize that; getting dirty, not being really interested in sink duties all day, sleeping late because of silly cartoons all add to the charm of who he is – our own little man!

So God loves us as much, equally, whether we are on Forbes list or just trying to be a regular at prayer meetings! If your day of praise-singing hasn’t arrived yet, don’t hate on those being celebrated; just wait your turn and be good in whatever you’re good at. Make sure you’re really good at something.

Learning from the ants 1

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra Akinnadeju

Last Christmas was one the best I have had in years. I had the great privilege of spending it with my little cousins and nephew. Nothing beats being the favorite aunt in the world except a little me-time with my phone. Those amazing little creatures know how to turn on the magic – a little hug, cute innocent brown eyes staring up at you earnestly, the most sincere please-s in musical voices and prompt responses to my every whims and needs. Did I mention that all these adoration was because they wanted my phone?

They have a beautiful way of playing the digital games on it that has me observing them. My own special spiritual experiment – outsmarting Solomon – having the ants come to me, lol!
They would be like “aunty, what is this game about”? And while I launch into the thrills and turns of the car racing or whatever game has caught their fancy (yes I love games too) I would discover I’m busy speaking to myself. They are already at it, playing the game turn by turn! Woeful performance is not a deterrent! These chaps are relentless till they master the game. Once they’re on this mastering track, I would have to hide my phone to save some power on it! Don’t get me started on missed calls.

Fast forward to the spiritual inference and conclusion of my experiment. Newsflash! I am excited about who I get to be in this analogy – I get to be GOD. And the children, my cousins and nephew, represent all of us. Like me, God is excited, in love and interested in us (not experimentally, but with Fatherly interest), He answers our questions. But so unlike the children, we don’t receive the word or answers to our questions excitedly and with a readiness to explore unfamiliar territories. We see every avenue to exercise our faith as a puzzle. Like Martha (sister to Lazarus and Mary in the Bible), we get so hung up on the details.

We spend so much of our time pondering on every fact from ABC; the direction of the wind, the sea level; instead of sowing our seeds. My little buddies don’t sit around letting me discourage them with the list of pitfalls in the game. They just get on with it. Is it car racing, they race. Ninja fruit game, they slice.

Instead of believing God is on our side, seated on a mercy (grace) seat and looking lovingly at us as we do our thing; we believe he is busy peeping intently at us via heaven’s CCTV waiting to see us fail, and then punish us. No my little buddies don’t care that they ran down my batteries yesterday, they are back again the next day to beg for my phone.

Those little dudes are masters at disappointment and are not afraid to play again and again, even in the midst of uncertainty, amongst a crowd (of themselves). Meager scores is a thing to defend and laugh over, just before the next round! These chaps know that with practice, they would excel. So is faith, Hebrews 5:14 told us to keep practicing it. Peter told us its gold, it would be tested. We are not supposed to quit because we said it would rain but there is only a handful of cloud out there. We must go from ‘if this be your will’ prayers, to ‘effectual fervent prayers that avail much’; and from there we must reach a level where we exclaim “Father, I thank you for always hearing me”!

Oh yes, perfection is possible! And remember always that God isn’t like LASTMA lurking somewhere invisibly at the highway as you drive, waiting to catch you when you run a red light or take a wrong turn. Just drive, if you get it wrong there will be road signs to guide you safely home; you might arrive your destination later than planned but you’ll arrive! Don’t stop driving.

Encrypted

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra Akinnadeju

I report myself to the Holy Spirit when I have flaunted an order recklessly. Tell you the truth, it is more of me reporting God and Jesus (the word– those hard to chew parts) to him. Just laugh, I know you find my concept totally ridiculous! So I had this conversation with Him, because I had just gotten this order to speak in tongues more!

Me: You know I think God is tired of all my prayer antics
Holy Spirit: hmmm
Me: I know, I kinda like to cry at times. I grumble, I rant, I stamp my feet. Oh yes, I get loud at times; he has told me he is close by and there is no need to shout!
Holy Spirit: He loves you. He adores you. He is your Father.
Me: I know, but he is just tired of listening!
Holy Spirit: He cannot stop listening, or stop being faithful. He cannot deny Himself.
Me: So why would He say I should speak more in tongues? It seems less personal, unlike me telling him about my day. I must apologize for getting carried away sometimes. I just slip into day dreaming, and I shut up fast when I pray that way.
Holy Spirit: (I felt him smile) Do you remember that scene from one night with the king, when Esther didn’t know what to choose when they were brought into the king’s treasure room?
Me: And the eunuch said he would help her? You know I prefer the book to the movie.
Holy Spirit: Clears his throat (it’s his way of gently saying ‘focus’!) Do you remember those days you asked for the blank cheque?
Me: My needs are so many these days, one cheque cannot contain it all; a car, a good job, a good home, cute triplets, my cousin, brother… I’m just casting all my cares on Him now really.
Holy Spirit: You looked at it (getting a blank cheque) as the height of friendship with God. You would say Moses got one, Solomon got one
Me: But how does this fit into my speaking in tongues request?
Holy Spirit: You’ve always had the blank cheque and never filled it.
Me: How so?
Holy Spirit: He loved you first!
Me: Hmm, that’s true.

Holy Spirit: So what would your cheque read?
Me: Now, that is a tough one. I wanna put in what pleases him. Hmm, but what about all my other requests? How do I squeeze in the multitude of them all?
Holy Spirit: So, you want the one thing that covers all, and that would please your king?
Me: Yes, yes! But what? Help me…you said you would help when I don’t know what to say
Holy Spirit: I also know your king and what he would like. And I would love to share it with you.
Me: I’m ready, I’m all ears.
Holy Spirit: This is why I want to speak to you in a way that will bypass all of your cares, they are interfering. So let’s package and encrypt your requests into a portable form for this cheque, shall we? Not to worry, He can decrypt it, he totally understands this language. Feel free to say it all in your language too, it will soothe and help you.

1 Corinthians 14

Rescued in advance

by Alexandra Akinnadeju on

Written by Alexandra Akinnadeju

I imagined this scene one afternoon and had a good laugh.

The throne room in heaven had the sons of God come to appear before. The devil showed up too.

God: So have you noticed my daughter, the beloved?
Satan: Yes, who can miss such a sight? Your son has totally made a fool of himself over her.
God: Smiling… He has always loved her even before the foundation of the world. The bride price has been paid and her garments ready. The date is already set for her grand homecoming and reception. I will call the whole universe as witness.
Satan: Don’t you see she is a little mess, all clumsy and such wretchedness? I notice how you make beauty out of the ashes she creates.
God: So you do notice her and miss nothing?
Satan: Isn’t she conspicuous? You have set her as a city on the hills!
God: I see you have been trying to go near her.
Satan: What! Not with all the truth you’ve armed her with. That I am but a vanquished foe, you tell her when to resist and when to run into the shadow of your wings.
God: So you are afraid of my little mess? Laughs beautifully.
Satan: Maybe if you…
God: My promises to her are non-negotiable. They are sealed forever!

Satan: I really meant no offence your royal majesty. I am actually here about Mr. Stone. He is a liar, a cheat, a murderer, not nice to the poor; yet you’ve placed a hedge around him. He doesn’t even believe in your son.
God: I love Him
Satan: But things are as bad as they can be with him.
God: His sins were already atoned for when my son died, rose up and presented his blood here in this altar
Satan: He is still a fornicator, swindler, a…
God: A thief…I know all of that. My beloved daughter, the one you call a mess, has also prayed for Him.
Satan: So he is untouchable too? You would see him go unpunished despite all he has done and is doing? Has he become one of yours too?
God: He hasn’t but he will!

Isaiah 1:18 KJV
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool
.

John 3:16 KJV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Undated

by Admin on

Written by Oluwatosin Fatade

The friendship between Joseph and I could be likened to that described in the Bible of David and Jonathan. Right from the tender age of five when we became seatmates in primary school, we have been practically inseparable. One boy’s decision always had massive impacts on the other. Asides the few inches that told us apart in height, we could easily pass for identical twins; we were ready proof for the theory that God created humans in doubles. Joseph was a sweet soul, he loved me more than he loved himself. I miss that about him, I really do. I could easily have married him had he come as a girl. I remember a certain day in school when the whole class was punished and each student was to be served 6 strokes of the angry class teacher’s rod. He stepped forward to take my dose having taken his much earlier. How he couldn’t feel any pain or anything at all with his skin was a sharp contrast to how emotional he gets at the slightest chance. He once cried at the school garden while we both watched a butterfly emerge for the first time from its cocoon.

Our parents became regulars at each other’s houses as either had to pick, more like snatch, their ward from the company of the other every now and then. Joseph’s parents must have been scared we would become truants in secondary school, because we found no other plausible explanation to their doggedness at seeing Joseph enrolled in a different school from mine. We were more prepared than they were, as they eventually realised. We both planned to fail every separate entrance examination on purpose throughout the holidays; Joseph’s parents threw in the towel after they guessed the plot and we ended up passing the only examination we sat for together at the government college.

Our friendship waxed stronger through the years and we became more alike as Joseph did catch up on the few inches that told us apart much earlier. We engaged in the same activities and studied together. I knew of every crush he had as he did mine. Gladly, for our own sakes, we never crushed on the same damsel. In our first year in senior secondary, Joseph had a new crush. I noticed this one was more intense than all the others I had known, he couldn’t stop talking about her. His emotional side seemed to blow up all of a sudden, I had never seen him like that! Asides being emotional, Joseph was very meticulous and was always bothered about the finest details. He informed me what he was feeling seemed more than just a crush, but he couldn’t tell if it was love. It was then I knew he needed help! All the years we had been crushing on damsels, not once did any of us say a word to them, we only admired from a distance and fantasized in our minds. Joseph was going to talk to this one, and he wanted it to be special.

We had little information about this damsel, we did know however that she was the leader of the school cultural group. That was it! That marked the end of our membership in the school press club. We picked up forms for the cultural group two weeks later after having several sessions of dance lessons on our own at home after school hours everyday for two weeks. The auditions went well, we were fully prepared and focused on the target. Joseph wasn’t taking any chances or wasting any time at all as he intentionally forgot a notebook in the group leader’s hands after we auditioned. He initiated a friendly conversation later on when he returned to retrieve his forgotten notebook.

A year later when we were in the second year of our senior secondary, Joseph wanted her as his girlfriend, being just friends was no longer enough for him. We went over various plans of how he could go about it, we finally settled for getting her a gift on Valentine’s Day which was just three weeks away. We saved up together so he could buy her a presentable gift and express his undying love, we rehearsed the presentation severally. February the 14th that year was a Monday, Joseph and I arrived the school assembly that morning to the cruel news of the death of ‘Toni. She had died instantly in a motor bike accident on her way to school that morning. Why did death choose to take her away on the day we had been planning to sweep her off her feet? Joseph was never the same again.

Every year after then, while others celebrated love on that day, Joseph refuses to exist. It is the only day every year we do not talk, till date. As far as we are concerned, that day does not exist, it must not be spoken of. Joseph strikes the day off his calendar every year.

I spoke to Joseph yesterday, “see you tomorrow” he said. I know that means tomorrow, for today does not exist.

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