Hello Yarners, it was a birthday fest last week and I’ll like you to please help me appreciate (if you have not done so yet) a super hard-worker, a beautiful mind and a very important member of the A! Team – Olajumoke – on her birthday…(it was actually on Wednesday) – Appreciate you loads partner – keep changing the world with beautiful stories… God bless you. And to Auxano whose birthday was yesterday, the A! Team wishes you the best things in life.
And back to today’s post – do enjoy and don’t forget to drop a feedback.
For previous episodes – click here.
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Osagie pinned the top-most button of his jacket, whistling to himself in his one bedroom self contained apartment in Ogba, Lagos, Nigeria.
Moving to the apartment was a major upgrade to his face me I face you one room store in Mushin where he used to live, up until a month ago.
He picked up his helmet from the table, an essential part of his work gear that was more important than his identification card.
He was a despatch rider, a delivery man. ‘I deliver dreams to doorsteps,’ he muttered to himself as he stepped out of the house. It was the tagline of his company, one he was very proud of.
If he was told four months ago whilst working at his former company, Mex Delivery Services, that his life would hold so much promise four months down the line, he would have strongly doubted it, as he was at a point in his life where he was beginning to believe that life was a heartbreak song.
Mex Delivery Service wasn’t all bad news from the get-go as they were the only company who would give a second class upper division History graduate a chance at a job, after he had unsuccessfully scouted for one, for over three years.
Several unpaid salaries and a terrible work condition after, it became obvious that Mex Delivery Services wasn’t going to take him to the place of his dreams, but because it was all he had, he stayed stuck on the job until that Wednesday morning when Mrs. Titi Adigun, a former Manager at Mex Delivery Services called him up and asked if he was open to a job offer at her current place of work.
He didn’t think about it before jumping at the offer, as working for not just a multinational but a leader in the industry was too juicy an offer to resist, even though the position was still that of a despatch rider.
As he revved his motorcycle to life, with his helmet on his head, the words on his mind as he set out on a Monday morning trip to Victoria Island were lyrics from the Koredo Bello hit song, God win.
Alex pushed his tie into position and picked up his suitcase. He had a business meeting by nine on the Island but being a Monday morning, he was sure he was already running late as he had planned to leave the house much earlier so as to beat the road rage that was typical of Monday mornings.
‘Honey I’m off,’ he called out to his sleeping wife, who replied with a grunt.
Alex rolled his eyes as he drew closer to the bed and planted a kiss on his wife’s lips. She had actually grunted, ‘where’s my kiss?’
His six year old son whose school was on a mid-term break was still sleeping as he walked briskly past his room, his suitcase, clutched in his left hand as he did a mind-map of his route with the attendant traffic.
He powered on the car stereo and turned the dial to Traffic Radio as he steered his black Toyota Camry 2014 model, out from the Magodo main gate on to the express road. He stepped on the gas, cruising towards the third mainland bridge as the OAP did a roundup of the traffic report around the bustling city of Lagos.
Dimeji glanced at the clock for the third time under one minute and it seemed like the time was stuck on twelve ‘o’ clock as the hands of the clock stayed glued to each other in a bear hug at twelve.
He scanned the room in a searching motion, tapping his feet on the glassed floor tiles and bopping his head to some unseen music.
It was Oge, his girlfriend’s birthday, but his mind was preoccupied with thoughts of the proposal he was about to make.
He had called up every actor in his plan and everyone seemed set and ready to go, all he had to do to trigger the plan was to pick up Oge in her office, but he could only do that by one ‘o’ clock; which was the time they had both agreed to close from work.
He picked up the open velvet ring case on the table and peered at the ring nestled on the pad in the case. It looked really beautiful, with the glittering diamond rock sitting majestically on a band of stainless silver. He couldn’t wait to fit this into Oge’s finger and then stare into her almond shaped eyes that he was sure would be glimmering with pure joy.
‘Whoooo,’ he exhaled, stretching his limbs out on the chair, it was going to be a nail biting one hour ahead of him and he just couldn’t wait for the action to begin.
Alex smiled as he stepped out of the elevator into the reception area. ‘Thank you,’ he said to the receptionist after signing out his name on the visitors’ register.
Suitcase in hand, he swaggered back to his car with the confidence of a man who had just won a multi million naira contract. He opened the car boot and placed the suitcase on the mat, replacing the lid as quietly as he could before pressing the key fob to open the doors.
‘Thank you Jesus,’ He breathed, once he was seated comfortably behind the wheels. This was the first job he would be handling outside Nigeria and he was very excited. His young company was gradually turning global.
The third mainland bridge was still relatively free of traffic as cars sped past him, hurrying into the distance, but he was content to just cruise along with a smile on his face. He was on his way to his office but he couldn’t wait to break the news to his wife later in the evening.
Getting a graduate of History would definitely enhance your team, even though it’s purely academic and has nothing to do with your technical expertise, but I strongly advise you include one in your team, as our office in Accra will be looking through every term of the contract. Congratulations Mr. Alex Madu.
The thought came in Mr. Franklyn’s voice, as his mind played back scenes from the meeting. He knew none of his staff were graduates of History but he was sure getting one would not pose a problem, especially with the swarm of unemployed graduates roaming the streets in search of a job.
‘Damn!’ He hissed, interrupting his thoughts as he eased his foot off the gas and stepped on the brakes. He tapped the hazard button as the car ground to a halt, parked close to the kerbs overlooking the Lagos lagoon.
He had a flat tyre.
Osagie manoeuvred his motorcycle through the cars that lined up in traffic on the Adeolu Odeku road, turning right, into the T-junction that was Ahmadu Bello way.
He kept a single view as he made his way towards the third mainland bridge for his last two deliveries of the day, both of which were in Ikeja.
Mondays were usually hectic but today had not followed in that custom even though he had done almost a dozen drops before lunch time. The deliveries were fast, as most of the packages had Victoria Island addresses, save for these last two, with Mainland addresses.
He kept to the right side of the bridge, riding close to the kerbs as he peered ahead of him through the face-shield of the helmet.
He was past the UNILAG water front area, when his gaze caught the large red reflective warning of the C- caution sign up ahead, on his side of the road.
He glanced sideways and into his side mirror as he prepared to switch lanes to avoid the break down which seemed to have been caused by a flat tyre.
He steered skillfully to his left and increased his speed to pull past a KIA Cerato that seemed to be strolling in front of him as he approached the C- caution sign.
There was plenty of room to make a clean maneuver as the KIA Cerato seemed to be racing backwards as he zoomed past, and just when he thought he was clear, he felt a thump as the right guard of the car clipped his back tyre, sending him skidding towards the kerbs.
The KIA Cerato had made a sharp swerve to the right in a bid to escape a bad portion of the road around the expansion joints of the bridge.
His hands trembled on the steering as he frantically tried to bring the motorcycle under control but the force of the impact sent him crashing to the ground with the bike peeling out from his grip and smashing against the kerbs, while he was sent spinning past the C- caution sign as his head banged against the tar, just inches away from the broken down vehicle.
His vision blurred, as he felt a throbbing in the heavy mass of rock sitting on his neck, at the exact position where his head used to be.
He stared painfully through his face-shield at the blurred image of the car as his eyes settled on the word CAMRY, inscribed close to the car’s tail lights.
As he faded into a cloud of darkness, he felt a pair of firm hands cradle his neck, and even though he wasn’t sure whether the hands were of a human or of angels, he couldn’t deny it was a big relief to his aching neck.
He could feel himself drift in and out of consciousness, but for the first time in his life he wasn’t scared of death, as the music from the morning played on in his mind, inspite of the encroaching darkness.
… Dem be wan kill my joy but God win
I say anything dem do, na God win o, na God win o, na God win o…
Dimeji winced in frustration as the BRT bus crawled behind the long stretch of cars in front of it on the third mainland bridge.
It was unusual to have this sort of traffic on the bridge at this time as it was not yet rush hour, but Dimeji was not surprised, after-all, Lagos was a city famous for its traffic.
The silence as he sat next to Oge, with his fingers drumming feverishly on his laps reminded him of a certain Thursday evening some two years ago, when he sat close to a bespectacled lady in a BRT bus to Berger, on his way home from work.
He remembered how he formed and reformed the words in his heart before summoning up courage to speak to the lady when the bus was at the UNILAG water front area. He remembered the words as they rolled out of his mouth. How could he forget them?
This is the University of Lagos, he had announced to the lady sitting by his side like he had just discovered water in Mars.
What? A bemused expression plastered on her face.
That lady would later become his girlfriend. She was the same Oge that he was about to propose to in a BRT bus that he hired, to re-enact scenes from the first time they met.
A smile crossed his face as these thoughts ran through his mind. ‘This is the University of Lagos,’ he said with a mischievous glint in his eyes as the BRT finally approached the landmark; the UNILAG water front area.
‘What?’ Oge replied instinctively but just before she could continue, her eyes lit up and her face eased into a grin as she remembered that moment in time, two years ago.
Dimeji smiled back as he went down on one knee, clasping Oge’s hands in his.
The gentleman seated in front of them, one of only four passengers in the bus, sprang up from his seat, camera in tow and began to take pictures.
This was his part of the script.
Oge stared on, in jaw dropping amazement as Dimeji pulled out the ring case, opened it and pushed it out in front of her.
‘It’s beautiful,’ she muttered. Tears running freely down her cheeks.
‘It’s yours if you agree to marry me,’ Dimeji chuckled.
She punched him playfully on his right arm. ‘You’ve not asked me to,’ she replied.
‘My Tinky-Winky, will you marry me?’ Dimeji teased.
‘Yes Laa-Laa,’ Oge answered as she watched her boyfriend slip the ring into her finger, to become her fiancé.
The remaining three passengers rose up from their seats almost simultaneously and approached the couple who were seated at the back-end of the bus, they were dressed complete in waiting uniforms, with a bow tie to match,.
Oge’s eyes popped open as the waiters set up a mobile table for two with a bottle of red wine to go with it, in the bus. She was blown away.
She leant forward and closed Dimeji’s lips with a passionate kiss. She was unconcerned by the presence of spectators as the flashing lights of the camera only seemed to add passion to the moment.
The BRT bus gathered speed as the traffic thinned out on the bridge, approaching Oworonshoki.
‘Did you see what caused the traffic?’
‘At all,’ Dimeji answered, shaking his head, ‘but I saw what eased the traffic.’
‘What?’ Oge asked, her brows narrowing curiously.
‘That hot kiss you gave me,’ He answered with a big grin on his face.
It’s been a busy day.
Mondays are usually busy and it’s not a surprise.
Humans rushing to the Island when the day is born and rushing back when the day is going grey.
That is a constant and I’m used to it.
What intrigues me though is how every day’s traffic has its plot and everyday has its own story.
And sometimes the beauty of the story is the presence of the so many what-ifs in the plot and the dots that many times never gets connected.
What if it was possible to let Alex know, that the injured motorcyclist that he ferried in his car to the hospital is a graduate of History?
What if Osagie could see beyond the misfortune of the accident and realize that instead of an end to his life, the bridge is offering him a chance to a better life?
What if Dimeji and Oge could be told that the traffic was caused by a driver who hit a motorcyclist because he was fiddling with his phone? And that bridges don’t cause traffic, humans do.
Everyday I see humans racing to get answers, and many times, these answers are not afar, sometimes, they are just on the other lane.
But what do I know?
I’m just a bridge – the third mainland bridge, and it’s already past my bed time.
Till we talk again – Goodnight.
The hall erupted in rapturous applause as text from ‘The Bridge’, Daniel’s shortlisted short story entry for the competition, rolled up the big screen.
It was the second shortlisted short story entry to be displayed on the big screen, with the first being, ‘Rainbow Gloom’, by South Africa’s Lerato Mphela, as the organisers of the event tried to keep guests engaged while the television audience were been treated to an advertisement break.
Stella hissed, infuriated by how long it was taking to announce the winner of the competition. She understood the need to play up the wait with the very old, ‘let’s go for another commercial break’ trick from the Host, but it still didn’t make it acceptable as she fished out her phone from her bag.
Missed calls from Desola, Zainab and Ebuka littered her phone screen but she was not in a hurry to call back as she knew the reason they had called her was to find out why she was yet to arrive at the party.
She scrolled back to the story, undecided whether or not to read Episode Thirteen, when the lights on stage that had been dimmed during the interlude, came back on with a gleaming intensity.
The Host strutted back onto the stage still clutching the envelope in her left hand, with a mischievous grin playing on her lips as the very polite audience applauded her presence.
Stella sighed in relief – her eyes fixed on the Host, glad that the nail biting wait was finally over and the winner was just about to be revealed.
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