I remember that day; I was visiting Derin, my cousin, at her office in VI. I was in the waiting area, seated across a window, overlooking a large body of water. I had never seen the colour of water but for that day, it was blue, I was fixated on it, enjoying the calmness and peace it brought me. I noticed the beauty of the waves, how slow it was. For the first time that day, I was calm, nothing seemed to matter at that moment, I was mesmerised by the joy the river brought.
As I took it all in, I noticed the waiters in the restaurant below. You see, Derin’s office was on the seventh floor, the topmost floor, so I could see everything going on below. I was so enraptured that I barely noticed him, though he had been standing there for a while.
He coughed slightly. I was startled and turned sharply to face him. Time seemed to stand still. He was smiling at me. His lips were the colour of my Mac Ruby Woo lipstick, with his teeth like a flock of sheep. The locks of his hair, wavy and shiny, were like the skin of a black goat. His neck stood out like the Broad Street towers, his aroma like the smell of chocolate cake. I drank in his appearance.
He caught me staring. Shy, I bent my head, not willing to look at him. “Hi”, he said almost laughing, “hello”, I replied faintly. “Can I sit?”, He asked pointing to the chair facing me. “Sure”, I said, eyeing him slightly.
“I noticed you on the ground floor when you were asking for directions”, he said, looking at me directly. “By the way, my name is Dozie”, he continued, not minding my silence.
“Morayo, but my friends call me Rayo”, I said to him. “All right, Morayo. It’s nice to meet you”, he replied, extending his hand to me. I took it and he shook me firmly, peering into my eyes with his lips curved in a smile, I looked away.
“So what brings you here?” He asked me, “I came to see my cousin, she works here”, I answered, looking in the direction of her office. His face broke into a big smile, “I know Derin.” “You know her?”, I asked him surprised. “Yeah, Derin and I work in the same office. What a small world.” “Jesus!” I said under my breath. “Sorry, I didn’t get that. Were you talking to me?”, he asked, bringing me out of my thoughts. “Nah, I wasn’t”, I replied, embarrassed now.
That was a month ago, but right now, I was angry at Dozie. He promised to take me out on a dinner date by the sea and he was a no show. I called him several times, but he didn’t answer neither did he return his calls. It’s been two days since I heard from him. I called his friends but they too did not have an answer for his whereabouts.
The phone ringing interrupted my thoughts. It was Dozie calling. “What?” I screamed into the phone. “Rayo”, he said quietly. “Where have you been?”, I shouted at him. “Rayo”, he said again quietly. “I’m in the hospital.” My heart began pounding, threatening to jump out of my chest. “What did you say? Which hospital? Where? What happened?”, I asked in quick succession and rising anxiety.
“I’ll send an address to you”, he said with pain in his voice. I quickly ordered an Uber on my way to St. Nicholas Hospital, Lekki.
That was the longest journey of my life, the traffic was surprisingly fast and moving, but it seemed like forever to get there.
Once at the entrance, I practically jumped out of the vehicle. “You haven’t paid me my money”, the Uber man called out. “I’m so sorry, I’m in a hurry.”
Once at the reception I enquired about Dozie and was directed to his private ward. I entered the ward and saw him; my love, his head wrapped in a bandage, there were tubes all over his body, down his legs, hands, mouth, he was fixed to a machine.
His mother was seated facing him; she looked sad and had been crying. I rushed to his side, “Dozie, Dozie, what happened to you?” He looked at me. Barely audible, he muttered the words, “I. WAS. ON. MY. WAY. TO. SEE. YOU.” A fountain of tears burst forth from within. “Baby, don’t cry”, Dozie said as he tried to sit up. “Ssssshhhh, lay down back”, I urged him. “No, Rayo I have something to tell you.” “It can wait, Dozie.”, “No it can’t, baby. Give me your hands”. He was crying now.
With a quivering voice and shaky hands, he said, “Morayo, I love you”.