“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Today is Eloho’s last day in Nigeria. She is travelling tomorrow afternoon. I was going to drop by and chat with her. That’s what I did. Except that when I got there she looked like she had been crying. I told her I am the only grown up person allowed to cry. She laughed. She was on a video call with her twins. Beautiful children. One of them was really sick and the other wouldn’t go to school without him. I guess it is an ‘abiamo*’ feeling. She ends the call and continues crying. I am worried that the sickness is something serious, like cancer. She says no. It is just food poisoning. Why is she so upset? I find myself patting her back and handing her tissues. I call Abigail and she comes with reinforcement – Fifunmi and ENkay. A bottle of Baileys and a bucket of ice. That’s what I am talking about. And some sinful marble cake. Whoopsie.
We are all laughing really hard at some scene Fifunmi and Enkay are reenacting from our university days. That is when Eloho stops abruptly and looks in my direction.
‘Mario, I totally forgot. How did it go with Philip?’ I shrug my shoulders. ‘We are good. We talk.’ She wiggles her eyebrows. ‘That’s all really. Nothing can …’ Enkay interrupts me and completes my sentence. ‘happen. Really. Philip is 26. Tell us something we don’t already know.’ I look at Abigail, then at everybody in the room. ‘Have you guys been discussing me?’ Abigail gets up and moves towards me, holding out her hands as if to placate me. Fifunmi gets up angrily. ‘No try to beg am. No do am [Don’t placate her. Don’t]. She turns to face me. ‘So what? We have been discussing you. Yes. Big. Deal. Get a gun and kill us.’
‘Woah. My friends are upset that I am calling them out for talking behind my back.’ I look around the room in disbelief. ‘This is refreshing.’ I pick up my bag and take up my phone. I am so upset. I just want to be alone. Enkay goes and stands behind the door with her arms crossed. I look at Abigail. Abigail looks at Eloho. Eloho shrugs in return. Fifunmi continues ranting.
‘Sit down and listen. Nobody is talking behind your back. This is the second quarter of the year. You have had no job. You are not talking about the future. When we ask you anything, you get upset, you begin to cry. You say you have no talent. You have no interests. You say you just want to be happy. Mario, open your eyes! For God’s sake! Look around you. Look at your life. Look deeply.’ She is out of breath. She takes a seat beside me and holds my hand. ‘I am worried about you. We all are. Look at each of us, we have something we are doing. Life is not great but there must be something other than drinking Baileys on the rocks and watching African Magic. What do you want out of life? Why did you stop trading and those jobs? What is going on with you? Talk to us. Please.’
Abigail takes a seat too. I am sandwiched between her and Fifunmi. Enkay comes too and seats at my feet. Eloho hovers with her hand over my shoulder. My heartfelt sobs wrack my frame. I bury my face in my palms and begin to wail. I cry for the loss of a decade of my life. I mourn for the desert in the form of years I have in front of me. I mourn for the never ending sorrow in my heart. I cry my heart out, yet it keeps refilling. I just know that I am being handed over tissues and patted severally on the back. And like the clear skies after a really heavy rain, my tear ducts cease and I lick my dry lips. I hear my cracked voice ask for water. I down a few gulps and meet the hungry gazes aimed in my direction.
‘I started working some days back in a cake shop. It is temporary. The woman I am replacing is on maternity leave.’
Eloho nods. ‘So what’s the plan?’
‘I don’t know’. Enkay lets out an exasperated sigh. ‘This is not normal at all. What do you want to do, really?’ ‘I have a job Enkay.’ ‘That’s all? You like these jobs that don’t last more than three seconds? You have no personal dreams? Why didn’t you just go back to Breathless.’ I blink twice. ‘Ade bought me out.’ Everybody except Eloho gasps. Enkay responds, ‘That’s really stupid. What were you thinking?’ I bow my head. ‘Teni had a partial scholarship. She needed that money so that she would not lose it.’ Enkay apologises. Teni is my last sibling. She is with my brother in Canada.
‘Guys. I appreciate this. But do you think I really want to be like this? I had thought that taking time off from the whole hustle and doing some introspection would help me understand myself more. But I have been wrong. So I took this job pending my final decision to start afresh.’
Everybody exchanges looks.
‘I am leaving the country. My brother just told me my visa is ready. I am going to join him.’
*Yoruba term for Motherhood/ tender feelings a child evokes in his mother.