12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, TNC GAVE TO ME…
Abi opened her eyes to the dim glow of the early morning sun, it was two days before Christmas and her annual leave had finally begun. She could laze about in bed and stay at home unshowered for hours with no one to nag her about it and boy did it feel good. The only thing getting her out of bed this day was the fact that she and Dele, her long-term boyfriend, had planned to have a day of presents shopping followed by an evening of wrapping everything while enjoying a bottle of Chilean wine, Escudo Rojo 2010 to be precise, her favourite. She got dressed and text him to say she was on her way, for some reason he had been so insistent that she let him know before she arrived, like she didn’t usually just drop by at any time. Abi thought of how secretive Dele had been acting recently but she pushed the doubts out of her head. She got to his house and noticed a bright blue Kia Sportage parked in her space and sighed. During Christmas, people’s families always came to visit and disrupt the perfect ecosystem that they otherwise shared in this community. Abi got to the front door and was surprised to find it slightly ajar, she hadn’t noticed until she tried to use her spare key to let herself in, the way she always did.
“Dele!” she called out and was greeted only by the soft purring of an air conditioner. She entered the house quietly, her body feeling tense as she feared the worst but she noticed that everything was in order, nothing was amiss except the fact that her meticulous boyfriend would never leave his apartment with the door ajar and the A.C. on. She picked up her phone to dial his number but was startled by the sound of the doorbell ringing. She heard a man’s voice call through the flat “Abi, are you in here?” It was Chiz, Dele’s best friend. “I’m in the kitchen Chiz” She responded relieved. He bounded into the kitchen slightly breathless and rambling, “Great, Dele said you’d be here, he had to rush out but gave me this to give to you” he said as he handed her a sheet of paper. “But why didn’t he just call me?” Abi asked confused. Chiz looked around uncomfortably, “He said he’d call you later, his phone battery was on 2% so he switched it off. Anyways I’ve gotta run, see you soon.” Chiz made a hasty retreat out of the apartment and the feelings of doubt Abi tried to push out of her mind this morning rose to the surface again. She looked down at the sheet of paper and read the note. “Had to see a client in Yaba, would call you later, please start shopping list.” She turned the note around to see a list of items for various family members and where they could be found and laughed in spite of her frustration. “Item 1, two pillowcases with embrioded ‘R’s’ for the twins, Riyike and Renike, from Agatha’s Interior, Awolowo Road.” Dele was nothing if not pedantic.
As she got into her old panel beaten car with the stiff gearbox, she noticed the Kia a few cars in front of her ad hoped the shiny car wouldn’t be back to steal her parking spot again. At the shop, she looked outside the window and noticed a library. She knew that library particularly well, a few Law School students went there and it was where she met Dele while studying for the bar exams. She hadn’t been there in ages because she avoided the traffic-filled Awolowo Road like the plague, but the sudden memory gave her butterflies and she tried to call her boyfriend again to no avail. She paid for the pillowcases and made her way to a tiny bookstore next to Corona Ikoyi, the next present was an educational alphabet toy for his nephew, the kind with the big letters and their corresponding item, “A for Apple”. Incidentally they had both been Corona children and often joked about how their kids would go there too to keep the legacy going. The school was closed now but she could see the playground from the street and wondered how much longer she’d have to wait for a toddler of her own. She made her way through the list; a set of air freshener diffusers for his sister from a Home store in V.I and finally a pair of vintage scarves from Tiffany Amber at The Palms Shopping Mall. Abi had gone through the entire list and still not heard from Dele, his phone was still switched off and she was starting to get irritated. This was supposed to be a bonding day for them, he had been working such long hours recently and was always too exhausted to do anything at the weekends. She sauntered back towards her car not really sure what to do next, when she noticed the same Kia parked on the other side; it was so conspicuous because of the colour. Lagos was such a tiresome place, everyone went to the same places and did the same things but pretended like they were always one step ahead of their peers. “I better pass my neighbour syndrome” Dele called it.
She got into her car and was about to give up and drive home when she got a call from an unknown number. It was Dele, he yelled over the din of music and laughter, “Babe, I’m at Elegushi with Chiz, the client I was with is having a Christmas Party here, come through?” Abi could not believe her ears, she had spent all this time driving around the island, buying presents for his family and he was partying it up! “I cannot believe you!” she said through pursed lips but Dele couldn’t hear her. “Come now okay! Call Chiz’ phone wen you get here.” He shouted before ending the call. Abi was fuming, “This philandering idiot is at a bloody party!” she shouted to no one in particular. Her mind was in overdrive as she raced towards Elegushi, speeding through the roundabouts like those crazy Danfo drivers. She didn’t even have to call Chiz when she got there; he was standing at the entrance waiting for her, no Dele in sight. Abi pulled up and demanded, “Where the hell is my boyfriend Chiz? I’m so done with this shit today.” “Calm down, he’s in there” he said, indicating one of the bars “Let me help you park, go and meet him, but just calm down.” Abi got out of her car, leaving the engine running for Chiz and stomped towards the hut, she didn’t even notice how quiet it seemed for a party venue. She was on a mission to hit Dele where it hurts.
She pushed open the door and was startled by a loud shout of “Surprise!!!”, she looked around the room confused, sure she had just ruined someone else’s party but then Dele’s sisters, the twins Riyike and Renike, ran towards her excitedly. “Hey Abi! Surprise!” they said in unison. “What is going on here?” Abi asked, even more confused, “Why are you surprising me?” she ran through important dates in her mind, her birthday, her and Dele’s anniversary but nothing made sense. “Come with us, you’d see” they said as they dragged her out towards the back door. She scanned the now dim beach and noticed Dele standing next to a bright blue Kia. Abi ran towards him “Dele, what the hell is going on? Can you please explain!” But Dele just smiled and led her to the back of the car, he opened the boot and she saw the presents she had bought earlier, some of them had been removed from their wrapping and were laying haphazardly in the trunk of this strange car.
Abi started to protest again but Dele placed a finger on her lips and gestured for her to look more closely. The diffuser sticks crossed each other to form what looked like an M on top of another M. Dele started, “Abiola, I have loved you since the day we met, I want to have babies with you and teach them the alphabet from A to Y” pointing to the letters that had been removed from the toddlers learning kit “because Z signifies the end and our love will have no end, even after we fall asleep on the pillowcases of Remembrance and Restitution.” He said, gesturing towards the pillowcases that had been placed between the A and Y.
It finally started to dawn on Abi and she covered her mouth with her hands to stop herself from squealing. “To me you are priceless, vintage, growing more beautiful with age and time” he said finally, gesturing to the scarf, which had been folded into an awkward letter e. “Abiola ‘Abi’ Momodu, will you marry me?” he said, sweeping his arm across the trunk of the car, filled with its mismatched letters while getting down on one knee with a ring he had procured from thin air. She knelt down next to the love of her life and whispered, “Yes. I love you” with tears flowing down her face.
All of a sudden, they were surrounded by family and friends who had waited in the bar, Chiz, the mastermind who stole the presents from her car came up to the couple and said, “You forgot to tell her the best part! The car is your Christmas present!” and once again the crowed yelled, “Surprise!!!”
Merry Christmas everyone. My gift to the next writer is a big ole bottle of Scotch! That can only be drunk on the 25th of each month.
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