A story written by Omoya Yinka Simult
You have been thinking about this for weeks now, envisaging how things are going to work out. It is the last thing you think about everyday before going to bed. It is also the first thing you think about when you wake up each morning. It seems as if it is now dominating your thoughts. It is about this particular friend whose birthday is fast approaching.
On a normal day, you wouldn’t bother yourself so much if she were a boy. You have several male friends, and you wouldn’t give yourself sleepless nights because of the birthday of any of them. The last time your best friend Adigun had his birthday, you simply wished him a happy birthday, many happy returns and all. Then you presented him ‘Americanah’ by C.N Adichie as his birthday present. O yes, you also ate, sang the ‘happy-birthday-to-you’ song, and that was all. This is different. The girl whose birthday is being discussed is your childhood friend. And that’s not all, you sort of have a soft spot for her in your heart. Ah, that’s where the problem lies!
Actually, you have been saving money for this cause, yet you are unsure of what to present her. A golden wristwatch? A pair of silver shoes? A purple handbag? A literature book better than you bought for Adigun? You are just confused. Maybe you would simply ask her what she likes.
The day has finally come. You wake up with a strange feeling, the feeling of anxiety. You had tried to sleep late yesterday, so you could be the first to wish her a happy birthday. Unluckily, you dozed off while observing the tick of the clock. You couldn’t just cheat nature after having a hectic day yesterday. Now that you are awake, you feel a bit depressed that you couldn’t suppress the sleep last night. Oh no! You are cocksure several people must have sent their wishes already. You carry yourself sluggishly from your bed and find your way to the bathroom.
After cleaning up, your present preoccupation is how to make your own birthday wish unique since you couldn’t make the first person. You wrack your brain so hard, then an idea flashes past your mind. Okay, you will make your birthday wish a poem, solely dedicated to her. You pick your pen and paper and scribble the most beautiful words you can ever conjure. You read and read again what you’ve written. You make changes here and there until it satisfies you. You then type it on your phone and send it to her. Your heart skips as you are notified of the message delivery. You close your eyes and pray she likes it.
‘Is this shirt fine enough? Will this pair of trousers do? Should you put on this pair of shoes or the pointed one?’ A barrage of questions runs through your mind. You finally find a befitting outfit that will make you look dapper. You search for your stove iron because there is no electric power in your street. You find it and light the stove. You begin ironing the selected clothes, putting in the best of your laundry skills as you sweat profusely. You are ready to give it all it takes to look your best today. What a lady would make a man do to get her impressed wears a feathered cap on its head.
You are dressed up now. Adigun asks you where you are going. You smile, grinning from ear to ear, and answer, ‘Today is Aduke’s birthday. Aduke mi owon, eleyinju ege, adumaradan. Em, I’m going to see her.’
‘Uh, just be careful,’ Adigun says, ‘and extend my good wishes to her.’ Then he continues picking the beans both of you would eat later in the day. He doesn’t say more.
Before you leave the house, you decide to call her. It is necessary you ask for what she prefers as birthday present, you think.
‘Good morning, Princess. How well did you sleep? Very well? That’s okay. Yes, I’m good. Em, happy birthday o. Did you enjoy the birthhday wish I sent as a poem? Um, glad to hear that.’ Your voice has taken the unusual accent you use while speaking with ladies, an accent Adigun says makes you sound like a mewing cat.
When you ask her about what she would like for a birthday present, she tells you that she doesn’t fancy gifts. She doesn’t explain any further. Because you insist, she says taking her out for lunch is fine. You go ahead to ask for where she is.
‘I’m with my sweetheart in Faculty of Arts,’ she coos. You are not sure if you heard her well.
‘Pardon!’ The word flies out from your mouth. She repeats what she has just said. You try not to stammer as you apologise, saying, ‘Sorry for the interruption then. Enjoy your day.’
You cut the call, divest yourself of your clothes and join Adigun in picking the beans. Adigun looks at you, stupefied.
“Aren’t you going again?”
“No, I’m not.”
You blow the beans in your hand, pick the chaff and pour them in a bowl.
I am @omoyayinka on Twitter.