Tolani entered into his office and sat heavily. It was such a nice nght, knowing well that his father wasn’t ready to force him into any relationship. He smiled and sat back. On turning his head to the left, he sighted Stella’s framed photograph. It made him remember the pasts again.
He deliberately put the frame there so that he wouldn’t forget her any hour. He took his eyes off the photograph, he had to complete his left over works.
TOBILOBA was about leaving the house when his grandmother knocked at his door. He was provoked because he wasn’t expecting anyone and he wished to get to his place of work as early as he could. Washing the car delayed him up to that time, he’d have left home as usual.
Though, he might sleep drunk, he’d always wake as early as possible. “Who’s there?” He asked and picked his briefcase.
He heard his Grandmother’ s voice call his name. “This woman is here this morning again?” He was beginning to be inpatient. He unlocked the door and prostrated.
The woman in her late sixties smiled and prayed for him. She knew he wasn’t happy with her visit because it was written all over his face, but he had no choice.
Tobiloba was the only child given birth to, by his mother before she kicked the bucket. He was just in his 300 level in the university when the incident occurred. His mother died of hypertension and left her mother behind, who had been taking care of Tobiloba since then.
He was handsome, but had a problem- drinking. He had just two friends who he did drink with, almost everyday. The woman; his grandmother had done all she could to abort that behaviour but he kept on drinking.
He worked as a Manager at David & sons, a company owned by Temitope Williams. “I came for an important discussion.” The grandmother walked in and left him by the door.
‘What discussion again?’ He stretched his hands angrily, muttering.
“Come in here and let’s discuss.” She kept on walking in.
Tobi shut the door and walked behind her slowly and indignantly. “I have to get to work early, grandma.” He said.
“Tell that your boss that I came to talk to my son.” She finally got to the living room.
It was small sitting room, well furnished and had a nice scent. It was neat and tidied up, perhaps because it was owned by a bachelor.
He sat down, staring at his grandmother from where he was. “Please be fast as possible, there’s a contract we want to go and bid for, today.” Tobi said softly.
“I won’t waste your time and I don’t want you to waste mine. It has become an anthem that you should stop drinking but you’ve turned deaf hear to my words. Now, the advice I was advised was for you to get married or have someone that will be close to you..” she stopped, expecting him to pass a comment.
“Granny, we’ve discussed something like this before, I’ve told you that I don’t wish to get married, marriage is just like hell.” He uttered and dropped his briefcase.
“Who told you that! If you think you’ll be like this forever? You are merely joking because time isn’t your friend my son! Do you mean you have no one you are in a relationship with?” The pitch of her voice was getting higher.
“I don’t. From what i witnessed concerning my parents, I saw that there’s no love.” He said slowly, that horrible arguments and hatred between his parents had pissed his mind off marriage. The time his father would be arguing with his mother, both had no unity. Though, his father had never raised his hands to beat his mother but they were always like cat and mouse till his mother died.
Aside that, he hated marriage and ladies naturally. His parents’ behaviour had made him believe again that love didn’t exist. He had even weighed the ladies out now, many of them just after money and at the end just jilt the guy. Many put on dresses that does expose their bodies, what else would he want in marriage again?
“I’ve always told you your parents won’t determine your own future, its your own wish that will come to pass. If you are patient enough and you hope and pray, yours won’t be like that of your parents.”
Tobiloba was still adamant. “I still don’t want any of them! Granny, I’m getting late.”
“Either you like it or not, you must marry and stop this your useless drinking with these friends of yours. I’m going to bring a lady to this place tomorrow, thank God tomorrow is Saturday.” She stood up.
A lady.. He repeated.
Lo and Behold, Granny meant her words. She headed home and visited Stella’s place only not to meet her at home. She went to her own house which was beside Stella’s, hoping to go back there very soon to check on her again.
The Grandmother was a very nice woman who often give Stella and Favour her foods. It was the day the Grandma was fully dressed and was about leaving the house a car on great speed splashed mud water on her. Stella who was around was the one that assisted her into the house and made sure she helped her wash her clothes. So, since then, she did visit her place to know of she had any work she could help her with.
She was obedient and respectful to her, which made the woman like her so much like her daughter. After working at her place, she did give her money, and would tell her it was just a gift, she wasn’t giving her the money for coming to help her at home. She was also beautiful, what else would she want? She had studied her and saw how neat she was, obedient, reserved and shy. She knew that if not that she forced her, she wouldn’t be collecting a penny from her because she was a old woman.
She had also helped her against her joblessness and idleness by telling Tobiloba to help her search for vacancy wherever he knew. But to Tobiloba, he did think his Granny was always talking about an uneducated person but he never knew Stella was educated.
Tobiloba got to his place of work and quickly headed to his boss’ office. He greeted him and told him he was late, due to the traffic. He sat down after been told by his boss, Temitope Williams. “I guess you’ll be the one to represent the company, together with contract department.” He said to Tobi.
Tobi was surprised. Though, he knew his boss wouldn’t scold him for being late but he expected him to stand at once and follow him because he had saying it frequently that he wished to follow him. “Sir, what’s the problem?” Tobiloba asked.
“I almost hit a lady this morning which shocked me so much…. I’m still in shock and can’t go there like this.” He exhaled deeply.
“I’m sorry about that Sir. Don’t worry, I’m assuring you that everything is going to be fine, we shall win the contract.” He smiled.
“Thanks for your understanding.” Temitope shook hands with him gladly.
Favour was sitting beside her friend. She seemed worried, she didn’t want to accuse her in the hospital because she thought she’d be disturbing other patients and she wanted her to be better. She’d imagine it again as if the car hit her, what if it really hit her, where would she go to for help? What if the driver wasn’t a cool and nice person like Temitope Williams?
She was grateful Temitope Williams assured them he’d be back again in the evening, probably to take them home and pay for the bills.
EVENING, 6:09 PM.
TEMITOPE WILLIAMS walked into the hospital and demanded to check on Stella. He had checked on the Doctor likewise to hear from him, if there was no problem any longer and his bill. He walked into an the ward she was in and located her bed inatantly. He bowed, greeting the ladies. He asked Stella various questions about how she was faring and if she’d be able to walk. He also apologized again for driving the way he drove but he wasn’t at fault, Stella also told him.
He told them the Doctor had discharged her and he’d like to assist them home, he should be believed because he wasn’t a bad guy. Stella was glad he came back, at least the hospital bills, transport fare would be out of it.
He drove them home and at the end gave her the provisions he bought and a sum of money. He told them he’d be back to check on her; the following day.
After Temitope’s departure, the Grandmother of Tobiloba came to Stella’s place to discuss with her about the help she’d like her to render to her. She discussed with her about herself, Tobiloba and the help she’d like her to render.
If she wouldn’t help, no other person would like to. Iif she’d only change his mind off drinking, she should at least help her. Stella was confused, she remembered the time the woman would give her tubers of yam, rice and other foodstuffs. She was also nice and, a friend in need is a friend indeed.
“Alright ma.” She simply said but didn’t want to do it.
After her departure, she told Favour about it and asked for her advice. “It won’t kill, moreover it’s not neccessary you marry him and remember all what this woman had done for us, help her.”
SATURDAY, 9:11 am.
Stella was set, dressed up to follow Tobi’s Grandmother to Tobi’s place. She had discussed with Favour a lot, she had been advised to help the woman, and make sure she tried her best to change Tobi for better.
It meant they’d visit the Hotel for the job on Monday morning. As she was about to leave the house, she met the Grandmother by the gate.
Stella admired the house as she walked in with the grandmother. It was a beautiful apartment. She put on a beautiful face as she stood beside the Granny. She knocked softly, together with the Granny and patiently waited for him to walk out but there was no response for a while until Tobiloba walked out of the house slowly and opened the door.
Concievably, he just woke up due to the drinks he had with his friends the previous night. He knew it was Saturday, he had no important place to visit. He became self conscious as he sighted his grandmother and opened his eyes widely.
He greeted her and let her in, with Stella. He had been wondering who the young lady beside the mother was. He got to the sitting room, wearing an angry face. He gave Stella a long look and the splendor of her beauty awed him into silence. Though he wasn’t comfortable, but he didn’t want to complain at first.
“This is the lady I promised you.” The woman addressed him.
“Lady…” he kept staring at Stella.
Stella had caught him about thrice, while glimpsing at him likewise. She was feeling uneasy as they kept making eyes contact with each other. Looking at her hadn’t changed him, it would even make him more wicked and merciless to her. He had been mulling over it and still wouldn’t let his guards down because nothing good would come out of a relationship.
“Granny, haven’t I told you?” He sounded ballistic.
“Hey! Keep shut your mouth. I wouldn’t see a wrong way and push you there, if you don’t, don’t bother talking to me again, I’ll disown you.” She was also getting livid.
“Granny, I desperately know you wish me good but you bringing in a chicken is going to add to the problem.”
Stella was still quiet, she hadn’t spoken since the discussion had started. She had already been told earlier that Tobi wouldn’t want to accept her but everything neccessary would be done to make sure he did. Even if she was called a Cow, she wouldn’t be moved.
“Don’t add to my anger!” Grandma exclaimed.
She was getting serious, getting more annoyed with him. Tobiloba likewise didn’t want anyone. “Alright granny.” He waved his hand trying to dismiss the discussion.
“You’ve accepted?” She asked eagerly.
Tobiloba tried to smile. “Yes.” Within him, he was assuring himself he’d make Stella suffer so much that no one would beg her before leaving. “Good!” The Grandma laughed and stood up. “You people should be gisting, let me get you what to eat.” She stood happily and walked into the kitchen to prepare food.
This time, Stella was no longer glimpsing at Tobi, she was also staring at him as he was. “So she brought you right? You’re also happy?” He said, trying to threaten her.
Stella chuckled and clapped her hands together. “What’s your name?”
“You should have a mobile handheld there, goggle-search it out.” He hissed.
“I’m Stella. Firstly, I want to advise you on drinking. It’s a very bad habit that can result into Kidney damage.” She stopped, willing to know what he’d say.
“Carry on, story teller.” He hissed.
Stella shrugged. “You can call me anything but to be serious, drinking endagers one’s destiny and future. It has nothing good to offer and you drink everyday. Please stop!” She tried to be gentle and appealing.
Tobi hissed. “Are you even educated?”
Stella replied him and told him the name of the university she attended. He was shocked, he wasn’t expecting to hear such. It meant the Granny brought a civilized and educated lady to him but all the same, he still didn’t want.
“I’ll be coming here everyday to prepare you meal, I wish to know your place of work, likewise if I can be bringing food for you.” She said. She was just acting on what the Grandma had said, she didn’t like him either.
“See don’t let me see you here!” He said softly because of the Grandma.
“I’ll tell Grandma.” She spoke the exact way he did, trying to mimic him.
Tobi was silent. He didn’t want her to tell Grandma anything whatsoever. “If you tell her, I’m going to kill you!” He continued speaking softly.
Stella laughed. “You’re a clown!”
Tobi chuckled. “It’s not funny.” He hissed, trying to be angry again.
“And you smiled?” She stood up and walked up to him. She picked a seat beside him. The scent she was wearing filled the air, she was gorgeous and smart. “Please, just hearken to grandma’s likes and give her peace. May you not experience anything bad.”
“You are actually not saying this because of Grandma, you’re already liking me? She told you I’m rich and you’ve come to spy so that you’d steal as much as you can?” He sounded insultive.
Stella was annoyed. She didn’t want to tell him she wasn’t interested in him likewise so he wouldn’t hold that as an excuse.
Stella eventually got back home, already tired and eager to see Favour so as to gist her about what happened. Not long after she sat, Favour came out, smiling. “How was it?”
“The guy’s really mad oh…” she replied.
“Mad?” Favour sat quickly, ready to know what happened.
“Damn mad! If not for the kind of person this woman is, I wouldn’t have gone or, wouldn’t go there again but he was stubborn and I wish to change him.”
“You wish? Was he nice?”
“He wasn’t! He said I came to steal, he’d deal with me if I come to his house. His Grandma collected duplicates of the keys to his house from him and gave me in his presence. He didn’t look easy.”
“Temitope was here in the morning.” Favour changed the topic.
“That guy…” she smiled.
“I knew you’d be happy. I gave him your mobile number, he said he’d call you.”
Tolani was in his room, couldn’t take Stella’s image off his mind. He had been emotional for hours, in his room. He was just imagining what might have happened to her or changed about her. He wished to at least see her that day but there was nowhere he could go to search for her.