” Do you like your party? Are you enjoying it? I said.
‘Yes mummy’ Funmi said ‘ I am mummy. Thank you’
‘Why? Dont be sad now’ I said , when I noticed her smile gradually fade away.
‘Mummy… Where is daddy? She said.
‘I uhm… He cant make it honey’ I said.
‘But why mommy. You promised’ She said.
‘Funmi ,listen to mummy’ I began. ‘Your daddy loves you so much and thats the most important thing. Just know he cares about you, even if he is far away’
‘No he does’nt… If he did,why is he not here. I want daddy, I want daddy! And now ,even aunt Kemi is not here to attend my birthday party. Whats happening ? She said. I noticed that too, but due to the many guests and Oluwafunmi’s friends , I had little time to think about Kemi’s absence.
‘Dont be sad, baby. Mummy will never leave you. I’m here, forever’ * I kissed her on the forehead and embraced her warmly,while bending down. *
Dami stood there puzzled. She bit her lips, scrathed her chin and shook her head. She virtually scanned me from head to toe.
‘What’s wrong’ I asked. She shook her head and tightened her mouth like her cheeks were filled with water.
‘ Its not right’
‘What is not right? I asked.
‘You dont look like a daddy from America’ she said.
‘Huh ? So how does a daddy who came back from the states ,look like? I said.
‘Your dress. You cant wear Polo and those jeans when you meet my daughter’
‘Oh that? I laughed, but it felt embarrassing.
‘So what next? I asked. She cycle me. Then stopped ultimately.
‘I have a solution to that’ She said. * Dami went to her drawer benearth her office table . She brought out a box-very fancy- just like those you get when you buy from boutiques. I watched her as she took off the covering flap.
‘Here. Take this. Change into them. They look better’ She said. The clothes she gave me were expensive, very flashy and I bet my balls, that they must cost a fortune.
‘Hmmm. I have arrived Nigeria, finally I don Hammer. I thought.
Nanny Bisi was instructed to bring Funmi inside the ball room. Dami made sure all her gifts were all there, especially my horses. Yes they were V.I.P.
‘Wow! Mummy ,these are beautiful. Teddy bear! ‘ Funmi said ‘ Mummy are those pony horses? I was hiding in a corner.
‘Yes ‘ Dami’s voice replied.
‘Really? They are beautiful. Who made them ,mummy?
‘I did” *Daddy-for-hire job began officially. I came out of the corner like a price being unveiled. Beaming every pattern of smile, I could think of. The little girl was a bit startled. She hid behind her mother.
‘Who are you? She asked.
‘Uhm..Baby, this your Daddy , Gabriel’ Dami said.
‘Really?.. Are you my daddy? Funmi said with Joy.
‘Yes, I am’ I felt guilty, but if lying would get me and my family a better life. Then I rather lie ten times a day. Not funny though, but my tongue always had the perfect answer.
‘Daddy! Funmi hugged me.
‘Do you like my gift? Oluwami? I asked.
‘Oluwami? She said.
‘yes Oluwami, for Oluwafunmi.’ I said. She shrugs.
‘ the best gift you gave me is you. Thank you for coming, daddy’
‘ I love my princess, so much, I will never leave you again’ I said.
‘Promise’ I said. Dami’s joy was extra ordinary, even clueless Nanny Bisi couldn’t help it but shed tears of joy.
*Excuse me’ Dami said. Her phone rang.
‘Yes…my e-mail, ok…you inboxed some pictures… I will check them ASAP’ She was still very happy. Funmi hugged me even more. Suddenly , Dami’s joy was changed to gloominess. Like she saw a ghost on her laptop screen. She sat silently , staring piercingly at me and then checked her screen in disbelief.
‘What’s wrong, Dami’ I said.
‘Nothing…’ She scoffed. I was very skeptical if it was really nothing. Her eyes betrayed her response. There really was something on that screen.
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I managed to find a parking space, pulled in and turned off the ignition. The school bus was always with me on Saturdays to enable me commute early to work on Monday. It saved me transportation costs. I hopped down from the driver’s seat and looked back to see if I was forgeting any item. Satisfied, I pressed the lock button on the analog remote key. The car beeped in response.
I stood there , staring and trying to recollect what I wrote down on the list of items I wanted to buy from the flea Market. I was standing right in front of it. Hoodlumps were inevitablely present with their notable suspicious appearances. I clenched tightly to my hand bag and took a quick look at it to make sure it had not already disappeared I was cautious.
Pepper spray was in the bag. The stores were open on all ends, each having only a shelter cover with stakes nailed to thick rods that served as beams for support. The ground was a typical replica of molten magma larva, the only difference here was the coldness and putridity of this unapolegetic eyesore.
I managed to tip toe a few times , preventing my feet from torture but my slippers suffered dearly .
The goods here were cheap- Flea in nature. Tomatoes were not placed on a platter of gold unlike the previous weekend when it was hiked. Assorted goods and beverages were present and affordable, but not the type you get to buy in Shoprite and mega malls. Original goods could be found here but only if one did a pratical survey of the entire landscape.
The forces of demand and supply had no effect on this market. They were weak in price determination. The price today will be different from that of yesterday. I couldn’t despair, this was the life I chose because of love. I would sacrifice a luxurious life , just for my OGL. My One Great Love- my sweet Gabriel. Only if he knew, things would not be so complicated right now.
Not withstanding that, he wanted to get rich and I would put in blood and sweat to see his dreams come true.
She was not in the mood to smile. She stared at me . I couldn’t help but wonder what sinister and crooked thought was going in her mind. She probably was searching for something to plank me with. Obviously.
‘ Er??You say wetin ? Abeg Madam, if you noh go buy drop amm. How will I sell these tomatoes to you 150? She said. She then looked away with disgust. Shameless indeed.
‘How come? See the thing self, e donn die finish’ I said ‘ To be honest this one nah ‘ Toma’ , the ‘Toes’ no dae again’ It was obvious .
The tomatoes looked non-succulent and almost dry. Only in Nigeria you get to display such kinds of goods with impunity
‘Take it or leave it. 150 naira last’ I said. ” Abeg carry your wahala dae go. You dae block my customers o! Please o’ she became furious..
‘ I can’t give more than that nah? Maka why kwanu? In this Buhari period? I said feigning to be surprised .
” Nah you I carry for head come market today abi? Its change o. Farmers have increased price’
‘ Nah you sabi, 150 or nothing’ I said. After a long bargain, she finally succumbed to my end of the deal and let me path with the goods. That was the last item I bought after spending hours debating with nagging market women.
I carried the two nylons portables in both arms. My hand bag hanging on my shoulder. I was about to open the passengers door when my bag became loose off my arms. Someone had snatched the bag.
‘Thief, thief O ! I shouted and made a pursuit of the fool. I didn’t even care about the nylons as I dropped them on the floor Suddenly, someone punched the scumbag in the face , barricading his escape. I felt sorry for him.
“Ouch ‘ I said. It felt like I was the one who was dealt with a blow. ‘ Next time , you won’t be so lucky; now get lost’ the man said . I was awestruck and puzzled as I stood there watching my knight in a shinning armour…….
To be continued.