“You gotta be kidding!”
When a tear threatened to spill out of my left eye.
A hug. Tight embrace.
She let me talk. And talk. And talk even more. I could be quite the chatter box. And in between my heart’s outpouring, the tears flowed freely. My face was red, puffy and a rainbow of the brushes and powders of the makeup artiste.
But this was a far cry from the friendly banter we had shared over the years.
Work. Life. Play. Books. Men??? Not quite.
But today she was my Agony Aunty…
“15k jus lai dat? You think I will let you stuff your face with ice-cream and start having jedi-jedi. Lai lai.”
She rolled her fingers simultaneously and snapped them as she let out an exaggerated, “Olorun ma je.”
And I thought I was the dramatic one.
She disappeared into the room.
She returned armed with my favourite short green gown and tissue.
“Oya now sorry babes. I know what will do you good. Put this on.”
Her tone did not invite a response.
I heard her reeling my address over the phone.
Without a word, she led me to the car a few minutes later.
We arrived at my favourite bar.
The place had so many memories. Memories I now urgently wanted to delete. Like my brain should seriously have the delete button and empty trash function. But sadly, I was still human.
“Theo, two bottles please, of her favourite.”
He returned, tray in hand, with ice-cold, the one they call ‘mortuary standard’ of “33″ Export Lager Beer.
It brought back memories of my late grandfather. He always enjoyed a good mug of beer. Mug, yes, those 1 litre mugs. Blame it on his oyinbo German wife. As soon as I was legal, I knew I wanted to have whatever he was having. He was my super-hero. And the last time, I really had my heart torn into shreds of confetti – the olden days’ wedding kind, he was there to piece me back together. We had drunk to ‘bye bye to jati jati.’ He actually sang it. Anything to make his baby girl smile again.
She must have been watching or maybe she wasn’t. She was always had her nose in one novel or the other. Living together had exposed us to each other’s lives.
The clinking of glasses jolted me back into my sad reality.
What was it with men?
Reading my mind like a psychic, she said, “Not all of them. This one. Oshi koshi. Olori gbeske. Elede jati jati. A la i nikan se.”
A smile began to form at the corners of my mouth.
She handed me by beer with just one word.
My instinct was to rush it down as if that will numb away the pain. But then, what was the point? I liked to enjoy my drink and not my drink enjoy me.
Sensing I need encouragement, she sipped.
“You drink?” I managed with a look of incredulity quickly replacing the barely there smile.
“Only “33″ Export Lager Beer. Blame it on Vati.”
And the conversation turned to Vati. Vati is father in German and he was a father in every sense of the word. My first father and maternal grandfather. Vati made us pronounce our words well. He engaged us in hearty discussions. God rest his soul. The conversation naturally took us down memory lane – our time in publishing then freelancing then our academics and somehow, we returned back to men.
But this time, I was in a lighter mood.
No! Men are not scum…maybe some of them but there are great men. Men who value love, trust and honesty. Men of integrity. Kind, gentle, well-mannered. And they didn’t just exist in old historical romance novels.
They existed in real life. Like the rare breed of a gentleman my grandfather was. I liked how an old boyfriend put it in his condolence text message. Vati truly loved you and was your one true friend. He might have been wrong about a lot of things but on the special bond we had, he got full marks.
And in the weirdest of situations, I was reminded of family like friends – Vati and friends like family, Tayo.
And with our glasses filled with another round of “33″ Export Lager Beer, we ‘Ch33rsed’ to that.
By Isabella Akinseye