Tears streamed down his face even with his eyes still closed. Usual of him on Saturdays, the alarm sounded at 9:30 am and he wiped the flowing tears with his thick duvet. Was it as a result of a dream he had had? That was dismissed immediately as he was unsuccessful in his attempt to remember the content of his dream. He sat up and wondered why, but still couldn’t hazard a guess. He gave up.
He stood in the mirror, examining his swollen eyes, retrying to fathom what the cause might be. “Did I fight in my dream, and lose?” he asked. He muttered a prayer against any spiritual attack against his life, and entered the washroom. Events from the past year, by some divine stroke, came rushing to him, mightily competing for attention in his mind, whilst he brushed his teeth. Siisi sobbed some more.
She walked silently behind him in the hallway without his noticing. Then just when he was about to enter his office, she cleared her throat to draw his attention, as she had forgotten his name. “Tina”, he said, sounding delighted to see her, saying under his breath: “Awuarde! Ahuɔf3 paaa nie? Angelina Jolie mpo mfa ne ho?”. “I’m sorry, I forgot your name”, she said sounding apologetic, as if his thoughts were scrolling down the TV set behind him, and she intentionally wanted to burst his bubble. Feeling disappointed but sounding rather suave, he responded “It’s Grant…Siisi Grant”, in Ian Flemming’s James Bond’s exact confident style. “Maybe I should wear my ID tag more often”. Siisi realized for the first time that day they both were wearing red outfits – he, a red Ralph Lauren lacoste and she, a red suit over a white blouse. He smiled at the coincidence – it could mean something, he believed.
“Right…maybe you should. But how could I forget that?” she scolded herself, and smiled afterwards. “I wonder”, he joked, making her smile grow wider. He was making progress.
“Well, Siisi, it’s been very productive two weeks spent auditing your company. You, in particular, have been very helpful…overly helpful, if I may, to the team and I am very grateful.” Wearing a confused look and still trying fruitlessly to mask his emotions, Siisi asked: “Are you guys done? How about the audit of our Account Receivables and Payables, Fixed Assets and the others? Is it your last day on the job?” “Oh no, the rest will still be here for another week. I have been scheduled for another assurance engagement on Monday”. “Ah Tina! Couldn’t they take any other person away, so that I can spend some more time with you – getting to know each other?”, Siisi felt his words betraying him, and immediately wished they hadn’t left his mouth. She stared at him, processing what she had just heard. Siisi looked helpless, wanting to turn and enter his large shared office.
She turned and left without uttering another word. Siisi watched as the elevator door closed behind her and he hadn’t asked for her number. Crestfallen, he entered his office saying nothing to anyone in there. “Yo! Siisi, you send the document give me?”, Mike asked for the third time with a tap before he came back to reality. He looked up at him, squinted, and smirked; inaudibly thanking Mike for the thought he’d just blessed him with. Siisi quickly searched for Joan’s e-mail address and quickly fired a mail primarily asking for her number. He dashed to the IT department and configured his smartphone to receive official e-mails – something he abhorred with a passion. Mike was at the door wearing an angry look when he returned. “Abeg, I dey go send am rydee nɔɔɔ”, Siisi said without being asked a question, literally.
It was a Friday. Over the weekend, Siisi ‘refreshed’ his e-mail to see if a mail had come through – even his spam. None. They shared no mutual friends, and he didn’t want to send her a friend request on Facebook because the last thing he wanted was to be considered a stalker.
At 4:38 pm on Monday, his phone beeped in a tone that signified the battery was running low, and he found it strange as he had charged it about two hours before then. “I need to change this phone?”, he said as he reached for his charger in his drawer. The phone’s backlight came alive when he connected the charger, and saw the ‘mail’ icon display the number ‘1’ on its right side. His heart missed a beat, and then it started beating very fast when it resumed its duty.
“Mensa akã oo… mensa akã!”, he jubilantly exclaimed in the office when he saw ‘Ernestina Biney’ as the sender, drawing the attention of all his colleagues and boss. The latter cast a quizzical look at him and Siisi apologized for his joyous outburst. He signaled to his colleagues to keep calm and that they’ll know in due course. He did the sign of the cross, looked up and offered thanks to God.
“Hello ‘Grant…Siisi Grant’(lol). Sorry for the late reply. I trust you had a wonderful weekend. Anyways, I found it strange you’d send a mail asking for my number, as it is part of my signature details in all my mails to you. In case you missed it, please do find it in my signature below. Enjoy the rest of your day. ‘T’ for Thanks.”
The joy petered away mighty fast and was replaced with one of folly when he finished reading the mail. He laughed at himself. He called the first number, and the operator answered and said Tina couldn’t be reached. He tried the second one and it was answered. He spoke for about 10 seconds and realized it was an answering machine. Two more tries, and the results were the same. A mail was sent to Tina again, reporting what the respective network operators had said. This time, a response came about five minutes later, asking that he tries again as the phones were initially switched off.
They spoke for 3 minutes and then spoke again for about 2 hours later that evening. Siisi had hit the ground running, he thought. They grew fond of each other, but Siisi felt Tina was holding back. After many attempts to hang out failed, he considered it a prelude to his failure. His proposal was also turned down on two occasions, because Tina was already in a relationship. After some deep introspection, Siisi lost interest in the friendship. He had lost in his quest for Tina’s love.
In his neatly ironed navy blue shirt over a pair of khaki trouser which sat atop a pair of brown Fendi boots, and wearing a dark Ray-Ban pair of sunglasses to hide his swollen eyes, Siisi sat with his back facing the other patrons of the pub he had visited with his friends. “You dey like this one?, Mike asked, pointing to the waitress who had just attended to them. Siisi turned to assess her ‘goodies’ and shook his head, and took them through for the umpteenth time, the qualities his future wife ought to possess. Teasing in response, his friends remarked they needed to embark on a religious pilgrimage in his stead in order to find that one non-existent lady who possessed all the qualities and fit to be Mrs. Grant. He turned again to confirm and saw her – not the waitress – and he was right. Pushing the chair back to make room for his next move, he asked to be excused briefly, and he walked towards her, his self-confidence swelling up with each step he took. “Tina”, he said. She seemed surprised to see him. He was equally surprised to see her there too.
“Is that Burberry Sport you are wearing”, Tina asked after she had left Siisi’s warm embrace. “Oh wow! I’m impressed. Not only are you book-and-street smart, but fashion-savvy as well”, he remarked. “I’m also impressed with your remarkable sense of fashion – I’ve been seeing your display pictures on whatsapp”. “Ah…Tina paaa, who puts his bad foot forward”, Siisi responded sounding ‘humble’. Tina introduced him to her girlfriend, Agyeiwaa, as a ‘friend’ and he smiled, revealing a perfectly arranged set of white teeth – incisors beautifully parted in the front. Agyeiwaa melted, but she wasn’t paid any attention as she wasn’t a ‘Mrs. Grant material’.
“Hey baby”, Siisi heard from behind him and turned when Tina walked past him and hugged the frame of a gentleman Siisi recognized immediately. Siisi blinked. He drank from the Ocean Spring bottled water he had with him. They came close and Tina introduced Philipp as her fiancé. Siisi nearly choked on the water. Philipp blinked repeatedly to Siisi, ostensibly signaling to him to keep the skeletons in the cupboard, when Tina’s gaze was on the latter. Agyeiwaa noticed and cast a weird look at Philipp whom she knew.
Siisi kept his composure, contemplating whether or not to tell Tina about Philipp. And reminiscent of their experience in the hallway, Siisi turned and left without uttering another word, thinking:” if this is the boyfriend she actually turned me down for, then she isn’t smart after all. They deserve each other”. The search continues.
To be continued…