The first time I saw Donald was in my office.
I was running late to work on that particular day which is unusual for me as I try to keep up with time, not just at the office but in every area of my life.
But as unscripted as life can be, my car tire went flat barely 20 minutes after I drove out of my house. Whether the tire had been flat the night before, I do not know, but as I wheeled down the streets of Gbagada, an okada man who was riding past flagged me down pointing down at my car, I was forced to swerve to the side of the road, pack and inspect what it was that he was pointing at.
It turned out to be a flat.
“Oh God!” I exclaimed, lifting my hand to my forehead. “Not right now”
I glanced down at my wrist watch, it was almost 8am, I was supposed to be at work by 8.am. Refusing to think of the work load waiting for me as well as lined up clients I had fixed appointments with, I walked around to my car, hunched inside and withdrew my cellphone from my purse.
I dialed my mechanic Chidi and placed the handset to my ear. He picked up on the second ring, as a correct business man that he is.
“Good morning ma” he greeted. I still did not like it when people addressed me as ‘ma’, it reminded me that I was a 34 year old woman with no husband or child.
“Good morning’ I responded. “I have a flat tire o, and I was on my way to work.”
“Eiya, na for where you dey?”
“I dey Bale street, for this Gtbank side, this side wey Crunches eatery dey, the new Crunches, you fit come?”
“Na now I just dey come shop….”
“Abeg just try for me, ehn?”?
“Oya, I dey come”
I ended the call and leaned against the car in wait for him, tapping my left foot against the sandy ground impatiently.
He arrived about 25 minutes later and got straight to work.
Poor me, I didn’t know how to change a tire.
He retrieved the spare from my boot and in less than 10 minutes, he was done replacing the punctured one with the new.
“Thank you” I said gratefully, pulling two mints of one thousand naira from my wallet and handing it to him. “God go bless you” I said.
“Thank you madam”
He collected the money from me, wheeled the punctured tire with him while I hurriedly got around into the car.
I glanced at him through the rear view mirror as I tugged the seat belt over me, he was hailing down an okada with the punctured tire balanced in between his legs. I made a mental note to pass by his shop at the close of work to receive the tire, he must have fixed it by then.
I started the car ignition and drove away.
By the time I got to my office in Ikeja, it was almost 10.am.
“Good morning ma” my secretary rose to her feet as I breezed into the building.
“Good morning” I responded, glancing at the four people seated in wait for me.
Donald, as I would later get to know him was one amongst those people.
“Good morning” I said casually to my waiting clients and hastened my steps into my office.
I blew my hands over my face in a bid to dry out the sweat that sat on my makeup due to the rush up the stairs, I breathed out in the process, calming my nerves
Time is money, I really hated being late.
I picked up the intercom and called the secretary’s desk. “Bring the first client in” I demanded. I replaced the receiver and picked up the air conditioner remote and put it on.
He pushed the door open as I was placing the remote to my desk.
“Good morning madam”
Did I really look that old that even a stranger would address me as ma? Or was it due to my position? I would never get used to that word.
“Good morning, please sit” I pointed to the black chair opposite my desk.
He sat down while I pulled out my notepad and pen from the drawer beneath my desk. I held the pen over the book and looked at him questionably, ready to take instructions.
As an event planner, people came to me to help plan their events, and Donald in particular had called the office a day before but because I was out on location, my secretary had asked him to come in today. He was a really tall person, young, I could tell, with a well-trimmed beard.
“It’s my mum’s 48th birthday and we just want something very formal but, nice”
I scribbled down the words ‘formal’,‘nice’ and ‘48th’. “Okay?”
“My siblings are busy and out of Lagos so I’m sure she is not really expecting anything, so we want this to be a surprise….” I smiled at his excitement and the way he demonstrated with his hands as he spoke. “It’s going to be huge” he finished.
I nodded, jotting down on my paper.
When I lifted my head, I asked him. “Will that be all?”
“Oh yeah sure! For now. We’ll keep in touch as you plan”
“When is this party coming up?”
“In two weeks?”
I clenched my teeth.
“What?” he inquired, a glimmer of awareness dancing in his eyes. “Short notice?”
I nodded, smiling. “I prefer my clients to make bookings a month prior, November is tight as it is..”
“But,” I spread my palms in the air. “I’ll squeeze you in..”
“But it will cost you”
“Of course” He smiled, exposing well aligned teeth. “Let me have your personal number and account details” he said, shifting in the chair.
I would give him my business line specifically bought and registered solely for that purpose like I did to every client, but when I opened my mouth to speak, I was reciting my personal number, the one my family and friends had, ‘personal’, just like he demanded.
Was it the chocolate skin, broad shoulders or was it that strong masculine sweet smelling perfume he wore? But even I wore an equally nice perfume, and he wasn’t the first handsome man to be sitting in my chair.
“…635141” I completed.
“Got it” he said. “Calling you”
My IOS vibrated in my purse. I reached into my purse and withdrew the phone.
“Saving it….what should I save it a…”
“Donald” he interrupted. “Donald Agu.”
I nodded. “Okay….done”
He rose to his feet and extended his hand for a shake.
I shook it and he said, “we’ll talk, send me everything”
“Okay” I replied.
He nodded and withdrew his hand, turned around and walked out of my office.
I heaved a sigh and turned a new page on my notepad, ready to meet with the next client.
Two weeks was not a lot of time to plan a party, especially given the other things I had on my itinerary so I started the very next day.
First, we needed a location. I had some good ideas in my head so I called Donald to go over some of the places with him.
“Let me come over, let’s go look at them together” he suggested.
“Okay” I agreed.
He arrived at my office about an hour later and suggested that we go in his car, promising to bring me back to the office after the tour.
I got into his Lexus, it was a nice car with a clean interior, Ls460 version. I equally had a nice car of my own so material things didn’t impress me so much, I had worked hard to give myself most of those things already.
“How are you?” He was asking.
“Very well” I answered, flipping my 30 inches weave to my back. “You?”
“Good,” he replied, glancing at the monitor screen as he started to reverse out of the premises. “A client of mine flaked this morning”
“Ow!” I responded, “It happens sometimes”
“ Yep!” he glanced behind him as he drove the car completely out to the road. He shifted the gear into drive and stepped on the accelerator.
“What do you do?” I was asking for conversation sake.
“Lawyer” he responded, turning down the volume of the stereo.
“Hmn. Are you specializing?”
“Yes. Corporate and Property Law”
“Thanks. Which way?”
“V.I. There are three locations I think you would like”
“Turn right, we’ll first go to the one at Q lounge”
Mr Eazi’s ‘anointing’ came on the stereo and I began to nod my head to the rhthym of the song.
He shot me a glance before returning his eyes to the road. “You like it eh?” he was smiling.
“I do” I nodded.
He stretched out his hand and turned up the volume a bit. “Eazi is a good singer, I like him too”
The speakers of the car boomed as we cruised towards our destination.
As I continued to bob my head to the music, I checked him out through the corner of my left eye. The guy was fine! He wore a dark blue long sleeve kaftan and it just fit his sturdy physique perfectly.
I wondered who his girlfriend was, or girlfriends as it was common with men. He definetly wasn’t married, my eyes went to his left finger for confirmation and there was no sign of a ring. But many married men these days didn’t wear wedding bands.
“Will your wife be in attendance?” I rolled my eyes at the silliness of my own words.
Well how else was I going to ask if he was married without looking so obvious? He was my client, it really wasn’t my business.
He chuckled. “I’m not married. Too young” he added with a side glance at me.
Too young? I eyed him up and down to try to ascertain what he meant.
“I will cross that bridge when I am probably in my early thirties”
Wait! He wasn’t yet 30?
“How old are you then?” The words slipped out of the mouth before I could restrain them. I was staring at him, arms crossed over my middle. I don’t know what I was feeling, astonishment or plain disappointment, I mean I was crushing on this guy.
“I am 29” he announced.
My brows popped and my heart dropped.
29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34
Quick math, I was five years older
To be continued……..
WRITTEN BY OGBUGOH TERUNDU JOY.