An Unusual Christmas In Ibadan – Episode 5
© Kayode Odusanya
The room lights were off, and the only illumination came from the TV and the HP Laptop that was on Wole’s lap. She sat on the dusty old chair opposite where he was on the bed and watched him as he typed away, with his eyes glued to the laptop screen. He was going through his online journal and other things that might help him put the pieces of his life together. He had taken a long bath and changed into the white t shirt and brown khakis that she had bought at the store next to the hotel. He scratched his dreads every now and then.
The last thing he remembered was being in a bus, headed out of town. He handled his Dad’s real estate and was meant to go and check one of Mr. Ade’s houses in the neighboring state. Ngozi’s theory was that he had gotten into an accident, which would explain why he had regained his sanity when she was almost hit by a car earlier on. But he thought it was more complicated than that. A knock at the door derailed her train of thought.
She got to the door and was met by a chubby teenage girl in a tight fitting black and white striped turtle neck gown. Ngozi thought she was too young to be working late nights at a hotel. She concluded the girl was probably the daughter of the lady she had spoken to at the hotel kitchen when she went to make her order earlier on. The girl handed her the tray and Ngozi blocked her view as she tried to look into the room.
Ngozi shot the door and walked slowly back to where she was seated. She placed her food and water on the table between her chair and the bed, and handed Wole the tray. He put the laptop to the side and collected the food tray from her. Even though he had specifically asked for the meal, he didn’t seem excited when he took the cover off his plate of food. The smell of fried egg and boiled noodles filled the air. She watched him as he ate slowly at first, and then picked up the pace and started shoving strands of noodles down his throat, fast. It made her chuckle.
She didn’t exactly like kung fu movies, but she was watching a Jet Li film. The adrenaline filled fight scenes helped her stay awake. Wole had told her earlier that he was scared to fall asleep as he feared he would wake up in the state he was when she found him earlier in the day. The plan was to get him somewhere familiar to his past, so that his brain would register with who he once was and not who he was for the last two years. They had been lucky to find a barber online that was willing to come over to give him a haircut at the hotel room the next morning.
11:47pm 24th December, 2016
She sluggishly got off the couch when the movie ended. “I want to take a quick bath, hope you are okay?” She said to him.
“Yes. I am.” He said between coughs.
Ngozi picked up a red paper bag from the side of the bed, and headed to the bathroom. The place was considerably standard compared to how the room looked. It was almost half the size of the room, and had a sparkling white bathtub that looked like it had just been installed. She pulled off her red gown and held it up, examining in it under the bathroom’s fluorescent light. After a few seconds, she shrugged and hung it on the door. Her hands went back to remove her bra when she suddenly stopped, turned around, and tiptoed to the door. She opened it gently and looked into the room. He was in the same position she had left him; in bed, with his back against the wall, and his eyes on the laptop screen. She laughed lightly at her paranoia before shutting the door.
Being under the shower felt so cleansing and rejuvenating; she felt like staying under it all night. Her mind went to her parents and what they would think if she had told them the truth when she spoke to them earlier on. She couldn’t even tell her friend, Susan what was really happening. Even as wild as her friend was, Susan would have thought she was crazy. She chuckled at the thought.
The clothing she had on was for men; the t shirt stretched down to her knees and the boxers shorts looked a bit baggy on her, even though it was the smallest size she could find in store. She just hoped her panties and bra dried up before they had to leave the room the next day.
She was heading to the couch when his baritone voice stopped her with, “You should sleep in the bed, I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“Are you sure?” She said with concern, but deep down she was happy. She had been longing to lie on the bed since they got into the room.
“Yep! I think I have conquered my fear now.” He said and moved his weight over to get off the bed. He stood inches from her now, and he cracked his neck here and there with his eyes closed. She took quick glances at his lanky body, and noticed a scar on his right lower bicep area. Other than that, his skin was flawless. It was hard for her to believe he had been sleeping on the streets and eating thrash for two years. She felt bile in her mouth at the thought of that and had to stop herself from vomiting. “Are you okay?” He said and instinctively held her.
“I am. It’s just something…something that happens to me when I eat late into the night.” She said and slowly moved out of his hold.
“Oh! I think some more water would help.” He said and handed her his bottled water. She took it from him and was happy he didn’t know the real reason why she was about to throw up.
“So…” She was saying as she slowly got on the bed. “Do you have some answers now?”
“Well…not answers to everything, but to most.”
“Okay. Let’s start with the one that has been bugging me all night.”
“Okay.” He said and sat on the couch.
“Why did you call me pretty woman earlier today?”
“I did?” He said with a quizzical look on his face.
“Yes; after you saved me from getting hit by a car.”
“Oh! I think I can remember that. You…You kind of remind me of something.”
“That’s the thing, I can’t remember.”
“Well…I am curious cos your half brother also called me pretty woman.” She said and he looked shocked but didn’t say anything. “I don’t look like Julia Roberts, so I am just really curious to know why…” She was saying and then let her voice trail off when she saw he was deep in thought.
After a few seconds of silence, he scratched his dreads and he looked up at her from where he sat on the couch. “Let me sleep on it. I am sure I will remember in the morning.”
To be continued