Today. We have Jennifer, gracing our ‘eyes’. Enjoy.
I check my watch for the umpteenth time. It’s 11:59 so I just watch the second hand make its way around the circle. 12:00! Finally! Like clockwork, my phone rings. No need to look at the screen for caller ID, I know it’s you; you always call first. “Hi baby” I coo into the phone. You proceed to sing me “happy birthday” with me smiling like a fool and wiping a couple of tear drops.
I always told you that you were an angel in human form; not only because of how special you are, but because of your voice that would put the birds, the American Idol contestants and a few angels, dare I say, to shame. Your singing ends and you say “Happy birthday baby! You are the light, the love and the joy of my life and I’m so happy you were born that fateful 3rd of June cos I don’t know where I’d be if you weren’t”. “Awww!”, I respond my voice shaky from holding back a few tears. We talk on and on. With you, I can never keep track of time. “Oh yeah, when are you coming to pick me for the flight?”, I ask. We’d been planning a getaway to Calabar for my birthday.
We planned to take the week off and have some alone time and I’d been looking forward to it for a month. You hesitate for a few seconds. “Don’t worry babe, let me call you back. I’m sure I’ve kept so many people who wanted to wish you a happy birthday waiting. I’ll call you later baby. I love you”, you say in one breath and hang up before I can even reply. I shake my head and smile at how weird you can be sometimes as I look through my missed calls to see who called while we were talking.
3 hours and loads of calls and texts later, I start to doze off when my phone buzzes. I’m about to ignore it when I see it’s a text from you. It reads, “Hey baby, happy birthday again. I love you. Please don’t hate me. I didn’t want to upset you when I called that’s why I decided to text now. About the Calabar trip, I’m so sorry but it won’t be possible. I have a series of super important meetings in Abuja, the first being at 9am today, that I CANNOT afford to miss and I won’t be back till Thursday. My flight’s at 6am. I’m so so sorry boo. Please don’t be upset, please”. I read the text a couple of times, anger building up inside of me.
I cannot believe this insensitive nonsense you are saying to me on my birthday. I take a few deep breaths and reply. “Sam, WTH?! This is so so so unfair. Are you telling me you didn’t know about these meetings long enough to reschedule?! I’ve been looking forward to this trip for forever! You know this so I don’t know why you’re doing this. What is now going to happen to the plane tickets and hotel reservation?”.
I wait 15 minutes before you finally reply. “Baby please don’t be upset, I beg you. I really am genuinely sorry. I’ve known about the Abuja meetings for a couple of weeks so I didn’t buy the Calabar tickets or make a hotel reservation. Baby, my promotion literally depends on these meetings. Please understand, I am very sorry. I promise to make it up to you with an even better trip when I get back”. “Wait, what?! He didn’t even buy the tickets or book a hotel?! Samuel Benson, you are a bloody bastard!”, I scream. I hiss and fling my phone to a corner of the bed. I cannot wrap my head around the reasons you’re giving me. I’m not even going to respond. I’m trying to sleep but I can’t because the anger in me is becoming a physical burning sensation in my chest and also because my phone keeps buzzing. I kick the phone to the floor angrily.
I wake up at 10am from a dream about us having dinner at a really nice restaurant in Calabar and I’m so upset that my brain had the audacity to let me have such a dream. What would have been such a beautiful dream a night ago is suddenly a nightmare. I’m even angrier now. My phone rings from under the bed. I pick it up to see who’s calling. It’s my mum. 20 minutes and countless prayers later, the call finally ends and I look at my phone to see what I missed in my sleep. I have 30 missed calls. 20 from you! I roll my eyes and look at my messages. Mostly birthday wishes. But countless messages from you. “Babe, please reply”, “baby, please, I’m sorry”, “Baby please pick up”, “Jane, at least pick up so I can explain myself properly. Please”, “Baby, I’m in Abuja now heading for my meeting. I’ll call you immediately I’m done. I’m so sorry”. Please please please, I’m not even interested in anything you have to say. If you won’t be with me on my birthday like we planned, let me go and hang out with my girlfriends. You and your
true love, Work, can have a splendid time.
I call my friends, make lunch plans, get ready and head to the restaurant to meet them. I turn off my phone for good measure; you’ve already done enough damage so I don’t want you ruining lunch too.
When I get to the restaurant, I spot them at our usual table. They sing happy birthday in their horrible voices as I walk over laughing half-heartedly. We eat and have what I would call a good time on a regular day but today, I’m just not in the best of moods so through out lunch I’m pretending to listen and laugh. I even manage a few fake tears of joy for the camera when the waiters bring out a birthday cake from my friends and sing me happy birthday.
As we’re eating cake, I decide to turn on my phone to reply birthday messages before they pile up. There’s a voice mail and a bunch of texts from you. I decide to listen to the voice mail and you’re saying something about how you made a mistake and you don’t know what you were thinking and you’re coming back right now. I just roll my eyes. I decide to read only the last text you sent. It reads, “Jane, I’m so sorry I couldn’t be with you on your birthday. I’m so sorry about the trip, about everything. I’m kicking myself here because I don’t know how I ever thought to choose work over being with you. I hope you forgive me. You are my soulmate, my best friend, my lover, my life. You gave my life a new meaning and every second I’ve spent with you has been priceless. You mean the world to me and more. I have always loved you, I love you now and I will love you forever, in life, in death and beyond. Happy birthday.” then, I hear Rose scream “Oh my God” and drop her phone.
This Rose and her obsession with Linda Ikeji’s blog! I’m sure she was reading about some celeb! Maybe Tuface is having another baby somewhere. I look at Rose and she seems pretty shaken up. Everyone is asking her what’s wrong. I pick up her phone. I laugh when I see that she was actually reading something on Linda Ikeji’s blog. I decide to see what the blog post is about. It turns out it wasn’t about Tuface or any celebrity.
“Breaking news: Dana plane carrying 153 people crashes in Lagos”, it reads. “Oh wow, so sad”, I say. “What’s that Jane? The thing that is shocking this talkative Rose into silence must be serious oh”, says Bisi. “It’s a plane crash, my dear”, I reply. I scroll down. “Below are the names on the Dana air manifest”, it reads. Numbers 1-6 have the same surname. “Oh my God, you guys, the first 6 victims on the list are all related. This is so sad”. “Jesus!”, everyone says in unison except Rose. I scroll down the list and skim through the names when I see what silenced Rose. “20: Samuel Benson”.
I am frozen.
For more wonderful work from Jennifer, click on the link –» http://www.jennyphar.wordpress.com