Delayed Diagnosis Written by Kingsley Olanrewaju Efughi
Pls Note: No part of this work should be reproduced in any form, either electronic or manual without the approval of the author.
This was no stranger! I had seen that face before..sometime that week..I blinked,shook my head and risked looking g up again and I ran straight into his stare. Impeccably dressed he was, u could smell class on the man I’m very sure I wldnt have given him a passing thought had it not been for the eyes. One white and one bloodshot I cld feel a nagging in my brain something Important, something that made my hand stop in the process of returning the cash book to the customer I was attending to..the red eyed man was in between both lines..although funmi’s line was shorter than mine I cld sense him edging my way. I made a show of checking the cash book again then pressing several keys on my desktop with a frown on my face as tho there was a slight problem i was immersed with..but as soon as i felt Fumi stamp a teller nd signal for d nxt..i hurriedly released my customer with a hasty : “tnx for banking with us”. This charade wld go on with my brain racing in all directions was it possible this man knew about the money? But that was absurd or was it? Did Chief send this man? Where had I seen that face before or those disturbing eyes. The few times I glanced up he was watching me..no expression on his face once or twice he glanced at his watch and seemed to be in a hurry. Finally I had managed in delaying my queue that when Fumi called for the next customer Mr. Strange eyes had to step forward lest risk strange and wondering looks in his direction. I tried to listen in on their exchange but he said really little and just handed over a slip. I glanced over nonchalantly and caught him looking dead at me with a sly smile on his lips. Suddenly it hit me that was the very same mechanic I had handed my keys to less than 24 hours..my heart literally stopped as d possibilities began to take root if this man was in anyway linked with chief then I had just handed every thing in my car ( personal details,about family everything ) to the very last person who sld see anything like that. The weight was crushing I had to rest my head in my hands for a moment I closed my eyes and saw it clearly, the 3 piece suit exchanged with the stained jumpsuit..the clean nails for the black oil smeared one. even the clean shaven jaw line for the scraggle beard of old. His pidgin english and iliterate look exchanged with the air of sophistication. The only thing he cldnt change was d eyes..and dat had woken me up.
I heard a customer clear his throat in
impatience and when I looked up hurriedly strange eyes was gone. I
looked sideways and caught Fumi looking at me strangely.
I hurried on with my duties a bit embarrassed as to what fumi myt be thinking.
It was no secret dat ever since fome’ called of the engagement I had gone thru a rilli bad phase..I still heard whispers here and there but ignored most of it..and had been doing fine and not even pretending until that very week….
I have succeeded only in painting a small portrait something like a
passport. for u to see d bigger picture however,u need to understand my
frame of mind, to understand what drove my actions cos they were not
pretty nor wild be d repercussions as it wld turn out..but that’s
Getting ahead of the story…
My name is obasi. Rex obasi..usually just Rex..but my post office days it was oba.
I’m the only son with 3 sisters i guess my father was prepared to keep trying for a boy had I not come along when I did..and so my mother cld ‘hang her…..’ (Boots doesn’t quite apply) finally and thus became my journey in life..typing these words I swore to be honest to the letter and I plan to keep to that word..cos the truth is all I have..if only I had used it while the blade was sharp.. Now I have learnt not being blunt cuts d deepest and I want no more cuts..
I was brought up
in an environment with a mentality dat most feminists fight against
today…call it misogyny, elitism whatever it was..was probably
ingrained into me by my dad..who was also brought up dat way. My parents
were not one to display affections of love or even closeness.they
always came about as a necessity.. As something that had to be they ran d
house smoothly with my father working (as a physical labourer) and my
mother running the house smoothly always in her ‘wrapper’ which my
immediate elder sisterReferred to as her uniform.uniform
My dad had a formidable physical appearance but save for some disturbing memories of him beating my mother he was almost jovial always having a good story to share with his ‘son’ anytime he came back from his toils he wld bounce me on his knee (when I was little and even when I began to get older)
“Pappy u know wot I did today..” He would den begin a story. Thinking back I know Dat was the highlight of his day and mine as well.he was always tired usually and he said very little until my mum had served his food(whuch was always a gigantic heap) after which the first sign of a smile wld enter his eye and he wld regard me with interest..other times he’d shout for any of my sisters to tend to me.
I’m in a haste to rush thru my teenage years but this road back is bitter sweet, a nostalgia i must indulge. My sisters Cynthia,nyesom,utebo during my early years growing up were already late in their teens my immediate elder, utebo whom I related with the most (as she was always d one to look after me) was five years my senior, the first two was 11 and 9 respectively.. It wouldn’t be until later that I would learn my mother sufferd from multiple miscarriages durin the years in between.
Back in my neighborhood which was quite urban..I was always on the receiving end of jests as to my sisters names from my peers. After one too many ribbing a particular day I asked my mother: “mama why is it that Cynthia has an English name..even me but how come nyesom and utebo.Are we not all siblings?”
My mother who
had been folding clothes in a big basket paused smiled..a bit sadly “my
dear they are ur sisters its is ur father’s aunty and grand mothers
name that we gave to the both of them that’s all”
“Mama what of your own aunty and grandmother’s name?”
My mother burst out laughing,dropped d basket and enveloped me in a bear hug..at that point I think I was eight plus and actually expected an answer
Anoda significant event from my teen years was when my father got in a fight or rather beat up the father of my classmate which soured dat relationship terribly. At that time there was buzz of a new railway being considered and all the contract workers in our community were on the lookout for d slightest opening for a job. the man in question,father to a class mate of mine had “apparently” gone behind my fathers back and accepted the deal and proceeded the work d following day after which my father had confronted him and a fight had ensured. However the ‘word on the street’ was that the reason for the fight was a gambling debt after which my father had collected his due proceeds from the work. As a matter of fact, there were different things i heard and i’m sure my sisters heard also but if we paid any attention to them it was only in private. But the funny thing was, my father brought about that reaction in us not by excess violence..from my father once was enof and he knew it.
By the time i was fifteen my two eldest sisters,Cynthia and Nyesom had married. The first, even three years prior to my fifteenth birthday. Utebo was already fiiling my ears with how she cldnt wait the one year my mom requested of her before bringing her “beloved paul” to see my father on the issue of marriage.
My father had been quite insistent i study accounting but was satisfied enof when I got admission in nsukka to study banking and finance.. This provided a breathe of fresh air to me and I cld see a life beyond the fore walls of my previous life.
It was during my 2nd year in school I came across fome’ . To be frank she shattered d image I previously held(due to my upbringing). So it was only fitting that when I fell it wld be hard..she was..(my bruised ego and battered heart won’t allow me sing her praises or list her wonderful traits..but she was wonderful in one word). Rememba dat potrait picture I mentioned before? Fome’ is a significant splatter of paint on it..I’d say red cos when it comes right down to it all this bloodshed might have been avoided if I had somehow avoided her although that wld have been bad as well cos I wild have still had my previous ideals..and live a life d exact replicate of my father.(altho when comparing the outcomes d latter wouldnt seem so bad)
As it would turn out i would date Fome for
almost eight years deep into my late twenties..and given by how totally
taken by her i was and she by me (or so i thot) marriage was on the
cards. The day i breached d topic to her was the day I set things in
motion albeit unknowingly. I remember our dialogue that day. I had
talked and talked trying out one liners and romantic quotes I had been
reading about. When I asked her “will you marry me?”
All I heard was d first word of her reply: “yes.but there is someone I’d like you to meet”.
This is a delicate part of this story talking about Chief. So delicate I think I need to expound on the gravity of the situation a little more.
That day, after Mr. Strange eyes had taken his leave I kept on replaying our previous meeting over and over in my head: I had been running late for work and my car had been jerking and making strange noises I had opted to leave it at home and on my way back I had stopped at the road side garage I usually used and informed ‘Sule’ the mechanic whose services I used previously..he had been to my house severally and usually used to bring my car home after working on it and at times like that faithful day I had given him d key instructing him to come pick it up the following day. I gave him d keys the day before on occasion when I wld be leaving early d next morning usually for work. If I remember correctly I had given him my car keys late into the night with every where pitch dark as he also sleeps in a shack in d garage.
proceeded home with my mind in d cloud feeling elated. Money they say is
the root of all evil, in my case it wld turn out to be the seed. All
that had occupied my mind since the day before had been an extremely
large sum of money which i hadcome into very illegally indeed.(the means
of which can only be explained after I explain the chief) suffice to
say I had been in a terrific mood ever since.
That night, I was suprised when I heard my engine start, the unmistakable cough and wheez of my engine is hard to miss.
I had been looking at the mirror where I had spaced out for seconds with thoughts of riches glamour and sadly, getting Fome’ back utmost in my mind. Hearing my engine, I was snapped out of the night ‘day dream and hurried downstairs…”ah ah…what is Sule doing by this time. I wondered to myself as I put on a shirt and headed outside
light from my neighbour’s balcony altho quite far was aided by d strong
beam of the moon. As I hurried outside,I cld make out two figures…one
was closing the bonnet, the second was behind the wheel.
“Sule!” For a moment I thought I was being robbed. “Sule!”
He stuck his head out of the window I cld see the three tribal marks on the side of his face, from ear to chin. Sule.
“Oga Rex you never sleep? I no wan disturb you”
I had covered the short distance to the car with surprising speed and had to catch my breath for a moment.
I looked at the second person while Sule rambled on just a cursory glance.
“Tomorrow early morning I have to go to Ikorodu..E get one work wey I forget to tell u about.”
“You for done call me now..or at least you for knock” but I was already nodding.
The second ‘mechanic’ who I didn’t know was strange eyes joined in “oga no vex, na me even tell am say u fit dey sleep..no vex oga”
I blinked at him as i wondered about his eyes. “No wahala”.
I looked at Sule as strange eyes retreated to the car.
“E go fit reach garage like this?”
“Why. E go reach I go just dey careful with the clutch.my boys go fit bring am tomorrow”
I stepped back “as long as sey e go dey work fine”
“No problem bross” he shook his head and looked at me. “This job
ehn…we no dey sleep tomorrow na anoda one go start” he put the car in
gear “oya now..good night” he looked at me a minute longer then drove
I entered the house considering what brand I sld change d car with.
“Maybe a mercedes” I said to my self. I broke into a tune as I locked my door. Whistling the tune to the song “singing in a rain”
If only I knew then a rain was truly coming.
But all that had happened less than 24 hours ago and sitting down at my desk in the bank, after closing hours staring at my screen and moving the cursor everywhere…I was hit by a realization:
The car it
always hissed and wheezed every time it was started but Sule had been my
mechanic for close to two years..since I relocated tho the area and he
had shown me a way of starting the car with next to no noise..after
complaining that the sound cold “fall my hand” one day. The trick was to
pump the clutch vigorously as much as 18 times before turning the key
fully. He was always reminding me and always made a show of
Starting the car that way after I complained the exercise was tiring. But that day he had started it once..it cldnt be a coincidence becos he had said he didn’t want to wake me..my heart began to race as I tried to remember what else he had said that night, had he tried to tell me something in any way? he had mentioned going to Ikorodu said something about his work being stressful and about onoda one which i assymed was work abi onoda what?
It seems i was turning my brain inside out and it must have
been reflecting on my face because Funmi snapped fingers in front of my
face all of a sudden. I blinked and and was suprised to see her sitting
on my desk, shaking her head “oga welcome back. I’v been talking to
myself since abi” I looked down in question at the stack of papers she
had dropped on my key board.
“Ariyo said you sld link those accounts like now”
“Me or you” I narrowed my eyes at her.
“You can go and ask him na” she put her hand on my arm.
“Rex” she was the only one in the office who called me that. “Few days ago you had been laughing to the point of annoying me but I was glad.you were okay..don’t let d fome’ depress you again you’re better than that.” If you only knew…I thot to myself.
“I’m fine fumi serious you wldn’t believe me when I say its always you or Andy dat always even make me remember fome’ – by mentioning her everytime” Andy was my goofy co worker and friend he worked customer services section.
She stood up but left her hand on my shoulder looking unconvinced “first run those accounts for Ariyo then we’ll close together and go to my place. Rex you need to let your friends help lighten your burden”.
I started to tell her another time, Fumi was the queen of mixed signals.. Sometimes she appeared not even to like me, other times I don’t know…..
I was going to find an excuse when I thought to what Sule had said before driving off..”anoda one sef dey tomorrow”
Did he mean anoda visit from strange eyes and God knows who else…
“You know what..you’re right” I tried to fix the best puppy eyed look I cld muster “I cld use some lighter burdens”
To be continued…
Drop your comment