Hey beautiful people, thank you, thank you and thank you a million times over for the kind words and for your patience.
I appreciate it so much. Keeps me going.
Everything is fine now in the Universe and I’m back with a fresh Squadi episode. Again, thank you!
PS: Have you been to www.tns.ng today?
“Friendships don’t require a thousand years, they only require a kind heart, a heart full of love and, a man that possesses both”
He was not mad anymore. He could not stay mad at Yellow anymore. He wanted to, he desperately wanted to be angry because of the stunt that one had pulled but he knew there was no point.
He just couldn’t stay mad.
He leaned his back against the old chair, his arm resting on the chipped wood that was the arm of the chair while he toyed with the half empty bottle of water clutched in his hands.
Ekanem had helped them get water about an hour before and it was the only thing he had in his system.
Because of how the party at his father’s had gone, he had barely been able to do anything else before they had to get out of the house hours before.
“Guys, I managed to get some snacks outside” Ekanem had returned from wherever she disappeared to minutes before. She had in her hands a paper bag which smelled of burnt pastries and a lot of oil.
Hakeem eyed it; as much as he was hungry, he was not in the least bit interested in whatever she had inside the small paper bag.
He could almost swear that it would taste as bad as it smelled. Presently, the content was the only thing more repulsive than the smell of strong disinfectant sprinkled on the floor of the Maternity home they were at.
Earlier, some disgruntled Cleaner, clad in a blue colored midi Uniform with arms that seemed like the Tailor was in a hurry and, had been inspired by a butterfly’s wings, had come to clean the floor.
She had hit their legs with the mopping stick, each time, muttering an apology she clearly didn’t mean, while she halfheartedly scrubbed the floor.
She did not like her job. Clearly. Hakeem just wondered why she thought it okay to take it out on them.
“You don’t want? What would you now eat?” Ekanem was asking him about food as she took her place between him and Ajayi. The latter already took some out of whatever she had in the brown paper bag in her hands.
“Quit worrying about me” he said, he was going to find something to eat when he got back to School.
“Are you sure…”
“I said quit worrying about me!” he snapped, “The fuck is wrong with you?”
The instant shock he saw on her face when he yelled at her caused him to immediately feel bad. “I’m sorry I yelled” he said quickly but it was clearly too late. She shifted gently, refusing to respond to him.
Hakeem hated himself. He was a lot of things but he tried not to yell at women. He knew he allowed his anger get the most of him sometimes but honestly, he was not that person.
“Ekanem, I am sorry”
She looked at him then, mildly shocked that he called her by her real name. But she looked away before he could offer another apology. Ajayi sent him a look of disapproval and muttered an apology to Ekanem and that made him feel worse.
Clearly, AJ did not know when not to be a Cow. He resisted the urge to hiss at him and again, relaxed his head against the chair they were sitting on.
When they had arrived earlier, Yellow had been told that his wife was in a critical condition. All their anger had vanished and like subdued children, they had all taken their seat on an old bench in the small reception of the Maternity Ward Yellow had brought them to.
Hakeem had never been in a place like this in his entire life. And in the first few minutes, he had looked around the place, the small space that was the highest some people could afford to bring life into this world.
He and his sister Lexy had been born in a world class Hospital somewhere in Los Angeles and they had access to the best health care both here in Lagos and in America.
At no point in his life had he been made aware of a place like this one. A place where he was now forced to sit while they waited for the man who had their fates in his hands.
He was suddenly startled by Yellow’s pleas. He was chasing after a mean looking woman, drenched in a ward coat that could pass for a bedsheet. She had on a pair of glasses that was almost as wide as a Plasma screen. She also looked like smiling was a luxury for her.
Hakeem vaguely wondered what her story was. She seemed very sad.
“Madam, please, attend to her, I will find this money” Yellow seemed desperate. He touched the Doctor by the hem of her ward coat and she sent a stern look his way. Yellow hurriedly moved away, too scared to touch her again lest he invoked her wrath.
“Please Doctor” he said and fell on his knees, “Please don’t let her die” the words touched Hakeem, especially since they were followed by the tears that gathered in his eyes. The image in front of him was threatening to bring back terrible memories, so he stood and approached the Doctor.
“Ma’am, Please listen to him”
The Doctor eyed him, “Please move out of my way, I have things to attend to”
Hakeem was not sure which made him angry, her coldness or his own anger at her rigid behavior. He pulled her to a halt, “Do you know who I am?” she was stunned, her mouth hung open as he continued, “My father is Alhaji Rasaq, he can buy you, this filthy place and this whole community. He has the means. He can also ensure life is better for you. However, you would have to make the choice. Do you want to be on the bad side of rich people or you want to be rich?” The Doctor stood, still stunned.
Half of the time, he could not stand Hakeem. The remaining half, he thought the guy was an overindulged son of a bitch that he could not wait to be done with.
However, as he stood in front of the Doctor who seemed and acted like a total bitch, trying to make things easy for Yellow, he found himself seeing him in a different light.
And that, made it easy for him to hurry to his side, while he stared at the Doctor who was now surprised at how things had turned out.
“He asked a question, Doc. What is it going to be?” Ajayi asked, his arms folded while they waited for the woman who had seemed so high and mighty some seconds before.
“How much is this fucking hospital bill anyway?” Hakeem asked Yellow who was now standing by their side with Ekanem.
Hakeem hissed, pulled out his phone and looked at the Doctor, “Can I have the account number of this damn place?” he asked, “And please be fast, there is a life at stake here”
“Three lives” Yellow said quickly, “My wife and our two children”
“Three lives. And we would like to have them alive and healthy. Won’t we now, Doc?” Hakeem asked. “Or would we prefer this to be covered by NTA, AIT, Channels and maybe even CNN? You know how the media can spin a story and make it look worse than it is”
Ajayi and Ekanem were looking at her, eyes set on her, waiting for her response. The woman nodded. She could see from where she stood that she had no choice.
“Great” Hakeem typed quickly in his phone and collected the account number from the Doctor who hurriedly gave it to him offhand. “Money transferred. Now go in there and ensure everyone is fine”
The Doctor turned to leave.
“And Doctor?” Hakeem called, “If anything happens to either Yellow’s wife or the babies, you would know I am not lying about who my father is”
The Doctor managed a smile, said something about it not being so serious and hurried back into the Hospital ward. Yellow hugged Hakeem fiercely and then ran after the Doctor.
Ajayi looked at Hakeem in awe when they were both gone. “Nice one ‘Keem” he said.
Hakeem shrugged and went back to his seat. Ajayi watched him quietly. He wondered how he became the guy they saw on the outside and if that guy was just a cover for the one on the inside.
What he had just done was something he had never expected from someone like Hakeem. He knew he was going to have to wrap all of it around his head for a while.
His eyes caught the time on the clock on the wall. It was almost late evening. He wondered what was happening in School. Grabbing his phone, he texted one of his reading buddies and asked him what was going on.
The breeze smelt like refuse and sand. The air carried with it the smell of dirt that has been lying around for a while and whatever sand covered it.
Strands of air flew around her face and she reflexively brushed it back with her hand while she stared at the people who sauntered through the street in front of the Maternity ward they were at.
Yellow’s wife had been delivered of a baby some minutes before and he was overjoyed.
His happiness had been contagious. Even now that she remembered how he jumped up in joy she smiled.
Sometimes, life allowed you the pleasures of life itself, giving you hope that God had you in mind and things worked in your favor no matter the wait or hurdles.
She wondered if she would feel that way soon about her family. She desperately needed to.
She wanted the type of joy that radiated Yellow’s face when he held each of his twin babies in his hands.
She turned round when she heard Hakeem’s voice. He was leaning by the door of the place, his eyes on her.
Her anger at him had been quenched easily an hour before when he stood up for Yellow. She had seen him in a light she never thought she would.
“Hakeem” she replied, she watched him take his place beside her. “Thank you for what you did for Yellow” she said
“It’s nothing. He needed it, I couldn’t watch him lose his family when I can do something about it”
She nodded. They stood side by side each other in silence for minutes, both watching the people who trudged by.
“Do you ever wonder how people like us live?” she asked and then quickly added, “I know that is random but people like you have it so good and you probably have never been in a place like this. But do you ever think of people like us?”
He glanced at her before returning his gaze to the street. “Honestly, no” he replied. “I have never had any reason to… until today”
Today when he had stood up for a man he barely knew.
Ekanem knew whether she liked it or not, that moment had changed a lot of things for her where he was concerned, forever.
“I’m sorry about the other time. I should not have yelled at you” He said and she smiled
“I’m hungry now though” he said and rubbed his stomach absentmindedly
She laughed, “See, you should have made do with what we can get here”
He shrugged, “Do you still have some?”
“Yeah” she fished in her bag for the remaining PuffPuff from earlier and handed it to him. He threw them in his mouth one after the other after muttering his gratitude.
“Can I ask you something, Hakeem?” she asked as he fished for another PuffPuff with his fingers.
“You have money with you, why didn’t you just return to your School instead of coming here with Yellow?”
“I knew this was serious, Ekanem. And I knew he needed us even though we barely know each other. You could have gone too but you chose to stay. Why didn’t you leave?” he asked her.
“For the same reason” she replied. There was no way she was not going to have a soft spot for this person, she realized. He was every single thing she never thought he could be and everything she thought he would be, he wasn’t.
He was selfless, kindhearted and warm.
She was not sure the last time she saw anyone like him.
When he could finally find the heart to tear himself away from his little babies, he found his way to the entrance of the Maternity home and saw Ajayi, Hakeem and Ekanem laughing over something.
He hovered at the entrance for a few seconds, watching them as they discussed the street and the sharp contrast it had to the Island while teasing Hakeem whom they referred to as “Butter”.
Yellow smiled. They were all unlikely friends, yet, somehow fate had thrust them into each other’s lives, causing them to be together on a day like this one.
His eyes lingered on Hakeem, the rich man’s son that had stood up for him when he had absolutely no reason to.
Earlier, his plans had been to beg him for money and that was why he took the desperate route of fooling them all the way from Ogun state.
However, the news of his wife’s predicament had thrown him off balance and nothing else had mattered to him as he dashed to her bedside.
What he had not expected however, was Hakeem standing up for him and clearing his Hospital bills like he knew him before.
Like they were friends.
He knew he was forever going to be grateful and, loyal.
“Hakeem! Baba!” he called. The trio faced him, all of them standing and asking at once how his wife was. “She dey, she dey” he said with a grin. It was getting increasingly difficult to wipe the grin off his face. He was too happy to be a Dad and happier that the love of his life was doing okay.
“I owe you people something o” he said
“Nah, you don’t have to worry” Hakeem replied, “As long as your wife is great, it’s all good. AJ and I have to get back to school though. Can you describe to us how we can get out of here?”
Yellow nodded, “Of course. I can quickly drop you sef”
“I don’t think that would be necessary” It was Ajayi talking now, “You need to be with your wife and the babies”
“They are all sleeping, so I can quickly go out”
They all made for the Car which he had parked hurriedly when they arrived some hours before.
“I cannot thank you enough o. Ha, God will bless you for me. Your life would be…”
“Hakeem, are you okay?”
Yellow turned to see Hakeem bent over, his hand on his stomach. He looked terribly sick all of a sudden.
“Hakeem?” Ekanem was by his side, her hand on his back.
“’Keem, you good?” Ajayi asked. Yellow hurried to his side.
“I’m feeling funny…” then without warning, he threw up on Ekanem, bathing her with everything inside of him.
“Oh my God, there is blood!” Ekanem shouted, frightened.
“There are traces of blood in his vomit” Ajayi replied.
Hakeem grabbed on to Ekanem but he was losing his strength, Yellow could see that. He an over to hold him before he swayed and collapsed.
- SQUADI: The Originals
– Tomilola Coco Adeyemo