Because I owe you one, literally, here is a bonus Squadi: The Originals episode.
“Rain will fall if it will fall, even if your hands are skilled in holding it.”
She stood by the window, staring out into the street below. It was one of those popular streets in Victoria Island and it housed the head offices of some of the biggest companies in Lagos.
Ekanem watched as a fancy automobile sped by, the barely-there noise of the car followed by deafening silence.
It was what she had come to notice about the street in the two days she had been at the Hospital – quiet, shielded and somewhat sane.
Somehow, she wished it was less silent and noisier. At least, that would have been a good distraction from the worry that weighed heavy in her heart.
Hakeem was still lying unconscious, two days after he had been rushed to the Hospital by his father.
The guilt she had felt from the moment he slipped into unconsciousness two days before still tugged at her heart, causing her immense pain and hurt.
She should not have handed him the PuffPuff. She should have known that he was not built like the rest of them. She should have realized that he was different and should have held on to the poison that sat well with her own digestive system.
Grabbing on tightly to the drapes that shielded the window she was standing by, she shut her eyes tight, hoping to rewrite history.
But she knew it was a lost battle, there was no use trying.
AJ and Yellow had called to say they would not be able to make it that day. Yellow had errands to run and AJ had tests to write in school. Besides, he could not get out of school because he needed permission and he was not going to get that since he had gotten out too often in recent times.
They had valid reasons. Ekanem knew she could stay away too but she felt the need to be there for Hakeem. Besides, the responsibility she felt for putting him in a sick bed would follow her everywhere like flies on a dump.
She suddenly spotted Martha’s car arriving the Hospital gates. Glistening in the hot afternoon sun, the car moved swiftly into the compound and Martha got out immediately.
Ekanem panicked. She had been careful to come only when she was certain Martha was not around. What would her excuse for hanging around Hakeem be?
Nervous, she grabbed her bag from one of the two cushioned chairs that sat opposite Hakeem’s unconscious frame and started for the door.
“Hey” the voice was weak and barely audible but she heard it. “Where are you running to?”
She whirled around, forgetting the reason she had made for the door and hurried to his bedside.
He gave her a weak smile, his eyes struggling to adjust to the light. “Sugar baby”
She smiled despite herself, “Hakeem, you’re alive” the joy she felt at seeing him alive was strong enough to power an entire solar plant.
Thank God say I no kill pesin
“I was scared. I thought…”
“You thought I was going to die”
She nodded then laughed. “They said it was a severe case of food poisoning and your system revolted so fast to what you ate that I was really worried. AJ says it was unusual because food poisoning kicks in after two hours but yours was within the hour and it was so scary” she was saying everything that came to her head at once. She was not sure if that had to do with her excitement or if she just had too many things to say all of a sudden.
Hakeem laughed, his laughter still as weak as the first time she heard it some seconds before. “I guess I’m not as strong as I thought I was”
She shook her head, “No you are not” she added, “And all that blood…”
“I know right? Ugh, when I saw that before passing out I was like damn, now I am going to die. I felt like Adam after Eve handed him the fruit” his words were somehow slurred and his voice was really feeble. It was due to all those days of being unconscious.
“Adam didn’t die”
“But he caused us all to be susceptible to death”
She shrugged. “The Doctor said that was because of your Ulcer”
He nodded, “Yep. Been managing that since I was a little kid. Once when I was younger, I was mad at my dad when he was about to get married and then I went on a hunger strike that…”
“What are you doing here?” Martha was standing at the entrance, a basket of fruits in her hand. As usual, she was clad in a flowing dress, Bubu this time. It was black, had gold embroidery around its neck and like every dress she wore, it sat perfectly on her body.
She eyed Ekanem coldly, “Ehen? You cannot talk? What are you doing here?”
Ekanem made to speak but she beat her to it, “Get out. Now.”
He was not certain which caused him to be irritated; Martha’s presence or the liberty she thought she possessed.
Trying to sit up, he found out he was really weak. Talking was a luxury, obviously. His words were coming out slowly. So trying to sit up was a herculean task, he found out as he retook the position he had been for the time he had been out.
It was going to take time for him to get his strength back.
“Ekanem, please stay” he said, then he faced Martha “You can’t tell my guest to leave”
Martha was stunned, “Hakeem, you can’t trust these peasants”
“She’s my friend”
Martha was further shocked, she glanced from Ekanem to Hakeem, “Since when?”
“I didn’t have a Calendar to check the dates. Next time I want to get a friend, I would have one close so I can explain to you when you ask”
Martha was irritated, “Don’t be cheeky, Hakeem. Last I checked Ekanem worked for me, now, all of a sudden, she is your best friend?”
“I did not say she was my best friend. I said she is my friend. There is a difference.”
Martha seethed. She tried to contain her anger as she stormed to the nearest table, almost knocking Ekanem over.
Hakeem was not oblivious to the anger she was fighting to keep under control and somehow, that made him pleased. He loved when he saw Martha angry. Nothing else made him happier.
“I think I should go Hakeem. I would see you later” Ekanem was making for the door now, her legs taking quick strides. But damn him if he let her walk away without further using her as a weapon against Martha.
“No Ekanem. You have been such a good friend it would be unfair to throw you out just because my step mom does not like you”
“You’re not throwing me out”
“Please stay. I insist. You can pass the night in our guest room in the House or stay here with me overnight. I could do with some company”
Martha gasped. Hakeem could not help the smirk that formed on his face.
“Alex is coming over…”
“Fuck Alex” he responded, to Ekanem he said, “Ekanem, could you help me get my phone please?”
Ajayi submitted his script and grabbed his bag on his way out of the large hall. He had just finished yet another test he knew he would ace.
Sometimes he wondered why he bothered with school. He was better than half of his Lecturers and most of the things they painfully taught he had studied when he was in Junior secondary school.
He could also fix electrical appliances, could cause a blackout in the school hostel if he wanted and he had hacked into the school’s record system.
What he needed school for he was yet to find out.
Fishing for his Android phone inside his pocket, he began to fiddle with it. Lerato had sent him a ton of messages and he got ready to respond to them.
She was asking him about the situation with Hakeem’s father and how far they had gone with it.
Just recently, he had found out a perfect way to ensure an IP address knew nothing about a link they generated and he was ready for Hakeem’s father whenever Hakeem got better.
Reflexively covering his face from the scorching afternoon sun, he wondered why he never tried the route through which he figured that out.
Maybe because he did not want to be committing a crime in the first place.
Unwilling to get sandwiched in the crowd of people that emerged from different classrooms, Ajayi hopped on to a sidewalk and kept his head buried in his phone. Lerato was saying something about him being careful again.
He assured her he was.
She mentioned something about coming to Nigeria for a “lowkey job”, he told her all her jobs was lowkey and he could not wait to see her.
Raising his head to ensure he did not run into anyone, he found Hakeem’s girlfriend standing in his way.
She was a pretty little thing, maybe even gorgeous. Her face which was covered in little or no makeup, save the winged eyeliner which he particularly liked, distorted in a frown.
If she was pleased to see him taking a stroll in the school where he was a student, she did not seem like it.
“Where is my boyfriend?” she asked without a greeting. Yet another rich bitch who thought everywhere was an extension of her father’s compound.
“He is your boyfriend, you should know” then he tried to get past her but he was stopped by two girls he figured were her minions. He bit back a chuckle, what now, she thought she was Blair Waldorf and this was Gossip Girl?
“You were with him the last time I spoke to him, you should know” she played with the curls on her head as she spoke, her eyes sweeping his body as if she were a law enforcer and he, a law breaker.
“I don’t know. Call him”
“Of course you do” then she grabbed him by the arm, her nails digging into his flesh. He shook her off. “Tell me”
“He is in the Hospital. Unconscious” then he gently shoved her minions aside and stormed off.
She followed him, “What happened?” she seemed worried now, there was a hint of fear in her brown eyes.
“Oh my goodness, what did you feed him? Did he eat out? ‘Keem never eats out!”
Ajayi shook his head impatiently, he had not even spoken to the girl for more than a few minutes and he was already appalled. “Keep calling your boyfriend or find a way to his family Hospital. That said, have a nice day”
Determined to shake her off completely, he took long strides as he turned by the next building and took another route but a longer one to his hostel.
His phone rang and it was Ekanem, “Ekanem Hi. How are you?”
“Fine, AJ. Hakeem is awake”
He sighed, relieved. Until then, he had not realized how worried he had been for his friend.
“I can’t get out of school now but I will try to tomorrow. When do you think he would be discharged?”
“I don’t know yet. But the Doctor said he is very well now”
“Ope o. I was so scared”
When the call ended, Ajayi’s mouth widened in a smile. Hakeem had scared them all shitless.
Helping his wife bathe their babies was fast becoming one of his favorite things to do. And he knew he was not going to retire from it anytime soon. He loved it and he was going to do it for a long time. That, and watching them sleep.
However, he also knew he had to take time out to go see Hakeem, the guy that had saved his wife’s life and ensured he had the precious moments he now spent with his little ones.
So that afternoon, after he had put his wife in the care of one of his cousins, he set off to the Hospital on the Island where Hakeem was.
It had taken a long time before he was allowed in. The Nurses had looked down on him, refusing to allow him entry to a ward where a Rasaq was kept.
However, after a call had been put through to Ekanem, he had been allowed entry into the ward to see Hakeem.
He was sitting up, watching an old episode of Friends on the TV when he walked in.
Yellow had been relieved to see him alive. Hakeem had scared them all the last time. He could still remember how Ekanem panicked and ran into the maternity home where his twins had been delivered to call for immediate help.
Those ones had told them it was a case of food poisoning and advised they take him to a bigger hospital with better facility.
A call to his father had made things easier and he had been placed on admission as soon as they got to the Hospital.
But seeing him unconscious had worried them all sick, especially since he was that way for days.
“Now I am happy” Yellow said as they shook hands, “Sorry my guy”
“And you are?”
It was only when he heard her voice that he noticed her perched on a sofa, a magazine in hand.
“Good afternoon ma, the name is Ejike” he stretched a hand she refused to take.
“Hakeem, who are these people?” the woman said, her gaze set on Hakeem as if she could not believe Yellow was actually standing by her side. “Does your father know the crowd you now move with? You get good education, good exposure and a lot of love from your family and this is what you pay us with?”
“You’re not my family” Hakeem said casually, his eyes on the TV on the wall.
“I have been disrespected enough in one day” Yellow watched the woman grab her bag and disappear through the door.
“Hakeem, why you follow her talk like that na?” Yellow did not like the way he had been treated by the woman but he also did not condone Hakeem’s rudeness.
“I don’t send her”
“Ehn, but that is not the reason you should talk like that na. She is an adult”
“I’m sorry but she can go”
Yellow shook his head, “All these butter children sef” he looked at Ekanem who was now preparing to leave, “Madam fine girl, how far na? Na you take care of Hakeem pass”
“Yes she did. She is a nice person” Hakeem replied.
“No be me give am PuffPuff?” she asked and the three burst out in laughter. “I have to go now though. My brother is still in Police custody and we’re trying to get him out”
“Whoa, since when?”
“A while now”
“My Dad is friends with the Commissioner of Police, he can help. Have you asked him?”
The realization that Alhaji could help all the while and had chosen not to drove a knife through her heart.
“He said he did not know anyone” she said, her voice threatening to betray her.
“No problem. I would talk to Nadia now. Her Dad and the Commissioner are actually closer. Your brother would be off the hook latest tomorrow morning”
“Thank you, Hakeem”
“You can thank me by coming for my step sister’s birthday next weekend. I would love to see you there.”
“Sure” she said with a smile.
Yellow watched Hakeem, the guy might not know, but he had won his loyalty a thousand times over.