‘Yes Mama!’ Nate growled under his breath. The old lady would soon be the death of him. She seemed to need his attention every minute. And he hated the way she always called his full name with her indigenous Yoruba accent.
He minimized the Adobe Photoshop window on his laptop and put the system on sleep option.
His grandmother was sitting on one of her white plastic chairs on the verandah chewing nuts from a jar while listening to an old radio and watching the street urchins across the road make an ass out of a half-dead agama lizard.
‘Mama you called?’
‘Nathaniel, it’s already 4.30pm.’
He understood what it meant. It was time to drive her to her association meeting in her old beat-up Mercedes Benz 280. His parents, uncles and aunts had tried persuading the old woman to give up the jalopy for the new Hyundai accent they had just bought for her but it seemed Granny had an emotional attachment to her old ride which she had owned years before her retirement from the civil service. The Hyundai just sat in her compound, covered in dust and flower buds falling from the tree in the compound.
Nate had looked forward to driving the car but Grandma never let it come to pass. Thus the car lay there for months.
Nate tried diabolical ways to make her go for the new car; he sabotaged the Benz several times but the old woman wouldn’t budge. She would wait for repairs to be completed on the car, take a taxi or cancel her outing for the day.
He planned stealing the keys and taking the new car out for a spin but it never happened. Grandma had hid the keys so well that Nate was convinced she had flushed it down the toilet.
Twenty minutes later, Ekaete, who doubled as housekeeper and cook, swung open the gates and the old Benz chugged out of the compound with Nate at the wheels and Granny in the front passenger seat.
As he drove out of the neighborhood, his saw Efe walking down the road. She wore a pair of navy blue jeans, a yellow top and a navy blue denim jacket. Perched demurely on her head was a face cap. She carried a handbag in one hand and held a black book in the other. Nate didn’t need a second guess to know it was a bible.
He watched her as she got nearer and tooted the car horn. She saw him, smiled and threw a wave greeting. He waved back with a sigh.
Nate had a crush on Efe.
Efe was pretty, friendly, outgoing and fun to be with. They met and became friends when he had come to stay with his grandmother during a school break from the University. He could have spent any school break at home with his parents and siblings but ever since he had bumped into Efe, he grew more interested in spending his break at Grandma’s.
Yes, he had a crush on Efe. But Efe had a crush on church.
Each time he tried to empty the contents of his heart she would smartly twist the whole conversation into a sermon.
The day she invited him for an outing he was excited. He was finally going out on a date with her! His joy was short-lived when they were joined by more of her female friends and they all ended up at a fellowship meeting. He wasn’t expecting more company and just wasn’t cut out for all the religious stuff.
He had read bible stories as a little boy but as he grew up, he dismissed them for fables or fairy tales. His parents didn’t help matters. They were way too busy to teach him the reality of the scriptures.
Efe...the want of her was seriously crushing him.
‘Nathaniel, what’re you looking at? Will you face front or do you want to get us killed?’ His grandmother’s voice snapped him back into reality.
Efe was on her bed reading a journal when her mobile phone rang. She looked at the caller ID. It was Nate.
‘Nate hi. Wassup?’
‘Hello Efe. How you doing? Just felt like hearing your voice.’
‘My voice? Hmm…is it really that worth listening to?’
‘Of course it is. I’m always excited whenever I hear your voice.’
‘I’m not convinced.’
‘Aaww come on, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. What can I do to prove it to you?’
A brief silence from the other end of the phone, then he heard her sigh then speak.
‘Come to the fellowship with me tomorrow. That’s all the proof I need’
Smartass. What won’t she do to drag his butt to church?
Efe listened for his reply but only heard him muttering to himself in the background.
‘Nate, are you cursing?’
‘Eh? Er..no.’ He lied.
‘So what do you say? Are you coming with me?’ She had this sweet childish plea in the tone of her voice that had a crazy effect on Nate.
‘Are your friends going with us?’
‘No. Just the two of us.’
Nate felt sweet butterflies fluttering in his stomach. Just the two of us sounded more like Yes, I'll marry you.
‘So, are you coming with me?’ Efe’s voice snapped him out of the reverie.
‘Sure…sure I will.’
‘Thanks for agreeing to come. I promise you, you won’t regret it. Later then’
She hung up.
Nate pocketed his phone and scratched his head.
He was in a mixed state of euphoria and worry.
He was excited that he was going to have a time out with Efe but he wasn’t happy that it was going to be in a church. He paced to and fro waiting for his grandma’s meeting to end. He still planned to get to Otigba to buy a new digital camera that evening and she was holding him up. He had been postponing the buying but at this point he wasn’t going to wait anymore because it was an opportunity to capture his first official outing with Efe on Camera.
To be continued....
© Lolu Kush (Afronuts) - Story
© Kimson Masters - Illustrations