The Root, 10

‘A man without money cannot love fully’.

I have always maintained the submission above though many have tried to argue against the truth of it. When I said there is no way one can show he cares and demonstrate his love without spending money on gifts and outings, They argued money isn’t everything and that even without it, one can find other ways to show his love.

Well, the judges are still out on the matter.

.

I woke up around 7am on Friday and it was surprisingly drizzling on that November morning.

‘Today is going to be a good day!’ I sang over and over again as I stood up from the bed.

The previous day, I made sure I collected my monies from those I’d done one writing job or the other for.

The total money I accrued was about five thousand naira when I was done returning the two finished works.

I had every intention of spending the complete earning that very day on my first outing with Ruth and first date ever with a lady.

I had made sure I called to check on her for the next two days after my visit of condolence.
I left for Ruth’s house around 11am and when I got there, she was up and ready too. I guess she grew more convinced to get out of her house as each day passed.

Seeing her happy and excited about the outing, I couldn’t believe she was the same person whom I had to convince just three days ago about going out in the first place.

Her dad and siblings also looked more encouraging and happier than the last time I was there. Save for one or two cousins who were still in the house, no visitors were around for condolences.

There were still a few reminders of grief littered around the house but in all, the spirits were high and the atmosphere light.

As we left the house together, it was the first time I ever had to wish I had a car. We walked through the wet grasses that made a path to the main road and I silently prayed God to help me get a car before I get married.

‘You see the disadvantages of not having money now?’ I joked, ‘I would have come to pick you with a jet or helicopter’.

She giggled in a low voice and added, ‘What about Rocket?’

I laughed and she laughed too.

‘Sense of humour; CHECK’ I made a mental note.

‘Don’t worry, they will soon remember our community and construct our road.’ Ruth assured me.

‘Okay, maybe when I become Governor’ I continued joking around and it seemed she enjoyed every bit of it.

She laughed again and I began to wish the walk gets longer than it was. But we were soon at the end of the road and had to get a taxi.

‘Mr Governor, so where are we going?’ She asked, looking at me with questioning look and a knowing smile.

‘Anywhere, Everywhere.’ I pocketed my two hands and smiled.

Ruth laughed and shook her head, ‘Are you omnipresent?’ She asked me.

If laughter was measurable, I’m still certain the sound that exuded from my mouth would be more than one kilo.

I laughed hard and had to move away from the road for my own safety.

She just stood on the road and looked at me, smiling and still shaking her head.

Eventually, she stopped a taxi and the two of us entered the car. It seemed even with no destination, I was glad just to have her with me.

When the driver asked for our destination, Ruth turned to face me and waited for my response.

I maintained the same smile that had been on my face for the past ten minutes and said to the driver, ‘Sir, we are paying for all the seats, so let’s just start going first.’

The man smiled at me and winked. I didn’t know what the wink meant but I smiled and winked back anyways.

When she saw I wasn’t ready to decide the venue of our outing, Ruth told the driver to stop us at a known eatery in the town.

‘Your wish is our command!’ I saluted her and told the driver, ‘The Queen has spoken sir. Drop us there.’

The driver laughed and also joined in the joke, ‘Yes ma!’ He said and the three of us laughed.

It seemed everything was alright with the world.

As I assume the young people of our generation still do on dates, Ruth and I exchanged phones and looked through each other’s Gallery. 

She asked for my phone actually, and I also told her to let me look through her pictures too.

I was still looking through the folder that contained her Screenshots when the driver slowed down and announced we had gotten to the eatery.

I thanked the man and gave him a 500 naira note.

‘Should I keep the change?’ The man tried his luck.

I laughed and looked at Ruth. ‘No sir, give us our change o’ I told the driver when I saw the frown of disapproval on her face.

It wasn’t as if I wanted to leave the change before. I just wanted to show to Ruth that she was still in charge.

Still holding the phones in our hands, both of us came down from the car and entered the eatery.

When we passed through the door, I made sure I held the door for her to enter first as I had been taught to do in the Movies.

We waited for our orders and both of us continued looking through the phones.

When I saw opened the ‘WhatsApp Images’, I saw a few of Jide’s pictures and considered asking her about it.

I was still musing about the pros and cons when she looked up from my phone in her hands and asked me, ‘Who is this?’

She turned the screen towards me and I saw the face of one of the Sisters I served with looking back at me.

There was nothing between us and I smiled and told Ruth we served together in the same state but not in the same Local Government.

I knew she wouldn’t ask why I had the picture on my phone so I answered the unspoken question myself, ‘I took that picture during our NYSC send-off.’

She smiled and returned to looking through the pictures with an air of indifference.

I hoped my answers were satisfactory enough and I waited for a few seconds to pass before asking my own set of questions.

‘Is this not Jide?’ I turned the phone to her and smiled in a show of nonchalance, ‘You guys seem close o.’

I was still smiling and looking at her for answers when the waiter dropped the food before us, interrupting the interesting discussion.

When he left, Ruth raised her eyes to my face and smiled, ‘So you want to tell me you didn’t know Jide and I were close until now?’

The question was more of a challenge and I welcomed it with a chuckle.

‘Okay, I am his friend na, so I know you guys are friends and I also saw a birthday post he wrote for you on Facebook one time like that.’ I spread my hands as I spoke and confessed.

Ruth looked at me as a teacher who caught a student whispering in an exam would, ‘Mr FBI, so why are you still asking?’ She asked when she saw I had nothing else to add.

Her humour relaxed my mind and I laughed, ‘It is not investigation o, I’m just asking to be sure and know if you are still single.’

It was her turn to laugh and I was glad she did.

It lightened the gradually-tensive mood and I made up my mind to let the discussion end on that note.

But she was not done.

Ruth raised her two hands and said, ‘I am still single, or do you see anyone attached to me?’

I laughed and said in a louder voice, ‘Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!’

She laughed at my mockery but in my mind, I was indeed grateful to God.
We ate the remaining food in silence as both of us continued looking through the other’s phone.

‘When will you be leaving town and going back?’ I asked her, uncertain.

‘I don’t know for now, I think I will still be around for a while.’

The answer pleased me and I told her so, ‘That’s good, that’s alright.’

‘What is good there?’ She asked me in an amusing tone.

‘Having you around is a good thing now,’ I was enjoying the line of the conversation and continued smiling, ‘You are a good influence on me’, I made up the reason.

She laughed and told me I wasn’t serious.

With the way she said it, it was one of those times ‘You are not serious’ sounded pleasant to the ears as if it was ‘I would love to spend the rest of my life with you’.

I smiled and stopped my mind from painting other pleasant pictures. 
Before we left the eatery, I bought three separate packs of Ice-cream and cake and asked her to take them home to her siblings and cousins.

She thanked me and smiled, ‘Richest man in Babylon!’ She bowed her head in a mocking obeisance and it made me laugh and briefly shy at the same time.

It was my turn to shake my head and tell her ‘You are not serious’.
Since I wasn’t heading in the direction of our homes at that time, I told her we would see later.

It was for a moment, but I believed I saw a flicker of sadness cross her eyes when I told her so.

Maybe it was the thought of being alone yet again that made her disappointed or not, I couldn’t fathom the reason at that time.

I quickly apologized and told her I had to see someone in another part of the town.

It was actually for a business venture that would fetch me some three or four thousands but I didn’t tell her.

As quickly as it came, the disappointment left her eyes and she was back to her funny self. ‘Greet her for me o’, she joked.

I laughed and in playful amusement, I answered her,

‘Who am I looking for again when I have found the Messiah?’ As I said those words, I touched my chest with my left hand and held out the right in a display of complete submission.

It really made her laugh and I was glad.

I secretly hoped she got the hidden message in the declaration.
I stopped a taxi for her and again, paid for the seats and told the driver her destination.

‘CBN Governor, ride on!’ She shook her head and smiled.

I smiled and waved at her, making a mental calculation of the money left in my pocket as I did so.

As the vehincle went out of sight, I finished my calculations. I had just enough to pay for my own transport fare.

I had to trek some part of the journey to be able to save money, just in case I didn’t meet the business man at home.

As I walked, I removed my phone from my pocket and composed a text,

‘Bro, how far? We need to talk when you are free.’

I sent the text to Jide and walked, nay, bounced along the walkway as I felt as light as a hummingbird and knew the day couldn’t have been better.

.

.

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-#VJW

‘The Root’, Episode 10.

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