As I waited for the chicken pizza, I texted Ryan that I had gotten myself into peg-holes (our code word for trouble or interesting circumstances) and might be coming home late. He responded with a thumbs-up and told me to be careful. I carefully carried the box, with the coffee packed in two disposable cups with sealed covers to prevent spilling.
As I entered the office, I saw Ms. Alberta on the couch in her office. Her blouse was partly buttoned, and her hair let down in glorious curls; I never knew she had such lovely hair since she always carried it in a donut- like style, tightly secured and never coming loose. She also had a small bowl with hot water and- some kind of leaves soaked in them. Beside the bowl was a small grey napkin, folded and patiently waiting to be used. She motioned for me to set the pizza and the coffee on her working table which was stark clear of scattered papers and books, and asked me to sit down beside her.
“Bring your leg, Camille”, she requested quietly. I hoped I did not hear well; the Nigerian part of me taken from my father came into play.
“M-M-Ma??” I stuttered.
“Your leg” she smiled at me. “We need to treat that nasty bump from your fall”
Not wanting to seem rude by turning down an offer from my boss, I gingerly removed my flats and put out my leg on the table. Rolling up the sleeves of her burgundy shirt, she set to work, using the grey napkin soaked in the water with leaves and wrapped it twice around my ankle. I tried not to wince in pain. “Sorry” she said, smiling at me kindly after wrapping the ankle the third time. Leaving it there for the “mystery leaves” to do their work, she stood up and reached out for the pizza box and the coffee. She set them both before us and opened the box, took two slices with a serviette and served us both. Acknowledging my mumbling a “thank you”, she looked at me and said, “You do this everyday for me; I think it’s only in order since we are about to move a step higher in our relationship”
“I am lost, Ma’am” I replied. I really was.
“The picture you held in your hands that day belongs to a part of my life that I have given up sometime ago before I met you. It’s something that makes me feel heavy and sad whenever I remember it”
Now my curiosity radar was scavenging around. Ms Alberta could give up on something? Here was a woman who had braved mocks and insults from many male colleagues on her over-the-top yet immensely productive ideas, a quality which had led her to be not just a member of the board, but its youngest member in the history of the company. However I did not want to be a “bunny rabbit” and get myself into another “peg-hole” so I shifted in my seat. She stood up and went to the window. The sun was beginning it’s weary descent, shining in all blazes of red, orange, yellow-and other mixes of colors in-between these three that had no name.
“When I was 18, I got a scholarship to study Medicine in a prestigious school, much to the chagrin of my father, who was disgusted with the idea of me dealing with blood and body fluid and all that stuff from other humans, as he called. My mother supported me, knowing this was my life dream; I dreamed of owning a hospital in a remote place and offering free healthcare. But my father wanted me to enter the shareholding industry, himself being a prestigious stock exchange broker. He allowed me to proceed anyways.
“In my fourth year, I met a young man who struck a chord in me the moment we met. We became good friends. He was different from other young men who had tried to strike up something with me; he always talked to me about his purpose, and how he had recently gotten called by God to the ministry of a teacher, someone who explains the Word at Bible meetings. He asked me once if I knew my purpose, to which I gave a long speech”. Ms Alberta smiled sheepishly. “He waited for me to finish, then with a smile, gently asked me the question again. I realized at this point that it was beyond wanting to give free healthcare to remote places. I had asked God’s will concerning other things in my life, but I had never found out why I was placed here. That opened a new chapter in my life, and with his help, we sought it out in prayers. The LORD finally answered our prayer, but besides the answer, something else happened: we sort-of fell in love”
-to be continued
Efunnuga Henrietta Adedayo.