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|A Birthday To Remember 3 by anneabidemi(f): 5:15pm On Apr 15, 2013|
A BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER 3
It was five minutes before 10am, six days before she will be read her death warrant. Tonia sat up on her dingy mattress. She looked at the television where she had positioned it to face the wall. Since when the next execution date had been announced, the journalists had been annoyingly irritating. They almost had no other news to carry than Tonia's case. Out of annoyance she had unplugged the television and turned it to the wall. If she was going to die, at least they should have the decency of letting her die in peace.
But this morning, following Tony's order, she was going to switch it on. She was going to see what would happen in court. She was going to see how her so-called friends whom Tony had gathered would save her from the gallows. Only God knew who they were.
With shaky legs, she stood up from the bed, walked a few steps towards the television set, turned it to face her bed, and had it plugged. The hideous small box gave out a rattling noise. She pressed the only control button the tv had to be on to the only channel they had access to in the prison, to her dismay, she had been almost five minutes late. The channel was broadcasting live from the courtroom. She could see Tony in his black robe and white wig, looking so tensed. There were lawyers everywhere, and to her astonishment, she saw faces of people she would never had thought had any interest in her case at all. The courtroom was quiet. If a pin had dropped, the sound would have been heard without any difficulty. The first person Tonia saw as one of her witnesses was Tunde, her very first boyfriend. Tunde who had meant so much to her, the man she had lost her innocence to. Sitting on the bed, she couldn't help wondering how Tony had been able to contact him.
They had met after she finished her secondary school and was seeking admission into the higher institution. She was sixteen while he was eighteen. He had been drop dead gorgeous then, with pink lips and unbelievably white eyeballs that had the power of holding any girl's attention. She was on her way from the computer classes she attended with her friend Seyi, when they both met Tunde. Though Seyi claimed to have seen him more than twice in the estate, but Tonia was seeing him for the first time that day. He had pretended to miss his way, which they both knew was not true, but all the same they walked with him and helped him in finding his way. Tonia being the type who wasn't so much into boys then, had decided to walk some few steps backward, to allow him chat with Seyi only, but he had been very persistent in talking with her. Every now and then he involved her in their conversation. And when it was time for them to depart, he politely asked Tonia to allow him speak with her for five minutes, confusedly she looked at Seyi, who gave her the go-ahead. Then they walked some few feet away from where Seyi was standing.
'I am sorry I pretended to have lost my way, I didn't. I followed you girls because I needed to talk with you' he said.
'Why?' Tonia had asked.
'This isn't the first time I will be seeing you in this estate, and I have been looking for a way to chat you up, but I don't think this is really a good time. Please where will u be in the evening'
'I will be going for my JAMB classes by 3pm and will be back around 6pm'
'Will you follow this same way or the main estate gate?'
'Hmmm ,I think I will come through the main gate'
'That's good. I will be waiting for you. Not particularly in a place, but you will see me strolling up and down the road, I ll be there like 15 minutes before 6. Please be there'
To which she replied ' sure I ll be, bye'
'Bye' he said, and they parted ways.
She rushed back to meet Seyi where she was standing, 'who's that guy', she asked her.
'So you don't know him?, he is Folake's cousin, you know Folake now, our junior in Our Lady.'
'Oh, I know her. But why does he talk like that? Like an American, or was he just trying to impress me?
Seyi laughed and said 'Na that one me no fit answer o, he is in his second year in the State University, though he is based in Lagos, anytime he is in school, he spends time with his cousins here. But the guy is cool sha, or what do you think?', she winked.
'Abeg free me jare, wetin dey do me pass that one, anyway I promised I ll be seeing him this evening on ma way from JAMB classes, but God knows I won't follow where he ll see me', Tonia said.
'Hmmm, you promised you ll be seeing him, yet you won't follow where he will see you, babe you sure say you never start to dey gel for this guy?'
'Gel for who? fimile jare'.
'Okay o, I ll see you tomorrow. If you are a minute late, you ll meet me in class' Seyi threatened.
'You sef know say you no fit, better wait for me in your own interest', they both laughed and departed.
She finished earlier than expected at the JAMB lesson that day, and she decided she wouldn't follow where Tunde would see her. To her, there was no reason raising someone's hope if you wouldn't have anything to do with them. So at exactly 4.30pm, she packed her books and headed home. She had hoped to take a cab to the bus stop before her estate so she could walk in from there, boycotting Tunde's route, but unfortunately, a man who stayed close to her house saw her at the bus stop and gave her a ride. When she got to where she was supposed to alight, she was too lip-sealed and couldn't tell the man she wanted to go down there, for fear of raising his suspicions as to why she didn't want to follow the main gate, so she stayed put.
'Tonia, am not going home straight, I need to see my mechanic along the road here, but I will drop you at the estate gate so you can easily trek home from there'.
'Okay sir, thank you very much' ,she said.
In her mind she was cursing the man. Why did he help her at all when he knew he wouldn't take her straight home? And now he had decided to drop her on a route she had sworn never to follow that day. Well, it was still quite early. It was just 20 minutes before 5 o' clock. And Tunde had said he would start strolling around 15 minutes to 6. So she had better hurry up before he changed his mind and came out earlier. She got to her road, walked very fast past his house, like Seyi had told him. She walked three houses past his house, and heaved a sigh of relief when he didn't see him. Then, she slowed her pace, and resumed her catwalk when she sighted someone walking slowly ahead of her. Quickly she said a little prayer that it wouldn't be him. Just as she said amen, the person turned to face her, and behold, it was him.
'Em, you came out earlier' she said.
'Yes I did, I was restless and couldn't risk missing you, now am thanking God I made it this early' he replied.
'You look dull, are you okay?', she queried.
'Yeah, am fine. I slept as soon as I got home. I got up about 30 minutes ago'
'Oh, I see'
'So how was class?'
'It was fine o, we closed earlier than expected'
'Are you sure, or you just decided to leave earlier to escape seeing me?', he teased.
To which she lied, 'Nah, why would I wanna do that?'
'Okay then', he said.
He walked her home that day but didn't get to her house because she discouraged him from doing so. She had a strict mum who had zero tolerance for boys around her daughters. Before saying their goodbyes, they shook hands and that was it.
While walking home, Tonia talked to herself. . .'Oh my God, that guy is handsome. What on earth got into my head when I said I wasn't gonna see him? Jesus Christ, I would have missed o.'
(The continuation follows this post)
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