As he sat in the bus that was taking him out of campus, waiting for it to get filled up, he wondered why he wasn’t as happy as he thought he would be after finally getting to meet the girl. The whole thing happened so magical; from saving the reporter girl, to going viral, to his crush approaching him. All in a matter of days, but he sat there in the bus, not as excited as he thought he would be.
He wanted to blame it on the rent money issue that was on his mind, but he knew it wasn’t that. The truth was that he and Hauwa just didn’t click. Half the time they spent together, she was talking about his viral video. Even though the spent the other half getting to know each other, he was not so much interested in her any longer. He couldn’t tell if she really genuinely wanted to get to know him, or she was just excited to be next to the trending kid.
Sometimes the idea we have of someone in our heads is always much better than the person. This was the case with Sesan and Hauwa. He felt like Brendan Fraser in that old Bedazzled movie, where the actor kept getting his wishes granted, but they never turned out exactly how he wanted them to be.
When the bus finally got filled up and left the park, he pulled out his phone, went to his Gmail account and started composing a mail to his friend, Chun Lee.
He met Yusuf the gate-man outside talking to a woman hawking kunu; they both seemed so genuinely attracted to each other. So simple, yet their interaction seemed so magical. Yusuf opened the gate to let him in and quickly returned to the kuku seller. Sesan smiled as walked into the compound.
He was about to open the front door when he heard argument going on inside and froze. He stood there, with his hand still on the door handle, wondering what to do next. It seemed like Mr. Ojo was having an argument with a woman. The man had told him his wife dead, so he guessed maybe it was his girlfriend or something.
He was still in front of the door, thinking of what to do when he heard footsteps approaching from inside. He quickly stepped away from the door. The lady opened the door with anger, and was startled to see someone at the other end. The shocked look on her face was quickly replaced by a forced smile. She was a chubby dark skin lady in her mid thirties, dressed formal in grey skirt suit. “Good afternoon” Sesan greeted with a slight nod of his head. She didn’t say anything, but nodded back and walked hurriedly to the gate. When she was about to step out, she turned around and walked back towards Sesan.
“You’re Sesan, right?” She asked with a cheerful look on her face now.
“Yes.” Sesan answered, and it was clear to him now that she was the magician’s daughter. They had the same smile.
She was going through her bag, mumbling some words Sesan couldn’t make out, then she pulled out a phone. “Please, can you store your number on my phone?” She asked as she handed the black android phone to him. “I’m…” She was saying then stopped to look at him for a while before going on with, “I’m Nike; I’d like to keep in touch with my Dad through you if you don’t mind.”
“No problem ma.” He said as he handed her back the phone.
“Okay. Thanks. Bye”
He phone started to ring as she walked away, and she raised it up to signify she was the one calling him. It stopped ringing, and he put his phone back in his pocket before stepping into the house.
The man was seating on the couch facing the door, wearing the same brown Ankara from the last time, with a smile on his face liked he didn’t just have a heated argument with his daughter. “Great. You are right on time; I like that” He said as he looked at his wristwatch. “Sorry you had to witness that; just minor family stuff.”
Sesan sat down opposite him and pulled out his Tab from his bag. “Sir, I have made a detailed analysis of the best marketing strategies for the magic stage shows.” Sesan was saying as he kept swiping the screen of his Tab.
“Relax. We don’t have to jump into work stuff immediately.” The man said and smiled.
“Tell me…yea; tell me, have you been visualizing your wish coming true?”
A smile appeared on Sesan’s face and he said, “It already happened. I mean, what I wished for has materialized.”
“It did?” The man said, with an excited looking on his face. “Wow! That was faster than I thought.”
“Yes sir. I’m a firm believer now.”
He looked at Sesan for a while before asking, “Why aren’t you as excited as I thought you would be?”
“Well…I guess that’s because the girl didn’t turn out as I had expected.”
The man sighed and sat back in his seat, looking into space as if going down memory lane. “I totally understand that feeling.” The room was quiet for a while before he added, “Sometimes we get what we want, and it doesn’t give us the feeling we thought it would.”
“Yes sir. That’s exactly how I felt.”
“That’s life. Most times we neglect the ones closest to us while chasing other people, not realizing that sometimes the ones that can give us the most joy are right there around us.”
The man looked really lost in thought now, and Sesan let him be. He must have made some mistakes on his journey through life, and Sesan didn’t want to disturb his train of thought right now.
“Let me see what you came up with.” Mr. Ojo said all of a sudden. He sat up and stretched out his hand to take the Tab from Sesan. “How is your mom?” He asked as he swiped through the tab.
“She’s fine sir.” Sesan answered. It looked like the perfect time to tell the man about their rent issue, so he blurted out, “Sir, I would like to talk to you about something.”
“Okay.” The man answered without looking up from the Tab’s screen.
“My rent at home is due in two months, and we have only been able to come up with half of…”
“How much is the full rent?” The man said, cutting Sesan off.
“It’s eight hundred thousand Naira sir, and we have just four hundred thousand right now. I was wondering if…”
“Don’t worry; remind me next week, I will give you the money.”
“Sir…I just…I was thinking you could give me seven months’ salary in advance.”
“No need for that. I will give you the money for the rent.” The man said and handed the Tab back to Sesan. “You will just consider it as a housing allowance.”
“Okay sir.” Sesan answered, perplexed.
“And, nice marketing strategies…although I don’t understand half of what I read.” He said and laughed a little. “But I trust you.”
“Thank you sir.”
“Sesan, can we call it a day? I’m not really in the mood for work today” The man said with a forced smile on his face.
“Okay sir. I totally understand.”
He got off his seat with an outstretched hand. Sesan got off his seat, shook the man’s hand and bowed his head in greeting. “See you tomorrow.” The man said.
The next couple of weeks in Sesan’s life went by fast. As the magician’s assistant, his job now entailed him driving Mr. Ojo around to Sawmills and carpenter’s shops around Lagos as they worked on building the stage props they would be using for their magic tricks. Some of those trips were quite tiresome as the man took hours inspecting the wood, making sure it was the right type to build his disappearing boot, and the dismemberment box. He always wondered how the seventy something year old man got all the energy to walk around in the sun. Passionate was one hell of a fuel, he thought.
When they were through buying all the wood, they started daily trips to the carpenter’s shop to inspect the work he was doing on the boxes. He had to get all the dimensions right, as that was paramount to the magic trick working perfectly, so they had to inspect the work closely to make sure he didn’t try to cut any corners for his own profits. It was interesting watching the whole thing come to life. What was just an idea in the magician’s mind was coming to life in the real world, and it was a sight to behold.
During their daily lunch breaks, and time at the house, the man explained the tricks behind the magic to him, and he couldn’t wait till the carpenter had completed all the boxes, so they could start the real rehearsals Even from what he had heard so far, he knew the old man was going to give a great performance come Christmas. He couldn’t wait for the world to see what they had been working on.
The more he worked closely with the magician, the less of Ngozi he saw. There were days she couldn’t take him to school as she had also gotten busy with preparations of her mom’s primary school’s end of the year party. They kept in touch on Whatsapp, but he now communicated more with his friend, Chun Lee. He was going to get to see her in a few short weeks, and their back and forth messaging had increased. He still didn’t have a picture of her or knew how she looked, but he didn’t care, she was a beautiful soul to him, and that was all that matter.
Two weeks had gone by since Mr. Ojo had said he would help with his house rent, but the man had not said anything about it. They had been so busy with work Sesan had also forgotten to remind the man. The day they finally got all the wood work done, he decided to bring it up as they drove home in the man’s old black Mercedes Benz 500SE, popularly called Shagari Benz in the 80s.
“Umm. Sir…I want to remind you about the favor I asked for a few weeks ago.” Sesan said in his deep voice.
“What favor?” The man said, with a quizzical look on his face.
“About the rent sir; I don’t need it till 6 weeks time though.”
“Oh! I forgot to tell you. That has been taken care of.” The man said and went back to the newspaper he was reading.
“Sir; I don’t understand”
“My daughter is a lawyer and real estate agent; I had her take care of it last week.” The man said. Sesan still looked lost and the man added, “I got your address from the employment form you filled and Nike happened to know your landlord.”
“Yea, sorry, I thought I already told you. My memory is really bad these days.”
Sesan kept driving in silence as he thought of what the magician was telling him. “Thank you, sir.” He said and the man smiled. If he understood the man correctly, their full eight hundred thousand Naira rent had been paid off…just like that. Since the day Mr Ojo’s daughter collected his number, she had spoken to him almost every day as the man had some form of illness, and she needed him to make sure he always took his drugs. He knew they both appreciated what he was doing, but paying off his rent of almost a million Naira was out of the ordinary.
When he got home later that day and told his mom about the rent being paid in full by his boss, she was shocked. She called the landlord and he attested to the fact that it surely had been paid off. The whole thing puzzled her.
After looking dumbfounded for a while, she asked him, “I hope you have not become a Yahoo boy.”
Hearing those words out of his mother’s mouth made him laugh uncontrollably, and when he saw the stern look on her face, he said, “Mom, you know me better than that.”
“Then why would your boss of less than a month pay off our house rent?”
“He wants me focused.”
She sat there, looking frail in the white Bubu she had on. All the thinking of how to pay the rent had taken a toll on her. She shook her head slowly for a while before saying, “I need to meet this man. Can you call him right now?”
“Mom, he has a medical condition and would probably be asleep by now.”
“I’m definitely following you to work tomorrow.”
“I’m serious.” She said firmly, cutting him off. “Something seems wrong somewhere.”
Sesan sighed and sat back in his seat. “Okay mom.”
“I’ll take time off work tomorrow. What time do you normally resume?”
“Okay.” She said and looked lost for a few seconds before getting off the couch. She was heading towards the stairs and stopped all of a sudden to say, “There is Jollof rice and chicken in the kitchen. I dished into the green cooler as I didn’t know when you would be back.”
To be continued
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