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A Story written by Durodola OLAWALE YUSUPH (Durodolad9ty7@gmail.com +2348166920449, www.penprimus.com Info@penprimus.com)

Stephanie was seated in the living room with her mum watching a christian television channel. Her mum being a business woman rarely stays at home despite the fact that she has sales representatives in all her outlets and she has a group of girls who does the travelling anytime they run out of stock. She pays for their flight tic kets and they purchase the goods and return to Nigeria by flight while the goods come in by sea. But Stephanie’s mum would rather leave home every morning and drive to all her shops to inspect things that are always in order. Stephanie couldn’t explain why her mother loved going out, but she concluded that the old lady was trying to invest her time on something that would make her forget her runaway husband(stephanie’s father) As much as she always looked fOrward to everyday that her mother is at home, she end up praying that a problem should surface in one of the shops so that her mum will leave. The elderly lady is always watching live television programmes sponsored by churches and if for five hours there is power supply, she would make sure she watches a ll the christian tv channels available. Today wasn’t an execption as they had filled the generator with adequate fuel that could take them for the next eighteen hours, Stephanie’s mum was sitting in front of the television with a jotter in her laps and a p en in her hand, as the man of God was speaking, she was jotting while Stephanie was looking at her mum as if to slap her. This is the second time in a week that she would be missing the repeat edition of the ongoing tv show, ‘coke studio: And to say her fa vourite music stars would be involved in that particular episode. Since the show began two weeks ago, she hadn’t been able to see Waje r s performance, neither has she been able to see Flavour Nabania”s performance, she caught a glimpse of Phyno’s performan ce an hour ago before her mum changed the channel. “You see, when I was like you I used to attend this man’s open crusade after school with my friends. I attended up till the time I graduated from the university, that was how I met your father.” The old la dy explained to her daughter who pretended like she didn’t hear her mother speak. “How is that my own concern? Open crusade ko, closed revival ni.” She said within herself. Stephanie herself couldn’t predict her own mother who is someone who loves fashion, who rarely goes to church, who has every designer bag, every designer shoe, expensive jewelleries and does sophisticated hairs which could make one mistake her for a made up baby doll is now listening to a man of God’s preaching on tv. She wanted to faint when her mother handed the jotter and pen to her. “Continue with the jotting, I’ll be right back. ” And with this, her mum walked out of the living room. Normally, she would have picked the remote and changed the channel to her preferred channel before he r mum returns, but the elderly lady even in the bathroom will shout amen to prayers being said on the screen, therefore if she change the channel, her mum would know. And the television in her room is out of bound, she is not allowed to watch it. Even if she is allowed, there is nothing to watch, except local tv stations available in Ibadan. And such channels keeps airing the same progammes everyday with different names, on monday, they air ‘Maxihealth’ and on monday afternoon, they air ‘health is wealth’ topic. different anchors, different visitors(doctors) but the same “Amen!” Her mum shouted from wherever she was. Angrily, she dropped the jotter and biro and made to walk out of the house, probably to visit a friend in the neighbourhood, but her mother w none of that Not with her exam coming up in nine days time. ould have “Aren’t you supposed to attend your tutorial class today?” her mother asked. “l don’t feel like going mum.” She replied without looking back. “That’s good, come let us watch this broadca st together. You will find it helpful It is directed at teenagers.” she turned to face the tv screen to see her mum just tuning in to another channel where like she said, a church sponsored programme was being aired and the topic was about the youths of to day. Unfortunately, the programme would be on for the next one and a half hours. “Mum, I think I have to run to lesson now. I just remembered that we would be taught how to answer computer based questions today.” With this, Stephanie had raced into her roo m. “l know its a lie, but don’t worry, I’ll record it and when you return its a must that you watch it.

She had enjoyed freedom all her life, gone to school on her own, returned home on her own. The only day of the week when it is a must for her to ride w ith her family members was on Sundays when they go to church and sometimes on saturdays when Nate is home. Nate being the official organist of their church, and anytime he is home, he would always drive their mother’s car to choir practice with Serena seat ed beside him, the perfect couple the people in the neighbourhood nicknamed them, even though they are not on talking terms with them, they only greet. Now, Serena was seated inside a white Micra with her official driver for the day. The man who seemed to be minding his own business was humming to the song blasting from his stereo player. All through the drive to the tutorial centre, the stereo was blasting, a song by a popular pop band, westlife. The song was titled, Bop bop baby.’ The song which was on re peat kept blasting all the way from Agodi Gate GRA where she lived to Old Ife road where the tutorial centre was located. And after purchasing the CBT software, the instructor helped her install it and gave her the guidelines on how to work on it She paid for the services and left, but not after saying ‘hi’ to a few of her friends who were students of the centre, but Stephanie was missing and her number wasn’t connecting. “Please, can you change this song?” Serena requested subtly. The cabman looked at her like she was speaking French or German, a confused look on his face. “Is it disturbing you?” He asked giving her a look of this “Yes.” Serena replied with a look of atleastmydad– car paid– belongs you. The man after ten seconds changed the song. Prtome. obably he was contemplating on what button to press, because no right thinking human being won’t keep listening to a song over and over for almost twenty repeats. Even if one has an audition where the song is to be rendered, the best thing is get the lyric s and master it To her utter dismay, the cabman changed the song to another westlife song, this time, ‘uptown girl.’ One of the songs from the group she hated most. Not because the song is not interesting, but because of the repeated us of r oll.’ “Don’t yo u have any other song?” She had blurted out before she realised how ruly it sounded The cab man turned to face her fully for the first time and he seemed offended with her ruly behaviour. “Sorry, I mean, is westlife your fávourite? You seemed to have a lo t of their songs.” She quickly corrected herself, equally avoiding the man’s face. “l love westlife. You know, I have had their albums since as far back as I can remember. Recently, I just decided to convert them to mp3 and I had them sent to my phone.” Th e man spoke for the first time. Not like the monosyllables he had been saying for the past fourty five minutes. “oh! I don’t like them. I think I prefer the Backstreet boys.” She replied, even though she had no idea of who the Backstreet boys are. Who list en to Backstreet boys when One direction is rocking the pop scene as a group? “Backstreet boys? They are good too, I have a couple of their songs too. But you know, when I was leaving my hostel, I lost them.” He replied. Serena wanted to ask what he meant by hostel, but a right thinking person would know that the man beside her was either a University graduate or a student who was rusticated. Whichever ways, one had to move out of the hostel. No wonder, her father gave him the assignment to drive her to her destination and back home. “You are a graduate of which school?” She asked curiously. “University of Ibadan.” He replied proudly and he gently swerved the car off the road into a filling station.

Three minute later, they were driving out of the filling st ation and Serena had forgotten that she still had more questions to ask the cab man. Her mind had already been occupied with something else. “Please, I’ll like to drop at the busstop.” She said “Your dad asked me to drop you at home and ensure that you en before I drive off.” Serena pretended like she wasn’t suprised or angry at the reply, partly because she didn’t want to give the cabman the impression there is a problem in their family, ter the compound “There is really not much difference. If you drop meat the bus the other side and walk the remaining distance home.” After much one sided persuassion where she was the one doing the talking while the cabman kept mute, he agreed to drop her at the bus stop, I’ll just cross to stop “Just make sure you go ho me straight.” He said as she alighted from the car. Afterall, the once dreaded drive with the unknown cabman turned out to be a good one. How she wished her father could return to being like this. She crossed the road, but not without exchanging numbers wi th the cabman who felt reluctant at first, but at the mention of business, he gave in.

To Be Continued…

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