The alarm at the bedside was what woke Andy up at 7:15 AM. And as if in a queue, his phone rang out; disturbing the silence of the morning. He quickly reached for the Nokia 3 and looked at the caller ID before answering it.
“Hello, sir,” his sleepy voice gave him away.
“You’re still asleep?” Mr Bamidele’s voice came through the speaker. “We agreed 7 o’clock, Andy. Shooting starts at 8:30. Most of the casts and crew members are here already and we haven’t seen the reworked scene.”
“I was working on it the whole night. But I’m on my way now.”
“You better hurry up!” he cut the call.
Andy jumped out of bed and into the bathroom. The next 20 minutes saw him freshened up and dressed for work. His laptop was already in his bag and keys in hand.
The next 5 minutes met him stepping into the Uber he ordered, packed right in front of his compound.
“Atunrase Street, Surulere,” he said to the driver.
The driver turned on the ignition and moved.
And that was how Andy’s day started. He got to the location in 20 minutes. Of course, Mr. Bamidele wasn’t happy about his lateness. But one look at the reworked script changed everything. Shooting commenced with Andy assisting the director with the interpretation of emotions by each character.
No. He didn’t need to be there for the shoot. But he thought it wise to assist the director with such an important aspect of the movie if viewers were really to feel the emotions.
Mr Bamidele took notice of it and called him aside to discuss what his fee would be like if he was hired to assist the director with the entire movie shoot.
“Oh. I’ve never really done this before…”
“But you’re doing a fine job. I love what I’ve seen so far hence we are having this discussion.”
“Well, I’ve not really done something like this at a professional level and…”
“And you’re not sure what you should charge,” Mr Bamidele finished for him. A sly grin curved his lips.
Andy chuckled. “Yes. I don’t know what to charge,” he admitted.
“I like to pay everyone their dues,” the aged man said, “So I’ll let you ask the director for an idea,” he said and walked back to join the shooting.
Oh wow! Andy thought. There are still men like Mr Bamidele in Nigeria? He didn’t have the time to answer his own question, as the director called out to him to assist.
It was during their shot break he stylishly asked the director his fee, as well as what he thinks a starter in the business should charge.
In all their discussion, he tried not to mention Mr Bamidele’s offer. But the director seemed to know what was up. He mentioned jokingly to Andy that as long as he wasn’t planning to take the job away from him, he was all good.
The men laughed over his joke. But Andy knew better, the director was giving a warning. However, he was grateful to the director for the information provided. When he approached Mr Bamidele after the shooting had closed for the day and the casts had returned to their private lodge, Mr Bamidele bargained until they both reached an agreement.
An upfront payment was made and Andy thought he’d smile home. Being an overnight director wasn’t a bad idea. At least, he could take a break from hunting clients and then pushing hard to deliver their written works.
He knew he needed a short break from intellectual work and this opportunity was perfect. With directing, he could also have time to continue his own book, instead of other books.
On his way home that night, as the cool breeze brushed against his face, he had smiles plastered on his lips. That smile died when his phone rang and he saw that it was his mother.
“Not again,” he muttered and set his phone to ‘do not disturb’.
However, the call continued and the phone vibrated.
“You dey fear to answer your phone?” The Uber driver, a young dark-skinned man in his early 40s, asked. A smile curved his lips and Andy couldn’t even understand why.
“No. I no wan talk,” Andy replied.
“Na your girlfriend or your wife dey call you ba? I know as e dey be,” the man stated, taking a turn into Andy’s street. “My wife call me before I come pick you so. I no gree answer. Woman wahala too much.”
Andy let a mischievous smile curve his lips. He loved his mom. But her wahala was actually becoming too much.
“Na my mom dey call,” he said at last. “I no wan pick because she dey disturb me make I go marry.”
“Ah. Ok.” The driver chuckled. “You sef go marry na. Abi you no see fine girls?”
“No,” came the abrupt reply. He wasn’t about to start sharing his personal experiences with the driver. But then, something happened. The driver stopped the car halfway into the street. Andy’s house was at the end of it.
“Why you stop?”
“I know say women too dey give wahala, but I know where you go fit see good woman. The man go fit help you. If you want, I no go charge you extra, I go carry you go the place this night.”
Andy frowned. “Oga, I don’t need a native doctor to help me find a wife. It is not even important that I get married. So please, just carry me reach my house.”
“Ok,” he turned on the ignition. “But no be native doctor I been wan carry you go before o,” he said, keeping his eyes on the road.
The driver parked in front of the compound. Andy paid his fee and was about to step out when the driver said, “call me. If you change your mind, call me. You go see say no be native doctor. “
“Don’t worry. I wouldn’t be needing it.”
Andy went straight into his compound and locked the gate behind him as the Uber drove off. It was very late already; 10:56 PM. And since he had no neighbours anyway, there was no one to leave the gate open for.
The back flat had been empty for over six months and it seemed the landlord was really not interested in finding a tenant for it. All the same, he wasn’t bothered. He was happy to be living alone. No issues with any compound neighbour.
Andy had only gotten into the house, dropped his bag and taken out the food pack he bought earlier at a restaurant, as he knew he’d be too tired to cook, when his phone rang. It was his father.
“Hello, dad?” He said as soon as he picked the call, before saying a greeting in their language.
“It’s your mother,” his father went straight to the point.
Andy frowned. His heartbeat doubled. He remembered his mother tried to call him earlier.
“What happened to her?”
“She blanked out this afternoon and was rushed to the hospital. She’s stable now though and at home. We didn’t want to disturb your work, that’s why we didn’t call earlier. But Patience tried calling you a while ago with your mom’s phone to inform you. I guess you missed it.”
Andy slapped himself mentally. “I did, sir. Please, if mom is close by let me talk to her.”
“Hello my darling,” her voice came through the speaker.
“Mom. I’m so, so sorry I missed your call earlier. How are you?”
“Well, I’m alive. It was a close one though. The doctor said I need more rest.”
“I agree with them. But what exactly did they say was the problem?” He asked. He needed to know.
“Neurally mediated hypotension.”
“What does that even mean?” Andy rolled his eyes, “these doctors can easily just explain stuff to us, instead of throwing complicated words around.”
“Well, all I took from his talk is rest. I didn’t have the power to ask more questions. Your father did all the asking.”
Mother and son spent some more time talking. And just when Andy thought the call would end, she said it.
“Do you understand now why I’m desperate for you to have a family quickly?”
“Mum, please stop. You’re not dying yet.”
“I’m not planning to, my son. But then, you don’t trust death.”
“No. But I trust you to wait for me,” he said, already feeling uncomfortable with the direction their discussion was heading.
“Give me grandchildren, please. Let me start seeing your children.”
Andy sighed. “I’ve heard you, mom. Just try to get some rest. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
“Ok, my darling. Have a good night.”
“You too, mom. I love you.”
“I love you too my darling.”
Three minutes after the call ended, Andy was still staring at his phone. He was definitely tired of being pressured for a wife and grandchildren. But then, he almost lost his mother that day. And if he had, he would have felt bad he didn’t give her the only thing she asked for.
But was it his fault? Had he not tried to get a woman into his life? Did they not all leave him because he didn’t have a car, let alone a Benz?
He remembered scrolling through Instagram earlier and one of the first photo captions he came across was ‘until you start to find a wife, that’s when you’ll understand that women are scarce’.
“Women are damn scarce!” He laid back on the couch.
Subsequently, his thoughts drifted to the Uber driver. He wondered what solution the man really had besides native doctors. He hated fetish stuff. His parents had never taken him to native doctors and he wasn’t going to start visiting any of them. They were fond of telling lies just to rip off their victims. And even when their charms work, it always backfires.
No be native doctor I wan carry you go before o. He remembered the driver’s words and sighed. Confusion was starting to set in.
Andy pushed the phone aside, reached for his pack of food and started to eat. He was famished. However, the issue with his mother’s health and her demand to see his kids before anything happens to her weakened him. Where would he start from? And even if he had seen a girl he would love to marry, how would he convince her to marry a guy she hasn’t dated; not even briefly?
Andy shook his head and returned to his meal of jollof rice, fried plantain and small moulds of moi moi.
It was while he ate a strong feeling enveloped him. Even if his mother could manage to stay in good health, he was sure she’d threaten him with death talks if he didn’t do the needful.
Andy grabbed his mobile phone and scrolled through recent call history. He found the driver’s number, typed him a text message and sent it.
The message read; I’m sorry for my outburst earlier. I am interested in going with you to that place you talked about, as long as it’s really not a babalawo’s shrine.
This was a risk. He knew. But he was willing to take It. He’d do anything for his mother to remain on this side of life. Dying was just not an option he wanted to consider.
15 minutes later, he received a reply. ‘Bros, no be babalawo. I promise. By evening tomorrow, after work, we go reach there. Shey you go free by evening? Say around 8 o’clock?’
‘8 o’clock is ok. We can meet at the same place you picked me up today,’ Andy sent his reply
‘Ok. You go hold small money go o. About five thousand.’
Andy sighed. He pushed the rest of the food aside and worried about what he was about to get involved in. As he got to his feet and took the rest of his plate to the kitchen, he made a mental note to call Tina. Yes, she’d laugh at him, but he would have confided in her and she would give her advice.
To be continued…