“Excuse me please Ma, I’m looking for Miss Kemi. I have a delivery for her” said the delivery guy to Kemi.
Kemi tried to make her heart stop beating fast. She broke up with her ex over a year ago. She wasn’t dating anyone at the moment and it was not that she didn’t want to. It seemed as if she had become invisible to all the men. She was not sure the delivery was for her, so she stared at the delivery guy and the gift with suspicion.
Kemi asked him to be sure that the gift was hers “Kemi what?” She asked.
“Aunty, I’m not sure o, when we put the deliveries in the van, somehow the gift tag got torn on the part where the surname was. The address is the same though. I’m praying it’s for you because I’m supposed to have been in Yaba two hours ago and I still have many things to deliver”
“Aunty, are you Kemi?”
Kemi nodded slowly.
“Ehen, please sign here. I need to rush to Yaba!”. Kemi signed.
Somehow she was convinced that it was not her own Kemi, but someone else’s, though she didn’t know any other Kemi in the building. She had a long thought about a probable secret admirer. It had been a while since anyone had asked her out. She looked at the exquisite gift wrapping. The gift was in a box. Her colleagues teased her about the gift. They asked her to open it for them to see what the gift was. She said no. They teased her about the gift being sexy lingerie. She didn’t budge. She left the gift on her desk all day, just in case the real owner came for it, or the delivery guy returned.
Valentine’s Day passed slowly. She cooked some noodles and drank 2 packs of Juice, belched and went to lie down. She called her best friend who coincidentally wasn’t dating anyone as well, but who seemed to have her hands full on this particular evening.
“Baby girl” her friend had said, “let me call you back” in between giggles. It seemed someone was tickling her. She sighed and ended the call quickly.
She got to her office the next day and found the gift still on her desk, except that the position had changed slightly. It must have been the cleaner that moved it to clean the table,she thought.
The receptionist called to say that a delivery man had asked to see her. Just as well, she thought. It was a good thing that she had trusted her instincts and not opened the gift. The delivery guy came in again huffing and puffing like the day before. He apologized profusely for the mix up and narrated how a customer had called the office late in the evening to complain that his girlfriend was yet to receive her gift. Apparently, everything had gone wrong yesterday. The right address was 103 and not 108 Campbell Street. Worse still, the Kemi who was supposed to have received the gift had broken up with his client. “So”, he went on “I’ll have to deliver it to her, even if she doesn’t want it .I’ll beg her and explain”
Kemi hadn’t said a word. After listening to the chain of events, she felt worse, sad and lonely. She pointed to the gift. “It’s right there, take it!” She said.
“Aunty, you didn’t open it!” he said
“No,I didn’t” she replied, “why would I have opened the gift, when I know its not for me. Her eyes were glassy and she quickly looked away so he wouldn’t see her tear drop.
“A fine Aunty like you can’t be alone for long. Don’t worry, God will do it”
Kemi didn’t answer. She had quickly switched to work mode and didn’t hear when the delivery guy said good bye.
The next morning the receptionist called to say Kemi had a delivery. Kemi smirked and said “not again, please tell the delivery guy to go to 103.It’s not my Kemi abeg”
“No, Ma” said the receptionist, the man said it is for you here in 108.
“Okay, send him up” said Kemi.
“Good morning Ma. I have delivery for you. Please sign my register. Thank you.
“Who is the delivery from? Because I didn’t order anything”, said Kemi. “My Boss said I should deliver this to you with this card”. He handed it over to her. “Sign here, Ma.” She signed. He left.
She looked at the card. The name and handwriting were not familiar. The sender apologized for the lateness of the delivery and asked for an opportunity to make it up at lunch the following Friday. The gift was a dozen red roses, a box of perfume and a bath oil set.
“Okay” she thought to herself, a mystery lover. She would go out of curiosity.
Friday came. She had received a note to meet up for lunch about 5 doors away from her office. She had asked a colleague to go with her and hang around in case it was one of those kidnapper gangs. She sat down cautiously and waited. She was communicating with her colleague who sat on the other side via IM.As she was just about to give up the wait. Someone tapped her on the shoulder and apologized for being late. It was the first delivery guy. She looked a little disappointed.
“Hello, Aunty Kemi” he said siting down, I hope you are not offended. I couldn’t stomach the look of sadness on your face the other day. I hope you liked the gifts.
Kemi was a little confused and shy. The guy looked a little different without his cap and uniform. He looked nice. He wasn’t handsome but he looked good. Even his voice sounded different. Just to humor him, she decided it would be good to eat lunch. The restaurant was nice. She turned to look at her colleague and gave him an “I’m okay” nod. That was his queue to leave. Her colleague understood and left. Kemi looked around and said “This place is really nice”
“Too nice for a delivery guy to afford, abi? “No, not at all”, Kemi responded defensively “that’s not what I meant. I meant, it’s really nice!”.
They both laughed. “Sorry” he said, “I’m just teasing”. They talked for a while. They lingered a little after finishing their lunch. The conversation was good and the delivery guy looked like he didn’t want her to leave. He introduced himself as John. They shook hands as they got up to leave.
‘Do you like local food, as in Mama-put?’’, he asked .
“Of course I do! It’s tastier and fresher than some eatery food,sef” she answered.
“Okay”, he said. “That’s good,then. There is one Mama-put a few streets away from here. I always buy food for my Boss from there. He is a sucker for it. We can go there soon, if you want.”
Kemi said “okay” and meant it.
They didn’t see or chat with each other until after a few months. Kemi got another note from John one day. They had forgotten to exchange phone numbers. He was asking to take her out to Mama-put for lunch and asked for her number. The delivery guy waited as she replied. At exactly 1.00 O’clock, she got up from her desk to meet John up at the Mama-put. She met him sweating in front of the place. As Mama-puts usually are, it was hot. They were able to get 2 seats close to a fan that made more noise than the air it blew. John made her laugh the entire time. They got to know each other the more. The same thing that had happened again. It was difficult saying good bye.
After some months of doing lunch on and off, John decided it was time to reveal the secret he’d been keeping from Kemi. He wasn’t sure she would take him for who he was. He had come to understand that Kemi was not like many girls he had met in the past. She was so Oyinbo. Sometimes she would insist on paying for their meals or going Dutch.
Their friendship had blossomed, but they were yet to visit each other’s houses. John decided to invite Kemi to dinner at “The Place” in Lekki and then thereafter, they take a few drinks in the lounge before telling her his big secret.
Kemi said again” This is place is really nice o” and John said “That’s the 3rd time you are saying so”. “Yes now, we have graduated from sweaty Mama-put with the noisy fan to fully air-conditioned ambience!” They both laughed. With Kemi laughing was second nature.
John coughed and said he had a confession to make. Kemi put her drink down and said “Wait, wait O, I hope you are not sick or anything?” No, I’m not sick Kemi”, John replied
“Ëhen better, Oya go on! I’m listening as she sucked on her smoothie”
Before he spoke, she asked again. “Are you getting married? I’ll be so happy for you, you know that” “Kemi, No. Not at all. That’s not what I want to tell you” John said feigning anger.
“Wait, are you relocating to Canada?’
John burst out laughing. “Madam, these questions are funny and too many. Please let me land. Let me tell you now”
Kemi said: “Okay John, land”
“And please, he went on “Don’t interrupt me again. This is very hard for me to say .I am an extremely shy man”.
“Okay” Kemi said, itching to hear what he had to say. John got up from the chair opposite Kemi and sat beside her. Kemi, do you remember how I met you? Kemi: Haba, of course now, you brought a delivery to me which was meant for someone else.
“Well, when I told you that I worked at the delivery company,I actually lied -sort of.
“You lied? Why John? How come? I don’t get this!”
“I lied again, when I told you that my Boss loved that Mama –put we go to”
Kemi put her hand under her chin and sighed. She moved away a little and said “just go straight to the point, John”
“I don’t actually work at the delivery company because I own it, amongst other businesses I do. I had to do join the staff on ground to meet up with the deliveries the day we met, because 2 of our delivery men were ill and we couldn’t get replacements that day. So, everything I have told you about my Boss, has actually been about me. I’ve taken time to watch and know you. I need to tell you that I have fallen for you and I don’t care if you don’t love me. I am in Love with you. You became my friend thinking I was a delivery Guy. You became my friend without caring about that or that I had no car and no social net worth. You have all it takes to be with any man.
Kemi was silent. Very silent. She was angry at first, and then her face broke into a smile. “You are a good liar o, and yes… she said picking her words….”I feel …the same”
They hugged and then kissed. They left their drinks on the table and walked out hand in hand. Kemi was walking in the direction of the bus stop. John tugged at her hand and pulled her towards a Lexus 470 parked in front of the building. Let’s get in, he said.
Kemi, looked dazed. John put some music and held her hand as he drove.
Kemi smiled as she looked at the road ahead. Cupid had brought her the best valentine gift yet!