Editor's ChoiceLife and General FictionNaija Stories

Two Weeks Ago

Before two weeks ago, I used to be a very moody and lonely person. Life was almost looking meaningless to me, but I kept on living with the hope that everything would soon be alright and also holding onto that phrase “Hakuna Matata” which always gives me reason to move on.

Two weeks ago, I got a call from a friend asking me to go and work in a restaurant where she was supposed to work, but because she had other engagements, I had to go and work in her place. I accepted and prayed to my God, asking him to make this work favorable and lovable for me. I packed my things and left for the work. The work was in another city and it was very far from mine. So, I had to board a plane, which took four hours to get there unlike the train which took thirty-two hours to get there. Staying in the plane for that long was already exhausting for me not to talk of when I seat on the train for that long.

The first impression I was given when the two workers came to pick me up from the airport was very good. I started work the next day. Waking up around 7am in the morning became my daily routine, each day I had to get to the restaurant before 9am or I would be penalized for late coming. I didn’t want any story concerning my salary, so I formed the habit of waking up that early and getting there before 9am.

My first day at work was good but with the manager always correcting me, I was very sick. He would always pass where I was and would look for one or two things to ask me to do or even find a mistake to correct. The usual one was “Eniola stand well.” And I would be like “why will I stand straight when I’m very tired, because standing and walking around was what I have been doing for over eight hours and you still expect me to stand straight and not lean on anything, who does that?” I said all those things in my mind, and stood straight as he had ordered.

My second day at work, was when my life started changing. I came to work to find some of the workers openly talking about me. I continued my work of cleaning the tables and arranging the plates and spoons on the table just as I was taught yesterday. Then a guy approached me and asked of my name and I told him and he said his name was Henry. He was surprised because I responded in his own language, that was actually what surprised them. The fact that I understood their language made them love me and gave me more respect. Henry would turn out to be the best thing that happened to me all through my stay in that city.

He was always at my side, always asking me questions and always willing to help me with anything. He answered every question that I asked him. Work started becoming fun for me. Each day I would always wake up feeling good and happy going to work not because the work was going smoothly, but because I was finally feeling something strange that my friend would explain to be love.

I never wished for those moments to end, he would always stand close to me and we always serve the same customer. He always said that I was intelligent, always praising my beauty, always telling me how lucky my boyfriend was for having me in his life. There were times we would be lost in our talking and laughing and forget that we were actually waiters in a restaurant, and that customers were there looking at us. We still wouldn’t care and continued our talking and laughing. There was a day we were playing right in front of the customers and we seriously crossed the line that day; after work that day, the manager called him. I didn’t know what they discussed or what he told him but after everything his mood changed, he refused to talk to me and left with only “I am okay Eniola, good night.” I decided to let him be that night with the hopes that the next day will be different. I chatted him that night to see if there will be any changes but he continued with the same sentence: “I am okay, Eniola.”

The next day would be my worst day at work. He wouldn’t talk to me; he was avoiding me like someone with a plague. I wanted to understand him but the attitude was too much for me so I decided to stay on my own lane that day. That day, the restaurant looked very boring and it wasn’t lively and everyone attested to that.

We went home that day not talking to each other again, and I bet he wasn’t happy, and neither was I. But we still didn’t call or even chat with each other that day till the next day. He came to me in the morning and told me he couldn’t do it anymore, that he was sorry for the attitude and that he didn’t care what they said, that he wanted us to go back to the way we used to be, and before I knew what was happening, everything went back to normal.

This time it became worse than before and to my greatest surprise nobody talked about it or even queried us, instead all of the other workers started talking to me and getting close to me and making funny sounds just to make me laugh or sometimes smile, They said I had the most wonderful smile that can raise the dead.

Henry was becoming so much into me that I didn’t even realize it myself. He would always follow me anywhere and then one day I was talking with him when the manager called me to verify something. Henry stylishly followed me and when he was almost close to where we were, just as I was about turning my back to go and do what the manager asked me to do, we almost bumped into each other. I had to ask him what he was coming to do, he sheepishly smiled, raising his two hands to his face and made a happy face sign and said, “I miss you.” I couldn’t help laughing out so loud. That was the craziest thing I have ever heard. I just left his sight not even up to two minutes ago and he was already missing me. Henry was my source of joy throughout my stay there.

After two months of working there, I was sure he learnt a lot from me and the same with me. I taught him a lot about relationships (because he was younger than I am, and also he hasn’t been in a relationship before). Life continued that way, fun-filled, joyous, happy and lovely until my last day at work.

The day started so well that none of us ever imagined that something would happen that day. Just like every other day, we came to work very early to avoid the penalty of lateness as usual, but something was very unusual that day, and that was the way Henry was looking at me and also the way his face looked very pale. Nobody noticed or should I say nobody thought it was something serious, and the fact that he didn’t say anything to anyone about him being sick made us to assume that he might be suffering from lack of sleep from the previous night.

The day started well, until the manager came in and announced the recent outbreak of a deadly disease. Just as he was mentioning the symptoms of the disease, everybody turned and was looking towards Henrys direction. I couldn’t help it too but to also join the crowd in looking at my Henry. My head, immediately was filled with so many questions or should I call it thoughts of what will happen to my joy bringer. The manager was still elaborating the disease and its symptoms when a worker interrupted him and said he is afraid but he thinks one of us already had the disease. The manager couldn’t believe what he heard, (because if it happened to be true, the restaurant would be locked down until the ministry of health confirmed that they were free and could continue their sales, so as not to infect the customers who frequented there). That was the reason why the manager acted that way.

From that meeting ground where we all stood listening to the manager, everybody was taken to the hospital to be checked. Few hours later, the doctors came out to announce that Henry, me and five other workers had been confirmed to have had the disease running in our system. And the rest will remain in the hospital for two weeks before they can be discharged or allowed to leave the hospital, and that is, if after the two weeks there was no trace of the disease then they were free to leave. The ministry of health was immediately alerted by the hospital and so the restaurant, just as the manager had feared was locked down till further notice.

We didn’t know that the deadly disease had already killed thousands of souls, we didn’t also know that the disease has been on the news and that people had already been taking the necessary precautions or preventive measures. We don’t read news, that was our problem. We were always at work and even when we had the chance to use our phones it would be chatting for me and playing games for Henry.

Life inside the hospital was hell. We weren’t allowed to talk to anyone aside the doctors and nurses who would dress up with leather made of clothes and a mask to cover their faces and hand gloves to cover their hands. If we had known, this wouldn’t have gotten to this extent. I miss and fear the worst for me and Henry.

With each passing day, Henry started becoming thinner with speed. The doctors said that his immune system wasn’t too strong and with this disease it hurt his body so much while I on the other hand was recuperating. I was having high hopes that everything would be alright.

Even while we were in the hospital, even with the pain, Henry continued being the nice and sweet guy. He always gave me hope and said that we would be together and that everything would soon go back to normal. He was strong on the outside but very weak on the inside. I wished I had magic, I wished I could have a genie or even become one that day so I could make one wish and that was to be together in a healthier place with my Henry.

Two weeks later Henry was moved from the general ward to a private ward where those without hope of recovering were kept.

I was discharged three weeks after I was diagnosed with the disease and was not allowed to see Henry, not knowing that Henry died the day he was moved away from our ward. I only heard about the news of his death when I was been quarantined for two weeks when I came back to my own city.

It’s been five years now since Henry died, I still remember the love, joy, happiness and peace I enjoyed with him. He helped me move on with life and I have been telling anyone that cared to hear about our little unofficial love life. I will be getting married next two weeks and I still wished I was going to the aisle to tie the knot with Henry, the guy who taught me what true love was.

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