“A…Angela” he stuttered “Is that really you?”
“YES, it’s me!” she said getting out of the car and reaching out to hug Michael. She released him just as suddenly as she hugged him. “Mike, Michael Osu? Oh my God, you’ve gotten so tall,” she said thoroughly staring at him.
He could have blushed both from the hug he got and from the compliment in her tone. He couldn’t remember the last he had such close physical contact with a woman. Maybe when cramped in a tin can bus? Most women judge his financial situation under five minutes of meeting him and put him at arm’s length. But not Angela Nwolisa, she squeezed him into a bear hug to the astonishment of passersby, staring at the gorgeous wealthy-looking lady with a car hugging a near homeless-looking man on the Island expressway.
Mike still couldn’t she was there. Angela, Angel, his Angel, from back in high school? Such a lifetime ago, when life was still a dream with hopes and laughs. That life was gone and yet, here was Angela who was long gone in his life. Seeing her started bringing it all right back. Angela!
“Angel?” he called out almost not believing it was her.
“Oh, Mike. You’re the only one who’s ever called me Angel. We simply must catch up! Where are you headed?”
“Well Umm…i was just headed home”
“Oh, I remember that! Wait, don’t tell me. It’s Block B, Flat B at Dolphin Estate right?”
“Oh wow, you remembered our old place!” He was astonished, she still remembered his parents old flat on the Island! She really was Angela! Her memory confirmed her existence to him. And woke him up. It was like he was hallucinating before now. Dreaming her up again, the way he used to daydream about her whenever he hit a very low point in his day. She was the best part of his former life when things were still good. Whenever he was ironing or washing a client’s clothes and the dark wave washed upon him he would think of her and then whatever he was doing wouldn’t seem so bad. Life couldn’t be that bad as long as Angela was alive in it. Somewhere, out there.
Now she was here and it was really her!
“Of course I remember your old place and your mum and dad and Johnie. Oh, I’d love to see Johnny.”
“Wow, I’m sure he’d love to see you too!”
“Yes! But…hey aren’t you headed the wrong way? Isn’t the way to Dolphin, that way!” he pointed behind him.
“Yeah, umm…but no. We, we, we don’t live there anymore. We live on the mainland now.” he said.
“Oh! So…is that where you’re going now?”
“But why are you walking, where’s your car? I mean…um couldn’t you find a cab?”
“Oh um…you know Lagos cab drivers they can be so thick-headed.” he laughed nervously. Or what do you say to an old school flame when she drives by in a Carina and asks you why you’re trekking on the highway? Angela got the picture though and tried her hardest to hide her surprise in order not to hurt his feelings.
Angela had been driving by humming along to Jamila’s Superstar track playing on the radio when she noticed a gangly man talking to another man on the sidewalk of the overhead express bridge and when the man smile she had just thought to herself; “Hmm, my old school mate Michael, had a smile like that.”
“He was even skinny just like that man standing there.” she thought.
Michael was a student prefect and the school gave him a special super cool blazer that only prefects wore. The blazer looked amazing on all the other prefects but Michael due to his slim stature just looked like a human clothes hanger in it.
She giggled. His friends used to tease him about it, while she agreed but never said so.
“I think you look nice”, she would always say and he would give him his special smile. A shy smile that took up mostly the left side of his face and she melted whenever he did it.
“Wait a minute,” she said out loud “that is Michael.” No, it can’t be her mind told her. But it had to be, the man also looked like a clothes hanger in his creased shirt. As she drove by him she was even more sure that it was Michael Osu, but he looked in a way that disproved her theory. So slowed down her car, stopped and reverse to catch up to the man. And when she caught up to him and called out his, she half expected the man to say that he wasn’t Michael and she would have apologized feeling awkward like a fool. But he had called her nickname; Angel, and it turns out that she wasn’t seeing things.
“But hey, never mind that. I was just coming back from rehearsals and I was headed to a place for lunch. Why don’t you come with me?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to be a bother.”
“No, what are you saying? We’re friends, you have to come. How else do we catch up?”
“Well, yeah…sure. Of course.” he resigned smiling.
“Great, well get in please.” and he turned around her car carefully withdrawing his body not to stain her car’s shiny paint job. As if poverty could stain car paints. He opened the car gingerly and clicked on her car seat belt. It looked so fancy that he was almost certain that it was worth more than everything he had on. He noticed that Angela was delayed from entering the car and looked up to see the same that accosted him for transport fare talking to Angela saying: “Anty please my wife is in the hospital giving birth and I can’t pay hospital bills please help me.”
He didn’t hear her response just watched her get in the car and open a compartment to bring our crisp N1000 notes and give the man some. Michael only saw that it was close to the amount he made in three months that she gave him.
“Here, for your wife. I pray she gets better.” she said and he instantly collapsed on his knees and started fervent prayers upon Angela.
“Ah, aunty. God bless you. God bless your work. Anything that you are looking for God will do it. God will promote you in your job. Even in your business ehn. Uncle, please help me thank aunty for helping me.”
He suddenly realised that the man he had begged for transport fare was the one seated beside the woman he had begged for his wife’s hospital bills. Quick as a flash he said “Thank you ma” and he was gone. Michael watched him take brisk steps and disappeared just as fast as he pocketed the money. He wondered if he should tell her that he suspected the man to be a fraud but decided against it. Suddenly, Angela pinched him.
“Ow!” he shouted.
“So it really is you?” she was smiling.
“It is me now. Why are you pinching me? he asked patting his arm.
“Just checking, I thought you could be a ghost.”
“But how can I be a ghost when I haven’t died yet?” he said and they both laughed as she started the engine of her Chevrolet which purred and then hummed and she drove off taking him along.