“Felix Navidad! Felix Navidad! Felix Navidad! Prospero año y felicidad.”
It wasn’t even 8am yet and all the kids in our compound were already singing Christmas songs, moving from one flat to another with bags for Christmas gifts. I was almost on my way out when they got to our flat. I dropped two packets of candies and said, “Merry Christmas”. They thanked me gleefully and proceeded to the next apartment singing as though their voices were arrestingly soothing to the ears.
“Tito!” I shouted to my cousin who was still inside. “I’m already leaving o!”
“Ifede, wait for me na”, she said as she ran out. “Come to think of it, I don’t know why you’re even going to the shop this early, it’s Christmas day na! I thought your mother said ’till 9am’, did she not?”
“Please madam Tito, if you want to go back, it is not too late. We haven’t gone far o.” I rolled my eyes. Tito did not stop complaining until we got to the shop.
“Wait Ife!” Tito suddenly touched me on the shoulders after we had settled in. “You know! There’s something I noticed. Eversince I came here—compared to the last time I visited—you have been coming to this shop very early. Even before your mother comes, you don arrive.”
“So what are you insinuating young girl?” I raised my right eye brow.
“I am saying that Bros Benz is the reason, my dear”, she said with a yes-I-said-it kind of look.
“Jeez! Bolatito don’t be silly! It’s Christmas and a lot of people usually come out to buy bean cakes during this period.” I tried to convince her but she wrinkled her nose at me instead and said, “Ife, naso, even the way you get happy these days eh.”
“Tito!” She was grinning and staring askance at me this time. “He’s not the reason, so quit gaping at me in that manner, let me concentrate on these dough balls before Mama gets here. Can’t someone be happy again?” I tried to assure her again that Bros Benz, one of our repeat customers wasn’t the reason I had been pretty happy lately and always arriving in time to assist my mother with frying dough balls and bean cakes.
“Naso!” She replied. “I am not dumb you know, I see how your face glows anytime Bros Benz comes to buy dough balls and bean cakes. You can’t deceive me baby, you like that boy. You’d better admit it so we can get this over with.”
“Oh God, don’t be ridiculous Tito”. I rolled my eyes and smiled smugly. “I don’t like him, I…” I tried hard not to stutter but it was pretty vivid that I was telling a fib. Tito shot me a knowing look.
“Well, I’m not implying that I dislike him”, I continued, “he is one of our loyal customers but…You know what? Stop getting weird ideas, there are prying ears, customers will be arriving soon so let’s focus on frying these dough balls nitori Olorun. For God’s sake”.
“Yeah yeah, talk of the devil,” Tito said as she adjusted her gown.
“Talk of what?” I shook my head.
“Our darling BB is here”. She crossed her legs.
“BB na, Bros Benz”. She sniggered.
I almost spilled hot oil on my legs. She hadn’t sent me a signal in time to make my own adjustments. And I had warned her severally to keep her voice down whenever she called him ‘Bros Benz’. We didn’t know his name so we usually referred to him as ‘Bros Benz’ anytime we discussed him, since he always came in Mercedes-Benz to buy bean cakes.
Tito had told me severally to summon the courage to ask his name; that if I delayed any longer, she’d do it herself but there was absolutely no way I was going to ask him that, I barely spoke whenever he came. All I did say were just: “Good day, how much, here we go and thank you.” Crazy Tito.
“Hello, good morning”, I suddenly heard someone say from behind. Damn! His voice was exceptionally smooth and spellbinding with just the right volume of deepness.
I tried quickly to put my face in order without touching it by making some weird expressions. When I felt I was good to go, I turned around and smiled.