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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

'I fell in love with my brother's killer!' (3)

Seven years later...
It was one of those dog-hot days, when it looked as if the sun was on a fierce mission to roast everything in sight. I had gone to Alade market in Ikeja (an area in Lagos) that Saturday morning to do some shopping. 
I crossed to the other side and stood by the roadside, waiting for a cab to take me to Maryland to deliver a message to someone, when a grey colored Jeep stopped by me. The driver leaned across to the passenger window to ask for directions to a street. After telling him how to get to the place, he offered me a ride. 

I declined, telling him I was waiting for a taxi. But he insisted and I got in. 
"The name's Mark. And you are?" he asked.
We got chatting and he told me he was a businessman into the import and export business. 
Before alighting from the car on our arrival, he gave me his card. He offered to wait for me to finish my business so he could take me home but I declined, assuring him I can find my way home when I was done.

I completely forgot about the encounter till about a week later when I got a call from the guy.
"Sorry, didn't save your number," I apologised for not recognising him.
"No problem. Just wanted to check on you, see how you are doing," he stated.
I told him I was fine and we chatted for a while.

"So when can I see you? I'll like to take you out. Maybe, we could go for a drink or something," he said.
I told him I was busy with work and other commitments that I would let him know when I was a bit free.
"Please make it soon as I really want to see you," he said, stating that I had made quite an impression on him that first day we met.
After that, he kept calling me to take me out, but I declined as I was not interested in seeing anyone.
Then, one day, I was at work when I was told I had a visitor. It turned out to be Mark.
"It seems you've been avoiding me so I had to come look for you," he said with a smile. 

"So, you had to drive all the way from Lekki to Ikeja just to see me?" I asked.
"Of course. I can even go all the way to Sokoto to see you, if that's where you live," he stated. 
"So, when can I get an answer to my request?" he asked, looking at me intently.

I shrugged."I don't know. The thing is, I'm not interested in a relationship now. Maybe, we can just be friends or something."
"I doubt if I can just be friends with you. You see, since I met you, I think about you all the time; you are always on my mind," he said.
I smiled, then changing the subject stated:
"Are you going jogging, the way you are dressed!" He was wearing shorts, a jersey of a popular football club and a pair of running shoes.

  He laughed.
  "Actually, I'm going to the football field. There's a group of young boys, I coach regularly at a school at the other end of town. We have a session this evening to discuss about a youth football tournament coming up soon. Will you like to come? I can wait till you close from work. Maybe we can go out for drinks later," he stated.
I shook my head.
"Sorry. Can't make it because of a previous engagement. Maybe some other time," I said, conceding a little. He seemed a decent guy and there was no harm in going out for drinks with him, I thought.
"Ok. I'll call you so we can fix a time. I really look forward to seeing you again," he said.

The following Sunday, he picked me up at home and we drove to the field where the boys usually practised every weekend. Most of them were already there when we arrived.
"Hope you won't be too bored watching us practise," Mark stated as we alighted from the car.
"Not really. I love football."
The boys, who numbered over fifteen and dressed in a colorful mix of shorts and T-shirts, stood around eagerly waiting for their coach.
"Alright, boys! Let's get going," he shouted and blowing a whistle vigorously, he started running round the field, his young wards trailing behind him. They did a few laps before settling down to a game, with the boys divided into two teams. 

I stood by the edge of the field, watching them as they played, with Mark regularly shouting and dishing out instructions to them. I was so engrossed in the game that time passed quickly. Just before it got quite dark, he blew the final whistle and the game was over.
"Till next week then. No late coming. And behave yourselves!" he said.
"Yes, sir!" the boys chorused before they dispersed.
"I have to push them really hard as I want them to be fully prepared before the competition," he said after the practice. After drinking some water and wiping his sweaty face on a towel, we left the field. 

  He drove to an eatery nearby and as we ate, we chatted.
"You really enjoy training those kids," I remarked.
"Why do you say that?" he asked. 
"I see it in the passion and zeal you show while doing the job of coaching them. So, tell me, how much are you being paid for all this hard work?" I asked.
He laughed briefly before he spoke.
"No one is paying me a dime. I enjoy what I do. Besides, it's my own little way of encouraging these boys, to make sure they don't go astray, like I did when I was their age," he replied.
I looked up quickly at him, surprised at his words.
"You? I don't believe it. You look so cool and responsible!"
He laughed again.
"Looks can be deceptive so you better believe it. I was a really wild child, a truant who got into all kinds of trouble. I really gave my parents, especially my mother a tough time," he said.
He put down his fork, then looking at me keenly, stated:
"Enough about my bad past. What about you? What was your childhood like? What kind of pranks did you play? And your siblings? Tell me about your family..." he said.
To be continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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