You have a deadline. Two deadlines. Basically, your salary for next month. You have procrastinated and now there is just one night before you get that call that will make you seem so sloppy. Your client will ask if you really want to do the job. Worse, the client may ask if you really can do the job.
That will totally break you. Rip your ego to shreds and feed it to flea-infested stray dogs. The suggestion that you are somehow incapable of delivering will simply kill you. But you are used to it, have developed a pattern on working on the last night of your deadline and producing top notch work. Every time you fret and get cramps from worrying, but every time, you deliver.
You have had four beers. You had to see Dinma, your girlfriend from university who you treated very horribly but called to tell you recently that she had forgiven you. She was in Abuja for one night and needed to see you and talk. For closure, she said. You couldn’t even remember exactly what you did four years ago. You agreed to meet over fish and chips in Wuse II.
You almost didn’t recognise her. It was the mole on her face that saved you from embarrassment. Her slim waist and limbs had succumbed to what she called ‘life and too much junk food’. She now wore a leg chain and had a tattoo on her shoulder-- some Chinese inscription you didn’t care to ask about. She made you sit through two hours of detail. How you left her in your room off campus and didn’t come back for two days. How you didn’t call or text. How you switched off your phone when she tried to call. How she later found out from Joe that you were with Hadiza and had gone off with her to Kaduna to spend the night. How when she told you she was pregnant, you had the guts to ask her who the father was.
You took drink after drink as she spoke. Some of the facts weren’t exactly as you remembered them, but the memory was too hazy to argue. You especially couldn’t remember suggesting she swallow that magic pill that washes away early pregnancies, disintegrating it into blood. You only remember that she had to go home for almost three weeks when she wouldn’t stop bleeding. The beers weren’t helping.
Dinma sends you many long text messages. To say she got home safe to her sister’s house in Life Camp. To say she feels better now. She forgives you. She forgives herself. She needed this to move on. She had even tried being a lesbian because she hated men so much. She forgot to tell you she is getting married in December. It isn’t an invitation.
You can’t work. You have to sleep these beers off a bit and wake up early to work. Now you think you should have just worked and not gone to see Dinma. Your entire June salary is at stake.
You think, being a freelancer sucks. You miss the traumatic days of screaming bosses but assured salaries.
On second thought, you love your job. You no longer hate Mondays, and that is a damn good thing.
Electricity goes off. All three of your neighbours put on their generators. The biggest, noisiest one is right by your window which you always keep open for ventilation.
You start to doze off a bit.
Electricity goes off again. You get up to drink water. The frost in your fridge has melted and refroze and has started melting again. The freezer is now a smooth slippery layer of ice. You prefer the frost. It makes you think of snow. And in a weird way, although you have never actually seen snow, thinking of it calms you, makes you happy.
The neighbour with the noisy generator tries to turn it on. He tries many times. You are becoming happier with each try. You wish it won’t start.
Your wishes are worth nothing. The generator comes on. You lie awake, in the dark. Unable to sleep. Unable to work.
You fall asleep just after the muezzin next door sings his call to prayer. Just after your neighbour turns off his noisy generator.
You phone rings, waking you up. ‘Are you still sleeping?’ your client asks. ‘How far with the job?’ You sound like a bumbling idiot when you just wake up. You also cannot lie during that period. You admit ‘you haven’t even started’. The client is upset and drops the call. You lie back down.
You wake up with a start realising what you just told the client. You jump up, take your laptop, hoping it charged a bit while you were sleeping. A text comes in. ‘Should I find another person for the job?’ You stop scrambling. And grit your teeth.
It is clear in your mind what you must do. The next time this generator stays on all night. Find the fuel tank of that generator. And pour copiously. At least one bottle of water.