Every Valentine’s Day, I mourn the brutal death of Dennis my boyfriend who died on Valentine’s Day two years ago after I pushed him to his death.
He was a Pharmacist. I met him when I went to buy antimalarial drugs at a Pharmacy on Tejuosho road. He was in his white lab coat and looking handsome behind the counter. He asked me why I wanted a particular brand, I said because someone told me I wouldn’t react to it. Then he gently began to explain the properties of each drug type. He asked how long I was feeling feverish. He wanted to know if I had been to see a doctor and so on.
That was how we became friends; after which I always looked out for him everytime I went to the pharmacy. We soon exchanged numbers and kept in touch.
We became boyfriend and girlfriend and I loved him but there was this annoying aspect to Dennis; he could never keep to time; he was always late! Many times, we would agree to meet at the cinema or party or someplace but my Dennis would never show up on time. I can’t even recall the number of times we quarrelled over his attitude. He would promise to get there on time, I would wait and wait and wait, it was always so frustrating.
This guy missed two serious job appointments because he got there late! So you see, his attitude was going to affect him later in life and if I was going to be a part of that life, I felt it was my job to push him.
Oh no, he didn’t have a car but at least, you know, if he had a 10 o’clock appointment, say at VI. He should leave the house at by 7am at the least. For anyone going by public transport, you never know what you will find at the bus stops, you never know what trailer would have fallen and caused massive traffic, so you have to leave your house early to get there on time and it’s not every time you will have money for Uber!
Same thing on our movie nights, we usually didthe 8 o’clock 8.30pm showing.
I told him many times; ‘leave the pharmacy at 6pm.’
His shift usually ended at 5pm.
‘Then head to the mall. I will be there; we can stroll around before the movie…’ but Dennis always left and arrived late.
Then came that Valentine’s Day.
He wanted us to go eat at Sheraton Hotel! Yes, it was going to be a buffet and he had saved for it. I was excited too and I knew I had to be monitoring him; so I called him at 4pm because that day though he wasn’t on duty at the pharmacy, he was meant to drop something for his colleague there. I called to ensure he didn’t get to Sheraton late when all the food would have finished and then spoil my Val day..
I made sure I heard street noise on his phone to assure me he was indeed on his way. He told me he was going to board an ikeja bound bus at Barracks bus stop and he would drop off at Sheraton bus stop. So give or take 30 to 45 mins before I decided to call back again. Factor the traffic plus he may not even have got a bus on time.
Then I called at about 4.50pm, few minutes to five, sha, he didn’t pick. I suspected that maybe he was in the bus and couldn’t hear his phone ring.
At a few minutes after 5pm, I called him again, this time, he picked but it was a quick whisper. I didn’t hear well. So I told myself, maybe the bus was noisy, maybe he was not able to answer properly because sometimes, if you are sitting in a bus, picking calls can be difficult.
At around a few minutes to 6pm, I was already at the gate of Sheraton, watching for Dennis to come down at the bus stop butn there was no Dennis in all the buses that stopped there. Then I called again and this time, his phone was switched off!
I called several times and same phone kept saying, ‘not available.’
I was getting worried, then as time was passing, I became angry. So Dennis has done it again, hehn! I was at Sheraton bus stop till 8pm! No Dennis, no answered phone. That was when I began to fear again.
I couldn’t even reach his colleague at the pharmacy to know whether he was called back to the pharmacy for something. You know, anything could have happened.
Then his phone call came in at after 11pm. I was so relieved that finally he had called but the person on the phone was not Dennis. It was someone who was asking me if I was Dennis’ wife. I said yes. No we were not married but he saved my number as ‘wife.’
He told me Dennis was injured in an accident and was at the emergency unit at General hospital. I took an okada from Tejuosho that night!
At the emergency unit, they directed me to the morgue; I met the man who called with Dennis number. He told me, Dennis had entered ‘one chance’ bus. When the thieves searched him and found nothing, they pushed him out of the moving bus. Unfortunately, an oncoming truck ran over him; crushing him under its tyres. He died on the road like a common dog!
The man, the one who called, removed Dennis’ crushed phone and put his SIM in his own phone, that was how he was able to call me.
He then asked me to follow him inside to identify the body. I was hoping there would be a mistake somewhere. Weird things have happened to people. Dennis’ phone may have been stolen and so he missed the bus. I was hoping that maybe just this once, he didn’t leave on time as he told me he had. I kept praying, Dennis, this is the one time I need you to be late. Dennis please, please…
It was Dennis I saw at the morgue! If I hadn’t pushed him to leave early, if I hadn’t been on his case to be on time just this once, maybe he would still be with me this Valentine’s Day.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)