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Caleb’s walking gait had a bolt-like pace as he dashed along the Fela-Amina route.
He was suddenly double crossed by someone.
Someone he recently noticed and acknowledged at an ongoing poetry contest. Here on the University of Ankara campus.
It was Jordan Samuel, from Zaria.
It was only twenty days to the all-important deadline for Khalid’s men. Twenty impatient and fast racing days were what every one of them was left to grapple with.
‘Hey, excuse me,’ the handsome young medic called. ‘Can I see you for a minute or two?’
Caleb halted. ‘Oh well, yes.’
Caleb remembered the face. He was the second place winner in the trending videos of the national poetry contest at Abuja several weeks before.
The contest where Kelvin won the first place for his performance If I was a Terrorist.
Again, Kelvin recognised the young man before him as a high flying contestant in an ongoing poetry contest on their campus here in Ankara.
The ongoing contest was to award the prize of an iPhone and a publishing deal to the overall winner of the contest, alongside a sum of British £200.
Caleb was following the event. He wasn’t contesting, but his friend was.
Kelvin was not the type to let a poetry contest pass him by; and this wasn’t going to be the exception.
Kelvin was fighting. Not for the prize, whatever stuff prizes were made of.
It was for glory. Nothing but glory.
Jordan spoke. ‘Er… thanks. I’m Jordan Samuel….’ He offered him a hand.
‘Pleasure meeting you, Jordan.’ Caleb’s face was lit with a charming smile when he spoke.
His smile always got people, except Kelvin. He always saw the lie beneath his clever smile. He always saw him completely: he was slow in trusting people.
Jordan expected Caleb to extend his hand to him for a handshake, but he didn’t. Jordan gleamed. ‘The pleasure’s actually mine.’
Caleb turned and searched around for a seat. ‘If you’re not in a rush I’ll want to find a place to sit; ’cause I’m not good at standing.’
Caleb was not a person that cared for simple courtesies that much. But his charisma always stood in for the gentlemanliness he lacked for people he hadn’t got a reason to trust yet.
He’d got the lustre in his personality that made him just unshunnable even when he snubbed a person.
He was the likeable, irresistible type.
Jordan spotted an empty concrete seat around. ‘Over there’s a good spot.’
They found a place to sit.
Jordan started. ‘I learnt you’re Kelvin Babalola’s friend. I want to make friends with him on the grounds of poetry performance, creative writing and literature.’
He hesitated for a bit and then moved on.
‘He’s somehow difficult to reach on phone, and perhaps hard to start conversations with. So I thought to approach you first.’
Caleb chose to be a little forward this time. ‘All right, I think I know you. You’re the medical poet from ABU Zaria, aren’t you? The guy who won the second place prize in the televised poetry contest last month.’
Jordan had a lovely smile. ‘Yes.’
Caleb squinted. ‘And don’t tell me you travelled all the way down here to compete again with us?’
He enjoyed the music the emphasis on ‘us’ made. He knew Jordan would get what ‘us’ meant.
‘’Cause I spotted you in the on-going poetry contest here,’ he finished.
Jordan explained. ‘Actually, I completed my medical college studies several weeks ago. I’m in Ankara cos my father lives and works here at the University Teaching Hospital. I’m preparing to have my one year internship at the teaching hospital here soon.’
Caleb was pretty satisfied. ‘Wow, that’s cool. So, it’s just some coincidence, right?’
Jordan gave a teasing smile. ‘Yes and no.’
Caleb joked. ‘Oh… why chase two mice?’
Jordan’s rejoinder was fun. ‘’Cause it’s game, I guess.’
‘I think I love that game, too,’ Caleb chuckled. ‘So if it’s not just some coincidence, what else is it, then?’
Caleb stopped for a second, stared into space for a little bit and then struck his temple with a finger. ‘Wow, I got ya there! You wanna beat Kelvin at home, since he beat you in Abuja the last time?’
Jordan burst out in giggles. ‘Whoa! How can you be so smart, man!’
Caleb joined in the laughter. He’d come to like Jordan.
Jordan explained. ‘I decided to participate in the contest to meet Kelvin Babalola ’cause I admired his skill with the pen. I learnt he’s participating soon enough.
‘But much more, I wanna win this time. And we can bet on it—I’ll win the iPhone!’
Caleb laughed. ‘I thought you already know Kelvin’s king! Except, of course, you won’t give up till your hundredth try!’
‘Oh no, that sulks!’
‘Truth sucks, man. Truth does suck.’
Jordan warmed up to him. ‘Hey man, I’ll treat you to a meal when I win the semi-final stage of the contest tomorrow.’
Caleb chuckled. ‘Ok-ay! I wish you luck anyway.’
Jordan drew a little closer. ‘So, about your friend the poet. I’ve tried to have a chat with him on Facebook when I was in Zaria but he didn’t reply my messages. Well, I think he’s been snubbing me.
‘When I came to the southwest here and started participating in the contest, I only find it more difficult to approach him. I think he’ll only snub me still.
‘Yet I want us to do stuff together on poetry performances sometime. I think he’s not as social as I feel you are. My thoughts, though.’
Caleb tried to correct an impression. ‘Kelvin wasn’t snubbing you on Facebook. He wasn’t responding to your online messages ’cause he almost doesn’t access his Facebook account.’
Jordan was a little surprised. ‘Oh, why?’ He couldn’t understand why a youngster like him wouldn’t run a Facebook account so frequently.
Caleb chuckled, amazed at how surprised Jordan looked. ‘Oh no, it’s nothing. He just didn’t feel like getting himself a smartphone to browse the net.’
Jordan was more amazed. He sat still, looking askance.
Caleb snapped at him. ‘C’mon, what’s the fuss about?’
Jordan wore a little sheepish smile. Like a scientist that suddenly arrives at the expected conclusion of an experiment.
‘I said it,’ he gasped—‘he’s not as social as you.’
Caleb spanked him light and chuckled. ‘Oh stop that already, will you. It’s my friend we’re talking here.’
Jordan chuckled, too. ‘Oh sorry, man.’
Caleb’s Blackberry rang. It was Tolu his girlfriend calling.
Caleb was on his way to Tolu’s hostel when Jordan met him. He was going out with her that evening.
He’d called Tolu moments before and she expected him to be at her hostel already.
He picked up her call now.
He flipped open his hardback notepad at the same time, smoothed a little crease on the corner of a page and held it out to Jordan in his left hand.
He answered his phone call. ‘Hello, baby. I’m… well, I’m close by. Just close your eyes and count twenty down to zero. Then open your eyes. What you’ll see at your door’s going to be me.’
He paused to listen to Tolu on the other end.
He motioned for Jordan to take a black Rotring pen in the notepad’s cover. He whispered. ‘Here. Your number, please.’
He laughed out loud, and directed his next words at Tolu.
‘O you woman of weak faith, if your faith shall be as strong as your complaint now, you shall count twenty down to zero and I shall be at your doorstep.’
Jordan took the notepad from him. ‘OK,’ he said and began putting down his mobile number.
‘Here’s it,’ Jordan whispered, handing over the notepad.
He brought out a loose sheet from his trouser pocket, placed it on the notepad in Caleb’s hand and whispered. ‘Your email, please.’
Caleb penned down his email address and handed the leaflet back to Jordan.
‘I’ll send some of my poems to you,’ Jordan whispered to Caleb and the latter nodded.
Jordan handed him the pen as Caleb motioned he’d call him later.
Jordan waved him goodbye as Caleb nodded back at him.
Caleb glanced at his wristwatch. ‘Okay baby. Start counting down, will you.
‘Twenty down to zero.’
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Copyright © 2019 by Kayode Olla