It rained till morning. The sound of his loud doorbell startled Kayode awake. Who is finding it hard to stay in his or her house this early morning? It was only 6:00AM. He was just beginning to find some sleep, after leaving Funmi in his room. He came to the living room to watch the news but was knocked out not too long after. The bell rang again. Realizing it could be James coming with news about Funmi, he hurried to the door.
When Kayode opened his front door, he did not see James. At the door was the absolute last person Kayode expected or wanted to see in that moment. At the door, was his brother, Soji. He did not want his brother around when Funmi’s test results arrived in another couple of hours. Having left his house in Ajah to arrive this early, it was obvious Soji was going to stick around to unravel what he must now consider Kayode’s stupidity. Kayode looked at his wall clock again, just to confirm the time. The roads must have been free since the Lagos State Government had declared a lockdown.
“Good Morning,” Kayode muttered, as he sat back on the couch.
Soji towered over him, facemask on, “What is good about the morning?”
“Ijani? Are we fighting? Sit down, Brother,” Kayode requested gently.
“I will not seat or touch anything in this house. For all we know, the virus is dancing in the air, and you are gallivanting around with no single protective gear in place. What do you think you are?” Soji scolded angrily.
“Bro na! You are blowing this thing out of proportion,” Kayode said, walking into the kitchen to brew some coffee.” Soji followed him.
“Where is the woman now?” He asked. Kayode responded with a sigh.
“Kayode, answer me!” Soji said, concern etched all over him.
“Want some coffee? Or would you prefer tea?” Kayode asked his brother, avoiding the question.
“I see you don’t want to take this seriously.” Soji sighed, walked out of the kitchen, and then added, “When Mummy arrives, you can tell her what has gotten over you.”
Alarmed, Kayode followed his brother, “What?”
“You kuku heard me,” Soji answered.
Kayode could no longer control his anger, “You really should mind your business.”
“This is my business, Kayode. My younger brother is digging an early grave for himself. I even did wrong by only telling Mum; I should have called a family meeting.” Soji still would not sit down.
Kayode walked back into the kitchen as he said, “Well, she’s in my room.”
“YOUR WHAT?” Soji exclaimed. He followed Kayode into the kitchen. “You this boy, what is wrong with you? Who is this damn lady?”
Kayode turned around abruptly as he gestured that his brother reduce his volume! “For god’s sake! She’s asleep!” He starred at Soji for a long time before adding, “She’s not just any damned lady! She’s Funmi! And she needs my help.”
“Pele o. Dr. K! I didn’t realise you’d gone to medical school.” Soji hissed. “Even if you were a doctor, is this a hospital? And why is this Funmi worth such a risk?”
“Your Friend, Funmi” Kayode replied.
Funmi? The name did not ring a bell for Soji. I don’t know any Funmi; and don’t make this about me. Guy!” He tapped his chest, “Even if say na my babe, my fiancée, I suspect get this virus, na hospital she go dey! Not my house!” Realizing his brother kept starring at him, Soji added in defence, “I know that sounds cold, but this virus is killing people.”
Kayode breathed deeply, “It’s Funmi from Good Experiences; your former classmate.” He just knew all hell was about to break lose.
Soji was bewildered. “Funmi? How? When?” Before his Kayode could answer, he added, “I am going to need something stronger than coffee.” He sank into the kitchen chair, surprised by what he just heard.
However, it was true. Soji followed Kayode into his room, and saw Funmi sleeping, an almost empty drip connected to her hand. She did not wake up as Kayode opened the window for some fresh air to come in. She rolled over when his hands briefly brushed her shoulder as he re-adjusted the cover cloth and she murmured a soft “Thank you.”
From his view at the door, Soji could not help but notice that these two already seemed to have a routine going. He had refused to enter fully as he did not to want to subject himself to any possible risk. Kayode, on the other hand, acted like he was immune to any possible danger. He pulled the chair closer to the bed and gently woke her up by rocking her thigh gently.
Funmi woke up with a strong headache, and a decongesting, runny nose. Kayode, anticipating her needs quickly pulled out a white handkerchief from his bedside drawer and began to wipe her nose area. Funmi smiled and took the handkerchief from him. Watching the exchange, Soji cleared his throat, drawing attention to himself.
“Soji?” Funmi asked, but not too surprised to see him. This was his brother’s house after all. “You came to see me?” she asked with a smile. Soji entered the room, making sure to keep a safe distance.
“I came to know why Kayode was risking his life for a woman,” Soji confessed, “only to find out it is you.” He tried to say that as friendly as possible so that Funmi would not detect his annoyance.
“He is my hero. Your brother is a really amazing person,” Funmi said with a smile, sensing Soji’s well-placed concern.
“He is a good boy, I am just concerned about my brother’s health,” Soji said. Kayode was irritated with his tone. They were talking about him as though he was not there, so he walked out to go get the materials he needed to change her drip.
“You sound like you are sure I have been infected with the virus,” Funmi said to Soji.
“Are you sure you are not?” Soji replied candidly. Funmi nodded her head in uncertainty, her gaze unable to meet his.
“I am so sorry” Soji said, honestly. Funmi is arguably the most successful person his age. He admired her for achieving her goals, being ruthless in business, and making a name for herself. He even fancied himself asking her to date him many years back, but he had changed his mind. Yes, he admired her, but her personality and all that she embodied was intimidating to him. He likes an independent woman but he also likes feeling like a man in a relationship, and he wasn’t sure how that was going to happen with a woman like Funmi. How did Kayode find her? And why was he going all the way to support her through this unknown illness at such a time? Soji was baffled. He summoned some courage, and moved closer to Funmi.
“Don’t worry, we will ensure you are fine. You are not alone,” Kayode heard Soji say to Funmi as he re-entered the room. He wished that his brother would just disappear. He was offering condolences in a resigned manner, as if already sure that she was suffering the deadly disease, so Kayode’s protective instincts kicked in. No one was going to make his woman feel uncomfortable in his house.
He had been thinking of Funmi as his woman ever since he brought her into his home, and he wasn’t going to let his brother ruin things.
“I want to change her drip,” Kayode interjected, hoping it will spook Soji enough to make him leave. His brother did not, however. Soji shrugged and shook his head in disbelief, gave him a disapproving look, and remained standing. Kayode was grateful that Funmi did not see his brother’s expression.
“Where did you both meet?” Soji asked.
“At the airport in London,” Kayode replied, hoping his brother would stop asking questions.
“London is in chaos right now,” Soji said to no one in particular, and continued “Prince Charles and his wife have been quarantined, and Boris Johnson, their Prime Minister has tested positive to COVID-19.”
Funmi snatched her hands from Kayode, not allowing him to touch her again. “Say that again,” she said to Soji.
“I said London is in chaos right–”
Funmi didn’t let him finish. “The part about the prime minister.”
“He has tested positive to corona,” Soji said again, indifferently.
“Kayode, call the NCDC!” Funmi almost commanded.
“Why?” both brothers asked at the same time.
“I have been in two meetings with Mr Johnson within the week.”
“You need to calm down,” Kayode said to Soji who was now pacing back and forth in the living room. They had just calmed Funmi down, and convinced her not to worry, but Kayode should have known that Soji was only acting.
“What is wrong with you? How can you even be calm? Soji screamed at Kayode, who quickly jumped in front of his brother as though to prevent the sound of his voice from travelling into the room.
“Don’t make her panic, she may be able to hear you,” Kayode said quietly, but sternly.
“She should be panicking!” Soji said, not reducing his voice. “How could she have agreed to come here, even if you put a rope to her neck, knowing she is a high risk patient?”
“She couldn’t have known na!” Kayode said. “And I am I a potential high risk patient too now, so maybe you should leave us to isolate here in peace?”
“Are you even hearing yourself? You are clearly becoming stupid. This lady was with a confirmed infected patient, Kayode. What does she have on you?”
“Nothing. She has nothing on me. I just care for her.” Kayode said, trying to get through to his brother, but Soji wouldn’t hear it.
“I am calling the NCDC now. Thank God she has the good sense to want to turn herself in, even though you have chosen to be foolish.” Soji said, already searching for the number.
“Bro Soji, relax,” Kayode begged.
“Something is obviously wrong with you, Kayode, and I can’t stand here to witness it.” Soji said. He then stormed out of Kayode’s house, still dialling a number from his phone.
Kayode ran a hand through his hair. This was getting out of hand.
Funmi stood up from the bed, untethered. Thankfully Kayode hadn’t had a chance to administer a new drip before she realised that she was definitely a high risk candidate for Covid-19. She quickly packed her notepad and phone into her handbag. Every step she took, weakened her a little bit more, but she had heard Soji loud and clear from the living room, and he made sense.
It was unfair to continue taking advantage of Kayode’s benevolence and possible feelings for her, but her legs refused to carry her and she was slipping to the ground on her way out when Kayode walked into the room just in time to catch her, holding her steady.
“What is wrong? Where are you going?” Kayode asked worriedly.
Funmi tried to get out of his hold, but Kayode only held firmer. She was struggling to keep the tears in her eyes from falling. “Stop touching me Kayode, I am high risk to you.”
“I am high risk too now.” Kayode said looking into her eyes. He noticed the tears she was holding at brim, and wiped them with his hands, as it released a free flow.
“It’s all my fault,” Funmi cried.
“It’s no one’s fault. This is a world disaster. We are all fighting against it.” Kayode held her closer, hugging her to him, her head on his chest as he stroked her hair. “The world is fighting something it doesn’t understand, and I will rather be by your side in this fight. I believe strongly that together, we can fight to win.”
“Why are you such a nice guy?” Funmi asked softly, enjoying the strength of his broad chest against her smaller frame.
“I’m not really a nice guy. I am a nice guy for you, Funmi. I won’t do this for just anyone. Remember what I told you yesterday? You are special. Please believe it.
Kayode’s phone rang, interrupting the moment. He pulled it out of his pocket, still rocking Funmi against his chest. He would have ignored the call, but it could be James with some news about Funmi’s test results, so he checked.
It was not James calling with news about Funmi’s test results. The caller ID on his phone read, “Mummy MTN.”Damn Soji! Egungun has finally entered express!