The story started with “In Thr33s: Lessons From The Future“
Mr Oladele’s words struck a chord within MEO’s sub-conscious and the ensuing vibration seemed to blur out every other activity of that day. As time went on, MEO noticed his dad’s bloated love for proverbial speech. In six short months after his 18th birthday, he couldn’t count how many of such talks he had “survived”. The boy had heard his dad say “every man should have three sets of eyes: one in front of his head, one within his skull and one in his guts”. He had also heard “Son, the world is in three tiers; the third, being reserved for those who acknowledge the limitations of the first two”, in the sober moments following a nerve-wrecking game in which they both prayed for their team to win. Still, it didn’t appear like his dad was done; unknown to him, there was one lesson his dad wanted him to learn – even if it cost a fortune!
MEO could hardly believe his luck when, without lobbying, his dad opted to take him along on a business trip to Dubai. Such a gesture was usually reward for exemplary behavior – which wasn’t particularly his forte! Mid-way through the flight, he kept asking himself if it was all a dream. Whatever the case, it was one dream he didn’t want to wake from in a hurry. There was much to gist about, at first, but things got quieter after a while. Admittedly, they both ran out of gist-topics and the flight began to appear long to MEO. When the pilot eventually announced their descent, the news was welcomed with a huge sigh from him. Just as he re-adjusted his seat into position, he locked eyes with his dad, who obviously had been waiting for that moment. Mr Oladele wore that familiar pensive look as he opened his mouth. “Every flight – no matter how long – has only three phases: take-off, cruise and landing. This, is by far the most important of them. Every flight must end; it’s never about when. It’s how: touchdown or knockdown? Son, remember that”. The lad was, however, too distracted by the cramps in his legs to do any more than store the words away; he really couldn’t process the lot. Everything on his mind was centred around having a memorable holiday!
Sometime later, shortly before he turned 19, MEO was heading to his hostel when a high-pitched “hello” caught his ear from behind. He turned in a flash, and his eyes made contact with the most graceful being he had ever seen. And, to his delight, she was striding semi-hurriedly towards him. He didn’t even wait to find out what she was about before seeing himself in a romantic Bollywood scene. The premature “intermission” – in the form of another high-pitched utterance – quickly brought him back to reality.
“Hi. I’m Yetunde. Sorry to bother you but I was away from school for a few weeks – and I really could use a good ECN note. Pardon my being so direct”.
“It’s okay. The directness suits me just fine. I don’t usually give out my notes to people I’m just meeting but the weather today says ‘exceptions’, so why not? By the way, my name’s Musa”.
He had, all the while, been reading her mannerisms; he just could tell when a girl found him attractive. The book was already out of his bag and extended in her direction when MEO decided to push his luck. As she reached cheerfully for it, he withdrew his hand behind him.
“I’m gonna need some collateral. Room- or phone number”, he said. She gave him both – but not until they had exchanged a string of funny-faces! Yetunde was a beauty by all standards and just about any excuse to call such a girl welcome. Of course, MEO had other plans. What he overlooked, however, would come back to haunt him.
Time revealed the attraction was mutual. As such, voicing out his feelings wasn’t much of a task. After a while, though, he began to grow tired of not getting a direct response from her. She liked him; that couldn’t be more obvious, but what was all the silence about? Did she have someone else? His mind was still on the issue when his phone rang. Any passer-by could tell he had been waiting on that call. MEO’s anxiety took on a more opaque form when Yetunde said she had something to tell him. “Yes” was all he expected to hear but when they finally met that evening, his subtle smirk was quickly wiped off. She had come wearing burdened look. A confused MEO just couldn’t place that look and a thousand things ran through his mind before he finally spoke up.
“What’s wrong, Yates?”
One could see she had some trouble picking where to start – but on MEO’s cue, she soberly unloaded.
“MEO, you’re a great guy; a guy every girl would be proud of. I’ve not put off giving you a response to second-guess my feelings for you. I just didn’t want to start something I wouldn’t be able to finish”.
“What are you going on about”, MEO cut in
“Remember how we met? The reason I skipped school then was to go and finalize my travel arrangements. My family’s moving to the UK – long-term! My dad earlier said it would be next year; then he called to say he only wanted to keep us focused in school. I’m sorry, MEO”. She was now battling hard to keep the tears back.
“When will you be leaving”, he muttered, trying to sound distant
“Next tuesday, but Mom says to be back home by Friday”
“You’re off in three days?”, he exclaimed
“I’m sorry”, she said shakily, as another large silver bead formed in her eye.
“It shouldn’t have to be your fault. I perfectly understand”, MEO said slowly, mildly squeezing her hand. “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then. Gotta run now; some of us still have ECN assignments to deal with”, he continued, trying to flash a half-smile as a stubborn tear-drop climbed over.
They both understood his last statement was a necessary lie; he just needed a breather to align his thoughts – and emotions. Their feelings had all the right ingredients; all they needed was time together. Now, they had to let each other go just like that! It took the better part of a full day before they spoke again – and by then, lots of tears had been let out. They had both become better braced for the inevitable. Still, it was only logical for them to spend as much time as they could together before being torn apart – “forever”.
That morning, MEO put his academic life on hold and saw her off to the park. He tried very hard not to cry; she, on the other hand, didn’t see much point in trying. She was going to miss him – and the tears were the only consolation afforded her. As MEO watched her bus take-off, he could feel a cold vacuum forming within him. He knew it would be a long while before another like her came along.
One night, about a year later, he was having one of those dreams of her where things didn’t end so abruptly when something woke him. He really couldn’t tell what it was, but he was way too annoyed to find he had been dreaming to care. After a quick glance at his watch, tears again began to pour down his face. It was the morning of his 20th birthday and just about the same time his dad woke him up two years back. There was now no chance of that ever happening again. Alas, Mr Oladele passed on shortly after MEO turned 19; and, from such a loss, it was too soon to think of healing. He had not only lost the greatest dad he ever knew, he had lost the best man he ever met. As he flashed back over the past few years, the details flooded his mind – and eyes! What kind of cursed ailment took his dad away? How could he have known his 19th birthday would be the last he’d share with his father? If he did know, would he have done anything differently? Could he really live with the reality of never seeing his dad again? No, Yetunde could never have filled such a void – but she certainly would have helped, somehow. Now, she too may never be seen again! The tears just kept pouring down. In the moments before falling back asleep, his father’s last words scrolled across his mind – again: “Equity, Integrity, Karma”.
He had heard on many occasions not to take a man’s last words with levity – but these were a little too broad for him. What did his dad really mean? He woke from that sleep determined to search out the contents of that vault of words. Consequently, his life took on a more thoughtful outlook. Determined to build for himself god-like integrity, he began to consider his every word a promise. He was no longer to guy to be drawn into frivolous talk. “Fun”, for him, was now a prescription drug: not to be administered unless required. All this he did in hopes that, one day, there would be a total revelation of the meanings of those words – and maybe his true mission on earth. In time, the pain of losing his father began to recede. Time, however, heals wounds as surely as unseen desires erode passion.
After some time, it began to feel like the “mighty revelation” was nothing but a fairytale; his zeal began to wane. Was there really any point to it? Why should one deny himself the pleasures of youth in the search for something that may not exist? He had had enough of that futile jaunt; it was time for a new approach.
By graduation, he had almost been totally won over by friends he once wouldn’t associate with. So drastic was the turn-around that he spent the graduation night hanging out with people he once called “heroes of the wine-bottle”. As he staggered back into his room after the hangout, his father’s last words ran through his mind again. He paused for a brief moment; his mind feigning the old man’s voice: “someday you will understand, but not today. Not today, son“. He smiled as though that were some consolation, jumped on his bed and conked out!
In this new line, and with more time on his hands than ever before, the next few years saw the emergence of the “social” MEO. Though it wasn’t hard to see that his heart hosted a grand battle between good and evil, he sometimes he made it too easy; letting popular opinion fix the pivot. If everyone around was drinking, “okay“. Everyone around was having sexual commitments, so “okay“. In just a little while, he had become a warped image of the man his father raised. He was on a lost course – and only he appeared unaware of the dangers of his new ways. Nobody seemed able to get through to him. Something, though, was about to triumph where humans had failed.
Eight months after MEO quit his first job, he was still unable to get another he could be proud of! Understandably, desperation began to set in; its flames fanned furiously by all the employment gist the hangout spots exposed him to. The tree of envy within him grew greener with the mention of any new job acquisition – especially if the people involved were his juniors in school. He just couldn’t understand why he could never get past first interviews. “Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places”, he thought. The new strategy had been to dump the newspapers he always combed – for a full-time online job-hunt. To him, the online porn was added incentive; something the “stupid” newspapers seemed to always leave out!
The story continues with “In Thr33s: Friend or Foe“