THE SOUR ORANGE

For some days now, one of my daily tasks included taking care of a friend who had been feeling very sick but insists on not going home to see her parents who would at least take care of her more than we would do. I have not been feeling too strong myself, I had scheduled appointments with a hospital several times but kept postponing. I needed to be strong for someone else. Truth be told, I had never given much attention to someone before and this wasn’t because I wanted to but because I felt it was a responsibility on my part since I was the only scapegoat around at those times who would take care of her.

At some point, she would be behaving like a pregnant woman! I didn’t know so much how pregnant women act though until one of the medical persons we went to see implied it. Once anything enters her mouth she feels like throwing up, she was very picky about what enters her mouth. Instead of normal water, she would prefer hot water. We shared somethings in common though…

Whenever I don’t feel so strong, I’d prefer taking non-sweetened pap all the time and I would prefer sour-tasting stuff like plain yoghurt, sour orange and non-sweetened salad. Since I exhibit those characters being a man, I was sceptical with the notion that she was pregnant but at other times I wanted to believe it. The funny part was that they were guessing we were couples and that part got my head swelling.

Let me tell you a little secret about me: when I go to public places with a female, I enjoy people thinking “aww… Such young sweet couples!” The other time, I travelled to a city with a female friend, we went on research concerning a programme we hoped would be hosted by the city and when we went to eat in a restaurant, the waiters thought we were couples and I started acting along. I remember making statements like “since we got married, she has refused to eat beans, so don’t add beans to her plate.” I left the place that day with the waiters admiring me for taking such a great step at this young age. The only time I don’t act along is when I am not happy, I only do it as fun.

I am sure they may all go home that day wishing their boyfriends would propose outrightly to them not knowing that the young man they admire was single and would still be single many years later. Acting married whenever I have someone with me is my thing! Perhaps, because I have always dreamed of getting married as a young man or because I enjoy the accolades. Unfortunately, I am getting old and marriage still remains a kind of shady to me.

I also remember another time I met a young beautiful lady who had a baby, we were very close friends before she got married. I carried her baby as we walked along the street, someone behind us guessed to her neighbour that we were couples… The broad smile on my face was heavenly!

Scratch that…

So, I was at the pharmacy with this my friend when she excused herself to go vomit in the restroom. One of the beautiful attendants sneaked up to me and suggested: “Sir, I think your wife is pregnant…”I smiled, buckled up the actor in me and replied calmly “that would be good news if I am expecting a baby but do me a favour… When she comes out of the loo, ask her if she is pregnant or if it’s likely that she would be pregnant.” She smiled and responded, “I like your wife o, hope you’ve not been hard on her since she started experiencing this?” I smiled but didn’t respond again because the sick girl had walked out of the restroom and I didn’t want her to catch up with what we were saying.

To cut the long story short, “are you pregnant?” was a funny question to her, though she felt too weak to laugh, she chuckled, dragged herself to a seat and sat quietly, resting a side against the wall. Honestly writing, I started seeing pregnancy all over her, all her moves and display of weakness started interpreting “pregnancy” to me… She might have some explanation to make! I guess she had thought of the words to use for a while, she didn’t have the strength to say so much and she must make good use of few words to say so much! She garnered courage, looked the attendant in the face and said “I can only be pregnant if God was looking for another Mary and found me worthy… You should be getting ready for the second coming of Jesus.” That settled it, I didn’t allow her to speak more before she ruins the beautiful admiration I was already receiving as a young husband.

An elderly man who was observing us came closer to me, he had come to pick some supplements for himself. I could see the love in his eyes! He dipped a hand in his pocket, brought two thousand naira note and said to me “please accept this from me, add to the one you already have to spend on her health. Be strong for her…” I was excited but I didn’t want to show it, it was two thousand bucks. I pretended like I didn’t want to take it initially but in my heart, I was pleading with his Spirit not to change his mind. He pleaded with me to accept it from him and I obliged. I appreciated him, he smiled and walked away. The smile on his face was loud and it read “what a beautiful couple!” At least, I was compensated for acting well. As though it was God that sent him, the bills became much that we needed what he gave us to complete it.

Coincidentally, I was in full black wear. I had a black shirt on black jean trouser and she was on a black native gown. Mehn, I guess this was what made my acting so real. You would have seen me trying to be a caring husband, I have always been caring by default but this time I added few scripts to the reality show.

Well, it was later diagnosed to be worm infection! First, she received an injection to stop her from puking, she was also given drugs to get rid of the worms. She had lost so much fluid and needed a quick replacement. We got all those things sorted out and I walked out of the pharmacy with her, winning the admiration of those around.

I learnt something that day. When we assume certain things, it begins to appear like they are real to us. They suggested she was pregnant, I accepted the assumption and all the moves she made seemed to agree with the assumptions but we ended up being wrong. I remember my very young days, I was told repeatedly that I looked like a monkey, I paid attention to it and when I look in the mirror, I would see the striking resemblance! Until I had convinced myself that I was handsome, I lived in inferiority! Throughout secondary school, I never wanted to appear in any picture because I believed I didn’t look as good as others. Now, I take selfies and post them with reckless abandon because I feel good about myself regardless of what people think.

She wanted Orange, I wanted Orange too and we were both looking for oranges with a sour taste and not the sweet ones. Who does that? Every orange seller was busy shouting “sweet sweet orange, buy your sweet orange here!” But we were busy looking for “sour orange.” We approached one Hausa orange seller whose oranges looked very green. From the appearance, we would sense the sour taste.

“Aboki, we want sour orange. Hope yours isn’t sweet?” I asked as we approached him. He looked at us in mistrust, he was confused and didn’t know what to say. I could read his face, he was scared that it was a technique we were using to inspect if his orange wasn’t good. I asked him to cut one open so that we can taste but he was flinching. To encourage him, I handed a hundred naira note to him and asked him to do what I said. We tasted it, it was truly sour as we had wanted it and we bought from him. He handed us the oranges with surprises on his face. While people were looking for “sweet sweet oranges” we were looking for sour oranges.

Sometimes, what seems to be rejected becomes desirable! At that moment, sweet orange was a bad product for us and anyone marketing “sour Orange” would have been a good customer to us. I left the Hausa man with this thought in me, I don’t know exactly what morals I would say that I learnt from that experience but I know it was stuck in my head till I got home and started typing this.

Although what you have may not be what is commonly desired by the majority, there would be few persons who will treasure it and they may have been walking about, searching for you! You may not see them just because you’re too scared that it won’t be accepted, you may either lie about what you have or hide it from those who truly want it.

There are some characters of yours that would be regarded as bad by some people and there are few persons out there looking for someone with such character. This is not to encourage bad characters but no character is bad if you learn how to manage and display it positively.

We once had a lady in our organisation who always bares her mind in very unusual ways and she speaks up without reserve. This was who she was and she wasn’t hiding it even when a lot of us didn’t like it. One day, we were running some sells that would help us raise money for charity and she sold more than all of us who were reserved in speech. While we would tell people “please, if you purchase this, you are helping our organisation reach out to people because the profits are channelled to our reach out programs”. She was using a different approach like ” Oga… Are you walking out on me? Do you have a conscience at all? Don’t you know we are young people who depend on your donations to reach out to others? Oya, come here and buy this thing! Are you leaving it for me to eat it?”

Guess what? Majority of the people found it funny, some even dropped extra cash for her and she generated more sales than all of us put together. That day, I realized that what we call bad can be converted to good. This was how “sour orange” became a treasure to us with regards to the circumstance that we found ourselves.

Hope you enjoyed my little story?

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