Me, I have no special holidays. Christmas, New Year Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, not even my Birthday which I always remember when someone wishes me “Happy Birthday in arrears”.
Certainly, and most definitely, I don’t do “All Fools Day”. Everyday is a day to fool around. Maybe that is why I always got punk’d on Every April 1st. This year, I had made plans. I have marked April 1 on my calender to “be wary of punksters” and to “punk first before you are punked”. I was really on guard. I couldn’t wait for the new day to begin to launch my fool-proof plans for April Fools. Once it clocked 12 O’Clock midnight I made a mental note to not take any call from an unknown number, or a hidden caller ID. The memory of how I got punk’d with a phone call last year is still very fresh, and the wound to my pride still open and hurting:
On April 1st, 2012, just a few minutes past midnight, it was a weather-for-two as it had rained earlier. Oluchi called me up with a private number, said she was back in Nigeria, and that she just got home. She asked to see me “now, now” that I must come over to her house or never talk to her evermore. Oluchi’s house is just opposite mine, across the street. I am not in the habit of going out at that witching hour, but the excited urgency in my babe’s voice was a great impetus to go. I slipped on the pair combat short I’d worn the previous day, don a clean T-shirt, checked my breath, unimpressed with it, (regretfully I don’t brush before going to bed; waste of toothpaste it is) I don’t use mouth sprays, so I had none handy (regretfully) I made a mental note not to kiss when I see Oluchi. I slipped my feet into my bathroom slippers, and snuck out of my room, groped in the dark and finding the keys to the front door and the gates, tip-toed out, in the dull beam of my phone’s backlight. The dogs- Snoop and Missy-E- seemed to understand with me, they didn’t start jumping on me like they are wont to do when they get excited seeing me every morning. They just raised their heads, wagged their tails briefly, and went back to sleep as if bored with the sneaky idiot. The sight of one of their humans out at that ungodly hour of night didn’t seem strange to them. Of course Peremo does it all the time, Sekih does too, sometimes. But I never done that before.
I managed to open the small back gate without the creaks and groans waking up the quietened neighbourhood. I walked right into the hands of one of the OPC vigilante men on guard that night. While I was still explaining the emergency to the dane-gun-wielding night-guard, who I was actually familiar with, the phone rang again. That should convinced the baba, but he didn’t look convinced as he let me off.
The seduction-ladden, but time-lagged, voice of Oluchi was asking me to make haste and to call her as soon as I got to her gate, and to not bother to press the bell or knock. I said “I hear you”. I got to Oluchi’s gate, my expectations were so very high that an erection had started to build inside my knickers. I realised that I hadn’t come away with condoms. “Well, she hadn’t mentioned Sex, but you just never know what may happen the next minute. I should be prepared for any inventuality.
I dialled Oluchi’s number, MTN said the number I was trying to call is switched off, to please try again later. I kept trying without success, until I decided to knock at Oluchi’s gate. She don’t live alone, she lives with her folks, though independently like me. Knocking or tolling the bell should raise hell and blow my cover in the midnight tryst, but I got saved by the metaphorical bell- my phone rang: caller Unknown, it was Oluchi, and she said “%@&÷* FOOL”, I said “sorry honey but your line is breaking…” She repeated “April Fool. I’m still in the States till December… Gotcha”.
My tail between my leg, I scampered back to my house, very unamused. The distance between our two houses seemed to have lengthened enigmatically at that crazed moment, as I dragged my suddenly-heavy legs away. I only hoped no one got that on tape. And I hoped she don’t broadcast the scam. She never did. She don’t even seem to remember the incidence since she came back to Nigeria. She’d gotten preoccupied with other things that don’t include romance with me. I still smart under the blow to my ego, and so this year, I thought to have my own back. I had premeditated the punk on one of my recent dates- Shakirat.
Shakirat: We live no very far apart, but I have not seen the very sweet Yoruba Chic for-how-long-now? Sweet Shakirat never gets tired of calling me every single day (I do call her back shaa, as much as possible). Every evening, she would invite me to her house to meet her folks, but I keep assuring her that I would come over with flowers the next day. I actually meant to honour the invites, but I have not been able to make it yet.
Yesterday, as soon at it was 12:00 am on 01/04/13, I said “game on”. I have watched and waited for the plan to hatch till the count-down to launch was completed. I dialled Shakirat’s number from the previous day’s call record. The network worked perfectly and I was surprised, thinking the face-off between MTN and Glo had improved afteral. There, “Shakirat has changed her ring-back-tone”, I thought in error as the sleepy strange voice said:
“Haalo, Chris…, halo…”.
I didn’t take any chance, I said cheerily:
“Shakira-Shakira, I am at the front of your house o, can you come outside now?
“Chris, shey you are doing me April fooling ni…? Is okay, I will call you tomorrow, ayam sleeping, bye-bye”.
Beep-beep, the line was dead. It had sounded like MTN’s ring-back tone, and that voice was not prey, Shakirat’s, by any chance. Something was wrong, and I was imagining what it might be.
I checked the number I have dialled, it was “Yorubachic Shadiat” and not “Yorubachic Shakirat”. It dawned on me that I had called up Shola instead of Shakirat. Shadiat number was in my call register next to Shakirat’s. The previous day, I had called her when I finished speaking with Shakirat, to wish her a late Happy Easter. Both Shakirat and Shadiat’s contacts looks similar and were together in the call register. I had dialled the wrong prey.
I dialled the correct contact for Shakirat and it connected on the 5th try. It can be that dauntingly hard to connect Glo with MTN. I waited and heard Shakirat’s ever-enthusiastic voice:
“Chris, My Husband, you can do free midnight call with MTN to Glo ni…?”
I almost screamed “shut your big mouth and listen, b****” I don’t know where the frustration was coming from, but I mellowed quickly and said (putting the usual sweetness in my voice):
“Ehm… Shaky, listen, this is not about free midnight call. Are you home?”
“Okay listen. I am in front of your house, can you come out now?”
Almost, instantaneously came her excited reply:
“APRIL FOOL… (Raucous, derisive laughter)”
Fiat, I pulled the phone away from my ear as if the thing had sprouted fangs all of a suddenly. I ended the call. She called back, but I wouldn’t take her call, then I got a text from her thanking me for the call. So much for my April Fool pranks.
All morning, yesterday, I was in a skeptical mode. Nobody could punk me. I was wary I was cynical. I was on code red alert for punks.
The Little Monsters lay siege to my fortitude. The attempts to derail me from my defiant stance were coming, like, every 20 to 30 minutes. The boys- Chukwuteim and Juniour wouldn’t give up:
“Broda Christo, your money is on the floor!”
“Broda Christo look! rat under your chair!”
“Broda Christo your lappy is missing!”
“Broda Christo, there is smoke coming out from your room”
The melodrama had began to get absurdly predictable and boring. The boys were waxing ridiculous at every interval. But, eh! young boys are imbued with spirits of persistence. They don’t seem to know when they are losing to quit. Unrelenting, they were, in their mischievous attacks on my Grown-Up forbearance.
I got myself riveted to writing on my BB notepad. I actually switched the boy off at a point, ignoring them completely. They went away for about 20 or 30 minuites, and were back. Appearing without warning. They were tapping me on the shoulder and thigh, urgently; the Two Aki and Pawpaw incarnates, Chukwuteim and Juniour: my impish little cousins.
“… cockroach is eating your books… books… cockroach… eating… books… your books… books… books !”.
They cried in a confusion that got to me. But my somnolent brain took a brief moment to process the information.
I heard myself say before by brain had reached a logical conclusion. They burst into fits of laughter, and I laughed with them. I won again. And the world was alright. Whoever said “April Fool” first wins a round of the Let’s Punk Him Game. Those devils were playing as it if they invented it. I was their punching-bag and fall guy. Good Lord!
I settled deeper into the sofa, and returned to pinching the keys of the BB, my mind not really of the letters, words, spaces, sentences and punctuation, as they appeared with the dexterity of my busy thumbs. I was still vilifying the Little Monsters in my mind when Fortune, entered, walked up to me and reported:
“Bros… Bros, I no know wetin dey do Missy o… She no fit stand up, I call her name she no respond sef”
That pricked my ears. I physically felt my ears extend and twitched. Missy-E was my female Alsatian. She is overdue for her appointment with the veteniary doctor, and I have been negligent. The Alsatian breed of dog are hardy beasts, but Missy-E is peculiarly vulnerable. The boy has never been the dog’s best friend, but the look of consternation on his teenage face told a convincing tale of woe.
“No wonder I no hear her bark since…”
I begun to say, but I was so galvanised into action that I didn’t hear the rest of my own sentence.
Normally the well-cusioned sofa is a little draggy to get out off in a hurry, but I was off it in a jiffy: the clichê “like a cat on hot bricks” made sense that time. I guess I was still in mid-air when I cleared the glass table at the centre of the living room. I will make a good 300-meter hurdles Athlete someday. I was in the kitchen already, Fortune, hot on my flying heels, shouting at me, something which my turmoiled mind did not register.
“Oh God… Jesus… Mother of God…!” and some unintelligible babbles that may have been in Arabic, spurts from my mouth. I was out of the kitchen, racing to the backyard on legs of flywheels. Everything seem blurred around me. The barbecue machine slowed me down as I crashed into it when I made the sharp-corner turn to the back where the doghouse was. I was extricating my self from the tangle of wire-mesh, cold-ash, unburnt charcoal a gas cylinder and the knick-knack of out-door grill, when I heard:
“…fool… fool… April Fool”
Everyone was having a swell time laughing at my expense. The bedlam must have aggravated the bitch as she burst into spasmodic fits of healthy barks. Sounding like heaven’s orchestra to my relieved ears.
I really acted the part: The Fool Of April. I joined in the laughing spree when I got my wits back. “Nice one, nice one”. It was a while before the raucous mirth subsided. I was back in the sofa, writing on my BB and it was 12:00 pm. Shame on me.
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