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Added: Sep 06
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Prisoner Of Love - Season 1 - Episode 2
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IT WAS A SUNNY Wednesday afternoon. Tomiwa, who was taking a distance learning course at the University of Lagos, had left his office that afternoon to complete his registration for a new academic session in the school. Being a Wednesday, he wore a starched light blue shirt and a pair of customised cufflinks which had the bank’s logo crested on them. That was the dress code for his bank for Wednesdays. He left his jacket and tie in the car so as not to look too officious. He joined a queue to collect the receipt of his school fees which he would need for the other stages of the registration process. Unknown to him, two beauty eyes had noticed him from one of the inner offices when he arrived to join the queue.

A few minutes later he was through and was heading to the Registrar’s office when he heard a voice behind him, “Excuse me.” He realised it was the voice of a lady who was smiling at him by the time he turned around.

“Yes? Good afternoon.” He answered, squeezing his eyes a little trying to remember where he knew her.

“You are in Accounting Department … 300 level … Class C. Right?” She asked.

“Ye … Ye … Yes.” He answered struggling to hide the shock in his eyes and still trying to remember who she was but it wouldn’t click—he was still unable to place it.

Unfortunately for him, she sensed the surprise in his eyes and seeming to be enjoying the ‘game’, she smiled and continued, “You also work with Hero Bank, don’t you?”

“Yeah!” This time he was completely caught unawares and could no longer hide the surprise. ‘Who the hell is this lady?’ He thought to himself. His heart began pounding heavily. How could a total stranger know so much about him? Was someone stalking him? He, however, picked up himself almost immediately and forced out a smile.

“But how come you know all these information about me, if I may ask?”

“That’s simple.” She smiled again. “Today is Wednesday and you are wearing a light blue shirt with a pair of Hero Bank cufflinks. That’s Hero Bank’s dress code for Wednesdays. I know this because I am also a staff of Hero Bank. And I know you are in Accounting Department because we are in the same class—I’m also in Class C.” She explained fluently.



“Oh, I see.” He sounded relieved now; the tension suddenly disappeared.

“How come you know me so well and I don’t even have the slightest idea of who you are? So funny.” And without waiting for her response he answered the question himself. “Well, maybe it’s because I don’t attend classes regularly.”

“Same here. I only do once in a while too. It’s just that I have seen you a couple of times in class on those occasions I came around. You know how our job is now? We don’t really have time.”

“You are absolutely right.”

“Anyway, my name is Rachael and I’m with Surulere Branch.” She introduced herself, stretching out her hand for a handshake.

“I’m Tomiwa Lawson; Ikeja Branch. It’s my pleasure meeting you.” He replied as they shook hands. Something suddenly crept into his mind. “Hmmm … where you at Yaba College of Technology, Accountancy 2004 set?”

“Yes, I was.” She replied a little puzzled. Is the table turning already? She began to wonder.

“Full Time?” He chipped in.

“Nope, I did part-time.”

“Oh-oh, you resembled a classmate of mine and I thought you were her but we were full-time students.” He explained.

“Well, that’s a coincidence. It’s my pleasure meeting you too.”

“So, have you collected your receipts?” He enquired.

“No oh, don’t mind them jare. They asked me to check back next week. That means I can’t proceed to the next stage till then.” She answered a little disappointed.

“Eyah! Sorry. I just collected mine.” He said consolingly.

“That’s nice. It means you are now a step ahead of me.” She quipped and added, “Oh, I gotta go. Take care.”

“Bye.” He said waving at her as they parted ways. He kept wondering how strange the world could be at times. How could a lady he had not even noticed before know so much about him? He didn’t bother asking for her phone number because he never thought of pursuing the friendship any further. It was simply a chance meeting and it was to be left at that. Nothing more! After about another two hours or so, he was through for the day and headed back to the office.

It was later that Tomiwa got to know that Rachael had noticed him immediately he joined the queue and found him irresistible. So, she couldn’t help but muster up the boldness to walk up to him to strike a conversation at least. Surprisingly, that was uncharacteristically her. She had never taken such a bold step before because she was the shy type. As a matter of fact, as she parted ways with Tomiwa, she could hardly believe that she of all persons had just done what she did! Had anybody told her few hours before then that she would walk up to a guy on her own volition, and initiated a discussion she would have shrugged it off as nonsense. ‘Where on earth did that courage come from?’ She wondered. “Wow! That guy must have gotten some powerful magnetic pull in him that made me defy the shyness in me!” She said to herself in an undertone still a little puzzled. As she lingered on the thought, other things slowly crept into her mind and gradually she forgot all about the young man that made her head spin in circles.

Some days later, Tomiwa found out that he had not been able to forget the lady as easily as he thought he would. But still, he had no intention of starting a relationship with her. Hell no! He couldn’t marry anyone outside his religion and he was sure Rachael didn’t belong to his religion. At the same time, he couldn’t explain why something inside him kept drawing him to her. But how could he contact her even if he wanted to? He didn’t collect her contact details the day they met. This desire was strange even to him because he wasn’t the type that got easily carried away by women no matter how beautiful. How could this be different?

While he was still thinking of how to contact her, he stumbled on a brilliant idea. Didn’t she say her name was Rachael and her branch was in Surulere? Perfect! He could use the office intra-mail to search for her name and then send her a mail! But wait a minute. He didn’t even know her surname and there were about four branches in Surulere. ‘What happens if there are several Rachaels in the system?’ He thought. Nevertheless, without waiting to be overtaken by the negative thought, he opened his mail box, type ‘Rachael’ in the search box and hit the search button. The search returned three names in no time: Rachael Jackson, Rachael Omotola Alakija, and Rachael Ngozi Nnamdi. How was he going to solve the puzzle? He let out a heavy sigh and sank back into his seat rubbing his chin with his forefinger as he stared at the computer with his eyes a little sq££zed. It was the posture of someone trying to decipher the secret to a puzzle.

After thinking for a while he resorted to using the elimination method. At least, all those jargons they taught them in Mathematics back then in school could be put to a practical use for once! He had often wondered what correlation the mathematical jargons had with the real world but now he had found one. He concluded that the lady he met couldn’t be a Yoruba lady given her look and accent. Hence, she definitely was not Rachael Omotola Alakija. But she could be any of the remaining two. Further complicating the matter, both of them had their branches located in Surulere! He was stuck once more.

He opted for Rachael Jackson after much deliberation. He composed a mail introducing himself as the boy she met some days earlier in Unilag. He said he wanted to find out how she was doing and if she had been able to collect her school receipt. He wasn’t sure what the response would be like since he wasn’t even sure if he was sending it to the right person in the first place. He sent it anyway—it was worth trying.

The much awaited response came about ten minutes after he sent the mail. Actually, those ten minutes were like ten hours to him. He kept checking his mail box every minute with great anticipation and every time the reply wasn’t there he felt great disappointment. It was understandable how happy he felt when the reply eventually dropped into his inbox. He became happier when he read it and discovered that he had sent it to the right person! The response showed that Rachael was very excited to hear from him. Perhaps, she too had been thinking of how to get in touch with him. She was surprised at how he managed to reach her and didn’t hesitate to ask in her response.

He responded to her mail immediately. Nothing was more important at the moment; every other thing could wait. He explained that all he did was to take a calculated guess and teased, “Well, I just believed that even if you were the wrong person the worst that could happen was that you would stretch your hand out of the monitor and land a dirty slap on my face, and I would have rubbed the cheek. You wouldn’t have shot me anyway. Would you?” She found his mail so amusing and said as much in her reply that followed. She was already finding him interesting. For the rest of the day, they kept exchanging mails talking about different topics. They talked about their ‘Residential Programme’ and their forthcoming examinations, the time-table of which was already out. They also talked about when they would commence their respective leave from office so as to be able to attend the programme.

The ‘Residential’ period was usually a four to six weeks period when the distance learning students, most of whom were matured married men and women, were camped on the campus for intensive lectures. It normally climaxed with the sessional examinations. The school authorities included this in the programme so that the distance learning students could have a feel of campus life.

About a week later, the ‘Residential’ period came and the distance learning students moved into the various hostels assigned to them. The period used to be very intensive and stressful. Lectures could start as early as seven o’clock in the mornings and continued till late in the evenings with only one hour break. It was also the period when tests were written and various group assignments were given. Students would clog the library and classes reading over the night especially when the examinations started. It was usually especially stressful for the likes of Tomiwa and Rachael who would hardly have recovered from the stress of their tedious work before having to grapple with the intensity of the period. Also, they usually had more to cover because they would have missed many of the regular lectures. Nonetheless, the period came with its own side attractions like shows, sporting events, and parties too.

In no time, the examinations started and Tomiwa and Rachael wrote most of their papers in the same hall. Yet there wasn’t time to see each other because there were so much to do and cover. The schedule was really tight. However, as the examinations neared their end, the schedule became more and more flexible allowing time for some social activities.

One particular afternoon, Tomiwa was sleeping in his bunk after writing a paper earlier in the morning. He was very tired because he was awake all night burning the midnight oil. He was suddenly awakened by the noise and vibration of his ringing smart phone. He picked it up and his eyes shone with excitement. The sleep disappeared instantly. It was Rachael.

“Hello …” He answered, “How was your paper today?”

“It was fine … and yours?” Responded the beautiful voice on the other side and then continued, “Tommy, can I ask you a question, please?”

“Well, feel free provided you are not asking for my head.” He teased.

“Ah-ah! Tommy, you know I’m not that wicked.” She chuckled.

“Okay ooo, I’m just pulling your legs anyways. Please go ahead, I’m all ears.” He replied smiling.

“Tommy … hmmm … I just want to know what your religion is.” She asked.

“I am a Christian … and why did you ask?” He asked, sensing the great anticipation in her voice.

“Nothing really. Just being curious.” She replied and continued after a brief pause, “If you don’t mind … what denomination of Christianity?”

When Tomiwa told her she screamed with joy. Tomiwa could picture her jumping up and throwing both hands in the air like someone who just won a lottery.

Overwhelmed with joy, she spoke the next set of words so quickly as if the words would vanish if not spoken in time. “Do you know that I’m one of your members too?”

“Woooooow! Seriously?!” That was what came out of Tomiwa’s mouth. He was too surprised that he wasn’t sure if he was truly awake or still sleeping and perhaps dreaming. He had to pinch himself before he realised that he wasn’t sleeping. This was actually happening!

“It was Uche that told me but I didn’t believe him … we were just talking when he mentioned it.” She was breathing heavily now. “I … I … I … said it couldn’t be true and I asked him if he was really sure it was my Tommy … oh, sorry … the Tomiwa I knew. He said, ‘Yes, the same Tomiwa that works with Hero Bank.’ At that point, I … I … just picked up my phone to confirm from you.”

Tomiwa didn’t need a soothsayer to know that she was obviously happy at the news. He too was extremely happy. This singular news could be a great game changer for both of them. It could redefine the very direction of their relationship. Little wonder they were both excited about the news. This might be the beginning of good tidings. Before now, though the two of them had come to like each other, they never believed the relationship could go beyond ordinary friendship and classmates because of likely religious difference. But with this news all that might change.

“Oh, Jeeeez! This is amazing. Do you know it never occurred to me that we could be members of the same religious organisation? I’m so happy knowing that you are my spiritual sister after all.” He laughed as he said it.

“Yes ooo, same here. I have to go now. Talk to you later.” She concluded and ended the call.

Tomiwa went back to sleep but his eyes could not get hold of sleep. The thought of Rachael and the news he just heard had forced the sleep out of his eyes. Lying on his back with his hands clasped behind his head and eyes fixed on the spinning ceiling fan above his head, these thoughts kept lingering on his mind. He was still thinking about her when something flashed across his mind like lightning. With one swift acrobatic movement, he jumped out of bed and shouted without realising it, “YESSSSS! Finally, it has clicked. I get it now!”

Fortunately for him, he was the only one in the room otherwise his roommates would have thought he was losing his mind due to the stress of the last few weeks!
He picked up his phone and dialled Rachael’s number. The phone didn’t connect and after a long time, he heard a female voice from the other side, “The number you are calling is not available at the moment. Please try again later.” As sweet as the voice sounded it actually irritated Tomiwa.

“Oooooh, Jeeeeeeezzzz!!!” He tried again and this time around it didn’t connect at all…. All he heard was a beeping sound. “Jeeez! What kind of crazy networks do we have in this country?!” He just couldn’t take it anymore. “Ehn? What if this was an emergency; a matter of life and death? Is this how these people would mess one up?” He was becoming restless when he tried it again and this time he heard a sound: Cring! Cring!! The phone was ringing. He smiled.

“Hello, Tommy is anything the matter?” Rachael answered when she picked the call.

“Nothing really. You just asked me some questions, right?” He replied.

“Right.”

“Good. It’s now my turn to ask questions. Hope you don’t mind?”

“No, please go ahead.”

“Thank you. You said you were in Yaba College of Technology, Yabatech, 2004 set, right?”

“Yes.”

“You also said you studied Accountancy, part-time. Correct?”

“Very correct. I said so.”

“Could you by any chance be the beautiful Rachael that was Sister Abigail’s younger sister?”

“Yes, I am.” She answered surprised.

Wonders would never end. The whole thing was taking an interesting turn. At first, she was the one who seemed to have all the information about him when they first met. A few minutes ago, she learnt that they were both members of the same religious organisation, which was highly coincidental. And now the table had turned. He was the one who seemed to have all the information now and she the surprised one! So, he had known her after all and she was not a stranger he had thought she was the first time the met.

Tomiwa continued, “This is wonderful. Do you know that it just clicked now? We were together in Yaba College of Technology. Remember those late nights of rehearsals for our send-forth party then? We were together.”

Rachael was dumb-founded. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her eyes were almost bulging out of their sockets with surprise. All she could do was to cover her mouth with her hand in amazement as she listened to him.

“I remember you composed and directed a song for the party and I was one of those that performed the song for the event. Oh, poor me, I remember going off key several times and you had to correct me.” He paused to laugh at himself but suddenly realised that she had been quiet for some time. He wasn’t sure if she was still there.

“Hello … Hello … Rachael, are you still there?”

“Yes, I am.” She answered in a low voice. “I’m just too surprised to talk.”

The feeling that gushed within the two of them was indescribable. It was a mixture of excitement and strong attraction to each other. The recent revelations had just ignited in them something either of them could describe. It was like a burning fire shut up in their bone marrows.

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