The dialogue

Harold Myers jerked up at the beep of his bedside alarm clock. He didn’t know for how long it must have sounded but when he checked the time, it was 1:30am. It meant there was impending war! Osars was sure going to insult the living daylight out of him. He had to make up a reasonable excuse. He sat up on his mattress and thought for a while. He had to make up something. Anything. When he was through contemplating, he picked up his techno phone.
‘Seven missed calls! My God, na wahala be this o!
He dialed Sisqo’s number. After two rings, Sisqo picked up.
‘Dude, na 12:30 be this?’
‘Abeg no vex. I sleep off ni. How far the others? Has the conference call started?’ Harold asked in his much-too-deep voice.
‘Before nko? Lemme connect you. Boys are not smiling o!’
Sisqo went on hold for a while. Harold clasped the phone to his ears with one hand as he picked up the TV remote control and turned it on with the other. The line came back on. He heard several indistinct voices, then one voice mentioned his name.
‘H-man, I don connect you o.’
‘H-man don come ba? Since morning wey your mates don come here, we no get work ba?’
That had to be Musiliu. He was always known to use hausa terms like ‘ba’ very often when he spoke.
‘Guys abeg no vex. Light no dey. I just get light now na im I take charge my phone now now.’ Harold had it prepared.
‘Dude, I thought you said…’ Sisqo was starting to say.
‘So what’s up guys?’ Harold quickly cut him.
This evil boy wan spoil my parole.
Everyone suddenly went quiet. This was very unusual. They had had conference calls just twice since they became friends in high school. The first was when Bayo failed his second UME and decided not to attempt the examination any longer. He wanted to learn a trade instead. The boys had come together through the only means they could afford – free midnight calls. They talked for four hours, after which Bayo’s mind was completely won over to try again. Now Bayo was in 100level.
The second time was at the news of Sisqo’s mum’s demise. Sisqo, whose real name was Dotun Alex-Oni, was the only child of his millionaire parents. His mum was reported to have died in a plane crash that had no survivors. It was tragic. The boys immediately sent word to one another, excluding Sisqo, to deliberate on how to console and be there for their bereaved friend. They had all traveled down from their different locations for the burial, as concluded.
This time around, most of the guys didn’t really know what was up. They had all gotten a text from Osars, who seemed to be the head of the group of friends, stating that they urgently had to discuss. Though many of them were clueless, they just knew something important had to be up, so they replied the text, saying they were fine with the proposed date and time.
Osamudiamen Odiete (fondly called Osars) broke the silence.
‘Guys, please are we now complete?’
‘I think so.’ Bayo replied sleepily. ‘H-man is here now. Sisqo, Musiliu, Chike, you and me have been around since. So shoot.’
‘I haven’t heard Chike’s voice since o. You sure sey the guy dey here so?’ Harold asked.
‘Chike! Chike!!… where is this dude?’
Chike Ugwuja, the youngest of the six friends, had accidentally fallen asleep. Being a 300level architecture student in the University of Abuja, he was always staying up late during the week in the studio. Friday nights were usually for sleep and nothing else. Even his body understood that, hence the doze-off.
Musiliu called his phone again. His ‘Kukere’ ringtone woke him up.
‘ I’m so sorry guys. I’m very tired. Please let’s quickly end this.’ He said when he had reconnected with the others.
‘Okay guys. I won’t take your time. I just called to say goodbye. I’m leaving.’ Osagie said dryly.
‘Leaving for where exactly?’ Musiliu asked.
‘Leaving this world.’
‘Wha…aat?!’ they answered in unison. Bayo continued, ‘Dude stop kidding, jare.’
‘I can’t joke about something like this. I’m dead serious. And I’m sorry to break it to you guys this way.’
‘What are you even talking about?’ Harold was getting impatient.
‘I have been really sick, guys. I have leukemia and the doctor says I don’t have very much time left. I just got discharged from the hospital, not because I feel better, but because I feel there is no point spending my last days in that sad home where all I smell is death.’ He paused for a while. Musiliu sighed heavily.
‘But why are you just telling us this? For how long have you known?’ Chike sounded really upset.
‘I knew in SS2. I wanted to tell you guys, but I didn’t want to be treated differently. I didn’t want you guys to pity me… so I asked my mum about it and she said I should still hold on.’
Sisqo suddenly began to connect the dots. They used to really love dancing in junior secondary school (from where he earned the nickname Sisqo), in fact that was how they became friends. They used to be the cynosure of all eyes then, but suddenly Osars quit dancing when they became seniors. Sisqo thought pride was the cause, since he was already a school prefect, so he didn’t bother to ask why. Now he knew why.
‘After we left school, I got admitted into FUTO immediately and moved to Owerri. I felt it’d be inappropriate to tell you guys over the phone so I was waiting for the perfect time to see you guys and drop the bomb shell. I fainted twice in school and was brought home to Lagos, but I just didn’t dim it fit to tell you yet. I was already feeling guilty for not saying it earlier so I just kept it to myself…’
‘We met at the burial two years ago, why didn’t you say it then?’ Sisqo asked.
‘It was sad enough that your mum had died. I couldn’t have added to the sadness. It didn’t seem appropriate to bring up the matter at the time.’ Suddenly, Osars began to sniff. His voice sounded teary and Harold couldn’t take it anymore.
‘Why would you guys be asking questions when you should be comforting our man? He’s been through so much, yet you guys question him. That’s terrible.’
‘I can’t still figure this out. It just doesn’t make sense. How will Osars die? No ,this really isn’t happening.’ Musiliu said, also sounding teary.
Chike was just too pissed to talk. He kept sighing and shaking his head, as though anyone was watching.
‘Guys I’m sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me someday. I have to run along now. Mum mustn’t meet me making calls when I should be sleeping, especially not in my condition.’
Everyone just went mum. No one knew what to say or how to say it.
Harold cleared his throat and began to speak.
‘Osars, I love you man. I know sometimes I get really naughty and deliberately piss you off, but that’s because you are my best buddy. That argument we had at the burial about you always wanting to be incharge, I’m sorry about that man. Believe me, you are a great leader and I’m happy you are in charge because I trust your intuition. Please take care of yourself for all of us. We’ll definitely miss you bro…’
‘What are you saying, H-man?’ Chike said with a loud voice that instantly hushed his speaking friend. ‘Osars cannot die. Where is your faith? I know if we pray for him, he will get well. We can’t lose this dude. He’s too good to die. No! He won’t die! He can’t die!’
Musiliu just couldn’t say anything. He just kept sobbing audibly.
‘Osars where are you at present?’ It was Sisqo.
‘I’m at home. Lagos.’
‘I will be at your house tomorrow morning. I’m at Ibadan at the moment but I’ll come as early as possible. We need to talk about this.’
‘Okay. No p.’
Bayo wanted to begin his farewell speech when Osars suddenly asked,
‘What is tomorrow? …I mean today?’
‘Saturday.’ Bayo answered.
‘No. The date.’
‘March 31st, I guess.’
‘It’s April 1st actually.’ Musiliu managed to respond amidst hot tears.
Silence. For another two minutes, no one made a sound. Well, no one except Musiliu who kept sniffing at intervals and blowing his running nose. Then Bayo, as though discovering a treasure, called out:
‘Wait o, I hope this isn’t some…’
‘It is, actually. You’ve all been punk’d!’
‘Wha…aat?!’ they all replied in unison. Bayo continued, ‘are you out of your damn mind?’
‘I just called to get your attention guys! Hehehe…I don miss una die! Make I pick race before you kill me true true.’
Osars pretended to have ended the call.
The guys waited for a while thinking of what to say.
‘I think we should organize a reunion real soon we need to beat somebody blue black!’ Chike said and burst into laughter. ‘And to think I lost my sleep for this?’
Harold responded in feigned anger.
‘How is next month’s end for a reunion? We need to see this young man before he dies of boredom!’
‘I totally concur!’ Sisqo answered.
‘Absolutely!’ Musiliu replied sharply.
‘I’m in!’ Bayo shouted amidst muffled giggles.
Oh how I’ve missed these guys!
‘Let’s do this!’ Osars suddenly responded from no where.
‘Youuuu…!!!’ they said in unison.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Osars ended the call, laughing.