I was manning my position, as usual, this morning when a man dressed in a white T-shirt tucked into red trousers walked in at 8:42 am. He would be the first customer for the day at Bessa’s kitchen. He looked a little bit apprehensive as he took undecisive steps towards one of the table sets by the door. He sat down quietly and heaved a sigh. Then he began to stare at the ceiling. He remained in this position for about a minute. Suddenly, the gentleman became conscious of his environment. It was as if something had geared him back to life. He looked around to see if anyone had observed his actions for a while. This was when he noticed that I had been observing him all the while. I gave him a smile. I then began to move toward his direction with the menu in my hand. This made him even more apprehensive.
‘Good morning, sir. Welcome to Bessa’s kitchen where the dishes speak the language of your stomach.’ I smiled. ‘What would you like to eat this morning?’ I said as I handed him the menu.
‘Good evening, sir’, he responded as he struggled to maintain calmness.
At this point, I knew my customer wanted something more than just a dish, I smiled as I sat at the opposite end of his table. I held his hands.
‘It’s okay, sir. I noticed you’ve been apprehensive for a while now. Calm down, orders can come later. Let’s have a heart to heart talk, guy to guy. What is bothering your mind?’
He heaved a sigh and sat straight. He looked like someone who had a truckload of fear and doubts running through his mind. I held his hands more tightly.
‘Your secret is safe with me.’, I assured him.
Rays of hope beamed in his eyes and for the first time since he entered the restaurant, he smiled.
‘Sir, I am planning to pr…pro…pose to my girlfriend today but I don’t know how to go about it yet. Do you have an idea? He said as looked into my eyes hoping to find a saving grace.
Here am I, a young man in his early twenties. I had not had any love experience. Though a large percentage of my friends are females, I had not proposed to any before. Don’t think of me as a strange person, I just don’t know how to woo a lady. But telling this young man in his late twenties that won’t be of any good. In fact, it would amount to adding fuel to fire.
He needed a way out and I just have to devise one.
An idea came to mind. If this works out, I’ll probably try it on Shola, my life-long crush. If it doesn’t, then, I’ll just thrash it. Either way, here is an opportunity to experiment. I gave it a nod.
‘I think I can help you’. I responded.
‘Wow! I’ll appreciate that. I’ll really do.’ he said as he beaming with a smile.
‘Let’s order for a rose and ring from Vine’s palace. It’s just across the street. I’ll help you scribe something nice on a napkin. Something romantic.’ I said.
‘That’s lovely.’ He exclaimed.
‘When she comes, beckon on me, I’ll take her order but instead of presenting her with what she ordered, I would come with the ring and a rose in a tray. I’ll cover it with the napkin. When she opens her order, the content will do the talking. You’ll just have to end it with a line.’ I said and paused for a minute.
‘Something like…, erm…, what’s her name?’ I asked.
‘Oh, sorry. Erm. My name is Michael and her name is Mary ‘. He said joyfully.
‘Okay, you can say something like… Mary, although the stars sparkle in the sky and although the moon lightens the darkest night. The stars and the moon are not sufficient to tell of the joy you’ve brought into my life. I’ll like to make that permanent. Will you marry me?’
Michael jumped up in excitement.
‘This is excellent!’, he said. ‘God bless you, sir’
I smiled, ‘I am Shayo’
He shook my hand. ‘God bless you, Shayo.’
Michael was over-joyous. It was written all over him. He kept repeating the same thing. ‘God bless you, Shayo.’
‘Amen, sir. Just get the rose and ring before she comes.’
‘Okay, boss’. Michael hurriedly left for the Vine’s palace and returned few minutes with a golden ring and a rose. Hmm, the ring would have cost him a fortune. Anyway, this is a matter of love and whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.
‘She should be here in the next 15 minutes. I just called her now.’, he did as he handed the package to me.
‘It’s alright, sir. Just be a man. Memorize your lines and leave the rest to me.’ I replied.
‘Please, excuse me, sir. I’ll like to attend to some customers now.’ I smiled as I made my way to attend to a customer who just walked in with a lady. Valentine day is always a busy day at Bessa’s kitchen.
It was about 20 minutes later while I was speaking with another waiter that Michael walked hurried up to me. He pulled me aside.
‘She’s… she’s outside.’ he said. By this time, we already had over 35 customers on seat. I could sense that he was a little bit apprehensive.
‘Alright, sir. You just act normally. Go back to your seat and welcome her with a broad smile. I’ll take it up from here.’ I reassured him.
‘Okay, thanks.’, he said as he made his way to his reserved table.
The door opened gently and a lady in her late twenties walked in. A black lady with an elegant look that could cause even the most decent of men to take a second look. She walked up to Michael who was now standing and sitting repeatedly. I knew that Michael had become apprehensive again. I said a silent prayer for my new found friend, ‘God, help Michael’.
Mary sat facing Michael. She had a smile on her face. Michael in turn began to scratch his head. At this point, I approached their table.
‘Good afternoon, ma. Welcome to Bella’s kitchen where the dishes speak the language of your stomach. What would you like to eat?’
‘Good morning. I’ll love to have a plate of fried rice and chicken.’ she replied.
I took a cursory look at Michael, who was still finding it difficult to find his voice. I smiled. ‘At your service, ma. Your order is on the way.’
I returned a few minutes later with the tray and set it on the table. ‘Here’s your order, ma.’
I then stood behind her and began to communicate with Michael using visual signs.
Mary opened her tray and could not believe what the content was. She held her mouth with her right hand when she saw the ring, the rose, and the inscription on the napkin: My life begins with you.
I signaled Michael to shoot his shot.
He held her hands.
‘Mary, although stars are moon are together, let’s be together. We’ll you marry me?’
I was disappointed as Michael made his delivery. I couldn’t believe he would forget his line so soon. Moreover, what he presented made no sense to me. Stars and moon, how?
I was in this state of disappointment when Mary brought me back to life with her response.
‘Yes, Michael. Yes!’
The whole restaurant erupted with cheers as we witnessed the birth of a new phase in Michael and Mary’s life. My idea worked. Yes, it did!
Saberedowo Oluwafisayo, a 500L student of Physiology, LAUTECH is a poet, content writer, word coach, and blogger at physzy.com. He wrote in via email@example.com