Quintessence, a catering, event décor and home makeover outfit was run by AanuOluwapo Philips, as both the business owner and general manager. Having dropped out of an electrical electronics degree program in her fifth and final year, due to constraining circumstances, Aanu had found solace years later in the catering and décor industry. After training at an accredited institute for two years, she set out on her own, using an adjoining wooden shed to her mother’s kitchen for her office cum patisserie cum storehouse for the first three years. It was during those days of finding her feet, of floating her business while trying hard to make ends meet, that she’d met Mayowa Philips, a software developer and tech company owner at an event she’d decorated. It was the turning point for her business. He’d gone out of his way to help build her business into the success it turned out to be. And of course, it was the turning point for her life as a whole, culminating in a marriage that had not only embraced and adopted Lara, her daughter, as first child and daughter, but had also produced a second child and a son at that, New.
In its seventh year, Quintessence already built a steady clientele cutting across conglomerates, private and government owned schools, notable families and private individuals. The business which was sub divided into the catering, events décor, and home makeover departments could already boast of a permanent staff of fifty seven and countless part time workers and had been to different parts of the continent on catering jobs, cooking competitions, décor showcases and so on. This particular month had been extremely busy for Quintessence; with no less than four catering and décor gigs each weekend, notwithstanding the daily mid-day meal supply to four secondary schools and pastry supply to eight restaurants across the metropolis. Despite the fact that everyone worked tirelessly and round the clock to see to the success of each and every event, Aanu hardly ever hard any time to herself. She was jack of all trade, being the general supervisor, the chef, the grocery girl, the driver, the laundrywoman, the dishwasher and a myriad of other things at different times just to ensure all went well. By the last Saturday of the month, they had two weddings and a five year old’s birthday party to decorate and cater at.
‘I can’t just wait for this month to end,’ Mayowa quipped as he drove his wife down to the venue of one of the wedding receptions that hot Saturday noon. New was with Mama as usual.
‘Baby don’t be like that,’ she returned as she finished up her makeup, looking into the mirror before her.
‘You seriously need rest,’ he returned. ‘Are you even paying those bags of sleep under your eyes any attention at all?’
‘No,’ she chirped as she stowed her makeup kit away in the glove box. ‘How did you even see that with your eyes on the road,’ she laughed.
‘You know you’re threading dangerously right?’ He remained firm.
‘Mayowa?’ She looked at him, ‘you’re freaking out?’
‘No, I’m not. I’m concerned for your health. You need rest,’ he returned without batting an eyelid and turned into a close.
‘I know, I’m going to rest, I had an hour’s sleep last night and-‘
‘It wasn’t even up to an hour-‘
‘It was, I checked.’
‘I think we’re there,’ he announced and turned into the event centre’s drive way. He slowed down to be checked in by the security detail.
‘You’re only going to see if everything is in place and we’re going to Ten Degrees,’ he reminded. Ten degrees was the venue for the other wedding reception.
‘I know. And I’ll rest,’ she added with a smile. They went in.
Her venue coordinator met her at the hall’s entrance and intimated her with the goings on. They’d had to wait for an earlier event to round off before decorating the hall but as at one fifteen, which was the time that noon, the caterers were set at their designated service points and the décor was done but for the decorative lights for the couple’s crib which had refused to come on. First, she went to inspect the catering set up before proceeding to the couple’s crib at the front of the hall.
‘When was the last time you used them?’ She inquired from the young man as he led her in.
‘We’ve just bought them ma, and we tested them all before bringing them over,’ he added preemptively.
‘Are you sure the wall socket is working?’ They climbed up the podium to the crib area.
‘Nice job,’ she regarded the couple’s crib. ‘Have you taken pictures?’
‘Give that to me,’ she took over from a young man who was trying to cut the wire with his teeth.
‘Welcome ma, the trio of two guys and a lady gathered around the young man greeted.
‘Thanks,’ she acknowledged and bent down to see what was wrong with the strip of lights. A wave of dizziness swept through her almost causing a fall but for the lady who steadied her from falling.
‘Are you alright ma?’ They all chorused.
‘I’m good,’ she mustered as she waited for the giddiness to subside.
‘Oga needs rest, she’s been working like a clock!’ The coordinator quipped.
‘I’m fine,’ she smiled. Aanu went on to check the plug after which she declared that the fuse was blown.
‘We need to replace it, who was chewing this?’ She held up the wire.
‘Mr Carnivore,’ they pointed at the guy who’d been cutting the wire with his teeth. She shook her head while they laughed.
‘Get my bag from the car,’ she ordered and replaced the fuse in no time. She plugged it and the lights came on.
‘Oga Midas!’ They hailed. Aanu’s staff referred to her as Midas at moments as this, when she only needed to do her little magic to bail them out of a tight corner. Whether it was the soup running out, or something they’d left behind or forgot to buy, or spoilt equipment, Aanu always had the solution.
‘I’ve told you guys to try and learn a thing or two about the way these things work,’ she said as she climbed down the podium. ‘That drape is a bit too low over there,’ she pointed towards the left exit, ‘adjust it before guests start coming in.’
‘Yes ma,’ the assistant manager said and motioned someone to do the needful.
‘Has anyone called from the church, how-‘
‘The church service is over. The guests would start arriving any moment from now ma.’
‘Good. You’ve got this, right?’
‘I’m off to Ten Degrees, be good. Bye everyone!’
He followed her outside.
‘Oh my-‘ Aanu slipped and almost fell as the rays of the sun hit her directly on the porch.
‘Thank you’, she balanced. ‘My bag,’ she stretched out her hand but instead of receiving the bag, slumped and passed out.
‘Jesus! Oga, oga! Help..!’
Other staff came to their rescue and so did Mayowa who heard the noise from where he was parked. In a matter of minutes, they were on their way to the nearest hospital.
‘She’s greatly fatigued and needs rest, tons of rest,’ the doctor told Mayowa about half an hour later. ‘I’m going to have to keep her here for a couple of days, especially since you say she can’t bring herself to get off work.’
‘That’s totally fine doctor, thanks a lot. Can I…’
‘There’s greater news,’ the doctor beamed.
‘Well, we ran a couple of tests on your wife considering the circumstances preceding her being rushed here and we found that- she’s six weeks gone.’
‘Six wee- what’s that, I don’t understand?’
‘Oh, you don’t?’ He smiled still, ‘your wife is six weeks pregnant.’
‘Yes, so this the time for her to really get some rest and-‘ he stopped at Mayowa’s not to pleased countenance. ‘Is there a problem? You don’t want-‘
‘Oh no, no, no.’ He repeated without realizing it. ‘It’s- it’s actually great news,’ he brightened up, ‘it’s just that we- she- does she know this?’
‘Certainly not, how about we go and see her now?’
‘Can I do that?’
He followed the doctor. ‘Six weeks, that’s that’s great- I mean it’s good news,’ he rambled on as they turned into her ward.
‘Baby,’ Aanu tried to sit up.
‘Gently ma’am,’ the waiting nurse held her back, ‘you don’t have that kind of strength now,’ she smiled.
‘Sweetheart,’ he rushed to her side and the nurse gave way. ‘You scared me, God!’ He sat beside her and took her arm.
‘I’m so sorry,’ she smiled weakly and waved at the doctor too. ‘Did you call the guys at Ten Degrees?’
‘Just what I said,’ he shrugged at the doctor
‘What?’ She inquired.
‘The doctor’s going to-‘
‘We’re going to have to keep you on bed rest ma’am’
‘Only for a couple of days, I need to keep you under observation for a while besides, you’re going to be needing a lot of rest especially in your condition…’
‘What condition?’ She looked from the doctor to her husband.
‘Mayowa? Doctor, is something wrong?’
‘Oh not at all, it’s just-‘ he waited for Mayowa to break the news
‘We’re having a baby,’ Mayowa said as slowly as possible.
‘I know right? I was my surprised myself when he told me. I mean-‘
‘Congratulations,’ the nurse interrupted joyfully.
‘Thank you,’ he smiled.
‘So welcome to rest,’ he announced squeezing her hand soothingly.
‘No!’ She retorted as if suddenly recovering from a hypnosis. ‘No, no, no…’ She was hysterical.
‘That can’t be? I can’t be pregnant?’ She laughed in derision. ‘I’m- I’m… she stopped for want of what to actually say.
‘You’re what? C’mon baby,’ he was rather taken aback by her reaction, ‘it’s good news?’
‘How can I even be pregnant, that’s ludicrous I mean I –‘
‘You’re somebody’s wife remember? And you have been-‘
‘Stop it!’ She shouted suddenly, again taking them all by surprise.
‘Baby what’s wrong with being pregnant? What’s this about?’
‘Mr Philips I think your wife needs some time to rest and put herself together-‘
‘Don’t say it like somebody died doctor?’
‘No, that’s not what I mean. She’s a very busy woman and she’s got a lot going on, maybe this was just unplanned and- I think she’s in shock. I’d rather we let her be a while and- why not go get her something to eat? I’m sure she’s famished.’
‘Okay,’ he got up.
‘I am not hungry,’ she stopped him. ‘And I am not pregnant!’
‘Can we be left alone please?’ She looked at the doctor.
‘Sure,’ He motioned the nurse to exit the room and followed after her.