It was my sixth time of coming to Olivier’s family house in Abuja, asking to see her. I and a hundred others had made several efforts to see her in Lagos which came to naught. The family had been in Abuja for three months now and they still wouldn’t let me see her. Nor would I give up.
‘What do you want?’ the seemingly educated elderly gateman would demand.
‘I want to have a word with Olivier—just one word.’
‘Why do you want to have just one word with her? You journalists don’t have work, do you?’
‘I am not a journalist.’
‘If you are a blogger, you are worse than a journalist.’ He would shut the gate on my face before I could tell him I was a feminist writer who aspired to channel a fresh perspective of reasoning towards the girl-child to mainstream society using Olivier’s story as cursor. Grammar. The man wasn’t interested.
But I was lucky today, Olivier would see me! ‘You will talk to her for a few moments,’ the gatekeeper admonished, ‘don’t extend your bounds, I will be watching, understand?’
‘Yes sir.’ I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘don’t extend your bounds’ but my mind was all on Olivier. My story was ready but I wouldn’t tell it till I saw my heroine. The gate attendant led the way on the gravel driveway, then turned to a garden where two plastic chairs were placed six feet apart. My palms were getting moist and my heart was beating violently on my rib cage, deafening me.
‘Sit down. She will join you in a moment,’ and he left.
I tried to relax by crossing my legs and appreciating the beautiful flowers around. The interview structure I had built in my mind had become blurred, now in pieces.
How do I start the interview? Would it pay to say, ‘Hi, Olivier my name is Kingsley, I want to talk to you about your predicament’? No! Too direct. Too judgemental.
Or, ‘Hello, dear how are you and everything?’ A good beginning but no beginning really; after that I would be required to say something which was the real beginning.
I could say, ‘What is on your mind, Olivier?’ No! So wrong! Like an indifferent inhuman Social Medium. No this would be wrong. This is something you said to a buddy and not to a stranger who had being through purgatory and whom you know only in the words on your accursed laptop. No, I would—
My brain charged back to reality and I looked up at a tall, slim girl standing before me. She was wearing a casual blue gown with her hair geared in a net. Her face was expressionless except for a small smile that wasn’t really a smile when you look deeper. She looked so mature, like in her twenties and…
‘You are the guy who has been asking to see me?’
I nodded, then realising I had to say something I said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’
Her small smile seemed to broaden, revealing tamed beauty. ‘What do you want to talk to me for? The story is a national gossip now.’
I rose to my feet. ‘I want to hear your voice, only you know the story and only you have the right to tell it. I want you to have a hand on how your story is told, I—’ The words were falling off my lips like particles of grains from a battered grinding device.
‘I don’t think you guys really care how the story is told, do you?’
‘I do, I really care.’
She looked me straight at the face. ‘See, whatever you tell about me, please don’t use my real name, will you?’
‘I won’t use your real name,’ I promised, nodding.
‘Thank you. And please don’t come looking for me again, I want to concentrate on my SSCE.’
Again, I nodded.
She stretched out a folded piece of paper. ‘Iyke sent in this letter a month ago. It might be useful in your story.’
I collected the letter with quavering hand and proceeded to read it… wait, did she say your story?
It is now nearly three months since we parted ways. I am happy to see that you have now been reconciled with your family. I know you will hate me for the manner in which we parted ways. I am not trying to justify my action but at then (and may be now) it was the only thing to do. OBJ killed Black Owl and wants me dead. The Police think I killed Humphrey and Tony, and want me in custody. The opposition was too much and I had so little time to think. So I went underground. When the underworld and the law want your hide, this is the only thing to do.
Now what becomes of our relationship? Olivier, I must be frank with you, we will never be together. I love you, but some love mustn’t be consummated, some love must be brave and say goodbye. I never came to you with more than the intention to do you right. You are about the only good thing I have ever done in my entire life. I am sorry I left the way I left, but I am glad to have achieved something in life. Now you know that not everyone out there is a rogue; you know that for every scoundrel, there is a friend. Maybe for every two scoundrels, or for every ten, or for every hundred, I don’t know the ratio but there is still a friend. Someone who will never take advantage, someone who can give everything just to let you have something; someone who doesn’t want nor will accept anything in return.
I may not risk another letter to you. But I want you to know that I will always think of you. And in your spare time, will you think of me? And when you think of me, will you smile? And dear, don’t go sulking about my absence, no; be strong and find yourself a good man that will love you in his own way, for whom you are. Never make comparisons. But that can wait, won’t it? For now you should just think of your books, right? But when you finally settle down will you name your first son after me? That will make me very proud. What about your grandchildren? Will you tell them about old boy Iyke? That will not make me sad, what do you think? *smiles*.
Now I leave you in peace. Olivier I love you with all my being. And don’t assume it doesn’t hurt to say goodbye. It is an eternal pain to me, but I assure you this is the only thing to do. It may not be right, it may not be wrong; it is just the only thing to do. Be happy, forever, for you, for your family and then for me.
I looked up, Olivier was gone. Oh no, not now, she should…
‘Time to go,’ the gateman tapped me on the shoulder. I began to protest but his hard face didn’t let me. I shrugged, took in a deep breath and let him lead me away, the letter in my hand.
Frequently Asked Questions on Olivier
1, What Inspired Olivier?
So many things. Of course the title is inspired by Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Not so much for the plot. The Olivier Twist project I will say was inspired by you—my readers. Basking on the popularity of Going Down Chinese Road I thought it wise to post something between the Fridays that Sade raved. I didn’t want you guys waiting seven days; I wanted something to come in between, to calm your adrenaline before Sade raves them again. As for the plot I had just the shadiest ideas—I just wanted to create a girl in the street. Why a girl? Maybe because I am a bloody feminist. And in picking a girl I decided to toll in the line of Binta and Friends, remember the serial cartoon magazine Wale Adenuga turned into a TV series? I also took a little from Super Story’s Nnenna.
It was during the ASUU (universities) strike I started writing, and I reflected it in the character of Tony, that was how far I knew of the story. The rest was done by you guys, all I did was start then your readership and love finished it up. For example Benny told me not to forget Olivier’s family when she was roaming Lagos street. Dorcas suggested a return on the family. So I grudgingly returned to Tony and the step-mother. Sencen said it could be tiring reading just about Olivier so I created complications with Iyke, bringing OBJ and Humphrey into the picture just to divert an Olivier-monotony.
Nedy said episode four or five was a little boring. I intensified action, then Oge thought Episodes Five to Eight where a little exaggerated so I reduced the intensity to shock, twist and suspense. Then Benny said episode Eleven was lacking action… sigh. You guys actually put my head inside a cement mixer and drove me mad. It is a miracle that I still have charge of my faculties after eighteen episodes that cut through nine solid months.
You guys actually wrote this. You inspired it, you made me start it and you helped me finish it. Thumbs up.
2, Between Olivier and Sade
I once asked you guys to compare between Dozie and Iyke and you didn’t give me anything satisfactory, now you want me to answer this with a clean mind. I won’t. Haha. But if true be told, my sympathy goes to Olivier. I know that Sade is the most popular character I have ever created, but Olivier is so helpless, deceived by a scoundrel, and mostly out among rogues, you can’t help but feel for her, and like Miriam said, Olivier’s life can be trusted in my hand.
But having said that, this is the end of Olivier, Sade is coming back and for this I need to show her enough love for her to carry on in the hard task I, or rather the Federal Government of Nigeria has for her. Sade will be facing Boko Haram this time around, it will be my contribution in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, a most painful experience for over 200 teenage girls kidnapped in April, and thousands of their family members.
So even though I sympathise with Olivier most, Sade is my only indispensable character. Olivier has survived but her chapter is closed forever. Sade might not survive, but as long as this blog remains open her chapter will always be tagged ‘To be Continued’.
3, If Oliver is to be Acted in Nollywood Who Will You Like to See As Cast?
This is a kitchen dream, Olivier will never be on screen and no one production on earth will ever gather the stars in my mind’s list in one movie. But this is no screen; it’s my blog, so I gathered these, most of them my favourites, below.
Olivier—Yinka Olukunga (Nnenna)
Step Mother—Eucharia Anunobi
Olivier’s Father—Segun Arinze
Black Owl— U.C Ukeje
The Doctor— Benita Nzeribe
Tolani— Bimbo Akintola
OBJ— Gentle Jack
Okoro— Charles Awurum
And me, who is going to act me? Nobody is going to play me. I can’t be imitated by anyone not to gloat over my handsomenesslessness, so I will have to play myself and pocket the money that will come from that, whatzayathink?
To Almighty God who afforded me the life, strength plus the wisdom and time including security (I am blogging from Zaria, save me oh Lord) to do this, I say be thou exalted, Baba.
And to my readers, my Super Fans, so numerous that whenever I attempt to mention names I leave out names of important people who come at night like Nicodemus for a pound of fresh around my breast, I love each and care for every one of you, thanks for your time, patience, understanding; some episodes were below taste but you read them and pretended they were awesome, thanks for lying. Thanks, thanks, na gode, eshe, imela. You know what: there is nothing, together we cannot achieve with words!