Dare paused, not sure if it was his name he had just heard.
‘Dare,’ the voice called out again. It was the unmistakeable voice of his grandpa.
Dare frowned, scratching his head as he stopped in his tracks. What would this old man be possibly calling me for? He thought to himself as he turned back to answer the call.
‘Grandpa,’ he called out, his frown replaced by a forced smile. ‘You called me,’ he said, hoping he would be proven wrong and told that he had heard wrong, but not at all, he was very right on this account as the old man motioned him to a seat.
‘I see you’re in a hurry,’ the old man said, his eyes twinkling, while his lips curved into a smirk.
‘No grandpa,’ Dare replied, even though the exact opposite was the truth.
Why wouldn’t he be in a hurry to leave his grand-parents’ house? It was Saturday and thus the only free day he had in a week to do anything that looked close to having a life – his writing, dates with his girlfriend, visiting friends, a little bit of partying and maybe travelling.
There was never time for these things in his life as he was always working, with his only free day being Saturday, which his employers many times made sure to occupy with trainings, at-least twice in a month.
Today was one of such Saturdays when he had no training and he had planned to make full use of it until his dad had sent him down to his grandparents’ to make some deliveries.
He had scheduled continuing his writing for his novel or was it actually starting up his writing for his novel, considering that he had only just penned down three words, It rained heavily, in his thick back note pad. He was still an old school writer, preferring to use pen and paper than the now modern laptop, iPad or notebooks format.
Or maybe that was the reason? Maybe he should switch to writing on his iPad? Maybe that would make him write more? And what about having to go to work almost every-day?
He winced, more in disdain than in pain as the introduction of work filtered into his train of thoughts. Work was the root cause of his lack of time for himself and any thought of his work made him pissed, except it was 28th, 29th or 30th, when the text message alert for salaries usually came in.
‘Are you sure you’re not in a hurry?’ the old man asked again as he dropped the newspaper in his hands on a table and took off his reading glasses.
‘No grandpa,’ Dare replied as he settled down on the chair.
‘I have dreams,’ the old man started, his eyes bearing the distant looks of a sage piercing into space to distil wisdom. ‘I want to be a pilot,’ he said, his gaze unblinking as he stared into his grandson’s eyes. ‘I want to fly my wife and myself on our tenth anniversary – just the two of us’ he said slowly, his face creasing into a smile. ‘She would love it.’
Dare was silent, watching his grandpa talk. The old man was going crazy. This was a man who celebrated the golden jubilee of his marriage last year talking about a tenth year anniversary that was lost in the darkness of the past like it was still in the pregnant belly of the future. The senility of old age had finally caught up with the man. To think that just two days ago, he was telling himself that he would like to age like his grandpa. With what he was seeing and hearing right now, that wish was definitely unwise.
‘And then I’d learn to play the guitar, because I want to be able to play songs for my children and then my grandchildren when they come.’ The smile covered the old man’s face as he spoke. He was clearly excited.
Dare looked on, flummoxed. He ran his eyes around the house to see if the maid was nearby. He needed to know from her that this momentary lapse into madness was normal and that his grandpa would soon get back his mental faculties, but no one was in sight.
‘I will give my time in helping people, orphans especially, not just by giving them money but by spending time with them. I’m going to partner with an orphanage where I will do voluntary work and also share with them the love of God as they see me express mine,’ the old man said, his countenance sobering.
‘Pilots are usually busy people,’ Dare said, trying to strike a conversation, to see if that would help jerk the old man’s mind back to reality. ‘How do you intend to find time to spend at the orphanage?’
The old man smiled. ‘God has blessed us with enough time, it’s our choice to spend it as we wish,’ he said dreamily. ‘I plan to be a flight instructor by then though and also would have built a school, which would be run by my wife Sade, she’s an educationist,’ he said proudly. ‘I would still be flying because I love flying but not at the expense of my family.’
Dare stared on in disbelief as he heard his grandpa casually call his grandma’s first name to him like they were peers.
And then he saw something in the old man’s eyes -sadness.
‘I had these dreams when I slept yesternight,’ the old man said almost wearily, his eyes wearing a sad look. ‘But I woke up old,’ he said, his voice breaking. ‘I was twenty two last night, but look at me now.’
Dare stared at his grandpa in utter amazement, ‘You woke up old?’ Dare quizzed, his voice tottering on the edge of sarcasm. ‘You were twenty two last night but you woke up old this morning?’ He repeated more to himself than to his grandpa.
His question was replied with silence as his grandpa turned away to pick up the newspaper and a notebook sitting on a stool beside him.
The old man scribbled something in the notebook and then tore out the page, folding it neatly and passing it to his grandson. ‘Open this when you get home,’ he said, his eyes moistened with tears. Tell your mum, she married me first before your dad and ask her how come I haven’t seen her in a week? Tell her, I said she has abandoned me here with an old woman.’ The old man said speaking up a little louder and smiling mischievously in a dramatic swing of emotions.
‘So I am the old woman now, right?’
Dare heard the voice from behind him. It was his grandma.
‘Tell him to also tell his mother to come and serve you food,’ she said coming into full view. Her eyes gleaming as she spoke, her hands stroking her grandson’s head softly.
‘Of course she will,’ his grandpa replied. ‘But you will serve today’s own first, cos I don’t know when I will see her, so that I don’t pass out from starving.’
‘Nooo! She must start from today,’ his grandma insisted, giggling.
Dare smiled as he watched his grandparents tease each other. They made ‘old age’ look very good. He excused himself despite the protestations of his grandma, who queried him, asking if she was responsible for his leaving.
Of course she wasn’t, she was just a good distraction, an excuse to leave.
‘Open the paper when you’re at home,’ the old man called out after his grandson as he exited the sitting room.
‘Yes sir!’ Dare answered, his fingers wrapping back the folds of the paper he had just started to loosen.
The drive home was the longest in a while as he watched the paper on the dashboard. He felt tempted to open it up once during the ride as he waited for the traffic light to go green but the voice of his grandpa in his head, stopped him, Open the paper when you’re at home.
Dare got out of the car with the paper plastered to his palm and made for his room. He was curious to find out what was in the paper. He closed the door behind him and opened up the neat folds of the paper. He squinted his eyes at the words that stared back at him. Two words that made absolutely no sense –at-least at the moment.
What could they possibly mean?
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