Alice looked at him cynically. “I know what you want to say now. Things will be better, baby steps; it’s a gradual process bla bla. I only wish it was not so hard.”
“I did not know you could read minds.” Justin said jokily.
Alice nudged him.
“The day you fail is the day you stop having faith. I know you know that. Those moments come when nothing shows for the future which you hope for but the victory is really in pushing through those moments. It’s because we believed that it can happen that we got so far.”
Anita digested the words.
“The pressure makes you stronger after all. Just don’t worry.” Justin said.
A light smile crept on her face. He was right that she knew it. She knew it even before they started working towards their dream. She knew that it wouldn’t be easy but she had to make it through but sometimes, the weight of the problems just seemed so overwhelming compared to the future which she hoped for. But whenever she looked at Justin, he put everything back into perspective.
“I know we will get there sha. And when we do, we will just remember all these times and laugh.” Alice said as she leaned on his shoulder.
It was the ending of November and Hamatern carried along with it, the smell of festivities. As Alice walked the crowded streets to her bakery, she heard Christmas songs booming from the shops and wheel barrows of CD sellers, shops decorated with shiny gold, red and green ribbons, hawkers selling fuzzy red and white Christmas hats. The feeling was nostalgic; it made her miss being a kid. But what was better about the holiday was that business was thriving. End of the year parties, weddings, thanksgivings, all these occasions required cakes and she was the one to bake them. She was so busy that she had even thought of hiring an apprentice. Some young girls from her compound even asked her to give them baking lessons and they were willing to pay. Life was finally getting better. Justin was not doing so bad himself. At the moment, he had escorted a client who was interested in buying a house on the outskirts of town to see a particular property. According to Justin, things were looking good.
When Alice reached the Bakery, she went in and started work at once. There had not been much modification made to the bakery. They had only fixed a rag tag electrical connection to the generator where Alice could operate some of her baking equipment.
Alice went to a black drum where she put her water, it was almost finished and she knew she had to buy more from the water hawkers. She washed her hands first and then picked up a little jotter on the work table. She opened the first page and saw a list. Sink pipes, cement, sand, paint, windows, welding… Justin had started making plans towards renovating the bakery first. She needed a good working environment after all since she was working with food. She turned the next page and found a list of names. Mrs Aliyu, Baby shower cake, 5th December (pink).Uzor Nnemeka, Graduation cake, 3rd December, Philomena, Birthday Cake (2) 11th December… the list went on. She ticked the first two and then put the jotter away. She opened a bigger note pad where she made her sketches and then she pulled out a bowl.
Right when she was about to start work, her phone rang.
“Alice, my dear. I have not heard from you in a while.” Her mother’s voice said.
She smiled. Speaking to her mother was like the cherry on top the nostalgic cake. “Mummy. It’s just lack of time. how is your husband?”
“Your father is fine. I hope you are not harbouring any grudges towards him. When did you even call him last?” the woman said.
“uhmm…” she said guiltily. “Haba. I’m not harbouring any grudges. I know that Anything he says or does, He only has my best interest at heart.”
“He was complaining that you are keeping malice with him.”
“The truth is… I find it really hard to even afford recharge card nowadays.”
“Tell me you are joking… is that how hard it is? Do you need me to send you money. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your father about…”
“I’m joking.” Alice cut her off but neither of them laughed.
“How is your business going? How is Justin.” Motherly concern resonated through her voice.
“He is wonderful. My business is actually going well. You should see the size of the place.” Her voice echoed as she spoke. “Justin is really taking care of me. He is doing his best.”
“Christmas is coming… you are coming to visit baa?”
“Definitely. We will spend a few days then we will go over to see Justin’s parents.”
“So is he making any plans? Like marriage plans. He better put a ring on that finger o. I don’t want him chasing away prospectful suitors if he is not ready.”
Alice laughed. “We are getting there mummy. Baby steps.” Alice knew there was no room for anyone else. It was Justin and Alice forever.
“I called because I miss you. I can’t wait till Christmas. Greet Justin for me”
“Thanks mummy. I really appreciate your call. And I will call daddy once I get home. Justin will hear your greeting.”
“Okay. Bye dear”
“bye.” She said as she ended the call.