February 14th, 2020. 9:15 pm
I was manning my position, as usual, this morning when a man dressed in a white T-shirt tucked into black 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 nervous as he took indecisive steps towards one of the tables 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 reality. 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. Caught in the act, I gave a smile. I then began to walk toward him with the menu in my hands. This made him even more nervous.
‘Good morning, sir. Welcome to Bessa’s kitchen where the dishes speak the language of your stomach.’ I said as I handed him the menu. ‘What would you like to eat this morning?’
‘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 pulled out of the chairs and sat at the opposite end of the table. I held his hands.
‘Is everything okay, sir? You look nervous. There seems to be something bothering your mind. You know, orders can come later. If you are willing to talk, guy to guy, who knows? we could resolve the issue here.
He heaved a sigh and sat straight. He looked like someone who had a truckload of fears 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 this unknown guest entered the restaurant, he smiled.
‘Thanks for the listening ears, mr….’
‘Shayo’. I responded. ‘Please pardon my manners’.
‘I am Michael’, he continued. ‘I am planning to propose to my fiancée today and I don’t even have a clue of what to say yet.’ He heaved a sigh and held my hands more tightly. ‘Do you think you can help me?’
I was lost in thought for about fifteen seconds. I never thought a day would come when such help would be required of me. His question was probably the most difficult one I have come across in my life. Don’t see me as someone weird. I am just stating the obvious. I am a young man in his twenties without any love experience. Though a large percentage of my friends are females, I had not proposed to any before. I just don’t know how to do that and I don’t have an appetite to try it out. But, telling the man before me such story 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 Tony, my life-long crush. If it doesn’t, then, I’ll just thrash it. Either way, here is an opportunity to experiment something. I gave it a nod.
‘I think I can help you’. I responded.
‘Wow! I’ll appreciate that man. I’ll really do.’ he said as he beaming with a smile.
‘Let’s order for a medium-size rose and ring from the Vine’s palace. It’s just across the street. I’ll help you scribe something nice on a napkin. Something romantic.’
‘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 for, she will get a rose and a ring 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 paused for some seconds.
‘Something like…, erm…, what’s her name?’ I asked.
‘Oh, sorry! Her name is Mary ‘. He responded.
‘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. ‘You are a genius! God bless you, John.’
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 the 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 said as he handed the package to me.
‘It’s alright, sir. Just be a man. Memorize your line and leave the rest to me.’ I replied.
‘Please, excuse me, sir. I’ll like to attend to some customers now.’
It was about 20 minutes later while speaking with another waiter that Michael walked up to me. ‘She’s here.’ He whispered as he pulled me aside. ‘She’s… she’s outside.’
By this time, we already had over 35 customers on seat. I could sense that he was a little bit more 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.’ Michael made his way to his reserved table with uncertain steps. Shortly after, the door opened gently and a lady in her mid-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 and neck at interval. At this point, I decided to 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 through visual signs.
Mary opened her tray and could not believe what the content was. She held her mouth with her hands when she saw 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 at all. Stars and moon together, 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! Tony, Get ready!