One Goal to Nothing: The Unforgettable World Cup

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It is now less than 24 hours to the 2018 world cup and just like that, 2014 world cup is about to have a senior brother, wow! how time flies!

Everyone who followed the 2014 world cup would agree that it was indeed a memorable world cup for a lot of reasons.

Apart from Brazil’s stunning loss to Germany in the semi-finals that sent shockwaves through the football world, many families unknown to the world had their knots untied stunningly too during the last world cup.

Four years ago, I wrote a story about the 2014 world cup and one of the marriages that took a different turn on account of a great sporting event, the world cup.

Perhaps there is no better time to reminisce the amazing story and ruminate on the serious lessons from it than now that we have less than 24 hours to the Russia 2018 world cup.

One goal to nothing: the story 

Since the world cup started, Kayode Coker (my husband) snores with effortless creativity.

He kicks off slowly and steadily with a humming sound, then his pitch heightens suddenly and abruptly until he observes some quiet as if to reboot.

Then when he resumes again, he tunes into a jerky deafening roar, stills momentarily and then picks up again.

To end this long episode, he would mutter some jumbled statements that would end up in a boisterous “it is a goal!”.

After those episodes, he stays still for a moment and then replays the scenes, again and again, and again until morning.

When it becomes unbearable for me, I would move to Junior’s room.

Junior is our 5-year-old son.

Some nights, amidst his fathers endless dramas, when I would move to his room abruptly, Junior would wake up, wipe his eyes and mutter something in the line of  “has daddy been scouring in his dreams again?”.

I would wonder how Junior could make anything out of his father’s nightly episodes but gently reply, “I only came to make sure your cover cloth stays on you very well”, and I will lull him to sleep again.

Ordinarily, Junior sleeps before 8Pm daily. By that time, I would have been finished most of the house chores and set to relish some good entertainment.

Toke Makinwa’s ‘trending’ has been my favourite show lately, I hardly missed it… until the world cup.

So every evening as soon as 7.30pm, my husband would be home lounging on our sofa, all curled up, ready to catch every moment of the match even before the playing teams start to sing their country’s’ national anthems to launch the match into an optimistic start.

As the match ensued, Kayode would stare fixedly at our 24 inches home theatre without his lenses, disobeying Doctor Fred’s warning about sitting too close to TV screens.

He would cling to the remote controller the way a fitted shirt clings to the body of his pot-bellied owner. His hands always on his tummy, rubbing it.

And then he would put on a palpable look that boldly writes on his forehead, ‘don’t interrupt!’.

So I wouldn’t interrupt him. He was not interrupted. But I knew something was being interrupted, us!

Come July, Junior will be 6.

For some years now, we’ve been looking to God for someone Junior will call his sibling  – Junior’s dad wants a boy again … no quarrels, let Junior just become someone’s senior.

Doctor  Fred Osagie, the charming medic and consultant gynecologist  had advised that Junior’s dad and I happen more often these days, and at nights, obviously so I would be in the mood.

So when he isn’t scoring in his dreams and he isn’t too tired, I would make the moves to see if Kayode and I could happen just as the Doctor suggested.

Anytime I make such romantic moves,  much to my amazement, Kayode would rather strangely mutter, “can’t you see Spain just lost to Chile, I am not in the mood”, or he would shout, “why are you so insensitive, Nigeria didn’t score no goals, no points, that’s what it means!”.

So in Junior’s room, when Junior was asleep, and the late night movies brought sleep to my eyes, I would sleep off relishing the memories of Dr Fred’s soothing pranks.

Talking of Dr Fred, we have come a long way. We had jelled from the first day we met, at Iseyin NYSC camp, many years ago.

Right from the NYSC camp, we discovered we had many things in common: our profession; he was a Doctor and me, a budding pharmacist. We were in the same platoon -platoon 7.

He registered in camp next to me, so when my number was called, his was called next and most of all, we were posted to the same place of primary assignment, University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan.

And then when I got married, while we were still serving, he remained a good friend and much to my amazement and pleasure, he played the role of a friend to a married woman perfectly well.

When I was pregnant of junior, he confirmed the good news to me as our family Doctor, so he knew I was pregnant even before Junior’s dad.

Every morning, on our way out of the house – my husband to his office, I to my pharmaceutical shop and Junior to his British American School, my husband would explain to Junior how he loves Spain so dearly because he had spent 6 years of his youthful life there before crossing over to Germany for the rest of his studies.

He would tell Junior how he was emotionally crushed when Spain didn’t perform as excellent as he had expected.

Every morning on our way out to our various destinations, my husband always had some tales to tell of the World cup.

When it wasn’t Chile losing, it was Cote d’Ivoire not having enough points or Nigeria not displaying technicality or the Coach from the USA not being fair.

So when on one Tuesday evening, Junior’s dad had decided to watch the Nigerian match at the new bar that one of his classmates from Ondo Boys High School, had newly opened and Junior had been sick, I had rushed Junior to the hospital and Dr Fred had suggested that Junior be admitted.

Earlier during the afternoon, one of the head teachers at Junior school, the one who tries so irritably hard to speak American English had called to inform me that Junior had been having rounds of vomits after being so active during the early part of the school hours.

Junior had calmed down only after two intravenous injections that one of the young slim nurses at Dr Fred’s had administered.

The Doctor had advised that Junior be observed for 24 hours at the hospital bed so there I was at the hospital with Junior.

The hospital was particularly deserted on this fateful day.

I can’t remember vividly what country was Nigeria was playing against but I guess it was one of the exciting matches that brought Nigerians together, once again.

On matches like this one, people would go paying abrupt visits to their family members who had a generator and could afford to fuel their generators for 90 hours or more.

No one dares to take the chance of staying at home when they had no generators.

You can be sure that NEPA will hold their power tightly to themselves until the final whistle of the match.

So people fled their homes to bars, hospitals, and any place light was guaranteed.

Late into the match, late into the anxious night, at Dr, Fred’s hospital, where Junior had been admitted, the ward was empty, the nurses were obeying the call of nature, there was no NEPA and the generator had gone off…

In his arms, the tranquillity was ineffable. When he called my name, an unfamiliar youthfulness overwhelmed my essence; it was a feeling I had missed for years or perhaps the one that had missed me for too long.

The awkwardness didn’t settle until I saw my dress carelessly thrown on the neatly tiled black and white floor of his room.

It was late in the night. late into the match. None of us stated the obvious, either out of consent or excitement or fear or a mixture of all three.

In the morning I heard the result of the Nigerian match as my husband tuned in to one of the popular sports radio stations in town.

It was one goal to nothing! Odemwingie had scored a goal against the Bosnia team.

I didn’t see Doctor Fred Osagie again until the next six weeks when I went to his office to show him the result of the pregnancy test. To tell him that I was pregnant and he was responsible!

When I got to the receptionist, she was reluctant to allow me into the Doctor’s office. At first, she told me he was at the theatre and maybe I should reschedule my visit. Then she told me I could wait at the reception if I had the time.

But I didn’t sense anything. I wasn’t a staff of the hospital and it was the protocol that people wait to see a Doctor at the hospital.

I waited till a visitor walked out of his office, then I stood and walked briskly to the next two doors to my right.

A little boy of Junior’s age ran to me and held my knee immediately I opened the wooden door to Dr. Fred’s office.

I hugged him and walked to the room. I saw another boy that looked so much like the first one that had run to me.

Then a pretty young woman, she was carrying a baby of about six weeks who seemed to be sleeping.

Before I could frame out the slightest courtesy to anyone in the room, Fred framed a smile and said most politely, facing me, “meet my wife, and my kids” they came into town last week, and then to his wife, “darling meet Mrs. Coker, an old client of this hospital”.

As I ignited the car, confused and empty at the same time, the only words I could mutter were, one goal to nothing, indeed!


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