A MATTER OF HEIGHT VI
A MATTER OF HEIGHT VI
Gbemi stood beside the door to Chinwe’s flat, wondering what was wrong with him.
What is wrong with me; he wondered? It’s only been a week since I met this girl, and it’s almost as though I’m on drugs or something. I can’t concentrate for thinking of her!And I’m not some sixteen-year old who just discovered that the fairer sex has twin protuberances on their chests called breasts. I’m a grown man!
A smile appeared on his lips as he remembered the first time he heard that ‘grown man’ phrase used. It had been in a conversation with his dad; and the elder Thomas had said it to him after severally chastising him for some carelessness he had exhibited while attending to a customer. You’re a grown man, his dad had said to him, smiling. Handle yourself responsibly.
Coming back to the present, he gave a philosophical shrug and raised his hand, about to knock again when the door opened seemingly of its own accord. He peered around it and saw a tall, slender model-looking girl holding the door open while talking to someone over her shoulder.
“Hello,” Gbemi said politely as she turned to face him. “I’m…”
“Gbemi. I know.” She said, smiling dazzlingly at him. “I’m Amaka, Chinwe’s baby cousin. Won’t you come in?”
“Thanks,” Gbemi responded, shaking her outstretched hand. “Chinwe did not mention anything about a cousin,” he continued, stepping in and hiding the nylon bag he was carrying behind his back.
Amaka glanced at him over her shoulder as she led the way into the house. “That’s normal,” she said, wagging her eyes at him in exaggerated coyness. “I make her feel insecure so she acts like I don’t exist. But as you can see,” she suddenly stopped and did a slow twirl in front of him, “I’m real in living color.”
Gbemi felt his ears grow hot with embarrassment. “Emm…I’m sure,” he stuttered, not knowing how to continue. “But Chinwe’s quite beautiful…just as you are,” he added hastily. “I don’t see why she should be insecure around you.”
Amaka smiled. “Nice to see there are still some loyal men left,” she smiled and lightly shoved Gbemi playfully. “You can relax! I’m playful like that,” she concluded.
She showed him to a seat directly in front of the sixty-inch TV tuned to African Magic. “That’s for you guys,” he said, handing the nylon bag and looking away as she grinned hugely.
“Oh goodies! Thanks! Let me go get Chi,” she said as she walked away.
Gbemi looked around,eying the various etchings and paintings on the wall.There was a particular one that caught his attention; a mural that looked like an aerial shot of the National Stadium at Onikan. He made to stand up to take a closer look – when he suddenly heard Amaka’s voice clearly.
“…and he bought some things for us,” he heard her say, “from his supermarket no doubt.” Gbemi smiled to himself as he slowly settled back down.
Something told him the conversation was not over yet. He was right.
“The guy looks good na,” he heard Amaka continue; and he grinned. It was good to know he had her support. He strained his ears to hear what Chinwe’s response would be – but it was all quiet.
Suddenly Amaka’s voice came again, a bit louder this time. “Ehn now,” she said, sounding like she had something in her mouth. “He’s not even that short!”
“Amaka!” he heard Chinwe shout, and allowed himself a small smile.Things were looking up.
A sudden clatter of footsteps announced to him that one…no; both girls were coming. He leaned back in the sofa and stared at the TV as though he suddenly found Nollywood movies fascinating. He was still staring when a whiff of cool mint…or something blew across his consciousness. He turned towards the origin of the scent; intending to say something flippant.
But then he caught sight of something, and that other ‘something’ he intended to say became stuck in his throat.
Chinwe had her braids tied in a bun on top of her head, which offered him his first unobstructed view of her neck. It was slender and graceful – but that was not the only thing that stopped him.
Gbemi cleared his throat uncomfortably. He knew fully well that all romance heroines in fiction were typically beautiful; he knew he had been going on and on about how beautiful Chinwe looked – but it seemed to him that every time he saw her was the first time.
In a manner of speaking it actually is the first time; he thought to himself, first time I’m seeing her in anything apart from jeans.
She was wearing a black gown that hugged the sweet curves of her breasts, fitted snugly at the waist, flared out to accommodate rounds hips. It continued, only stopping a bit above legs that seemed to go on for miles – and then ended too soon in a pair of blue pumps. Gbemi cleared his throat again.
“Don’t stand there staring na,” Amaka chided him playfully. “If you like what you see, say so! Maybe we’ll arrange a special take away package -”
Chinwe dug her elbow in her cousin’s ribs and smiled at him, “Hello Gbemi,” she said.
“Hello, Chinwe. You look incredible.”She smiled and dipped her head, but did not take her eyes off him. “Thank you. You really look nice yourself.”
“What time is it?” A suddenly-serious looking Amaka asked Gbemi, who pushed back the sleeve of his black sweater to check his wrist watch. “It’s a quarter to two, why?” Gbemi asked.
“Please bring her back by eleven p.m. latest,” Amaka answered. “And I don’t mean put-her-in-a-cab-send-her-home. I mean bring her home,” she finished.
Chinwe blushed. “Amaka!” she said, feeling embarrassed. But Gbemi just smiled and said;
“It’s okay. I will bring her home by eleven. And I mean bring her home. Myself.”
Amaka nodded. “Thank you,” she said and smiled at Gbemi. “Oya, the two both of you start going!”
Chinwe smiled and hugged her cousin as Gbemi preceded her out of the house. “Have fun o,” Amaka whispered as Chinwe made to break the hug. “Don’t be too uptight. And if he wants to kiss you – let him. Life is too short.”
Chinwe pinched her cousin on her left hip and ran laughing out of the house.