I Need Your Help
I think I’m – no.
I know I’m crazy.
I mean, how else do you explain a grown man who goes to a woman’s house, and sings ‘911’ to her and eight of her co-tenants at after five in the morning?!
I believe the expression is ‘you don kolo’.
But do I care? No. Not yet.
See, if there is an award for skeptics I should win every – in fact, my face will become the face of the award. No kidding. I can rationalize, explain, and question even the most mundane of things. If the explanation is not convincing enough, I’m not buying. So I would be the last person to be drunk on love’s shayo – most especially at ‘first sight’.
But that’s what happened. That’s the only explanation I have – no matter how lame.
See, it was one of those nights when I just wanted to get home. The day had been one drag – petty arguments and confusing reports. Everyone at work was at everyone else’s throat, only common sense prevented what could easily have become a full-fledged shouting contest. Somehow, we all managed to get through it with nothing worse than a few bruised egos and tired bodies. We all knew the following day would be better.
I was one of the first out of the building. I waved goodnight to a couple of my colleagues following, and as I was trying to make up my mind as to whether a Keke Napep or a cab would be in my best interest, I happened to glance over to my left where a First Bank ATM gallery was…
And saw an image that would stay with me till my eyes closed for the last time.
She had just slid her card into the machine and was punching in what I assumed was her PIN. She had her left side to me, right hand on the machine, left hand pushing a lock of her natural hair behind her ear. She was wearing a sleeveless yellow blouse, a dark skirt and easy sandals. I don’t know what made the picture so memorable; I mean I couldn’t see her clearly –
Suddenly she turned and looked at me directly. Now the light from the gallery fell on her face, putting every curve and line on display. It was like I imagined Paul’s features were lit on the road to Damascus, when Jesus appeared to him – only lightning flashing at that moment would have made it more surreal.
It was as if we were posing for pictures.
And then she smiled, one corner of her bright-pink stained lips curving towards the high cheekbone – and for the first time in my life I felt the part of me whose function I had narrowed down to just one; pump blood, I felt it shift within me. I was done.
I don’t remember what happened between thought and inception – but when I could think again, I was right in front of her, looking in her eyes. I could actually see the lines that came together to form a kind of structure for the pupil – I felt like I was looking a constellation…or at a starburst.
Actually saw that once in a movie.
“Please, just listen – you don’t have to say anything. However mad this looks to you, I swear it is not a scam or anything like that. I work right there – “ I said, pointing to the building I just exited. “And I when I left came out a few minutes ago all I was thinking about was just going home. Now? The word just redefined itself. Home now means ‘anywhere you are’.”
Okay. At this point three things occurred to me – all at the same time.
- This is real life,
- Just because it sounds good in my head is no guarantee it would sound good out of it; not like I actually thought about it anyways, and
- The only reason why she wasn’t screaming her head off and running was probably because my colleagues had stopped at a safe distance and were watching
In fact; the only reason I wasn’t screaming my head off and running was probably for the same reason. I stood there, waiting for the typical hiss or the one-word insult, waiting for her to step around me like a pool of muddy water – anything but what she was actually doing.
The smile she had on her face earlier was still there – in fact, if anything it was brighter. Her eyes remained locked with mine, and then she started talking…or rather dew started falling from her lips.
“I think most women like to think they can drive a total stranger out of himself, even though that’s usually not their first reaction. I think I got over that about fifty seconds ago when you came over.”
I stood there, blinking like a goldfish whose bowl was slowly getting hotter. I had absolutely nothing to say. Maybe I really had not expected any response, or maybe the response I got was not the one I was expecting. Or maybe I had been so caught up in the moment I had not thought this far ahead.
“My place or yours?” she asked, smile still in place.
Now my jaw unhinged itself and fell about five feet nine inches to the floor.
And that’s why I was at a woman’s house two days later – at after five in the morning, murdering Wyclef’s 911 with my Gamalin 20 vocals. I stood right in front of her apartment and sang as though my heart would break – or my lungs would explode.
Tell me you wouldn’t do the same.
Fortunately for me, NEPA had decided to be on my side that morning so there were no generators to drown out my vocals – or screeching; as the more honest me would admit.
Soon enough, lights were coming on in different apartments.
“Hey! Hey – oga goo’ morning o! We dey try sleep na!”
The shout came from above my head. I looked up to see a grinning boy scratching his armpit and his crotch at the same time. “Don’t mind me bro,” he continued. “Just playing politically correct jare. Play on player!”
I threw a salute his way and continued my wailing. I noticed he leaned on the railings in front of his apartment and looked down with a huge smile. I felt encouraged.
I was on the chorus for the third time when I heard locks opening in the apartment I was standing in front of. I inhaled nervously because in spite of my bravado, I was actually nervous. I didn’t know if she would appreciate the ‘embarrassment’, didn’t know if she was having visitors – hell, for all I knew she could be married.
Heh. Don’t mind me. After the way we had been carrying on two nights ago she better not be married.
I was on the chorus for the third time when the doors opened and my sweetheart stepped out, looking like Ms. Piggy in Fraggle Rock as she rubbed sleep from her eyes. And then she looked and saw me.
“Hey,” she coughed out. “What are you doing here?”
I was about to respond when another figure stepped from behind her. A figure in t-shirt and boxers. A figure decidedly male.
As everything inside and out of me shrunk, I heard him ask her, “Ine, who is this? What is he doing here – at this time of the day?”
Damn. Or better still…