Just One More Thing…
End Of Story.
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Yemisi was nervous; watching the door as she was.
She did not want to call Dapo again; she had called him like fifty times in the past hour – and that wasn’t exactly bringing him any closer.
She had to be patient.
Her cocktail was beginning to warm; she put it down gently after taking a long pull from it and put it down – studying the hand she had carried it with.
It was trembling.
Hastily she put the hand in her lap and wished the whole thing with Dapo and his cousin would just disappear.
In fact; she would like to just disappear.
She hadn’t tried to sort through her feelings; every time she thought about Remi she felt as though she was betraying Dapo – and even though it had always been like that; the feeling was ten times worse now she knew they were related.
What do I do?
“The cocktail can’t be that bad,” a familiar baritone spoke from her elbow making her jump in fright. She laughed in spite of herself.
“Trust you to make an entrance,” she said before standing up and turning slightly to hug the tall figure beaming at her. She let the tension ease away from her shoulders and back, relaxing into his embrace and closing her eyes at his scent. “You smell so good,” she said.
Dapo’s laughter rumbled from his chest. “That’s Mosun’s handiwork. The whole world must know I have a sister who just returned to the country.” He released her but held on to her left hand, standing back to look at her from top to bottom, taking in her blue Ankara gown and brown sandals. “You’re really beautiful tonight,” he said with a straight face.
Yemisi looked down shyly – and then looked up, meeting his eyes. “Thank you. You look good yourself.”
And he did, in a white shirt, blue jeans and brown boat shoes. He smiled and handed her into her seat before sitting himself directly opposite her. “I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic is crazy.”
She nodded. “I’m grateful you still came sef. Didn’t you just return from IB?”
“We have plenty to talk about. How did your send-forth go?”
Yemisi looked away, her eyes filling with tears. “It was just sad. You know, sometimes you never know what you mean to people until it’s too late to do anything about it.” Reaching into her silver purse, she pulled out a white handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. “I laughed plenty too.”
She put her unoccupied hand over his. “I missed you there too. Adura wanted so much to meet you – she was hurt when I told her you weren’t coming. And the boss’ speech?” she shook her head. “It would have been easier if you were there.”
Dapo couldn’t resist. “Me – or Remi?”
He saw a flash of hurt appear in her eyes and wished he had not made that crack. She made to pull her hand away but he quickly covered it with his other one. She shook her head, but she stopped pulling away.
“We need to talk about that, Yemisi.”
“I know, Dapo. But whatever it is I’m feeling, I know the difference between you two. And if I say I miss you; Dapo, I’m talking about you. Understand?”
He nodded solemnly. “I know – and I’m sorry I made such a lame joke.”
Yemisi nodded. “That’s okay. I feel guilty myself – because there are times I have wished I hadn’t started anything with you, and I would just have met Remi and everything would be perfect.”
“That wouldn’t make such a great story,” Dapo interjected. “There’s always something bigger over the horizon.”
“But doesn’t that mean we should all keep chasing straws?”
“‘Bigger’ is relative, Yemisi. When you find your ‘bigger’, you and only you can know it. And besides – there’s always the next thing – ‘bigger’.”
She raised both her hands in mock surrender. “You win!”
Dapo signaled the nearest waiter. “Wouldn’t you rather have some ice with that drink – or would just have a new one?” he asked Yemisi.
“Yes; a new one would be good thank you.”
“I want a huge chapman – she would just have a regular cocktail.” He considered for a bit. “I would like some meats too – something I can chew on as I drink,” he said. The waiter nodded and slid off.
“Did you really think I would set you up to meet Remi like that?” he asked the girl sitting in front of him.
She averted her eyes. “I honestly didn’t know what to think! Seeing him at the wedding like that –“ She sighed. “You’re the one who
always says there’s no such thing as coincidence. Really – what would you have thought?”
Dapo shook his head. “I would have trusted you.”
“Don’t be so hard on me, Dapo – “ she broke off as the waiter appeared with their drinks, and sat silently as Dapo carried her drink off the tray and placed it in front of her before carrying his. The waiter bent over and whispered something in his ear. He nodded.
“Meats will be done in a moment,” he said as the waiter slid off again. “Why he thought it necessary to whisper will forever baffle me.” He lifted his drink and took a long pull. “You were asking me not to be hard on you – should we use your actions as a benchmark?”
Yemisi sighed. Dapo was on the warpath – there was no stopping him. In fact, if anything she could expect it to get worse. She looked at the smile playing around his lips and thought to herself how someone so – could be so –
“Don’t mind me – I’m just having myself a bit of fun at your expense.” He stirred his drink with the straw he was holding but he wasn’t looking at it. Instead, his eyes were on her face.
“You know one thing I’ve been meaning to ask you since that awkward moment?”
At her nod he continued. “I was wondering – were you that upset because you thought I had something to do with your meeting with Remi; or was it just guilt?”
Yemisi started from her seat; mouth half-open in denial – and then she slumped back, wrapping her arms around shoulders that suddenly felt really cold.
“You know,” she sounded like a turned-down radio set. “That’s one question I have been asking myself – but I haven’t been willing to look too closely at the answer. ‘Why was I so hard on you’? I knew; deep down you couldn’t have done anything that elaborate; too many parts of it depended on coincidence – which you and I know you’re not exactly a fan of –“
She broke off as Dapo pointed at her drink. The ice was a lot less than she remembered; so she lifted it and took a sip, enjoying the cold liquid as it streamed down her throat and seemed to make fluttering nerves somewhat steadier. She watched as the same waiter set a steaming plate of meat in front of her; and set her drink down before reaching for one.
“Don’t look so serious – it’s not that serious.”
Yemisi slowly bit into the piece of meat, enjoying the sticky warmth of various seasonings as they flooded her mouth. “Hmmm hmm,” she moaned out loud, looking at Dapo through half-closed lids. “This is really good!”
He smiled in response. “They should feel complimented – a top chef just approved their cooking!”
She looked at Dapo with shinny, grateful eyes; “It is true isn’t it?”
He nodded wisely, understanding what she meant. “Yes indeed it is. How does it feel?”
“It feels – surreal. I still wake up feeling like I should get going else I’ll be stuck in early-morning traffic; and then I remember I’m self-employed. An entrepreneur.”
Dapo raised his glass. “Hear hear!” and drained it, sucking away at the straw long after the glass was empty. Yemisi could barely contain her laughter.
“So what’s next, CEO?” he asked after their laughter had subsided.
“Well, I feel some self-development is in order so I registered for some cooking courses; immediately after which I’ll be headed to Poise for some on grooming too.”
Dapo nodded. “I like that. Maybe you’ll show up a judge on the next Knorr Taste Quest.”
Yemisi smiled. “Who knows?”
Dapo nodded and for the next few moments the only sounds from their table were clinking glasses and chewing jaws. Yemisi raised her drink to her lips and eyed Dapo over the rim of the glass.
“I like it when you smile, you know. Your face relaxes – and you look so young.”
He looked away from her piercing gaze in embarrassment. “Well ah – thank you. It’s really nice to hear that.”
She slowly lowered her glass and shifted uncomfortably. “You know, I’m really fond of you – I really care and worry; which is what prompted me to ask you out in the first place.”
“I know that,” Dapo said quietly.
“It did hurt when you said what you said – about saying yes to me when you could have said no. It made me feel as though you were…as though you said yes only because you felt sorry for me.”
“Yeah. That was a really thoughtless thing to say – and I really didn’t mean it. I agreed because I wanted to date you too; that and no other reason. I’m really sorry.”
Yemisi pressed his hand briefly. “It’s okay,” she sighed. “It’s okay. I have grown so much between then and now – I mean, I now have my own business to say the least.” She looked at him, her heart in her eyes. “Dapo, the time we spent together was…it redefined all of my ideas concerning what a relationship should be like – should be about. I learned a lot about myself, about guys and stuff – and it made me a better person because as timid as I was, as insecure as I used to be, I saw something I wanted – something I wanted so much I did not consider the consequences. I just went for it. And boy – am I glad I did.” She looked away, an intimate smile caressing her lips.
Dapo had never seen her look any more beautiful.
“I love you, Dapo. I always have and I always will. There’s this – there’s this kind of steadfastness you have; a kind of ‘always there’ presence that I have come to rely on. I know I don’t have to look too far to find you; I know you’re always somewhere around me. I have come to love that – about you, I mean.”
Her light skin darkened around her cheeks and she lowered her eyes briefly before facing him again. “I love you. Maybe not the want-to-jump-on-you-and-rip-your-clothes-off type, but the I-feel-safe-in-your-arms type.”
Dapo cleared his throat. “Gee thanks. That’s really encouraging – I’m only good enough for brotherly hugs!”
But he smiled at her brightly and held onto her hand.
“I’d rather have brotherly hugs than none.” He inhaled sharply. “Yemisi, I know how you feel about me. And it’s okay. We did find something – in fact; we found plenty things. Don’t you know how easy it is to forget people who matter? This whole thing has made me and you closer – I have rediscovered a friendship of life; for life. I’m thankful for that.”
Yemisi’s eyes watered. “Are we breaking up?”
A throaty chuckled emanated from Dapo’s chest. “Do friends – do siblings break up?”
The car taking Remi to the airport was quiet. The occupants were lost in thoughts of various variations.
Dapo, behind the steering wheel was thinking about that night three weeks ago – the night he returned from Ibadan and saw Yemisi.
It went well – all things considered.
Yeah. That it did.
I think it was particularly thoughtful we did not mention that Mope is still single.
Yeah. That would have been a bad idea. Even if it wasn’t meant to be, no woman likes the idea that another is preferred to her.
That – is correct.
So – I would expect that after so many dates Yemi and Remi would have plenty to say to each other.
We expect that too.
Or maybe they’ve said everything.
Maybe that too.
Remi; sitting beside Dapo was softly caressing the hand in his grip and thinking about the owner of the hand.
This is crazy. This is stupid. How can I be this in love with this girl?
She’s so sweat, so calm, so kind, so considerate. All soft and firm at once.
I wish I didn’t have to return so early. I wish I could just tell her how I feel – but I’m worried she might start to feel like some
family heirloom. Like family hand-me-downs.
However did Dapo let her go so easily?
Who cares? My luck.
But Dapo na one kain guy sha o! And wait…
Is she over him sef?
Yemisi; seated behind the two of them was also lost in thoughts of her own.
She was thinking about the guy rubbing her hand.
What does this guy want sef?
Just rubbing my hand as if it’s an ATM card.
She chuckled quietly at her own joke.
And became thoughtful again.
But what does he want?
Takes me to the cinema – and spends the whole movie holding my hand. Na hand-hold I wan chop?!
At least make a move. Or say something. Or say something more.
He keeps looking in my eyes and sighing.
Would have grabbed and kissed him too – the way the butterflies were misbehaving.
I had a rethink in time though – and I concluded it’ll be wise to wait. Let someone else do the asking for a change.
She looked up and met Dapo’s eyes in the rearview mirror. He smiled and winked at her.
“So why are you guys quiet?”
Remi jumped and let go of the hand he had been holding on the far side of his seat as though it was red hot. Dapo smiled as Yemisi
blushed and looked out of the window. He adjusted the rear-view mirror and cleared his throat.
“I suggest the two of you go check in – or at least Yemisi help Remi check in while I look for a place to park.”
Yemisi looked around, startled. They were in front of the departure area of Murtala International.
Aware of some trembling in her thighs, she shot Dapo a grateful look through the mirror before scrambling out of the car on Remi’s
They both stood and watched their cupid drive off and then walked towards the entrance; Yemisi grabbing her companion’s hand.
“I still can’t over the fact that you’re traveling with a backpack,” she stated as they cleared the policemen at the entrance.
Remi shrugged. “I wasn’t planning to stay for long – this long sef.”
“What changed your mind?”
He eyed her from his ‘Idris Elba’ height. “You really think you need to ask that?”
She nodded – and then they were at the Arik checking-in section. “I’ll be right back,” He said as he walked towards the pretty attendant who was grinning, leaving a disgruntled Yemisi standing at the line, arms folded against her chest.
“When is he going to kiss you? Shall I ask him?”
Yemisi tried to look stern but failed miserably, smiling up at Dapo as he materialized beside her. “Who send you message?” she asked.
“I want to know – that’s all. Can’t I ask?”
“No you can’t,” Yemisi answered, hugging his arm. “He should take his time – all the time he wants or needs so it won’t as though someone helped him make up his mind or coerced him into something he’d rather not be doing.”
Dapo eyed her. “All of a sudden you’re so smart.”
She chuckled. “That’s what saving Dapo did for this woman. Made her wiser and stronger – more mature.”
“Saving Dapo? What’s that – a Nollywood movie?”
Yemisi punched his shoulder lightly. “You never know.”
She rested her head against his shoulder and watched as Remi walked over.
“What happens now?”
Remi looked everywhere but at Yemisi. “Now I’m supposed to – “
Yemisi; who was hanging onto every word Remi was saying did not see the almost imperceptible nod Dapo gave over her head. The only thing she knew was that Remi stopped talking and gently took her hand.
But he was already walking away from them.
Remi looked at Yemisi. “I guess maybe I didn’t know what to say to you, Yemisi. You have to admit this is one helluva strange
He scratched his jaw. “Yeah – I mean, who would have thought I would run into a girl in an eatery, fall in love with her – only to find that she’s my cousin’s girl?”
“Yeah! I mean – waitaminute,” Yemisi interrupted herself. “What did you say?”
“I said who would have thought…”
She waved her hand impatiently. “I heard all that. I mean the almost-last part.”
Remi grinned. “Hmm…it went something like…” he leaned closer to her and whispered; “I have fallen in love with you, Yemisi. Totally, completely…”
She shook away his hand. “That’s what you should said since, you idiot!” She said as she slowly slipped her arms around his neck. Remi laughed as they kissed.
And Dapo, who was watching from the confectionary stands shook his head, grabbed the Bounty chocolate bar he had been struggling with for the past minute and walked away.
He was not smiling.
Yemisi snuggled in Remi’s arms, heart tripping a mile a minute. “So how long are you leaving me for?”
“It won’t be too long – maybe five months at most,” Remi winced as he saw the hurt that flashed in her eyes. Maybe he should have given her a non-committal answer.
“At least I have something to look forward to,” she answered, tangling her fingers with his. “Remi, I love you too. You know, sometimes those words sound like clichés and repeated phrases – but they are true sometimes too – and they have never been
truer for me than now.”
He bent his head slightly and kissed her, and did not stop till it seemed as though she was catching a bad case of vertigo. “Wait for me, Yemi. Wait.”
Remi smiled and looked over her head for his cousin. “Where is this bullheaded – “
“I think it’s time,” Yemisi said in a trembling voice – and pointed to a couple who were scrambling towards the departure point.
They had been ahead of Remi on the check-in line.
“Time to go, cousin.” Dapo spoke from Yemisi’s elbow making her jump.
“What is wrong with you sef?” she freed her right hand from Remi’s embrace and hit Dapo in the chest with it. “Just be disappearing and reappearing like one thief!”
He chuckled dryly. “I have been standing behind the two of you since – your romance has been turning my belly is why I kept quite.” He winked at Yemisi. “Time to go, cousin,” he said again.
Remi nodded. “I know. Okay.” He bent at the waist and planted a soft kiss on Yemisi’s lips.
Remi broke off and pulled his cousin in a hug. “You don’t have to tell me anything;” Dapo said. “You don’t tell me to take care of my friend. You behave yourself.”
Remi pulled away from the hug, intending to swing away but Dapo pulled him back. “Behave yourself,” he said again.
“Why are you repeating yourself again and again?” Yemisi asked, pushing herself into Remi’s arms.
“Because he does not hear anything once,” Dapo answered, scowl marring his otherwise smooth forehead. “I’ll be waiting for you over there,” he told Yemisi and walked off.
Standing as he was, thinking about Mope as he was, Dapo did not notice Yemisi till he felt a hand pull his sleeve. He turned and there she was.
“Hey, you – “
He broke off the moment his eyes met hers.
She looked like she ought to look – tears in her eyes, smudged lipstick and all; but there was something more – something that
made her eyes shine like stars.
She looked like she was seeing things.
“Hey…are you okay?”
She swallowed and nodded repeatedly for a few seconds before she could frame an answer.
“Yes…em…yes. I’m okay.” She paused. “At least I think so.” She looked up at Dapo, smiling brightly as tears slowly started trickling down her cheeks. “Your cousin just asked me to marry him.”
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The voice sounded eeriely faint – and Dapo spent a moment wondering if the person calling his name was who he thought it was.
The smile that creased his father’s face was like a child’s scrawl in mud. It lent humanity to what was to easy to mistake for a papier-mâché design. The whole thing looked crazy – with the different wires hanging from all over the place. Dapo knew where to look for his father’s face was because he knew where to look – not because the man’s face stood out distinctly in the midst of all the wires.
“I’m really happy to see you…”
A frown of disapproval materialized on Dapo’s face. “You know you shouldn’t be talking,” he said in a tone that was directly at variance with the look on his face.
You know you sound like a home video character.
You know you should be quiet!
The old man wheezed. “Well, listening to advice and suggestions is not exactly one of the Ojos’ strongest points. You know that,” he finished and then threw his head back gasping for breath. Dapo rubbed his knuckles gently but firmly across the man’s chest, averting his head to avoid the stench of rotting flesh that came from the man’s open mouth.
When his breathing had stabilized, the man nodded and smiled in his son’s direction – and Dapo, for a moment, could see what the man must have looked like forty years ago.
Maybe you’ll understand why your mother fell for him so hard.
All I need do is to look at myself – and that makes all the sense in the world to me –
“There…are some things…you need to know…”
“Dad, they can wait. Please – “
“And how is the patient this morning?”
He looked over his shoulder to see an attractive woman with a stethoscope around her neck walking in from the door. She wasn’t too tall, but she had a full body with black hair that was graying at the temples.
“Disagreeable as always, doctor. He’s been trying to talk all morning.”
Dapo caught a whiff of a perfume he believed was expensive as she swung past him to bend over his father’s chest. The smile that appeared on the old man’s face gleamed.
“Don…don’t mind him, doctor. I can still sweep you…off your…feet.”
The doctor chuckled. “I don’t doubt that, engineer. But I doubt your son’s mother would very well appreciate that.” She turned her head towards Dapo and he caught a glimpse of some purple-frilly something peeking from underneath her blouse. “You’re his son, are you not?”
Dapo grunted. “Is it that obvious?”
“If it was anymore obvious, you’d be identical twins. Does that bother you?”
“Why should it?” he answered a bit too sharply and the doctor’s smile widened. “You tell me,” she responded.
He stood up. “I need…I need some air. I’ll be right back dad,” he said and dashed outside.
What the hell is wrong with that doctor?
What the hell is wrong with you?!
Dapo pulled out his Samsung S4 from his pocket and turned it on.
About time you did that. It’s been two days.
He stared down the hall while the phone loaded, trying not to think about of one man in particular lying a few meters from him at that moment. There was a smiling wheelchair-bound woman being wheeled in his direction, bantering and laughing with the smiling boy who was wheeling her. There was a male nurse discussing passionately with another female doctor who was patiently responding to his rather sharp retorts.
There was a moment in which Dapo wondered; as people are wont to do when they are in places like the one he was in; what the people in the different wards where in there for – and which of them would make it back home alive. He wondered what dying people saw..what they experienced in their last moments. He wondered if they wished they could set things right.
And he thought about his father.
A slight vibrating from his left hand brought his attention back to the moment, and he looked at the phone screen to see he had several text and Whatsapp messages. He sighed, because he could think of who the bulk of the messages were from. He made to open them – and then he changed his mind, instead looking up in time to see the doctor stepping out of his father’s room.
“Excuse me doctor,” he started as he walked towards her. She stopped and turned in his direction, squinting slightly before smiling as she recognized him.
“Handsome man – hope you didn’t take anything I said in there personal…”
Dapo shook his head. “That’s not an issue. How’s he looking?”
The doctor looked serious. “He’s holding up okay; considering. I would say continue praying; but don’t raise your hopes too high. Your sister was the one here yesterday?”
At Dapo’s nod she smiled. “She’s very pretty and quite nice. Also, she loves your dad.”
He grinned. “Mosun loves everybody.”
She grinned at him. “Is that her name?”
Dapo nodded again.
“She’s quite pretty. And you,” she paused, looking him over unabashedly. “Black sheep abi?”
“That’s what they all say,” was his distracted reply. “So…you were saying…”
He liked the way she became all businesslike. “His prognosis is pretty grim – so are his chances, but really it could swing either way.” She patted his shoulder. “Pray.”
He watched as she walked away, looking but not really seeing. And as he snapped back to head into his dad’s room, his phone began to vibrate.
You are going to have to talk with her sooner or later.
He clenched his jaw and slid the circle in the centre of the phone’s screen upwards. “Hello?” he said.
“Dapo…how is daddy doing?”
He closed his eyes, concentrating on the sound of her voice as though he was young Clark in that Man of Steel movie listening to his mother. She was worried.
“Dad is fine – holding up pretty well, as well as can be expected. How are you?”
A sound, something that sounded like a sob mixed with laughter came drifting down the phone. “I’m fine. How are you doing, baby?”
A half-smile appeared on his face. “Honestly, I haven’t had time to think about that. I’m just pretty much in ‘doing’ mode – just doing what I need to do.”
“And mummy? Mosun?”
A pair of heels clicking rapidly on floor tiles made itself known to him, and he turned over his shoulder to see Mosun coming towards him. “She just got here,” he said to Yemisi. “Hold on a bit, please.”
He hugged his sister back, and then leaned away to look into her eyes. “You’re not supposed to be here for at least…” he broke away to look at his left wrist. “…three hours. What are you doing?”
She sniffed at him. “I cannot stay at home doing nothing, worrying about him. And mummy was steadily driving me crazy with her wails and screams. I just…” she shook her braided tresses. “How is he doing?”
“He’s a lot better – the doctor just left sef.” And then he remembered Yemisi was waiting.
“I’m so sorry – “ he began, waving Mosun away.
Yemisi interrupted him. “Hey, it’s okay. Tell her I said hi.” She was quiet for the space of three heartbeats, and then; “when are you coming back?”
“Have Chidi them paid your balance?”
Yemisi snorted again. “Dapo, seriously? Get back here and we’ll talk about that.”
“You do know though – whether my dad dies or not, life goes on, right?”
He chuckled mirthlessly. “Well, I’m not known for my political correctness. And it is true, whether you admit it or not.”
“Whatever. When do you expect…”
He interrupted her. “Saturday most likely. Shade will be arriving tomorrow – and she intends to spend quite some time so…I should be back then – Sunday latest.”
“Okay. I’ll be waiting.”
Some spirit of mischief in him prompted him to ask. “How is Remi?”
“He’s – hey! How am I supposed to know how your cousin is doing?”
Dapo laughed and hung up.
Hope you realize – she’s gone too sha.
Could you be a lot more obvious?
Shoving the phone in his pocket, he walked back into his father’s ward.
Their father looked at peace, laying so still that but for the beeping monitor he would easily have passed for dead. Brother and sister stood side by side and watched the man quietly, lost in their own thoughts.
“I was shocked to see you,” Mosun whispered suddenly. “You and dad are not exactly the best of pals.”
Dapo scoffed. “Yeah maybe – but he is my father isn’t he? There’s nothing he or I can do to change that.”
“I think it’s because you’re like him so much. Mum always says that – “
“Can you guys not hold that over my head? You don’t want me to turn out like him, yet you cannot help reminding me at every opportunity that I am like him. How does that work?”
Mosun smiled sadly. “You know we love you, D. No matter what. You know mum is nuts about you. And me…” she winked at him. “I’m happy you’re my big brother. When I look at you, I see everything dad once was – I see everything he could have been…”
“And that’s why I’m so hard on you – so…so you do not turn out like me.”
The siblings turned towards the voice. Their father was struggling to sit up in spite of all the wires and tubes surrounding him. Dapo rushed over to his side and pushed him down none-too-gently.
“This is not Nollywood, ‘papa’. You’re not dying, you hear? Save all the ‘I’m-sorry-I-meant-well’ speeches for later, okay?” he said roughly.
He turned to his sister, walking away from the bedside towards the door. “It’s true, isn’t it? Abeg!”
The door handle was turning before his hand closed on it – and then the door opened and he was face to face with a very beautiful buxom woman whose lips and cheeks looked like they were made for smiling – even though they were busy with a frown at that moment. And then the golden-brown eyes met his and they expressed themselves, natural warmth lighting the gold.
“My darling!” the woman said happily, and pulled Dapo against her blue-blouse covered chest. He closed his eyes, inhaling the scent of the woman who gave him life; the woman whose love would never leave room for doubt.
“How is the food at the hotel?”
Dapo grunted. “I don’t do hotel food o. Why would I, when Iya Ibrahim is still alive and well?”
“She’s still there? Shey you will take me for lunch – or is it dinner now?” Mosun interjected while their mother rolled her eyes at their antics. Dapo grinned and nodded.
“Of course. Now we should give the wife some time with her husband,” he said as he gently took Mosun’s elbow. “We’ll see you later, maami.”
As they stepped into the corridor, Mosun pulled at his hand. “I saw Muyiwa sef.”
Dapo was surprised. “Muyiwa! Where did you see the mufu?”
“At the airport – said he came to drop his uncle off. He insisted on driving me to the park sef. I had to send the cab guy I’d called away.”
“So how is he doing? I didn’t even know he was in Lagos!”
Mosun poked his side with her elbow. “What do you actually know? He said he’s been asking you for your number – sending you messages on Facebook and so on. No response.”
“He should have tried my Twitter handle,” Dapo grumbled. “What is it that he wants to tell me?”
Mosun chuckled. “Well for one, he did say I should tell you Mope did not get married after all.”
Dapo stopped in his tracks, mouth wide open like the expressway in broad daylight. “What?!”
“Yes o – he also said I should watch when I tell you cos you might just react like that,” she said, pointing a finger at his open mouth. “Why do you find that so shocking? Who’s Mope again?”
His thoughts in a whirl, Dapo kept walking, no longer hearing his sister as she continued speaking. Suddenly it seemed as though there was so much for him to do. He had to clear things up with his parents, get Yemisi and Remi sorted out, catch up with work –
So Mope is not married!
He didn’t know whether to be happy or sad.
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I could lie here forever; Dapo thought.
The rush of the waves sounded like Lagbaja’s saxophone, running soothing fingers along the nerve endings inside his head. Softly blending lights, stars blinking like diamonds laid in blue velvet – pink lips softening in a smile all lined his vision.
Which was strange, considering his eyes were closed.
Some of the diamonds in his imagination – cold and hard, began to trickle down his back and his eyes flew open. His clutching right hand closed on air as Yemisi danced away – and then he jumped up and began a dance of his own as wet sand she poured on his back entered his shorts.
“What is wrong with you!” he yelled, jumping up and down, shaking his shorts violently while other folk paused in their merrymaking and looked at the alien amongst them.
After dancing all variations of etighi, azonto and creating some new ones, he looked around, freezing when he finally found his girlfriend.
Those are boobs, my friend. BOOBS. When was the last time you really looked at those?
Dapo posed as if he was thinking deeply. “Whoa. That’s such a cheap below-the-belt blow,” he complained.
Think about it.
”I am thinking!” His shoulders drooped. “It has been a while.”
His heart pounded as he looked at his girlfriend of five weeks for the first time; really looked at her as a woman not as a friend or sister, as he liked to tell himself. What he saw was a woman; a very beautiful one at that.
Her skin…well, it wasn’t particularly blemish-free or stained, but he did not mind. She wore it well – she gleamed.
Her boobs were like oranges – small oranges; barely making bumps in the loose t-shirt she was wearing. He didn’t care. They were exquisite. Her legs –
He always knew how fabulous her legs were but looking at them now, laid bare by bum shorts, he thought they looked like well made barbeque turkey.
He liked barbeque turkey.
And her hips…
You better get over yourself and this ridiculous I-feel-like-I’m-dating-my-sister bullshit syndrome in your head and take what’s being offered. It won’t always be there, you know.
“And that IS the wahala.”
“Are you okay?” Yemisi crept closer, caution in her steps despite the concern in her voice. Dapo said nothing, allowing his whole demeanor speak defeat. Yemisi forgot herself and hurried towards him.
“What is…” Her sentence was punctuated by a shriek as Dapo burst into motion, charging towards her as she turned and ran as though her life depended on it. She was on automatic; Dapo marveled as she went from zero to one eighty in seconds.
“I’m going to catch you!” he yelled, laughing loudly as he accelerated. He felt good, tearing through the cold night air and beach-partying people in pursuit. Yemisi’s shrieking laughter sounded closer than before, and he ran even harder. He caught a glimpse of pink lips, white teeth as she looked over her shoulder – and then she dropped below his sight as she missed her footing. Dapo closed his eyes and executed a dive Sarsaparilla would have envied, catching her midriff and rolling over to end up on top.
Her laughter washed over him in waves of beautiful calm, and he opened his eyes, expecting to look into her shiny ones.
Imagine his surprise when it remained pitch black.
He nodded this way and that, checked by soft yet firm lumps of flesh on either side of his head. He stopped moving as he realized the only thing ‘soft yet firm lumps of flesh’ around where they were could be.
Yemisi’s loud laughter confirmed his thoughts and he looked up, his lips a few inches from hers.
How do you kiss your sister?
Idiot. Try ‘how do you kiss your girlfriend’ and whether you like it or not…
“Yeah. I get.” He mumbled and slid upwards till he was eye to eye with Yemisi. Her laughter faded out in time with the Mariah Carey playing in the background; in time with the clashing waves and incoming tide, in time with the dancing and laughing couples till all that remained were her eyes and lips; eyes glued nervously to Dapo’s hungry ones and lips that kept opening to allow a pink appendage dart out at intervals.
He focused on that and followed it through.
It’s so easy to forget what’s it’s like to be caught in a passionate embrace with someone you care about. Frighteningly easy to forget what a passionate kiss feels like.
It wasn’t ‘shocking’ or ‘electrifying’ or anything like that, it just felt as though his tongue had a million nerve endings and someone had dumped a five-flavor ice cream on it. Various sensations and tastes scrambled for expression in his head; anymore and his brain would short-circuit.
Dapo winced involuntarily as Yemisi’s teeth tightened around his tongue in reaction to the cold tide that suddenly drenched them both, leaving them spluttering and gasping.
He wiped his forehead clean of water and sand, and then finally opened his eyes.
Opened them – and couldn’t close them anymore even if he wanted to.
And he did not want to.
For a second, Dapo doubted the girl in front of him was the same as his friend Yemisi. It wasn’t as though she morphed or anything.
She just did not look like Yemisi.
Her hands were in her hair attempting to wring it dry. Only somehow the pose made her look like Beyonce on stage in front of salivating men. The wet t-shirt she had on was wet and therefore molded itself to every available curve on the surface of her upper body. There was a lot of ‘curve’ and so Dapo’s throat began to bench press eagerly. Her bra –
Something was pulling his eyes, but it wasn’t till he looked down he realized what it was. Her bellybutton was a dimple that accentuated rather than flawed the smooth landscape the wet t-shirt had exposed. There was a bulge where her tummy was – but he really did not care.
A frilly blue something whose color matched something else higher up peeked over the edge of her shorts, subtly waving. He couldn’t seem to decide whether to keep leading with his eyes or to follow them with his hands. Something long-forgotten stirred to life and slowing fanned itself into a raging fire.
“Something you like, boyfie?”
He tried to speak but only a croak came out. He tried again.
“Words fail me, so I think I should revert to that age-old but evergreen and ever-true cliché – ‘action speaks louder than words’.
His eyes narrowed as Yemisi lay back on the wet sand with as much poise as she would lie on a divan. Keeping her eyes locked with his, she spoke;
“Why aren’t you eating?”
Dapo looked from his knees. Yemisi was seated at his elbow, chewing on KFC chicken as though her teeth had been replaced with glass. He smiled.
“I’m probably having too much fun looking at you,” he answered. His left hand rose in a lazy arc that ended on her head and got lost in her hair.
“Don’t do that o, you know what they say about a woman’s hair.”
Dapo’s hand stilled but remained where it was. “And what do they say about that?”
She shook his hand off and continued eating. “Are you a learner?”
The extended silence drew her attention from the chicken she was holding to her boyfriend. Dapo sat still, head cocked in the direction of dunes in the distance. She wanted to ask what he was thinking – but she did not want to interrupt what might be a profound moment for him.
She reached for the hand nearest her – his left hand and held it.
He squeezed back gently and then began to talk.
“You know my dad’s sick, right?”
Yemisi was silent, her heart lurching with fear as Dapo continued to speak. “You don’t have to answer that. How would you know? It’s not like you’re psychic or anything.”
She liked the warmth from his hand whenever he pressed hers like he was doing just then.
“He’s sick. Diabetes. And it looks like…” his shoulders slumped. “My mum has been asking me to come home but I really don’t care. I don’t want to see him.”
Yemisi returned the gentle pressure of his hands but remained silent. It wasn’t the time to start sermonizing.
“She misses me, you know. She called me yesterday and was crying. Mosun’s not back from Spain yet but Peju has been with mum since.” He paused for a moment. “You remember Peju, right?”
“Your elder sister? You guys are cool now, abi?”
He shrugged. “Makes no difference to me either way. We just happen to be born of the same mother – we don’t have to get along.”
Yemisi had to ask. “And Mosun?”
She felt her heart soften like Eclairs that had stayed too long in a conductor’s pocket as he smiled. It did something to his face, something that made him look like he was fifteen years old again.
“She’s great. I suspect she’s found herself a moustache twirling Zorro wannabe,” his fingers plucked at an imaginary moustache as he turned his nose in the air. He had to reach out to stop himself from falling as Yemisi punched his shoulder.
“I guess you guys get on so well because you’re the last two.”
“How does it feel to be the last?” Dapo asked Yemisi, shifting wet hair away from her face. “Lonely?”
“No o. Just overworked and over disciplined. Everyone was too concerned that I would end up spoilt so they paid too much attention to disciplining me. Sore buttocks and tear-drenched pillows describe most of my nights growing up – but it’s okay. I forgave them a while ago.”
Dapo’s face closed as though a shutter was lowered over it. “Well I’m happy for you.”
The shrill ring of his phone interrupted the conversation. Yemisi reached into her bag and handed him the guilty phone – the Samsung Galaxy.
“Hello?” he answered, the question in his response telling Yemisi he did not know the caller.
“It’s me jo, baby cousin.”
Dapo flared up. “This your baby cousin greeting is really annoying. I have a name, you know?”
“Easy now, no vex. How far Dapo?”
He felt his muscles loosen and he closed his eyes as Yemisi’s firm hands massaged his shoulders. He exhaled slowly.
“I dey, ‘Lekun. You don enter country?”
“Yes o! I don dey for almost three weeks now. I bin dey Lag, then I enter Ib go greet my people. I suppose show Lagos next week then enter your side.”
“No problem na. Just tell me when you wan come,” Dapo answered, smiling as Yemisi gasped from his quick kiss. “I dey always.”
His cousin’s soft chuckle drifted down the line. “You go text me address na,” he said.
“No wahala. If I no send am tonight just call me tomorrow.”
“Okay now.” There was some silence, and then a click as the line disconnected.
“Just send the text now,” Yemisi said.
Dapo dived on her. “After I kiss you some more,” he said.
Their laughter was loud and happy.
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“He does not kiss me,” Yemisi grumbled.
“Have you talked to him about it?” Her sister Toke asked.
“Talked to me about what?”
The sisters turned to see Dapo striding into the house, looking as comfortable as the landlord.
“How do you know this place?” Yemisi avoided his open arms. “I never brought you here.”
Dapo tapped her forehead. “You have me on the brain – which means you drag me along wherever you go.”
Yemisi looked confused. “No, I don’t have you on the brain o. I don’t. What kind of talk is that…” Dapo interrupted her as he spread himself over the sofa. “Your phone’s ringing,” he smirked.
She looked around. “I cannot see it. Where is it?” Yemisi asked, feeling defensive.
“You’re lying on it, silly!”
Yemisi indeed began to feel the phone’s vibrating against her tummy and she looked down, aghast.
Her eyes opened.
“Not that dream again,” she moaned as she took the ringing phone and was about to hurl it away when the name on the screen caught her eye. Dapo.
“Good morning babe. Slept well I trust?”
“Yeah…I did… How are you?”
“I’m fine.” There was a pause, and then “No church today abi?”
Yemisi scratched her head. “There is o. I’m just going to a later service – I overslept.”
“Okay. See, someone is going to call you sometime during the day. Yeah, I gave him your number.”
“What’s the call about?”
Dapo chuckled. “You’ll find out soon enough. One clue though – Blue Flame Catering is in effect.”
“Later, dear.” His bubbling laughter was the last thing she heard before the phone disconnected.
What was that all about? Blue Flame what?
Yemisi pushed her feet in white and blue slippers before standing up, adjusted the t-shirt that clearly wasn’t hers, and then walked to her wardrobe. She opened the doors and admired herself in the full-length mirror on the inside of the left door. Turning this way and that, she cocked her head to one side and eyed herself up and down critically. She liked what she was seeing; her skin looked flushed and healthy, there were lights dancing in her eyes and she wanted to dance.
“I should dance. I’m not single anymore,” she laughed at her own silliness and then pondered the truth of that. She did have a boyfriend. A boyfriend who had been with several women, yet thought her legs were the hottest he’d ever seen.
That counted for something. Dapo wasn’t known for bullshitting.
“Keep it coming; D honey and I may just ask you to marry me. Let’s see what you’ll do then!”
She rummaged through her wardrobe. She was going to do something she hadn’t done in a long while.
Wear a dress.
Yemisi was waiting for the traffic guy to pass her out of the parking lot so she could head on home when Celine Dion’s ‘We Don’t Say Goodbye’ started humming from her bag. “Okay, that’s just somehow,” she said aloud.
“Good afternoon,” she said as she silenced the phone’s ringing.
“Is this Blue Flame Catering?” A male baritone responded.
“Blue…what?” came automatically out of her mouth – and then she remembered Dapo’s call. “Yes, yes it is. So sorry.”
A chuckled wafted down the line. “Oh okay. I was afraid I got the wrong number. I got your contact from one Dapo – he says you handle cooking engagements.”
“I do…yes, I do,” Yemisi answered, wondering why she could feel her heartbeat in her fingertips. “What do you need?”
“Okay. I’m getting married in a month, and I want your quote for three hundred guests – feeding, serving, wines…the whole works.”
“That’s…that’s not a problem but I’m going to need more specific information. Why don’t I just talk with your wife?”
“She’s not here right now. I’ll give her your number and have her call you. How’s that sound?”
The sudden blare of a horn alerted Yemisi that she was holding traffic. She quickly put her car in gear and continued talking.
“Yes sure. That’s fine. Thank you.”
The man chuckled. “Thank you. I’m Chidi by the way.”
“Sorry. I’m –“
Chidi cut her off. “Yemisi. I know. Later. Thanks!” and hung up.
Thoughts chasing themselves in her head, Yemisi waited till she cleared the church compound and traffic before she stopped the car. Her heart was booming loudly – she was shaking in excitement.
“Oh Lord,” she said, “thank you for giving me a crazy boyfriend!”
And then she called Dapo.
“You didn’t die did you?” he said as soon as he picked. “I didn’t think you would either.”
“You could…you could have warned me! Blue Flame Catering? What is that?”
“You don’t approve?”
Yemisi’s insides went soft. He was only trying to help – and besides, she knew fully well it wouldn’t have happened any other way.
Blue Flame Catering. It sounded…professional.
“I like it actually,” she gushed. “I was just taken by…what inspired it anyway?”
“I sat down with Ayo – that my advertising friend and ran some thoughts by him. We came up with about twenty names – and then whittled down to three, the best of which is Blue. I would have just sent you everything but there wasn’t time, and Chidi has been pestering me.”
“I do like how it sounds.” She couldn’t help wondering what the other names were.
As though reading her thoughts he said, “I’ll send the other names to you shortly – via text.” And hung up.
Easing back into traffic, the thought that her mum was still at home brought a smile to her face. Some supervisory role would be great. Meanwhile, she had to wrap her head around whether she had hurt her boyfriend or not, and if she wasn’t even being overly sensitive.
Yeah. Mothers are so necessary.
“When was the last time you spoke to daddy?” She asked her mother, rolling eba back and forth playfully, molding it into a ball. She hefted it before dipping it in the vegetable stew – only then did she look at the older woman.
“He called just after you left for church.” Mrs. Adeoba sighed. “He says it’s really cold this time of year. I miss my baby jare.” She paused and looked at her daughter.
“This…friend of yours sounds like a gem. And you say you’ve been friends?”
Yemisi’s throat moved spasmodically as she swallowed the eba, rejoiced as cold water followed – and then she spoke.
“Yes, maami. We met in 300 level back in school and we’ve been friends ever since.”
“And how do you feel about him?”
“I…I like him na. I mean, I’m really fond of him and everything. He makes me smile – he’s so dependable and stuff.”
“So why aren’t you dating him yet? Abo de ni e?”
Yemisi nearly spilled her stew as she started, looking at her mum in amazement.
“Yes ke! If this boy is as good as you say he is – listening to you talk about him is embarrassing sef, why is he not your boyfriend?”
Yemisi grumbled, straightening her eba and taking a huge handful. “Be patient, mummy. I’ll bring a man home when it’s time!”
“Okay o! Iwo lomo.” Mrs. Adeoba’s bangles clinked as she threw the newspaper down. “Let’s talk about this wedding. What did the wife ask for concerning the menu?”
“She hasn’t called – “ The Celine Dion song cut through whatever she was about to say. “Excuse me ma,” she said to her mum who nodded. And then she picked the call.
“Hello, Blue Flame Catering Services. How may I help you?”
“This is Rita – I’m Chidi’s fiancé. “
“Oh! Hi Rita,” Yemisi began. “My name is –“
“Yemisi. I know,” Rita laughingly replied.
Yemisi sighed. “Okay! So you were supposed to talk me through your feeding requirements…”
“Three million, nine hundred and sixty-seven thousand naira and some kobo,” Yemisi breathed, putting down the calculator and looking at her mother with a mixture of fear and surprise. “I had no idea weddings cost this much o,” she finished.
“You haven’t done one yet have you?” her mother eyed her in disdain. “Don’t worry – it’s even good you have this business now. You would have saved enough money for your own!”
“Mother, I love you but sometimes…” Yemisi shook her head and rose as a knock came from the door. “Who’s there?”
The words were mumbled and indistinct but she had a feeling she knew who was standing there. Sure enough, she opened the door to find a grinning Dapo, arms loaded with several Shoprite bags.
“Hey there girlfriend,” he said.
Yemisi arrested her forward movement that was supposed to end in a kiss; remembering her mother was somewhere behind her, and turned it into a hug. Then she leaned back, hands on hips to regard her boyfriend quizzically.
“Why didn’t you call first?!” She whispered harshly. “MTN and GLO are quite fine today sef o, and my mum…”
Dapo laughed heartily. “Are you going to help me with these things or…?”
Yemisi stuck her tongue out at him as they entered the house, Dapo shutting the door with his elbow below following his gliding girlfriend into the kitchen.
“Yemisi, who is that o?”
“It’s…it’s…” Yemisi looked at Dapo who shrugged. “It’s the boy I was just telling you about – Dapo…”
The words were barely out of her mouth before Mrs. Adeoba appeared at the door like some apparition. “So why is he in the kitchen?” She asked, glowering. “You could at least have brought him to the sitting room first.”
“Good afternoon ma,” Dapo greeted, back creaking loudly as he prostrated, something he had not done in a while. “E ka san.” He finished, repeating the greeting in Yoruba.
“Thank you jare, omo dada. Pele! How are your parents?” She smiled at Dapo and took his arm, literally dragging him after her as she went back the way she came. Yemisi mouthed ‘cross-examination’ at Dapo when he looked over his shoulder at her, and she smiled as he winced and shook his head.
“Tell me about yourself. Where are your parents from…”
Yemisi’s smile grew wider as her mother’s voice faded into the background.
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“Why hello there,” Dapo said as Yemisi stepped into his apartment. “Uh…there’s nothing wrong with MTN or Etisalat today o,” he added.
Yemisi’s smile was bright. “I wasn’t sure you’d pick,” she answered. “I wasn’t sure you won’t be in one of those your alcohol-induced hazes.” She dumped her bags and hugged Dapo tightly. “Thank you for Monday again,” she finished.
“Ah. Em…don’t mention it – again.” Dapo said as he eased away, face averted slightly. “You’re my babe, abi?”
Standing hands on hips, Yemisi looked picturesque image in a pink blouse and azure jeans. Her hair was done in a ponytail and soft-soled shoes completed her ensemble. Standing next to her t-shirt and boxers while resisting the urge to scratch his armpit and yawn, Dapo felt filthy.
She looked around. “You’re the first guy I’ve dated who I don’t need to clean up after. I’m not sure how that makes me feel.”
Picking up the bigger of the two bags she winked at Dapo as she walked past.
He waited till she had disappeared in the kitchen and moved quickly towards the larger of two sofas in the sitting room. He disappeared behind it for a few seconds – and then reappeared carrying a bottle of McDowell’s. Throwing furtive glances towards Yemisi’s back, he tiptoed till he was past the kitchen door – and then ran full speed into the room at the end of the short corridor.
“I hope you’re still in ‘banga-eating’ mode,” his girlfriend remarked when he emerged behind her seconds later. “I’m making you enough for two days.”
“Have you seen Ini Edo lately?” she asked Dapo, snuggling against his chest. “She’s so hot.”
Dapo looked down at the top of her head. “Yeah, I noticed she’s shed all the baby fat and stuff. I assume that happened because she started having babies, yes?”
“Who cares? She’s hot!” Yemisi snuggled deeper against Dapo who quickly put down the glass he was carrying to avoid spilling the juice in it. He nuzzled the back of her neck and whispered, “Maybe, but you’re hotter.”
“You’re just saying that,” she mumbled sleepily, shy smile caressing her lips. “You don’t really think so.”
“You know I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it,” Dapo answered, heat from his mouth raising goose pimples on her neck. “You have the nicest legs I have ever seen on a human being – male, female or the third kind.”
Yemisi sat up, her eyes searching Dapo’s, “Do you mean that?” she breathed.
“Why do girls like to deflect compliments? Why do you think every guy who pays you a compliment has an agenda? Well, you’re mine already – what kind of agenda could I have?”
Yemisi lowered her eyes. “Sometimes its insecurity,” she said slowly. “And sometimes – it’s really because you’ve heard so much of it from the wrong sources it’s lost all meaning.”
Dapo kissed her forehead. “Truth is truth, honey. No matter the source or how many times it’s repeated.” He pushed away from her gently. “You wanna watch some more AfroNolly stuff while we wait for the meat – or I should just kick your delightful ass in Scrabble?”
Interestingly, Dapo’s delightful ass was being kicked.
A few minutes into the game, they were neck to neck. After a bit Dapo got in the lead and then Yemisi caught up and sped past – back and forth like that. Then Yemisi hit premium by spelling D-A-R-L-I-N-G-S; springing off an ‘S’ Dapo had left carelessly unattended.
That was the end.
Imagine playing Scrabble with someone who had the entire Webster’s dictionary – that hardbound, nineteen thousand one hundred and eighty-six-word unabridged volume in her head.
It was worse than that.
After a while, Dapo simply stopped playing and sat back; watching Yemisi effortlessly massacre him. And she, having the most fun she’d had in a long while, kept dishing it out.
What saved Dapo was they ran out of tiles – else it would have ended something similar to that mythical Nigeria vs. India football game; 100 – 2.
As it were, the final score was too shameful to write down.
“You could have at least allowed me win, seeing how I’m the man and all that,” Dapo said, sounding like he was across the table from a client. Yemisi laughed, covered her eyes and stuck out her tongue at him.
“Score one for all the –“ She stopped talking with the abruptness of a loudly-playing sound system suddenly switched off.
“All the hearts I’ve broken abi? Always tagged you for the vindictive type,” Dapo finished as he rose to his feet. “Drink? I’ve developed a thirst.”
Yemisi stood up and blocked his exit. “I’m sorry. That was careless of me – I meant nothing by it.”
“I know, no offense taken,” Dapo smiled and kissed her perfunctorily. “I do need a drink.” He stepped around her and disappeared into the kitchen.
“The meat is burning o!” he yelled some seconds later.
“So how did Toke’s party go?” Dapo asked, mouth full of banga-flavored Semo.
“Oh, it was great,” Yemisi answered. “They liked – her friends actually liked the food. They kept coming for more helpings and her husband asked why I wasn’t married.”
Dapo sucked noisily on stockfish bone. “You should…” suck “…take this…” suck “…cooking of a thing seriously though…” suck “I mean….seriously….” suck
Yemisi chuckled. “I wouldn’t know what to do – and who would trust me with cooking for a party sef? I couldn’t handle that volume!”
“Toke did, and have you tried to cook that volume before?”
“Don’t knock it till you try it.” Dapo picked up a toothpick and looked at Yemisi, punctuating each word with a stab in her direction. “I trust you, and I know you’ll make a go of it. “
“Maybe it’s what I need sef, after plenty years of the same thing. I don’t know how it would look sha, me professional spinster cooking for marrying couples and naming ceremonies.”
Pausing dramatically, raised toothpick a few inches from his open mouth, Dapo looked at her as though she was overpriced boxers in a boutique. “That’s encouraging – and me being your boyfriend and all,” he finished.
Yemisi punched him in the shoulder. “Oh you – you know what I meant jo!”
He nodded. “Yeah, you’re my friend and that’s why you feel so comfortable being so pessimistic about our week-long relationship. I mean, what was I thinking?”
“Actually, that is your fault. You’ve been reminding me of it all day.”
He pulled the toothpick from his mouth. “And how have I been doing that?”
She ticked the points off her right-hand fingers as she talked. “Kissing me like a sister, not looking me in the eye – and hugging you is like hugging a teddy bear; even the bear puts its arms where you want them to be!”
Dapo’s sigh coincided with Yemisi’s release of pent-up breath, and they both laughed self-consciously.
“Okay, I admit. I have been feeling a bit awkward since…I was just wondering how to make the transition from ‘friend’ to ‘lover’. You can’t blame me for that,” Dapo finished.
“Maybe if you stopped worrying about hurting me and just enjoyed the fact that you’re no longer alone, you might actually start to live like a lover. Ever think about that?”
Dapo looked her in the eye. “No, but I’m starting to.”
“Is there some sort of juju you have?” Yemisi asked, arms around Dapo’s neck.
Dapo rubbed his hands up and down her waist and smiled. “Why do you ask?”
“I like…like kissing you. I think I like it too much sef.” She self-consciously brushed her hair as an okada sped past, and then smiled at him. “If this is why you’ve been holding out on me, it was well worth it o.”
“Is your mum still around?”
Yemisi untangled her arms from around his neck, pulled her keys from her back pocket and opened her car door before answering. “Yes o, the woman no wan gree go. I tire sef.”
Dapo dropped his arm. “Give me a minute,” he threw over his shoulder.
“And where are you going?” Yemisi said, confusion on her face.
“To freshen up. We’re going to say hello to your mum.”
“Oh. Wait.” Yemisi ran up to him. He’d turned and was waiting for her, looking expectant.
“Yes?” he said.
“She’s not home at the moment – she’s visiting friends or something like that.”
Dapo looked at his girlfriend patiently, nodding as he realized; I’m obviously not the only one who’s scared about all this.
She touched his left arm. “You’ll meet her soon enough, baby.”
He nodded. “Whatever makes you happy.”
Suddenly he scooped her, laughing at her screaming and gently deposited her on the boot of her Corolla. The shriek became laughter as she put her hands against his chest. “You crazy boy, we’re outside o!” she said. “What are you doing?”
“Being crazy,” he answered, and kissed her slowly, savoring the banga aftertaste that flavored her lips. Yemisi gasped in surprise, hands freezing around Dapo’s shoulders as she tried to meet him passion for passion. He stopped and looked into her glazed eyes.
“Tell me that felt like a brotherly kiss,” he said, grinning impishly and supporting her with his hands around her waist.
“Hmm…uh…” Yemisi looked like she was trying to gather her scattered wits. “Why did you stop na?”
“Do you want to finish everything in one day? Cool down jo,” Dapo said. His girlfriend burst out laughing. It’s funny how everything is different.
“I swear, what possessed me to ask you out I’ll never know,” she said when she was calmer. “If I knew this is what I was asking for…”
“We can make it work,” he said, interrupting her. “I know you see something in me – something worth you risking your heart. Do you think I’m going to play around with that?”
He eased away and helped her down from the rear of the vehicle. “You know me better than that,” he finished.
Yemisi nodded. “I do, don’t I?”
Dapo nodded humbly as he opened the car door for her. He waited till she was seated comfortably before shutting the door and putting his head through the window.
“Tell your mum I said hi. And think seriously about the…you know; the catering thing.”
His fingers lightly brushed her forehead and she touched his cheek with her palm. Holding it against his mouth, he closed his eyes and pressed his lips to the center of her hand. He felt Yemisi shudder and he smiled, tasting the different parts of her hand. There was a haunting scent around her wrist and he nuzzled it, trying to remember where he had smelt it before.
The memory eluded him and he deepened his kissing of her wrist – and the next moment he was kissing air.
Her hand was gone.
“What are you doing?” Yemisi asked, bosom heaving as she dragged in air. “You don’t want me to go home again abi?”
“Mi casa, esu casa,” Dapo replied as he leaned back out of the car window. “Oya fasten your seatbelt –“
“Stop. Just stop, you hear? I’m your baby, not a baby o.” She strapped the seatbelt and took hold of the steering wheel. “I’ll call you as soon as I’m home,” she said.
“Thank you for not drinking anymore.”
Dapo shrugged. “I’m not a alcoholic – and I don’t drink because it solves problems or makes me forget. It helps me sleep nights it’s hard to.”
Yemisi dipped her head. “I don’t care why. Thank you for stopping.”
“You’re welcome. I want to –“
Dapo broke off as Yemisi sped off, waving goodbye to him.
As he turned to head back into his compound, a voice across the street stopped him.
“Uncle Dapo! Wassup?!”
He waved at a grinning thirteen year-old. “Just chilling, my guy. Just chilling.”
The boy gave the thumbs-up signal. “I want to be like you when I grow up!” he yelled.
Dapo smiled. “Grow up first, you hear?”
The boy ran off as Dapo waved again and walked into his compound.
Read Episode I here
Read Episode II here
Read Episode III here
Read Episode IV here
No o. Dapo wasn’t shocked, not in the slightest. Yemisi was crazy; he knew.
But he hadn’t seen that coming.
“What?” he said, staring at his closest friend like she was naked. He had not seen her naked before.
She smiled. “Hear me out. I know how it must sound to you – but let me have my day in court before you shut me down, okay?
“We’ve been friends forever, and allow me brag and say I’m the closest thing to a soul-mate you have – if there’s such a thing. That’s one.
“Two; I want to be right there with you – more than you’ve allowed me be in the past. I want to mean more to you.
“Three; you’ve been single for too long; and I’m not talking about those half-hearted attempt at relationships. I’m talking about how long it’s been since you allowed someone into that – that sore heart of yours. The last girl was that one you met on Facebook….what’s her name again?”
“Diana,” Dapo replied mechanically.
“Yes, her. And how long were you together for?”
“You’ve made your point,” Dapo said, allowing a tinge of irritation creep into his voice. Yemisi chuckled – and then retained her serious mien.
“So I’m saying – go out with me. Let’s date each other for a while – see if two lonely hurting people can find with each other what they can’t with the rest of the world.”
“What if it doesn’t work?” Dapo interjected. “Are you willing to throw this away for something unknown – something that might be the worst thing ever? We’re not young anymore, you know. The time for trial by error is long past –“
“I can’t believe this. Are you trying to ‘friend-zone’ me?” Yemisi cut in, mouth and eyes wider open than usual.
“That’s our line, Dapo,” she said before starting to speak with an irritating whine, “I’m hurt and disappointed! We’ve been friends for years – you’re like my brother!” She stuck her tongue out at him. “That’s so old!”
Dapo said nothing.
Yemisi threw her head slightly towards the left, indicating something over her shoulder. Dapo’s eyes followed the movement and saw a girl watching him. As she caught his glance, she looked away, crimson creeping up her light-skinned neck and down her cleavage – what the white off-shoulder blouse allowed him see of it anyway. Her hair was done in a Brazilian weave, throwing the planes of her make-up bare face in sharp relief. He turned back to Yemisi.
“Your point is…?” he asked.
“If you were here by yourself and you noticed her staring, you’d have walked over to ask why abi?”
“Anyone would na,” Dapo retorted.
“But there’s no guarantee – none that she would answer you, is there?”
Dapo looked at his friend. “You’re annoying,” he said fondly.
“I know. Isn’t it cool? Look, you would have anyway. So what were the chances that it would have worked with any of the other two-and-a-half million women you’ve tried with?”
Yemisi chuckled as Dapo jumped. “You didn’t know how it was going to work out and yet you went ahead to make it happen. I’m saying we have a higher – way higher ratio of succeeding.”
Dapo clasped his hands together to hide their trembling. “You don’t know what you’re saying. This has more consequences than any other relationship I’ve been in. If it does not work, we can’t just walk away –“
“Says who? How many fights have we had over the past years? How many times have we walked away – only to call each other first thing the following day?”
“Okay,” Dapo muttered, “I want to know sha – what’s in it for you?” He looked at Yemisi with curiosity and some suspicion.
“As much as I’d like to say I’m doing this out of the goodness in my heart I’m really being selfish. There’s the fact that I’m lonely and it has been a while since I had someone to call mine, someone to be mushy and cuddly with,” she paused and then rushed on as though embarrassed. “Someone who makes it okay to be vulnerable. There’s the fact that you’re a great guy with a lot to offer any woman and I’ll be damned if I don’t want some of that, and then there’s also the fact that my mother is in my house right now, refusing to leave until I bring a man home.”
Yemisi covered her face.
Unrestrained laughter burst from Dapo’s guts, startling the other people. This has to be the craziest thing ever, he thought. But what am I afraid of? She’s kidding, I’m sure.
A look at the scared but determined face in front of him put paid to that assumption.
“Are you serious?” Dapo asked. Yemisi nodded enthusiastically.
Dapo drummed his fingers on the table. “Do you remember The Proposal? That movie with Sandra Bullock and Ryan…one-thing like that?”
“Ryan Reynolds. Sure I remember. And you’ve started again o, using movies to illustrate what you can just say,” she said, biting her lip.
“Calm down. Do you remember what Ryan asked Sandra to do after she blackmailed him?”
Yemisi remembered. “Uh oh,” she said half-aloud.
Dapo nodded, teeth flashing. “Uh huh. I mean, how far would you go to have some…” He stopped, stunned as she stood up, came beside him and knelt down. “Hey,” he began hurriedly, “I was only…”
Yemisi, looking like she wanted to run away said loudly, “Oladapo Ojo, my best friend and personal pessin, who means more to me than I can say, will you go out with me?”
Oh dear Lord, Dapo thought. She’s serious.
As one, Yemisi and everyone in the Ozone cinema lobby waited for Dapo’s answer.
Feeling silly, Dapo got off his seat and knelt down in front of her. “Yes,” he answered, “I would very much love to.”
Amidst roars of approval, applause and laughter, the two friends hugged each other for the first time.
“Can you stop these people from buying me drinks?! It stopped being fun about ten minutes ago!”
Dapo grinned at her. “What are you complaining about now? You broke it, you bought it.” At his companion’s scowl he rubbed her hand. “They’re just having fun, Yemisi. They mean nothing by it.”
He waved off a couple of other guys bearing drinks and popcorn towards them, and then saluted as the guys stopped, looking disappointed like they just missed the movie they came to see. “But you’re crazy,” he said, respect lifting his voice several octaves higher. “I thought you would back down.”
He opened one of the several cans of Schweppes and drank. “Of course you know there has to be rules –“ he began as he lowered the can.
Her phone rang suddenly.
She waved Dapo on, ignoring the shrill scream her phone was emitting. Dapo shook his head and held his right hand to his head in the universal sign for ‘phone’. Looking like a petulant child, she pulled the noisemaking device from her pocket and eyed the screen.
It was a number she did not recognize.
“Hello?” she asked.
It was Priye. At the worst possible time ever.
Air left her lungs as she exhaled in an attempt to calm down. “I told you not to call me that,” she answered.
“Whatever. I’m in town – so when are we seeing?”
Of all the – !
She let out all the resentment she had bottled up in her response.
“Listen – clearly; I don’t want to see you now or forever,” she said, relying on emphasis rather volume to get her point across, “you hear me?”
Sensing rather than seeing Dapo move, she signaled at him to calm down – and then she saw the only thing he had done since she started talking was to open the movie pamphlet in front of him.
“But…Princ…I mean Yemisi, it’s me o, Priye! What are you saying?”
“I don’t want to see you. Not now, not ever. So please, do not call me again.” She took a deep breath. “Feel free to hang up.”
Placing her phone on the table, Yemisi leaned back and sighed. Imagine that… she clenched her hands, physically restraining herself from going too far.
For the moment, she forgot everything and everyone.
Closing her eyes, she thought about Priye and how she had given him everything – only to go looking for him one time and finding out he’d traveled the day before – traveled to Germany.
She thought about his eleven-month silence – and how he had suddenly called her to say he was coming back and wanted to see her. She thought about all the things she had taken from him, endured from his friends –
I never want to go through a relationship like that again. Ever.
She opened her eyes to see Dapo observing her seriously. A smile – a real one, appeared on her face and she grabbed his hand, thankful that they had that moment.
She nodded firmly. “Very much so,” and rubbed his hand.
Dapo shrugged. “I was talking about rules…”
Yemisi interrupted. “But of course. We date for three months, after which we agree it’s either working or it’s not. During the three months, we must see each other at least twice a week and once on weekends except when absolutely impossible. For those three months, we see each other exclusively. No hook-ups, no back-ups, side runs or one night stands for that matter.” She looked at Dapo accusingly.
“Sure,” he answered, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender.
She grabbed Dapo’s can and drank. “We agree to be completely honest with each other – no matter what. For three months, no less. Most importantly, this is not intervention or ‘salvation’ – as your ever-present sarcasm would like to call it. It is a real, romantic relationship.”
Dapo sat in silence, fingertips drumming lightly on the table. And then; “you’ve really thought this through, haven’t you?”
Yemisi responded with the universal sign for ‘yes’. “I have, every night for the past week.”
“How about sex?” he suddenly asked.
Her throat jumped up and down as she swallowed. “Wha…what about it?”
“What’s the plan? Go there, don’t go there, watch and see what happens? What?”
“Er…I didn’t think about that one jo! Figure it out. Are you not the man?”
“Hmm. You’re asking for trouble o. Anyways…”
Yemisi held up her hand.
“Sorry to interrupt, but can I ask you to stop drinking – at least for the three months?”
Dapo gaped. “How realistic is that? You know that’s not a sustainable solution.”
She nodded in agreement. “That’s why I said ‘three months’ – just for the time we’re together. I ask as your new girl. Please, Dapo,” she said quietly, rubbing the back of his hand and looking into his eyes with her always-wet ones.
This is crazy. I’ve never actually looked into her eyes before.
This changes everything. Just know that.
“Can I still watch porn?”
“You watch porn?” Yemisi ejaculated in surprise.
Dapo shrugged. “Everybody watches porn,” he said.
She shook her head. “I don’t. And from now on, neither do you. I’m not even going to beg for that one!”
This really changes everything.