Just before I kill myself – let me tell you about this guy who I thought wanted to commit suicide.
Driving home. Friday night. If you recall it was a wet and stormy day – it rained throughout and almost all over Nigeria.
So traffic was insane.
If you know me you’d know there’s something about the rain that gets to me – every single time. Me and it have a love-hate relationship. I love it when I’m not in it. When I’m inside my house. All warm and cozy. Underneath fifteen blankets sipping Milo and watching Afro Samurai.
I hate it when I’m inside it. Either in a bus or a cab or a car. Driving or being driven. I hate it when I’m on a bike.
So I’m driving home. Trying to hold on to the steering wheel and my sanity. Fighting to not scream and curse every other driver driving as though they’re the only ones on the road. Driving as if they were cruising in their driveway. Driving as if…
I was cold too.
I could easily have turned the AC off. In fact I know I should have. Only the interior of the car – particularly the windows – would get misty in a hurry and driving in the mad rain was hard enough. And you know in that kind of weather – with that kind of pressure – horns blaring. People screaming. Only one thing can happen.
I felt like – I felt like dying. A crushing blackness had my spirit underneath it and was squeezing the juice out of it. It probably was a combination of several things – but the reality that I was driving in that night’s crazy weather in traffic when I would rather be somewhere else doing something else was key. I started thinking of ramming the SUV in front of me. I started thinking of driving myself off some bridge somewhere…
Anyways I make it all the way to Ikeja unscathed. And then I’m at the traffic light. The one just before Ikeja City Mall – when I see this guy.
It’s important you understand – there was nothing to notice about this guy. He wasn’t exceptionally tall. He wasn’t exceptionally handsome. Of a truth sef, he wasn’t exceptionally anything. He just stood beside the road – like several other people looking for a perfect ‘when’ to cross the road.
Ask me why I noticed him.
He was hopping from foot to foot as though he wanted to wee-wee and he had to soon or he would explode. Just as I drove up I saw him run into the road – and then run back as the howling Mack truck in front me sped past him with the driver screaming curses at the hapless guy.
I drove up – and stopped because I didn’t want to be the one who would commit suicide to and because the light chose that moment to become red again. I slammed my brakes and signaled him to pass.
Rain was running down his face making tracks through the sweat and grime of the day. I could see every little detail thanks to the millions of headlights and that annoyingly huge LED billboard hovering over the road. He jumped in front of my car waving his thanks and hurried to the other side of the road. My eyes followed as I was curious to see how he was going to end his life.
Instead he ran to a woman who I hadn’t noticed – a woman who was heavy-laden twice over. ‘Twice over’ by the Shoprite bags she was carrying and her bulging tummy that looked like a baby was going to burst out any moment. This guy ran to her and hugged her gently and bent over the tummy – touching it with gentle fingers and mumbling something I was too far away to hear. But it had to be something nice because the woman burst out laughing and playfully hit his shoulder.
And then he gently – again – took all the bags she was carrying and kissed her mouth softly. She put her arms around his neck and held on effectively prolonging the kiss and annoying me. And then they started walking off together talking like two friends who had not seen each other in nine years.
I turned my head and watched them go – and then became aware of a very strange feeling growing within my chest and threatening to choke me. I have no idea what the feeling was – I just know it made me want to kill the nondescript fellow and take his place beside her. That should be me I kept thinking.
That should be me.
Horns screamed at me – only then did I realize the light had turned green and vehicles were streaming past. I could see several drivers with windows down screaming some unintelligible things in my direction. Thanks to my wound-up windows I couldn’t hear.
My hands shook as I put the car in gear. My head was a jumble of thoughts – but if I tried to put them down coherently they would come out something like this:
God. I’m so lonely.
Just thought it was necessary that we know – Saving Dapo is now available!!!
But you already knew that – no?
So – the question is where?!
Look no further than –
Can We Get A Soul Clap? Can we get your orders?!
Amen. And thank you!!!!
So a girl who works in Chicken Republic is not allowed crushes?!
Abeg hug transformer. And I’m not playing.
This guy…this guy who works just opposite the branch I work @ is just hot.
As hot as is possible to be with a tummy like his.
But you know what gets me? It’s his voice. Something reminiscent of Carlos Santana several keys lower. It makes me tremble…makes me want to break something.
And then there’s his face. Animated, full of character. Strong jaw. Something that suggests many sons will sprout from his loins – something that hints at a tiger in the sheets.
I blush prettily. Slow down girl; I tell myself.
His shoulders are broad – his chest looking like two boulders were joined together. His cleavage looks –
Holdonaminute. Did I just say
He has a belly, a slight protrusion that mars the perfect symmetry of his upper torso but somehow, hos carriage makes it work.
He walks as though he owns the company. And the way he dresses?!
I know its just a crush – I realize its only to last so long and my meeting him might hasten the shelf life. I don’t care.
So the next time he comes in for some Chickwhiz, I flash him a smile. He looks at me as though women smile at him daily (a clear possibility) and them smiles back.
His face looks like a digital billboard that just came in the middle of the night. I feel like I might blackout any moment.
But its fine. He handles himself just like I expected him to – and then out of the blue he asks me on a date.
“Just a movie,” he says in that trembly baritone of his.
I agree and that weekend we head towards some good times. I’m looking good – I look like I stepped out of Ebony TV fashion and into his sight.
“You look good,” he tells me.
It occurs to me that we might be doing some *clears throat* stuff. Not like he’s been inappropriate or anything like that – it has more to do with the way I’m feeling. So I discreetly pop a pack of Orbit Spearmint in my purse.
First kiss gotta be fresh.
He asks me what movie I want to see. He’s so nice.
I choose Black Nativity because well – its been a while I saw Angela Basset in a movie. So we settle down and I mentally curse the arms of those cinema seats.
What prude came up with the design anyway?!
By the way, if you happen to be retardedly thinking my vocab’s too upscale for a Chicken Republic service girl, I read.
And I’m fly. Kinda.
Anyways, the movie is great of course. He comments about NAS and Tyrese and then lapses into silence. Somewhere in the middle of the movie he holds me and I sigh contentedly.
He smells nice.
Of course, I cry at the end. And I turn to my date/crush/hero hoping for a cuddle and wishing for a kiss – only to find him wiping his eyes and sniffing.
My date/crush/hero is crying too.
Today I have the privilege of welcoming a guest blogger. Been a while I had those around here!
Well, today’s blogger is not a guest actually. She is one of the winners of the first installment of the Creatweet Contest and is actually my sister.
Yeah. You’re allowed to be jealous.
So after much cajoling and threatening, she decides to share a story with me – and I have decided to share on here.
So do enjoy…
I hurry along the sidewalk, deftly dodging potholes and human traffic. Somehow, I missed my alarm ring this morning and I left home 20 minutes late. In Lagos, a minute can make a huge difference. Face down, I curse under my breath. I am walking face down to keep the raindrops from stinging my face. I hold up my wrist to glance at my watch – and then realize I forgot it at home. I also forgot my earrings, my umbrella. And now I am getting soaked. Lagos weather is just unpredictable!
Aargh! I’m late for work, for sure.
Still muttering to myself, I reach into my handbag and pull out my BlackBerry to check the time. All this whilst still navigating my way on the sidewalk.
7.53am, it shows.
“Ewo! ” I exclaim. I quickly put the phone back into my handbag, pick up my pace and bump straight into a blue wall.
“Hey. Are you late, or is it the rain?” a voice comes from within the wall.
Then I realize it isn’t a wall but a blue shirt. I look up into the kindest eyes I’d ever seen. His lips are parted in a lopsided smile which reveal very nicely set dentition.
Then I see the beret. My eyes dart down to where my open palm is still resting on his chest, and I see, sewn onto the blue shirt MATHIAS, UWEM. E. and then below it, NPF115….
I don’t even wait to finish reading the number. NPF! Nigerian Police Force! Mtschew!!
“No” I reply curtly, quickly withdrawing my hand. He catches it in mid-air. He opens his mouth as if to say something, then closes it and lets my hand go. I walk away quickly, thinking about how I had just lost some valuable minutes of time that I did not have.
I reach up to wipe raindrops from my face and catch a whiff of his perfume on my hand. I hold my hand to my nose for a moment. But what was he even doing in the Police Force? Why can’t he be a banker or advertising executive or something else! Is a policeman supposed to be that decent and attractive? Nigerian policeman fa?! How I loath the lot of them! And then, this one falls out of the sky! Hian!
I get to work, thankfully, my boss hasn’t arrived and I quickly settle down and my morning encounter is quickly forgotten.
I get home, knackered, and go straight to bed.
Next morning, I’m in time and so I’m not walking as fast as I was yesterday. My earphones are in my ears and I’m listening to Adele’s Someone Like You.
Someone taps my shoulder. I turn. Him again!
“Good morning. This knight would like to know what it would take to win the friendship of this fair lady.” He says, smiling.
I pinch myself to be sure I’m not dreaming. Perfect diction. Witty humor. Good looking. I manage a weak smile.
“I’m Uwem. Do you mind if I walk you down the road? I’ve got a few minutes to spare.”
“Okay.” My voice is barely a whisper.
No, he is not a street policeman. He works in the control room for the police emergency helpline. He prefers to walk to his office because it is good exercise and he draws inspiration from everyday happenings on the street. I’m listening and nodding and smiling.
We are now at the Ijeh Barracks gate. I stop.
“Em, I’m taking a keke marwa from here,” I say.
“Oh. Is your office in the Dolphin Estate?”
“Yes it is.”
“I’ve actually seen you before yesterday.”
I laugh uneasily.
“Are you serious? Where?”
“Right here. On Tuesday. You were helping two little children cross the road and I mistakenly splashed muddy water on you as I drove past. I can’t forget the dirty look you gave me.” He chuckles self-consciously.
“Jesus! That was you?! I remember!”
Yeah. I’m still sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“Hey, you’re going to be late like yesterday if you don’t go now. Meanwhile, ’’ he pulls a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket. “Take a look at this later, please, and tell me what you think. I’d love to see you again. Bye.”
He walks away quickly and I get into the keke marwa, still clutching the folded sheet of paper. I get to work and luckily, I’m still the first to arrive. I quickly unfold the paper.
My face stares back at me!
In my hand is a most detailed pencil sketch of my face. Am I that beautiful; I wonder, touching my own face gently? Wow! I stare and stare. And stare some more. Smiling, I run my fingers over the surface of the paper. My index finger stops at the nape of ‘my’ neck, where something is written faintly in tiny handwriting.
I move to the window and raise the blinds to see properly.
“Mathias U.E 08049876543 Please, call me.”
I reach into my bag for my phone and dial the number, my heart beating fast.
“Hello, Uwem.” I say nervously.
“Onyinye! You called!” he answers excitedly.
“H-How did you know it was me?”
“ I just knew. I’m so happy you called. Did you like it?”
“Yes, I liked it very much.”
“What time do you get off work? Can I call you?”
“ 5pm. Yes, you can.”
“Wonderful. I will. Take care of yourself, then. Bye.”
Three weeks later, we were sitting at Rhapsody at the Ikeja City Mall having dinner and talking about English Literature. It was a beautiful evening and it was just beginning to get dark. It was a beautiful sight from up there with the lights coming on around the city.
I looked at my handsome escort and gently placed a hand on his wrist. “Uwem, I…”
His lips stopped mine in mid sentence.
Love in Lagos.
Her name is Nneka Ezealor-Oladimeji, she is married with two amazing kids. Wonderful children.
She’s on twitter too, follow her @neker17.
And then haunt her till she takes this seriously…
Please. Have a great rest-of-the-week.
- Another Day in Lagos (tobilobaoladunjoye.wordpress.com)
“I didn’t think you’d come,” Dapo said after his third attempt at starting a conversation.
Mope lowered her Chapman glass and eyed him. “You never really knew me then – or maybe that’s just your conscience talking.”
“Or maybe it’s both,” Dapo interjected, relieved as Mope’s smile grew wider. “Thank you for coming,” he finished.
She nodded. “Well, you were never one for loose ends – and then I have been curious myself.” Her features settled into seriousness, and then she turned to look over the parking lot at the sunset. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked Dapo. He nodded in response.
They were seated on the Ikeja City Mall balcony in front of Rhapsody’s; a week after they met for the first time in seven years. After the shocked and surprised reactions, he had asked her to a drink and to talk about ‘stuff’ – stuff he knew she was curious about and he needed to get off his chest.
He was surprised she agreed. Now, he didn’t know where to start from.
“The beginning would be fine,” she said, jolting him with the accuracy of her words. At his startled look she smiled and shrugged. “It started again – few minutes after I saw you last week,” she said, referring to an almost uncanny ability of reading each other’s minds they’d shared. “I missed it,” she ended.
Dapo cleared his throat and wondered if he should order a drink. “Ah – it nearly drove me crazy at some point. I mean – isn’t that what Hollywood tells us about soul mates? Didn’t we learn the hard way they don’t exist?”
Her hand touched the back of his lightly. “Just because you can’t explain it does not mean it isn’t real,” she whispered.
Dapo shuddered. She can still make me feel like this – after seven years.
Mope glanced over the shiny car roofs at the sun in the distance and said almost to herself; “I did think you were dead – after you disappeared.” She paused, and then melodramatically shifted in her seat and turned to look at him.
“I cried for months; and then I ran into Muyiwa who told me you were alive and well. Imagine what that did to me,” she paused and sighed. “Why did you do it?” she asked him.
He was going to clear his throat – but then thought the better of it and just swallowed, wishing he had ordered a drink. “There’s no other way to say this Mope, so I’ll just say it.” He sighed. “I was afraid.”
‘Fear’ was not on the long list of ‘excuses’ Mope had prepared herself to hear from Dapo, so it was understandable when her mouth unhinged itself and put her thirty-two shiny teeth and sensually pink tongue on display. “Afraid?!” she repeated incredulously. “Of what?!”
The left corner of Dapo’s lips sluggishly rose in the beginnings of a smile – and abruptly slumped again. “Remember the first thing I ever said to you?”
Mope smiled wryly. “‘Cupid did not ask for my permission before taking my most-prized possession and giving it to you for, hopefully; protection. But in the off situation that what you feel is not my feeling’s reflection, I should charge you to please return it without infection’.” She caught a deep breath and looked at Dapo sadly. “I remember it – all of it. I still have the book sef.”
“I was such a poetic mumu then,” he responded. “But every word I said; I meant. I never lied about my feelings. You were like – it was like being broke and out of BIS, and you’re wondering how to keep talking to the new girl. And then just like that -” he snapped his fingers “-someone sends you 5k credit.”
The laughter was forced out of Mope like an unexpected fart. “You and your similes! You’re crazy!”
“You’re right – only a crazy man would have walked away – or run away from what we had.”
Mope took a drink from the now-watery Chapman and slowly lowered the glass. “You still haven’t told me why you did it. I know you said fear – but I don’t get. Fear…of what?”
Dapo shook his head. “Mope I loved you. It was new for me – and with the newness came a strange intensity, and with that intensity came fear. I didn’t know how to handle it.
“Remember how we would spend the entire day doing nothing but looking at each other and sighing – and then we’d remember breakfast at 11o’clock at night? Remember how we went from zero to 150 – in the space of two days? Remember – “
“Remember how you let your over-analyzing affect and eventually destroy us? I remember clearly,” she bit her lower lip in anguish. “I can’t believe how much time I wasted trying to convince you how wrong you were. And all for what?
“Do you have any idea what you did to me?”
For the second time since the evening began, he wished he had ordered a drink. “I can guess – because I know what happened to me.”
Mope was intrigued in spite of herself. “What happened to you?”
“Nothing – only I spent the last seven years of my life dating all sorts of women and not realizing what the issue was till one day last week when I went to see a movie…and then it hit me like a horse kick in the belly – “
“Dapo….Dapo what are you saying?!”
There were tears in her eyes – tears that stood out startlingly against the soft black that were her lashes.
“I don’t know, Mope. I know what I did was unforgivable…I don’t even think that’s a good word. But I’m saying I love you – I have loved you since that night I saw you and I know I’ll never be happy with anyone…”
“I’m…I’m getting married.”
It was surreal; Dapo realized afterwards, watching the tears spill over and run down her cheeks. He felt as if he wasn’t there; like he was watching a movie in 3D and could almost feel her tears. He sat there, wishing he had not seen her again yet knowing he needed it, wishing he had ordered a drink and knowing he did not need that, and wondering why the horse hadn’t kicked him again.
He sat there and watched as she gathered her things and slowly stood up; telling himself to say something yet knowing there was really nothing else to say. His eyes followed her as she pushed her chair back; walked to stand beside his, kneel down –
He tasted the salt of her tears as she crushed her lips to his, breath rushing from her mouth at the intensity. Despite his confusion Dapo kissed her back, marveling at the differences and wondering why his ears were becoming hotter.
With a loud sob Mope broke the kiss and staggered to her feet, hurrying away with tears streaming down her face. I should go after her; he thought, staring at the startled patrons as they stared at the crying girl. A few looked in his direction, but looked away hurriedly at the heavy scowl on his face.
“Excuse me sir?” a soft voice spoke from behind him. Dapo turned angrily, prepared to vent his anger on the waitress for disturbing him with what he thought was the bill. He was surprised.
“From the lady who just – left,” the pretty waitress said, holding a slim wrapped package towards him. “Thanks,” Dapo mumbled, snatching the package and ripping it open. A piece of paper flew out, floating towards the edge of the balcony. He caught it in midair and looked at it.
From one who will love you forever. Happy Birthday.
It wasn’t signed – not that it made any difference. He put the note on the table and finished opening the package. It was an ONWARD exercise book, a book filled with his handwriting. It was the book of poems he had written for her two weeks into their relationship. Idly he flipped through the pages, marveling at their crispness, laughing here and there at the sight of a lipstick stain across a line or a small note she scribbled beside something profound he’d written. And what did I do; he thought.
His sight became blurry – but it wasn’t until a drop of water fell onto the page and rapidly disappeared did he realize the truth.
He was crying.