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!!!!
Terry Tha Rapman, one of my favorite rappers once said in an interview; when he was asked what piece of clothing he hated most: “Socks! Very annoying things! You only wear them twice – and then one foot disappears and you keep seeing one foot – and you can never tell whether the one you’re seeing is the one you lost or not!”
Some of us have exs like that. You know; that ex that has almost become your rebound person? Any and every time a relationship doesn’t work out you park yourself right back to them – and they always seem to be available?
She was that to me. Her. She.
Interestingly, she likes Hershey’s. Just saying.
Anyways – she called me that afternoon to say she had just landed at MM2 after a long and dusty flight from Abuja, she had a meeting with some new business owners her oga was courting – and that she would be free and mine for the evening.
Maybe; not in those words. Maybe she didn’t say it like that.
But that was what I heard. Convenient, shey?
Sha – that evening I arranged myself quite carefully and looked at myself in the mirror – a small perk I allow myself only twice a year; once before the first date of the year and after the first breakup of the year – and headed out. My destination was E-Centre Yaba, and the goal was to see a movie, grab a couple of drinks and see her to her hotel.
And go home immediately after. I swear, that was the plan.
But when I saw Kemi all my plans went out of the window, along with my common sense and eighteen-month-old celibacy oath. She looked like sex would look if it got up and walked out of the dictionary one lazy night and literally put on a woman’s form.
I was finished.
I tried o! Before you judge me, I swear I tried! The only thing I didn’t do was to take a cold shower – and if we had been at Ikeja CIty Mall instead of E-Center I would have run into Shoprite, bought a pack of Eva Water and a bucket, run into the rest room and doused myself – clothes and all.
Oh devil, why did you make me suggest Yaba?!
God – help me!
Kemi – Ms. Suicidal Tendencies herself sat down and ate pizza, looking at me from over her fish-eye glasses and smiling at my discomfort. “Are you okay?” she would ask at five-minute intervals, little finger of her right hand somehow always picking something from in between her teeth.
I sat there and stared, a drowning man.
“Can we go and watch the movie now?” I asked, hating the way my voice shook. She looked at the inside of her wrist, and then at me.
“Which movie is that?” she asked.
She yawned and covered her mouth. “Babe – I’m tired. Let’s go return those tickets.”
I was going to tell her how impossible that was – but I shut up and hurried so I could walk beside her instead of behind her – for obvious reasons.
Somehow she got the guy behind the desk to give me my money back, and then, leaning on my arm she led me out of the building and into a cab. “Lekki – Maple Cottage,” she told the driver.
I was barely settled in my seat when this wildcat grabbed me and started to eat my face – the exact same way she had been devouring pizza some minutes ago. Somehow her glasses were over her head and out of the way. I started to tremble – I started to vibrate like I had that Nokia 3310 in my pocket and it was ringing. I grabbed onto her arms and held on for dear life – and somewhere in the distance I could hear a sound – something that sounded like the wind howling at the top of a very high building.
Suddenly she pushed me away – and I became aware of two things; slobber all over my chin and chest; mine, I was sure – and the fact that we were standing still.
The cab wasn’t moving.
“Driver, what’s wrong?” she asked brusquely, impatiently pushing her glasses back on her nose. I looked around, afraid we were about to be victims of the kind of stuff we only heard about on the news and Twitter before now – but we were at a police checkpoint.
That reassured me slightly.
“Oga wetin happen?” I asked, my voice sounding like Super Mario was hiding somewhere in my throat. I cleared it away but the driver had heard me. Quietly, he opened his door and went out of the cab. “Na you I wan talk to,” he said to me.
“What’s the matter?” Kemi asked again. I untangled myself from her, arranged myself and got out of the cab. The driver was waiting some distance off.
“Wetin happen na?” I asked as I drew near him – suddenly afraid.
“Oga, I no dey disturb you o. Anything wey you like, you fit do inside my taxi; you dey hear me so? I jus’ wan say make you kiaful; shebi na hotel una dey go? Ehen na, wait make we reach di hotel – den you fit fire aunti anyhow!”
I was wondering whether to tell him to mind his business or to say thanks – when a gleam in his hand suddenly darted towards me. I sprang back – and then what he was holding became visible.
Automatically I reached for it, and as my hand closed around it he said, “And you dey fall my hand with that noise wey you dey make! Oga, you never kils woman before?! If na kilsing make you dey shout like dat – wetin you wan do if na d koko?”
I stood there, holding the condom in my hand, feeling like the only guy at the show who didn’t get the Basketmouth joke, driver’s loud uncultured laughter sticking taunting fingers in my ears and wagging saliva-dripping tongues in my face.
Oh wretched fool that I am…
In two years the young Adeyemis were blessed with a beautiful girl who had her mother’s exotic looks but, after a time, began to exhibit her father’s sensitivities and attitudes.
Three years after that, they welcomed a boy who couldn’t have been his father more had Segun spat him out. Brave, quiet and opinionated, he was the one that finally broke the barrier of silence between Tiwa and her mother in law. And for a while, Segun was a happy man.
And so seven years passed. Good things come to an end; however.
Yorubas have a saying; ‘If a lie goes on for twenty years, one day the truth will catch up with it’. The day Tiwa’s truth finally came knocking was just another day.
No one knows what happened. Maybe she forgot to do something she had done every day for the past seven years. Maybe her mother-in-law’s prayers were finally answered. Maybe God decided it was enough. Whatever it was happened.
The day started well enough. Segun spent some time with his kids, arguing with Yanju over Ben 10 and then guiding her through the most of Temple Run. After a while of her repeatedly falling and blaming it on him, he left her alone and went to walk with Damola through the house – guiding the loquacious baby past a few obstacles.
After a while the older man’s hand began to weary the younger man’s so Damola yanked his hand away from his father’s. And then, grinning happily the boy retraced his father’s steps, looking at the man as though to say You’ve been dulling me – you’re old and slow jo!
I’m proud of you; Segun said and then winced, touching tentative fingers to the left side of his head.
Are you okay darling? Tiwa asked, nuzzling his neck as she enveloped him in her arms and scent. Segun silenced her.
Sure I’m fine. I suddenly want to drive around for a bit –
A vague expression – similar to the one stuck on Keanu Reeves’ face settled on Segun’s features as he closed his eyes as though he was trying to bring something on the edge of his consciousness to the front of it. But the thought slipped away and he looked at Tiwa with clear eyes.
Do you need anything? He asked, before thoroughly kissing her again.
It was a ten-minute drive from their apartment in Shoprite. Within moments he was wandering up and down the aisles, checking a list covered in Tiwa’s flowery handwriting.
He got to the last item, and as he checked to see he’d bought it a small note caught his eye.
I don’t deserve you, Segun.
Thank you for loving me.
The opposite of a smile creased Segun’s features almost the same time a pounding migraine announced its presence forcefully. The list fluttered down from nerveless fingers as Segun clutched his head and bent over.
Suddenly he was jostled out of his pain as someone bumped into him heavily from behind.
Straightening with the wrath of Sango in his heart, Segun spun and opened his mouth to address the unfortunate ‘bumper’. But four random pieces of information leaped at him as he took his first good look at the object of his vex.
One, she was a woman.
Two, she was a very attractive woman.
Three, she was a heavily pregnant very attractive woman.
Four, she was a familiar heavily pregnant very attractive woman.
Hauwa…? Segun began but couldn’t finish before what he thought was a migraine became a hailstorm as Sango beat down the walls barricading his subconscious mind.
And then he stopped with the abruptness of power failure. And Segun looked at Hauwa as though seeing her for the first time in a long time.
Hauwa…? What are you doing in Abuja? And when did I plant that in there? He asked, pointing to her tummy, all traces of his migraine gone.
Hauwa stopped herself from speaking words expected of anyone – any woman who had ever been in her position. Instead she eyed Segun with disdain, noting how the smile dried up on his face – and then she suddenly registered the first part of his query. Abuja.
Yes na, Segun answered, smirk lighting up his face. Abuja –
Suddenly he shook himself and wiped his face like a man waking up from a bad dream. What am I doing in Shoprite?
Silently Hauwa pointed to the trolley standing at Segun’s elbow. He looked into it and flinched at the sight of all the children’s things stacked inside it. That baby’s too small to use stuff like these, he blurted.
Hauwa slowly bent over and picked up the list Segun had dropped earlier. You’re not shopping for this baby, Segun. You’re shopping for your kids – all two of them.
The hand Segun had been extending for the note recoiled. What?
Your kids. She said firmly, slamming the note unceremoniously against his chest as she walked past. Automatically he held it against his chest, eyes following her. And then he looked down at the note, blinking as the gleam of a gold band across the fourth finger of his left hand flashed across his vision.
Hauwa, hurrying quickly, scrubbing her eyes and hoping Segun did not follow her froze as she heard her name. It wasn’t as much as the call as the way it was called. It was a voice she knew yet one she did not recognize.
It was heavy with fear.
She turned on her heel and faced him.
Hauwa; the ‘old-man-croak’ came from his throat again. Hauwa, who did I marry?
Maami you look older were the first words Segun uttered when the senior Mrs. Adeyemi opened the door almost an hour later. The older woman froze, and then with a mother’s instinct understood the implication of those words. She hugged her son, tears started from her eyes. Hauwa beamed.
The senior Engineer Adeyemi’s mouth worked as hard as the Shoprite double doors in rush hour, opening and closing at will. At some point he laughed, at some point he cried, at yet some other point he just sat there as his son shamefacedly admitted that the last thing he remembered was sex with Tiwa, one lonely night during their training in Abuja.
Seven years ago.
Seven years ago! Engineer swore fire and brimstone. He called down the wrath of his twice-gone ancestors and asked Mujin the gateman to bring him his ‘pana’.
His ‘cutlass’ in English.
Mrs. Adeyemi Snr grabbed his arm and held on for dear life, tears streaming down her face. My dear, violence is not the solution now o. We have to be careful. Are you not a deacon?
Hauwa had told Segun to call Tiwa and make up a story about a home emergency, so she wouldn’t be worried no matter how late he returned. Now Segun sat in his parents’ home, looking at his children’s pictures on his phone and feeling as though he was looking at someone he was meeting for the first time.
His mother sat beside him, looking at his face like she was afraid he was going to vanish again. She talked to him about his children; how amazing and loving they were, she spoke about his wife; grudgingly admitting that she was a good wife.
But mama – I cannot remember getting married to her! Seven years of my life are gone from my memory – just like that!
In emphasis he snapped his fingers.
I knew there was something not right about the whole thing. I always assumed you were going to marry Hauwa or somebody else – so when you showed up with her I was shocked.
I took you to my room and pleaded with you not to go ahead. Next thing I know, you were in front of a car bleeding from the head. His mother sighed. I nearly died that afternoon.
Segun rubbed Hauwa’s hand gently. Who’s the lucky guy who got you?
Her lower lip trembled and she bit it deeply. His name is Maurice and he’s a great guy. It’s just been three years – this is our first; she finished, rubbing her belly gently. Segun looked away.
What do you plan to do now my son? Adeyemi Senior asked.
Tiwa was a light sleeper so she was therefore surprised when she opened her eyes and found Segun sitting on the side table looking at her. You scared me, she said. Is everything okay with mum and dad? What time is –
She broke off as a gleam from Segun’s left hand caught her eye.
It is time for the truth, Tiwa. Segun said grimly.
What did you do to me? Why am I married to you?
Many, many many things go bump in the night.
But not all of them are bad.
In the exact same vein, several things go bump during the day.
But not of all them are good.
Take for example.
The first time he bumped into her along the beverage aisle, the first thing that came to his mind was that she was firmly made. They mumbled their apologies and walked in opposite directions.
The second time he bumped into her, it was in the perfume section. It was awkward – but they smiled at each other and he joked about it, a joke she laughed politely to. Her eyes spoke to him where her lips didn’t – they suggested to him that he was lingering so he cleared his throat and took his exit.
When he found himself behind her on the checkout line, he knew he had to do something. He thought about how to get her attention without it appearing as though he was or had been stalking her. As they drew nearer and nearer to the exit, he discarded scenario after scenario, his mind scurrying frantically trying to get out of the uninspired creative maze he found himself in. Nothing came.
And just when he was about to give up, her elbow moved suddenly, knocking the bottle of McDowell’s he was carrying almost negligently from his hand. Her gasp sounded very erotic to him, and he smiled to himself as he stooped to pick up the bottle.
“It’s not broken,” he enthused, grinning into her confused face.
She smiled at him, relieved. He smiled as the relieved look became one of recognition. “Seems I keep bumping into you, or is it you into me?” she asked, guileless eyes shining smoky darts in his direction.
“As long as some bumping’s going on, I don’t care who’s doing it,” he answered. She grinned wickedly.
It was a delight for him to walk behind her, particularly watching the way her hair gently lay on her shoulder. He was sure it was a weave-on, but it was stuck so cleanly to her head he couldn’t see what her own hair looked like – not that it mattered anyway. It gave him a tickle the way the loose strands at the end of the weave stirred and slumped in the air-conditioned atmosphere. It was so erotic, so sensual.
It was the most natural thing in the world to buy her a drink. They sat underneath the area’s mallam drank Ribena and Sprite from cans and spoke about things like Sesame Street, things like Fraggle Rock and Voltron and NTA 2 Channel 5. At the beginning he was constantly looking at the time, but when he noticed she didn’t care he stopped bothering.
Like taking a walk; one foot after the other, so did their conversation advance from safe topics onto ‘dangerous’ ground. He found himself answering her questions about his erotic hot buttons and what nots, found himself paying too much attention to the third button of her blouse – the only obstacle; or so he thought in the cesspool he called a mind, the only obstruction to his discovery of the color of her unmentionables. He didn’t think she observed him observing it – hence his shock when the index finger of her left hand suddenly found itself tangled with that button.
“Will you help me?” she asked him, gamine eyes tickling some parts of him he couldn’t name. He nearly stumbled across the bench to her side – and as he bent over to ‘help’ her, she grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him.
He could swear there was steam rising from his ears as he tried to match her twist for twist – and then suddenly she pushed him away, stood up and grabbed his hand.
“Where are we going?” he asked the moment his lips untangled themselves from his tongue and teeth.
“My house,” she replied firmly in a voice that brooked no argument. Not that he wanted to argue.
And so she led him to her house, fully expecting to have her way with him.
And he followed her willingly, expecting to have his way with her.
Both of them were wrong.
“With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter”
December 2012 I published an e-book titled ‘For Days and A Night’. If you’ve read it, you’ll probably recognize the story that follows. If you want to read it again – please do.
If you have no idea what ‘For Days and A Night’ is about, please read on.
“But Daddy, shebi if this bread was Nigerian made now, shebi people will start saying they are using juju. See how people are plenty on the line.”
“Baby, the bread is Nigerian made. It is made in Nigeria by Nigerians.”
“But Daddy, shebi you said that Shoprite is a South-African supermarket? Shebi that’s what you said.”
Sigh. My wonderful daughter.
The lady standing in line behind us looks like she’s hanging out with Bovi and Basketmouth at some event. I don’t see the joke.
I wonder why my daughter is standing beside me and not running up and down the aisles like most other kids. Isn’t that what kids her age do? Eerily, she looks anything but her age as she stands beside me with silent dignity, looking up at me with an expression of childish curiosity. I sigh and lean over till my face is on the same level as hers.
“Yes indeed, it is South African business. But you don’t expect them to bring bread down here everyday now, do you?”
She looks thoughtful, posing like the thinking man as though she is actually considering what I’d said.
“But how does the bread taste so different from all the ones we’ve been eating?” she asks.
“Because they probably have their own recipe, imported and all. So what they do is to bring a supervisor who mixes the flour and everything…” I pause to see if she is listening.
“Hmm-mmm,” she nods seriously.
“And then he just supervises the baking. That’s most likely why it tastes different from everything else,” I finish and stretch, wincing from a pain in my waist. This is starting to become an inconvenience, I think.
“Thank you for explaining daddy. Mummy says you’re the smartest man she knows,” my baby says.
That makes me sad. If she thinks I am so smart, why did she leave me?
I can’t find an answer.
Twenty-something minutes later it’s our turn to get bread. I dump two hot loaves into our nearly-full basket and head towards the cash register, my little girl skipping ahead of me. She gets to the fruit stand, raises herself on tiptoes and lifts the largest bag of apples she can carry.
Carefully raising it, she shows it to me, asking for my approval. At my smile she bravely tugs it to the least occupied cash register and waits for me to show up. I get there a few minutes later – having stopped to organize a few surprises for her.
Right in front of us is this annoying young couple. They keep touching each other lightly, teasing, smiling and laughing at each other. They are clearly in love; giggling like two monkeys. The way they are carrying on you’d think they were the only ones in Shoprite.
Some old women and men on the line smile indulgently, recognizing it for what it is. I frown because I recognize it for what it is; two people making fools of themselves over something that is not destined to last. From the left edge of my vision I see my little girl looking at me, definitely about to ask another question. I keep my face straight and frown deeper. She leaves me alone.
Finally we get out.
I ask her to wait by our stuff while I go get a cab from outside the parking lot. You should get a car; I tell myself. Definitely makes things easier all around. By the time I return, she is talking with two young girls dressed as though they are headed for a D’Banj video shoot. I politely but firmly shoo them away and load my daughter and our stuff into the cab.
And then we head home.
“Don’t you like women anymore Daddy?”
You would expect that I would be used to my daughter’s curiosity and strange questioning techniques by now. Sorry to let you down.
“Where did that come from?” I ask, reluctantly turning away from the window to look at my daughter’s upturned face. She really is beautiful.
Her brows gather as she concentrates. “Well, we’ve been together for two weeks now and you haven’t said hello to any woman except the cleaning woman and grandma’s friend.” She pauses. “Mummy says you need female attention,” she concludes.
“Mummy should learn to mind her business,” I mumble under my breath. My ex-wife is a model and therefore attention is the order of her life. And while I understand it is not to make me jealous; it was that way even when we were married. I do not like it.
“I just want to spend time with you. You’re the only woman I need right now,” I say. She smiles briefly at that, and then that look appears on her face. Not this time; I think grimly and quickly ward off what I know is coming.
“I have a friend,” I confess, half truthfully. “I would have brought her to meet you but I wanted this time – just you and me. Haven’t you missed me?” I say, acting hurt.
“I have – and you know, Daddy,” she says, sliding across the back seat to hug my arm. “Okay. But when can I meet your friend?”
“She wants to meet you,” I say as I get off the examination table, quickly putting on my shirt again. The belly I’ve grown over the past three months is embarrassing, and I don’t want her seeing more of it than is necessary.
“Your back is bust,” my physician says. “I think you slipped a disc – your hips are slightly bruised. But nothing a couple of injections and medication won’t cure,” she finishes.
I nod, uncharacteristically fidgeting. It is because she has not answered my question, and I understand why. It implies a different level of commitment…one she probably is not ready for. I am not even sure I am ready myself. We have seen each other socially a couple of times, and we are genuinely fond of each other – we agree it’s not serious.
She pushes her glasses back on her nose and smiles. “Why are you hiding your belly? Potbellied men are sexy you know, and haven’t you heard Wasiu’s song, ‘give the money to the man with the belly’?”
I am thankful I do not have water in my mouth. I would have bathed her; the way the laughter is naturally forced out of me.
On my way out after my injections and prescription, she gently lays a hand on my sleeve. “I would love to meet your daughter. When would you want me to come?”
I am proud of my daughter tonight.
Whatever else my ex is, she knows how to raise a daughter. She has done herself proud with ours.
At her first sight of my friend my daughter kneels down to greet her properly. My friend is so overwhelmed, she hugs my baby firmly. When she finally lets go, my daughter asks, “What do I call you?”
My friend is taken aback. She looks at me for help, and when she does not get any she sighs. “Well I don’t stand on ceremony, so you can call me by name. It’s -”
My daughter interrupts. “Mum will kill me if I do that,” she says seriously. “I’ll just call you auntie.”
‘Auntie’ looks over at me, eyebrows raised behind spectacles. I shrug.
Dinner is a huge success. I am the guest.
They get on so well I am amazed. It is as though my little girl is determined to make a point. It is incredible. Finally, after auntie leaves it is just me and my little girl on the couch.
“So…do you like my friend?”
She considers that for a bit, fiddling with the hem of her dress. “That’s not what’s important to me daddy.” She pauses, and then continues, “does she make you happy?”
Slowly, my eyes overflow and tears trickle down my cheeks.
I am crying.
I really hope you enjoyed the story! Download For Days and A Night free here!
Be wonderful as usual!
THERE ARE RATS IN SHOPRITE
Kemi was sort of unusual.
That is, in a place where it was as though every girl had baggage and so on, she was a breath of fresh air. When asked, she would smile and say; “I like guys. Sure they lie. Sure they cheat. And we women don’t?”
That is not to say it was easy to be with her. Far from it, in fact.
But she had a friendly way of letting guys down easily – and so even after getting nowhere with her, there were a lot of guys who would do nearly anything for her.
And so it was that Kemi sailed through the first three years of her university education and it looked to a lot of concerned citizens that she would graduate without at least one boyfriend. And then she was in her final year and it looked like a done deal.
That was; until Chika.
Now it is important that you understand; it was not as though Chika was particularly handsome, it was not as though he had something in particular that none of Kemi’s previous suitors had. But there was some measure of sincerity in his declarations – and I honestly think that was what Kemi saw that made her give him a chance.
Of course, she did not tell me anything.
So there they were, two people who suddenly found a reason to spend time together; Chika, happy to be the guy who got to take Kemi out on occasion; Kemi, hiding a lot of what she was feeling behind her Oral B smile. She turned down his gifts, never loaded the credit he bought her, so it was not as though he was her ‘maga’ or ‘mugun’ or whatever term properly described ‘sucker’. She liked him, so she kept him around.
Then came the day school closed for the session and they were graduates. Everybody planned to travel – to forget about school and school related stuff, at least for the next two months or so. Chika desperately wanted a commitment from Kemi, because at this point his feelings had become serious. He needed to know.
So they agreed to meet in their home state, at the newly-opened Ikeja City Mall.
That day, Chika was determined more than ever to get a ‘yes’ from Kemi. He was well-dressed, the fact that he was no longer an undergraduate reflecting clearly in his carefully-chosen attire. Honestly, he looked very well put together – like a hundred naira note. He looked good.
Kemi had always been a looker anyways, and that day was no exception. But there was a different radiance about her smile, a radiance even Chika recognized and acknowledged as a positive sign. His usually jumpy-self had no choice but to calm down.
And so it was, they spent the better part of the day walking up and down the corridors of the shopping mall, enjoying each other’s company. At first, whenever Kemi wandered into a store and picked up a dress or shoes, Chika felt his heart rate increase and he mentally checked his account balance. But after a while and it became clear she was just window-shopping, he relaxed and began to enjoy the moment.
Moments later, they stopped at the ice-cream shop at the second entrance and Kemi ordered three scoops of three different varieties. Chika gallantly attempted to pay for it but Kemi refused so adamantly – you would think there was more to it than just ice-cream. The girl behind the counter who collected the one thousand naira note from Kemi winked at her, and Kemi smiled back…a mischievous smile.
They left the store, Chika somewhat quiet. Kemi offered him a serving from her ice-cream, and as he opened his mouth she shoved the spoon against his nose, smearing his nose with cold cream. She burst out laughing as he scrubbed his nose and snorted loudly, startling several other people. He saw Kemi laughing and he chased after her suddenly.
It was a short chase. He caught up with her just round the corner opposite the Swatch shop and pinned her against the wall right beside the jewelry shop. She almost spilled her ice-cream, laughing hard as he crushed her in his arms. The next thing that happened came right out of a Hollywood movie.
For some reason Chika could not explain, he kissed her. Probably it was her nearness, or maybe the fun he had been having, or maybe the fact that he was yet to have done it, and ‘no time like the present’ as the saying goes. Whatever. He sha kissed her sha, and while Kemi did not resist, she did not exactly respond either. After a few seconds of such an obviously one-sided kiss, Chika backed away feeling as though he had just made out with the back of his hand.
Some indiscreet giggling from a couple of girls watching from across the aisle did nothing to make him feel better. And so he walked away, head hanging while Kemi straightened her dress and followed, still eating her ice cream.
Chika was done. In fact, he was about to tell Kemi he was leaving when she laid a hand on his sleeve, looked into his eyes with that beguiling way of hers and told him she needed to buy some stuff for the house. He followed her into Shoprite.
As they headed into the superstore – specifically towards the baskets, Kemi’s phone rang. She quickly dumped the half-eaten ice cream into a wastebasket and picked the call, indicating to Chika to help get a basket. He got to the basket stand, and as he tried to pull a basket free while carefully watching Kemi out of the corner of his eyes – he heard a small squeak near his hand.
He looked down and behold, there was this fat rat looking at him out of large beady brown eyes.
Now as I had said earlier, there was nothing particularly special about Chika. In fact, for emphasis’ sake he was one of those guys who could not kill a chicken. The sight of blood scared him.
So imagine his reaction, finding a rat staring at him calmly in a place where there weren’t supposed to be rats. He froze with shock, opened his mouth and yelled;
“RATS! THERE ARE RATS…IN SHOPRITE!!!!”
Kemi, who had been speaking with her mother on the phone calmly hurried over, took the basket from Chika’s hands, and in the midst of the stunned silence handed the basket to one of the attendants. And then she turned to her shamefaced escort and…you guessed it; kissed him.
The poor shoppers looked as stunned as I felt; having shock after shock handed to them. In fact, the silence within was so complete that a few people who were passing looked in just to be sure there was nothing wrong. And then, slowly, people started to move again.
They got married not too long after; don’t ask me why or how. I am only the writer of the story after all, and not the chronicler of their lives. I was at the naming ceremony of their first child, and even though Kemi refused to tell me anything, I am almost sure she agreed to marry him the moment he screamed, ‘there are rats in Shoprite!”
Women. Who can understand them?
Happy New Year people! Welcome to the best year of all our lives.