She took her foot off the accelerator as she approached the blinking red light, because it would turn amber in ten seconds, she didn’t reach for her brake pedal. A danfo shot past her and hit the SUV making a U-turn at the intersection, she banged her head on the steering wheel as she laughed at the unfolding drama, the driver and all the passengers rushed down from the bus and ran in different directions. She would run too if she were in that bus, the SUV had a Nigerian flag and an army flag on the bonnet, it sported military number plates and the men that jumped out of the cars in front of the SUV and behind it were wearing green uniforms.
She smoothened the laugher induced creases on her face by thinking of Julie’s iPhone that was smashed by similarly clad men while she was taking selfies near the shop of their commanding officer’s wife. She switched on her car’s music player, while she didn’t like to listen to music while she drove, she knew she would be stuck at the junction for at least ten minutes. TLC’s Unpretty came up and as soon as the opening bars came up, she drummed on the steering wheel and tried hard not to dance as she remembered Justin.
He had been her brother’s best friend’s elder brother, had been in the periphery of her life for as long as she could remember. She hadn’t liked him or disliked him, he was like the furniture you grew up with, comfortable without being exotic or likely to induce one to raptures. They probably hadn’t exchanged more than ten sentences before she got into the university where he worked as a graduate assistant, her parents asked him to take care of her and he took up the task with great enthusiasm.
All her classmates came to recognize the red car that skulked beside any of the laboratories they held the practical for that day, came to know the tall, ‘handsomeish’ lecturer who glared at any boy who lingered near her, he glared at the girls too- especially if they seemed flashy. He would drive her to her hostel where he would watch until she walked into her room. One evening, she was walking into her faculty when she saw his car and him in it and her stomach and heart danced in frantic rhythm.
He jumped out of the car, ran to her, shook her shoulders and said “Why did you come here after I’d dropped you off? Which boy did you come out to meet?”
“It wasn’t a boy, I came to give Ursula my note she’d asked for but forgot to give her before I left class”
“You expect me to believe that crap? Do I look as stupid as you and your classmates?”
Ursula walked to them at that minute, greeted him but he did not answer, she asked for the note and when she got it, she looked at them, shook her head and walked away.
“Why didn’t you answer her?”
“She was so beautiful that I couldn’t say anything, why can’t you be as beautiful as her, with your flat hips like panla.”
“I am not panla” she protested.
“I did not say you are panla, I said your hips are like panla.”
“Can I go now?”
“Let me drop you off,” he snapped.
He couldn’t stand silence while he drove, his radio was as necessary for his driving as his brakes and steering wheel. She was too angry to respond to his attempts at conversation, her rage wrapped her snuggly.
A familiar song came up on the radio and she recognized it as Unpretty by TLC. It wasn’t one of her favourite songs, she preferred No Scrubs which always made her want to dance and it brought back memories of watching her sister’s dance group mime the song, they were good, really good. She was smiling when a section of the song fell on her ears and sank into her heart.
“Never insecure until I met you
Now I’m bein’ stupid
I used to be so cute to me
Just a little bit skinny”
She sat up and listened more intently, she had never taken note of the lyrics.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
“I’m sorry about the panla thing, you can’t help having a boy’s hips.”
The song ended and it was replaced by an advert for an insurance company.
“Are you ignoring me?” he asked as he rubbed his forehead twice.
“What is your problem with me? Can you tell me what I did to you? Is knowing you a crime?” She snapped.
“Well my problem with you is that I have feelings for you, actually I love you. That’s why I am so hard on you, I want you to be a better person”. He turned off the ignition as they had gotten to her hostel.
She began to laugh, laughing long enough for him to discomfited and nearly afraid.
“Oga, stop lying”
“Me! A whole me, who are you to call me a liar? Small shit inside buttocks like you?”
“Oga why you dey shout? You do not love me; you don’t even know what love is. All you want is someone to turn her head to overdone indomie and have her worship you. And Chinyere, daughter of Ngozi and Ugochukwu will not be that fool, especially not for you,” She spat breathlessly.
“Who gave you this boldness? I’m sure you have been seeing different types of penises, that is why you have the guts to talk anyhow to me.”
She got out of the car, closed the door and leaned in through the halfopen window.
“When you get home, read 1 Corinthians 13. You will find that you do not have a single trait of love, not even a trace of it.”
“Please stop looking for me in class and other places, if you do I will report you to my parents. Let all this rubbish end here, thank you.” She gave him a mock salute and sauntered into the hostel.
Blaring car horns brought her back to her and the traffic jam ahead of her, she was shocked to see that the jeep was zooming off in top speed, she stepped on the accelerator and flew homewards.