She had always liked him. Well, at least from the first time she remembered him. At the time she was in primary school, she would see him on her way to school with her big sister and little brothers while he was wearing white shorts on a white shirt and heading to secondary school from Monday to Friday.
She doesn’t know the secondary he attended, quite a number of boys schools had white on white uniforms. Some of the boys who attended those schools liked to act as if wearing white uniforms made them angels.
It did not.
He was dark-skinned like one of her brothers and skinny like both of her brothers, he actually resembled both of them more than she did. Three skinny boys with thin legs. But she thought him beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
She cannot remember when it became a crush, perhaps it had always been there percolating, waiting for the right moment to rise and fill her head and senses. It was a gentle kind of crush, not the type that tied her tongue and sped up her heart like Chidozie’s did to her. Her friends and siblings knew they could shake her just by saying his name.
But she didn’t know his name or anything about this young man who was only a little older than her unlike Chidozie who had seen the world. All she knew was that he had kind eyes and he was like a palm tree, tall and slender. And he was beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
And she grew up, finished secondary school, got a degree but still couldn’t make akamu without lumps. She gained weight, lost it and gained it again but he was still the same whenever she saw him. Brown like the cream that floats at the top of your tea when you put too much milo in your ‘tea’. He was still thin; it was as if he would snap in two if the wind gained a little muscle.
Still beautiful he was, absolutely beautiful.
One day she looked up and saw him, he was opening the door to the shop she worked at. He must have seen her as he walked through the local mall, perhaps he had known about her crush all those years as well. Her heart began to pound inside her cute chest.
As she watched him come to her, she wondered what she would do with her fluttering hands. By the time he got to the counter, she pinned them to her sides and he couldn’t see them shake as they were beneath the counter.
As he asked for her advice on the items she wanted, customers began to walk into the shop. It was as if someone was ringing a bell outside inviting them in. He lingered a little after collecting his items but as the crowd refused to thin, he told her he would return soon and he slipped out. She didn’t even ask him his name or his phone number or what Greek island he wanted them to have their honeymoon or the number of children they would have together.
It had to be witchcraft, they rarely even had customers at that time of the day and even when they did, it was never more than they could handle. This had been strange, very strange.
She travelled to her alma mater to collect her NYSC call up letter the next day, it had been her last day at that job.
She would see him again only from afar. She walked past him once, only realising it was him a few seconds after and she couldn’t run after him in that busy bus stop. And what would she tell him when she saw him? That he was beautiful, absolutely beautiful? That she wanted to have babies who would grow to have skin the colour of milo cream and who reminded the world of palm trees? Her throat dried.
This Monday, she saw him again. She was at Jakande gate on her way to see her family, when she saw him having a conversation with another man. The man appeared to be much older than him but she couldn’t be sure if they weren’t the same age as he still appeared to be 23 even though she knew he had to be at least ten years older than that.
She walked to him, tapped him and continued walking. She turned back to see him looking at her and she waved. When she turned back thirty seconds later, he was still watching her from above everyone’s head. He seemed to be smiling.
On Wednesday, after battling all the traffic in Lagos she headed home. After waiting for several minutes for the bus to fill up, the last bus she would take home finally left the park. She was glad to be sitting in front and by the window, global warming definitely had its headquarters in Lagos.
Because Itire Road is a mess, bus drivers prefer to go through Aborishade Road, branching out at Alves or Onipede, into Eleja bus stop and heading out to Pako bus stop. Just as the bus pulled out of Onipede into the tiny road that connected it with Eleja bus stop, she saw a familiar figure atop a bike that was bearing down on them.
The passenger on the bike was beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
He squinted as he looked into the danfo shuffling past him, she knew the instant he recognized her. His eyes lit and he waved, he was smiling too. She waved back and his smile widened as the bike zoomed him out of her view. She was smiling from Eleja to her bus stop. She was smiling even when she opened her front door. I think she has exceeded her smile quota for the 2020 by now.
She is currently looking at wedding dresses and their prices on Aliexpress.com. You see, she knows 2019 is her year and she must fess Nwachichi to marry.