Time was favourable when I locked eyes with Cynthia at the wedding reception. It however stopped being my friend when she came back to sit and chat with me. I really cannot remember how long ago I thoroughly enjoyed time with someone; I mean time enough to shut the whole world out.
As I reminisced on the outing, and our first serious interaction after Sam’s wedding, I knew I had been struck by an arrow. We went straight to be with The Clan at The Meeting Point for the rest of that Saturday evening.
The boys noticed my unusual quiet and asked to know what was going on. The idiot that knew just told them “he’s tired, emotionally and mentally” and his fellow fools started laughing. I did not bother to dignify them with any response. I just continued with my chicken and chips and a bottle of water, no alcohol. While that was going on Cynthia’s face, her voice, her gait, her charming smile, her giggles and laughter were all replaying in my head while I sat with my friends. Our conversation on different facets of life conveniently ranks as the best I have had with a female in a while. Intelligent, humorous and factual while our flirting moved beyond the words we typed while chatting to body language: the light touches on the shoulder, the wink and needless smiles, the playful beatings…it felt like something absolutely new, and fresh, and different.
At home that night, I lay on the plush rug in my living room, refusing to switch on any bulb or electric appliance. Of a truth, I was not sure if it was real tiredness or the fact that I missed and desired what her company offered, or the secret desire that Queen could make me feel like a starry eyed teenager that was just crushing and having a very interesting emotional attachment to someone, the way Best Girl was making me feel.I knew I would not cook dinner again so on my way from the wedding, I bought sharwama. You would never find me mulling on Saturday evenings but I could not decipher what came over me.
“You had fun with that girl Dot, you sure did”
“I did man. I wish Queen can just gimme back the Queen I used to have”
“That’s yours to decide”
Much as it seems crazy that I get to converse with my subconscious, it actually is fun. If you don’t try it, you will never know how interesting it is. He it was that reminded me of every detail of the interaction with Cynthia. How she smiled and grinned at every word I said, even those that did not sound funny to me; how she made sure talks in our pending chats came up; how she made sure our talk tended towards relationships and how she got me singing like a canary about my life.
I would be lying if I refuse to admit her superiority in maturity compared to Queen. Best Girl would relate without getting unnecessarily angry. She would not take out her annoyance and frustration with her daily life on me. Humility, modesty and a sense of calmness are all written on her features. What makes her trump Queen through and through is the fact that she would never dwell on her good looks. I teased her many times with “see fine girl” or “this pic of you is cute” or something more gratifying. She would merely respond with a smile or a simple “thank you sir”. I appreciate a sense of modesty and humility, calmness and level headedness in people, and Cynthia displays that on a daily basis.
Her sense of humour ranks where it really rocks. She would crack jokes, jibe at me and not flinch when I do the same. She would ask how my day was, my state of health, present activity and all of that. The minor details mattered. Femi once snooped in on my chat with her and told me what it meant to have this kind of calm girl as a partner.
“Dot, remember I told you Queen is in trouble? This your BG is really giving it a go man. Is she dating anyone?”
“Bro, she told me at the wedding that she’s seeing someone o. I really don’t know what she wants my brother”
“She’s seeing someone and is still getting so attached to you?”
“Who tells you I’m not equally attached to her”
My friend burst out laughing so hard. “When the koko master fall in love, nahin be say water don pass gari”
“Ode ni e jor. Did I tell you I’m in love with her? I am attached!”
“Pele o, stay there and be living in denial; be rationalizing. My own be say if she’s calm enough and would give you what you don’t have with the fine for nothing Queen, no dull”
“Haba! No dey abuse Queen nah. My mind dey with her through and through o, and I will fight for what we have”
I knew I was not so sure of what I told him. I was in a fix, the whole woman matter had of recent been a straight one between Queen and Cynthia. The other ones still found a way to stay in touch but I was hooked on Cynthia and Queen, or Queen and Cynthia, in order of reality.
The approaching festive period meant I had to start planning what to give to a few people. Top on the list of course was my share of the money to be paid into the joint purse with my siblings. It had become a ritual of sorts to make sure we buy something for our parents every year and my position as the first son of the family meant I had a major role to play in deciding.
My two elder sisters had done what was expected of women of their ages. The first lives in Abuja with her hubby and two kids while the one that always said “I won’t live in Naija for anything” was based where she wanted to be, outside Nigerian shores. Kid brother lived with mom and dad in Ibadan, only visiting me in Lagos occasionally.
It was while I was thinking of what to suggest that we buy for our parents as Christmas gift that my mobile rang. It turned out to be my cousin.
“Heyyyy. How e be nah”
“Me? Bone you? Na you no dey relate like before nah”
“No o, sister didn’t tell me anything o”
“Wedding? When? This December ke? Where? Ib? Toh, I’ll get back to you”
He was calling to inform me of his wedding ceremony. My head flew, here’s Tokunbo who is barely a year older than me getting married while I was still picking and sorting. To make it all interesting, he wanted me to be his Best Man because the friend that was penciled down to take the role was on official training abroad, and the training would not have finished by the time the wedding would take place. I knew I could not refuse him but the first thing that rang in my head was the financial commitment.
“For God’s sake, December is a couple of weeks away now”
“Relax jor. God weydey cook never comot kitchen”
“You go dey ginger person with rugged faith as if you’ll come out of hiding to work with me”
“You want people to see double Dotun? I’m where I’m supposed to be, and you know it”
“If you say so sha. You better let’s pray together. At least you can stay in me where you are, and join the me everyone sees in prayer”
“Now yaaa talking, big head”
I just laughed, wishing I could walk side by side with the man in me with whom I always conversed. Next stop was The Meeting Point.
“I’ll call Tokunbo later”, I said in soliloquy as I locked the door of my apartment and made for my car.
Communication between me and Queen was thinning and we both knew it. Chats were few and far between, phone calls were not even the way they used to be, text messages seemed to be ages ago. The dangerous signal was that I felt no guilt and that was because I could not adduce any reasonable cause for the fights.
Sam it was that hit the nail on the head and brought me out of the denial in which I was living. He was Queen’s number one supporter, the one I always called “front row seat ticket holder” at her show. It all happened one evening during our chat when he asked after Cynthia.
“I see say you and Best Girl don dey carry one another put for DP”, he started. He was referring to the day Cynthia put me up as her Blackberry Messenger Display Picture with “Where’s my Johnny” as her Personal Message. I had not noticed because my Blackberry was switched off due to the fact that I was preparing a business proposal for a client.
“How you take sabi that 1, monitoring spirit?”
“You forgot she’s my wife’s friend shey”
“So na DorDor been tell u”
“No ode, na my second wife”
“There you go mr married friend. Wetin call for abuse nah?”
“The silly question wen u ask nko? Who else for tell me?”
“Still that 1 nor give u ryt to use your hand type nonsense nah, big head”
“Mak I tell u true, the babe get bobo o”
“Information Minister, I know. Me and am jus dey reason 1 anoda ni. Thanks for the breaking news”
“See idiot. I dey glean info for u, u dey abuse me. I’ll call your terrorist 4 u now”
“Effoff! Terrorist ko, shekau ni”
“To be serious, I dey try ask Dorothy if Cynthia’s in a serious relationship”
“She said she’s dating but she can’t say how serious the relationship is”
“She told me too. But I’m not sure of the status. She sef nor sure”
“We’ll know soon. It would be a perfect love story if she manages to wrest your mumu button from Queen sha”
“You go talk one sense, then display your madness almost immediately”
“Stating the obvious Dot”
“Na u sabi”
We went on and on, moving into our business dealings after he made his point about Cynthia. I spared it a thought before he said it in his chat too. The possibility of me and Cynthia getting married would be a very good thing for love really, a perfect love story. The whole thing was however beyond me.
I had hardly ended the chat with Dotun when Queen’s phone call came in. considering how badly our communication had waned, it was a very welcome one. I keep saying there is something creepy about her. You talk about her, she calls; you are on a p-setting and she sends in a really romantic message. That is the hallmark of winshy winshy people. It was a short call to inform me she wanted to pick some stuff at mine in some days. Much as I tried to be yummy with her, she sounded so formal. A man would only try but when egos stand on the way of all efforts, there is very little one can do.
I could not remember having any disagreement to warrant Queen acting all formal but her mood issues are well documented so I let it slide.
“You guys promised so much and are delivering so little. I hope you won’t appreciate one another when this is over”
“I know right. You can attest to the fact that I am trying mate. I wish we just find a common ground. I wish things go the way they should, I wish…”
“Stop venting lover boy, que sera sera”
“And I don’t wanna give up without fighting”
“Relax man, just do what you know you should”
The day started on the most unexpected note ever. An early call from Sam informed me I had to face Port Harcourt in the next two days to tie some loose ends in our deal with one of our clients. The next thing that came to mind was not the business, it was Cynthia. I was going to Port Harcourt; I was going to Cynthia’s zone. All these things are falling into place at a time Queen was doing needless yanga for me. That was no good sign for us because the more time I spent with Cynthia on the phone and physically, the more attached I was sure going to become.Things were not looking up between Queen and me despite my many efforts and I was already in thoughts as to not push Cynthia away for Queen like I had done with others who seemingly were better than her.
“Don’t mull too much Dot. Enjoy the present with Cynthia and let things play out the way they have been destined to”
That was the assurance I needed. He knew how to tell me the right thing to do, and always did it the right way. Worrying would not have taken me out of the woods but I did not want to start running from what I should confront.
“Still go and enjoy your PH trip first. Business, see your BG, and we take it up from there”
With that, I picked up my phone and dialed Cynthia’s number. It rang off the hook, something unlike her. I did the second time and got the same result. That was when I remembered that her duty roster, which I had become so familiar with, meant she would be at work at the time I placed the call to her. Next thing to do was to drop her a message on Blackberry messenger.
“My turn to be in your city BG. Due in the Garden City in 48”
Her response was instant, and led to the day’s conversation.
“Dot be serious. You’re telling me this because I missed your calls ehn?”
“Naaah.Im coming to tidy up another deal.Your prayers r workin, clients are doin well”
“Really? Am all shades of excited right now”
“You don’t wanna know how I feel now, very giddy”
“I’m off duty day after tmrw”
“I know, that’s why I’m telling. Just so u keep d day free for me”
“See u. pray there’s no emergency o. cos if there is, I may be called over”
“Make dem no do any ruff play o. I gotta c my BG again. Spend time with her, and have her mind druggin effect on me all over again”
“I don’t do wash pretty, and u know that”
“We’ll see. Time will tell”
“Let me know how your movement goes”
“You’re gon’ b d 1st 2 kno, trust me”
That parole was setting itself already. The possibility of seeing a few weeks after the last meet-up was tantalizing. It was barely a month that we had a very memorable time at her friend’s wedding, and out of the blues another chance to meet up came.
I looked forward to the trip eagerly. There was the case of an almost closed business deal that needed just to be rubberstamped and of course, the meet with Cynthia to talk over lunch. That was an opportunity I would never allow to pass me by.
Sam it was that dropped me at the airport and waited till my flight was called. Big head gave me his parting words, a jibe.
“Feel free to see Best Girl after the deal has been sealed. Not before o”
“Repeat after me ‘I be mooo-mooo’”
“Dotun na mumu”
“Shame. I thought you’d have been treated by Dor Dor. Cynthia’s picking me at the airport you idiot. Oya begin go make I enter my bird abeg, you be bad market around here”
“Anyone can pick you like a lost pin in a haystack. Mine is that you should come back to Lagos with good news. Gaskiya”
We laughed, bumped fists and hugged the guy way. Each turned and went his way. I entered the plane and sat. Other co-passengers were settling in when my Blackberry vibrated and my heart skipped a beat knowing only a few, none of which I was in the right frame of mind to relate with, started their convo with me that way.
“Wia r u? I wan pick d stuff I told u abt doda time”
“You have the keys babe. Go pick ‘em things”
“Does dtansa d question?”
“what ?Be quick about this Queen”
“Wia u dey?Why d rush”
“I’m not home”
“I kno. I’m not wif my key and I nid u to come open d door”
“I’m outta town Queen, due bk this evng or tmrw”
“Nothing o. Shebi those babes wey u leave me dey run after can sha kno your movement”
“I’m not up for this convo sweets. Na u dey avoid me, dey sound cold, dey do like say I no matter. Everything arnd me don’t matter. I took a cue and started living d way u want”
“Hmmmm. Ok o. I no ask u to preach or explain how u dey live sha.Na my credentials I wan come carry”
“Ok mami. Ttyl before u begin rain insults for my head”
“U mean bizness o. u dey discharge me”
I chose not to read that last message and switched off my phones in readiness for the flight.
“You guys will sort whatever she wants when you’re back. For now, don’t let her prey on your mind. Go on your journey, make it a success in all ways”
“You rock man. Key word ‘all ways’ shey”
“You gerrit man”
“Gimme high five”
He spoke from where he lives inside me again, and he did it right. In my mind, I reclined and let the journey happen.
“Garden City here I come, Best Girl here I come”