Driving on the ever busy, pothole riddled Lagos Ibadan expressway, my mind wandered in different directions. I swore under my breath with each pothole I successfully ‘overcome’. I donated a curse for each leader who refused to do what they should. Maybe I was cranky, maybe I was angry, maybe I was pissed, maybe I was frustrated, maybe…
I had not felt that vexed with everything in a while. The universe was not working in my favour as touching my emotional issues. Why else would Cynthia tell me unequivocally that she was in love with someone else after all of our flirting and ‘encounters’? Why would Queen refuse to see reason and let us come together as a unit?
I admit that I have been wrong at one time or the other. I admit that I did not concentrate fully. I admit that I did not take her very serious from the start. I admit that I might have given her reasons to be doubtful. I am guilty of so many things, YES. I however am right on so many fronts too. She understands my paranoia in not letting down my guard so easily.
I might not have shared with you my past failed alliances. I lost hope in love and loving, believing it was not meant to be my lot until Queen came on the scene. She got down to work and brought my life some much needed organization. She gave me many reasons to feel loved again. She however wanted me to let go of the other babes who were hanging around the corridors of my heart before I took her in. That was never going to be easy.
Queen wanted full control in a very short time and I was willing to give to her but the key was patience. She however wanted it very fast. Going by the improvement in my fortunes when she came into my life, it was nothing to negotiate. I would let her have it but my past heartbreaks after investing lots of resources always got me holding back. I asked her to let us be patient and take things step by step which she agreed to, verbally. Maybe the village girl she is does not understand what patience means. *hiss*
She would get angry at small things, overreact to minor issues, keep malice for days on end, and bear grudges unjustifiably. For someone of my nature, that was not going to work. After studying her for a while, Sam called her “an emotionally immature super lover”. What that means is something I really don’t know. Sam has a penchant for playing with words and I would not allow someone to play backgammon with my brain. I just always allowed him display his grammatical inclination without looking at him twice.
Like some situations in life however, me and Queen despite showing loads of promise had only very little to show. It was all promise and potential without fulfilment. It was meant to be the kind of love that would make the whole world jealous but it did not stay that way for long. All the while, recurring decimals failed to flee. They stayed around hoping for a slip. They were the ones that noticed when cracks started appearing on the wall, they were the ones that saw BBM updates that looked like subs, they were the ones that saw her in the City Mall shopping alone. It was their joy, she made them rejoice over us.
One of the recurring decimals is the reason I embarked on the weekend trip to the city of brown roofs, my Ibadan. I knew Cleo three years before meeting Queen. We struck that perfect understanding as we met at first during a family function. There was this wedding I was to attend and Cleo’s friend, a distant cousin was in attendance as well. I would ordinarily greet the ‘cousin’ and ask her about her progress and similar matters but on this day, the strikingly beautiful girl that was with her made me talk to her a lot more.
The moment we interacted when left together, we just flowed in the same direction as if we had known each other for ages. Her voice was melodious, she sounded like thousands of cymbals that made music to my ears. I told her without mincing words that her company was the type I desired and that was going to keep me around for long. I was watching for too long, trying to build a foundation of friendship when the unexpected happened. She broke the news that she was leaving the country for further studies, telling me how she had waited for months on end for me to make the move. It meant very little to me till she was gone and my broken heart was mended enough to love afresh. Cleo was one to love easily and I seriously considered it but she was gone, gone till November she said but November had not come since.
We stayed in touch with one another: phone calls, text messages, Blackberry chats, social media interactions, skype and every other available platform. Distance was however the ‘female dog’ that came in between us. Little by little the phone calls gave way, the chats reduced and interactions faded. Despite the reduced communication however, we always found the chance for the random chats which were mostly as a result of changed DPs.
I smiled when I remembered how she accused me one day. I am very sure she had already started seeing Queen’s picture on my DP with the accompanying. The traffic snarl as I approached town that Friday evening was not friendly at all. I started fiddling with my phone as the road was totally blocked. The first thing I did as I could was an update on BBM.
“Ile Oluyole, the city of brown roofs. Good to be home #OmoAjorosun”
That status update was intentional. I did it to let Cleo know I was in town and for Queen to know I was away from Lagos. Memories of Cleo’s previous accusations came flooding and as traffic refused to move, I scrolled to my chat history to refresh my memory. After all, it was going to be the whole weekend with her. On sighting Queen on my Display Picture with the accompanying ‘Queen of The Manor’ one morning, she buzzed me straightway. I stopped and opened that chat
“Is that le missus? She’s cute”
“Oh Cleopatra the Great. I hail your regal highness”
“Abegjor, goan hail the regal highness on your DP o Dot”
“I’ve not even said she’s my gf Cleo
“But u’ve been using her for some time now. I see evrytin o, I just don’t say nada”
“So u cld not evn wait for me to come”
“Try undstnd Cleo, I didn’t knw when u were gon’ come or what your long term plans are”
“Hmmmm, I get u sha”
“Queen was arnd me and was showing what she wanted; distance crept in btw us. I didn’t wanna lose on both ends”
“Its undstndable Dot. She’s lucky sha”
“Was Cleo, she was lucky”
“Why d past tense? Worapun?”
“A lot my dear. Gimme some mins”
I intentionally dodged that question because it was not a matter I was willing to discuss with her at that time. The issue was worth it but the timing was not right when we were chatting.
“Maybe its time now man. Let’s see how the weekend’s gon’ be”
I was called back from my trip down the chat memory lane by hoots and swear words. I quickly dropped the phone between my laps, changed the gear to drive and moved as quickly as I could. The useless bus and careless Micra cab drivers were raining invectives on me but I was unfazed.
“Welcome home baby, welcome to Ib”
The rest of the journey home was smooth and littered with random thoughts but I was ready to get one thing right before the end of the festive period: my emotional issues
Mom is always happy to have me around and it was no exception when she saw me as she got back home from her exertions at work that day.
“You didn’t tell us you’re coming home Adedotun”
“I have a few things to sort ni jare and I wasn’t sure if I was gon’ come or not. Pops nko?”. I got up to greet her properly, bending a little before side hugging and holding her by the shoulder.
“He travelled for a burial in Ogbomoso but he’s enroute”
“Maami toh sure, iyawo Baba Dotun. See as you dey fresh”
“Wait wait Adedotun. What’s with these toasting?”
“Nothing nah. I’ve just missed you ma ni o”
“Queen nko? Been a while she called us”
“Queen is fine mum. She’s been a little busy at work. We’ve not been seeing well of recent”
“Is it that bad? What’s the problem in her work place?”
“She says she just got a new sectional head and that one is raising hell ni jare”
“Is that why she has not even bothered to call us?”
“She’ll come good. E ma binu”
“Its just unlike her to be absolutely silent. I’m not cross with her at all”
She asked to go change her clothes and start preparing dinner. As she disappeared, I picked up my phone and dialled Cleo to inform her I was in town already.
“I saw your PM now. I was wondering if you won’t call to tell me. You seem to have this over-reliance on that Blackberry of yours”
I just smiled and we got on other matters, gisting and chatting away about nothing, and everything. One interesting thing about me and Cleo is the fact that there is always something to talk about. There has never been a dull moment. The chemistry between us is one that has not been replicated between me and any other of my ‘women’. We just always seem to come to agreement over everything.
Mother came out of her room and smiled when she saw me grinning on phone. She walked closer and stood behind me. I was not oblivious of her presence but I was carried away with the call that I did not know when she tickled my ribs. The phone almost fell off my hand.
“That’s how he’ll be grinning when talking to her. Queen bawo ni jare”
My head flew away at that instant. What in God’s name was Mother doing? She continued talking in Yoruba. I asked Cleo to hold the line and then turned to mom after covering the mouthpiece.
“It is not Queen mom. Not everyone is Queen jare”
Making attempts at damage control, I resumed the call.
“I’m sorry Cleo, it was mom who needed my attention”
“Yeah, I’ll leave home in a bit. At least I can have a few minutes with you tonight”
“Ohhhh.Tomorrow morning then. Let’s get on BBM”
“Takia of you”
Knowing the kind of person Cleo is, she would have raised that issue if she heard what my mother said but she did not as much as go that way. I ended the call and went to Mom in the kitchen. Explaining to her who it was, she just smiled and added “which one be my own? Na Queen me I sha know”. We both burst into laughter and I responded as jokingly as she talked.
“Mami, it remains open till we declare it closed”
“See as Momma wan burn your cable there”
There seems to be a grand plan by some wicked elements governing this sinful worl to want to make confusion my friend. Or how else do I explain the fact that just when I tried to let go of some, another some will stroll in to my life.
A part of me still hoped against hope that Queen would not just walk away like that. As I woke up the next morning, it was to missed calls from Cynthia. I turned and picked the Blackberry from my bed post, there were messages waiting. Only one mattered but there were more waiting to be read.
Queen’s got my heart beating fast and at the end it was just a casual “GM”, her annoying way shorthand for “Good morning”. Hissing loudly, I scrolled to Sam’s message which was next. He wanted to know my whereabouts.
“Had to go spend some time with folks in ib. Fam’s evryfin man. Good morning”. I replied him.
There was the message I was secretly hoping for, Cleo’s. Instead it was Cynthia, Queen and unexpectedly, Lara’s. Of the three, Lara’s excited me the most because our chats had been few and far between, with all sense of cordiality and a bit of that formal language. Whenever we interacted however, it was also smooth sailing due to her knowledge of goings-on in different areas of life. Her thought pattern also seemed to align with mine, something close to the non-conformism that defines me.
Lara was asking where I was going to be for Christmas, and to be honest, I was yet to decide. My meeting with Cleo was going to determine a few things, and yuletide was one of them. I told her it was not decided yet but it would be one of Lagos or Ibadan.
“Where do we stand Dot? As things are who do we go with?”
“I honestly dunno man. I still wish Queen’s gon’ come back to her senses”
I got out of bed and went straight to greet my parents. The duo keep giving me a standard to meet in love, devotion, commitment and mutual respect. I met them discussing heartily about politics and how the ruling class has been a curse on the country since independence. Dad was in his usual element, holding a copy of one of the dailies, without reading while Mom schooled him that they’re all “omo irankiran”, something close to calling them offsprings of a cursed lineage.
“Daddy, they’re all descendants of the devil. Not one of these parties or the people that populate them have anything to offer”
Dad nodded in agreement, feigning seriousness.
“My iyawo for President. My politically sagacious wife to contest the Presidency while I be the First Gentleman… ”
“See this one o. You are so scared you can’t contest for Olori ebi in your family yet you’re making jest of me” she cut in sharply
“Do I need that distraction when I have you and your children to care for?”
“Common Mogaji you no fit do”
“I don’t need it. I’m Mogaji of you and my kids, and that’s enough for me”
I watched them banter for a few more minutes before my “a ku ojumo o”, another way of saying “good morning” in Yoruba language.
Pops looked at me and started with his traditional hailing.
“Aremo Adedotun, hope you enjoyed your night”
“Very well Baba. You still dey waka late ehn”
“I’ve cut down on it my dear. Yesterday’s was necessitated by the trip. You know that rubbish friend of mine that killed his in-law recently, we had to go eat amala on his bill ni”
“I heard but please stress yourself less o. You’re aging finely Dad”
“Aging doesn’t mean death yet now?”
“Sha reduce your wahala”
“I hear o. Queen nko Aremo?”
“She’s fine Dad, very fine”
“Why’s he asking again. His wife woulda told him nah”
“We’ve not heard from her in a while. Is she well”
“She is Dad. Says she’s busy at work”
Mom took her leave that minute, going into the kitchen.
“I don’t like how that sounds Aremo. You should be busy but create time for one another no matter what life throws at you”
“We’re trying Dad, you know how things are nowadays”
“I do but I do not want to agree that you should let life live you”
“We’ll adjust Dad”. I was eager to close the conversation. He noticed the unease in my actions and spoke as if he was in the know.
“My son, there’ll always be issues. Work round it and make up”
“There’s no problem Dad”
“Let’s close that matter before your mother comes”
Cleo was waiting for me at our arranged meeting point, a park where we first spent time when we met. I did not have to look around before sighting, easily the most stunning in the place where she sat, her ice cream bowl placed in front of her.
The sight was not friendly however, opposite her was a dreadlocked guy who was in a discussion that seemed serious. You know your size when you see and I knew this guy was ‘more’ than me. He smelt affluence and poshness but I was not one to be intimidated by anyone.
I walked towards her and touched her shoulder lightly.
She looked up and smiled, then got up and threw her arms round me in a full hug, the fullest and longest one ever between us. Dreads kept a straight look and managed to respond when stretched my hand for a shake after we disentangled.
“Sope, here’s Dotun. He’s the one I ve been waiting for”, Cleo said
“Hey bruv”. Dreads managed with a fake smile and mumbled accent. I smiled and in response. There was the unseen hostility between us as we both managed to exchange pleasantries.
“I should allow you guys some space”. He got up and looked at me again, “hoping we meet again one day soon Dotun”
“Yeah, hopefully mate. Best wishes”
He took his leave and I faced Cleo.
“Make or break time man, don’t bungle it”
I struggled to concentrate on what I was to say. Cleo’s features still got the same hold on me from three years ago. Pretty face, well laid out bust, proportionate hips n butt; she had the ‘Dot specs’ and packed it in a stunning way. I would never have my fill of her. After the one that got away, Cleo was to be the one who came to rule the roost but I had not opened the door for her when Queen took over the manor.
“Cleo, here we are. If anyone told me it would take time before we would sit together again, I woulda called that person a liar”
“Its life Dotun, it just happens”
“Just when I was thinking to make that move and try, you left”
“And then you couldn’t wait”
“I needed to be sure I really wanted to do this. If I’ve lost you to another man because I stalled, I won’t ever forget making that mistake”
“We all make mistakes boo, and the results of our mistakes are our responsibilities”
“That’s true. Sometimes we wanna turn the hands of time”
“Sometimes we can’t, sometimes we’re lucky”
“Hmmmmm. So with us?”
“Us? Is there a ‘us’? What happened between you and the fine girl you went to date?”
“Cleo, too much talk o”
I told her all she had to know, spicing the story with enough seasoning. I didn’t lie just in case you are thinking that is what ‘spicing’ and ‘seasoning’ mean. All I did was just exaggerate a few things.
She also shared her experience. The failed promises, the love turned sour, how she lost interest in love and loving, and of course how “you Dotun remain a constant I have not been able to forget”.
That was my cue, I did not waste time.
“There’s a reason for that Cleo, there’s a reason me and Queen didn’t work, there’s a reason this is happening now. Me and Queen ended things shortly before Tokunbo’s wedding”
“So I’m the next option Dotun”
“You were never an option Cleo. I was just trying to not rush into things with you”
“Then you gave up when I left”
“I didn’t totally do but I had Queen hovering almost a year after you left. I was not sure where I was standing with you. I had to move on”
“That was when our communication waned”
“Yes. I wanted to focus”
“I know, and that’s why I did not tell you when I came visiting last year”
“Cleo! Haba Cleo! You shouldn’t have done that”
“You think? I felt you who were the only one I felt that thing close to love for had slipped from me. It woulda hurt me”
“I’m here Cleo, let’s redeem. I’m ready to make up for lost time. I’ll let you believe in love again”
“What do you want Dotun? I know what I want but I need to know what you want so we can see if we have a common ground”
I thought long and hard, looked straight into her eyes and spoke from my heart of hearts.
“I’m not about high school dating, I’m not about university relationship. I’m after what will last, courting with a view to marriage”
“So how are you gon’ cope with the distance seeing as that was one of the initial challenges”
“I’m more mature now Cleo. I can handle it”
“I’m not convinced by that answer Dotun. Let’s just see if we can get this flying”
“Its all on me bae, I’ll make sure you will commit to this without having anyone convince you”
“I’ll say you said so. The space has always been there for you so it should not be much problem getting things going”
Inside of my insides, joy welled up. I had this figured out and I was ready to commit and make it work.
“Cleo, I won’t talk. I’ll act, and that would be enough”.
I had switched off my phone but left my Blackberry on. That was when I remembered.
“I need to use the gents bae. Gimme a sec”
I pulled out my phone on getting in there. It was Lara.
“A bad piece of advise Dot. Keep Cleo close, and Lara closer. It would be either of them”
I smiled and replied her quickly “in a meeting Lara, gon’ buzz you later”.
Switching off the phone, I went back to the one whose voice was music to my soul. Every other thing or person could wait while I tended the new seed I just planted.