CHAPTER THIRTYChike turned on his side and looked up at the wall clock. It was some minutes past twelve. It was a good thing that he didn’t need to go
Chike turned on his side and looked up at the wall clock. It was some minutes past twelve. It was a good thing that he didn’t need to go to school that day. It was a Saturday and he seldom went to the campus, except when he had an upcoming test, a pending assignment or a group reading. He needed to rest. It was his final year and his project was coming up fine. He prayed that he would be able to finish it before the end of the first semester and defend it before the end of his second semester, or else, he won’t be able to concentrate on his final examinations. His Industrial Training in the U.K had paid off well. Aside from the money he made, the firm he worked for created an opportunity for him to come back and work for them, when he goes back for his Master program. Initially, he never thought it was possible for a foreign student to work in such a place abroad, being a non-citizen at that. It would have been wonderful if several other companies also had the same policy.
He hoped to return to the U.K, before or after his NYSC program. He was excited at the turn of events in his life. His family were also happy for him, especially his parents. None of their children had travelled out of the country before. He was the first to go, but, definitely not the last.
Thoughts of Bukky flooded his mind. Despite the fact that he was out of the country for six months, the distance didn’t alienate his feelings for her. He thought of her constantly and the fact that she was with Gbemiga made his nights unbearable. Seeing her again, he felt like a man who had lived in the desert for so long and she represented an ocean. She was available again, free and single. He wasn’t sure if she was completely over her ex. He wasn’t willing to ask her out regardless of how much he loved her. The fear of rejection was greater than what he felt for her.
Maybe he should just move on. He tried going on a few dates with some of his colleagues at work in the U.K, but, he kept comparing them all to her in his frail mind. It was as if she had filled every vacuum in his heart. No space for anyone else. He turned on his belly. What was he going to do now?
He heard knocks on his door. He wasn’t expecting anyone. Maybe it was one of his neighbours. Now that he was back home, they had resumed borrowing cooking ingredients and utensils from him. He climbed down, took the tee-shirt on the leather chair and put it on. He strolled to the door and opened it.
He blinked and looked her up and down, “Aren’t you supposed to be at your shop?” he noticed that she looked fuller in the white knee length
cap-sleeve A-shaped dress.
“The market officials imposed a sanitation day. They said the surroundings of the market is filthy.”
They both went in. He shut the door and returned to the bed. Bukky settled on the leather chair.
“The officials are right, that market is a pigsty,” he propped his head with two pillows.
“Many of my customers were angry. They were not happy when they found the shop locked this morning.”
He chuckled, “I can imagine.”
“So…” she looked around the room, “Where is my stuff?”
He pointed at a red and green coloured ‘Ghana must go’ bag outside the kitchen. She got up quickly, hurried to the big bag and opened it. Her jaw dropped in astonishment.
“Is everything for me?” she glanced at him.
“Yes,” he smiled at her.
“Thank you,” she searched the bag and found clothes, purses, sandals, perfumes, beverages, candies, assorted biscuits, body lotions, hair products and a black berry phone. “You bought me a phone!” she turned around to look at him.
“What are friends for?” he winked at her.
“It is one of the latest set they just brought out!”
“I know now.”
Her eyes glistered with happy tears. She felt special. “Thank you.”
He cleared his throat, “You are most welcome.”
She dropped the phone in the bag and zipped it.
“What have you been eating?”
She glanced at him, “Hmmm…”
“You look like a size 12 chick.”
She started to laugh quietly.
“See your body, front, back, stomach, hands, everywhere has expanded. Hope you won’t turn into one of those shapeless slay queens out there.”
She placed her hands on her hips, “I am a big 10.”
He eyed her, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“I am a size 10, a big 10.”
“That is in-between size 10 and 12 abi?”
She nodded, “Something like that.”
He began to shake his head.
“I am not slim and I am not fat.”
“Keep deceiving yourself.”
“Any man who marries me will like me for who and what I look like. BIko, free me.”
He started to laugh.
“What about you? You are turning into one of those Wrestle Mania wrestlers.”
He jumped down from the bed. “Check me out,” he turned around, “I am a bloke, a s–d, a Prince Charming,” he winked at her.
“I know you are one of those girls that like tall, broad shouldered, all muscled guys like me.”
She hissed again. “Ehn… whatever, I am okay too,” she turned around smiling.
The movement made her backside to swerve in several directions at once. His g—n tightened in rebellion. He looked away quickly and cleared his throat.
“Oya, come and start going to your house.”
“Ah-han… but, I just got here.”
“If they send you to me this afternoon, tell them that I am not at home.”
She stared at him, wondering what was wrong with him.
“Oluwabukola, come and start going to your house.”
“What’s doing you sef?” she eyed him.
“I am not Samson, neither are you Delilah,” he glanced back at her.
Confusion was written all over her face. He chuckled and walked up to her.
“This dress, it makes you look very tempting,” his dark brown eyes observed her surprised dark ones.
“Is… is it too tight?” she felt very self-conscious.
“Not really, but, it brings out all your curves and… and the sight of you right now is driving me crazy.”
Her jaw dropped.
“You know that I will never ever touch you except you were mine.”
She nodded her head.
“This is becoming very difficult.”
His confession made her tremble with emotion. It dawned on her that he was still attracted to her and his feelings for her were unwavering.
He closed the gap between them and wrapped his hands around her. She looked up at him and s—-d in breath. The passion in his eyes mirrored the battle she fought within.
“Kiss me…” she whispered.
He blinked and stared at her in astonishment.
“I want you to kiss me,” her heart beat accelerated.
“Why?” he looked deep into her eyes.
“I don’t want to wait anymore,” she stared back at him.
“Wait for what?”
“I know you like me. I know you have feelings for me. I know that you are attracted to me. I know that you want to date me. I feel the same way too.”
He swallowed hard. Was he hearing her right?
“I want you too. I like you too. I am attracted to you too. I have feelings for you too. I want to go out with you too,” her soft convincing voice re-echoed in his ears.
“Are you sure?” his heart beat began to hammer against his chest.
She smiled and placed her hands around his neck. “Yes, yes, I am.”
He smiled back at her, leaned forward and kissed her deeply. She responded, matching his eagerness, fire for fire.
“I love you,” he tore his lips away.
Her eyes grew wide.
“This is the happiest day of my life and I don’t want to ruin it. We must leave, now. Let’s go outside, anywhere. If we stay in here, I am going to sleep with you and I doubt if you are emotionally strong enough to stop me.”
She nodded quickly. He was right.
“Let’s get your stuff into the car, drop it in your apartment and look for somewhere public to go to, okay?”
“Yes sir!” she saluted him comically.
“Trouble maker,” he eyed her.
She started to laugh.
He grabbed the Ghana must go bag and pulled it towards the door.
Bukky and her aunt sat inside the shop counting the money they made that day while the sales girls tidied up the place.
“When did you and Chike start dating?”
She raised her head and met her aunt’s excited gaze. “A few weeks ago.”
She grinned, “I knew that both of you will end up together.”
Bukky chuckled and tied the money in her hands with rubber bands.
“You wasted so much time with Gbemiga. I pray that God will pay his family back in their own coin.”
She sighed heavily and held her tongue. The last time she saw her ex, he was leaving for school and she was heading to her lecture center. It was at the bus-stop and they just exchanged greetings, nothing more. She seldom run into his parents or siblings. It was as if they no longer existed, even though they all lived on the same street. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
“Good afternoon ma,” Chike walked in.
Both women raised their heads and grinned at him.
“Chike, omo ibo, omo ina,” Kike teased him.
He chuckled and smiled.
“I got your message. Thanks for the gifts.”
“You are welcome ma.”
“This your abroad I.T did you well o. Your skin looks buttery and posh like those black American actors.”
He started to laugh. Bukky shook her head and smiled.
“Hey you,” he sat beside his girlfriend.
“Hi…” she smiled back at him.
“Are you going to the lecture center today?”
She shook her head.
“Cool. I want to take you to the Lagoon front.”
She beamed. She had been asking him to create time and take her there for as far back as she could remember. Many of her classmates at the center had been there and she was feeling kind of left out.
“I am ready when you are ready,” he announced. He was glad that she was thrilled with his plan.
“Give me a few minutes.”
“Okay,” he leaned against the plastic chair and cross his legs.
“Give me the money with you before you start counting rubbish and start making silly mistakes.”
“Ah-han aunty,” she eyed her aunt.
“Follow your boyfriend and commot for here,” Kike collected the bills from her.
Chike laughed quietly.
“Let me get my bag,” she winked at him and got up.
Fifteen minutes later, they both walked out of the shop and headed to the street the campus shuttles queued. They got into one of the buses at the beginning of the long line with other students, and passengers. Twenty minutes later, they got down from the bus at the last bus-stop. As they walked, Chike pointed out departmental halls, eateries, and other places out to her.
At the Lagoon front, she saw several people, mostly students roaming around. Some were seated on long seats made of concrete, some were in groups and others were in twos and threes. She saw a few lovers in secluded areas, holding hands, hugging and one couple were kissing, lost in their own little world. They found a less crowded place under a tree close to the water.
Bukky noticed two or three canoes afar off. She saw a man casting a large net in the lagoon, while his partner paddled the narrow canoe.
“That is the third mainland bridge.”
Her eyes grew wide. She looked at the bridge and remembered the day she visited her elder sister on the island. There had been traffic on the bridge and most of the vehicles crawled at snail speed.
“If you are game, we can take a canoe ride to the bridge and back.”
She glanced at him, then shook her head. She had never ridden on a canoe before. The narrow and thin way it looked scared the life out of her.
What if they fell off? She doesn’t even know how to swim.
“I am a very good swimmer. I will rescue you if anything happens,” he said quickly, as if reading her thoughts.
“No, thank you,” she shook her head vigorously.
“Where is your faith?”
“Chike, biko, leave me. Go ahead if you want to. I will be right here when you come back.”
He started to laugh and signaled to a lady hawking boiled groundnuts. He bought a few cups and paid her.
Bukky ate the snack with relish. She loved groundnuts and it had been a while since she ate the boiled ones.
“It is a beautiful sight.”
“It used to be nicer.”
She looked around, wondering how the place used to be. The lack of maintenance culture had eaten deep into every sphere of the country.
“Students are no longer allowed to come here at night because of robbers and the likes.”
“I heard rumours that touts sneak in here in the evening, hide and rob students.”
Feared gripped her, “Is there no security in your school?”
He shrugged, saw a boy hawking drinks, called out to him and bought two bottles of soft drinks.
“We will take pictures before we leave.”
“Okay,” she had seen three, four young men hanging around with their cameras at the entrance when they arrived, trying to convince people to snap pictures.
“There is a mini-zoo here too.”
“Really?” eyes shone in excitement.
“I have never been there.”
Narrowed her eyes, “What kind of student are you?’
He shrugged, “We will go see the place together.”
“Can I take pictures?”
“Of course. Let’s see what sort of animals they have.”
She beamed. She might as well sign up for the University of Lagos when it was time to write her JAMB examinations. She liked the school already.
“I will show you around the school some other day. I haven’t really done a tour myself. My nose has been in my books.”
She smiled with understanding, “You might as well graduate with a first class.”
He started to laugh, “Definitely, I will, by God’s grace.”
“Amen to that.”
“How far with your studies?”
“I am no way near writing the S.S.C.E examinations.”
He nodded and placed a hand around her, “Give yourself time, trust in God, study hard and you will be fine.”
She sighed with relief. “Are you through with your project?”
“Nope, but, I am almost done. I hope my supervisor won’t ask me to re-type anything. I am just tired.”
“Awww… my baby,” she pecked him on the cheek.
“Put another one here,” he tapped his lips with a finger.
She eyed him, “Oliver Twist.”
“Oya now, I want a sweet kiss.”
She looked left and right, “We are in public,” she whispered.
“Kiss me. Leave everybody alone.”
“No,” she looked away shyly.
He brushed a hand over her face and turned her head in his direction. “It’s been a while since I kissed you.”
“You said we should take it easy in that department.”
“I know. We are in public. It is impossible for things to get out of hand.”
“True, at least, we are not dogs or those fowls.”
He laughed as he remembered how a c–k chased a hen in the area in order to pounce on it.
“Oya, one sweet kiss,” she winked at him.
“Now you are talking.”
She closed her eyes and waited.
“Who asked you to close your eyes?’
She opened her eyes, “They do it in the movies.”
“You and who is acting Hollywood film?’
She started to laugh.
“Oya, let’s act small.”
She continued to laugh.
“I think… I don’t think, I believe I am going to spend the rest of my life with you.”
She observed his confident face. The last person that said the same words to her left her for sponsorship of his education.
“I have found the one,” his eyes twinkled in delight.
His words warmed her heart. Maybe, this time around, things would be different.
“You are my Prince Charming.”
“And you are my Damsel in distress.”
He drew her close and planted a kiss on her ready lips.