It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. I was hungry, and restless but too tired to cook up any surprises and very much in need of some crisp air, and Lara’s lazy frame glued to the sitting room cushion, surrounded by a jar of pringles and 1 litre Coke bottle with eyes fixated on the Africa Magic movie she was watching, didn’t offer too many promises of a lunch-full afternoon. If I didn’t do something, I knew I would have myself to blame. While I was craving my usual White House Amala and Ewedu, with Goat Meat; I ended up settling for Smalls half-cooked warm and starchy fried rice and Chicken, which cost me a brisk five-minute drive to Maryland. I had handed the hot thing behind the counter my one thousand naira note, enjoying his dysfunction and clumsiness as he tried to get me my change when a familiar voice arrested my attention.
I looked back to find Mayowa Ekundayo, Meku for short, in his 6ft glory; one hand hosting a bag of Smalls goodies and the other housing a little girl’s hand. My heart fell, so he’s married?!
“Meku!!!” I finally found the bon-homie cheery voice in me. “How have you been?” I added, as we closed in a rather long brief hug.
“Good. Good. Girl, ten years and you’ve not changed one bit.”
“How we go do na! As Iya Basira beans nur gree gimme wings!” I offered, in my familiar pidgin accent.
He guffawed. My eyes returned to the darling creature whose hands were still well locked in his. Her eyes were a compelling grey. “Oh my!” I bent to engage her in a little chat “Cutie cutie darling. How are you?”
“Fine.” she replied shyly, letting her face split into a single toothed grin, nonetheless. Then, I wasn’t sure anymore which one of her eyes and her smile did the most magic in my heart. She was beautiful.
I stood to regard him again, this time with a mock plea face “It’s so nice to see you again dear. You know I would so love to engage you in a chat now, but i’ve got to be home.”
“Ah, so fast? I was thinking we could just stay back and play catch-up. Damn, it’s been soooo long. Let me take your number, because I know iffa give you my card na, you fee nur call until 2020.”
I laugh. Ah, he remembers me well enough. In seconds, we exchanged numbers and I bade him and the darling girl goodbye.
His call came in later that evening. I didn’t know he was the one at first, as I hadn’t saved his number earlier. I saw no reason to try to get re-acquainted with a college ex who is now married and with a kid, but as his voice gave him away, memories came pouring back.
“H-hey Meku, I wasn’t expecting your call so soon.”
“Well… so what’s up! What’s been happening? I swear I never thought i’d see you again.”
I smiled. Yeah well, me too. “Not much really. I promise you haven’t missed much. Just work, and the regulars…” I gave him a brief load down on my Masters, and various jobs hither and tither. I left the hiccups and break-ups out of it.
“Nice!! I always knew you’d do great!” He talked a bit about his work life and some– “so how about family!” he prompted.
“Family is great Meku, thanks. Mum and dad are in Dubai for the Summer, Lara is doing good too.” I sneak back a chuckle. Of course, I knew what he meant by Family, but I wasn’t giving easily.
“Bola! And you and I know you know I know you know what I mean when I say Family o!” I laughed out loud then, unable to help myself. “Okay, oya are you married? If no, seeing someone?”
I sighed. “Well, no. Lucky, you now stand a chance of getting an invite in due course.”
“Hahhhah. Getting an Invite ke? How does the bride give the groom an invitation to their own wedding?”
I laughed at the message he was trying so hard to get across. “So how’s your wife? And I forgot to mention earlier today, your daughter is such a cute thing! Damn.” I was hell-bent on aborting his plans, whatever they were. Who dares play ten-ten with a thirty year old girl’s (point of correction, lady’s) feelings?!
“Errm… Oh, my niece. Yeah, she’s adorable! I keep telling Solape that that babe is not from our genes, so she should never take the credit when people compliment Sandra. And wife? Well, once you say yes, i’ll know where to go from there.”
I laughed, very loud– partly to cover my embarrassment and what my assumptions almost cost me, and partly to his subtle and inviting comments. I sighed! Mayowa Ekundayo, my first year boyfriend back in the University whom I broke up with for reasons I couldn’t bring myself to remember on that spot.
“You know up till now I am still trying to understand why you broke up with me.” he said, in a half-statement-half-question manner, I wasn’t quite sure if he expected a response. “I loved you. Damn, I– I spent the whole of final year hoping you’d one day call me and tell me it was a just a joking sturv.”
I laughed. “See Meku, it’s been ten years–“
My breath caught in my throat. How did I ever break up with someone like him?
“Just one more try Bola… one more try. We were young, yes; maybe not so ready, i’ll agree. But here we are, ten years down the line– you are single, I am single. And I happened to bump into you at the eatery just after a rather cliché meeting with mum and dad on when I was going to bring ‘her‘ home to greet them. I almost didn’t come to Smalls; in fact, I wouldn’t have come if Sandra, who’s holidaying at their place, had not burst into a heat of tears when I announed i’d be leaving until I bought her Cake and Ice Cream from Smalls. After promises of Domino’s Pizza on my next visit fell on deaf ears, I found myself acceding to her demands, and guess who I bumped into? You.”
Talk about signs. I almost didn’t go to Smalls too. Is the Cosmo conspiring with Gaia to tell me something? Or it’s just Karma having fun? I chose the former. Lara walked into my room then, her eyes keen on me with suppressed mischief like she had been eavesdropping the whole time. I averted her gaze, re-focusing on the bigger issue at hand. To date (an ex) or not to date, that’s the question.
“Bola?” he called again, his voice betraying hope and want for a miracle. It would break my heart to break his heart again, without even appearing to try to ‘not break it’. Besides, what have I got to lose? I reasoned.
“Fine. One more try.”
“Yasss!” he screamed, and I laughed. “It will be worth it, I promise.”
And that was it. We fixed a date for Sunday. I was bursting with a nexus of feelings, that I couldn’t help but confide in Lara, my kid sister who was bound to know anyway when Meku came to collect me the next day.
“But there’s a reason why it never worked in the first place…” she retorted, her good judgement trying fruitlessly to quell my glee as I picked out what to wear the next day.
“Well, there’s a reason why I went to Small’s today.” I replied, hellbent on sustaining Cosmo’s plan for me.
- Do you believe in signs? And–
- Would you date an ex?
© The Short Black Girl, 2016.