A perfect stranger.

You had not wanted to date John Chucks. He had been everything from compulsive to unbelievable. You remember that you had first made his acquaintance on a call to the Bank where you work as a customer agent, and he had had that nice, collected and well-put-together voice of someone who was too relaxed for his own good. You had admired his voice, and his calmness, but that had been that. And then, he had called you on your private number on an unsuspecting Sunday, asking how you were and if you had been to Church and what you had been doing before he called. Your face had paled at his attempt at familiarising with you on such level. Who the hell did he think he was?! You had lambasted him, and told him never to call your line again. You had been irate.

You remember that he had not stopped calling after that time, and soon, you had saved his number as “Don’t pick”, and ignored his messages; but nothing would stop him. You remember that on one Monday, he had popped into your office. As a stranger, he had looked gorgeous and perfect. 6ft tall, bald shiny head, well-gatored shirt, on a pair of Chinos. He had been too close for you to see the make of his shoes, but the click they made on the tiled Bank floor as his feet kissed the ground assured you they were just as fine as the rest of him– until he put a name to the face and identified himself as John Chucks. The John Chucks. You had turned into a mad black woman at once and bolted to the Ladies, while you asked your colleague Sandra to attend to him. You could not believe his audacity.

You remember that you had mentioned him to Amaka, your ‘sister from another mother‘ and live-in-mate, who had eventually persuaded you to give him a listen, if even once; because to her he did not sound half as bad. You had pointed to her that he gave off the sheer signs of a stalker. She had rebuked you for being paranoid, and blamed your unfounded scepticism on the numerous Hollywood movies you were always keen on watching in the confines of your room. You shrugged her off, but her words stayed with you. You had put his name away for a tinny bit of a second, and thought of him as the guy whose voice and appearance you had tripped smack down for. And he had started to look just half as good to you too. Amaka had cajoled you to have a date with him. You had feigned resistance, but deep down within you, you knew you wanted to know what it was about you that drove him to such persistence. More, you wanted to know if it would last. And so, you saw him.

He had been good to you, shrugging your profuse apologies away with an easy smile. The same smile he had been carrying towards you the first day he came to visit you at your office. His face held the most colourful smile, like a canvas splattered with a rainbow arc. You had talked easy with him, about every possible thing. He had a good sense of humour. You had teased him about how you had thought he had to be jobless reaching out to you every time as he did, and even popping at your office in the middle of the busiest day of the week. What had he been thinking?! He had laughed, like a music box. He had then told you he was a Freelance Writer. He said it didn’t mean he was never busy, it just meant he made time for the things that mattered to him. Your heart had melted at the sound of that. You had always wanted to date a writer. A lot more had been said, and he had placed a gentle kiss on the side of your lips as he walked you to your car. That night, everything had changed. Well, almost everything. You still thought he was too good to be true, but then you had changed his name to “Just Maybe” on your phone.

Only weeks later, you had started dating. And he would send you love notes every morning. He made it easy to fall in love with him. He became less persistent, but remained consistent in his efforts to let you know you still meant as much to him as you did the very first time. You would fight, and argue about how you hated to meet his friends because you were not much of a social person, or how he rarely bought you gifts and only sent you love notes that you were sincerely beginning to get tired of. And you would almost go days without talking, but you wouldn’t mind; because despite loving him, you are hell-bent on frustrating his coy intentions out of him. You still think the devil has sent him to make a mockery of you. To your dismay, he would always be the first one to call a truce, one day after or so, meeting you halfway. And after every make up, you would love him better and deeper, against your will.

It is your first year anniversary today, and he has bought you a stunning necklace and a book bracelet. He has organised a little surprise party for you, in the company of his friends and your friends, where he reads you a poem he had written for you. You smile, and cry at the same time. You can’t believe you’ve come this far with him; yet, as each second ticks on, you keep waiting for him to make that mistake, or that stupid move; or confess it’s all a stupid prank, or a silly game… you keep waiting for something, anything. Because he is just too good to be true.

“If it is too good to be true, it probably is.”- Unknown

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

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Tuesday musings: I smell a rat!

smell

Yesterday, I was on a call with a friend and we got talking about pseudo- relationships and signals. Here is the gist– sometimes, we meet people we feel really free with and very much endeared to, that we would get carried away to calling, texting and chatting that person up often- friendly and innocently too, you see-, until it gets to that stage, where someone realises that he/she can’t do without having a feel of the other person in a day. Dang! Love? Or more subtly, liiiiiiiikkkkkkkkkeeeeee? Worse still, the feeling is not always very mutual; because it turns out the lady was just being a friend, or the man was just being a gentleman. And at that point, it maybe gets too late to turn back the hands of time. Now, this is no lazy romance story plot, it is really how most of these relationships start out. And then heartbreak follows…

To prevent this kind of things, I believe a lot of us have grown to be able to detect the tell-tale signs from the very beginning, where we then launch out to slay any growing intentions– and pray peace to remain still. It is at such times we start to employ tactics like zoning; calling the man brother/brother-in-the-lord or the lady sister/sister-in-christ. But the game gets old, and sometimes, people don’t get the message; as then is when they even come on stronger, undettered.

I am a fan of not sampling things you don’t have intentions of eating; more, don’t even let it appear that you are checking it out, lest it gets the wrong signals. Understandably, you would imagine how strong an advocate of cutting unwanted fangs off at the very beginning that I am. So there are three ways people of old have gone about it–

1) Be forthright with your thoughts and say “I see you appear to really like me, but I can’t date you”, where you might turn out throughly embarrassed if he/she doesn’t even like you in that manner.

2) Zone the brother/sister; where to your dismay, an un-suspecting brother or sister will not even be able to read the subtle signals.

3) Claim to have a boyfriend/girlfriend; where you’ll so be on your own… because a 21st Century man or woman takes that as a challenge to win you over by hook or crook.

Here then lies the dilemma! How do you successfully ward off suspected unwanted advances?

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Sexy chance.

th(21)

It was a fleeting impulse. Plus it was dark, and cold too. One of those nights when having someone to hold a brilliant literary conversation with would make a golden moment. Adetutu lay in her bed, headphones on, listening to this meet-up show on radio; at first, with mock interest. She had never really been a fan of those shows, because they just didn’t seem well planned enough to yield something worthwhile.

There were two presenters on there, one male, one female. The man kept pronouncing ‘really’ as re-ally as you would pronounce reality, and the woman just seemed to be trying too hard. But Mr Re- ally had a lovely voice.

She had always wondered if it was okay to meet up through a radio program. Safety issues aside, there was ego to worry about. What would it look like if she sent in a message asking for a Tall Black Handsome dude, with enough cash and kissable lips, only to have her number read out to listeners that knew her at work? Gah! It would be embarrassing and ego- shattering. Plus, it was just pointless, low- meaning, desperate, and cheap, she concluded! But again, there was that fleeting impulse on that cold dark night, and so, she picked up her phone and sent a message to the radio station.

Gargantuan: Hello presenters! ‘m a female writer, and ‘m in Ogun State for a while. I could use some witty, intellectual, humorous and fun company. Preferably, working class male and a writer too (she thought to include female but what if they thought she was a lesbian? So she settled for male, even though all she really needed was some fun company either way). He should be eloquent and almost as talkative as me. He can call Tutu on 0805592625. No night calls please.”

As she lay in wait for her message to be read, she realised she had sent the message to the wrong code. And under yet another impulsive push, she re-sent the message; this time, to the right code. Thirty minutes later, her text was read, startling her from her half- sleep mode. In a second, her eyes flew wide open, and a gentle smile crossed her lips. She liked being read.

“Hello Presenters…” he began, “I am a female writer, and…” he seemed to struggle there for a second. Common! She urged, “and I have been in Ogun State for a while…” what?! Quickly, she went in search of her text and fumed at his attempt to rape her text! I meant i’ll be in Ogun for a while, not I have been, Stupid! He continued reading anyway, “I could use some witty, intellectual, humorous and fun company. Preferably working class male, and a writer too. Should be eloquent and almost as talkative as me…” they both laughed at that.

“Whao! Tutu will sure make one hell of an interesting personality.” he said, and that warmed her heart as she broke into a generous chuckle herself, momentarily forgetting his earlier blunder. “Okay, Tutu is a writer and she re-ally needs…” oh dang, not again Mr Re-ally mhan! I don’t need, she thought in disgust, that’s the height of desperation! “… a witty, intellectual, talkative as herself. You can call her on 0805592625.”

He had barely read the number out when her phone started buzzing with rage. Call after call, number after number, message after message. She checked her wristwatch, it was 11:30pm. So this is what it feels like with this radio thing? She thought in surprise. Gah! Impulsively, she picked one of the random calls.

“H-hello” came the h- factored voice on the other end, from where she could hear the gentle hum of Mr Re-ally’s voice on a radio set. He sounded like an Emeka, with a funkified Yoruba accent.

“Hi.” she managed. He couldn’t be the writer friend she craved, she concluded in her mind unexcitedly, but held on with thoughts that he might prove her wrong.

“H-am Tunji, and h-am a writer.” Nur way! She cut the call in a swift move.

More calls. She picked another random one.

“Hi. Please am I on to Tutu?” hm! Just maybe, she thought. And he had a sexy voice.

“Yeah.” She responded.

“Hi again. So Errr, ‘m based in Lagos…”

Damn! Did these people even listen at all? She mused angrily. Little wonder they started calling even before Mr Re-ally finished reading the message. “Surely, you failed to listen to the requirements.” she replied, clearly disgusted.

“Err… Okay, so you want someone based in Ogun ba?” Tschhhew! She clicked the phone off a second time with a resounding hiss. So he needed her to give him the specifications again, when he could have just taken his sweet time to listen.

A text message followed. “Are you bewaring of my own loquacity and garulousness lady? Let see if u are surpassed me.” it looked more Spanish than Chinese, but that so could not be English, she thought in sheer fury. Damn!

It was sad. She hated that the process had proven her right, and more, that her privacy would most likely, henceforth be invaded by unscrupulous, impatient, desperate creatures who could not even abide by simple well- defined instructions as much as keep a relationship.

In the midst of her thoughts, she realised, that the failure of the radio meet-ups weren’t as much a problem of the organisers as of the listeners themselves, who failed to listen, but only heard. Indeed, the process could be worthwhile, and even fairer, with even chances of success if everyone took their time to listen to each persons needs and responded to only those that synced with theirs, rather than choose to muddle fate with their own ill attitude to life and basic things like love. It was sad.

Her phone had been on silent for a while. She picked it then, to check the time again. While she noted it was just fifteen minutes downside midnight, she couldn’t miss the 55 missed calls that plagued the screen of her phone. Another one was coming in now. She stared at the number hard, and thought to give fate and common sense one more chance that night before resigning to sleep, so she picked it, but with an impatient and tired sigh.

“Hey. The day is barely over and you’re sighing like that?” hm! Humour. She liked. She smiled a bit.

“Hi.”

“Lovely voice, but not as talkative as promised. Tiredness must be an asshole.” She almost asked that he cautioned his words, but jeez, he was funny. She laughed then.

“Okay, so for starters, ‘re you working class?” She asked, trying fruitlessly to contain her excitement.

“Yup. A fashionable, and sassy one too.”

She laughed again. “Good point, but barely needed. You stay in Ogun?”

“Yup to that too. Err, can I…”

“One more thing,” she cut in “do you write?”

“Errr… not re-ally…” No way! Re- ally? Like Mr Re-ally?

“Hold up! Is this…” she hummed a bit as she tried to remember the name his co-presenter had called him… “yes! Is this Subomi from Gargantuan?”

“Errr… Hopefully, it isn’t a crime yet, to use your own product for yourself?”

Now, she really laughed. “I guess not. No wonder. Too much fresh air, I was certain someone must have left the loovers open” she teased.

And he laughed. The chat went on a little much longer, after which they bade their farewells and promised to talk better the next day.

That was a really sexy chance, too much breath of fresh air, and maybe a sign of hope, that some people did listen rather than just hear the needs of people out there; and made sure to only follow up on those ones that they could meet and were sure would meet theirs too. Something about double coincidence of needs, eh? It is only fair, she thought. Because in the end of it all, the winner is never the one that fought most, but the one that paid the most attention to the minutest details.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Rebound (1)

Night was falling. I was a little more collected in thoughts and actions now. He had grown a little taller and even more handsome I acknowledged as he sat across from me on a sofa in the sitting room. Still his face held no expression but I could care less, at least my own anger had dissipated a little. I didn’t even bother about offering him anything, that’d be me being too nice.

‘I’m sorry’ he finally said.

‘It’s a little pointless now, don’t you see?’

‘I don’t see anything. You are not married yet.’

‘I’m as good as being married boo, I’m engaged already’

‘But you don’t love him.’

‘How would you know? You don’t even know what love is!’ I snorted.

‘See, I am sorry okay? I love you. I have loved you since the first time we met.’

It was the last thing I wanted to hear. ‘Why are you here Mensah?’ I questioned impatiently.

‘To ask you to..’

‘Be your girlfriend?’ I laughed without meaning to. I was angry but I just couldn’t help the laughter. ‘You take a year to finally decide I’ll make a good girlfriend, maybe you’ll then be needing 4 more years to finally decide I’ll make a good wife or not but sorry darling, I don’t have that kind of time to spare.’

He had a ring in his finger. I only just realised because he was awfully silent and staring at me intently like he was expecting a response to a question he just asked. I smiled in my head. He wouldn’t kneel, or perform all of that unceremonious proposal rituals other people busied themselves with. He just sat there with so much confidence and aura, certain that I had no choice but to jump into his arms and kiss those enticing lips of his. I turned my head away from him. He had to be joking!

‘Marry me Ayo. Marry me and put us out of this misery.’

‘I..’ There was a knock on the door. I was thankful for it because I wasn’t sure how to respond yet. I went to see who it was. It was Bello.

‘Thank Godness you are fine!’ He said excitedly as he took me in his arms. ‘You scared me love. Your phone was switched off, and you didn’t answer my calls earlier.’

I just stood there like a log of wood- not welcoming him into the house and not ushering him out. I let fate decide what will be. Eventually, his eyes caught Mensah’s who had obviously been watching the scene with mock interest from the beginning. He stuttered now, releasing me from his embrace, willing me to explain what a full grown man was doing sitting on my sofa at some minutes past 7pm.

**

About a year ago.

I met Peter Mensah through a friend at our final year dinner. He is a tall, black attractive hunk of a man, with tiny eyes, and distinct dimples that gives him an undeniably appealing look. A Mensah by all standards, I fell for him instantly. My friend, Tope Ojo, had always promised to hook me up with one of her many rich boyfriends because she hated to see a beautiful girl like myself single at 23. True to her word, she introduced me to Mensah as my arranged date at the dinner and we got chatting. He made good company and I had begun thinking maybe, just maybe, he could be the next big thing until I found out he was running his Masters program in the UK and had only just come into the country for a quick visit. Long distance relationship? No way! Quickly, I put the thought out of my head and enjoyed the evening as it came. After he travelled, we kept chatting via BBM and he would call me every now and then despite the costly charge. It warmed my heart. In months, we had built an enviable virtual relationship, that even couples that saw each other daily could not boast of. We would chat everyday and he knew of everything that was going on with me, same with me about him. We were both single and we were aware of the fact but we never broached the topic of being in a relationship. I was thankful for it really because much as I would have loved to date him, I never wanted to do the long- distance thing. So I fixed him in the bestfriend zone, without letting him know. I made my head register the fact too. And it obliged. Service year was going well, and I was growing older by the months, and there was my mind teasing me about being a lonely old soul, so that when Tope Bello came up on the radar, I gladly welcomed the distraction.

It was a coincidental meeting at the Banking hall on that Thursday, my CDS day. I think my Khaki attracted the fine black thing to me, before he noticed my smallness. So the question flew right out his mouth before he could even censor it ‘how old are you?’. I laughed in my head. No, I couldn’t be angry. I was used to the question already. ’10’ I responded with an unsmiling face but hell yeah, that was just a facade! He bursted out in laughter on realising how silly his question must have sounded. ‘I’m sorry’ he finally said. And then I responded with a smile, my first smile that day and the very thing that undid him. He walked me to my home. His company was enjoyable but I didn’t want to entertain any thoughts or hopes of seeing him again so I declined when he asked us to fix a formal date. He was shocked. I guess he had never been turned down in his entire life. What sensible girl would anyway? The way his face fell made him look even all the more gorgeous but if I let anything with him, it was going to be pure rebound for I knew my heart was with Mensah even against my will. I loved him.

To my surprise, weeks after on one Saturday afternoon, Bello visited. I had forgotten about him already because I didn’t expect that he’d check back. He made me go out with him on a lunch date. His ‘plea-face’ was so damn irresistible. He had a charming personality. And he was smart in thought and style. ‘Why are you single?’ This time the question flew out my mouth before I could censor it. He gave a short laugh. ‘Did I mention that I was single?’

‘Is she that boring then? Or I am just your idea of passing time?’

‘Ah. You want to put me in that corner you girls love to put guys abi?’ He laughed again. His laugh was contagious but not ticklish like M… Don’t go there, my mind cautioned. I dismissed my thoughts and focused on him again, harder this time. There had to be something about him that would beat Mensahs charm. And there I found it, his eyes. They were surprisingly grey. How did I never notice it?

‘I like you.’ And here was someone who would tell you his feelings even when they were so obvious. Mensah would.. Don’t go there! My mind warned again.

I smiled. ‘Thank you.’

‘It wasn’t a compliment.’ I laughed this time, honestly, for the first time.

‘A proper gentleman would say ‘you’re welcome’. What village are you from again?’ We both laughed.

Lunch was great and I found myself looking forward to seeing him again. I told Mensah about it though over a chat later that evening. He seemed like someone squealing in delight as he replied with about a dozen BBM ‘dancing’ smileys. I think for a minute I felt hurt. Hurt that maybe it was just me feeling the ‘whats’ and ‘what-nots’ all this time, imagining what was and what wasn’t.
But I dismissed the feeling almost as quickly as they came when Bello’s message popped from below Mensah’s chat page. Quickly I navigated to his chat page and we had an wholesome chat. It was enjoyable. I was so engrossed I became oblivious of Mensah’s chats or maybe it was my way of punishing him for being excited at the news. With time, things balanced out. I gave Bello a chance and I was almost sure I would not regret it. We had gone four months down and it had begun to look like marriage as both our families knew we were an item already and they were fine with it. Service year was over, and I had been working at my dad’s law firm for 3 months, which would mark a year of being together with Bello when I received a call one unsuspecting afternoon from Mensah. We were still friends but the chats had reduced considerably over time.

‘Hey!’ I called out.

‘Hey. So when should I visit? If you won’t visit, I won’t mind visiting.’

‘What? You lost me there.’

”M back to Nigeria.’

‘Whoa. Since when? You didn’t mention na. How was I supposed to know?’

‘Ha. Well, since you started dissing my chats since you found a new love, how really were you supposed to know?’

Then it clicked! All those chats I had ended even before reading because it seemed like he was catching feelings long after I had moved on with my life.

‘Errm. Guess we’ll see soonish dear. By the way, welcome back! Sure you had a smooth flight. Stay away from unnecessary contacts o. Remember you’re in Lagos and Ebola is very real!’ I said on a lighter note.

He laughed a little. It tickled my ears. ‘Let’s talk later dear. Work calls.’ I lied. I needed to get off this phone before he used his winchi winchi to get me feeling those feelings again.

We didn’t speak again for a while and I was fine with it. Tope had proposed the weekend after Mensah’s call at a family dinner, and the question almost made me choke. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, worse still, I wasn’t sure if I was still in love with Mensah or if I had totally given in to him. If he hadn’t decided to make such a grand act with the proposal, I would have pleaded with him to let us give ‘us’ more time. But here, in the presence of sisters, brothers, cousins and nephews, it was impossible to say no. It would hurt him, torment him, embarrass him, and what’s more, there’ll be too many questions to answer because everyone thought it the best thing they had heard all day. I forced a smile to my lips before the teardrop that teased my eye found its was out. I stretched my fingers forward and nodded. I couldn’t trust my words not to fail me. Everyone squealed in delight. It made me all the more nauseous. If only they knew what turmoil my heart was in. What had started as a mere rebound had now got so big, it threatened to swallow me up. He hugged me now, and then I couldn’t help the flowing tears. I was sure they all thought it had everything to do with joy. If only they knew..

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2014.