…All the way home, Boye felt like asking his mother what the deal with the Bibilaris was but he decided against it. He would not be in a hurry. She would definitely bring it up in good time and he would be ready for her then. Right now, a damsel was waiting for him in another part of Laos and he had to go meet her quickly.
Boye made it to Gbemi’s house just a few minutes before 5, the time he told her he would be there. Her father was around, he noticed from the blue Mercedes Benz 200 parked in the compound. It occurred to him how different life was for him and Gbemi. She lived in a block of apartments where each family had just a car or none while he lived in a mansion and his parents owned a fleet of cars. Their garage could pass for a car shop.
He had not met Gbemi’s father the last time he was there. He was a surveyor working with the state government and he went out then to supervise one of the medium cost housing estates being built by the government. Boye wondered what medium cost meant in a Nigeria where there was no middle class. A family in Nigeria is either poor or rich. The houses would eventually be bought by the rich who knew top government functionaries and would then be rented by the supposed ‘middle class’ who could not afford the huge amounts of money being asked for. Very ironical! The middle class is unable to afford medium cost houses.
It was Gbemi’s father who opened the door for Boye as he pressed the doorbell. He prostrated for the older man in the traditional Yoruba way although he stopped mid way; his back slightly bent with his left hand folded on it and his right almost touching the ground.
‘E karo sir ‘, he greeted.
‘Good morning young man’, Gbemi’s dad replied in English and extended his hand for a handshake.
‘I assume you are Boye’
‘Come in and sit down, Gbemi has been in front of the mirror for the pas t one hour. Let me get her for you’
‘Thank you sir’
‘Hey you’re on time’, Gbemi had a smile in her eyes as she got out.
She was looking very pretty in a floral pink dress. Her long hair was fastened with a clasp at the back of her head and wore black low heeled sandals and carried a matching bag. Her ears and neck were adorned with simple silver jewellery. She simply looked breath taking.
‘And you look very lovely’, he mouthed to her so the compliment would be heard by only her.
‘Let’s go, I already told daddy we were going out’
‘That and more, I’m sure; considering the fact that he recognised me without any introduction’, Boye teased as they walked to his car.
‘Honestly you look very beautiful and you smell nice. Can’t you dress more like this in school’? He winked and opened the passenger door for her.
‘I’ll think about it definitely but maybe not in school. I can’t spend all my reading time in front of the mirror you know’. She laughed.
‘Yes I know, madam efiko’
‘So where are you taking me?’
‘Someplace in Victoria Island, just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. We should be there soon. Traffic is quite light today’
‘Ok dokey, I’ll be patient’
Boye drove through Apongbon to the Bar Beach road and ended up at the Ocean view restaurant. They walked into the restaurant and took a table for two Gbemi looked around like she was in a strange land. True, she had been to some restaurants and fast food joints before that day, she had never been anywhere quite like this. There were waiters and waitresses walking around in nice looking uniforms and walking up to the table to serve menus and take orders.
It will definitely cost a lot to buy anything here, she thought as she looked round the restaurant taking note of every tiny detail.
The tables were well laid with table cloths, air conditioners blowing all around making the weather very cool. She liked the ambience of the place. There was a set of tables close to them where about twenty Indians sat, definitely different family units with their kids. They were obviously having a good time as they were laughing and talking loudly in their musical language.
‘Indians are so communal’, Gbemi whispered to Boye
‘I agree with you and anytime I see them, I picture them breaking into songs like they do in their movies’.
Gbemi burst into laughter. ‘You! You’ve watched too many Indian movies, I’m so sure’
They ordered Chapman while deciding what to eat.
‘I think we should try the seafood platter, you will definitely love it since you like fish and shrimps’
Gbemi quickly accepted, she was already confused and did not know what a lot of things on the menu meant.
‘If we are still hungry when we finish that, then you will decide what we eat next’, Boye teased her and she looked alarmed.
They were so lost in conversation it took them almost an hour to finish the basket of platter in front of them. It was obvious they were enjoying each other’s company.
‘It’s really nice, maybe we should add some finger foods’, Boye suggested
‘So long as it comes with this sauce, please go ahead but I don’t want us to spend too much money. I’m sure everything here costs a fortune’
Boye had guessed that Gbemi’s reluctance to order anything was associated with the fact that she didn’t want to spend too much, she just confirmed his suspicion.
‘Don’t bother your pretty head. I cleaned out my bank account before coming here. Seriously things are not expensive as you think they are here. Please relax and enjoy the evening with me’
I guess expensive means different things to us dear Boye, Gbemi thought. Anything here will be too expensive for me to afford, I’
She decided not to bother though and pretend she was used to living like that.
Gbemi was having so much fun and laughing so hard. Boye was being his usualcharming self, the guy was simply irresistible.
‘The way you’re laughing, one would think the waiter added a pinch of laughing gas to your drink. Please control yourself and stop making a fool of us’. Gbemi stared at him and they both burst into laughter.
‘There’s something I would like to ask you’, his expression became very serious. ‘Do you honestly think we have reached a stage where we can take our relationship to the next level? No don’t answer that. I said it wrong. What I mean is that I want you to be my girlfriend and I hope you won’t say no. we’ve been good friends for several months and I have come to love you so much, I don’t see my life without you. I want to have you in my life forever’.
Gbemi just looked on while Boye continued his speech. She had truly envisaged this moment, thought about it, knew it was coming and prepared her answer but at the moment it was as if cat got her tongue. She just couldn’t find the words. She was not about to play hard to get though so with a nod of her head and a blush that would have made her all red in the face had she been white, she became Boye Benson’s official girlfriend.
‘Wow I’m so happy. You’ve made me a proud guy. Wait till I tell Jide and Helen this good news. I feel like screaming’. Gbemi only smiled shyly.
They left the restaurant shortly after this. She had to get home before 8 o clock, the time she agreed with her parents to be back and Boye respected this.
On his way home, Boye decided he would have a talk with his mother; he had grounds to do so now.
‘Mummy, Boye asked me to be his girlfriend today’. Gbemi could not hide her enthusiasm and she told her mother while helping out with cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner.
‘Really? I’ve been waiting to hear that. We saw it coming already and I’m happy for you my dear. Boye is a nice young man and I am in support. Remember if you have any need to talk, mama’s always here for you’. Mrs Adebayo said to her daughter
‘Thank you mummy, but who is ‘we’?’ Gbemi asked with raised eyebrows.
‘’We’ is your dad and I or you think he doesn’t know what is going on? He definitely does’
‘I forgot you guys are five and six! Seriously mum, the only thing that scares me is Boye’s background. Will I be able to fit in? Will his family accept me? I’m just sceptical’
‘Don’t bother your pretty head my dear, I would say it’s too early for such thoughts. You are not after his money nor his parents’ fame and wealth. Just be yourself and everything will turn out right’.
Gbemi walked over to her mum and gave her a hug.
‘I know mummy, I know I can always count on you’
She silently thanked God for giving her such understanding parents.
On his way home from Gbemi’s house, Boye tried to come up with several ways of broaching the subject at hand with his mother. He came up with different openings
‘Mum, can I talk to you about something?’ No, that would bring her defences up
‘Why did we go to the Bibilaris’ today?’
‘Do you think it is right for parents to match make their children?’
He couldn’t make up his mind so he trusted the right words would come once he was ready to face her.
His parents were outside on the balcony when he got home and he went to meet them there.
‘Good evening dad and mum’
‘Welcome Boye, hope you had a nice outing’, his mother replied.
‘I’m sorry to intrude but I think I need to speak to you’, he had decided it might be better to speak to both of them afterall they were in on the foolish plan together.
‘No problem son, please go ahead.’ his father replied
‘I heard something from Lolade which I’ve chosen to believe is not true. I just want to confirm to me that she’s not right’; he searched their faces for answers
‘She tells me you’re conducting a business transaction with the Bibilaris which unfortunately involves their daughter and I’, he could tell from the look on their faces that he was right. His father looked like someone caught right in the act of stealing meat from the soup pot.
‘Well if there’s any such plan, I would just like to say I am not interested and would plead with you to nip it in the bud. I have a girlfriend and I love her very much. I hope to marry her sometime in the near future’
‘What do you know about love and life?’ His mother responded sharply. ‘Your father and I have worked very hard to build so much wealth for you and the best thing now is to make sure we secure and increase it. You will do that if you marry into that family. Do you know how many billions your father would have lost had it not been for that man’s contacts and assistance? No, you know nothing about life and it is our duty to point you in the right direction!’
‘Mummy, I’m sorry to tell you this but if at this age I do not know anything about life, it means you have failed in your duties as parents. I can assure you that I know more about life and love than you can conceive or credit me with. Life is not all about money and wealth and affluence. What position would you place love and laughter? A life that includes those things I can assure you is better than scheming everyday about how to manipulate your children’s future. I definitely won’t be a part of this scheme’.
His father just looked on like he has been thrown into a planet full of aliens. He was obviously not comfortable with the turn the conversation had taken.
‘This is what I’ll tell you, you will think about this issue; you will not speak to us anymore about any girlfriend or any grand ideas you have or in this rude manner. When the time is right, you will do what is expected of you’.
Boye looked at his mother jaws opened. He always knew she liked to have her way but had never seen her like this.
‘Alright Boye, this girlfriend, does she live in Lagos?’ Please bring her home, let’s meet her. Your happiness matters more than any plan we might have for you or what we might be partial towards’, his father spoke for the first time and he was not disappointed.
Mrs Benson’s eyes were spitting fire.
‘Oh my God! I married a weakling. A few words from your son and you back out of what might as well be the best business transaction of your life. I am so disappointed in you!’
‘No I should be the disappointed one Mofe. Let’s not dig old graves. We will meet this girl and that is my final decision. Take or leave it’.
‘Boye, bring your girl over for lunch sometime during the week’ and with that, his father rose up to go to his room. Boye quickly followed and made his way to his sister’s room leaving his mother to her schemes…