The next day is very busy for me. Fridays are half-days, so I have so much work crammed into the five hours I have to be at the office. From the moment I drop my bag on my desk, I am running around like a rabbit attending to deadlines. There are calls to make, invitations to follow-up on, data to review, reports to type, edit and mail. To cap it all, my line manager is calling for me every five minutes. And Mr. Akinoye has the voice to scream for me from his own office. In between duties, I notice two missed calls from Doris. She must have called when I was with Mr. Akinoye. I make a mental note to call her as soon as I get a breathing space. But I stayed busy until my lunch hour – eleven AM, Friday’s special edition. I have to sneak out to eat because Mr. Akinoye does not believe in breathers. His wife has piping hot meals delivered to him every day through their driver, so he can eat while he works. Most days he ropes me into his routine, summoning me to join him for the meal. It happens often times when we are neck-deep in a program activity. I always honour the invite. Actually, I look forward to it. Giving up my hour to dine in sumptuous, FREE chow is as good a bargain as it goes, trust me. Today, however, I desperately need time away from the man before I am tempted to commit murder.
I am on the elevator going down to the canteen, when I speed-dial Doris. She answers on the fifth ring.
“Babes, what’s up?”
“Is it today I called you?” She attacks.
“Ah ah. What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I called you centuries ago, why are you just returning my call?”
“As in what now? As the jobless person I am, eh? That I’ll be waiting by my phone for you to call or what? Mind yourself o, I don’t have time for rubbish.” I am crabby. I have not eaten since morning – I did not find the time to – and I am beyond famished now.
“Sorry, I was only joking.” As usual, she is immediately repentant.
“Na today? How you dey, joo?”
“I’m on top of the world, mehn. My levels don dey high. Kagai opened an account with me. His personal account, his company’s account, I’m talking major money here. This promotion wey dem no wan give, they must try shake bodi small.” She is really ecstatic.
“Congrats. That’s good news. When we go wash am?”
“This weekend, babes.”
“Ehen? You mean this your Ijebu-ness will allow you spend money on me? Hallelujah. We must do thanksgiving this Sunday.”
“Na your Mama be Ijebu! Yeye girl.” She laughs.
I laugh too. “Abeg na, where are we going?”
I am stepping out of the lift as she speaks, so I am not sure I hear her well. “Minister’s gini? Is that a new joint?”
“You wish. I said Minister’s Hill, please. Akan’s sister is throwing a party for her husband this weekend. I want you to come as my plus one. If I go alone now, they will be expecting me to start making those sister-in-law’s moves, serving drinks and foods and playing co-host. I no get that kain energy. You’re my excuse. I intend to stay glued by you all day long. I mean, far be it from me that I abandon my guest?”
“Doris! You’re just hopeless, you know? So, you are not even taking me out on a date?”
“Why should I take you out, I be dude? If you wanted a treat that bad, you should have answered my call.”
Again, I do not hear the last part of what she said clearly. I am opening the door to the canteen, which creaks. So, when the next thing i say is in response to her earlier sentence. “You cannot take me out, but you can form with me in a party. Sef, why are you are not going with your bobo?”
“He travelled early this morning.”
Akan is a world-traveller. I wonder why he has not considered earning alternative income from writing a tour travel guide for all the major cities of the world he has been to. “Where to it this time?”
“Like I know where that is. When is he coming back?”
“Wednesday. But, he will be off again by Thursday evening. Lima.”
“Hmm. Tell me something honestly, Doris, what is keeping you tied to this man? Is it because of that number of years you’ve already invested or because of his money?”
She chuckles without humour. “Everything is not in black and white, my dear.”
“Well, it’s black enough from where I stand. He treats you like crap.”
“He does not! Is it because of yesterday and the way he was halaing?”
“Isn’t that enough evidence?”
She hissed. “I’m not talking about evidence. He treats me well, take it from me.”
My stomach groans, and I am reminded that I have better things to do with myself than talk about Doris’ dysfunctional relationship. A man parades you about his family and his friends, but to seal the deal with a ring is too much rocket science for him? He yells at you in public, and you see nothing wrong with it? No wahala. If Akan dumps her – and it is only a matter of time as far as I see it – I shall not pity Doris. Na she cause am, allowing a man walk all over her.
“Chick, let me eat, eh. I’ll call you when I’m done.”
“Okay. But, don’t forget to call me o.”
“Why? Gist dey?”
“Yes o. Why did you think I was calling you that first time.”
“Oh really. Oya, call me back na. I want to order for food, so in about ten minutes.”
Ten minutes exactly, Doris calls.
I nearly choke on the jollof rice in my eagerness to pick up my phone. I had been forking the food down my throat almost as fast as i can draw breath. “This babe, bia o, you know say you no get work? This gist better dey correct o.”
Doris laughs. “You’ll be the best judge.”
“Okay, spill. Wetin dey?”
“Kagai wants your digits like yesterday. I was calling to ask if I was permitted to give it to him.”
“Is it the same Doris I know that is asking me for my permission? Wonders shall never cease! Did you suddenly grow some manners between last night and this morning?” I have to ask. Sam had got my number from Doris, and I have no recollection of her asking if it was okay to give it. I had given her hell for it too – only to meet Sam for drinks the very next evening. Hahaha.
“After the way you abused my whole family the last time? No way o. Anyways, what is your answer? The man has called me like three times since then to ask if I’d been able to reach you. I told him I wanted you to give me the go-ahead.”
“Interesting.” Kagai seems like a cool guy. But, isn’t it a little too early. And he does fit into Sam’s stereotype, like Doris said. Do I really need that?
“Good interesting or bad interesting? Define.”
“I don’t know. Meanwhile, that reminds me,” I tell her of my encounter with Timi.
“What kind of nonsense is that? How old is he sef?”
“How am I supposed to know? At least, I’ll give him from thirty and above.”
“So, why is he behaving like a teenager chyking his first girl? Please, fashi that guy joo. He’s immature.”
“And you’ve made that assessment based solely on one sentence?” Yet she faults me on Akan!
“Isn’t that a pointer of more to come?”
“You don’t know that.”
“Come, this one you’re defending him like this, do you like him?”
“He’s my neighbour. I don’t have anything against him. I also don’t want to jump into conclusions are to what he meant by what he said. For all we know, it could be his way of saying good night. No ulterior motive attached.”
“All right o. But, should it proceed further than this, make sure he specifically asks you out. As in, he opens the God-given mouth and says ‘will you be my girlfriend?’ Otherwise, babe, na his buddy-call you don become so. Guy will be banging you left, right and center, but when the chips are down, he’ll claim you dreamed up the entire relationship.”
I know about guys like that. Dotun is a prime example. He never said anything. We just fell into whatever it was that we had. I did not think it mattered. Apparently, it did to Dotun and I found out too late.
“Doris, once bitten – ehen, you know how far.”
“Just be careful, is all I’m saying. Personally, if a man who cannot make the effort to properly toast me, lailai. I won’t give such a person the time of day. He’s not a gentleman, therefore not worth me.”
“In other words, you’re rooting for Kagai?”
“For a long-term relationship? Definitely not. But, if you wan chop frog, make sure it’s the one with eggs naw. Abi, no be so?”
“Doris, I wan marry.” I just had to confess. It is demoralizing to hear my hopefuls sliced to bits and deemed unfit.
“You and me both. In fact, let’s launch an Operation How Did You Do It. All these married babes, let them download for us the secret that has somehow eluded us.”
“I no follow. I’m not going to make anyone feel like they’ve accomplished a remarkable feat. So that they will now be feeling like human beings? That I’m having a few misfortune don’t mean shit. I know that I too will marry, sooner than later, in Jesus name.”
“Amin o. My dear, let’s yarn later. I’ve got something to attend to. Later.”
Ending the call, I admit that I am, however, not as assured of my future as I sound with Doris. Sam had dealt a blow on my confidence. Just when I am trying to raise myself up again, Doris with her loud mouth is knocking me down again. Kagai is good for fun. Timi is simply not good enough. Which one now? Does she think eligible men abound in this Abuja? That they are just walking around searching for their missing rib, as mommy would say, and having ‘husband material’ stamped on their foreheads so you can recognise them at a glance? By the way, why am I taking Doris’ word for it? She is hardly an authority on what sort of man to date.
I take my phone and type a text message, ‘you are free to give Kagai my number’ and pressed the enter button.
P.S: For previous episodes of How Many Frogs Shall A Princess Kiss, please click here.