Dunni had to stop herself from turning and glaring at the aggravating man again. It galled her that he had managed to find out her name when she didn’t know his. What an oaf! She had called him that and would’ve called him more if Folarin hadn’t intervened. That man had gotten on her nerves like no stranger ever had in the past. She first noticed him as she swam, realizing the stragglers must have caught up with them and wondering after she’d swam a few laps why he hadn’t moved from the same spot. It was during another circle round the pool that it dawned that his gaze was fixed on her. And not just on her, but on a certain part of her anatomy. After that, she had hurried up to get out of the water and put on some clothes.
It wasn’t the first time she would have men staring at her backside, but usually, most were more discreet about it. Especially the older she got. Her hips had come in early, and from when she was about fifteen, her male classmates and teachers would always pay her some special attention. She’d moved from those embarrassing days when she was all bones except for her hips to filling in other places and growing into her backside. Nowadays, she took pride in it, knew when to cover it up and when to reveal it, and how to deal with men who couldn’t tear their eyes away. With her stature, the sharp edge of her tongue could always be trusted to quickly send men on their way and it baffled her that the guy had stuck around to get more of it.
As she heard Folarin urging everyone to get moving, Dunni recalled his enjoyment of her annoyance and how he had stood there, toe to toe with her. He’d seen how angry she was with him, but had gone ahead to smile and laugh at her. How dare he! He was probably still staring at her, the lech! More words bubbled on her tongue as she stumped over the clumpy grasses and shrubs on the trail, and she determined to find out his details from Folarin and have her cousin send him a choice message. She hissed and adjusted the straps of her backpack higher on her back. A smile drew on the corners of her lips as she thought about what he’d said about her backside not having any rival. Thinking further on their encounter, it wasn’t such a surprise that he’d been with so many women; he was good looking in his own way and had a persuasive tongue. The women in the village would certainly be bowled over if Dunni brought him back as a suitor.
She tried not to remember their words but the phrases were stuck in her mind.
“Dunni, you’re too proud and picky. Give more men a chance.”
“You work too hard, Dunni, and your tongue is too sharp!”
“Dunni, you’re too much of a tom-boy, you’re wasting your god-given assets.”
“I promise to find you a husband in a day, once I mention your green card.”
Dunni rolled her eyes at their words, and noticed that the lech from earlier was trying to get her attention. Before he could crack a smile, she looked away. Of course her response to him had been over the top, she knew that, but she blamed the bottled-up irritation from the nagging women. She was already in a nasty mood and his crude approach had tipped her over. Dunni sighed and looked around. While she had not been paying attention, the group had arrived at the second cascade. While everyone ohhed and ahhed over the plunging water, the lech tried to catch her eye but she kept her distance even if she watched him when he wasn’t looking.
Dunni frowned as a thought occurred to her. Could it be that a part of her earlier anger stemmed from a subconscious awareness of the attraction she’d felt for him even back then? His dark-skinned face was not exactly handsome, but he had a strong jaw, his sculpted lips showcased very nice teeth, and she hadn’t missed how the smile he’d teased her with had set his dark eyes twinkling. It was really off-putting that such an unmannered man was such an epitome of manliness. He was taller than her, so at least six feet, with bulky muscles exposed at his biceps and calves by his shorts and T-shirt. Dunni was tempted to fan herself, but chose to go behind the flowing water, allowing the splashing sprays to cool her. As her mind gave her further images of how fantastic he looked, she pulled in the reins. She left the ledge, irritated with herself for being so stirred up.
As they began to walk again and the warm air and sunshine dried the droplets of water on her arms and legs, she looked around at the other women and men who like her were dressed in shorts or jeans and t-shirts. She wondered at what kind of people they were, who liked the outdoors and regularly went hill climbing in the wilds of the Nigerian south-west. In her experience, urban Nigerians weren’t the keenest outdoor types but Folarin assured her some hardy ones were becoming interested. In fact, he said people from Lagos and Ilorin paid good money – enough that he was thinking of quitting his day job as a copywriter – so he could guide them through some of the more accessible trails. One of the ladies rolled up her trousers as a muted splashing sound alerted them that they were approaching the next falls. Folarin looked back and announced the third cascade was just around the corner, telling them that would be their last since the other pools were too far up.