“Seriously? You did that?”
“I did, Chi-boy.”
“Why? Things were going fantastically between the two of you. What happened?”
It seems everybody wants to know what happened, Wale thought. “Just like I told her, my love for her was fading. I don’t know why, but I began to tire of the relationship, and I didn’t want it to get to the point where I was openly hostile to her for keeping me in a relationship I didn’t care about.”
“And how long had you felt this way?”
Wale decided that he could be straight with Chibuzor. “Months, now.”
“Months? How come? You be real actor o!”
Wale shook his head. “No, Chi-boy. It’s not hard to like Kemi – you know that she’s a great girl. So it wasn’t as if I had to pretend very hard that I was in love. But I didn’t want to pretend any more.”
A few moments of pensive silence passed.
“So… are you saying that the way is clear to make my move?” Chibuzor asked.
“Haba, Chibuzor!” Wale angrily replied. “Are you thinking straight? I’ve just ended a relationship with her, and she’s heartbroken. Do you think that she will be thinking about jumping into another one straightaway?”
“No, now, I didn’t mean straightaway,” Chibuzor hurriedly replied. “I meant… well, maybe later on, after she has had some time to recover.”
“Ol’ boy, you must do what you must do,” Wale shrugged wearily. “But honestly, I don’t know how this will play out. Even after I told her that it was over, she still kept on begging and pleading for me to reconsider… it was very ugly,” he added, shaking his head. “In the end, I had to leave the place.”
“No problem. I will give her time. In fact, I’m sure that she needs a consoling shoulder in her hour of need,” replied Chibuzor, with a crooked grin.
Wale wagged a warning finger at him. “Like I said, this could play any way. You know the saying, ‘Hell hath no fury?’ She might decide that I am Satan incarnate, and you are my assistant, so I would be very careful. In fact,” he continued in a more light-hearted tone, “I don’t even know why you are fixating on Kemi. Fine, popular guy like you… what of all those girls who follow you around like bees after honey?”
“Ah, see, there are so many of them that you don’t even remember them. What of Monica, that Part 2 Electrical Engineering student with the big backside and light complexion?”
Chibuzor made a dismissive gesture. “Nothing serious there. She’s too big for my liking.”
“OK, what about Chinyere and her dazzling smile, the one that shows off her perfect white teeth? You yourself have described the smile as such.”
“Not interested in her. And I’m sure I must have been doing the describing when she was around to hear it.”
“Or… or what about–” Wale pointed a finger and beamed, “Julie? Yes, Julie with the large, liquid eyes, the graceful hips, the–”
“Enough!” Chibuzor interjected irritably. “I’m not interested in Julie or any other girl. Since you have appointed yourself as the stalker of my would-be girlfriends, then you can as well round them all up and put them in your personal harem.”
This only seemed to amuse Wale the more, and he chuckled. “It’s not like that, now. It’s just that you shouldn’t go looking in Sokoto for something that is in your sokoto trouser. Or I shouldn’t say anything, even if I think it can help my friend?”
Chibuzor seemed mollified by this. “I hear you, Wale, but this is something I have thought about for a long time now. You’re right; I won’t make my move right away. But make no mistake – Kemi is the one for me, and this time, I don’t intend to make the mistake of keeping silent when I should speak.”
With that last statement, he rose, reached out and clasped Wale in a tight hug, thanking him for listening to him. Then with a cheery wave, he was gone.
Wale lay back on the bed and exhaled. What a day. He thought again about Kemi, who was probably at this time still grieving over the end of their relationship; it had really hurt him to do that. He also thought about what he had told her and Chibuzor about why the relationship had ended, and acknowledged to himself that he had not been strictly truthful.
It was five months ago when had first set his eyes on her; she was chatting with Chibuzor just outside the lecture room after a ‘Strength of Materials’ lecture. The first thing he noticed was her eyes; they were large and soft and brown.
“Ah, Chi-boy, I was looking for you. I said you should wait now; I wanted to talk to Professor Ajibade about something.”
“Well, you found me, didn’t you? How would I leave without my main man?”
“True word. Who’s this?” Wale asked, turning to her.
“Oh, she’s someone I met during an evening session.” Chibuzor had a sideline as a DJ; that was what enabled him to meet so many girls. “It was a quiet event, so she walked up and was asking me questions about the jams. Not so, Julie?”
In response, the girl looked at him with obvious adoration, and Wale felt a twinge of jealousy. Then she turned to Wale. “Your friend is a great guy. We started out on music, but we ended up talking about so many different and interesting things. You’re lucky to have him as a friend.”
Chibuzor moved to say his farewell to her and walk off with Wale, but Wale motioned to wait. “What’s the rush? Let’s chill.” He turned to Julie again and asked, “So how did you run into him again? Are you also a mechanical engineering student?”
Julie hid her face in her hands and giggled. “No-o, I’m in Chemistry. I had just finished a lecture in a building around here, and to be honest, I wanted to see Chibuzor again, so I hung around just by chance I ran into him.”
“Ah, you have a fan,” Wale teased, punching him. “But really, he is a cool guy, although I shouldn’t be saying this to his face, because the only problem with him is that he can get very swollen-headed if you praise him too much.”
Julie giggled again, but Chibuzor cast a scowl at Wale. “We should be going now,” he said to Julie. “We’ll talk some other time.” Gripping Wale firmly by the arm, he said “Let’s go.”
Once they were some distance from Julie, Wale turned in astonishment to his friend. “What was that about?”
“Look, she’s a nice girl, but I get the sense that she likes me a bit too much, and I don’t want her to get ideas, that’s all,” Chibuzor replied curtly.
Wale thought about the events that followed that first encounter, and how they would run into Julie occasionally. It was obvious that she liked Chibuzor, but he took great pains not to encourage her, and after the conversation of this evening, it was obvious why; he had no space in his heart for anyone else but Kemi.
Wale, on the other hand, found himself contriving to be at the places she hung out so that he could talk to her and get to know her better, and the more he did, the more he realised that that Julie was the girl he should be with; she made him come alive, she made him wish for time to stand still so he could keep on being with her.
He then also began to realise that the relationship with Kemi had been a mistake. Even though he had liked her enough to start the relationship, and she was great as a friend, he had never really been in love with her. Once his true soul mate had showed up, the brittleness of a friendship masquerading as a romantic relationship had been revealed.
So here they all were, he thought. Him and Chibuzor, hiding their feelings from each other and the ones they loved. All of them tied together in this tangled love quadrilateral. He loved Julie; Julie loved Chibuzor; Chibuzor loved Kemi; and maybe Kemi still loved him. What a quandary. What a quandarilateral.
But nothing says that they had to be tied this way forever, he thought, as he picked up his phone and scrolled through his contact list for Julie’s number.