It was a cool afternoon with soft breeze. The sun was effectively hidden by the clouds which served as perfect defence against the heat. The streets were filled with people hurrying along in one direction or the other despite it being a saturday.
Akande sat in the eatery sweating profusely despite the cool air conditioning. He adjusted the neck region of his shirt as he felt he was choking. Everything and everyone around him seemed to have conspired to set him up for a mighty fall. Unfortunately, he had been a willing victim.
He looked around the scanty eatery. He had chosen this place not to show off, but because he was certain it’s patronage wouldn’t swell beyond a certain level. Not everyone could afford to pay tens of thousands for lunch in Lagos.
He took a sip of his juice and almost choked on it. Easy, he told himself no need killing yourself now. What was done was done and it was all his fault… partially. He had allowed Tunde talk him into this.
Akande was not supposed to be there, he was not supposed to have allowed Tunde ambush him with this plan and to crown his folly, he was not supposed to agree with Tunde. But he saw reason, and there he was, sitting at a table all jittery and anxious; waiting for his blind date.
Would she like him, would he like her, what was he to say to her? It had only been five years since his last affair, and then even, it was the girl that initiated things. His lips went dry at the thought that he would have to start a conversation with an unknown girl, he swallowed.
Unconsciously, he started drumming on the table moving his feet in rhythm. A smile was plastered on his face and anyone who saw him would think he was enjoying himself. He wasn’t. He could no longer bear the anxiety he was experiencing waiting for her. Then he looked up as the doors swung open and he saw the single most magical sight he had ever beheld. He was spellbound.
She alighted from her taxi and became instantly apprehensive. Tunde had warned her she would have to break the ice, speak to him like he were a primary school kid. His words hit her like a slap in the face; ‘Akande’s a great guy, you’ll thank me later. But to get to know him, you have to speak to him. He’s shy and probably would stutter whilst attempting to talk to you’
Damn, she thought, and she allowed herself get dribbled into this? How did Tunde play a fast one on her she wondered, in the end, she blamed herself, I guess I’ll just turn him down gently then go to Linda’s, she told herself.
She strode towards the door and it opened mechanically, she scored Akande some points, cool, he knew how to pick a location, or was it Tunde’s doing? Then she entered, and scanned the place.
His open mouth was her first clue, then he attempted to stand. Attempted, because he nearly threw over the table in his awe of her, he had to sit down again, embarrassed. A smile escaped her lips.
She waltzed towards him as he gawked. How could she break his heart, she thought, he looked so innocent, she felt like protecting him…
He watched her come, he made to stand, act the perfect gentleman and get her seat. It went horribly wrong as he almost toppled the table over. He resigned himself to sitting and smiled. She got to his table, pulled the chair backwards and sat. She was also smiling. So they sat and stared, both smiling, each afraid to break the ice.
Akande found then that his apprehension had been baseless; for in her eyes, he saw stars, and her smile communicated in ways words could not express. He understood then, words were the weaker communication medium, a genuine smile would break barriers. His smile grew bigger and he reached for her hand on the table…