NB: Not a Love Story
I was so hungry; I bet I could devour a mountain of Eba. The class had been so boring and it had awakened the worms in my stomach. The cafeteria seemed so far away, each step seemed like torture. I almost leaped in the air for joy as I sighted the familiar corridor that would usher me into the walkway towards the cafeteria. I noticed a crowd at the entrance of the cafeteria and it struck me, it wasn’t time for lunch yet. My stomach must have also figured this out because it made a loud noise which sounded like a fart. I made a quick detour to the point where they sell snacks very close to the guest cafeteria as I didn’t have enough money to buy lunch at the guest cafeteria that afternoon. The aroma of the cafeteria hit me like a truck travelling at breakneck speed and my legs gave way as the pangs in my stomach brought so much pain that I was doubled over. But for the poles that were on the corridor, I would have lain sprawled on the ground. I held on to the pole, using it to support myself until I could stand upright. I met a couple of people placing orders for several snacks, so I had to wait a while before I could be attended to.
There she was, a paragon of beauty, ‘This babe na die o’ I thought to myself as she approached the counter to place an order too. She was unusually tall for a lady, with a perfect ‘figure 8’ body shape. My stomach growled once more, jerking me out of my reverie and I quickly beckoned to the sales guy to give me 2 pieces of egg roll and a bottle of water. As he turned to get my order, I heard the girl ask for two pieces of ‘sycamore tree’.
‘Sycamore what?’ I couldn’t help but ask out loud
‘Sycamore tree’ she replied, and pointed at it.
I followed her finger and burst into laughter as I realized what she wanted was ‘Cinnamon roll.’
‘I’m-m-m s-s-so sorry’ I stammered out winded with the combination of hunger and laughter, ‘its cinnamon roll’ I added ‘not sycamore tree.’
‘Okay, I thought it was sycamore tree’ she replied, her cheeks turning a slight shade of red.
Seeing my error and how much I must have embarrassed her, I quickly tried some damage control tactics ‘Never mind, I also made the same mistake when I was in 100 level.’
‘Yes, I called it ‘Singallon roll’ I replied as she burst into laughter. Her laugh was as melodious as her voice.
‘By the way, I’m Tolu, 300 level CIS’ I said to her ‘and you can stop laughing at me now madam sycamore’ I added with a wink.
‘So sorry I’m Tara, 100 level Economics Uncle singallon’ she replied, taking a swipe at me. I held her hand just in time and I could feel my skin tingle.
We were holding up the line and though my stomach was miraculously satisfied with the sight of a beautiful lady, I still felt the need to attend to it before the pangs came back worse than before. I was able to prevail over Tara to sit with me at the popular ‘zoo’ in front of the cafeteria while we chatted over snacks. She was having some registration challenges, typical 100level issues, and I offered to help her out in any way I could. We ended up having lunch together in the cafeteria and I got to know a lot more about her, we exchanged phone numbers and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Tara and I had a lot in common; the same taste in music, movies and as if that wasn’t weird enough we loved the same color, Green. Very soon we became an item all round school, attracting stares and hushed conversations whenever we walked by. My 6ft 1’ frame completed her 5ft 11’ perfectly; it was a case of milk and cocoa making perfection. We were inseparable, she had my timetable and I had hers too. We always met at least twice every day, once for lunch and the other to read and hang out till late in the night.
‘Tolu, where do you see this relationship going?’ she asked me out of the blues that fateful evening, on our way back to her hall. It was the eve of our graduation ceremony and we were coming back from the dinner organized for the graduating students, Tara had a thing for throwing questions at you when you were least expecting.
‘You know I really care for you…’ I began but was cut short by a security officer prompting us to say our goodbyes and go to our halls.
Tara knew my fear for the word ‘Love’; I wasn’t a Casanova but I had been hurt times without number, telling ladies I loved them only to hear a ‘thank you’ reply. I had purposed in my heart that the next lady I would tell I love would be the one I would get married to. Countless times, she had told me she loved me and all I said was ‘me too’. I knew she was worried that with me out of Babcock, I would give in to the temptations of NYSC camp and the outside world. She had extracted a promise from me to always come see her every two weeks, and that we would spend at least one weekend together once a month.
My feelings for Tara grew so much that I was scared for myself; if a day went by that I didn’t hear her voice, my night was sure to be hell. With the advent of the blackberry, everything was easier; we were always chatting, texting, sending VNs, and the likes. Though I still didn’t tell her I love her, I tried as much as possible to show my love for her in several ways, surprise visits, gifts, thoughtful gestures, I tried to be the perfect gentleman.
Her graduating class dinner was when I planned not only to tell her I love her, but propose to her. All the plans were in place, she was to sing Brian McKnight and Mariah Carey’s ‘Whenever you call’ with a male friend, but I was able to convince the guy to allow me though she never knew, and at the end of the song I would tell her I love her and propose.
‘Baby I’m so sorry, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it’ I had called to tell her earlier that evening.
‘But why? I thought you said you could take some time off work’ she asked
‘I have an 8.0 clock deadline darling, I might not be able to get back in time to finish up’ I answered.
‘Alright dear, guess I’ll see you next weekend then’
‘Love you dear, got to go prepare now…’ she continued‘
‘Okay then, let me know how it goes’ I replied and disconnected the call.
The dinner stated off nicely with comedian Seyi-Law cracking our ribs with jokes. I was wearing a black Tuxedo and she spotted a very lovely green gown that hugged her body tightly. I couldn’t get my eyes off her though she didn’t know I was around. I had waited until she came in so that we wouldn’t bump into each other mistakenly, taking a seat at the very front, close to the technical crew.
They were giving out awards and Tara already had two, ‘Take Home to Mama’ and ‘Most Fashionable (female).’ The duet was to come up after the awards so I made my way to the technical crew to get a microphone but soon I heard them call the next award ‘The Best Couple.’
I didn’t pay attention until I heard them call out a guy’s name and Tara. At first I thought it was a mistake until I heard the presenters announce:
‘..And the winner is Sodiq and Tara…’, my own Tara.
NB: Not a Love Story