A few weeks after that incident, I was in the kitchen washing the dishes we used for breakfast one day when Sandra shouted my name.
“What is it this time?” I asked and rushed into the sitting room only to meet them laughing. Cindy and Bimbo were visiting from Port-Harcourt and they all had this funny look on their faces.
“No. Not one of your stupid matchmaking attempts again. Please.” I pleaded.
“Alice what is today’s date?” Cindy asked. I looked at her and hissed. As I turned to go, Sandra pulled me back on the couch and stood in front of me with her arms akimbo.
“Okay, since you know, tell me. Whatever silly thing is in that brain of yours, let it stay there,” I said and relaxed, eyeing Sandra.
“We are organizing a birthday party for you,” Timmy said with excitement.
“Me. My birthday is just………”
“It’s August. Your birthday is in two weeks.” Sandra said and I screamed in affirmation. But I told them that I wasn’t in the mood for parties.
“You are never in the mood for anything these days, but I will make you,” Sandra said determinedly.
“You’ll be twenty-five, Alice. You need to be grateful to God for protecting you till now despite everything that had happened to you.” Timmy said and pulled me back to the seat I vacated.
“Okay, fine! you all win. Moreover, we would have finished our exams by then. You think I am a wet blanket, well, bring it on!!!” I agreed.
“Double celebrations,” they chorused. I thanked them for all their support, for always being true and wonderful friends.
“Don’t just talk. Go inside the kitchen and thank us with a delicious dinner,” Sandra said and pushed me towards the kitchen.
On the appointed day, I arrived at the venue of the party in my car. Sanrda had suggested us renting a Limo which I had turned down. I had to arrive early so that I could be there to receive my guests, so Miss Cindy had said. Timmy was the one that paid for the venue; a three star hotel that had an open bar and a swimming pool. Sandra employed the services of a well–known caterer in town to cater for food. One of Jamal’s friends paid for the musician, and Alhaji Buhari paid for the drinks.
The invited guests included Alhaji Buhari, Jamal’s friends, Mrs. Bennett and her son, Aunt Bola and family, Sean and Brenda, a lady friend of his from South Africa, staff of Ekobank, friends from school and my neighbors.
My friends and I decided to dress in the same type of clothe, which I thought was stilly but knew better than to argue with Sandra.
Before I changed for the aso-ebi, I wore a black trouser and a pink top with the inscription “Ain’t looking” on it, dazzling with its fancy diamante finishing. I was looking spectacular in my long braids. I welcomed people at the entrance as Sandra and another friend of ours checked the invitation cards, Bimbo had suggested the strictly by invitation bit.
The party soon started in full gear and everybody got into the full groove. We danced, ate and played some kinky, mischievous games. Some people even swam in the cool pool. I danced with Sean, with Chief Buhari and soon became tired and crawled to a corner to relax and watch the others as they had fun. It was a fun night and I was glad I had let them do it. Was it right? Wasn’t I being unfair to Jamal. He is dead and there was I having fun and…
“You can’t possibly be tired. You’ve danced with everybody but me,” said a deep voice behind me. I turned and looked into the most enchanting eyes I’ve ever seen, bad timing, I thought.
“Hello,” I said trying to be friendly and not sound as cold as I felt at that moment.
“Hi to you too. I’m Marvin Atolagbe. Timmy’s cousin,” the man introduced himself.
“Oh, hello. Thanks for coming,” I said and managed a bitter-cold smile.
“What about the dance?” he asked again.
“As you can see I’m tired. So if you would excuse me. I’m so exhausted. Thanks again for being here,” I said, got up and walked away leaving him standing.
I didn’t even remember Marvin again until when the party was over and someone mentioned his name, then I asked about him from Timmy.
“Oh, you could ask of him, abi? If I knew you wouldn’t be nice, I would have warned him to avoid you.” Timmy said bitterly.
“How do you mean?” I asked.
“He said you practically walked out on him and left him standing. A guest at your party,” Timmy said and Sandra hissed.
“You mean that man said that?” I asked.
“Yes, he wouldn’t if you hadn’t,” Timmy replied.
“I wasn’t really rude. Tired I guess. I didn’t really take any notice of him anyway. I told you to stop matching me with people,” I said.
“How will you take any notice of him, when you already had a billboard on your chest? What a joke!” Sandra said and she hissed as she dropped cups in an empty carton of beer.
“Anyway, he said he would like to take us out tonight. Our graduation celebration if we want,” Timmy said finally.
“That’s so cool,” Cindy said as she cleaned plates with tissue papers.
I told them I won’t be going with them because I was feeling so tired. I yawned and begged them to count me out of it.
Cindy said no way. She said I should know that they wouldn’t go without me. And Bimbo said she would love to go clubbing in Lagos again.
“She is coming with us. This is the day the lord has made, she has to rejoice and be glad in it,” Sandra concluded and I nodded but told them we could only stay till midnight and they agreed. We finished the cleaning and got into the car.
I drove them back to my house to change into something befitting for a club and my state of mind.
I chose a long gypsy gown; Sandra screamed in disapproval and dragged me back into my room. She opened my wardrobe and selected a different attire for me; a jean trouser, a black backless top with a low sandal that shaped my beautiful painted feet.
“Na to wear dem you buy dem. So na wear you go wear dem. Chikena, Period,” she said and waited for me to discard the one I was wearing and wear the other one she had laid out on the bed.
I knew I looked sexy in that paticular top, but I didnt want to feel sexy. I removed the top and replaced it with an orange, frilly, sleeveles shirt. I expected Sandra to voice out complaint but she didnt say anything so I got dressed, avoiding her criticizing glare. When i finished dressing up, he turned me around for a few seconds before deciding that she could work with I had chosen. We both left for the sitting room after I had discarded the sandal for a ballerina flat. I knew I wasn’t looking all sexy, but I felt so so cute and it wasnt a guilty feeling.