I speed down to the conference meeting I was already forty eight minutes late for even before the detour, all the while thinking about the girl I splashed. I had seen her previously walking on the bridge and thought who was that? To be honest, it was ridiculous. I wanted to get down and ask her what was wrong; but I thought it wasn’t really my business what anybody wanted to do, besides, I was in a rush; but then I mud sprayed her and I had to get down expecting some fury. What I got was very opposite. I saw a very beautiful broken girl. I just couldn’t apologize and leave. I wanted to help her. Her white wraparound dress was unforgivably sprayed with mud. I looked properly at her as she screamed at me. She didn’t look like a homeless person. In fact, it was the opposite. She looked like someone that came from money but was having a really bad day. My head was telling me to just help her get a taxi to wherever she was going; you know, help her regroup but my heart was saying something different. Heart? Heart? Scratch that. My mind. My mind was telling me something different. But is the mind not the same as the brain? Screw it. Something was telling me something different. I told her I was going to wait till she changed her mind even when I knew I was going to be late for an important meeting on Victoria island. I said a silent prayer hoping she would come around. She did. She passed by me as she hopped into my car. I caught a whiff of her fragrance. It was very pleasant so much so I wanted to grab her and breathe in deeply. What? Focus, Yanju. Focus! I get into the car with her and she rattles off someone’s address to me. It was an area I knew well. Somehow, it came to my mind that I didn’t want the person to be her lover or something. I give her my phone and hear her talking to a Tola. I relaxed as I affirmed that guys don’t just bear Tola. They would be Adetola not just Tola. I glanced at her as she was trying to calm the Tola. She really was a normal everyday person; even remarkable. I asked for her name trying to strike up a conversation but she obviously wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to give her space but then my curiosity got better of me and I asked her about what made her into what she was a few minutes ago but she blew me off and soiled my car seat deliberately. Honestly, her blowing me off like that stung a bit so I did what I do whenever I was hurt. I grinned at her and slid Jon Bellion’s album in and chose his run wild. I don’t know why but I did. Guess it just felt right. I guess it felt right to her too cause she asked for his name but I give her the same reply she gave me few minutes prior tartly. Obviously, I was still smarting. She gasped wanting to say something but thought better of it. She closed her eyes and relaxed. She is so beautiful, I thought. Very. Her perfume was still wafting in the air condition. It took me thirty minutes to get to the address. I wished it took longer forgetting I had a very important meeting at Radisson blu which was like an hour away. “We are here.” I said when we got to the address. She thanked me. I wanted to say something to her. To ease her pain. Whatever she was going through but all I could manage was being tongue-tied. She alighted and walked to the gate without glancing back. Why do I get the feeling she hates me so much. I never even met her but I feel so much animosity towards me. I couldn’t help but call out to her that it was nice meeting her. Now, I’m in front of Radisson blu on Ozumba mbadiwe avenue and the security is asking me the reason for my visit. He checks my boot and lets me in handing me a car tag. I throw it in the console and find a spot to park. I glance at my wristwatch and deduce I am almost two hours late. I rub my eyes furiously. I walk into the conference room and see directors already seated. I move to the head of the table and take my place. I rub at my eyes again as my employees start to settle down. There were fifteen of them. It was my Vice President that suggested we needed a work related lunch-which was fast becoming dinner. So having the meeting at Radisson blu anchorage was his idea. The reason? I don’t know. All I know is that even though it is costing my law firm some money, it is definitely a choice I would make over and over again. I’m already feeling relaxed. “I’m sorry I was late. It was unavoidable. Shall we begin?”
“You look ridiculous.” Tola says, staring pointedly at my hair. She is of average height, dark in complexion and is a natural dread head so she is a tad bit volatile about hair.”Yeah, I know.” I stare down at my Diane Von Furstenberg white wrap dress and want to burst into tears again.
She gasps. “What happened to your dress?”
“I got mud sprayed.” I wipe a tear away. “Look at me, I’m so unkempt!” I say between sobs.
She grabs me close and hugs me tight. “Let’s go in.”
“Get me something real cold” I say as I flop down on her couch.
“No!” She screeches. “Go pull that dress off first and shower.”
I feel like just curling up on the sofa with a book and ice cream but I also know she is right. I have to get out of this mess.
When I get out of the shower, she is all dressed up in a red armless shirt and brown chinos mini skirt looking all ready to go out. “Are you going out?” I ask, incredulous.
“Yes, we are.”
“Yes we are. We are going to Hans and Rene for ice cream. I ran out of it.” She opens my part of her wardrobe-Yeah we are cool like that – and starts looking for something for me too.
“Why must I follow you?”
“Cause I don’t want you to be by yourself.” She picks out an Alexander McQueen sea blue maxi dress for me and a pair of white sandals. It is a good thing I have a cloth stash at her place for emergencies because we just can’t share the same clothes. I’m considerably taller than her and curvier.
Truthfully, I don’t want to be alone too but I also don’t want to go far even though I love Radisson- anyone would if they have ever been. “Can’t we just go to ice cream factory at Lekki? Or cold stone? Why must we drive all the way to Victoria island for ice cream?” I ask with a sour face. I really don’t want to go that far.
“They don’t sell agbalumo* flavored ice cream.” She smiles winsomely.
I think she makes a good point.
*Agbalumo- African cherry ~||~~||~>>
If I hadn’t seen her profile I wouldn’t believe this was the girl I dropped off few hours ago. Agreed, I knew she was beautiful. I figured that one out at first sight. But now she looks different. Good different, of course. She looks sophisticated. What is she doing here? I look at my wrist watch. 6pm. I stand, staring at her. She is seated on a chair on the porch of Hans and Rene and is staring absentmindedly at something in front of her. It had rained earlier so the ground is still wet though the sun is shining brightly. Drops of rain are falling from the edge of the roof, some splashing on her. I want to approach her to talk but then I think what if she is with her boyfriend? I feel my heart squeeze painfully. What is wrong with me?
“Yanju!” Imole, my vp stroke best friend calls to me as he walks towards me. “You have been standing there for ages. Have you seen a ghost?” He says as he reaches me then follows my gaze. “Oh! Only a beautiful lady.” He turns to me. “Yanju.” He clucks, shaking his head then turns back to her. “Hey, lady!” He calls to Dara.
What? “Imole!” I snap out. “Don’t you dare.” I warn.
“Watch me.” He says and starts walking towards her.
“Why do you always do this to me?” I ask in furious undertone.
He ignores me and continues on. “Hey, beautiful lady!” He calls.
I turn away as I see him get her attention even though I know she can’t see me where I stand. My heart starts beating frantically. “Remind me to drop you off at the butcher’s” I mutter under my breath.
He has reached her now and is calmly resting on the railing barring the porch. I don’t hear their conversation but I see her smile a bit. He extends his hand to her and she takes it and gestures to the door of the creamery as if saying she was waiting for someone. I guess I was right. She is with her boyfriend. It doesn’t seem to faze Imole though cause he nods and resumes talking. I feel like a sitting duck watching them talk. I was about to turn and walk to my car when I see a small cute lady with dreads walk out with bags of what must be ice cream and walk towards them. She smiles at Imole; dumps the bag on the table and sits on the other chair. Soon, they are all engrossed in the conversation. This is it. I can’t take it anymore. I walk towards them with my heavy feet. “Hi.” I say as I reach them.
Imole turns towards me and grins. “Yanju, meet my new friends, Simi and Tola.” He points at them respectively. Simi? So her name is Oluwadarasimi. Hmm.
“Hi again.” I say.
“You!” Simi’s eyes have widen.
“Eerrrm.” I say, confused.
“Do you know him?” The lady Imole introduced to me as Tola asks. “Wait. Is he friends with Jefferson?” She continues. Her eyes widen too and she looks me up and down.
Jefferson? Who is Jefferson? All of a sudden, I feel like I’m suffering for someone else’s sins. Is Jefferson the reason she hates me so much. Earlier, I had a niggling doubt that maybe she hated men in general but now, with the way she reacted to Imole, I guess it is just me. I don’t even know what to say in my defense.
Imole comes to my aid. “I don’t think so, sweetheart. At least, I would know if he was friends with any Jefferson.” He raises his eyebrow at me and I shrug in reply. Boy code.
“Simi?” Tola asks totally ignoring Imole. Girl code.
I think the atmosphere has changed from love all to sisters against brothers.
“No… I don’t know. I don’t think so.” Simi stammers out in reply. “Can we go now, Tola? I’m not feeling good.” She stands up and walks towards the stairs adjoining the porch.
“Oh alright.” Tola grabs her bags from the table and follows.
“Let me help you get that.” Imole says to Tola, trying to help but get snubbed by her then she turns towards me and points two fingers- index and middle- to her eyes and then to me, telling me she was watching me like a deer in the headlights.
Imole and I watch them get into their car and drive off then he turns towards me, raising his eyebrow in question- as if to ask what in the hell I did to them.
“I mud splashed her, man. That’s all. I mud splashed her.”
I sigh in defeat.