Bukky walked out of the house, clad in a blue jeans and a blue fitted tee-shirt. She held her small black hand bag close and headed down the street in a black low heel sandal. She took the turning that led to the bus-stop and saw Gbemiga afar off. Her heart missed a beat. She had a flashback of the other night. The way he looked at her and the intense feeling that coursed through her body when he touched her face. She closed her eyes and tried to block the memory. She had heard her elder sister talking with her friends about how she had, had a crush on a boy in their area. What she described was a bit similar to what she was experiencing, although hers seemed a little bit too fast. She had only known Gbemiga for a couple of days and the sudden likeness seemed too soon. The attraction made matters worse. Was it possible to feel so strongly for someone one just met? Maybe it was one of those things and it would fade away. What if it didn’t? She had never dated anyone before. She had been asked out a number of times, but, she had decided to wait until she was older. She was eighteen now. Was she old enough? The little she knew about relationships was what her elder sister and her friends discussed. The fact that several girls got pregnant and became single mothers in her former neighbourhood had back-pedaled her plans. Many had also died while trying to get rid of their pregnancies. She opened her eyes and saw him approaching her, he was grinning from ear to ear.
“Morning Bukky,” he halted in front of her, blocking her way.
“Morning Gbemiga,” she looked towards the bus-stop.
“Heading to work?” he followed her gaze.
“Can I see you off to the bus-stop?”
They walked side by side.
“Are you related to Aunty Kike?”
She glanced up at him and nodded, “She is my mum’s younger sister.”
“Oh! Okay. How long are you staying with her?”
She pressed her lips together. She had applied lip-gloss on it that morning.
“I don’t mean to pry,” he tried not to sound desperate. He had hoped against hope that she would be staying in the area for a long while.
She shrugged, “I don’t really know.”
“Okay, but, will you be here till Christmas?”
She shrugged again.
“I hope so,” he sighed heavily.
She looked up at him, wondering why he wanted to know if she would still be around during the holiday season.
“I will be resuming school in September. I hope you will still be around when I return home for the Christmas holiday,” he met her gaze.
Bukky looked away. She had no formal education. Her parents could afford to give them shelter, food and clothing in their early years, but, getting educated was like wishing for a house full of gold. Things had gotten worse when her father lost his job. She hoped her siblings were living well with her father’s siblings.
“I believe that you can get into the higher institution too. Don’t give up,” he encouraged her.
“I have never seen the gate of any school. Going to the university is far-fetched,” sadness glinted in her dark eyes.
Gbemiga pitied her. There were several people in his area that had no form of education too.
“I have always dreamt of going to school,” she tried to smile.
“Don’t give up. Whatever you place in God’s hands, he will perfect it.”
She nodded in agreement. She was going to take God up on that. They stood at the bus-stop and waited.
“I will be twenty in August, I am not celebrating or anything, but, I will like to spend that day with you.”
She looked back at him in surprise.
“My birthday is also in August too.”
“Splendid! Mine is on the 15th.”
“Same day,” she turned away and gave a shake of head. It was weird meeting her birthday mate.
She smiled back at him.
“Wow!” his head bobbed with excitement.
She heard a bus conductor shouting ‘Mushin Olosha’, “My bus is coming.”
“Okay. Our birthday is next month. I am going to save towards it. Maybe we can celebrate with cup-cakes and ice-cream or suya and drinks.”
“You barely know me,” she eyed him.
“That is why I want to spend that day with you; it is part of getting to know you,” he stressed.
She wasn’t convinced.
“I like you,” he opened up.
She directed her gaze at him, “So? I believe I am not the first girl you have liked.”
He started to laugh, “You are right. You are not the first girl I will be asking out either.”
She eyed him. He seemed too smooth for her liking. Why did guys who were easy on the eyes think they could smooth-talk any girl into a relationship?
“I know you like me too. There is something special about us,” his dark eyes bored into hers.
She rolled her eyes and waved down the bus heading for Mushin.
“So, what do you say?”
“As in?” she observed him.
“Come on girl…” he shifted on both feet.
“Not interested,” she got on the bus.
He watched the bus leave. He scratched a spot on his head. It had been a long time since he had been turned down by a girl. Maybe he acted too fast. He should have waited. She was right, they barely knew each other, but that night, what he felt, he could bet the whole world that she felt it too. He turned around and headed home. He needed a better plan.
Kike walked into the compound carrying a sack filled with yams. Gbemiga was seated outside the house, playing a game of ludo with some of his friends in the area. The moment he saw her, he ran up to her and relieved her of the heavy sack and dragged it into the building. He followed her into her room and placed it beside the waist length cupboard.
“Thank you very much,” she beamed at him.
“It is a pleasure aunty,” he bowed his head in respect.
“Bukky come and give me some of the mangoes I bought yesterday.”
His eyes widened in surprise. Was she in the room? He looked around and found her seated on the mattress. She met his gaze, turned away and got up. She had on a pink spaghetti top with a red and brown coloured wrapper tied around her waist. She picked a few mangoes from the bowl on the table beside the window and approached him. He collected the fruit and smiled at her. His hands brushed against hers; her eyes flew up and met his intense stare.
“God will bless you. I am so tired. Bukky what did you cook?” she walked towards the paper-thin mattress and settled on it.
She stepped away and glanced at her aunt, “I prepared yam porridge.”
“Please give me some. I am so hungry,” she pulled at her scarf and threw it on the bed.
“Good night ma,” he headed out.
“Gbemiga thank you,” Kike called after him, “Is the porridge still hot?” she directed her gaze at her niece.
“I don’t think so.”
“Go and warm it for me,” she kicked off her sandals and lay on the bed.
Bukky opened the cupboard and brought out a plate and a pot. She hurried out and headed for the kitchen which was at the back of the twenty room bungalow.