Bukky breathed out heavily. The two big heavy Bagco bags she was carrying made it difficult for her to walk. She wished she had taken a bike at the junction. The distance between her house and the bus-stop was short, but, the load she was burdened with made it seem long and far. Her tired eyes darted left, right and around. She hoped a bike would pass by. She left the house very early in the morning to the market. There was no foodstuff in the house. Their cupboard was empty. Not even a grain of rice was in sight. She had been very busy during the week and thought that her aunt would shop for what they needed, but, the woman postponed it until she returned home on Friday evening claiming ill health. She left her two assistants in charge of sales of the bean cake that morning. It was weekend and patronage from people was usually on the increase. The girls had been with her for a while; she trusted them to handle things effectively. They were daughters of her neighbours. They all lived in the same house. If they stole from her, she could always report to their parents.
“Let me help you with that,” someone came up behind her and collected both bags from her.
She turned around and saw Chike in a pair of blue shorts and white short-sleeve Jersey, “My knight in shining armour,” she beamed in relief.
“Shut up there. Why didn’t you board a bike home?” he started down the street.
“I thought I could handle it,” she walked beside him.
He glanced at her, “When did you become Ironman?”
She chuckled, “If you ask me, na who I go ask?”
He started to laugh, “You are an unwell somebody.”
She started to laugh too.
“What are your plans for Easter?”
She shrugged, “We have a programme in church on Good Friday. Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, I don’t know. My boyfriend might have plans.”
He looked at her quickly, “Is he around?”
“Yes,” she glanced at him.
“You said he attends LASU.”
“What level, what course?” beads of sweat gathered on his forehead. The bags were incredibly heavy.
“He is studying Economics and Statistic. He is in his first year.”
“I see. How old is he?”
“He will be twenty-one in August.”
Frowned, “Is he born in August too?”
“Yes,” she noticed the dissatisfied look on his face.
“Wherever he is taking you, I also have plans for us.”
She eyed him, “What is that supposed to mean?”
He eyed her back, “Why do you think I didn’t travel home for the holidays?”
“How am I supposed to know?” she blinked.
“I wanted us to spend time together.”
“Eh! Look at this trouble maker,” she placed her hands on her hips and looked him up and down.
He laughed lightly, “Your boyfriend should be ready to share you this holiday.”
“Please o! Abeg, I don’t want wahala.”
“You need to pay for all this work I am doing. You have to compensate me.”
She hissed and sighed with relief as her house came into view, “I will give you extra akara tomorrow morning.”
“I don’t want akara, biko. I want your time and attention.”
“Chike na beg, I dey beg you, no come put sand, sand for my garri this holiday.”
He started to laugh, “So, because your boyfriend is around, you want to abandon me abi?”
“Who is abandoning who? We are just friends.”
“Friendship ko, fishery ni.”
“You know you are a hopeless somebody.”
“Same to you.”
They started to laugh out loud. Bukky saw her boyfriend standing in front of the house, clad in a pair of black and red stripped boxers and a white singlet.
“That is my boyfriend.”
Chike followed the direction of her gaze and saw a dark, slender, good looking young man standing in front of her house. The guy looked familiar.
“kai he is a bit taller than I am, but, I have muscles, and he doesn’t.”
She ignored him.
Gbemiga saw them. His curious gaze flew to the tall brown skin thick looking guy beside his girlfriend.
“Morning,” she slowed her steps.
“Morning, where are you coming from?” his gaze settled on her smiling face.
“I had to dash to the market this morning.”
He turned to look at the guy that stood behind his girlfriend, obviously carrying her loads.
“This is my friend Chike, he moved into the area some time ago.”
Both guys eyed themselves.
“Chike, meet my boyfriend, Oluwagbemiga.”
“Nice meeting you,” Chike seized him up.
“Let me have those bags,” Gbemiga stepped forward.
“Don’t worry. I can handle it,” Chike started towards the house.
Gbemiga watched him till he went in; he turned to look at her, “A friend?”
“Yes,” she noticed the displeased look in his dark eyes.
“Don’t you know that guys in this area have only one agenda? They don’t want to be your friend; they just want to get into your pants.”
She began to shake her head, “Chike is not like that. He is different. He isn’t even from around here. He is a student of Unilag, he is a good Christian and he is also responsible.”
“If he is a student, that makes it worse,” he stared at her sternly.
“How so?” she didn’t understand her boyfriend’s annoyance.
“University students don’t do friendship, except benefits is attached.”
She raised an eyebrow, “He is not like that…”
“What do you know?” he eyed her.
She stared back at him. Why was he talking to her like that?
“You are not even a student. You lack basic education and cannot decipher the intention of guys.”
His statement hurt her. She couldn’t believe he just used her illiteracy to determine her intelligence and perception.
“I am your first love and first boyfriend. Your naivety is going to cost us our relationship.”
Her eyes smarted with tears. If it was someone else, she would have been able to overlook it, but, coming from her own boyfriend, it hurt badly.
“I want you to stay away from him. Stay away from guys in this area, please.”
She sniffled, “You cannot choose my friends.”
He glared at her, “I have every right…”
“Are you my father?!” she shot him a disdainful look.
“No, but, I am your…”
“Have you paid my bride price?”
“No, but, I have plans to…”
“Then you have no right to determine who my friends should be.”
He stared back at her. His annoyance grew.
“I don’t need basic education to discern who people are or what they are not. I have my instinct and I also have the spirit of God.”
Suddenly, he realized how hurt she must have felt by his callous words.
“Now, I really know how you feel about me,” she started to walk away.
“Bukky, no… I was just trying to explain…”
She halted and turned around, “Explain what? The fact that you are dating an illiterate doesn’t sit well with you. I am glad I know now.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t really be dating. We are definitely two worlds apart,” she walked away.
She didn’t respond. She went straight into the house.
Gbemiga cursed under his breath. How was he going to clear up their misunderstanding? He loved her and didn’t care if she was educated or not.