On her way home from the Adult Education Centre, while waiting for a bus, a car honked and stop by her side. She raised an eyebrow. If it was one of those jobless men that felt they could just honk and flash leering smiles, hoping that they had caught a big fish, then the person should think again. She made it a policy not to accept rides from strangers, especially men. She had heard enough stories that touched. She doesn’t want to end up robbed, raped or worse, cooking in an herbalist black pot.
She bent her head a bit to see who the driver was. Chike’s smiling dark brown eye stared back at her. Her hand flew to her mouth in shock.
“Are you going home?” he grinned from ear to ear.
She nodded in affirmative, unable to utter a word.
“Hop in, I am going home too.”
She opened the side door and climbed in, still dazed that it was Chike, her friend.
“It is me. I am not a ghost,” he sensed her state of mind.
She blinked and just stared at him.
He smiled and stirred the green Toyota Corrolla back to the busy road.
“Where have you been?” she found her voice.
His smiling eyes remained on the road.
“You just disappeared. I couldn’t reach you, your neighbours didn’t even know where you were, I was worried. What happened?” she noticed how fresh he looked, like a baby who had just been bathed, creamed and powered up. His brown skin had a certain glow, his shoulder muscles were broader, and the blue short-sleeve tee-shirt on him made him look boyishly cute.
“I have been in the U.K.”
“What?!” her eyes grew big.
“My uncle arranged my Industrial Training in his place of work over there.”
She blinked, trying to comprehend everything he was saying.
“The company my uncle worked for had a policy of including foreign students and graduates in their employment scheme. Be it Industrial Training, Part-time or Full time jobs. It is a yearly thing.”
She nodded, still trying to grasp what he was telling her.
“Although they have a fixed number they approve yearly. My uncle was able to speak with one of his bosses and my name was added to the list.”
“I see. You were lucky.”
“Benefits of being the child of God,” he winked at her, “I got back some days ago. I went to Owerri first, to give my parents and siblings the things I bought for them, then I came back to Lagos. Your things are in my apartment.”
She just stared at him.
“I went on a shopping spree and got you nice things.”
“You are welcome my friend,” he stressed the last word.
She sighed with relief. Her friend was back.
“How is your aunt?”
“She got married a few weekends ago.”
“She lives in Yaba now with her husband.”
“Nice,” he glanced at her.
“We both share a shop, a sort of partnership thing. I sell my akara and bread, with corn pap and she sells her fried yam and plantain.”
“Wow! So while I was MIA, you guys went gaga with your business.”
She grinned from ear to ear.
Their gazes locked.
“I have also been given my Junior WAEC certificate.”
He nodded with smiles and looked back at the road.
“I have my own apartment now, similar to yours.”
He kept on smiling, “All your customers for area go vex o.”
She chuckled, “Some of them come all the way to Yaba market.”
She started to laugh.
“How is your boyfriend?”
Her smiles faded instantly. “We… we broke up.”
Silence engulfed the vehicle.
“What happened this time around?” he felt a bit angry.
“His family pulled a Jack Bauer stunt on us. They came out openly, disapproving the relationship, called a family meeting and killed the relationship.”
He glanced at her, “So, you mean he just allowed them to do all that? Is he a weakling? Why didn’t he face them squarely and fight for what he loves or loved or… does he even, really, I mean, does he love you?”
She looked away and sighed heavily.
He shook his head, fighting the urge not to say ‘I told you so’.
“Gbemiga and I are finally and completely over.”
He raised an eyebrow in doubt.
“He chose the sponsorship of his education over me, over us, over everything we stood for.”
“He did what?” he shot her a stunned stare and glanced back at the road.
“His aunt and uncles promised to sponsor him if he broke up with me.”
He cursed under his breath.
“It’s good to know I am worth nothing to him,” her eyes glistered with unshed tears.
The sadness in her voice made his heart to ache.
She looked out of the window.
“Please accept my sympathy,” he caught a glimpse of her. He saw her wet eyes.
“Thanks,” she glanced at him.
He returned his attention to the road.
“So, you are graduating this year, how do you feel?” she wiped her wet face with the back of her hand.
She started to laugh.
“What? Wait till you go through the system, you will understand.”
She smiled, “I am looking forward to it.”
“What are you planning to study?”
Eyes widened, “Hmmm…”
“You like money.”
“Who doesn’t?” she started to laugh.
Their gazes met and locked.
“I am so glad that you are back. I have really missed you.”
He turned away, “Me too.”
The car halted in front of her house.
“Thank you for the ride. I will come and get my gifts later.”
“Okay. Anytime you are free.”
She climbed out of the car and shut the door. He waved at her and drove off. She waved back and watched, till the car faded out of her line of sight.