Bukky and her aunt sat inside the shop counting the money they made that day while the sales girls tidied up the place.
“When did you and Chike start dating?”
She raised her head and met her aunt’s excited gaze. “A few weeks ago.”
She grinned, “I knew that both of you will end up together.”
Bukky chuckled and tied the money in her hands with rubber bands.
“You wasted so much time with Gbemiga. I pray that God will pay his family back in their own coin.”
She sighed heavily and held her tongue. The last time she saw her ex, he was leaving for school and she was heading to her lecture center. It was at the bus-stop and they just exchanged greetings, nothing more. She seldom run into his parents or siblings. It was as if they no longer existed, even though they all lived on the same street. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
“Good afternoon ma,” Chike walked in.
Both women raised their heads and grinned at him.
“Chike, omo ibo, omo ina,” Kike teased him.
He chuckled and smiled.
“I got your message. Thanks for the gifts.”
“You are welcome ma.”
“This your abroad I.T did you well o. Your skin looks buttery and posh like those black American actors.”
He started to laugh. Bukky shook her head and smiled.
“Hey you,” he sat beside his girlfriend.
“Hi…” she smiled back at him.
“Are you going to the lecture center today?”
She shook her head.
“Cool. I want to take you to the Lagoon front.”
She beamed. She had been asking him to create time and take her there for as far back as she could remember. Many of her classmates at the center had been there and she was feeling kind of left out.
“I am ready when you are ready,” he announced. He was glad that she was thrilled with his plan.
“Give me a few minutes.”
“Okay,” he leaned against the plastic chair and cross his legs.
“Give me the money with you before you start counting rubbish and start making silly mistakes.”
“Ah-han aunty,” she eyed her aunt.
“Follow your boyfriend and commot for here,” Kike collected the bills from her.
Chike laughed quietly.
“Let me get my bag,” she winked at him and got up.
Fifteen minutes later, they both walked out of the shop and headed to the street the campus shuttles queued. They got into one of the buses at the beginning of the long line with other students, and passengers. Twenty minutes later, they got down from the bus at the last bus-stop. As they walked, Chike pointed out departmental halls, eateries, and other places out to her.
At the Lagoon front, she saw several people, mostly students roaming around. Some were seated on long seats made of concrete, some were in groups and others were in twos and threes. She saw a few lovers in secluded areas, holding hands, hugging and one couple were kissing, lost in their own little world. They found a less crowded place under a tree close to the water.
Bukky noticed two or three canoes afar off. She saw a man casting a large net in the lagoon, while his partner paddled the narrow canoe.
“That is the third mainland bridge.”
Her eyes grew wide. She looked at the bridge and remembered the day she visited her elder sister on the island. There had been traffic on the bridge and most of the vehicles crawled at snail speed.
“If you are game, we can take a canoe ride to the bridge and back.”
She glanced at him, then shook her head. She had never ridden on a canoe before. The narrow and thin way it looked scared the life out of her. What if they fell off? She doesn’t even know how to swim.
“I am a very good swimmer. I will rescue you if anything happens,” he said quickly, as if reading her thoughts.
“No, thank you,” she shook her head vigorously.
“Where is your faith?”
“Chike, biko, leave me. Go ahead if you want to. I will be right here when you come back.”
He started to laugh and signaled to a lady hawking boiled groundnuts. He bought a few cups and paid her.
Bukky ate the snack with relish. She loved groundnuts and it had been a while since she ate the boiled ones.
“It is a beautiful sight.”
“It used to be nicer.”
She looked around, wondering how the place used to be. The lack of maintenance culture had eaten deep into every sphere of the country.
“Students are no longer allowed to come here at night because of robbers and the likes.”
“I heard rumours that touts sneak in here in the evening, hide and rob students.”
Feared gripped her, “Is there no security in your school?”
He shrugged, saw a boy hawking drinks, called out to him and bought two bottles of soft drinks.
“We will take pictures before we leave.”
“Okay,” she had seen three, four young men hanging around with their cameras at the entrance when they arrived, trying to convince people to snap pictures.
“There is a mini-zoo here too.”
“Really?” eyes shone in excitement.
“I have never been there.”
Narrowed her eyes, “What kind of student are you?’
He shrugged, “We will go see the place together.”
“Can I take pictures?”
“Of course. Let’s see what sort of animals they have.”
She beamed. She might as well sign up for the University of Lagos when it was time to write her JAMB examinations. She liked the school already.
“I will show you around the school some other day. I haven’t really done a tour myself. My nose has been in my books.”
She smiled with understanding, “You might as well graduate with a first class.”
He started to laugh, “Definitely, I will, by God’s grace.”
“Amen to that.”
“How far with your studies?”
“I am no way near writing the S.S.C.E examinations.”
He nodded and placed a hand around her, “Give yourself time, trust in God, study hard and you will be fine.”
She sighed with relief. “Are you through with your project?”
“Nope, but, I am almost done. I hope my supervisor won’t ask me to re-type anything. I am just tired.”
“Awww… my baby,” she pecked him on the cheek.
“Put another one here,” he tapped his lips with a finger.
She eyed him, “Oliver Twist.”
“Oya now, I want a sweet kiss.”
She looked left and right, “We are in public,” she whispered.
“Kiss me. Leave everybody alone.”
“No,” she looked away shyly.
He brushed a hand over her face and turned her head in his direction. “It’s been a while since I kissed you.”
“You said we should take it easy in that department.”
“I know. We are in public. It is impossible for things to get out of hand.”
“True, at least, we are not dogs or those fowls.”
He laughed as he remembered how a cock chased a hen in the area in order to pounce on it.
“Oya, one sweet kiss,” she winked at him.
“Now you are talking.”
She closed her eyes and waited.
“Who asked you to close your eyes?’
She opened her eyes, “They do it in the movies.”
“You and who is acting Hollywood film?’
She started to laugh.
“Oya, let’s act small.”
She continued to laugh.
“I think… I don’t think, I believe I am going to spend the rest of my life with you.”
She observed his confident face. The last person that said the same words to her left her for sponsorship of his education.
“I have found the one,” his eyes twinkled in delight.
His words warmed her heart. Maybe, this time around, things would be different.
“You are my Prince Charming.”
“And you are my Damsel in distress.”
He drew her close and planted a kiss on her ready lips.