Somehow, I was able to shake off my shock.
With a long hiss, I propped my pillow and proceeded to banish all thoughts of Aka and the mystery woman from my mind. With Jimi, I’d had more than enough of lying in bed awake, crying over a man. Aint no way I was going to do that over a man I’d barely known 5 seconds. So what, if the man in question was as fiiiiine and sexxxxy as no other I’d seen?! I wasn’t going to lose any sleep over him. Hell na!
The next day, as early as 6:30am, as Rire and I prepared to leave the house, my phone rang. It was Aka.
“Hiya.” I said, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Hi Fola. How are you? Did I wake you?” he said, his voice sounding a bit too breathless.
“Nope.” I said, not volunteering more. “What’s up?”
He paused, and I could tell this wasn’t the reaction he expected from me. It was obvious he’d found out I’d called, and spoken to his female answering service, and I reckon he was expecting me to yell or something. But I was as cool as a cucumber.
“Look, about last night. Ngozi just stopped by…and it was late, so…” he stuttered.
“Hey, it’s no big deal, Aka.” I said, smiling through clenched teeth. “Don’t sweat it. I have to run, okay? We’ll talk later.”
As I disconnected the line, the fake smile on my face evaporated in a cloud of smoke. So it really was her? The famous Ngozi. His ex-girlfriend. His ex longtime girlfriend. Barely an hour after our near kiss, his ex girlfriend was in his house at past midnight? Stopping by, doing what?!
As soon as I got to the office, I decided to do what I should have done before agreeing to go on the blasted date. Investigate him on Facebook!
In a matter of clicks, I found his page, and clear enough, there she was all over the place! There were pictures of them dating, all the way back to the early ’90s. This was no fly by night relationship. These two had been through the Kross Kolors, finger wave, metal face cap wearing era of the early ’90s, all the way through to the more refined 2000’s. I saw as they evolved from geeky teenagers in baggy clothes, to sophisticated adults with more money to spend. Studying the Ngozi, I was pained to see that she was a ravishing beauty, with her beauty blossoming and blooming as the years went by. From the box braids and bee hives of the ’90s, from pathetic, cheap 3-in-1 weave on, to being able to afford very expensive human hair, Ngozi had evolved like fine wine over the years.
But that wasn’t what struck me. What did strike me was the relationship status on both their profiles.
I chuckled to myself, not believing that this kind of thing actually, really happened. Nah, there had to be a mistake somewhere. Checking for mutual friends, I saw that Tuoyo, Bimbo husband, was a mutual friend of Ngozi’s…so I decided to call Bimbo.
“So you and Lilian thought you could do James Bond with this one?” Bimbo accused. “Why didn’t you tell me about the hook up?”
I honestly had no reason for keeping the information from my best friend. Well, actually, I did have a reason. After having told her of my other fiasco dates, I guess I wanted to be sure this would work out before sharing it with her. I didn’t want her to think of me as sad…pathetic…unable to get a decent man.
“I don’t know the Ngozi, but let me ask Tuoyo. I’ll call you back!” she said, before quickly getting off the phone. That’s one thing about Bimbo. She is the expert Panadol drinker! She is the one person who always takes my issues just as seriously, if not even more so, than I do.
Less than hour later, she called me back.
“Babe, I hope you’re sitting down!” had been her morbid opening, and I immediately knew I wasn’t going to like what I heard.
And I was right.
It turns out that Tuoyo and Ngozi’s younger sister, Ijeoma, were work colleagues. Upon further investigation, he found out from Ijeoma that, after having tried to get Aka to commit for several years, Ngozi had finally gotten him to propose to her 6 months before. But there’d been a caveat. After having been faithful to her for almost 2 decades, Aka apparently wanted a few months to do whatever he liked, before finally settling down. They had agreed on 3 months, after which Ngozi thought he would have gotten it out of his system. According to Ijeoma, plans were already underway for their marriage. And she clearly had no idea the agreed 3 months had stretched into 6, hence why she had sounded so pained the night before.
I found myself clapping my hands at work, like a market woman. At my age, at my ripe golden age, some fool wanted to use me for a last minute snack?!
“What?!” Lilian had shrieked, when I confronted her later that afternoon. “Fola, I’ll call you back! I’ll call you back!” and she had gotten off the phone like a bat out of hell. Lilian is another Panadol drinker.
By the time the three of us met up at my house, later that evening, it was a somber and morose Lilian that confirmed what Tuoyo had found out. That Aka and Ngozi were still very much together. And that they were getting married at the end of August, a mere two months away.
“But Lilian, how couldn’t you have done your homework on the guy?” Bimbo reprimanded, obviously angry.
“How was I supposed to know that ‘I’ve broken up with my girlfriend’ is morse code for ‘I want to sleep with every woman I can, before I get married’?!” Lilian retorted back, also angry with herself.
“Let’s not waste any more time talking about that loser!” I said, desperate to change the topic. I’d already wasted about 72 hours of my life on the guy. He didn’t deserve any more.
But after my friends left, I found myself sinking into a very familiar, dark place. I replayed the horror dates with Wale, Kojo, Shoga, and now Aka, in my head…and wondered what on earth was wrong with me. I remembered the disaster of a conversation Charles and I had, and how we hadn’t even been able to progress beyond that stage, before he got put off.
Was I destined to be lonely forever?
The next day was a Friday, and I decided to just have a lie-in. I called in sick, and proceeded to sit in my bedroom all day, feeling sorry for myself. I shipped Rire off to his father, and spent all of Saturday in my PJ’s as well, doing nothing but watching TV with a tub of ice cream for company.
But by Sunday, I decided I needed some cheering up. I decided that some fresh air would do me good. So I got all dressed up, put on a whole face of make up, and grabbed my Chanel handbag, ready to hit the town.
Ah, that Chanel handbag. The only positive thing I’d gotten from Shoga, my razz toaster. I’d only carried it once before, and it was to work on a Friday. Apart from my office pals, Wonu and her gang, who went crazy about it, as expected, some of our senior Partners, women who barely acknowledged my existence, stopped me to compliment me on my handbag, their eyes beaming with respect for me. And who could blame them. That was a $100k bag mehn! Levels!
In hindsight, I should have left that bag at home.
I decided to go to Chocolat Royale to buy a few things. As I approached Etim Inyang street, I had a feeling there was a car tailing mine, but I shrugged it off, thinking nobody could possibly think me worthy to tail. Me that couldn’t get a boyfriend to save my life!
That’s how I parked my car, and sauntered out, swaying my hips as my Chanel bag dangled in all its gorgeousness on my shoulder. As I approached the building, I heard someone shout my name loudly.
I looked in the direction of the sound, and I cowered at the sight of a hulking Shoga, charging across the street at me. He didn’t seem pleased. Looking at the car he disembarked from, I realised it was the car that was tailing me before. But I didn’t think I wanted to hear what he had to say, so I quickly dashed into the building.
“Fola, come back here!” he yelled, pushing his way through the glass doors, disturbing the ambience of otherwise serene cafe, and making the other Patrons look our way, startled.
“Why are you shouting my name?!” I yelled back, now angered the embarrassment.
“You mean you have the guts to speak? After not calling me, or taking my calls, you are here, walking around Lagos with my Chanel bag?!” he roared, his voice, not to mention words, echoing across the whole of Victoria Island.
I looked around, humiliated. “Is that why you’re shouting?” I said in a hoarse whisper, desperate to quieten him.
“You think I’m one of those mugus you girls can use their head?! You think you can just take a $200,000 bag, and go away scott free? A bag I bought for my girlfriend, but instead gave to you?” if his voice could be any louder, maybe even my father in Ibadan would hear it.
$200k? Wow! But wait, what! Girlfriend? Na wa o! Even yeye Shoga wanted to use me as biscuit.
With a long hiss, I turned my back to him, desperate to shake him off my back. Maybe if I ignored the beast, he would slink away in shame.
But no such luck!
In a flash, he reached for my bag and yanked it off my shoulder, before shaking its contents to the floor, sending my valuables, my phone inclusive, crashing down.
“You gold digging peasant! If you want to carry a bag that expensive, you better work for it!” and with that, he stormed off, leaving me staring at the contents of my bag on the floor, and dealing with curious, not to mention condescending, looks from the people around.
“Let me help you with that.” came a voice, as I crouched trying to gather my things into God knows where.
I looked up, only to come face to face with Lekan, an old face from Unilag.
“I just walked in as that guy was charging out.” he said, picking up my wallet and it’s own spilled contents from the floor. “I hope he didn’t hurt you.”
“My car keys…I think my car keys are still in the bag…” I said, still in some form of shock, unbelieving of what had just happened to me.
“Here it is!” Lekan said, locating it a few feet away.
He removed his laptop from its case and put the contents of my reclaimed Chanel bag into it. “There you go. It’s not fancy, but it would have to do.”
I nodded, still stunned.
“Fola, right?” Lekan said, and at this I just had to smile.
I’ll go into a bit of history here.
Lekan, aka Lekushe, was a few sets ahead of me in Unilag…Jimi’s set specifically. And he asked me out three times…three times…without ever remembering he’d asked me out before!
The first time had been at a friend’s birthday party. After losing Jimi to Dolly, I’d lost interest in parties and had shunned them all, but a close friend of mine was turning 21, and I knew I couldn’t turn down her invite. Lekushe had been all over me at the party, toasting me like his life depended on it. I’d been too raw from the Jimi heartbreak to pay him any mind. I’d said no, and he’d accepted his fate. Fast forward about a year, I was walking across the Moremi quadrangle, and had bumped into him with a friend of mine. I’d exchanged pleasantries with them both, only for Lekushe to ask me for my name and room number. He had clearly forgotten ever having asked me out at the party the year before. Amused, I’d turned him down again, and that had been the end of story. Until NYSC camp! Whilst having lunch one day at the Mammy Market, he and his friends had propositioned my friends and I, and he’d been clearly surprised that I went to Unilag. He clearly had no memory of having toasted me a couple times before, and I didn’t bother reminding him.
So, hearing him call my name was…amusing, if nothing.
“I heard you married Jimi. How is he doing?” he asked, a pleasant smile on his face.
I looked at him quizzically, trying to ascertain if he was truly clueless…or just being mischievous. The sincerity in his eyes told me it was the former.
I shook my head. “We’re no longer together. We divorced a few years ago.”
His eyes lit up. “Oh, wow. I didn’t hear that. So sorry to hear that.” but the glee on his face was anything but sorry.
Looking at his over eager face, I knew that there was no chance I’d date him. No chance at all. Only a few inches taller than me, and a few kilograms heavier than I liked, he wasn’t the kind of person I would ordinarily go for.
“Thanks, Lekan. I’ll find a way to get this bag back to you.” I said, looking at him apologetically, hoping he’d get the message.
“You can keep it.” he answered, a sincere smile on his face. “You take care, Fola.”
Walking out of the place, trying not to make eye contact with any of the people who had witnessed my shame, all I wanted to do was curl in my bed.
I was w-e-a-r-y to my bones of men!
You can catch up on Fola’s story here:
- Sister, Sister 1: Calling Me Mrs.
- Sister, Sister 2: The Odd Family
- Sister, Sister 3: Floating On Air
- Sister, Sister 4: The Many Wives of Jimi
- Sister, Sister 5: Russian Roulette
- Sister, Sister 6: So Much In Common
- Sister, Sister 7: An Unlikely Pair
- Sister, Sister 8: Longing For Her
- Sister, Sister 9: The Return
- Sister, Sister 10: The Catastrophe
- Sister, Sister 11: Not Working
- Sister, Sister 12: Sham of a Marriage
- Sister, Sister 13: Invisible Strings
- Sister, Sister 14: Rehab
- Sister, Sister 15: Fall From Grace
- Sister, Sister 16: Reset Button
- Sister, Sister 17: Available…Unavailable
- Sister, Sister 18: Paradigm Shift
- Sister, Sister 19: Living a Lie
- Sister, Sister 20: Not That Kind of Girl
- Sister, Sister 21: Name Dropping
- Sister, Sister 22: The Banker
- Sister, Sister 23: One Chip
- Sister, Sister 24: A Mess
- Sister, Sister 25: The Matchmaker
- Sister, Sister 26: Promise of Fidelity
- Sister, Sister 27: Hole In My Heart
- Sister, Sister 28: Charmed