By Tomi Adesina
I stopped at a gift shop to pick up something for Jake. It’s his birthday anyways.
“What kind of a man is he?” the shop attendant asked as we walked through the men’s section.
I stopped to think. Did she expect me to tell her about his personality? “What are you? Some sort of pixie? My telling you about him doesn’t automatically tell you what to give me for him.” I replied.
“But it could help.” She replied politely and with a smile.
What is it with all these polite people? I thought. Dora came to me in a subtle form and now she is practically tearing my world apart ‘politely’. “I will help myself.”
She bowed courteously and walked over to another customer. After some minutes of sight-seeing, I settled for some TM shirts, Pants and Neck Ties. I got a shoe to match. You don’t want to know how much they cost me. Whatever the case might be, my credit card is capable. My gift might seem weird to Jake as I was sure that they weren’t his types of wears, but there wasn’t any harm in trying.
I got off the bus at Jake’s stop and took a stroll into the street. The door to Jake’s flat was open, so I helped myself inside. ‘A better way to surprise him’ I thought. I headed for the bedroom, I would just leave the clothes there and head home and then he would have to come and see me. That way, I won’t have to apologize for being rude to him earlier in the day. As I ascended the stairs, I heard chuckles from the bedroom.
I stopped abruptly and tried to listen to the voices. I heard Jacob’s voice clearly, but I couldn’t hear who the other person was, but it was a female’s. As I tip-toed towards the door, I saw Jake engage in a fun-filled, laughter abundant pillow fight with Dora Williams. My hands shivered cold. I returned to the living room and dropped the gift on his cushion with a birthday card and left.
I walked all the way home thinking about Jake and Dora. Dora had succeeded in taking everything from me, or am I thinking of Jake as my property? The streets were lonely and cold. I felt alone. I leaned against a side bench for support before I finally took my seat. Why was I feeling hurt about seeing Jake and Dora together? I mean, if you can’t love the boy, leave him alone. Or wait, do I love him?
Songs streamed into my thoughts and I had a tough time filtering them. It was as though I was waging a war with my heart. The only solution was to use my I-pod. I was in no mood to listen to sad music, so I played ‘Blink 182’. Kicking back rock, right? Unfortunately, I was playing, ‘I Miss you’.
Thoughts from high school strayed into my heart. Jake had promised me during our Valedictory Service that he would be there for me always, those weren’t exactly his terms. He had said, “Darlene, I will always be there IF YOU NEED ME.” And I had always needed him and I still do, but at the moment, it seemed as though Dora was dear to his heart.
My phone buzzed and a message popped up. It was from Kolapo. It read, “Dora and I broke up, we need to talk.”
“Oh my God!”
Did Dora have to do this to Kolapo? I dialed him back almost immediately.
“Darlene, I want her back.” He said as soon as he picked.
I closed my eyes as a tear rolled down my cheek. “KP, I am sorry.”
“I don’t want the sorry, Darlene. I just want her.”
I sighed. “Where are you?”
“At the beauty parlour.” He replied.
I nodded. “Give me one hour.” I replied and hung up. I walked home in the next twenty minutes. As I hurried into the house, I almost pushed Dad aside.
“I am sorry, Sir.”
He stopped and adjusted his glasses. “Why are you in such a hurry?”
“There’s this place I have to be.” I replied.
He raised an eyebrow. “Jake’s birthday?” he asked. Great! Even Dad remembered Jake’s birthday. “I sent him a message earlier today.”
“Nice of you, Dad!” I replied and hurried up the stairs.
I had a hurried shower and slipped into a jean trouser, polo shirt and an All-star shoe. Time to loosen up and put my driving skills to test. I picked the keys to Dad’s Range Rover sport and started the car. I rode on a 40km/hr out of the estate and when I finally got on the road, I kept to one lane and at the same driving speed. I watched the speedometer religiously as I tried to keep my eyes on the road too.
“Get off the road, Kid!” “U no fit drive?” Insults were hurled at me as I tried to switch lanes. I focused on the steering and didn’t reply the insults. “And you dey drive SUV? The insults continued in Pidgin English, Local languages and all sort. I could care less. I had to start from somewhere. Now more than ever, I was set on driving to the court house on Wednesday.
I heaved a sigh of relief as I pulled up at KP’s Place. He was waiting outside. He probably didn’t know that I was the one in the car; maybe he would have come to meet me. I got down from the car and approached him.
“Wow! You now drive?” he asked staring at the car. ‘Why do people always ask obvious questions?’ I thought. I agree to have spent forty-five minutes in getting to KP’s beauty parlour rather than the normal fifteen minutes, and that puts me in the black book of Lagos city riders.
I nodded in agreement. “Well, it’s a start for me.” As a learner with a name to protect, you should drive at night like I just did. It will help avoid the gaze from people, but if you have a tinted glass like me, you won’t be bothered. We strolled into the beauty parlour. “Beautiful place here.” I said as we walked in.
“Thank you.” he replied, and beckoned at a steward as we took our seat. “What would you have?” he asked. “I’ll be ordering from Mama Cass. It’s just next block.”
Yes, I was desperate to eat! Seeing Jake and Dora had upped my appetite. Today, I would do ‘non-Nigerian’. “Maybe Ham and some roast.” I replied.
“I’ll have the same.” He said to the steward and handed him some cash. “I hope I didn’t cause you much trouble.” He said.
I smiled. “Not at all, we all have problems.” I replied.
He nodded and then started. “Dora ended things with me today.”
“What happened?” I asked.
He wiped his forehead. “We were supposed to have lunch together today; I sent her a text to remind her.” He paused and swallowed. “She didn’t reply, so I had lunch alone, later in the evening I called her and then she said she would be coming over to see me.” He paused to probably catch his breath and say the real deal. “When she got here she said, ‘I am not sure of my feelings anymore, I think we should take a break.’”
COLD!!! How could Dora be so cold??? “I am sorry, Kolapo.” I said. There were cold chills running down my spines. Everything had to be COLD.
The steward returned and handed us the food packs. I was hungry. I opened my pack and started to eat. I hoped for my sake that my ‘eating disorder’ was returning. The Doctors back then told my Dad that I was an emotionally disturbed kid when I had started eating too much. Grandma thought I had a large appetite. I reckon with Grandma.
“I was so shocked. I couldn’t say that I didn’t see it coming but it was all too sudden.” He continued. “I was giving her time to arrange her feelings. We have been together for years now, and it’s been the most magical feeling to me. Dora’s been everything to me.” I listened to Kolapo rattle on about his feelings for Dora and it was obvious that the dude was hurt. Back in high school, I used to be the counselor for most girls when their relationship suffered. I guess my calling was playing again.
Kolapo looked shattered. He finished his food before I could say Jack! On a second thought, the eating disorder might be real for some people. I had to come up with something. “Let’s take a walk.” I suggested.
He nodded and we walked into the night. “The stars come out pretty in the night.”
I laughed. “Of course KP, that’s the only time they come out.” We both chuckled and sat on the grass. I was about to play the psychologist on him. To be honest, I needed help too.
“Do you love Jake?” he asked.
OKAY!!! I guess I was being ‘called to bar’. In this love court, you have to be ‘not-forthright’; I won’t call anything a lie. “Excuse me?” I asked. I wanted to be sure that I heard him right.
“I know you heard me right. Are you in love with Jacob?” he asked.
I took a deep breath. “You do know that Jake and I are friends and that’s all between us. I do not love him.” I said, trying to sound blunt.
“Then you won’t be having many problems with Dora. I think that’s the man she loves.”
HERE COMES TROUBLE!!! Even Kolapo could feel it. I sighed. “Please be patient with her, KP. She just needs to realize herself.”
“I always knew Jake was trouble. From the first day that she told me about him with so much joy in her eyes, I was scared.”
The obvious reality! “Kolapo, you need to calm down. Probably, you guys need time. Maybe after a while, you can try again.”
“You don’t believe that, do you? Once a girl says she needs a break, it’s officially over!” he replied.
I shrugged. “KP, you may be right, but at the same time, maybe we should pay some importance to English. ‘WE SHOULD TAKE A BREAK…literally meant PAUSE…not STOP.’”
“Darlene, even you do not believe what you just said.” He said, sprawling out on the grass. I sprawled out too on the grass. “Darlene, there’s so much about Dora and I that I can’t believe we are falling apart. No one else loved me, it was just Dora.”
I listened as he continued about how he met Dora and how they became close friends and from there they realized themselves and then something ‘magical’ started. Those were his terms. Kolapo went on and on about the ‘magical’ feeling of love and for once I listened to a man talk about what he felt for a woman. It sounded beautiful. Dare had written me something from his heart too, but I swear that if I had this atmosphere with Dare and he could say the nicest words, I would be his that night.
I shifted against Kolapo. “Do you mind reading the stars?”
“I don’t understand.”
I smiled. “Stare at that star far away,” I started, as I pointed to a star afar off. It wasn’t in the clusters. “Even if you are that ‘star’ adrift in nothingness, your spark isn’t worthless, somewhere, somehow, somebody is thankful for your light.”
“Wow! That’s some word.” He said, with a smile.
I nodded. “Glad to see you smile. Someone loves you, Kolapo.”
“And you too, Darlene.”
I nodded with a smile. “That I am sure of.”
We chuckled. “You are quite confident of that.” He said, nudging me in the waist.
“I think you should just be patient with her. Dora would definitely come around.”
He shrugged. “I hope. When a lady sets her eyes on another man, she may never come around and if she eventually does, it might be too late.” He said. “I may be hooked.”
“Won’t you wait on her?”
“I will try, but sometimes, some things are meant to happen. Maybe Jake is for Dora. Maybe I will find someone else. Maybe I have just loved and lost!” He said, staring at me.
Kolapo’s words, especially the ‘Maybe Jake is for Dora’ made my heart pound. Was I ready to lose Jacob? Maybe we had been fooling ourselves about being BFF – Best Friends Forever! Or not? Maybe it was time to let go of the friendship and let him experience love.
…to be continued
By Tomi Adesina