Ola had been seeing and watching Tope’s movement on the street. He had done some preliminary investigations and had gotten some information about her.
Tope was the only daughter of her parents, she was fifteen years old and attended Queens College, Sabo, Yaba. Her parents were traders on the Island and they lived in the rented two bedroom flat that was a stone throw from Ola’s domicile. She had an older brother and just one younger brother. Hence, she was a little spoilt and had numerous boyfriends mostly her brother’s friends and could be said to be a little wayward.
Tope was a slim girl of five feet, four inches. She is dark in complexion, same as Tutu. Ola had a thing for slim, dark girls! She was an excellent beauty who could easily have won the highly coveted MBGN, if only looks were needed. But she was not gifted in the intelligence department. She had the right curves at the right places and had medium sized busts and very medium sized bums. Right for her age, you say?
She also is an happening girl. All parties in the neighbourhood are incomplete without Tope’s presence. She would just find her way there invited or otherwise. She was just too much for our timid and shy Sagamu boy, Ola.
Upon his investigations, he had been told to stay off the girl as she would have known everything about him since he set foot in the area. Yet, he refused and decided to try his luck.
Wait! She was in S. S. S two Arts and wanted to write the year’s G. C. E. That was what Ola saw as his advantage. He set about trying his luck as he gladly told his aunt about it. She encouraged him to start as friends and see what will come out of it. He agreed. His uncle only saw the glow in his face and countenance in the recent days and decided that all was well and sooner or later he would know what was burning on the mountain.
Ola had never approached a girl face to face, so he decide to use the first method he had learnt from Tutu. Letter!
At break time in his place of work, he drafted his letter,
Hi Tope, good afternoon or evening, whichever time you get this note.
You might or might not know me around this area. But I have been watching you for quite some time now. I could say that I like you and would like to be your friend. I know this might surprise you, but I just saw it necessary as I think I might be of help to you in one way or the other as I am a colleague of yours in the arts. I was in the arts class in my school.
I will like to know your response soonest.
Your new friend to be
He read and read it again as he put it in his bag.
When he got home, he watched till he was sure she was around. He gave the enveloped letter to a small boy in his compound, the kids loved him, with a twenty naira note and with the speed of light, the letter was on his way to Tope’s house.
The boy saw Tope at the gate and gave it to her. She smiled. It was as if she already knew the sender. She told the boy to wait a little while she read the letter. She laughed as she was amused at the timidity of such fine boy. But he was too ‘bushy’ for her liking, still she thought of his proposal to help, without which she would had said an outright ‘No’. She decided to tap from his knowledge base and get rid of him after her exams.
Tope tore a part of the paper, and wrote,
Hello, note received. Meet me at the front of the mosque after the eight o’ clock prayer for your reply. See you then.
The boy ran back home into the waiting arms of an apprehensive Ola. He had another ten naira for his efforts and he thanked Ola effusively for that. Ola read the reply and jumped for joy. Hurdle one crossed. Patience is the key, he said to himself.
He patienly thought apprehensively waited for night to fall. When his aunts and uncles came back to see him singing, his aunt knew why but his uncle was still lost.
Then he heard the call to prayer for the Isha’i prayer.
Ola left home that night for the prayer a little too early which was understood by his aunt and still baffling his uncles because he was fond of leaving home when the Iqamah (start of prayer call) is being done.
The Imam was somehow too slow for him that night. He prayed half heartedly wishing that his new found journey into romance would go well and free of hiccups. The prayers ended and he strutted out of the mosque to the point of his rendezvous with Tope.
As he was arriving the point, he saw her too exiting the mosque and approaching him, he fretted. But he managed to mask his feelings with the thought that this won’t be his first time talking to a girl, hence, he composed himself before she smelt rat.
Tope saw him adjusting himself as she approached and smiled. What she had heard about him is true. As much as he could attract any girl, his confidence level to win her over his his weakness. She can’t go out with such a guy. Let’s get this done with as soon as possible. He wants friendship? Friendship he will get, no more, no less!
They looked at each other for less than a minute when Ola spoke,
”You asked me to see you after prayers, here I am.”
Tope looked at him from head to toe as if to confirm if he was the same guy she had been admiring or not. The girl is just too pompous! She said,
”Why did you have to write so long a letter just to express friendship proposal? You could just have invited me over and said it to my face. You seem to be very shy.”
Ola did not deny the fact that he was shy around girls he wanted to ask out. He was free with others but immediately he feels like taking it beyond the ordinary, he becomes timid and shy.
”I think that is my nature, Tope. If I had waited to say it to your face, I might have been stuttering. Which will be very bad.” Ola said looking downcast.
”No problem, you tried. Only that the method you used is for small boys in junior secondary school. Or for bush boys. Now to your request,” Ola looked up at her expectantly as she got to that point.
”I accept your request on the basis of the offer of help you promised to render in my studies. I know you are a little older than I am so I believe we can work together as friends. I will see you as a senior colleague, that’s all. Mind if I call you Ola?” she said matter of factly.
”No, I don’t.” intoned Ola as he inwardly rejoiced. He saw the name calling as a sign of better things to came.
”Thanks for accepting me as your friend. You are free to check me at home but please let it be in the evenings after school. When can I visit you at home? Or are male visitors not allowed in your house?” Ola queried.
Tope laughed. Before saying,
”Anytime you see me at home, you are free to come. And I will not hesitate to come over to your place when necessary.” Tope replied.
They departed few minutes later, Tope first, then Ola. He was very happy as he narrated how it went to his aunts after his meal of Eba and Egusi with Sardine fish. His aunt was happy for him but she told him to be careful around Tope. She also advised him to study her well before making his real intentions known to her.
The deal began. To and from each others houses they shuffle. Ola ensured there is no topic left uncovered by her, all were expertly explained to her. She too grabbed and learned, asking questions where necessary till she was in the know. All along, his uncles, who by then were in the know of how things were going between them told Ola to be careful. They told him that Tope seemed to be using him as a cheap source to pass her exams, he said no. That the girl is developing a likeness for him and after the exams he will build on it to his own advantage. They just laughed expecting the day he will cry home heartbroken.
The exams came and went as usual. Tope was grateful to God for sending Ola to her. The guy was just too good at what he does. She was sure she will pass at least seven out of the nine papers she wrote. Six of which were tutored by Ola, with the exception of Mathematics which was handled by her elder brother, a Mathematics student in UNILAG.
She expectantly waited for the result but she had reduced the rate at which she visits Ola.
Ola was hell bent in trying to win over Tope’s heart. He had seen the changes in her immediately after the exams. Her general dispositions towards him was totally scornful. It smelt of dislike, yet he persevered.
On one occasion, he had gone to their house with the intention of laying it all bare and getting his reply. But when he got there, she
was in the midst of her friends, male and female, she even did not acknowledge his greetings. When he requested to see her for a few minutes, the look she gave him was enough to abort a nine month old pregnancy before its birth. That day he left dejectedly.
His uncles laughed when he got home looking like one who had just lost his international passport with visas to five countries. They told him to expect more if he did not back out. He argued that she was just testing his resolve and until she says it with her mouth, he was not stopping.
‘Carry on! Goodluck.’ said one of them as laughter rang in the room.
His aunts never left him. They kept
encouraging him and telling him that it can only get better. Poor boy, they were raising his hopes!
Exactly a month after the exams, Ola went to Tope’s house as usual and requested to see her later in the day. He had expected her to
refuse as usual, but she was in a good mood that afternoon, hence, she accepted to see him after the eight o’clock prayer as usual in
front of the mosque.
Ola went back home and patiently waited for nightfall. He was going to make the last attempt at getting Tope to be his. He was going to ask her out. His confidence level had been super charged. He was not going to be
put off by her recent attitudes. This was the night.
Tope on her part was a little unsure of the reason Ola had called a tryst. She believed that he wanted to beg her and ask her the reason for her changes lately. Something else told her he would ask her out that night. At that thought, she laughed and said,
‘He dare not ask me out. I can’t go out with a bush boy like him. Someone who can’t stop a girl and express his mind straight forward. If he does, I will make sure he regrets it. He is just an intelligent bush boy, he should wake up.’
Ola too had doubts about what he was about to do, but he had to do it and get it over with. Hence, he headed for the mosque and said
his prayers. This time, it wasn’t a rushed and divided one. He discovered this prayer brought him a kind of peace. He knew things would not go too well, hence as he came out of the mosque and strolled to the street’s lovers’ haven, he was light headed and unusually calm.
He had not stayed for long when the familiar figure which was Tope’s came. She spoke first,
”Ola, why are we here?”
All along, Ola had marvelled at the ease with which she spoke. She said so little, yet they carry weight. She was streetwise as they said.
”Tope, I just want to tell you that.. All along I have been your friend but I wish we can take it a little further.” he reeled out the lines he
had crammed from a movie.
Tope’s fears were confirmed and she will make sure he regretted it.
”Ola, O ga o. I knew that was what you wanted to say. Wait, can’t you see that you are too local for me. You are shy and timid, you can’t talk to a girl at once, you write letters like a JSS One student. That your bushness is yet to be refined and you can’t use me to refine it. Omo, o we si mi. (you are too small).” Ola was shocked. He had
expected a simple ‘No’ not this extent of tonguelashing.
”Things start one day. And you can refine me to your taste. Tope please now.” he begged and moved to hold her hand.
That was his greatest undoing because, ‘Wham! Wham!!’ was the sound he heard next. Tope had slapped him.
”You want to hold me eh? You village champion. I just used your head take read wella. You no be my type. Make me, Tope, come blend you. You wan use that bushy hand hold me. If you no comot, I go saunch you another one. Mugu!”
That said, she stormed out and left Ola who stood there, stunned with unshed tears in his eyes and xmas bells ringing in his ears.
He managed to get home and told his uncles and aunts what transpired. His aunts pitied him. The big bad boys laughed out their hearts….
He couldn’t eat that night. The image kept coming back to haunt him. He resolved to return to his former state. He needed to get into the University. And now, his uncles were right…
The female folks are devils…
…to be continued