I looked up from the fascinating tableau before me, a mixture of emotions. Fear, that my sister is not happy. Because why else would she have both a fiancé and a boyfriend? Or two fiancés now, I guess. Gratitude, because Bunmi’s first fiancé dropped me here and is surely on his way up. If he had seen this scene, I don’t know what would have happened. And impatience, because the sorting out of this drama will delay my own news.
He, the man kneeling before Bunmi, stands up now, a delightful blush on his cheeks. I feel something in me stir. He stares at me like any second now, he’ll begin to apologize. Which is odd because, why should he apologize to me?
Meanwhile, Patrick, Bunmi’s original fiancé comes into the office. Bunmi, who has been laughing and chuckling, runs to him now, giving him a full kiss on the mouth. Her second fiancé keeps staring at me like he’s been thunderstruck. It makes me uncomfortable. “Look at her’, I want to blurt. ‘Why do you want to settle for somebody else’s woman?” Abruptly, I snap out of my trance.
Patrick is walking toward the man, Bunmi’s face pressed against his chest. “Look up,’ I want to yell at her. “See what you’ve caused”. But I don’t. Patrick is in front of the man now, they’re saying something. Why can’t I hear what they’re saying? Then I realize that my heart is pounding and blood is roaring in my ears.
Though my sister has been a coward, though she’s probably been cheating on Patrick with this guy, I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. Nor, I’m surprised to discover, to the guy.
Then I see Patrick hug the guy and laugh and an involuntary exclamation from me sends my papers floating to the floor and everyone turns to look at me oddly.
It was like a replay of the first time I’d seen her. She kept staring at me. I kept staring at her. The only difference was that today, we had an audience. Then I noticed that she was looking furtively at the door. Then I realized that she didn’t know that I was Bunmi’s friend. To her the mock proposal was real.
Patrick burst in and distracted me from my thoughts. Bunmi ran to him and kissed him. I turned away in embarrassment. Lucky dude, he wouldn’t have to ask a girl out after (mock) proposing to another.
Speaking of which, why is Ebube here? Is she Bunmi’s friend? Her secretary? A neighbour? What is she doing here?
I contemplate that when Patrick extends his arm, teasing me to go find a girlfriend and stop disturbing his. I walk into it, laughing. Such a funny person.
We hear a strangled noise, and the sound of papers hitting the floor. Ebube immediately gets on her knees and begins to pick them up. I stoop to help her. By the time I’m done picking up the papers, I hand them over to her. Our hands touch for a brief moment before she yanks it away like I’ve administered surprise electroshock therapy. And then, before anyone of us can say a word, she runs out of the office. I find myself fighting an odd feeling of loss. I had really wanted to ask her out today.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Bunmi do a face palm. And I cheer up, because at least, I’ve got a lead.
I run out of the building and into my car. I see Frank while I’m running but I don’t stop to talk. I’m shaken. I’m hurt and upset and my brother is coming today. I don’t want him to see me like this, a basket full of nerves and barely contained anger. I need to run.
The minute I get home, I run to my room, remove my shirt and change into my athletic tank top, kick off my strappy heeled sandals and wear my running shoes. I put on my waterproof wristwatch and set it to beep once by 4:20 so I know to head back on the course and again by 4:50 so I know to get back from my meandering early enough to meet my brother. Then I snag my water bottle, cut an orange in half and suck out the juice of one half and I’m off. I run hard and fast, my wireless headphones blocking my ears so I have a legitimate reason to ignore the catcalls and “Hey sisters” I’m sure to receive.
By the time my watch beeps the second time, I’m already on my street, walking this time, my knee torn from where I fell, but a pleasant exhaustion working its way through my body. I get inside the house and immediately smell food. I check the time again; 4:52. I check the door; no one has broken in. I’m quite hesitant about going into the house still. Then the culprit shows up, lips pursed, staring at me with distaste like I might want to hug her.
Not very likely.
“Hey”, she says.
“Hi”, I reply, jogging to my bathroom. After my shower, I return to my room to see her reading my research and my business plan. In a way, I feel gratified.
She’s finally looking at the file.
She looks up to watch me approach and does not appear surprised when I bypass her to start moisturizing my body.
“I’m sorry,” she begins. “We haven’t had a deep conversation in such a long time. I know you ran away from my office because you thought I’m cheating on Patrick”
She laughs. “Definitely not. Boma is one of my closest friends. In fact, I met Patrick because of him. Ask him to tell you that story later”
“Why should I ask him? Why can’t you tell me yourself?”
She laughs again.
Then she sobers up.
“The funny thing about you is how you’re always looking to see if anyone of us is unhappy. But we’re not. Of all of us, you’re the unhappiest one.”
Then she takes the papers and without another word to me, she walks out.
As lifted from their website: Slum2School Africa is a volunteer driven social development organization operating in Africa whose vision is to transform the society by empowering disadvantaged children in Slums to realize their full potential through the provision of educational scholarships, health support and other psycho-social support. For more information, including how to donate, please go to their website – http://www.slum2school.org