7 MONTHS LATER
Patrick is pacing and disturbing my concentration. I huff angrily.
Boma smirks at me.
“You’re disturbing me. Sit down, please”
“Then I can’t help you”
He sits down and gives me a distracted frown. “I’d be happier sitting down if we’ve come up with the vows already”
“Boma, are you getting married this week?”
“Not at all!”
“Ebube, are you getting married this week?”, Boma asks in return.
He glares at me. I glare back at him. He drops his eyes, “I’m sorry. I’m just frazzled”
“I understand. But if you want us to help you write your vows, you need to stop distracting me”
“Alright. I’m sorry.”
“Not a problem. Now tell us, what do you think about Bunmi, what do you think when you see her?”
He relaxes and smiles. “She’s so pretty. Very bossy. She’s very funny even though she doesn’t think so and yet she’s so vulnerable, you can’t help wanting to protect her. She’s there for me every time, even while we were broken up. I forgot to be scared about how my family will relate with her, because the very first time she met them, she fit in so perfectly with them. These days when I go home to visit, my mom asks about her even before she asks about me. No matter how busy she is, she always carves out some time to take care of the people she loves. I used to measure my life by milestones; when I got my first car, my first great job, when I moved out, when I started building a house. These days I measure my life by her. I used to believe there was no one in the world who could see the me that no one else saw. The inner me. Mostly because I never let them see it. But she sees it and she’s still here. She’s my best friend. I’ve dated a lot. I used to date like it was going out of fashion but until I met her, it was all meaningless to me, sorry Boma. She makes me feel complete. Happy. I can only hope that I do the same for her”
I smile at Boma, he smiles at me. Then we both smile at Patrick.
“What?”, he asks.
“You owe me a Large Shortbread pack for wasting my time”
“You owe me a Jumbo sized bag of Skittles”
“But we haven’t come up with anything yet. That’s why I called you.”
“We haven’t? Ebube, you were writing, right? Could you read back what he said, in the form of vows?”
I deepen my voice. “You’re incredibly beautiful, very bossy and yet so vulnerable, I want to take care of you. You’re there for me, every time. I want to be there for you forever. You love my family so much, you’ve displaced me in their affections and though I haven’t been able to do the same in your family, I vow to keep trying. And, failing that, as I inevitably will, I vow to be the best little brother, big brother, son and uncle that I possibly can be to your family members, who are now mine.
You see the inner me, the unattractive parts of me and still you’re here. I can’t say I’m looking forward to smelling your morning breath but I want to wake up with you as many times as life allows us. Because you are my best friend. The best friend I’ve ever had. And I vow to keep trying to make you as happy as you’ve made me. As happy as you constantly make me. So help me God”
“I said that?”
“I embellished it a little, but yes, you did”
“You owe me two large shortbreads”
“You owe me two jumbo sized Skittles”
“How long do we have before your sister’s flight arrives?”
“5 hours and 21 minutes left.”
We get into her car and she drives to the closest cinema. We take a look at the movies showing, choose one, get our tickets and then get some snacks.
“I miss Calabar”, she says.
I don’t respond.
“It was so peaceful”
“Are you going to open your Shortbread soon?”
She rolls her eyes and passes it to me.
Soon, it’s five minutes to our movie and we get on the queue that has formed.
We get into the movie theater, it’s an action movie and although it’s great, I’m not paying it any attention. I sneak a glance at Ebube, she’s engrossed in the movie and sharing her small chops with the teenager on her other side. Some things never change. I smile and I study her face covertly. I don’t know when or how it happened but somehow, Ebube and I have settled into a relationship of sorts. No definition as yet, but as I watch her leave the piece of chicken to the guy, I begin to come up with a plan to get her to want to define our relationship.
When the movie is over, there’s still 3 hours left till my sister’s flight is supposed to land. So Ebube suggests that we check out a go- karting arena nearby. Despite the fact that I’ve been driving for over 10 years, I keep getting into accidents which are quite painful despite the sport being a mock version of driving. Ebube on the other hand is zooming around the track and does not seem to have any problems navigating the surprise obstacles.
Soon after, when our laps have finished, she comes to check on me, wearing a naughty smile. “Were you looking at me? You hit so many things, it was as though you were staring at a bright light only you could see”
“Nope. I was thinking that given the situation at the airport, it would be best if we got something to eat right now. What would you like to eat?”
“Actually, I was thinking that I’d like to go another round. You know what I like. Order for me”. Then she shuts one eye at me and bounds off.
So, I go the bar and order two glasses of Chapman and food for the both of us. Then I notice a girl seated by my right, staring at me. Every time I turn to look at her, she shifts her stare to her phone. I signal the waiter for a third glass of Chapman.
When I get back from my extra rounds of go karting, I’m not surprised to hear my belly grumbling. There’s less than 2 hours left until Stephanie’s flight arrives and I’m hoping she’s as nice as she sounded on the phone. I get into the enclosure where I left Boma and I see him laughing with a girl, both of them sipping Chapman.
Now what do we have here?
I stand by the door watching their body language. Hers is clearly conveying interest. His? Not so much. Then why is he still talking to her? He has a right to talk to anyone he wants. He’s a human being, I remind myself.
But he has kissed me. We’ve hung out. We’re pretty much dating.
Are you sure he knows that you think of him as your boyfriend?
No. So, how do I handle this? With grace and serenity. I saunter toward them. “Heyo!”
“This is Ebube, my friend. Owner of the Chapman with the melting ice blocks and certifiably terrible at winking”, he says.
Oh, so that’s how it is. He’s obviously trying to make me jealous. Well, two can play that game. I take my Chapman and sit at the other side of the girl.
“Hey, its nice to meet you. What’s your name? And what’s the name of that book on your phone?”
By the time I finish my food, the Chapman and a glass of water, Ebube and Morayo are eating from the same plate and laughing like co- conspirators at something. Morayo’s chair is facing Ebube’s and they’re both bent over, watching a video on Ebube’s phone. A video!
It is a sad day when a guy has to pull away his friend who he was trying to make his girlfriend from the person he was trying to use to make her jealous. A sad day indeed.
I had to wait for them to exchange numbers and for Ebube to get another plate of food to go. Morayo barely even looked at me but she gave Ebube a hug. It’s a sad day indeed.
“Boma, do you want to share?” she asks me.
We’re at the airport parking lot now. Since we’re not allowed to wait inside, we’re sitting in the car. I’d emailed my sister to call me when she gets off the plane and reunites with her baggage. The last time she visited, I’d come by 1pm and left by 8. Never again.
“Sure” I pick a chip. “You and Morayo really hit it off, right?”
“Well, she’s nice and direct. You know how much I like nice and direct people. We’ll be hanging out sometime next week or maybe this week, after the wedding”
“Did she tell you if she has a boyfriend?”
She stares at me. “No, she doesn’t. But she did mention that she has a twin brother who is single. I could call her right now and set up a double date. Should I?”
I’m saved from replying by my sister’s phone call.
We go meet her, wordlessly.
When she catches sight of us, she gives me a wide grin and then runs into Ebube’s outstretched arms.
You’ve displaced me in my family’s affections.
And suddenly, it’s clear to me what to do.
Apparently God was listening when I asked him to let her be nice. She has consistently chattered at me all through the drive home. We’re both in the backseat. Boma is driving. I want to include him in the conversation before I remember what he said earlier. His question got me thinking, “Do I actually want this relationship?”
He’s kissed me. Many times. We’ve hung out, talked about how many kids we want (Him- 2, me – 1 and he’s always sending me articles about the benefit of having more than one child), since we embarked on this, whatever-this-is, I’ve come home 6 times and he’s met me 6 times. It’s unheard of for me to return so many times. And if what his father said is true, it’s unprecedented for him too. What the heck have we been doing if he had the nerve to ask about someone else?
I need to think. I really need to think.
We’re at Boma’s house now and I’m smiling and nodding my head at Stephanie’s story of a blind date she went on. She’s watching her father closely while attempting to look innocent. It’s obvious to me that he’s her boyfriend now. Then Boma moves closer to me. A simple change in position and yet I’m done.
“Steph, will you see me off?”
“Oh my, look at the time. I forgot that you don’t live with us. Of course”
He comes over to me and gives me a big hug and pinches my cheek. “See you at the wedding?”
“Save me a dance”
“It will be my genuine pleasure”
Then we walk out.
Near the gate, I notice that Stephanie is staring at me with open curiosity. “There was a time I wasn’t sure about you”
“Hmm, why not?”
“The way my brother and father spoke about you, you seemed too good to be true. I’ll confess, one of the reasons I came back was to check you out.”
“And the second reason?”
“To see my ex boothang get married.”
“You dated Patrick? How? When? Oooh, now I get why he said sorry to your brother”
“How? Very easy. He was my first boyfriend in fact. When? For an extremely short period of time but we kept hanging out together because watching my brother glare at us was too damn funny. And he said sorry to Boma. Why?”
“We were helping him write his… Forget I said anything. Just ask your brother about it”
“Okay. Don’t you want to hear my verdict on you?”
“I knew you’d eventually get there”
She smirks at me. “I like you. You’re sassy, funny and kind. Not many girls would stay over an hour in a house with someone they’re upset with without making a scene”
“How did you know I’m mad at your brother?”
“I love to study people. You didn’t bring him into conversation in the car, or in the house and you keep calling him ‘my brother’, instead of using his name”
“Since we’re dishing out personal advice, I’ll advise you to tell your father the truth. That you’re dating that guy you mentioned. Have been dating him for a long time in fact.”
“Touche. Want to hang out tomorrow?”
http://www.gofundme.com/4hrrcx4jhzw- For the health and home of someone.
http://www.gofundme.com/rcx4jhzw – Debbie’s Funeral costs