“This was one of the main problems with living in a small town and that, the same town in which you grew up. I often met people I did not like meeting, people like Patrice. Well, with us having just one supermarket, one cinema house, one hospital cum clinic and all, it often proved difficult avoiding people, which I always generally tried to do. Even coming here at a time like this, when I guessed most of town was either working or at home, but all generally indoors because of the intense heat, such people tend to go contrary to expectations and be just where you did not expect them to.
Well, I had had practice on how to deal with such ‘situations’ so I drew myself up to my full height, almost approaching a proud strut, offered a curt nod and clipped “Good day!” and went my way. I was here to pick up some compulsory supplies otherwise I would not have come this way at all. As I went along, I thought of how my fortunes were changing and the tides were moving in my favour this time. Things were now quite close to the way I had hoped they would be. Well almost…and almost was the best a girl like me could hope for, better than a girl like me deserved!”
What a day that was! So remarkable was it that I had to enter it into my diary with all its details.
I remember Kelani. I had met him in school. I had seen him around, even had an opinion about him but although we belonged to the same association, we never really moved around in the same circles if you get what I mean. Besides which he was in his third year and I was in my second in absolutely different courses of study. When I joined the Association of Future Leaders (AFL), I heard about him. He was practically royalty as far as the AFL was concerned. His parents had been in that same school, in the same group and his mother was presently the Matron of that branch. Almost every girl I knew wanted to be ‘connected’ to him in any way possible. Well, I did not know he even knew my name until a committee was set up to raise funds to upgrade a library for one of the secondary schools we were affiliated with. He was chairing the committee and I was a member. We had about a year to raise N1.5 million, quite an amount, but it was considered part of the training for us as leaders. The first time there was a meeting and I raised my hand to proffer an idea, he asked me to speak, calling me by name. I remember being stunned briefly by his wide smile, then putting myself together. Thank heavens I was able to.
After the meeting, he sought me out and commended me on that idea; he said it was one of the smartest ideas he had heard since the committee began work and would and asked if I would like to discuss it over lunch. I was remarkably surprised. I did not have ‘Kelani-fever’ like some other people I knew. On the contrary, there was this air around him I did not like. But I was determined to be adult about things and so I agreed. It was a nice date. I must admit even now, thinking about it in retrospect, I had fun. We had very interesting, intellectually engrossing conversations about all sorts of topics; ranging from politics and national issues to fashion and Nollywood. By dessert, I had completely changed my mind about him. He was no longer as bad as I thought. I still maintain that; Kelani was as close to a perfect gentleman as anybody else I ever met. Till date, I catch myself wondering where I went wrong and if he would ever know how much he hurt me. I would like to think my heart has healed completely. Healed of what? He never did say anything even though his actions said everything or did I read him wrong? Well, like I said, I still wonder.
After the date, we got real close. Under the guise of working on the same committee and developing my idea (which we were actually doing), we often sought out each other’s company and spent quite an amount of time together. Mutual friends told me they saw him glow whenever I was around and some of them even started calling me his ‘Mrs’. It was then I even began to consider a possibility of him being ‘The One’. The more I thought about it and the more he paid me attention, the time we spent together, the things he said to me and the tone or way in which he said it, the things he did, the way he would stroke my cheek after we had not seen each other for a while, everything just pointed me in that direction. I genuinely thought he liked me and then found that I liked him too. I felt lucky that he would choose me, above all the ‘competition’, some of which had been his friends before we ever even spoke to each other.
It was practically settled in my mind that he was ‘it’ when one day, during our usual Wednesday lunch – it had been usual for about three months- about eight months after our first date, he said he had something very important to tell me and that it was good news.
…to be continued…