Routine love 1
Never ever ever ever ever go to a social function with an empty stomach. Never ever. Don’t do it. My stomach growls again for the fifth time in probably fifteen minutes. I am wearing the dress Ronke sewed for me; my makeup and hair on fleek and my shoes? To die for. God knows I will never attempt this in my life. I can’t explain why I feel tensed somehow because even apart from the hunger, I should be feeling good today. Even Baba Muri came early and the ride over was smooth. We are at the hall and the groom has just arrived. I am seated with a friend from high school, her boyfriend and some people I don’t quite know. One of the guys’ eyes keep meeting mine and something is crawling up my leg under the table. Maybe that’s where the tension is coming from. I was at the bride’s house earlier to see her mother. I noticed they repainted the house. Nice. Now, if they would just start serving food, the day would be glorious. I shift uncomfortably when the interested guy moves to the seat next to mine as one lady stands up. No! Come back!
“Hi.” He says. “My name is Fenwa.” He stretches his hand to me.
He looks handsome and quite a good catch but I feel like he is a proper Yoruba demon. Feyi! You will never get married if you keep putting all the men you come across under a microscope.
I’m about to take his outstretched hand and introduce myself when I hear it. The silence.
The sudden stillness that comes over the room is especially noticeable since the large hall is filled now with people; loud chatter and the clink of glasses. The stillness is soon followed by an undercurrent of whispers and all eyes turn to the door. I glimpse the wide look of wonder on the groom’s face before I fully turn to the door. Kunbi must look really exquisite to garner this reaction. Even Fenwa has turned. I stand up to get a better view and gasp just before my champagne flute falls, breaking into pieces. He gives a new meaning to the word, charisma. There is not one person present who doesn’t know who he is. The guests are brimming with excitement, chattering nervously. I’m sure people can’t believe he is here. He left like fifteen years ago bouncing into stardom and never looked back. I am sure everyone must be wondering what a glamorous basketball player like The Tom Stiles is doing in Ife. He is entering the hall cooly in his traditional attire which even though somehow feels odd to me, looks cute. His pink cap adorns his head. The crease of his black agbada can cut bread. I can see my face through his shoes. Most importantly, he is wearing a smile. A I-worship-at-your-feet smile. I turn to look at Fenwa beside me, maybe he would save me from him but he just looks tawdry compared to Akin. He has started shaking hands with people as he proceeds further into the hall; closer to me.Automatically, everyone has started to make way for him. He sees me and beams in recognition, walking purposely towards me. I look back just to be sure it really is me he is walking towards. I turn back to see him giving Fenwa an odd stare. Just as he is about to make a move, the groom cuts in front him and he gets distracted. He looks at me calmly one final time, drags his eyes away from us before turning his full attention to the groom.” Grrrr.
“I can’t believe this! Akintomide!” The groom’s voice is thick with excitement.
“Congratulations.” He says as the groom shakes his hand and draws him in in a manly hug.
“Come. Come. You must be the guest of honor.”
“Thank you but I think I will be laying low on this one.” He says and turns to find my eyes. I quickly look away trying to pretend like I have not been staring, hanging on his every word, fascinated. “I don’t want to offend anyone.” He says as he turns back to the groom.
“You sure have offended me. You could have told me you were coming over.” They have started walking to the front of the hall and everyone is pushing back to give them room. When I come to, Fenwa is studying my face. “What!” I snap as I subconsciously reach for my nonexistent flute. Darn!
“Nothing.” He says as he moves away.
“Coward.” I mutter as I grab someone else’s flute and down the whole content.
I must be getting tipsy. Where is the food?!
Even though I don’t want to look, I can’t help but search for him through the crowd. He is seated with some of his mates back in high school and they are all looking at him in wonder as he talks to them. I hate them all.
Finally! The food is here. As the server places the plate of jollof rice in front of me, I feel nauseated. I stand up and rush- as much as my stilletos can allow me- to the door I saw marked restroom earlier when I was about to enter the hall. I put my head in the toilet bowl and wait for it. It’s coming! I retch. Nope. False alarm. I try again. Nothing. Why does it feel like I have this ball of vomit crawling around like a spider down my throat but can’t do anything about it. It is so disturbing. The image of my food and drink left unattended to motivates me. I dip my finger down my throat; I’ve got to get this thing out somehow. It is working! The nausea rising. I dip my head in the bowl again. Just a few hiccups and then nothing. In fact, it gets worse. Congratulations, you have just played yourself. I flop on the floor and try to breathe in deeply. I don’t think I’m ever forcing anything again in my life. This is the worst feeling ever.
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you to never drink on an empty stomach?” His deep voice comes through the closed door of the stall I’m occupying. “I’m coming in.” He says and starts to push the door open before I can get a word out. I just look at him, feeling helpless from my position on the floor. My legs sprawling beneath me. I take a deep breathe and try again. Nothing. He passes me a bottle of water but I push it away. I need stuff going out not coming in.
“Trust me.” He says and stretches it to me again. I look into his eyes as I collect it from him and down it. I’m starting to feel better. This isn’t just water. There is something sour in it.
“What’s in the water?” I ask.
“Can you stand?” He asks as he attempts to help me up.
The muscles on him are hard like iron as I cling onto his arms. My body start to react to the feel and smell of him. Why does he affect me so? His face is upclose and he is smiling smugly. I hit him hard on his chest and push him away. “Nausea isn’t a disease of the brain or you think I am one of those ladies that would swoon at the mere sight of you?” He stares at me like I have just said something out of context. I know that look you were giving me just a few seconds ago! Don’t even think about acting like it was all in my head!
I look at him ferally and he throws his arms up. “Okay. Whatever!” He says and smiles sheepishly. I give him a wide berth as I make for the door. “Wait!” He screeches and I stop abruptly. A part of me wanting him to hold me an d never let me go forever. A SMALL PART of me. A teensy weensy bit. Okay! A large part. He walks ahead if me; opens the door, glances out and gestures for me to pass. “Coast is clear, tfare. I will join you in a bit.”
My hands bunch into fists as I march past him boiling with rage. So, he is ashamed of letting people see us together? Hmm. Feyi, what have you gotten yourself into? Getting hot for a guy that is on another planet elevated from yours. The bloody guy can’t even get out of the restroom with you.
“I can’t still believe how he ran after that Boluwatife girl. She is not even that fine. That fat girl.”
I’m walking past another restroom when I hear it. I stop in my track, my heart beating steadily but loudly.
“She was friends with his sister now. Why else would he even look her way? With all these correct chicks flying around.”
I resume walking again, albeit at a slower pace this time. The fact is they are saying the truth. What would he want with me? Why would he run after me if not that he just cares about me like a younger sister. I’m not EVEN chic like those ladies that were hovering around him earlier. I can’t even pronounce Louis Vuitton properly. I scoff.
I’m at the entrance to the hall when I feel his presence beside me. I look up to his tentative smile and give him a cool one. He bows slightly -I dunno, must be an American thing- and moves closer to me. Everyone is staring at us but he doesn’t seem to care. I am fidgety. He studies my face slowly, looking at each part long and carefully, then moving on to my neck. I try to read his face, but I can tell nothing. He neither frowns nor smiles. He stops for a long time at my shoulder then moves on to my arm. I look around the room, blushing. All the ladies are staring daggers at me. I clear my throat and he looks up. “Are you alright, now?” He asks and I nod in the affirmative. “Good. That means it suits you well. Let’s find you a seat.” He makes a complete circle of the room, missing nothing. I am perspiring profusely.He makes me nervous.
I look at his face again as I say goodbye in my heart.