I’m sorry guys that I have been a little out of the norm typical of Bybarh. I will fix it. Routine love is coming to an end soon. 😉
He is using his thumb to lightly graze my knuckles. I can’t concentrate while he is doing that. Oh lord, help me with this man, I feel like I’m about to bite more than I can chew. “Yes. Yes, I will.” I nod, enthusiastically. Anu would shit her pant if she knew that I was being spontaneous right now.
“Yeah?” He asks, excitedly and pulls me in for a long kiss. I’m briefly dumbstruck but then I melt into him and deepen the kiss. I want this moment to go on forever and ever and ever. “Tfare?” My eyes are closed and I’m floating. Wait. Did someone call my name? Someone is shaking my shoulders gently. I open my eyes into Akintomide’s and for a moment, I glimpse pure joy. He pulls me close and kisses me in the middle of my head muffling something. “Okay, pack your stuff.” He says in a gruff tone.
“Eeerr. Why?” I ask, uncertain.
“You are moving to my place.”
I chuckle nervously and pull out of his embrace. “No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. We already discussed it. I told you I wasn’t comfortable with only you here.” He says and I know he is determined but that doesn’t stop me from giving it one last shot.
“I can invite my friends over?”
“And how is that going to help? You have two options. It’s either you come stay with me or we cut all this and you go home to your father. I can’t live with knowing that I was instrument to any harm done to you.” He says, incensed and I get a glimpse of the young Tomide. The one always worried sick for others. I see all the little signs here and there in his body. I think it was my mind that conjured up the fact that he is different from the guy I used to know but he is every bit my Akintomide Akintilo. I feel an ache in my chest and I just want him to just be an ordinary guy. A banker or even a lawyer. A 9-5 job. Family and all that. If wishes were horses.
“What are you doing?” I ask. He is looking through my closet for God knows what.
“Don’t you have a duffel or something?” He asks and turns to me. “What exactly are you afraid of? I’m not going to do anything you don’t want to do. You know that.”
That’s exactly my fear. “I know.”
“Okay the. It’s settled. We go to my place today then we leave for Lagos on Sunday or Monday.”
“What about the other stuff?”I ask, clearly not able to say surrogate.
“We can settle that later.” He says, looking mildly uncomfortable.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought it was urgent?”
“Stop being such a worrier. Live in the moment.”
Okay. I’m not comfortable with all this but I’m just going to live in the moment. “Where are we staying again?”
“My pop’s.” Is his simple reply.
“Okay.” I say and relax into the seat.
“Please fasten your seatbelt.” He says and I comply.
“Has the Ooni invited you to his palace?” I ask as we zoom off to his Lagos. It was typic of the H.I.M to invite dignitaries to his palace especially when they are in Ife,
“Yes. Been there once.” He replies.
“Really? What’s the place like? Tell me!! How close were you to him? I mean physically.” I ask.
“Haven’t you ever been to the place?” He asks, incredulous.
“Haven’t.” I reply simply.
“Never.” I confirm and roll my eyes.
“You’re in your final year but you have never been to the palace? My rough estimate would be that you have at least four years in this place.”
“Yeah, cause of strike actions.” I say and he groans. “What about you? You’re a native of Ife but you have been to the palace only once.” I accuse.
“Do I have to remind you where I have been for the past 14 years of my life?”
“Well, but you spent the first fifteen years of that life in Nigeria.”
“Fifteen of which I spent in Lagos.”
I can’t believe we are arguing about this. “I can’t believe we are actually arguing about this.”
“You’re right.” He says, raising his hands in defeat thereby removing them from the wheel.
“What are you doing?” I screech.
It’s very late when we get to Lagos. He sure took his time on the road. Stopping to buy every local food ware. He missed the ones he is familiar with and wanted to try out all the new ones so he stopped to buy them all even though he spat them all out and had to get down thrice of four times to vomit. I’m surprised he hasn’t lost weight from all the vomiting. We get gown in front of the house I used to come to as a child and get this nostalgic feeling. He gets down and helps me bring down my luggage. There is a brief moment of panic but then I tamper it down. These are Ronke’s parents. I’m not going to have any troubles with them.
“Help me ring the bell.” He says and I oblige but there is no answer. I ring it a few more times but still no response. He shifts the strap of my luggage to his shoulder, pushes me gently to his back then reaches for his keys in his pocket. “Stay behind me.” He murmurs and my heart starts galloping. “It may be nothing but this is unusual. I told mum I was coming home.” He slots a key from the bunch into the keyhole and turns as silently as he can manage. When the lock gives, he turns the knob gently and walks in. I follow behind him even though at this time, my heart beat has reached two hundred cycles per minute. He is really scaring me and I sincerely hope it’s not one of the pranks he has been pulling on me these past two days I was at his place at Ile Ife. One step; another one. One silent step at a time. I swear if he is prancing me again…
Until that moment, I hadn’t realised I was holding my breath. I let it out in great relief and open my eyes- I didn’t know they were closed too- to see a mirage of people crowded in the sitting room. There were decorations everywhere and a large banner read welcome, tom stiles. I step out from behind him and try to join the crowd without being noticed. Two ladies walk forward; grab the luggage from him and disappear.
“Wow. This is definitely a surprise.” He says, hugging people.
My heart sputters on a mixture of anticipation, dread and despondence as my eyes scan the throngs of top-fashion, highest-class denizens of the party being thrown in his honor. What am I doing? This is all wrong. There would be embarrassment, consternation followed by distance and decorum if things ever worked then failed. He gets lost in the crowd and totally forgets me leaving me every bit remorseful. I wish at least Ronke was here. I haven’t felt so desolate in a long time.
“Excuse me? Are you his friend? I saw you come in with him.” A very cute guy is asking me.
“No.” I reply with a smile, glance at him briefly with the models hanging off of his arms, giggling at every syllable that comes out of his mouth,he hasn’t even remembered me. Christ. Was I brought here to be ridiculed? “I’m best friends with his sister.” I say and even as I say it, I know it’s a lie. Was is the right word. I was. Oh God. What am I going to do? I spare that jerk a glance again. Still engrossed. Tchh. I need to call my best friends. “Excuse me. I need to make a call.” I say to the cute guy in front of me and walk to a corner.
“I should be back very soon, maybe tomorrow? It was a knee jerk thingy. I know! Don’t tell Anu. Yeah. Okay. LOVE ya too.” I say into the phone, disconnect and tap my head with my phone like hundred times, punctuating each smack with stupid. I turn, hoping that the cute guy hasn’t left but running smack right into him. What? Was he eavesdropping?
I send him a glare and he starts to stammer out an apology.
“Nonso, what are you doing with my girlfriend?” Akintomide asks behind me sending me a death glare.