The first day I stepped into the office, after the trip, I knew I made a really big mistakecoming up with a lie that I had a critical health condition just to go on a vacation with Tunji; because, everybody was acting weirdly nice to me. Well I guess it was a cross I had to carry, so I decided to stay happy and embrace their weirdness and hopefully, life would get back to normal with time.
The euphoria of the romantic vacation had finally rolled away and I was faced with the reality that: he was still Tunji and I was still Juju; two people who have a past, better still, an ugly trend and I needed something more than a romantic vacation to convince me that the trend would not continue. So we became just phone call buddies. He would call me every evening on my way home from work to find out how my day went and basically keep me company through the drive home. He knew my schedule, once it was 6:30pm, he would call, I’d connect the call to the speakers of my car and we would talk until I got home. This had become the new trend for us since the trip.
Three weeks after the vacation and life had gotten back to normal at work. This Thursday evening, I had been battling with a presentation I had to make to a new prospect my company had. He was a serial entrepreneur, he had chains of businesses that were doing just fine and finally realized that a just fine business was not just good enough so he needed our advertising expertise to move his business forward. He was one prospect that proved hard to convince that his businesses all needed a facelift. And today, he finally saw the light and agreed to meet with us at the office by 5pm so we could show him why his businesses needed the facelift and why it had to be done by us. So I had to give my all into this presentation.
Two hours past midday already and I hadn’t left my chair for nothing, not even my usual glass of water. The movement of my office door distracted me, it was opened wide enough to contain Bukky’s face -the receptionist- adorned with a wide smile, I looked at her really startled, then she pushed the door with her leg, stepped in and went,
“I am having this cake with you sha”
My eyes left her amused face and moved down to her hands which held a bunch flowers and a box of cake. Hmmm, Tunji and his gimmicks, I thought to myself, and I got up immediately as she dropped them on my table,
“You are some hot mama, two gift from two different guys in one day”, she said, blushing.
“Two guys”, I repeated, as I opened the cake and it read, ‘Eat mammi and get fat please, Tunji’ -it just had to be him with the cake, no romance of any sort-. Then the flower; it had a note attached to it that read, ‘thought you deserved it today, Paul’…. Paul? I thought to myself, who could this be? Then it clicked.
Paul, was a guy I met in a Single’s Meeting I had attended in church two weeks back.
Almost at the end of the meeting, the pastor’s wife said, “It’s a singles meeting guys, move around and meet at least two new people”. Well, I didn’t have to move around because the cute young man beside me took all the time allotted for that session. We discussed about everything important, which is all about my life, excluding Tunji of course.
“So Paul”, I repeated as my gaze met Bukky’s, she had been patiently waiting for me to come back from my journey down memory lane, she was smiling now.
“Are you really busy?”, I asked.
“Not at all.” she replied,
“Then, kindly help me share the cake round, tell them it’s my way of thanking everyone for being nice to me. Do not bother bringing my share, I am not in the mood for cakes today.”, I said as I pushed the flower to the edge of my desk and carried on with work.
At 7:15pm, I was finally done with my slides and had presented it to my boss, his secretary, our prospect and his secretary. I could tell our prospect liked the job and would soon turn our client in a matter of hours. I could also tell that my boss was proud of my work, because he didn’t stop talking about how he only employs good hands and how the clients should be rest assured that we would give their brand the right facelift in and outside Nigeria because our works were being handled by competent hands.
I went back to my office to pack up, but the thought of facing the Lekki express-way traffic after such a long day weakened me. So I sat, picked up the bunch of flowers, smiled as I read the note again, he thought I deserved it? How funny. How does he know what I deserved? I, who had been through emotional torture and back. Weirdly, this thought made me smile some more. I picked up my phone, unlocked it, totally ignored the seven missed calls Tunji had given me and dialed the number written on the note I had in my hand, Paul’s number. It rang for a while, then his very throaty voice interrupted the dial tone, I shut my eyes for a moment and allowed his voice play with my senses and ease me off some stress; then responded,
“Hello, its Ojuolape, “I hope you are having a day totally opposite what I have had, stress less that is?”
He laughed for a second and so, then said,
“Too stress less, I am getting sick of it. I had to leave work early, but home doesn’t feel any better.”
“I would not mind if we could switch roles. Anyway, I called to tell you that I got the flowers and that was thoughtful of you”, I replied.
“Like the note read, you deserve it. You know, thinking about it, it’s surprising that the meeting at the church was the first time I had seen you in church, are you a new member?”, he asked.
“No o, I am just not faithful with church going.” I replied, then quickly added, “I should be on my way home now.”
"With the description of your day, it would be unfair if I allowed you face traffic now, how about we have late dinner somewhere in Lekki, we could go to Marcopolo or any place of your choice, so you would while away time till we are sure the traffic is down”, he replied.
“How did you know I would be facing the traffic, what if I stayed really close to my office or somewhere void of traffic. Oh well, you are right, I had been thinking about the traffic before I called you, dinner would not be a bad Idea”, I said.
“How does 7:30, sound to you?”, he asked.
“Just perfect, see you at 7:30.” I replied then hung up.
I packed up, bag in my right hand, books and flower in my other hand, heels on, then straight to my car.
And, the voice of reasoning came with its usual questions, ‘Are you taking the right step’ ‘Are you ready for another guy just yet?’.
Whatever the answers were, I knew I needed to be fair to myself, to find out if there were better men out there before I ended up making a mistake by getting married to Tunji, or not.
On my way to the venue, I remembered Tunji’s call and quickly called him back before he ruined my date with nonstop calls.
“Hello, Stranger, how you doing this evening?”, I asked.
“I had just been chilling all day, wondering who was important enough to make you ignore my calls for this long”, he replied.
He wanted to do this, so I would just ride along. “I have a date, if I can call it that, oh well, just going to have dinner with a friend”
“A FRIEND!!!” he screamed, “Where? His house? A hotel? Just where?”
“It doesn’t matter where Tunji, what matters is that I thought to tell you so you do not call and ruin the date for me, you know there is no other opportunity for a good impression than a first date, so please be in your best behavior and not call. Okay?”
“Okay, I hear you, not one call abi? I would just sit in my house, have a bottle or two and most likely die from the thoughts of what is probably happening between the both of you.”, he replied
“It doesn’t matter what you do Tunji, I am here now, do not stay upon my account. Have a good night.” And I hung up.
As I stepped into Marcopolo, I went straight to the restroom to check myself out, adjust my dress and my hair, test my best smile to be sure it still gave the finest version of me, then called Paul to find out where he was and went straight upstairs.
Paul was not bad to behold, he was a chubby man with a dark complexion, a man in his early thirties and sure of what he wanted. He smiled like everything was all serious business. But when he hugged me, I reminded myself how wrong it was to judge someone by the first sight. His arms were reassuring and caressing. I had had a long day and resting in his arms just felt right. I stayed in them for about three minutes longer than I should have and was not ashamed that I did.
As we started talking, I saw him smile and laugh and play. He talks in a funny way that I found really cute, his words came out smoothly and then two out of every thirty minutes, his words came out in a rush, almost like he was going to stammer if he didn’t jampack the words together, like he had hot yam in his mouth and could not manage eating it and talking at the same time. This I found really cute. We talked about everything –excluding Tunji, remember- growing up, childhood and life now. By the time the food came, I was far gone into the conversation and wasn’t interested in the meal, but I had to eat it anyway. He was funny in a very innocent and cute way. He was pretty naïve about a lot of things and was not ashamed to admit it.
He had grown up really serious, his father had been a director of a well-known commercial bank, he admired him a lot and wanted to be like him; so, he totally ignored the world just to achieve more than his father had achieved. He spent his life reading and studying and had accomplished quite a lot for his age. -You can tell that I listened to every bit of word that he said and if you are as smart as I know you are; you would also tell that I was starting to like this man-.
Then my phone started to ring endlessly, it was Tunji of course. It was awkward having to keep silencing the call and at the point when I could not deal with it anymore, I turned off my phone. Paul didn’t ask me who it was and neither did I tell him.
I checked the time and it was far spent.
“I know you have to be on your way now, I got carried away with the conversation that I forgot about home.”, he said.
I just smiled, thanked him for dinner, got up and we headed out.
It was not until 10;30pm that I got home and guess whose car was parked in front of my gate. Yes, you got it right. Tunji’s.