“It’s just a wedding, no big deal. “ He shrugged
It was hard trying not to show my shock as this guy just waved something so vital aside.
“Should I drive you home?”
Conversation over? Okay!
“Nope. I’ll take the streetcar.” I was watching out, to see if the car was on its way, when he held my wrist.
“You should get the RocketMan app on your phone.”
It was so awkward already. I couldn’t look at him. He sef was not ashamed, and there was not a lick of emotion on his face. This one will kill you way before you have an idea of his intentions.
I wanted to ask for his fiancée, when the wedding was? Why he showed lack of interest? But the car was coming and worse, it was packed out.
I nodded curtly, just as he did and crossed over to get in. Words were superfluous.
Christmas was rather boring. Even though it was just flurries, it was very cold. Everyone complained of the possibility of it being colder than last year. I had to soak myself into work, as Boxing Day was ‘time-and-a-half’. I didn’t like the job and truly hoped for something better in the New Year, but compared to other international students, I was more than grateful I got something to pay my bills. I also needed my mind fairly occupied, to save me from thinking of him.
I was at the Starbucks on Yonge & Dundas a week after, when I saw him again. In fact the moment he walked in, something just drew my eyes to the door. I had been working on an assignment and seeing him just made me dash under the table to fix up my laptop charger. I kept pulling and pushing the cord until I was certain he had walked past. So you can imagine how stupid I looked, when I resumed position only to find him standing beside the table.
“That took an impossibly long time. I was beginning to come check on you under there.”
He sat opposite me; the lady on the other side moved her books to create space for him. She was stifling a smile.
“Hey. What are you doing here? Stalking?”
“Yeah, indeed. He got up, unzipped his jacket. I’ve not heard from you in a while. Hope all is well?”
I nodded, regretting immediately why I looked at him. That chiseled jaw was way too tempting. Let’s not even go near his lips.
It was getting busy in the store and I watched him follow the line with his eyes.
“Go on.” I encouraged him
“Sure. Have a happy new year.” He outstretched his hand so I just had to get up and hug him. It was just a hug, very brief, until he whispered ‘call me.’
I met Ibukun at the school cafeteria. She was just blowing Yoruba on the phone; talking about how busy it has been with schoolwork and how she has not received some money as promised. We hit it on right away. She was doing a diploma in Digital & Visual Communications and was a really bright chap. Same age, similar goals, single-like me. She actually followed me home that day. She was one of those who hadn’t quite explored African stores in Toronto, making her bank on bread, pasta and rice. If I wasn’t living in a shared apartment, she would have slept over.
I had cold feet stepping into the hall. Bolaji had sent a text short notice, about a performance two days to the event. He said it didn’t quite require any serious practice. If my calculation was right, it was still a week to his wedding. I would be mortified to get there to discover it was actually his ‘own’ wedding.
The groom was Nigerian with the bride from Dominican Republic. She had done her homework, mastering all the necessary dance-steps and she was really killing it. She also took to me and followed every move Bolaji and I did. It was a beautiful event and I had no idea what to do with myself after our bit, even though I recognized some familiar faces– his friends. He had transferred my fee to me earlier in the day; so technically, there was no reason to stay. He must have noticed my discomfort so he walked up to my table. The food was great, but I didn’t quote have the appetite, in fact half the time, I was busy chatting with Ibukun. She was very paranoid about Nigerians, especially men. She had shared her experience on dating one who said she was disrespectful and acting as if she’s no longer Nigerian.
“Hey… escape plan?”
He had changed his shirt. He really was a very attractive man and clothes really agreed with him. I also loved the dimple that drilled into his cheeks every time he giggled. From his fingers, he wasn’t married— at least not yet.
“Yeah. I’ve got work to do.”
“Is school on, already?”
“Nope, next week.” I got up, saying my byes to his friends at the table, who looked prepared to gossip after I left.
A section of the building led to Bay subway station, so I found myself looking around lost.
“Which way are you going?”
“You want me to help you out?”
I stopped. I’m not sure why he was grinning. “It’s okay. I will find…”
“Is there a reason, you’ve been cold lately? Is there something you want to say? Any reason why you suddenly can’t make eye contact?” Even though his questions were direct and simple, I wanted to slap the smirk off his lips. I wanted to just walk away and never see him again.
Instead, “No. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Okay, then… there might be another performance coming soon.”
Your wedding? I was this close to blurting it out.
“I hope I have the opportunity to give you a proper heads-up.”
“Sure. Just let me know.”
And there, he was spreading his arms out again. I stepped in uncomfortably, counting–one Mississippi, two Mississippi… and on the third, he touched my nape, pulled my ear close to his warm lips and whispered, “Love you.”
And he walked away, he walked back in leaving me standing in the reception confused.
“I know them, trust me. That’s how they operate.” Her gestures were hilarious.
I was beginning to regret telling Ibukun about what had happened, as she got unnecessarily dramatic and funny. “Ehi, I swear this guy is a joke. He just wants someone on one side to be flexing with, while married to another.”
“He is about to get married!!!” I shrieked as if confirming to myself.
“What haven’t we seen? Was it not one who asked me to accompany him to pay for a hall in Yaba? I had no idea the hall was for his wedding!”
“That is just sick.”
“Exactly. Abeg leave this guy to find his level o. He smells trouble. But you like him?”
“I’m just weirdly attracted to him.”
I got no text or calls from him and I couldn’t stop stalking him on WhatsApp, to check when last he was online. He had not changed display pictures, his Instagram had no wedding pictures, and all the notable gossip blog carried no story on him. I didn’t even know where his supposed wife was from. I was dying for information. I even Googled him a couple of times, but got no gist.
I had just got home from school and was hungry and tired. I usually did my cooking during the weekends and dished them into Tupperwear containers in the fridge. I knew what I was going to eat and just needed to heat it up. I didn’t want to go through the rigor of frying dodo, as it just somehow woke the taste buds of my housemates. I had dropped my bags in the living room, hoping to just heat up my food and not have any real reasons to come downstairs again for the night. My phone rang just as I was about eating. It was even low on charge but I picked it.
First it was quiet until I yelled ‘hello’. I didn’t like the format and was hoping I had terrified the telemarketer calling to do a survey.
“Hello” Her voice was sharp. And this was no telemarketer. Congrats o! You have successfully convinced him to call off the wedding, abi? Well done. Ah!!!! You… you!!!
I picked the spoon and scooped two spoons of rice first, hoping food in my belly will help me understand what just happened.
She blames me for this?
He called off the wedding?
Hold up… Aunty Bodunrin had my number?
© Oyster Finney
Happy New Year family.