Monday, August 24, 2009
picture from here
I wished the ground would open up so I could melt into its dark abyss. I wished to all heavens that I was anywhere but where I was, wished I had not been to quick to advance my entrance, wished I had not heard what I heard. They could not see me, the men whose words had floated around the corner wall shielding my presence to scald my ears. They were still laughing, their discuss freed up by the copious amounts of alcohol they had introduced into their systems. That was why they had said what they had said and why they had said it that way.
"...amazing how they just throw themselves at your feet." Sekibo had chuckled. I was sure they were playing cards because the last part of his sentence was followed by the soft slapping sounds of paper against wood. There was the smell of smoke in the air and I knew it would be Andrew puffing on his imported hand rolled cigars.
"Wetin man pikin fit do?"  Osaro had chuckled, "But you must give me the fact that I don't always indulge."
Hamid spoke next, his mono toned and heavily accented voice unmistakable, "So we are still on for this weekend?"
"Abi o" Sekibo rejoined ,"everyone is coming, no?"
"I would guess so, " Andrew said, "they better because the kishi  we had to put down for the place was not small"
"That party is going to be off the chain. All the girls don full ground. Shayo don organise. And we both know that with Fela in charge of the food, we dey kampe." Hamid added
It was at the mention of my name that things had gone off tangent.
"Speaking of Fela," Osaro began, " what is your decision?"
I had just been about to step around the wall when the question was asked and so I paused because I had had no idea that I had ever been a topic of discussion within the group or that there had been a decision to be made on my account. Who was he talking to?
"Omo, leave that joo," Sekibo answered
"What do you mean?" It was Osaro's voice again.
"O boy, if no be say you be my guy, I for vex for u" Sekibo replied and then added, clearly talking to one of the other guys, "hit me"
"Ah-ah, what happened? What are you talking about" Hamid asked
"He tried to set me up with Fela." Sekibo answered. I felt he sounded a bit angry about it.
"And?" Andrew asked and I wanted to know.
"Haven't you seen the girl?" Sekibo retorted
"I don't follow you." Osaro spoke this time.
"Me neither," Andrew added.
The game seemed to have stalled and they were all waiting for him to elaborate. Myself included.
"He set you up with Ngozi, right?" Sekibo began, "so why would he set me up with Fela?"
"I don't think I am too drunk to say that I don't understand what you are saying." Hamid returned
"I was about to say the same thing, "Osaro inserted, "what is wrong with Fela? She is a nice girl"
"I am sure, but my guy, she is not that fine now." Sekibo stated.
"Whoaaaaaa" this came from Andrew.
"Don't give me that." Sekibo objected, his voice rising, "if she is so nice, why aren't any of you with her?"
There was a brief pause that seemed like it lasted a million years. Then the others began to speak at once.
"It's not about that with Fela. She is nice and funny and kind. Reliable..."
"Fun. She can cook..."
"Nice girl, haba..."
"That's not what I asked you. So none of you would be with her either."
"I did not say that," Osaro replied, "it's just that...well..."
"We don't see Fela like that." Andrew added.
"Oh." This was Sekibo.
"I have known Fela for years." Hamid stated, like it meant anything.
"And who was her last boyfriend?" Sekibo asked.
There was an even longer pause. I knew what they were thinking. They had never seen me with a boyfriend. I had never had one.
"You mean, you have known her for years and have not known her boyfriends?" Sekibo's tone made it seem like I had some terrible secret.
"I don't think I have ever seen her with..."Osaro began, "have you?" he seemed to ask the others. They must have shaken their heads because all I could hear from where I was were grunts.
"So it is the one that nobody wants that you tried to set me up with?" Sekibo spat out, "when there was a fine girl like Ngozi. I mean, when I saw that girl, I was like, Chei!, see something. Only for the Fela girl to show up. Yes, she is nice. Even has a nice body and if I was only looking to sample, then ehen!..."
I did not know why I did not turn around and flee. I knew that men talked about women this way because women did the same but it never occurred to me that I would ever be the topic of discussion or that if I was, that I was apparently so undesirable. Things made so much sense now. I did have many male friends. They were always there for me as I was for them. Yet, it seemed like I was always on the outside looking in as all my friends paired up and had relationships. Here I was, twenty six and one of the guys.
I don't even think it was what Sekibo was saying that hurt me. He was entitled to his opinion. After all, I coud not be everyone's cup of tea either. My heart was breaking for someone else. Osaro. There I was nursing carefully hidden feelings for him. We had kissed once, a while ago. From what was being said, I doubt if he remembered or cared to. I, on the other hand had built an entire future with two kids and a house in VGC on a few moments of contact. Here he was trying to push me off on his friend. Maybe I embarrassed him being around all the time.
I was so lost in thought, I had not realised that someone had got up until Hamid rounded the corner, bearing two empty bottles and clearly on his way to the kitchen to fetch replacements. He ground to a halt, both of us momentarily startled by discovery and the knowledge of what had just been said. Sekibo was still talking,
"Maybe you can set her up with Dede. He'll take anything." he said laughing.
Osaro chuckled, "True, but Fela is not in his league. Maybe she is not your type or mine but that is a quality woman."
"For someone else" Sekibo finished.
"I think she likes you." Andrew muttered.
"Abeg, stop that break dance. But if she wants it bad, I can give her a sample of Sekibo so she does not feel so lonely. I can imagine it must be a constant dry spell for her."
"I can't believe I just realised I have never seen her with a guy. I think I just never paid too much attention to her that way." Osaro said.
"How would you, when you became friends with her to get to her best friend Molara."
"Where is that one now, sef?"
They bantered on. I stood there. Looking at Hamid and he at me.
He looked embarrassed. I was embarrassed.
They noticed he was taking too long to return.
"Wey, Hamid sef?"  Andrew asked, "My glass is dry, man"
I raised my hands to my lips. Then clasped my hands together, pleading. Hamid could not say anything. If they knew I knew what they had said, it would be even worse.
He sighed and nodded.
I turned and fled.
: What can a man do?
: Forget about that, please
: Where is Hamid?