Gbemiga returned home for the long holiday. His family were very happy that he would be in his second year by the next session. When he was able to get away from them, he searched for his girlfriend. He was eager to see her. He missed her greatly. He saw her when he came out of the building. She was in the company of her aunt and her sales girls. He tried to signal and gain her attention, but, she intentionally disregarded him.
“Why is Gbemiga moving around us like a pendulum bob?” Kike eyed the young man.
The girls giggled.
“He is trying to get my attention,” Bukky informed her aunt.
Kike stared at her niece, “Why?”
She met her aunt’s curious gaze, “We are friends.”
“Friends?” she raised an eyebrow, then glanced at Gbemiga who was standing at the entrance of the building, looking their way. “What kind of friends?”
Bukky returned her inquisitive stare, then glanced at the girls.
Kike could discern what the girl wasn’t saying. “Since when?”
Her eyes widened in surprise, “Under my nose?”
Bukky dropped her head and continued to sieve the corn pap.
“You are a big girl,” she cleared her throat, “But, you must be very careful and wise. Boys of nowadays are not trustworthy. Don’t disappoint your parents, don’t disobey God and don’t come home pregnant.”
She lifted her eyes and met her aunt’s warning ones.
“You can go. I don’t like the way he is parading us like a jelly fish.”
The girls bursted out laughing.
“Laughing gas!” she glared at them, “Both of you should better sieve all this corn pap fast,” she eyed them.
The girls kept quiet, but, giggled.
Bukky got to her feet, washed her hands in a bowl of clean water and strode to the entrance of the building.
Gbemiga beamed, “Hi.”
“Hi… welcome back.”
“Thanks. Can we talk?”
“Let’s go to the back of the kitchen.”
Her brows came together in a frown. “No, we can talk here.”
He looked around him, “Out here?”
“Yes. I will get a bench.”
“No! Wait…” he thought of his parents and siblings. What would they say if they say him talking to her outside the house?
“Look, I have already told my aunt about us.”
“You did what?!” he threw a glance at Kike. Her stern stare was directed his way. He glanced back at his girlfriend.
She crossed her arms against her chest and looked up at him, “I don’t want a secret relationship. You better make up your mind. It is either everyone knows about us or we end it, now!”
Her ultimatum didn’t go down well with him, but, he wasn’t prepared to lose her, “Let’s talk, okay? I have really missed you.”
She hissed, “When you are ready to talk, you know where to find me,” she turned around.
“Wait…” he said through gritted teeth.
She faced him.
“Wait here. I will get a bench.”
He hurried into the house. Bukky heaved a sigh of relief and leaned against the wall. He returned in a moment and placed a long wooden bench against the wall. They both sat down. She noticed a set of children under twelve playing a game of soccer under the scorching sun.
“How was your examination?” she glanced at him.
“Fine, but, you didn’t even call me to wish me success,” a sad glint appeared in his eyes.
“I am sorry.”
“Did you block my number on your phone?”
She looked away.
“Do you even love me at all? Do you even know the meaning of love?”
She turned her head and saw how hurt he looked. “What I did is called tough love?”
“Tough love?! What sort of relationship are we having if we cannot even communicate especially when we are apart?”
She swallowed hard.
“Three months. Three months Bukky and I didn’t hear from you. I couldn’t even reach you.”
He was right. Maybe she took the whole thing too far.
“What exactly do you want Bukky?”
“You are right. We do not talk. We just touch each other when…when…when we are supposed to be building this relationship.”
He frowned, “But, physical intimacy is important and necessary in every relationship. I am not a Priest; neither are you a Nun.”
She looked him up and down, “We are not married. We shouldn’t be…”
“Come on now. You are not a baby.”
She stared at him as if she was seeing him for the first time, “S-x before marriage is totally wrong.”
“I know, I know, but, even God himself will understand.”
She dropped her jaw in shock.
“Let’s go to the back of the kitchen. I want to feel you. I have really, really missed you,” he winked at her.
She suddenly felt repulsed by him. It dawned on her that they were not going to agree on that particular issue.
“I will go first,” he got up, “Join me in the next five, then minutes.”
She gave a shake of head, “I am not coming.”
He eyed her, “Why are you making things difficult for us?”
“How many minutes have we spoken? You talk of lack of communication, but, here you are, you are already thinking of touching me.”
He hissed, “Stop behaving like a child and come and meet me at the back of the kitchen.”
“God gave us self-control for a lot of reasons.”
He eyed her, “I have self-control.”
“Then use it.”
“I will be waiting for you,” he turned to leave.
“Why can’t we just sit here and talk? I have so many things to tell you. I want to hear all about your experiences at school. Let’s talk.”
“I am waiting,” he strode off.
She watched him leave. What has she gotten herself into?
She pressed her lips together and sighed loudly. She realized that they might not be able to move forward with their disagreement hanging over their heads. It would be better if they broke up and get on with their lives.
Bukky knocked on the door again. Was he home? Has he gone out? Maybe she should have called before coming. It had been a while since she had seen him. She missed him. She knocked and knocked, hoping that he was around. She heard the jingling of keys. She sighed with relief and took a step backwards. The door swung open.
“Hi…” she broke into a smile.
He just stared at her, his face expressionless.
“Em… can I come in?” she didn’t understand why he just stood there looking at her. She could sense that he wasn’t prepared to move away from the door.
“It depends,” he folded his arms across his chest. The red short-sleeve tee-shirt clung to his body like a second skin.
“The last time I saw you, you told me to leave you alone.”
“I was just…” she swallowed hard. His cold stare made her heart to lurch. She must have hurt him that day.
“I thought we were friends…”
He shook his head, “I have reasons to believe that you wish to live in your own little world alone.”
“No! No… look, I am sorry. That day, I wasn’t…”
“Your sorry cannot solve anything right now,” he looked her up and down. The sky blue cap-sleeve, V-neck, knee-length A-shaped dress fitted her perfectly.
“Please, let’s go in and talk,” her pleading eyes remained on his firm face.
He eyed her, “Now you want to talk.”
She shifted on both feet. Was she going to lose him too? She had just broken up with Gbemiga. They had a huge argument earlier on because she didn’t come to meet him at the back of the kitchen. He said a lot of hateful things to her and she ended their relationship. He exploded. She had never seen him that angry. She cared less at first, but, now, she felt lonely and distressed.
“Are we… are we still friends?” her lips trembled.
“I am not sure.”
She s—-d in breath and looked straight into his undaunted eyes.
“I am kind of busy at the moment. Next time, call me before you come knocking at my door.”
“Chike…” her dark eyes smarted with unshed tears.
“You said I should leave you alone.”
She gave a shake of head, “I didn’t mean it,” she whispered.
“That day, you did. I am just following your orders,” he backed into the room and slammed the door.
She trembled. A tear slipped down her dark oval face, followed by another, then another, till her face was flooded. Maybe it was a good thing that she was alone. She could focus on herself and God. She turned on her heel and headed home.
Chike watched her through the window. He felt he had to send her away. She cannot eat her cake and have it. She cannot decide to want him one minute and reject him the next minute. He wasn’t a pendulum bob. He refused to be tossed around like a basket-ball. He wasn’t toilet paper either. He wouldn’t allow her to use him whenever she felt she needed him and push him away whenever she desired. He was valuable and she must learn to treat him that way.
His chest tightened. He didn’t feel good at all. His heart ached for her. He thought his feelings for her would die a natural death, but, it kept on growing with each new day. It was crowding his mind, filling his thoughts and distracting him. She wasn’t even available. She had a boyfriend. Why pine over someone he might never have? Maybe he might travel sooner than he planned. The farther he was from her, the better. There was no need for them to celebrate their birthdays together. He would only be hurting himself.
Gbemiga organized a party on his twenty-first birthday. Many of his friends and course mates came around to celebrate with him. His mother and sisters cooked while his father bought drinks and hired a DJ. None of their neighbours were invited. Most of them remained in their rooms while others stood around the building, watching the young adults make merry under the wide canopy.
Bukky stayed in the room with her aunt, but, she couldn’t concentrate on the soap opera they were watching. The loud music played at the party outside the house echoed through the walls. She hoped the landlady would drive them away soon. The woman gave them till midnight to wrap up the party. She glanced at the wall clock and groaned. It was just past nine.
It was her nineteenth birthday and there was no one except her aunt to celebrate with. Her ex-boyfriend was having fun at his party and her friend, Chike was MIA. She couldn’t believe that he travelled home to Owerri without letting her know. Why was he taking their disagreement that far? She tried to call to apologize, but, he doesn’t even pick her calls. She also tried texting him, but, he sent no replies. Why was he so upset with her? She hoped that things would return to norm when he returned to Lagos after the long holiday. He had really been a good friend to her and she doesn’t want to lose him. Suddenly, she felt like going to the toilet. She got up in a hurry, slipped on her Dunlop slippers and hurried out of the room. Lucky for her, the toilet was empty.
Fifteen minutes later, she stood outside by the tap, washing her hands. On her way back into the building, she heard voices. The sound was coming from the back of the kitchen. Out of curiosity, she tip-toed to the area and peeped.
She saw her ex-boyfriend butt naked, slamming into one of the girls that came for his party. The girl’s chest was bare and her jeans lay at her feet. The sight disgusted her. She half-ran and half-walked back to her aunt’s room. Her eyes pooled with tears. It hurt that it didn’t take him long to find another hole to lodge his lustful g—n.
She threw herself on the bed and covered her head with a pillow. Why was she even crying? It was over between them. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Why was she feeling so hurt? Why do her heart ache so bad? Hasn’t she gotten over him completely?
She wished Chike was still around. He would have been able to advice and comfort her.
Bukky Alakara Chapter 18&19