The first time I set my eyes on him, my heart skipped two beats, and I rebuked it to be still. I had never beheld so gorgeous a man in my entire life! We were attending a leadership conference on the Lagos Island, and he was trying to convince Dayo, my headstrong bachelor friend, to open a ‘happy bubbly kids’ account with Societé Bank for the children he did not have. He won.
On the third day of the conference, we were divided into groups, and I was glad to observe Akin, as I would later find out his name to be, take his seat right next to mine. He smiled courteously, and I restrained myself from smiling too broadly. As our group interacted, trying to figure out the solution to the puzzle that lay before us, Akin suggested cogent points in the most alluring voice I ever heard. He was voted the most proactive participant of the conference. He didn’t know he had standards to meet on my scale, but he was fast gaining points.
I must have long hibernated because I didn’t know Akin was a neighbor who had moved in next door two months now. I received the update with immense pleasure. News about Akin was good news.
Without knowing it, I had by heart learnt Akin’s schedule. I knew when he left for work, when he came back, when he did his laundry, went shopping, went to church, and even when he cooked. I usually guessed when he went to bed, and I am sure I must have been right. So, every morning, I arose just before 5.30a.m to catch a glimpse of my prince charming as he drove to work somewhere on the Island, in his modest Toyota Camry (2007 model)… away from me. My soul bade him well, certain that one day he would drive right into my heart, and nestle in my arms.
We got on quite well, Akin and I, and over time, a little too well. We strolled to every place every time we got the chance, and I counted down to our next meeting. I loved the way he mispronounced my name , ‘Aderinola,’ he usually said (emphasizing the ‘n’ as my Igbo friends did) with a twinkle in his eyes, even though I had told him my name was ‘Derin’ the first time we met.
In church, he danced just the right manner… not so vibrational, not too static, and bending at exactly the right angle. I was sure even God himself was pleased.
Many times I thought Akin was just a dream. He possessed what my colleague at work called the TDH-GR factor- tall, dark, handsome, God-fearing (for emphasis sake, tongue-speaking), and rich… Truth is, he actually possessed more than that factor. We were same tribe (Ijebu)- so I was certain we would not have parental opposition. Akin, though reserved was such an eloquent speaker. He was also a powerful dresser with an excellent physique and never failed to smell nice. Once in a while, I asked God how he could possibly have constructed such perfect nose and set of teeth on Akin’s face. And his lips, oh, his lips- I wondered what it would feel like to kiss them.
Before I met Akin, I was convinced no such perfect man for me existed. I was prepared for a flawed man. Maybe short with a broad nose, or too lanky with a crooked smile, or a good-looking dude who ‘shelled’ a lot!
Thursday, 7th of April, 2011, was Akin’s twenty-sixth birthday. That was the eight month of our knowing each other. I had been saving a month for that day, and from my humble earnings, had bought him a Gucci wrist watch. Even though it had cost a fortune at the time, you’d agree with me that an investment is never a waste.
I was going to present his gift to him when he came back from work, which was usually at 6.30p.m. So, I put on a simple dress, and light make-up, and wore very little scent, careful not to look overly excited. I stood before the mirror and practised my best smile. Then I waited…
Determined not to be impatient with him, I sat by the window of my room which afforded me a perfect view of the neighbourhood. With a book in my hand, even though I was certain I would not read it, I waited one hour forty-eight minutes.
I sighed in relief as his car drove in at 8.18p.m. He came out, walked around
the car and opened the opposite door as well. Then, out she came, a petite-looking creature, and I was not sure who was more beautiful, she or I? They dashed into his apartment hand-in-hand, and almost immediately, came out giggling. They both leaned against his car and talked some while. I was slightly irked when she tilted her head backwards, and laughed in what I was glad to assume was a shrill voice.
That night, Akin went so close to Miss Shrilly… So close it could not have been a sister-in-the-Lord thingy.
I heard my mom call out for dinner from down the stairs, and that night, I wiped the tear that had settled comfortably on the bridge of my nose.