Reunited (A Bankole Banjo short story)


“Don’t ever tell me goodbye again,” she said, tears clouding her unusually bright eyes.

 

“I won’t. I promise. I just really couldn’t take your indecision any more.” He responded with a smooth smile, his hands smoothening her wig. They were locked in the office meeting room, making up for lost time.

 

They had been hired by the bank on the same day, same grade level. While he worked in Risk Management, she was in the Legal department. They had met at the canteen one afternoon and her bright smile had arrested him. There was something about a lady with a toothy smile that melted his heart. He watched her every move as she queued to be served while he, already served, pretended to be busy with his bowl of amala and gbegiri. He wished he had ordered something appropriate. How would she feel seeing him battle a mountain of amala and gbegiri wearing a suit and a tie. “This life ehn,” he sighed.

 

“Can I sit?” He heard someone say just as he balanced a morsel of amala plastered with gbegiri. He looked up, morsel suspended, mouth open, to see the babe with the toothy smile. Embarrassment washed over him as he slowly dropped the morsel. He cleared his throat and responded: “Yes, you can.”

 

She sat with an effusive ‘thank you’. He took a side glance at her plate knowing what to expect. But he was wrong. Sitting like Olumo was amala dudu and surrounding it like Ogun river was gbegiri with a team on ponmo for company. Their eyes met. And she smiled again.

 

That was when he knew he was going to be close to her.

 

“My name is Gbenga,” he whispered.

“I am Uzo,” she responded.

“Ibo?”

“No. Delta.”

“Huh? Why…” he wanted to refer to the amala but she cut him short.

“My mum is from Ibadan. She thinks amala is the food of the gods.”

“Hmmmnnn. I believe her you know.”

“You do?”

He nodded and answered: “I am witnessing a goddess eat a bowl of amala right now…”

She smiled again. And Gbenga felt something kick in his tummy. He knew that sign too well…

 

***

 

They started dating three days later. Gbenga couldn’t get over her sense of humour and open-mindedness. She was everything he wanted in a woman. He thanked his stars he took the job when the offer came. Having tried unsuccessfully to get into AxaMansard where he knew he would get a higher position as a Risk Manager, the bank was his last resort.

 

Now the bank has brought him joy from the South. He was going to keep her. Forever.

 

Until Femi happened.

 

***

 

Femi was the debonair new Head of Legal. He was appointed two weeks after the erstwhile Unit Head left for the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

 

All the ladies adored Femi. He was dark like a bottle Of Guinness and tall like Idris Elba. And his command of the English language impressed every one. Someone said he spoke like he was born speaking. No one knew much about him beyond his professional interests. But everyone agreed he was a looker.

 

Uzo liked him the very first time. It was a harmless adoration that quickly developed into more. Soon, working late became the order of the day. If it was not Board papers, it would be some Relationship Manager’s pending case. While the late night work seemed official, many observed that it soon became a Femi and Uzo affair. Only the two of them of the 8 lawyers and legal assistants worked late.

 

The rumour mill started gradually. And by the time it got into overdrive, Gbenga knew a risk was brewing. The duo no longer met at lunch nor saw movies together Friday nights.

 

“Ol’ boy, Uzo don dey give that Femi boy toto,” Tobi, the bulky Relationship Manager who knew about them told Gbenga one night out. “If you think say na work dem dey do, you be number one fool. I even hear say dem go watch Black Panther together for Circle Mall.”

 

“Black Panther?” Gbenga repeated. Was it not the movie they’d been meaning to see for some three weeks only for her to say she was no longer interested?

 

“Baba, ja’ra e! You have to do something,” Tobi concluded.

 

“But guy, are you sure of this?” Gbenga asked, hoping it wasn’t all true.

 

“Ok o. Dey ask me foolish question. Dey there s’ogbo?” Tobi countered as he reached for his bottle of Trophy.

 

Gbenga would confront Uzo with the accusations. She would flare up like a fire disaster. He would beg her to forgive his indiscretion. She would walk out on him.

 

That was when he knew he had to do something.

 

***

 

“Baba o! Irunmole to n sise ni Bank. Iwin ti o need make-up. Okunrin ti o we to n dan. Eyan Anthony Joshua. Imule Tobesco, alaanu awon boys!”

 

The street boys hailed Gbenga as he galloped into the street, 8 bottles of Trophy coursing through his system.

 

Gbenga chuckled despite his grief. He had stayed out late with Tobi again with Uzo dominating discourse. He knew he needed to do something. But what exactly, he doesn’t know.

 

“Baba e da wa loun, e ki n se bayi,” Rasaki, the one with the bit-off ear hustled him.

 

“Rasky, eni o da. Maa ri eyin boys later,” Gbenga responded. Rasaki would hear none of it. Gbenga was their sure guy. Every other evening, he would drop money with Iya Codeine, the woman who sells all manner of drinks in a big brown earthen bowl, to sell stuff for the boys. He was loved and respected by the street. He was street-credible.

 

“Baba, e ma wo pe awa o kawe o. Ki lon bother yin? E je ka gbo.”

 

Lacking the will to shrug Rasaki off, he told him everything.

 

Shockingly, Rasaki had a plan; one so fitting Gbenga dipped his hand in his wallet and bought off the remaining skuchies on sale.

 

He went home feeling better. But first, he had to break it all up with Uzo. He opened his WhatsApp and began typing:

 

Sometimes we happen on life

And think, is this it?

 

Life is never fair

Will never be in a thousand years

But we owe it to us

To live. For self. For love. For joy.

Still we forget

Indeed we lose it all

Trying to please

Those who would never matter

 

But life goes on.

In our choices. And options.

In our troubles. And triumphs.

In love found in awkward places

And emotions battled to death

 

I live. For life.

 

I love. For Uzo.

I move on. For Gbenga.

 

 

Goodbye.

 

***

 

Uzo never acknowledged his best effort at poetry. He knew she had read it but to ignore his creativity hurts.

 

He moved on, hoping Rasaki will pull through with his plans. He was tired of the drama and the boys gist. He just wanted his babe back to her senses.

 

It took three days for it to happen.

 

No one saw anything. Not even the car park security. A passer-by heard screams coming from the direction of the car park. But this is Lagos: you must mind your own business.

 

Daybreak brought out the gist.

 

A group of four faceless guys had ambushed Femi as he opened his car. They had redesigned his face with blows and what-nots. Rumour has it his five front teeth up and down were removed and packed into his suit pocket.

 

For one week, Femi was absent at work. Uzo was distraught. The entire office was shocked. Security was beefed up at the car park to avert future occurrence. But there would be no future occurrence.

 

When Femi resumed, he spotted dark shades and his face had uneven ridges like a pawpaw. He spoke little and clenched what looked like unusually whiter teeth when he spoke. Everyone noticed he suddenly avoided Uzo like death.

 

They asked him what happened. It was an accident, he said. He had run into a wall. The lie was whiter than hissop but no one bothered to probe further.

 

***

 

“Promise you won’t say goodbye again?” Uzo asked again.

 

Gbenga smiled this time. He was not going to promise anything. He would take things one day at a time.

 

He drew her closer and kissed her forehead.

 

“I’m glad to have you back,” he whispered.

 

***

 

Iya Codeine’s was bubbling with guys when Gbenga was returning from work. As the boys sighted him, they all stood in unison, raised both hands and saluted.

 

“Baba o! Agbalagba oye, ekun oko Uzo. Your head dey there.” They chanted as if rehearsed.

 

Gbenga smiled and waved. Sometimes, the street fights for its own.

 

***

 

The End.

Advertisements

You Will Remember Me


I remember the first day I saw you. It was that day I had a big row with Anu. The argument had been over C. Ronaldo – Did Sir Fergie make him the success he is today or was he just a natural? Anu had insisted it was all natural talent. I stated it was nurture and nature else Ronaldo would have been ordinary. That Sir Fergie trained Ronaldo to demand a high expectation from  himself, to  live up to the heavy expectations from Beckham’s No. 7 shirt he got at United. initially the other guys took sides. But after heated minutes, they left us to it. By the time the episode ended, I was left very angry.

You had walked in just then. The proverbial cold water to calm me. Oh Jennifer, how pretty you looked. I wiped my face twice when you walked in. The guys thought it was from the sweat I had worked up form the earlier argument. But it was you.

Even then I knew you were off-limit.

I remember our first date. I had buzzed to check up on you. You said you were fine and mentioned you were seeing a movie that evening after work. I joked that hope it wasn’t The Wedding Party because that makes you a copy-cat. You laughed and said, nah, seeing as you mentioned the movies first, I was the copier. We agreed to meet at the mall at 6:10pm and watch together. It wasn’t a first day per se. It was just coincidence.

You were not so off-limit then.

We had so much fun at the movies, we decided to do it again. And again. And again. It’s been 4 months.

Limits? is that even a word?

I can’t take back those months. Oh! I wish I could. You’re still the prettiest girl I know. And the things your laughter do to me, if only you knew. Love found me in the wrongest of places.

OFF-LIMIT

Bode is on his way home now and you must be his wife again – the wife he left at home when he went off-shore. And I must be the best friend I was before that movie date – the best friend I’ve been since age 5. This time from a bigger distance – Sydney, Australia. Once again, I choose friendship over this pain in my heart.

Strange Bus Fellows, Food and Love in Traffic


Throwing back this Wednesday…

So I was on the notorious Lagos-Ibadan express-way some years ago trying to make it to my cousin’s wedding in time. Alas, the road had another plan in mind. The traffic was mind-numbing. All the while, Olamide’s “Yemi my lover” kept playing in my head. I don’t mean, earbuds-music-playing. I mean the voice-in-my-head-singing-kind.

Just when I thought my head wont stop singing, after about 3hrs in traffic already, someone decided to start sharing traffic tales – of how one time, they were stuck in traffic at Ikorodu heading to one of the Ijebu towns when they saw a bride being whisked away on a bike so she wouldn’t miss her own wedding.

Another talked of how one mother of the bride had to serve the wedding meal to people in traffic when she realized she might not be going anywhere that day.

While this was going on, one woman began coughing excessively so much that the person beside her started adjusting on the seat to give her enough space. This was at the time when Ebola was said to be in Lagos. Everyone on the bus began eyeing the woman like “e fit be ebola” even when we knew coughing was not one of the symptoms of the virus. The space ehn, it would conveniently take two people. The fear of Ebola sha. Who wan die?

Oh and there was the tale of a man who shared with us how he met his wife on a bus trip to Benin. With nothing else to talk about, we decided it was time to talk about how a lot of travellers miss their buses on that particular road because they got tired of sitting in traffic and decided to take a walk. By the time the traffic starts moving again, they can’t identify which bus is theirs.

What’s your traffic story?

#StoryTime: Joy At Christmas


“A bi olugbala kan fun wa…,” the children sang happily and Caroline watched with pride as her son, Dimeji presented his gift to Baby Jesus in his school’s Christmas Play. “He looks just like his father,” she thought. If only he were here to see him.

Dimeji’s father, Dare hasn’t been to the school carol in years. Truth be told, the family had grown distant in the last few years. Dare was always either out of the country on business trips or he was busy supervising the Real Estate contracts that his company managed across the country. At least, those were his excuses. Either way, Carol made up for his absence by being there for Dimeji.

But Dimeji wasn’t the only one in need of attention. Dare, the few times he was home, rarely noticed Caroline. Four years ago, she went natural with her hair. He hadn’t noticed the change, something he had wont to in earlier times. He hadn’t looked at her as his love in years either. Now, they’re just strangers living together. She knew a woman was involved but she wasn’t one to bring up the topic. Until last night.

“Who’s she?” she asked him as they both prepared to sleep.

“Who’s who?” he asked. It was the third night in a row he had come home and early too.

“Clara.” She continued

The answer came enclosed in silence. At first, she thought he hadn’t heard her. But his voice came up just then.

“She’s someone you shouldn’t know about.”

Her head erupted in steam and her heart broke at the confirmation. Clara was the reason Dare had no time for their family.

She looked at him with eyes glistening with tears. She should be throwing things at him, cursing him. Instead, she said calmly, “I still love you, Dare, and I’m willing to fight for us, to make it work even but I can’t do it alone. I can’t fight for two.”

Dare was lost for words. How could she be so willing to forgive? To give him a second chance?

“You don’t have to say anything now, tomorrow is Dimeji’s school play. If you come, then I’ll know you still want us.” With that, she bade him goodnight, even though sleep was far.

Now, she’s holding her breath. It’s make or mar. This play is the deciding factor. Just then she felt someone slip into the seat beside her. She looked up and a big smile appeared on her face. It was her Dare. He had come.

I Think I’ve Met My Husband


“I think I have met my husband”
Those were the words I said to Kay
But how do I tell him it’s not who he thinks
That again I’ve let my mind run ahead of me…
I’ve not been one to write love stories
But for this man, I’d write a thousand and maybe one more
Or maybe I won’t
Like before, I’d just let that flame flow in my veins- exhausting itself

Yinka once said that I hide my hurt
And share my smile
What’s the use of more hurt to a world already hurting?
Maybe what I meant to tell Kay was,
“I’ve met the woman I think I am”

For a world that takes and takes,
You learn to hoard yourself
And when you give, it’s without expectations
That’s the woman I think I am

Or maybe, I really meant it when I said
I think I’ve met my husband.
Just one thing though,
It happened in my dreams.

WHO ELSE HAS HAD ENOUGH OF SAPIOSEXUALS?


If in the past, you’ve asked people to describe their perfect partner and you hear things like, “Oh…must be intelligent, witty and smart” or “must be able to sprout philosophy, talk politics, health and society in the same breath. People who sound intelligent basically”, then this post is for you. How many times in the recent past have you heard this description? And just when you’re thinking, “is half the world that intelligent”, someone decides to give it a definition: Sapiosexual.
The first time I heard this word, my first thought was, what the heck does that even mean? That was closely followed by “there goes another fancy word that people will soon start describing themselves with”. Just like I predicted, the word sapiosexual began to surface on profiles and bios. Hello Twitterville.
Okay, let’s attempt to describe what sapiosexual really means and maybe I’d get around to what my problem is with this term. Sapiosexual, according to the Urban Dictionary is used to describe “one who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature” while sapiosexuality is described as “to become attracted to or sexually aroused by intelligence and its use”. The crux here is that sapiosexuals find intelligence sexually attractive. As an aside, this word isn’t in any of those “serious dictionaries” yet but it could find its way into them at this rate.
Here are my thoughts. I’m sure we know intelligence itself is not so clear cut. For example, say I meet a guy who claims to not be intelligent but who is street smart. That’s also intelligence, isn’t it? I mean I believe anyone who can survive and make it on the streets must be super intelligent because the people one would be dealing or have dealt with are people who know the tricks of different trades. This person may not be able to go from Freud to Kant to Molecular energy in one breath but hey, he could probably tell you how to get the best deals in anything and everything.
Also, look at it this way. We may all claim sapiosexuality from now till forever but there’s 70 percent chance that what I consider intelligent may be stupid to you. So technically, that means every time I say “I’m sapiosexual”, I have to go ahead to define the brand of intelligence that appeals to me. Now that’s us shooting ourselves in the leg, isn’t it?
Okay, consider this too. Smart people like hanging around smart people. Unsmart and smart people say they are sexually attracted to intelligence but I’d bet my salary that if put everyone in a room with intelligent people, most will be bored out of their minds because smart people believe everyone understands what they’re talking about. So terms and fancy words get thrown around which will be unclear to most people. Unsmart people will feel left out or stupid, few smart people will understand the drift of the conversation. Other smart people will be busy checking out hot bodies of unsmart and smart people. So the circle goes; smart people get bored by unsmart people. Unsmart people get bored by smart people. Some smart people get bored by other smart people. There’s a lot of boredom going around. Are we all still claiming “Sapiosexual”?
Let’s step away from all the intelligent attraction we claim. We say we’re sapiosexual yet how many of us are sexually attracted to our professors in school? I mean they’re super intelligent, smart and witty right? In fact, how many of us are sexually attracted to the most intelligent boy or girl in class asides the attraction of good grades at the end of the semester that draws us to them? Okay, let’s even say you’re attracted to them sexually, ask yourself, would you be sexually attracted to them if they were the size of a Sumo fighter or if they didn’t have some of the physical attributes that are attractive to you? Let’s use a typical example; say you meet a guy on Twitter. You get talking, he’s witty, great with words- puns and innuendos inclusive-, could go from Einstein to Basketmouth in three minutes. In fact, great guy! Then you both agree to meet in person and on getting there, you find that he’s uncool, got acne, is totally unkempt, looks raunchy or generally doesn’t fit into the profile you have in your head. There’s every possibility that’d be last time you’d ever talk or meet with that guy.
As much as I understand that intelligence is not the only thing we consider in making friends or in dating, we should also be careful with how we swing and wave the flag of our sapiosexuality because sapiosexuality has sexual attraction in it somewhere. So unless you wouldn’t mind ‘doing’ an intelligent Sumo wrestler just because he is intelligent, you are not sapiosexual.
So, are you still sapiosexual?