“No, no, no” Maryam screamed at herself in her head.
She had just left her boss’s office after receiving a stern query for an expensive error she had made. She had mixed lab samples of two customer’s pets, luckily it was discovered before treatment was administered. For her punishment, the cost of re-doing the tests was going to be deducted from her salary. “And I had plans for that money” she thought sadly as she cleared her desk for the day, she couldn’t wait for the weekend, Wednesdays were now becoming her least favorable days of the week.
Being on her own had made her adjust her spending habits. Looking back at school, she wouldn’t say she was from a wealthy family but she never lacked anything. Asides her monthly pocket money sent by her parents, her two elder siblings also sent her cash and her uncles where every too kind. She still felt her uncle in Abuja was not happy she decided to stay with friends instead of in his family house. Ever since she was done with NYSC and had got a job, unconsciously everyone just let her be and so she had decided to live within her means. But with this infringement on her planned salary, living within her means for the upcoming month may be tough.
“Don’t beat yourself up, we have all made one or two mistakes” a colleague said kindly passing her desk. She smiled cutely. If only this bros knew it was her pocket she was worried about. Just then her phone rang.
“Mama na ina kwana?” Maryam greeted her mother in Hausa.
“Yarinya how are you? How is work? And your friends? Hope you are okay?” Her mother asked. Maryam smiled, just what she needed. Her mother had this amusing habit of bundling a series of question in one breath.
“Mum I’m fine and so are my friends. Work is there, just got query sef” and she went on to gist her mother about her blunder.
“Eyaa, don’t beat yourself up, just don’t make the mistake again. I will send you something to help balance your account okay” her mother said.
“No mummy don’t stress yourself. I will cope” Maryam said regretting she told her mom. Knowing her mom, her father was going to hear and insist on sending her money as well. She didn’t understand why her mother always told her father everything, especially when her and her siblings begged her not to. She assumed that was part of what made them close and together all this years.
“You are not stressing me, I offered. I just called to check up on you. Hope you have been keeping fit? Toh, take care ko? ” her mother said.
“Mummy!!! Oya take care of yourself, I have to go.” Maryam said and ended the call.
She packed her bags, said goodbye to her colleagues and left the clinic. Abuja was a funny place. It always annoyed her that there were some places that you just had to take a drop cab, neither ‘along’ (taxis that pass different bus stops) nor Keke NAPEP (tricycles that were so light she was scared whenever she hopped on them) were allowed. Unfortunately her office was in such areas. She got to the junction where she stood waiting for an empty cab. The sun was mild but it was obvious harmattan was quickly going. A black KIA Sportage slowed down and stopped beside her. Thinking she was blocking the passenger from alighting she moved forward to give way, the car move as well and stopped where she stopped.
“Oooh not now. I am so not in the mood for any of this Abuja ‘big boy‘ disturbance” she thought and tried to put on a ‘Piss off’ facial expression. The driver obviously failed to get the message and winding down his window he stretched towards her.
“Hey beautiful” he smiled. Till then Maryam had not given a moment’s notice but his perfume flew towards her from inside the car …. Hugo Boss …. He had taste she thought and turned. DAMN!!! It was guys like this that made a girl giggle with butterflies in her tummy. He was dark, obviously tall and had cute eyes. Clean low cut hair, white shirt and navy blue trousers, he smelt cooperate and expensive. “Compose yourself yarinya, you are a classy lady” she said to herself then looked at him.
“Sorry can I help you?” she asked with a straight face.
“Actually I was wondering if I could help you” the guy said.
“And why would you assume I needed help?” Maryam replied.
“I have a soft spot for damsels in distress. A pretty girl like you standing at a junction is a clear sign” he said still smiling. This brother thinks he is smooth, Maryam thought, I like his smile though.
“And what if I am waiting for a friend?” Maryam pushed further.
“Then that friend has granted me a privilege of waiting for him or her with you. I can’t let you stand here alone” he said.
“You don’t give up do you?” She asked not knowing if to be amused or irritated. He shook his head smiling even more.
“Don’t you know you are fighting a losing battle burning fuel in the process?” Maryam said. It was just then she realized he hadn’t switched off his engine.
“It is never a loss until you give up” he said and turning to look at his dashboard and back to her he added “and the car is on so the AC keeps it cool for when you decide to come in”.
She had to laugh. Shaking her head she opened the door and entered. He smiled at her.
“I’m Ayomide” he said the quickly added “Ayomide Balogun, but you can call me Mide” laughing awkwardly. She shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you AYOmide” She said emphasising the ‘ayo’. He laughed again. She liked his laugh. O God, what was wrong with her? Liking everything about a total stranger?
“So when is your friend coming? Ayomide asked.
“Which friend?” Maryam asked distracted.
“You were waiting for a friend?” Ayomide reminded her.
“No I wasn’t. I said what if I was waiting for a friend” Maryam pointed out.
“Oh, I see, smart. So where are we heading to?” Ayomide said putting the car in gear.
“I am going to WTG Estate, do you know there?” Maryam asked. Everyone knew the estate, it was in a popular part of town and a number of well-known people lived there.
“Yeah, a friend of mine has a house there but he is not in town though” Ayomide said and started to drive.
A Yoruba fine guy with no accent who looked responsible. You never know she thought smiling.
“No, you should have seen him Kevwe” Maryam pulled the stool to herself and sat as she watched Kevwe prepare dinner. Kevwe had got home and in good spirit decided to make some vegetable soup and pounded yam. But Maryam, filled with excitement and gist about her day was more of talking than helping.
“You are useless to me in this mood” chuckled Kevwe, “so don’t even bother helping, just dey gist me”. She said as she dropped the turning spoon on the chopping board and closed the pot. The soup was almost done. She could pay attention to her friend now.
“Hey girls, sorry I am late oh. Had a meeting at school. Hmmm, what’s cooking” Priscilla had just entered the kitchen.
“Poundy & veggies, oya sit down and be quiet” Maryam hushed her. Confused Priscilla obliged.
“As in, he wasn’t like the normal Yoruba guys. All gold chain on the neck, with all that heavy accent at all. No tribal mark, see his skin. Then his outfit just killed it” Maryam said.
“Basically he is like Tokunbo” Kevwe said tilting her head to the side, Maryam rolled her eyes.
“Oh, it is about a guy. I’m interested now” Priscilla said leaning forward.
“Ssshhhhh” both Maryam and Kevwe said. Priscilla smiled and held her lips.
“Could tell the shirt was a TM, a rolex watch on his hand and his shoes, damn. Don’t know the designer but it was posh” Maryam said overwhelmed. Priscilla was marvelled. She had never seen Maryam excited over a guy. But in truth she had never seen Maryam with a guy.
“What of his trousers?” Priscilla asked.
“No one cares about trousers dear” Maryam said. “A guy can have just two trousers for all he cares. You check his face, watch, shoes, shikena”. They all giggled.
“So, you like him. What’s the plan?” Kevwe asked.
“I do oh” Maryam said biting her fingers absent. “I don’t know oh. What do you think? Should I give it a shot?” She looked from one to the other.
“Well it is not in my place to say” Priscilla said feeling awkward. She had just become friends with these girls but still didn’t feel they were all besties.
“Go joh, what is that one? Give me advice abeg” Maryam said waving off her shyness.
“Okay then. I think there is no harm in getting to know him more. After that, you can decide if he is worth dating” Priscilla said. Maryam smiled, she liked the idea. She turned to Kevwe who was turning off the cooker.
“What? Why you dey look me?” Kevwe said, “You already know what I think”.
“What do you think?” Priscilla asked.
“This young lady always gets confused when it comes to Yoruba guys. Why? I have no idea. Problem is her senses tend to take leave. Besides her parents practice tribalism if you ask me” Kevwe said.
“I didn’t say I was going to marry him now” Maryam said.
“If it gets serious fa? Or you want to be dating till you reach 40?” Kevwe teased.
“Not funny” Maryam said.
“Hey ladies” Matthew called as he entered the kitchen.
“Hey” the girls greeted him back.
“I have been respecting myself but this aroma got harder to overcome. Haba from my room fa” he laughed. Kevwe blushed.
“It is almost ready. I will soon serve. What of Toks and Justin?” Kevwe asked. She was surprised Justin wasn’t already attacking the pot.
“I think they are upstairs. Oh here they are” Matthew said poking his head into the living room.
“Hey guys. Una too try oh. This smells great. We suppose spoil all of you for taking care of us oh” Tokunbo hail coming in.
“It was all Kevwe ooh. I just got in and Maryam, well Maryam has been keeping her company” Priscilla said before the 3 girls busted into laughter.
“What’s funny?” Justin asked. He was all dressed up casually like he was going out. Walked to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine.
“Justin where are you going that you spray perfume that can kill” Kevwe asked.
“My dear, bone that think” Justin smiled excitedly.” it just sucks I can’t down that” he added pointing at the food. “Toh see you guys, don’t wait up oh”. With that he left.
“Where is he going? Justin never says NO to food” Maryam asked surprised.
“Unless where he is going there is food. He’s got a date” Tokunbo said picking up a bowl to be served soup. Kevwe looked lost.
“Madam, you no wan give me soup? Make I chop the poundy like that?” Tokunbo said.
“Oh, sorry. Here dear” Kevwe said and stole a glance at Maryam who caught it and nodded.
Saturday mornings were always a drag. Kevwe woke up and headed straight to the kitchen. Picked out her mug and proceeded to making herself a cup of coffee. It had all started in Secondary school when she came home with a terrible result. She wasn’t a brain box, she admitted it herself but she was way above average, so coming home with 3 Fs was just terrible. Her dad had been furious. There was only one way out, early morning reading before school. But she found out that she couldn’t keep her eyes open and so she found a savior in Coffee, ever since it became part of her day.
“Addict” Maryam walked into the kitchen. Kevwe turned and smiled.
“Good morning dear” she said. “Just taking my morning …”
“…pick me up. I know” Maryam laughed. “Slept well?”
“Sure. You?” Kevwe asked.
“Yep. Seems the guys had fun. They came in quite late” Maryam said.
“I saw them from my room. We for follow them oh, if not for you and Priscilla forming tired” Kevwe said.
There was a noise from the front door. And soon Tokunbo walked into the kitchen. “I smelt coffee and I just knew. Good morning ladies” Tokunbo said.
“Aa ah, Toks, thought you were upstairs sleeping?” Maryam asked confused.
“Nope. I left the guys to go home with Teju” Tokunbo winked.
“Teju, Teju? ‘I’ll-pay-my-bills-myself Teju?” Kevwe asked, Tokunbo nodded smiling “Nice” Kevwe said.
“Ah ah, then who was the 3rd person I saw?” Kevwe asked. “Third person?” Tokunbo asked. The three of them looked at each other confused. Just then a lady walked in wearing only a long button down shirt, Justin’s shirt.
“Hi” she said. “Please where can I get some water”.
Tokunbo, Maryam and Kevwe stood shocked.
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Muyiwa blogs at htttp://abluntnigerian.wordpress.com
You can follow him on instagram/twitter – @mfadarated.