Shit! shit! shit!
I didn’t have to check my wrist watch to know that I would be late for work. As it is, I had already missed the 7:30 shuttle. Yep, I am royally screwed.
Running my hand through my already- dishevelled- formerly-impeccable Wednesday morning hair, I let out my breath slowly to calm myself down. I repeated the routine, but gave up after three pitiful attempts to calm down. Out loud, I said “Who am I kidding? There is no way I can act calm” A random guy gave me a strange look that all but said “This sister don craze o” Since I was in a really pissy mood, I sent him a cold glare that had him scurrying away faster than his Dunlop slippers clad legs could carry him. Lagosians are incapable of minding their business, I swear.
How the hell did I even manage to be late for work on a bright Wednesday morning you might wonder? Let me tell you, it is the menace called Valentine’s Day. February 14 has officially ruined my month! I really hate being late for work, and there goes my chance of winning the “Employee of the year” award.
You know another entity I blame? INSTAGRAM! So, I wake up all bright and fresh, ready to ace my day. A quick trip to the loo, and I took my phone with me, because, why not? Settling down to do my business, I opened my Instagram app, and my day literally went to shit from there. Prior to that moment, it was just another day for me to slay, but Instagram had to make it known to me that it is February friggin fourteen, friggin Valentine’s Day. My TL was flooded with happy couple showcasing their “surprise” valentine gifts, confessing their irrevocable love to another person, and all sort of shenanigans. I couldn’t even bring myself to like any of those pictures, no sir, I’m not that magnanimous.
I must have spent far too long in the loo, going through my IG feed, because when I eventually made it out, I didn’t have enough time to have my bath, apply my make-up, and grab breakfast, so, a couple of things had to go- breakfast really, I wouldn’t sacrifice my slay for anything. I might not have a valentine’s date, but I would still look good.
Fast forward some twenty-five minutes later, and I was in my car, ready to drive out of my compound, except my car wouldn’t budge. A couple of trials later, I made to catch the work shuttle. But imagine my surprise when I missed the bus-not.
So, here I am, on Valentine’s Day, single to a stupor and harbouring a little resentment towards every couple in the world, and I’ve still not gotten a shuttle to work. Just as I was contemplating calling in sick, I saw a bike drive by. I had three secs to make a decision, to bike to work, or not to bike to work?
I could have called Uber, but mehn, I might as well not go to work again, and bike men are really scarce in my estate, so, I made the best decision I could to salvage my day, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t meet anyone I recognised on the way. With the kind of luck I’d been having all day, I would not be surprised.
I finally arrived at work by 9:00am, one hour late, but the management pardoned me, with my good track record and all. Anyways, I made my way to my comfy office, ready to put the morning experience behind me, forget about Valentine’s day completely, and bury myself in work. But no, the devil reared its ugly head again in the shape of my best friend, and colleague, Rumi. I love Rumi to the moon and back again, but that girl really does not know when to butt the hell out. She breezed into my office, looking all classy and hot at the same time in a black three-quarter dress I know to be a very expensive Chanel number that accentuated her curvy form just right, without being too tight. She paired it with neon pink court shoes that on someone else would have looked comic, but she has the panache to wear it right. Rumi always looks good, always. Oblivious to my wind scattered hair, and sour expression, she started moving round my office, chatting away at the same time.
“Hey baby! Happy Valentine’s day!”
“Are you not just excited, ohmigod, I’m so excited.”
“I can’t wait to see what Adeoye has planned for us tonight!”
“I know what I have planned for us.” she concluded her rant with a husky laugh that tells me more than I want to know about her evening plans. To myself, I said “Great, just great! When I thought I had put this behind me, it comes waltzing into my office.” To her, in my driest voice, I said
“Well, good morning to you too. I didn’t come late to work by the way, thank you for asking.”
“Oh, baby, I’m sorry. Anyways, tell me what you have planned for today.”
“Work” I deadpanned.
“Yes, I know you have to work, and so do I. I meant your valentine plan.”
Trying as much as possible not to allow the already thinning cord of my patience snap, I replied Rumi in a measured tone.
“In case you have not noticed, I am single to a stupor.”
That brought a lot of memories to mind, but I shook it off. I would not allow myself dwell on the past.
Still oblivious to everything that was my mood then, she went on
“Come on, Ari, you don’t need a man to have fun on Valentine’s Day. You can do bad all by yourself.” she concluded, giving me a suggestive wink.
That was the last straw for me, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. In my best sarcastic voice, I said to my best friend,
“Sure, and while you at it, you can also tell me how to have Valentine’s day sex with myself. That’s part of the plan with Deoye, isn’t it?” I must have raised my voice higher than I intended to, because a look of annoyance crossed her face, and she stood up from where she was seated, raising her hands up in surrender,
“I don’t know who lit the fuse on your tampons; I was just trying to cheer you up. I’m out of here.”
With that, she walked out of my office. I would be lying to myself if I said I did not feel like a royal prick for talking to Rumi like that, but I couldn’t give up on my sour mood just yet. It was the only thing preventing me from thinking about once upon a valentine’s day, last valentine.
A couple of hours into work day, I felt very uneasy and guilty. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I went in search of Rumi.
Rumi’s office reflects just who she is. Like, you would literally walk into her office with a damp mood, and feel better before you even take a seat. One of her favourite saying is “No space for any of that moody shit here, drop it at the door.”
There were pictures on almost every square inch of her wall, pictures and art works. They all told a story, and you would be so enthralled by them that you would forget to be sad, or moody, or whatever bad feeling you brought in. I have been in her office more times than I can remember, but the calming presence is still there, and it still works for me.
I found her perched on her large leather chair, one hand holding a pen she was currently chewing, the other holding a piece of paper she was working on. I stood at the entrance for a moment to study her face. It was the epitome of concentration. She had that squint in her eyes, and the little v between her brows that appears whenever she is deep in thought. Obviously, this was one of those times. I must have been standing by her door for about three minutes before she noticed my presence.
“Hi, I didn’t hear you come in.” she smiled up at me, setting the paper she had been studying on her equally large mahogany desk.
“I came to apologise about earlier on, I acted like a bitch, and I’m sorry.”
She cocked her head at me, observing me keenly, as if she knows something I didn’t know, and the look was unnerving me.
“Well, are you going to stand there all day?”
She said, inviting me in.
Finding my spot, which was a love seat she brought in herself, I gave her an apologetic smile. Rumi forgives easily, just as easily as she flares up.
“So…” she began, giving me a naughty grin “what lit the fuse on your tampon?”
“Arrrrg!” I replied, sinking deeper into my chair, rolling my eyes to the ceiling, hoping to find a way to get out of this without casting myself.
“Well…” she egged on, oblivious of my discomfort with the topic. Typical.
“Instagram. Against any form of better judgement, I started my day by going through my TL on Instagram.”
“I didn’t even know today was Valentine’s day, until I was assaulted with a barrage of “I love you, baby. Happy Valentine’s day. xoxo.””
“And need I tell you that none of those were directed at me.”
“I know I sound really whiny right now, but for some reasons, it all got under my skin.”
“You know I don’t really mind been single, I mean, I mind, but it’s not so terrible. But today, it felt like someone just ripped the band aid to a wound that is not healed yet.”
“And, not to mention that my damn car took today of all days to break down, unannounced!”
“I had to get to work on a bike, Rumi, a bike!!!”
“Let’s not forget that I’ve lost my spot as the Employee of the year, you know how much it means to me!”
I must have stood up from my seat at some point during my rant, because I was looking out her window at the spectacular view below by the time I was done ranting. Still looking out the window, I tried to calm myself down, again, until I heard Rumi chuckle behind me. Hand on hip, I rounded on her to find out what was so funny, and instead of her to be intimidated like I had intended, the chuckle changed into a full blown laugh.
“Oh sweetie, I’m sorry. You should have seen yourself just now.” she said, in between laughs. I tried, really tried to keep a straight face, but it was near impossible. Actually, it was impossible. I don’t know what happened, but we both fell into a hysteric fit of laughter. It is a wonder somebody didn’t send security to check on us. I felt remarkably better when our laughter subsided though.
“You should go out Ari. There are a lot of parties going down today. Break out of your “no partying during work week” rule. Have fun. Who knows, you could meet someone else.” she concluded, giving me a meaningful look.
I knew the implication of her statement, but I deliberately ignored her. I was not going to be baited into having that discussion, no sir! Not today.
Sobering up, I told her my plans “No, I think I’ll just stay in. I’ll stop at Coldstone on my way; pick up that cake I love so much, and maybe a bowl of ice-cream. I’ll have me a one-man party.”
“Hmmm, I almost envy you right now.”
“I said almost.” Rumi said, her eyes lighting up with humour.
“Are you sure you are ok, Ari?”
“I’ll be fine, it’s just, you know…”
“Yes, I do. I’m here for you, and don’t you forget that.”
“Never.” Standing up, I smoothed down my skirt, preparing to go back to my space.
“I will be leaving immediately it is closing time, have fun Rumi.”
“Enjoy your one-man party!” She called from inside her office.
“You know I will.” I said over my shoulder with more bravado than I actually felt.
The rest of the day went by rather slowly, and four o’clock couldn’t have come any sooner.
As an unspoken rule, no one ever left work at exactly four o’clock. Not because we were always buried in our work, but because it was the perfect time to tap into the gossip vineyard at work, and believe me, it never ran dry.
The look of surprise on the security man’s face was gold- he probably never saw anybody leave work that early since he started working with us.
Truth is, I wanted to avoid questions from my colleague
“Do you have a date?”
“Where are you going this evening?”
Blah. Blah. Blah
So, call me a coward, but I took the easiest route- I avoided them.
The Uber driver I called earlier on was already waiting, because there was just no way I was going around Lagos on a bike again. Once was enough.
We were fortunate enough to beat Lagos traffic, so I made it to the ice cream heaven in no time. I couldn’t browse through all the ice cream selections because there was no guarantee that we would beat the traffic again, I didn’t want to take any chance.
As fast as I could, I picked up my cake, settled for the vanilla and rum flavoured ice cream- that way, I wouldn’t have to spike my ice cream. While I waited for the friendly lady behind the counter to package my sugary goodness, I allowed myself to think about the shower I was longing for, and which movie marathon I would see- Harry Potter, Lord of the rings, oh the possibilities! At this point, I was feeling positively tingly. Pathetic, yes, I know.
Finally, I got by order, made my payment, wished the lady a good day, and made for the exit. My phone started ringing just as I was about to get to the exit- shit, I thought I changed the ringtone! The theme song of Kung-fu Panda, the animated Nickelodeon series was blaring out loud from my phone for everyone to hear. Ok, not that loud, but loud enough to embarrass me. Yes, I love cartoons, anime, Sci-fi, and other things people would term childish for a woman my age, but it has never bothered me, not till now that is.
I stopped where I was, desperately trying to find my phone and put an end to the chants of just how awesome Po the panda is. The weird looks I was getting from people didn’t go unnoticed by me. Just when I thought I was done with my stroke of bad luck *insert exasperated eye roll*. After a few seconds of frantic digging, I found my phone, but it was too late. The call had ended.
“Really Ari, Kung-fu panda?”
Holy shit on crackers.
My life is officially over. If that is who I think it is, and I don’t think I’m wrong, then my life is over. There is just so much emotional barrage a person can withstand in a day, no, a year, and this is pushing the scale.
Slowly, I lifted my head up to the source of the voice, and just as it was the first time I saw him three years ago, my heart literally skipped a beat.
The one time love of my life. I met him at Spoken Words event three years ago. He was one of the guest speakers, and his speech blew me away. After the show, I tracked him down to discuss something he spoke about. It was then I noticed just how good looking he was. He is not your usual TDH, ok, he is tall, slightly light skinned, with a ruggedly handsome face. But, that was not what made me lose my train of thought when I came face to face to him. It was his eyes. They were the lightest eyes I’d seen in my life, and the way he looked at me, as if he could see right through me. It was a little unnerving, but I also felt safe at the same time. It’s really hard to explain. When I was finally able to drag my gaze away from his eyes that I’d already dubbed eighth wonder of the world, I noticed his easy smile, and the cleft chin. The face was supported with a body I knew I wanted to touch immediately I saw it. He exuded raw masculinity, and I knew I was in deep shit.
We talked that night, and discovered a lot of shared interests. We both love our anime, comic books, Big Bang Theory, and a rather endless list. We were attracted to each other, and there was no point denying it. Since we were both grownups, we acted on those feelings. Dating Roye was the best thing that happened to me. He helped me get past a lot of my insecurities, and with him, I became a better version of myself. I was in love with Roye, still am. But, nothing good lasts forever now, does it? A year into our relationship, we started having issues. They were minor issues at first, but I guess little cracks can eventually bring a building down. And ours crashed and burned.
Last year valentine’s day, we decided to take another shot at our crumbling relationship, we were willing to make it work. When he came to get me, we had a little argument over something I cannot even remember, one thing led to another, and we ended up breaking up that day. Roye called me two days later and informed me that he was moving to Abuja. I have not seen him again since then, not till this moment that is. I still have deep affectations for him, but love alone is not enough to keep a relationship. I guess Roye is the one that got away.
He was standing before me, that easy smile on his face, looking even yummier than the cake I just purchased. He was the last person I thought I would see today of all days, at least, I had hoped that whenever I ran into him next, I would be looking my best. Not the hot mess look I was currently spotting, emphasis on the mess.
“Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to give me a hug” he admonished, opening his arms for a hug. Without thinking, I walked right into it like I had many times, and like those times, I still felt safe in his arm.
“Hmm, you smell good. Rebel?” he asked, sniffing me. I immediately felt slightly self-conscious.
“Yes Roye, Rebel” He bought me my first bottle of Rebel perfume, and I haven’t changed it since then. Sue me.
“Long time, when did you get back into town?” I somehow managed to keep the emotion out of my voice
“Yesterday. Wow, Ari, you look really good”
“Thank you, so do you”
There was a little awkwardness between us, and as I was just about to say my goodbyes, he stopped me.
“What are you doing tonight?”
I did not expect that. At all.
“I, er, have a date later tonight”
Giving me a lopsided grin, he said simply, without malice “That’s not true”
“You have your comfort food. Cake and ice cream. Which means you probably want to do a movie marathon, or an anime marathon. Which is it?”
“Movie marathon” I responded in a small voice.
“Go out with me this evening? Please?”
I thought about the day I’ve had, all my pent up frustration since we broke up, all the nights I thought about him before I went to bed, which was every night. I thought about how I had wanted to have a date for the day. But never in my wildest imagination did I think it would be Roye asking me, my lost love, Roye. Making up my mind, I responded.
“Pick me up by 7. You know where I live”
With that, I left Coldstone with whatever I had left of my dignity, doing an awkward salsa dance in my head.
Image Credit: Pucker Mob