He didn’t have trouble finding a parking space; the night was still very much young for most female hostel visitors but not for Bolade. He has been dreaming of this night for a very long time, almost seven months to be precise, before he left the university for his six month internship with the Shell Oil Company. He would have asked her out before he left school but the idea of ‘long’ distance relationship was not appealing. A smile flickered across his face as he caught himself humming the tune ‘Tonight is the night’.
‘Common lover boy, get a grip.’ He muttered to himself as his heart fluttered mildly.
With the car lock confirmed, he popped his collar and strolled with calculated leisure towards the main entrance of the building. The PHCN has been generous of recent and the environment was all lit up with powerful fluorescent bulbs. Foot traffic was gradually picking up towards the entrance and he could feel some stares as well as the furtive glances towards him, he suppressed a self satisfied grin and sauntered on, confidence level almost at ninety percent.
Not that Bolade had any reason not to be a hundred percent confident. He just got back to school for his final session; he was the perfect definition of the cliché ‘eligible bachelor’, a CGPA of 4.78 out of the possible 5.00. And the new BMW was the gift promised by his father if he would enter his final year in the first class academic category which he did with years of serious focus and dedication to his studies. He made enough extra money during the just concluded internship to be more generous to himself this semester; he just got a new place in the senior staff quarters and for the first time on the campus, he would be living all by himself. Life has never been better for the twenty one year old Ondo state indigene.
He cleared his throat and knocked on the door that had written H-205 on it.
A light complexioned girl with hair in rollers opened the door. She was all giggles when she saw Bolade at the door.
‘Hi, looking for me?’ She asked with a toothy grin.
‘Errmmm.’ Bolade started. ‘Is this Tolulope’s room?’
‘Oh yes.’ She turned back and raised her voice. ‘Tolu! One fine boy is looking for you o!’
Fifteen minutes later, after being introduced to Tolulope’s roommates and done with new semester small talk, Bolade stepped out of Moremi Hall with Tolulope holding his arm. The proximity of her body and the tenderness of her touch sent shivers up and down Bolade’s spine. As far as he is concerned, this girl is the most beautiful babe on campus and quite a number of guys share the same opinion. She hadn’t been able to hide her excitement of seeing him after almost seven months and words keep tumbling out of her mouth in dozens per second. She said she wasn’t hungry so Bolade drove over to the joint called Rotunda to hang out. The night was still young and since it was the first week of the semester, the place was unusually quiet. The DJ was just setting up. Bolade placed an order for barbecued goat meat locally known as Asun, got a bottle of Gordon Sparks for himself and a cup of the new zobolade juice for her.
There was so much to talk about, which Bolade found strange because he was very much in touch with her on the phone during his semester of absence from the university. Tolulope kept on with her gist and Bolade occasionally managed to put in some sentences so it won’t sound like a monologue. He could not keep his eyes off her face, the longer he stared into her eyes, the more the confidence he summoned before he knocked on the door to her room kept diminishing. Hours flew by like minutes; they already had two helpings of the Asun.
She suddenly stopped.
‘Hey! You haven’t said much all evening. Maybe I should keep my trap shut from now on and allow you take it from here.’
‘I…I have been talking.’ Bolade squirmed in his seat. ‘Maybe it’s just that I’m a bit tired, you know I had to drive to school from Lagos all by myself this afternoon and I haven’t had time to rest. So it’s allowed for you to do all the talking tonight.’
‘Awww, common Bolade. You know I know you better than this.’ Tolulope said. ‘Oya talk to me, you know you can tell me anything. Spill it. What’s bugging my dear friend?’
This moment had been played over and over in Bolade’s mind for the past couple of months but at the moment it seemed like a Herculean task, he had put this off for so long and if he is ever going to take the moment, it had better be now – he told himself.
‘Toluwalope, I have something I have been willing to tell you for a while now.’ He started.
His proverbial liver momentarily failed him so he told her the music was getting too loud, settled the bill and took her towards the car holding her hand, walking gingerly. Tolulope remained quiet all along. He managed to get the words out when they got to his car, it wasn’t the coordinated smooth flowing words he had envisaged but at the end of his rambling he found himself saying he would like Tolulope to be his girlfriend.
After some moment of silence which seemed like eternity, Tolulope finally found her voice.
‘Oh no!’ She said. ‘Why Bolade…why now? I thought we were just friends, you had a whole year to bring this up and you never came close to mentioning anything like this. Why?’
‘I wanted to, before I left for the internship.’ The lump in Bolade’s throat was impossible to swallow. ‘But it would be difficult to start a relationship when I won’t be seeing you for six months in the early stage. I felt it is the best to wait till now.’
Tolulope turned her face away from him. Her words came through sobs.
‘I got accustomed to you being there as a friend after a while, Bolade, you had all the time in the world to make your intentions known but…’ Her voice was shaking. ‘You know about Tunde I always talk about, he has been asking me out for a while now and I think I love him. He is coming back to school tomorrow and I intend to say yes to him then. I just wish you….’
Her voice trailed off into quiet sobs.
Bolade stood there stunned. He never saw the night taking this turn. He knew about Tunde and how close he had gotten to Tolulope while he was on internship but he never said him as competition. He felt the rush of blood to his head as his mind worked frantically trying to put together the pieces of Tolulope’s words and what they mean.
She loves Tunde? He swore quietly in his mind. He tried to steady his trembling hands but failed, Tolulope’s head was placed on the car. He stared blankly at her, trying to make sense of nothing.
He swore at himself again.
i) Accept defeat, wish Tolulope luck in her new relationship and move on.
ii) Ask Tolulope to hold off giving Tunde an answer and think about what she really wants.
iii) Press on; tell Tolulope how devastated he would be without her and so on.
What do you think Bolade should do?