As I turned around – almost in slow motion – to greet him, my heart prayed all sorts of prayers: that it was not really him, that power supply to Spices would fail all of a sudden and I would disappear under the cloak of darkness, that he would be here alone – looking to grab a quick meal before another one of his meetings.
I caught the smell of Omnia Green Jade for the second time in one night. As I extended my hand to ‘Koye, I saw her. She was standing right behind him.
You know how it feels when you steal for the very first time and get caught? I felt exactly that way. I went weak at the knees, and my mouth went dry. My heart cursed ‘Koye for showing up at this inopportune moment. It did not help that ‘Tomi was smiling at me, that full toothy vulnerable smile of hers. I felt like a cheating boyfriend, husband even. My epiphanies were yet to acquire legs: my heart was winning the battle with my head.
‘Koye had been so sure I would meet them here that he had called ahead to book dinner for three. My voice seemed to come from outside of me as I negotiated with the waiter to return one plate. I mumbled unintelligibly when ‘Tomi asked why we had four plates instead of three. My legs felt like logs of wood as I led the way to the table in the corner.
Although they did a great job at hiding it, they were both shocked to find that I had invited someone else to dinner. I introduced her as ‘Sayo, stressing that I had only met her that day. I also made sure to mention that she read my article and had contacted me. I was briefly excited to learn that ‘Koye had also read it, and even though I did not expect better – disappointed to learn that ‘Tomi had not. I chose to entirely avoid the unspoken question of why ‘Sayo was there. Explaining to ‘Koye and ‘Tomi that I forgot our ‘date’ would suggest that it was not important to me, and make ‘Sayo feel like an intruder.
There was so much tension in the air – you could cut it with a knife. ‘Tomi withdrew into her shell, concentrating on her food and randomly glaring across the table at ‘Sayo. ‘Koye got into a conversation with ‘Sayo about the role of the church in politics, occasionally asking my perspective on recent happenings. As for me, my salivary glands had taken my taste-buds with them on leave. The food tasted like leather, the drink like urine. I shifted in my seat and shuffled my feet – alternately happy that ‘Koye was there to keep ‘Sayo company and sad that I had bungled my first ‘other date’ in four years.
That dinner was the longest of my life. I could not have been more grateful when we finally stood to leave. It was late in the evening, and ‘Koye had to hurry to the Committee of Presidents meeting – potentially leaving me with both ladies. My heart leaped for joy when ‘Sayo said she was going to Fajuyi Hall, and would walk with him. I almost asked for her room number, my head having decided that I would see her again – but then decided against it, as my heart did not want to upset ‘Tomi further. We said our goodbyes at the Buka gates, and made for our different destinations.
As I walked ‘Tomi to Alumni Hall – taking the path through ETF – my mind went over the events of the day. It had been a long, long, day. My article had turned out a huge success; my self-confidence had taken a major boost; I had had two epiphanies that could potentially change my life; and I had met a wonderful woman who was genuinely interested in me. ‘Tomi did not say a word for the entire duration of our walk; I did not notice until weeks after.
My life changed from the very next day.
On my way to class, I noticed posters for a play at the Pit Theatre that same evening. I had always wanted to see a play at the Theatre, but ‘Tomi had never shared my enthusiasm – always finding something else for us to do together instead. As I studied the cast, I instantly knew without asking that ‘Sayo would accept to go with me. I don’t know what came over me, but I decided to run a little experiment – so I sent the same text to them both, inviting them to see the play with me. I remembered my second epiphany from the previous: I was still comparing both ladies, but for the first time in four years – I had setup an even game. Finally, one epiphany had translated into action.
‘Tomi responded first. Thirty minutes after I sent the text, she replied saying how much she hated the Theatre and how there would be too many sweaty people there. She had just gotten the latest High School Musicals movie, and would rather have us watch that in her room. Furthermore, she wanted me to get suya from the Students Union Building on my way. I just smiled.
‘Sayo responded about an hour later. She was sorry she had not responded immediately, she was in class – she said. Yes! She would love to see the play with me, and she was going to ask me if I had not asked first. There was even more. She had gotten our tickets just before calling me, so all I had to do was show up.
I let out a little whoop, dancing a jig right there on the road. Life was good, but that was only the beginning…
Written By: Koye Gbeke