The car horns blared incessantly. Ware hawkers stood on the road trying their best to market and sell their goods. The cool evening breeze hit the airwaves in the city of Lagos as the ubiquitous Lekki-Ajah Expressway traffic jam took pre-eminence of the area. The air was super charged with excitement as Lagos hustlers bustled everywhere, anywhere away from the workplace. Smiles were freely shared, handshakes given without reservations and shoulder hits trended as bus parks and car parks became instantly filled at the 5PM chime of the clock. It was a God given privilege to be done with work for a week, an opportunity everybody relished, a freedom every worker looked forward to receiving. As was the order of events several drivers tried to shunt already established queues, while others were content sitting behind the steering wheel lamenting about the state of the nation. The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, officials loitered in strategic positions, hoping to catch one driver who would break the law, or at least be in the process of breaking the law. This was Friday, and such culprit would not be spared. In Lagos, there was nothing more refreshing than the taste of the weekend.
Everyone in Lagos lived for this day; everyone but her, Lara Saura.
The classic Nigerian lady, Lara Saura loved work more than life. Beauty and brains, she was an overstatement by God. She boasted of an IQ that would put Marie Curie on edge; and was a fine specimen of a woman, a lady of class and style. She had everything going for her. CEO and founder, LiveWire Corporation, proud owner of an apartment which her father built for her, Lara was doing OK for herself. Chief Saura, a big oil tycoon was a wise man. He set up his first daughter for a fast-tracked career. He had positioned her to build a career in a field dominated by men, the Information Technology field. This way, he figured, as a beautiful woman with enough brains, she would gain loads of favour from men. He was right.
Lara had become the face of Information Technology in Nigeria. Artistes spend lifetimes trying to create the level of perfection she presented with her round white eyes, narrow nose and constantly wet lips.
“Swept away on a wave of emotion. Over-caught in the eye of the storm. And whenever you smile. I can hardly believe that you’re mine. Believe that you’re mine. This love is Unbreakable. It’s unmistakable.” Lara sang at the top of her voice, overshadowing the song emanating from the car radio speakers. “O Westlife!” She said with a huge smile on her face. Her routine was simple; leave home for work in the morning, leave work for home in the evening, continue work at home into the night and finally sleep and restart the routine. Once or twice, church going was thrown into the mix. As she sang, she remembered the time when music classes had been refused by her dad. Instead, lesson teachers had been gotten and she had had to attend finishing schools. Whilst in the university, during her summer breaks, she had worked in various companies under her father’s influence and had used the opportunities wisely, taking several certification exams. Lara had been sitting for her final exams when companies came falling over themselves to have her work for them.
As she pulled into the Orange Dew filling station off Ado-Badore road to get a fuel re-fill, she wondered why it was empty and devoid of both customers and attendants. Her non-compact crossover SUV Toyota Matrix purred as she moved the automatic gear stick to the park position. In a bid to wait for a few moments for an attendant, Lara whipped out her blackberry and started replying pings and messages. Her fingers typed furiously as she wrote one-liners like LOL to epistles. She snorted with a little smile on her face when she read the message from Jumebi, her younger sister.
“Food! I’m hungered!”
Lara smile broadened when she read it. She checked the time of the message. Barely 5 minutes ago.
“Eat air” she replied
As expected Jumebi responded immediately
“Be nice jor”
“Don’t you ever leave your phone alone?” Lara quizzed
“Ayam hungry! I’m trying to bb the hunger away. Bring food home pls”
“Lol. OK. I’m close to Simply Delicious.”
“*surprise-face* Lara, life no harsh like that na”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“You are driving &pinging. You wan die? Bring my food before you go to the upperroom oo”
Lara laughed. Her sister always cracked her up.
“Lmao. Yeye girl. I’m in the Orange Dew filling station. Imagine! There is no attendant around.”
“Ah ahn. @a filling station? Beht why na?”
“Iono. Let me see. Ttyl”
Jumebi’s message came in but Lara had already stashed the phone back in her bag. “This is why these people hardly ever progress in life. They never take their duties and responsibilities seriously. Later they will flood church and start praying for God to make a way. Rubbish!” she exclaimed in exasperation.
Lara got down from her car and looked around. The place looked to be deserted. She had always being known to do what no other person would dare do. Shrugging, she walked up to the till, instantly punched in the number of litres she wanted, pulled out the fuel pump and inserted it into her car. The meter reading indicated that fuel was being transferred.
“This world is a do-it-yourself world.” she said as she looked from the fuel pump engine and back to her car.
“I agree. It is a do-it-yourself world. No apologies there” said a low husky voice from behind her.
“How dare you leave your post” Lara started, as she spun around “Don’t you know your actions can cost…” Her voice trailed off as she froze on the spot.
She was staring into the most amazing eyes she had ever seen. They were deep, dark and brown and seemed to suck her in. She took a deep gulp as her eyes scanned the face from the well chiselled, clean shaven jaw to his wet, thin, sensual lips. Lara suddenly felt weak.
“Control yourself, Lara Saura.” she commanded. Her mind and body blatantly disobeyed her voice. 28 year old, career focused Lara Saura was single and getting fraught.
“Here lady, can I please relieve you of this burden so as to allow you seat your pretty self in your car?” The attendant said as he smiled broadly and walked forward to take the fuel pump from Lara’s hand, brushing it in the process.
Lara went jelly in her knees. “O God! O God! What is this? O God! I am feeling so hot. Lawd ‘av mercy! What is all this perfection in one package? O baby, how beautiful can you possibly get?” Lara screamed in her mind. She could feel it, the rush of butterflies in her belly, the tingly ringing in her ears, the flush in her cheeks and without doubt, the skipping of her heartbeats. She could feel what she felt 4 years ago with Nnamdi.
She stepped back as he took the pump from her.
She sniffed the air around him. He smelt of a combination of fresh woody fragrance with a hint of citrus white musk. He arched his broad shoulder up a bit, and looked at her with a coy smile on his face. Lara blushed instantly and quickly stepped into her car in a huff. She sat behind the steering wheel. “What should I do? What should I do? I have to do something. I need to do something. He’s fine sha. I wonder if he is married.” She bent a bit, looked into her side mirror at his fingers. Not seeing any ring, she smiled. “Good. He’s not. Maybe he has a girlfriend. It doesn’t matter. I’ll pray and work my way to breakthrough. Besides, I am Lara Saura.”
Lara was still lost in her thoughts when he leaned in and said “That would be 5000naira lady.” He said in a teasing manner.
“Yes, yes, I am aware” she said, slightly annoyed at herself for drooling over a man.
‘Have I become this desperate? What rubbish. I am Lara Saura. I cause men to hit poles.” She thought to herself. Then with a deep sigh, “I guess that’s why I am still single.” Lara shook her head and looked at him straightening his trouser. “I bet he will walk up to me and chat me up and ask for my pin or phone number, any moment from now.” Lara waited for the attendant to come. Finally he looked up and began the short strides to her car.
He bent and looked Lara straight in her eyes. She had this stupid smile on her face, which she convinced herself must be sexy, and then he said, “Lady, you are holding up potential customers. Do you need help driving out?”
Shock poured rapidly into the SUV.
Lara Saura drove off in anger mixed with pain. The only downside with being a career driven woman with a company to your name at the age of 28 was that you just might not have time for the opposite sex. She had no man in her life. According to her close friend, Shola, she intimidated men. No man seemed man enough for her. Now, she had left the I-don’t-care stage of her life and she was getting close to the frantic stage, so desperate that a little good-for-nothing fuel attendant could diss her. This was low.
In anger she screamed in her car, “I swear if I see that guy again, I will deal with him. His head is paining him. How dare he say that to me and treat me that way. Rubbish. If I ever see him again, he will see my red eye.” She turned up her radio volume and began singing aloud.
Who knew her chance to show him her red eye would come sooner than expected?