I once asked Tolani, the Faculty sweetheart, out. No, I am not greedy and did not over-reach. The thing is, Tolani and I were good friends. We were always hanging around the cafeteria and faculty staircases, sharing jokes and stuff. I helped her carry her books and she sometimes left her phone with me for the entire day so I could play games on it. On some evenings, when the Faculty was quiet, she would buy suya ,Viju milk and short bread. Then we would wear sweaters and head for the class. At 2 a.m., she would lean into me and sleep till 5 a.m. when we returned to our hostels. Other nights we would go to the Akintunde Ojo Library, a windowless building with creaking fans and bright fluorescents. The mosquitoes were many. I would hold her tight to protect her from them and she would mumble her thanks. Surely, there was some love.
So, on a certain Thursday, as we returned from night class, I brought up the matter. She was singing at the top of her voice. She loved to do that when the roads were deserted. As we walked past the Senate Building, I looked up and noticed some movement in the top floor – probably someone in the radio station getting ready for the morning program – I said a silent prayer and squeezed her hand. She looked at me eagerly.
‘Tolani, I like you,’ I said and smiled.
She looked at me and tapped my shoulder, ‘You’re my bud, my sweet Laffy Taffy, my Alobam . I like you too.’ She tickled my cheek and continued walking. I suddenly realised that this was going to be harder than I had thought, so I did the best thing I could.
‘I want us to be in a relationship,’ I blurted.
She looked at me anew with what looked like pity and held my hand. ‘Laffy Taffy, you know my ex-boyfriend has a car. Once you date someone with a car, it’s honestly hard to go back to dating someone without a car.’
The air was hot. My satchel felt heavy. I could hear what sounded like laughter from the top floor of the Senate. I was weak.
I continued walking. We continued walking. We passed the Student Relaxation Centre and the United Bank of Africa. When we got to the Book Store, she held my elbow.
‘Do you understand? Do you understand?’
My silence was golden.
She took the turn to her hostel, Moremi Hall, and I continued the lone walk to New Hall.
The Yorubas say, ‘Tí ẹbìtì ò bá pa eku, a sì fẹyìn fún ẹlẹ́yìn .’ We did not remain friends after that.
That was the moment that changed it for me. That was when I decided to go into business.
Osisiye Tafa is a Banker by day and writer by night. When he’s not cooking, he is taking his side-kick, Simba on a walk. He writes faction-fictionalized telling of actual events-which he shares on his blog, http://chipsonmarble.wordpress.com/.