I looked at my wristwatch for the umpteenth time. Women keeping men waiting is a norm, true. Still, I couldn’t for the life of me now phantom how I had tolerated the extent to which she took liberty with this tradition. And for six good months. No doubt, those six months had been good, really good. Recently however, I had the feel of a man who’d been rudely awakened from bliss. Couldn’t deny to myself that I hadn’t always suspected it to be just what it was – a dream.
An average of twenty-five minutes. That was about how long it usually took her to get from her dorm room on the second floor to our rendezvous – the closest mini-park; even when I’d called her an hour before hand. It really was barely a stone throw away, and yet she’d now kept me waiting for forty-five minutes. In the old days, when I was still head over heels in love, I would have by now grown frantically worried.
“Had she tripped while coming down the staircase?”
“Had one of my ex-girlfriends finally given in to jealousy and accosted her at just this moment?”
“Or had one of those idiot drivers who buzzed around campus at unbelievable speeds buzzed into her and she was right now writhing in pain at the health center, unable to communicate to me her distress?”
Back then, those were the kind of thoughts that would have right now been dancing about in my head. Driving me to dial her number until I got a response. A response which had always been the same however much the details varied – she was perfectly okay, and some flippant, surmountable issue had delayed her.
I toyed with my phone, going from the blackberry messenger to the facebook app and then twitter and back at speeds which would have made a lesser machine dizzy. I refused to dial her number. I had also refused to dial any other number or take any calls, just in case …….
Just in case she called. Just in case she called to tell me there was a problem.
Just in case this was the one time when the mitigating circumstance wasn’t something as flippant as her roomie having worn her only pair of casual slippers and disappeared with them.
Just in case…….
Sixty five minutes is a long time. My ears were now so attuned to the artificial fountain barely a feet away that I was picking up snatches of whispered conversation between lovers as they strolled in to enjoy the perfectly blended beauty of grass, water, interlocking tiles, hand crafted wooden benches and exotic foliage. It therefore came as no surprise that I picked up her phone voice while she was still on the outer edge of the park’s perimeter. Something in my soul danced as she wrapped up the call with her favourite line “au revoir”. I could hear the smile in her voice despite the faintness of its sound.
Practice. I couldn’t possibly begin to count the number of times I’d heard her smile through those words, on and off the phone. I’d heard enough to know that she wouldn’t be spending the night at her hostel. And it definitely had to be Deolu. Her Friday nights were his. And that’s why I had picked a Friday to do this deed.
Without looking in her direction I rose to receive her. The perfect gentleman; to the very end. As much as I had resolved and re-resolved to go through with my obligatory decision, it wasn’t until that moment when I looked at her that it became irrevocable. Skin tight jeans showed off elegant long legs which were strolling in my direction. The loose black camisole top flattered her hips with the way it swooshed just above the point where they made the jeans bulge. Her bosom seemed exaggerated. I didn’t have to guess which of her padded bras she was wearing. I was trying very hard not to visually undress her in my mind. This one time, it really would have helped if she had dressed for me. She knew how insanely I loved the particular shape of her breasts. On Wednesday nights, she blessed me with the sight of them….I really was going to end that, wasn’t I?
Her face was made up lightly, just like I hated. Early in our relationship I had grown tired of complaining and taken to kissing off her red lipstick, and then making her sweat to get rid of the rest. It was my labour of love – to get to see the prettiness of her face unveiled in all its glory. I smiled. Thinking about her naked face always did that to me.
Our eyes locked. That molten smile. It evoked an involuntarily wider smile from me. Memories of those lips on mine. I had to keep my mind focused, and my heart frozen.
“She’d better not kiss me.”
She did, in the midst of our hug. I kissed her back, almost hungrily.
When we first met, she’d told me that she wasn’t into public displays of affection – she was very shy when it came to that. Somehow, I’d completely disinhibited her to it.
A strong male perfume wafted off from her and embraced our embrace. It had been Deolu’s. Or more like Deolu’s gift to her when on seeing the bottle in his wardrobe she’d joyously declared how deeply she coveted the posh eau de toilet. Its aroma strengthened my resolve.
“What’s the matter?” Her voice was so rich with joy it almost sounded like she were laughing.
“Why don’t we sit down?” I didn’t hang my hand on her hips like I usually did. I was already moving back to the park bench which I had been occupying during my epic wait.
“Dewumi, I’m sorry nah. I didn’t mean to take that long….”
I had no intention of hearing out her excuse for this particular occasion, and I had somehow managed to desensitize myself to the deep sorrow with which she so easily filled her voice when she chose. Swifter than I intended, my body sprung back and two fingers of mine pressed against her lips. But it was shock that sealed them. This I could tell from the alien expression which had momentarily flirted across her face. Instinctively, my arm had also moved to steady her from behind. This wasn’t the plan. My mask must have somehow come off. No point delaying the moment. Her eyes were mere inches away from mine.
“You know we’re over, right?”
I felt her lips twitch beneath my fingers. A little more pressure communicated my desire for her silence.
“I know about you and Deolu.
And I understand.
I understand your need for him.”
Her eyes slowly died and then her face deadpanned. I pushed on.
“But I cannot stand or forgive your cheating on me with him.
Sorry, I meant you cheating on him with me”
At this point, I began laughing insanely and also completely let go off her. I had only just realised that to be the true order of things. My recent discoveries had not only detailedly revealed her relationship with Deolu, it had also established that relationship to be older than mine with her. The laughter rumbled up from my tummy even harder. I stumbled backwards and away, grabbing my tummy to lessen the hurt.
I pointed at her as I reiterated “We’re over!” I had given her the chance to come clean a month ago when things had begun to unravel, and of course she had chosen a lie. The laughter racked my entire frame. Somehow I was walking away. Funny how it had taken this long to sink in – I’d been “the other man”.