As Shola got ready for work that Monday morning, she smiled wryly as she thought about her relationship dramas of years gone by.
Shola’s relationships had always ended in tears-for the guys who got involved with her.
When she was about 6 years old in Primary One, Shola’s parents had been summoned to the Headmistress’ office in her school because she had pushed a boy to the ground, which had led to a lot of crying on his part.
‘He took my pencil without my permission and pulled my hair’, Shola had said in her defense. Her parents had made her apologize to the boy despite what she had believed was a strong argument. At least, in the end, she had gotten her pencil back, which was all that she had been concerned about.
Later that evening, Shola overheard her mother say to her father, ‘I hope Shola stops being so hostile to boys!’ Her father had said it was just a phase which she would eventually outgrow.
Shola’s grown-up relationships were no less drama-filled. ‘But…you know how much I love you!’ said Ebiye, her SS3 boyfriend who she discovered was also dating a girl in SS1-in the same school. She had promptly dumped him, and he had resorted to making a spectacle of himself, singing tearful heartbreak songs to her in the presence of her friends, much to their delight, and to her boredom. There had also been some terrible poetry. Secondary School couldn’t finish fast enough for Shola.
‘She meant nothing to me-it’s you I really want!’, said Nonso, the last guy she had dated while in University, after walking in on him with another girl (he hadn’t even bothered to lock the door of his flat-amateur). ‘She was just a distraction…since you’ve been so busy with coursework’, he had added helpfully. She had ended the relationship. He had begged, cried, and sent her some sad poems which he had written (God save her from sad men and bad poetry).
By the time she started working, Shola had had enough. Any relationship she found herself in would be on her own terms. This arrangement suited her just fine, though guys were often upset that she didn’t return their calls.
She mused over this at work as she thought about her mother trying to match-make her with Joe. She thought for a while, and then called her friend, Mimi.
‘So, that’s my dilemma’, she said to Mimi. ‘I suspect that my Mum wants to set me up with Joe, but I’ve already been involved with him. I just didn’t want to be in a relationship at that time. I stopped taking his calls and deleted his number. He was traveling out of the country anyway, so I put him out of my mind’.
‘Hmm’, said Mimi.
‘I know, right! I wish my Mum would just let me be’ said Shola with a sigh.
‘Oh Sholly, my ‘Hmm’ was about me wondering how you kept your thing with Joe a secret for so long’ Mimi said, sounding amused.
‘Well…there wasn’t much to say, so I just kept it to myself’.
‘Wait, hold on please, baby girl is trying to grab the phone from me!’ Mimi laughed, and Shola waited patiently as she listened to Mimi hand over her daughter to the Nanny with some instructions.
‘Right, I’m back! So, do you want to contact Joe? You could ask my Ade for his number…’ Mimi started to say, but Shola cut her off. ‘Noooooo!!! I’ll just figure it out by myself. I have to get back to work. Enjoy your day babe’.
‘Bye Sholly!’ Mimi laughed as she ended the call. Shola didn’t begrudge her for laughing. Ade, her brother would tease, interrogate and generally make himself a nuisance before he would hand over Joe’s number to her.
She knew this, because she would have done the same thing if she had been in his shoes.
Shola had her menstrual period to thank for orchestrating a chance meeting with Joe.
After a busy week, Shola had intended to have a lazy Saturday, but she got a notification from her Period Tracker App on her phone that her period was due in some days, so she needed to stock up on sanitary pads.
She dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans with flat shoes. As she left her room and walked into the living room, she met her parents there, deep in muted conversation.
After greeting them, she said ‘I’m off to the supermarket!’ Her father said ‘Alright dear, see you soon’. Her mother said ‘Don’t you have casual dresses? Everyday you dress so seriously’. Shola rolled her eyes, and saw that her father was struggling not to laugh.
‘Bye!’, she said as she walked quickly out of the house; she had a sudden vision of her mother trying to man-handle a dress over her head.
Shola drove into town and eventually parked her car in front of her favourite supermarket in Garki. She entered the brightly-lit and very air-conditioned Sunny Day supermarket, and having walked past the stack of baskets at the entrance, she backtracked and picked one up before heading down the wide aisles. She knew herself well enough to know that even though she came in to buy just sanitary pads, she would leave with other random purchases.
Shola filled her shopping basket with her desired purchases (including a big hair brush which she had not realized that she needed until she saw it). She had just turned the corner on her way to the checkout section when she walked straight into a wall which turned out to be a man’s broad chest.
‘Oh, I’m so sorry!’ Shola exclaimed as she looked up.
She found herself staring straight at Joe’s face.
Joe smiled gently at her, looking slightly amused to see the woman whom he had a brief encounter with over a year ago.
©Ivie M. Eke 2016.