The drawl made me pause – I was regaling some friends with stories from my airport office. The voice could only be one person.
‘Hey you,’ I turned round and hugged Rolayo, brushing my lips across her cheek. She hugged back, held the embrace a little long and rubbed my back like I was some child she was reassuring – I hated it when people did that – but I didn’t mind; it was Rolayo.
We broke the embrace, leaned back and regarded each other before hugging again. This time a short one.
We were at a colleague’s wedding reception. I almost didn’t make it because Keme, my girlfriend, was held up at work. She worked in the accounts department of a beverage company and it was the end of their fiscal year so her department had to work over the weekend. It was a choice of Saturday or Sunday and she chose Saturday so we could have Sunday home alone together. She didn’t see the point in taking Saturday off only so we could share it with friends, acquaintances and random people.
‘Go Bobo,’ she said when I told her I didn’t feel like the wedding without her. ‘You better go before your guys will say Ijaw woman has washed put for you and turned you into a mindless zombie.’
‘Wash put? I need you to wash put? Is it not the same place I dive into every chance I ge…’
‘Why are you like this?’ she tossed her damp towel in my direction. ‘Abeg make I ready go work. We’ll see when we get back, okay?‘
And so I had gone to the wedding. Alone.
From the moment I saw Rolayo, I didn’t leave her side for the rest of that day. We played catch up: she told me about her daughter – small madam, she called her – and how she would boss everybody about at home, her grandmother more indulgent than Rolayo remembered from her own childhood.
About her love life there was nothing to say. She was dating a certain someone who was based in Ghana.
‘You would think that Ghana is close and that we would see more often, but I was lucky if I saw him for one weekend in two months.’ Her smile was sad, but it cleared up quickly. ‘So Bobo, tell me about your adventures,’ she said perking up. ‘And don’t leave any details out.’ She wagged a finger at me.
‘There’s not a lot to tell,’ I started.
‘Don’t tell me that jare, abi you want to hoard gist?’
‘You won’t believe it, but after you offered to be my Sugar mommy…’
‘What was that?’ she cut in.
‘Sugar mommy, remember? No? Never mind.’ I said. ‘Anyway,’ I dragged the first syllable, ‘after I got posted to the airport I met this girl, crazy girl I tell you, but an amazing person. We’ve been dating since then.’ I tried not to smirk.
‘I don’t understand.’ She held up a hand. ‘You mean to tell me you’ve been pussy-whipped? Excuse my language.’
One of the things I liked and didn’t like about Rolayo was her attempts at ladylike behaviour. She would say “fuck” or “prick” and follow with “excuse my language”, or say something she considered negative about someone – which usually was a statement of fact – and follow with “I’m sorry to say.”
‘No jo,‘ I waved her away. ‘It’s not like that. She’s a really good person.’ I paused to sift through the torrent of adjectives with which to qualify Keme. ‘She gets me.’
‘Hmmm… I never thought I would see the day.’ She shook her head. ‘If she makes you happy Bobo, then that’s all that matters.’
We were silent for a moment to let the damp and fog that had settled on our sunny pass. Soon enough it was warm and bright again.
By the end of the evening I promised to stay in touch and made her promise to do same. We exchanged BlackBerry pins as I walked her to her car. I kissed her cheek before holding open the door for her. She waved as she drove off and I stood there watching her tail lights disappear in the gathering dusk.
I felt a vibration in my pocket and took out my phone. There was a pending request. I frowned.
‘Royal? Who is Royal?’
I clicked accept, meaning to delete and block the person if it turned out to be someone I didn’t know.
Royal is now a contact.
Royal changed display picture.
I clicked on the photo and smiled when I realised Royal was Rolayo.