Outside the airport I flagged down a taxi that was cruising by. In my experience, the 3-minute walk to the road could save one as much as N2,000 in cab fare. It was almost as if the airport cabbies were affronted that you dared fly, and they took out their anger in the way they inflated their fares.
Or maybe it was a union thing.
I got in the cab and my phone rang.
“Yo dude, how far?”
It was Wale.
“I’m good o. You?”
“I’m alright my guy. How did it go?”
“Men, I don’t even know sef. Are you home?”
“The rest of the gang are here sef. Just come on over.”
I checked that the back doors were locked and the window on my side wound up, leaving just a crack for some breeze before I took out the box from my backpack.
I held it against my cheek for a bit before snapping it open. The princess cut diamond nestled in navy velvet caught the evening light, and the heaviness in my chest returned.
The surprise I had planned for Cynthia was a proposal. We’d been dating for six months, and in that time I had come to feel about her a way I couldn’t remember feeling for anyone before.
We talked everyday, and we talked about everything.
No matter how many times we chatted or spoke on the phone, every new message or call from her had me smiling.
No issue was too trivial, no time too late for Cynthia to call me up. Even if it was something I had no control over.
The night she got home after a particularly rough day at work, and an even rougher trip home and found her gen wasn’t working she called me. I stayed on the phone and listened to her lament. The more the told me about her day, the more emotional she got until she started crying. Like, out of nowhere.
I stayed with her on the phone torn that I couldn’t be there to make all her troubles disappear and fix everything for her. I made gentle sounds and made jokes too, but mostly I was quiet till she was spent.
“I’m so embarrassed,” she sniffed.
“Hey, it’s alright sweetie. It’s me and you o.”
That was the way of our relationship. We were there for each other, strong for each other. I made the trip to see her for a couple of days at least twice a month, and she was in Lagos at least once a week.
My friends teased me on a regular, but I told myself they secretly envied me.
When I told them I was going to ask her to marry me, Phantom thought it was too soon.
Sly said it was a good idea, but I suspected it was partly so he wouldn’t be the only married one of us.
Wale couldn’t be bothered. He was looking for a live-in lover. Maybe a partner to have a baby with, but without the whole marriage shindig.
Scar thought I was joking until I bought the ring.
“Oga which side we dey go?”
I opened my eyes to get my bearing.
“Turn right for front, then take the second left. You go see the… no worry, I dey inside motor with you. Dey go.”
At Wale’s I told the guys how my trip went. Or how it didn’t go.
“Dude,” Wale said. “What kind of busy was she busying that she could not see you?”
“Me I have kuku said before that all these Abuja girls are one kain.” Phantom added.
“See Bobo, I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation for…”
“Logic? And women?” Phantom cut Sly off. “I’d like to see the day.”
“Who hurt you?” Sly asked him.
“Gerrarahia mehn, shii!”
“See ehn,” I said. “All the plans I made just went to nought.”
“Dude,” Wale said, “women don’t care how you ask them. I bet they’re just happy to find someone stupid enough to propose.”
There was awkward laughter.
“Look,” I said, trying to lift the mood. “Who’s up for a game of soccer?”
“See this one, you just got here and you want to hold pad first. Abeg join the queue.” Scar waved me away.
“Wait, wait. You guys know this is my house and nobody can claim to have got here before me. I’m playing first…”
I leaned back in the couch and watched them argue playfully. I sighed, then smiled. It felt good to be back with my homies.