July 13th, 2012.
It was a beautiful friday morning. The sun was out in its full glare after almost two days of constant rainfall. I left Lagos, at dawn to join the train of my best friend Tunde at Asaba for his traditional wedding ceremony to Amaka. Tunde and I have been close friends since our NYSC days. We first met while going through our clearance formalities at the orientation camp at Iyana Ipaja in Lagos. We bonded so fast and were virtually inseparable till the time of our posting. The fact that we had very similar tastes and likes made us a compatible and formidable duo, tag team or whatever else you’d like to call it. We consumed copious amounts of alcohol and chased the prettiest ladies while in camp as there was pretty much nothing else to do in between drills.
Even after service we continued to be very close friends and shared a flat together for almost two years when we both got employed in Lagos. Those were the days! We were a notorious team indeed and neighbors with pretty daughters and wives became very wary of us even though we made it a point of discipline never to throw stones at our glass house. But when Tunde met Amaka, everything changed completely. I couldn’t fault him though for she was perfect by my standards which were way up there. She was a dark beauty with bold, beautiful eyes. She was soft-spoken but with a gentle fierceness that brought out the good boy in Tunde. She had superb homely skills that reminded me of my mom and when she started spending weekends with us, it was like mom was home. Always a weekend to look forward to as she was so jovial and easy to talk to. She had lots of brothers and understood how to get along; firm but sweet. There’s no better term to describe how a guy meets a girl and falls in love so hard that he’s driven by an obsession to absolutely possess her than Mario Puzio’s term in The Godfather “The Thunderbolt”. When she came into our lives, a thunderbolt struck home hard. Suddenly, my good friend began to harbor serious thoughts of settling down; a topic that had never been his favorite in time past whenever it was brought up for he was a creature of freedom. He cleaned up his act and even began to advice me to get “a good girl”. Well, the journey that began with a thunderbolt finally led us to Asaba.
The drive from Lagos to Asaba was a long and lonely one. Christy so much wanted to join me for this trip as it would have offered a good opportunity to bond with my friends. I wished she had too but she had other stuffs to do. My friends had been rather anxious to meet my new mystery woman who had been a constant in my life for the last couple of weeks. Tunde had remarked at his engagement party last week that perhaps my time to leave the bachelor hood had come which I attended with Christy. Since then, Christy has put up all sorts of suggestive innuendos about our relationship; so far, I’ve managed to feign total ignorance.
I pulled into Grand Hotel Asaba at about 2pm after five hours of hard riding. It had showered briefly but the sky seemed to have agreed to keep calm. The team of grooms men and close friends would be lodging here. I checked in and located the crew who were already at the hotel’s well-stocked bar. It was one hell of a re-union. The drinking started almost immediately and continued all the way to the compound of Chief Obiora where the ceremony had already begun in earnest. The compound was a massive one as it accommodated six canopies quite comfortably. About four more canopies were set outside the street filled with cars and guests. Our team of six men clad in different styles but similar fabric of Ankara were directed into the compound to join a canopy. The newly married couple according to native law and custom danced to tunes of Osita Osadebe’s “Osondi Owendi” while the guests sprayed different types of currencies as they surrounded and danced with them. Our table was supplied with drinks immediately while we joined the dancing couple and participated in the spray. Naira denominations of 200’s, 500’s and 1000’s filled the air and littered the floor as we were sort of given space to dance with the couple. A couple of ladies in “Aso Ebi” picked up the money which they stuffed in small cartons. It would be counted and handed to the bride later. I thought one of the ladies looked familiar but I didn’t give it a second thought. After all the dancing, spraying and offers of congratulatory messages to Tunde who was elated that we made it just in time, we returned to our seats and the drinking began.
It was after about an hour or so of hard core drinking, talking and laughing with the boys that it hit me! That was Kemi!! My eyes scanned the many guests for the “Aso Ebi” ladies and I saw her. I felt that hot rush of blood go through me. Why did she have this evil effect on me? As if she heard my thoughts, she turned in my direction and waved, smiling expansively, though not looking surprised to see me. So she’d seen me before, I mused. I waved back and considered the odds. If Amaka was Kemi’s friend, there was the possibility that she was friends with Christy. But no; Christy wouldn’t miss Amaka’s wedding if they were close friends now, would she? The process of thinking in my alcohol-influenced state was too laborious and I couldn’t keep it up. I just advised myself to be cautious so I excused myself from my buddies proceeded to meet her. Her smile widened as I drew near and she gave me a generous hug, her voluptuous boobs pressing hard against me.
“Mickey! What are you doing here?” She asked, after the hug that I’d hoped would last forever.
“I was going to ask the same but your Aso Ebi has answered for me. Lovely dress, by the way. You look like an appetizing three-course meal.” I said winking. She really did look good. She dressed provocatively as usual. Her tastefully designed dress highlighted her fantastic shape and her glorious past and future.
“Are you serious? Thanks.” She giggled and her soft cleavage quivered.
“I saw you when you and your friends were dancing but I was so busy at the time so I couldn’t reach out to you.”
“I knew I saw someone familiar. It only hit me just now.” I said, amazed at the speed at which my heart beat had increased.
“Amaka is a close childhood friend. We practically grew up together.” She explained.
“Wow! Small world.” I exclaimed. “Tunde is my bosom buddy. We’ve been friends since youth service.”
“A small world indeed.” She intoned. One of the Aso Ebi ladies came, said hi to me and whispered in Kemi’s ear. Kemi nodded and the lady left.
“You didn’t come with Christy, did you?” She asked in a conspiring tone.
“No, I came alone.” I replied.
She smiled knowingly and I shrugged in ignorance.
“What?” I asked, laughing.
“I know you are a bad boy.” She said, accusing me in jocular manner.
“No, I’m not!” I said, defensively.
“Don’t be shy about it. I’ve seen it in your eyes and the eyes never lie. You’ve seen it in mine too.” Her eyes twinkled mischievously.
“Really? Have I now?” I asked, mischievously, my interest lighting up.
“I have to go and do something now. I’ll meet you up later if you’ll still be around.” She said.
I nodded. “I’ll wait for you.”
She smiled and whipped her beautifully braided hair in a way that was so sexy. I watched her as she walked away, her movements lithe, enjoying every bit of it. After a couple of paces, she turned and caught me still staring. She gave me the tongue in mockery, smiled and went on her merry way. It was going to be interesting to see how this evening would turn out.
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