Immediately Toma left, I decided to chat up the girl. But I was at a loss as to how to start and this surprised me. I was known as a terror in school but standing in front of this angel, I became tongue tied. But she bailed me out by asking me to sit down and offering me the only armchair in the room but I was trying to play the perfect gentleman and allowed her to sit. I then decided to light up.
“So you are the great friend of Vivi,” I tried to make conversation.
“Yes. We have been friends right from our first day here and we also happen to live in the same area in Lagos,” She said in impeccable English.
“You mean you live in the same area? I asked, “How come I haven’t seen you before?”
“Do you stay in Lagos too?” she asked.
“Of course. But I spend most time out of Lagos but whenever I’m in town, I call to see Vivi and Toma. Their parents were quite close to mine.” We chatted about this and that for some time before I decided to put her on the line.
“So Tinu,” she had told me her name.
“What will you make of it if I say I have fallen in love with you and I find you irresistible?” If I had put a hot plate on her skin, she would not have reacted so. She was looking at me but then her eyes fell and she only looked at me through the blur of her well-trimmed eyes lashes. She had blushed deeply and looked as if she wished the ground will open and swallow her up. I took this to be a sign of victory. I pressed home my supposed advantage for over 10 minutes and was expecting her to rush into my arms. But I was disappointed for after about a minute of silence, she looked me full in the face and shook her head softly from side to side and said,
“Bayo, I have heard what you said but I need time to think about your proposal.”
“But what is there to think about?” I asked deflated.
“You see, you’ve just only met me and it will look as if…”
“As if what?” I asked when she stopped.
“Nothing, just let’s leave it at that and see what I will come up with.
“Look Tinu, in a relationship, it’s not how long you’ve known someone but how well the chemistry clicks. It’s just that I find myself falling hopelessly in love with you and a rejection by you will mean casting me off the surface of this earth. You might take my sudden approach as a shock but to carry on in life, we must learn to do some of the most shocking things.” I went on and on reeling one philosopher’s work after the other but at the end of it all, it was an emphatic no. In fact, I felt stupid but I decided to take it as a man. That actually made me resolve to get that girl for myself because I felt the tougher they come, thicker they will stick when they fall. I was about to launch another monologue attack when Toma came in. After delivering the things he bought to the Matron, we left. I was not myself all through our journey back to Lagos. Toma was quick to notice this as he commented on my moody attitude, I had to tell him but he just laughed at me.
“Boy, if you don’t want to hurt yourself, forget that babe. She is as tough as a nail at her age. I knew you will fall for her but forget her. She will only frustrate you,” But such advice made me more determined to have her for myself.
When I got back to school, I put all machinery in place, called and mailed her every month, sending cards and gifts, not minding if she replied and I also paid her visits whenever I was in Lagos. All these while, she would play the perfect friend and whenever my friends were around, she would behave in a way as not to make me lose face before my friends but when we were together, she always reminded me we were just friends. I was satisfied as it were and I had the hope she would break one day.
By the time she was getting ready to write her JAMB, I was already serving in Port Harcourt but I was always in Lagos every month end; we would go out to the beach, clubs and generally enjoy ourselves but that was where it ended. I never mentioned the issue of an affair again but I was letting time take its toll. She had now gained admission into University of Calabar where she was studying Theatre Arts. She was more mature, rounder and even prettier and more attractive than she was three years earlier. Then on her 20th birthday celebration, things took a different turn. After the party at Jaccuzi, I took her to a popular beach resort at about 2 a.m. Since I was known there, I had no trouble gaining entrance.
When we got there, the moon was shinning and reflected on the silent water and I believed this was a time philosophers always call the celebration of nature. After sitting in the car for sometime without talking, I got out and walked bare-footed to the shade of a coconut tree and sat down staring at the ocean. The effect of that night stills lives fresh in my memories till this very moment. I was there for about five minutes when I felt her squatting beside me and throwing a stone into the sea. I looked up and found her staring into my eyes. Her eyes were filled with tears. We looked at each other for some time before she stood up and extended her hands to me. I held her and stood. She had grown quite tall and her head reached up to my shoulders as I stood at my full six feet. We still held hands while we stood. She was breathing hard.
Bayo, do you still love me? Can you find it in your heart to forgive me for all the hurt I have made you undergo?” Her voice was not steady. I held her face in my hand, lifted them up and found she was crying. Her tears were running down in torrents. I kissed the tears away.
“Look Tinu, I will always love you, no matter how long it takes for you to consent to love me back. In fact, I have even enjoyed my knowing you and being close to you more than anything.” She then fell into my arms and we kissed like mad. When we were saturated, we walked back, hand in hand, to the car. That brokered the beginning of our full time relationship.
We made love that same night in my flat and I met Tinu a virgin. Indeed, that was one of the things that endeared me most to her. Before now, Tinu had started acting in some local films and she was becoming quite popular. We went to so many places together. At about this time too, Dad was slowly relinquishing his hold of the family conglomerate due to his failing health and I was assuming greater control. Immediately Tinu graduated from the university, she took in and we had a big society wedding which was marked with pomp and fanfare.
Eight months later, she gave birth to a bouncing set of twins and that was the day my Dad died. It was a mixture of sadness and joy. After Dad’s burial, I continued the running of the business and introduced other thriving perspectives. I ventured into oil prospecting, freighting and transport. In no time, the company, Barret Holdings grew in leaps and bounds.
After a year or so of nursing our sons, Tinu ventured back into acting with my full support, of course. There was a film in which she acted as a prostitute but I understood even though this generated a lot of negative publicity. After acting for six months, she decided to go into video production and with my backing, she started being less and less at home and the kids missed her attention.
When I continued to complain that she should have some more time for us, she pleaded that she had some projects at hand and when she completed them, she will stay more at home. I understood. I didn’t want my kids to grow under the care of a nanny, so I brought my mum to help take care of them. Things were going on fine except for the strain in our relationship due to Tinu’s incessant absence from home. When mum complained, I told her to understand that Tinu was a career woman at her peak but she was against the whole arrangement and couldn’t understand why a woman would leave her two year old kids at home almost all the time.
To Be Continued…