“Obalende, Cms, Obalende” the Conductors voices rent the air. Peering far ahead, I prayed for a bus going to my destination. Aunt Caro had begged me to buy fabric from my mother’s store and bring it to her Office in Sabo, Yaba.
“Buy your cold mineral, bottled water” the women with big plastic filled with soft drinks and water cried. The Hausa men who beckoned at me for gold still stalked around. Telling from the time on my wristwatch, I had spent 15 minutes standing. The ‘agberos’ running after moving vehicles screaming “owo mi da?”.
The sun was at it’s best. I quickly placed the package on my head to save my head from its scorch. Behind me was a small shop with a silhouette caused by the sun. Retreating to the shop for comfort, I noticed a young man.
His looks had me glued to a spot till I saw he had company. I watched them both, he looked 29 but maybe older. His demeanor was both calm and raving. His face shone brightly, depicting a healthy skin routine. What I particularly loved were his lips. So Pink and well sculptured and I thought in my heart ” Really, there is no artist like God”.
The young girl of about the same age or younger. Melanin glow accentuated with beautiful body structure and I almost envied her. What I particularly liked about her was the way she smiled. Her teeth were set firmly and beautifully in her mouth. They seemed to be talking about something Important. I walked towards them. First, to be noticed by the handsome man. I could hear mum’s voice in my head screaming “bring a handsome, God-fearing man home”. Secondly, I wanted to get a hint of what their ‘important’ discussion was about.
I stood three feet away from where they stood, they talked in a loud voice.
“So when will you marry?” She asked him. I was taken aback. I momentarily forgot my purpose at the bus stop; To deliver cloth for my aunt Caro. I love talks about marriage except when those talks came from my mother. Hers is usually “Bimpe when will you leave my house for your husband?”. I’d normally laugh about it. But I do not find it funny.
He smiled and his lips widened, revealing milk coloured teeth “what sort of question is that, Gloria?. I am just meeting you after about 5 years and that’s the next thing from you”. He brought his hands up his lips, running them across his lips. As if in a bid to cover his mouth. His eyes widened in surprise.
“Ehn hen na… What are you waiting for, all our mates are married na” she said, throwing her hands in the air before bursting into a laughing fit. Wondering what was funny about what she had just said, I carefully stood beside them to listen to all they had to say. Ezimma my friend would have called me gossip or Amebo. She would say “you see yourself, na tori dem go use carry you go one day”.
“I will definitely marry, who doesn’t want children?” he stopped for a while and something about him screamed that he had someone already. My mind wondered if it was only because of children that he was getting married. “what are you waiting for?. Remember you are the woman here? I still have time.” He said as they hugged for the 2nd time. My right hand wouldn’t stop hitting my forehead as I glared at the man from the corner of an eye, waiting for him to continue. I wanted to let him know that he is getting old as well. If time waits for nobody, it doesn’t exclude men too.
“You haven’t found your choice?…” I felt like she was indirectly trying to say ‘but I’m here’…” open your eyes, there are many fishes in the water. Besides, you are 3 years older than me”. She concluded.
“But a woman gets old easily, much more than men,” he said. I was taken aback, trying to guess where that sentence originated from. At that instant I gave up, the discussion was becoming uninteresting then I moved further away
“I do not think I can cohabit with any man right now, I mean, giving my experiences, character, etc. I’m not sure I will even marry” she said. Her lips stretched into a wide smile, then a scowl. I scratched my head, walking again towards them. The juice seemed to be coming back. My mother must not hear this from any lady. I gave birth to you, so you must give birth to a better you, she would have shouted.
I saw the young man throw his head backward as he roared in laughter, he seemed to slip, but he regained his balance “you mean you don’t want to marry?.How is that even possible?, you need us, you women need us In and for everything”.
‘Like you are doing us a favour?’ I almost screamed. I thought about Kike, with her stretch marks filled stomach after giving birth to two children who bears her husband’s name. I thought about how I’ve missed her and how distant she had been after moving in to be with her husband, away from us.
Twisting my mouth, I folded my arms, stamping my foot against the floor. Anty Caro’s package in one hand. I waited for the lady to speak, I wanted to hear her talk, I held my breath for her opinion.
She wrapped her arms around her body for a moment, laughed a bit before saying. ” Then don’t marry, give birth to those children yourself”.
He looked lost, staring up the sky as if waiting for an interpretation.
I threw my right fist up in the air in excitement as I mouthed a ‘yes’. Mission accomplished. Simple and straight to the point answer. Adjusting my skirt. I placed the package under my arms, as I ran into the waiting bus whose Conductor yelled “Sabo yaba”.