I wasn’t particularly looking forward to returning to school. I had to leave two weeks before resumption to get a good head start on my project. As my departure day drew nearer, Mummy spent almost every moment of her time at home in my room. She was usually like that. Daddy kept to himself, saying only what was necessary; like ‘write your list for school soon so I can make a budget’. He was usually like that. I could remember the first time I left home for school, it had been as sad for my parents as it had been for me. They had both tagged along to the park and I cried as I hugged them goodbye. Mummy wept and sniffled into her handkerchief the whole time but Daddy’s face was expressionless. But as the bus roared to life and gradually pulled away, I could have sworn I saw him wipe a tear.
My phone’s beep interrupted the great memories. I realized I had been folding one skirt for nearly five minutes, I put it down and read the BBM from Kelvin. He wanted to know if we could meet up in the evening. He said it was important.
Things were pretty much okay between us. We still talked a lot, about dance and poetry, but that was all to it. I had been getting steady updates from Abigail; she and Kelvin talked every day and sometimes she went over to visit him. She said he was getting fond of her, and I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like if they actually dated.
I replied his text and agreed.
Kelvin asked me to come to Dreams. The place was well-known and as I entered the large garden, I realized what the fuss was all about. There was a suya and shawarma stand, a point-and-kill stand and in the middle of it all, a small restaurant. All of these places bubbled in the prime evening hour with patronizing crowds.
I got out my phone and dialed Kelvin. Just as it started ringing, I saw him walking towards me. It was already dark but I would recognize that tall figure any time. His shirt looked like it was made just for him, its dark purple shade complemented his light complexion. His hug was tight and his grip was firm as he held my hand and led me farther into the restaurant, “I have a surprise for you.”
I hid my frown. I did not like surprises.
As we rounded a corner, I was immediately greeted by a very excited mob. Abigail, Tayo, Dave, Jude, Chima and the other Dave whom we called B-boy Dave because he was the stunts man … they were all there, the entire crew. I laughed out of relief, I liked these kinds of surprises.
We ordered drinks and smoked fish. It was soon gobbled up amidst laughter, recollection of funny memories and games. Kelvin excused himself to go order suya and tapped me to come along. I avoided Abigail’s eyes as I left the table.
We made our order and turned to go, Kelvin grabbed my hands and very swiftly slipped his wrist watch onto my wrist.
“Don’t say anything,” he warned.
I looked at the Casio watch. The black leather wrist watch I had fallen in love with the first time I saw it on his wrist. The watch I had asked, begged, cajoled him for countless times. The watch he said he would never give me. The watch that now sat pretty on my wrist. The watch that was now mine.
I felt my heart warm up as I looked at him. I reached for his hand and squeezed; it said all I really wanted to say and he seemed to understand because he grinned cheekily and dragged me back towards the crew.
We all lost track of time. Who wouldn’t on such a fun night? We ate suya until we couldn’t eat anymore and had a second round of drinks. I felt sorry for my stomach on the journey tomorrow but no matter, I chose to live in the moment. Soon it was time to go; everybody had something to say and I eventually got tired of smiling. There were hugs and good wishes for school as we all dispersed.
As usual, Kelvin and I shared a cab but this time he went all the way to my place, alighted with me and paid the cab driver. At my puzzled stare, he said, “I still feel like talking.” I smiled and walked towards a bench under a tree just beside the gate.
“So I hope you had fun today.”
“Are you kidding me? Of course I did. Thank you. I will surely miss you guys even more.”
“I miss you already.” He was looking down at his hands clasped together between his thighs. “When you told me you were leaving, I felt my heart squeeze, literally. You’ve become a huge part of my life in such little time.”
For the first time since I met Kelvin, I was not afraid to hear him talk like that. I waited for the fear I always experienced, the discomfort I usually felt at words like his but it didn’t come. I waited for my mind to think of an excuse to go inside. Nothing came, instead I longed to hear more. I wanted more.
Written by Keren-Happuch Odinenu
Words are work … and fun too!