… continued from Episode 10.
I step out from the taxi and make my way into Jevinik. My tummy growls; what is left of my lunch break had better be enough time to fill it up. Today I did not take any files along, as I usually do, to get extra work done while eating.
The place is packed with people as usual; families, friends, lovebirds, people who come alone and finally people who come from work, like me. I find an empty table in a corner, next to a couple, and I place my order – the eba and egusi never disappoints.
While waiting for my meal, I listen to the conversation between the lovebirds even as I tell myself not to eavesdrop. She wants to settle down but he thinks they should wait a little, after all she’s still in school.
I smile to myself. I would have laughed in the face of any man who had proposed to me while in school. My smile fades as I remember Kelvin. Maybe not every man.
I have not seen or heard from him since I came back to Nigeria after my Masters. The years before that were hard and long; it had been difficult saying goodbye. When it became too hard to remain ‘good friends’, we had just stopped fooling around. There was no happy ending to our love story, but I never stopped loving him.
My ringing phone knocks me out of my reverie. It’s Abigail; her wedding is in two months – “You want me to beg you before you will come and choose your dress abi?” – and I’m her maid of honor.
I laugh. “I’m sorry nah, but I thought we already agreed on something.”
“You and who?” the woman retorts, “How can my maid of honor wear a jump suit? In whose wedding? Don’t even try it.”
I laugh again, and my mind wanders back to the bridal shower we – our other friends and I – had planned for her. I saw Abigail’s crazy side for the first time that day. She got drunk and danced with every man at the club. The best part? She dove into her boob-shaped cake. Literally. That night was just one other thing I teased her about non-stop.
“Come on. Think about it. Don’t you want your wedding to be different?”
“And your jumpsuit is the difference? The thing does not even attempt to look feminine. I’ve told you, Kaitlyn, you are wearing a dress. Final! I know you are just looking for ways to make sure men don’t walk up to you.”
“Oh come on, Abigail. That’s not true.”
“I really wonder when you’ll get over him and move on.”
Every fibre in me knows who she means, yet I ask, “Who?”
“Kelvin nah, who else?”
It has been a while since I heard that name. I avoid talking about him whenever I’m with Abigail. Sadly, she keeps bringing him up. The gist about his couple of failed relationships have been constantly supplied by her. Sometimes I wonder if he still thinks about me. Loves me? I’ve thought about calling a couple of times but the fear of rejection restrains me.
“You know I don’t like it when you bring him up.”
“I know, but there are some things you can’t run from. I hope you know that he is coming for the wedding.”
Shit! How could I not have expected that? In a second, a hundred excuses to not attend the wedding flash through my mind but they only last a second. Not Abigail’s wedding, I wouldn’t miss that for anything. “Maybe you’re right,” I sigh. “Maybe I cannot run from this one. I’ll come over soon so we can agree on a dress.”
“I like the sound of that. I’ll see you later then.”
My mind is occupied with thoughts of Kelvin now. I have mixed feelings about seeing him again at the wedding. I am a little excited about the possibility, but also a little frightened. Thankfully the wedding is still two months away – ample time to prepare. Even then, I can’t help worrying. It’s just been too long. I spent the years after my first degree soaking myself in more books. Year after year, books (work) became my life. I never had a serious relationship in all those years and now, I spend most of my time pursuing a promotion at work. Hopefully my boss will take notice of all the work and extra hours I’ve been putting in soon.
The food finally arrives. I’m excited by the aroma, I always am, and I’m not ashamed to dig in. I can’t help the smile as I swallow the first lump of eba. Heaven!
After a few more swallows, I am able to look round and take in the crowd flowing in and out. It’s typical lunch-hour traffic in a place renowned for exquisite gastronomy like Jevinik, and I hope no one comes to disturb my peaceful meal. Just then a man walks in – I easily classify him under my category from his corporate attire – tall with a body most would describe as great, his face is turned away from me and he appears to be searching for something or someone.
He finally turns toward my direction. The lump of eba in my mouth falls down my throat suddenly and in no pleasant manner. I reach quickly for the bottle of water on the table.
He has spotted me too. His shock is evident, but he recovers faster and walks towards me. I feel trapped and wish I could run away. He gets to the table in no time and pulls out a seat.
“Kaitlyn.” I draw in air as I hear him call my name again. I grab on to the legs of the table desperately, to avoid skipping over and throwing myself against his chest.
There goes my two-months prep time.
To be continued next week …
By Keren-Happuch Odinenu
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