It doesn’t actually take as much as most people think it takes to fall in love. I was twenty seven and not so fresh out of school. I graduated at twenty from a Babcock University and was through with NYSC by twenty one. And as if I was walking on some gilded star, I landed a lucrative job as the assistant to the senior assistant to the directors of a major oil and gas firm (yes, assistants have their own assistants ;) ).
Over time, I have grown in the business, and three years ago, one of the directors decided to venture out on his own when the firm refused to take a risk and pursue a certain deal. As a sharp Lagos girl, I had rightly guessed that the deal was gold and so I moved with him when he set up. It wasn’t easy in that first year, moving from the comfort and certainty of my first office but now, we are a thriving oil and gas firm, and I am the senior assistant to him, the sole owner. I am more or less the next most powerful person in the company after him. And I am just twenty seven with my own house in Lekki Phase 1, a state of the art SUV and an official salon car with my own driver. And yes, I now have my own assistants. I was a bigz girlz, and I enjoyed life to the fullest, like Wizkid sang London today, Lagos tomorrow, Reks baybay lokeloke, omo jaiye jaiye *pauses to play the song and do an Azonto to it :D *.
Back to the story; now, as with any girl in my shoes, I had dreams of the kind of man I wanted to be with all up in my head. And my dream of a man wasn’t unrealistic. I in fact had a man in my life who met virtually of the criteria I wanted in a man, – my father. So I know that my dream does not have to be a spirit being or a green man from Mars; he can be a flesh and blood human being, born of woman, nine months after she had sex with a man.
See, first, my father is pretty cerebral. You can talk about everything from space travel to bra sizes with him, and he’ll be able to keep up. I always look forward to having conversations with him, he’s such an intelligent man, and marshals his points with suave effectiveness that leaves you admiring him even when your views are opposing his.
Next, he is a perfect gentleman. He stands up when a lady joins him at a table, opens the doors for my mum, walks on the correct side of the road when they are strolling and so on and so forth. Third, my father taught me how to expect a man to dress. He knows what suits his tall, lanky frame and wears it with such effortless elegance. Nothing delights my mum more that watching him leave the house looking all dapper, his graying hair giving him a distinguished look. And he never stopped telling her how much he loved her, in word and in deed. In little gestures that held special meaning for them both, like when he had that copy of her first glasses made and then placed it beside her bedside on their anniversary. Little, thoughtful things like that.
So it was, that the men came. The proud ones who assumed that buying expensive gifts, driving impressive cars and lving in expansive apartments would sweep me off my feet. The high talking ones, dreamers who assumed that I should be grateful for being given the opportunity for ordinary human me to be a part of superhuman them. And who assumed that my money and resources were to be automatically channeled to fulfilling their dreams once they came into my life. There were the ones who came with proposals of marriage from day one, assuming that I would be glad they wanted to rescue me from the gulag of my spinsterhood and deliver me into the bliss of marriage to them and the joy of having my surname transformed to their own. There were my boss’ friends. There were my brothers’ friends. There were guys that my friends had planned hookups with, whether overtly or covertly. But none of them held a candle to my ideal of a man, daddy. They all fell short and were shallow in their own ways, and I didn’t hesitate to make it known to them each time they came. There were whispers of me in the office, whispers of me at home, whispers amongst my friends and whispers amongst friends who had all tried and failed.
All that changed when I met Ochuko. He wasn’t fine in the conventional sense like say a Chris Attoh kinda way. No, I had seen eye candy in my time, he certainly wasn’t one. But he had this rugged self assured air about him and when he entered the meeting room that day, every eye (there were eight male eyes and ten female eyes) turned and fixated on him. He had that kind of effect that first time and every time we went out together. And when he talked, he became animated and handsome in my eyes. I was supposed to be taking notes for my boss in that meeting but I found my mind wandering to him in the room and imagining us together in a beach house in Malta. You can bet that I formed migraine for my boss when he asked for my notes to compare to his. He let me go early and as I returned to my desk, I saw a handwritten note. “Pardon my intrusion into your privacy, but I couldn’t quite shake you out of my consciousness. There’s a stage play on Saturday and I’d like us to watch it together. I’m critiquing it for The Times and I suspect that your input will add perspective and give a good dimension to my critique. I’ve taken the liberty to drop one of the VIP IVs on your desk. I do hope I can reach you on the number on your card. Ochuko (the latecomer at the meeting)” and then he drew a smiley face beside his name. I smiled as wide as the smiley as I read the message a second time.
I was almost exploding with excitement. One, that he had noticed me at all (I’m not drop dead gorgeous) and two, his proposal was so eloquent and required my mind first, not some silly nonsense about how great I looked or how he would like to take care of me. I waited for his call all through the day but it didn’t come. I was a bit disappointed when I packed up and had the driver take me home at 5PM. My number one rule when I’m alone in the house, remove every item of clothing except the one that keeps my boobs firm, le bra and le panties. As soon as I had kicked off my shoes, followed my number one rule and flopped on the couch, my phone rang. Unknown number it was, and my heart skipped a beat. When I picked up, the voice that said “Hello” was unmistakably his own. I rushed my hello in excitement but if he noticed, he certainly didn’t act like he did. The conversation was beautiful. As soon as we eased into each other, we teased each other to no end and played on words, intelligently twisting here and there in conversation without having to explain a thing to the other party. We had talked for ninety minutes before we inevitably ran out of things to say and bade each other goodnight. We agreed to see on Saturday at noon.
Thus began my beautiful romance with Ochuko. Everyone was mega-happy for me. I had waited patiently and found a man that made me tick after all. The only person who didn’t dig Ochuko was the one person whose approval of him I craved the most – my father. The conversations about him went something like this “Rekiya, I’m happy you found a man, but this man, there’s something about him I can’t place a name to, but I’m just uncomfortable about him.”
“Daddy,” I would respond making the most pouty face I could muster “I know you’re afraid for me as your only daughter, but it’s okay. I believe he’s right for me, I feel it in my bones.” Then I would add playfully “don’t be jealous someone is finally coming to take me away from you dear dad” and he would laugh uneasily. It boiled down to a feeling on his part and a feeling on mine. My father let me have my way, I was too happy and he didn’t want to be the reason I became unhappy.
Our first time together was amazing. We had agreed to keep sex off the plate for the first six months of the relationship, and he had agreed without batting an eyelid. Of course I watched to see if his interest in me would wane because of that, but it didn’t even cause the slightest scratch to it. He spent weekends at mine and I at his. We had exotic getaways to Gambia, Ghana and even Madagascar. And yes, we did do the Malta beach house thingy I imagined the first time I saw him. He made it happen for my birthday after I had mentioned that fantasy to him in passing one day. See what I’m saying – he is so so thoughtful (fans self). The first time we had sex was on that trip, in the beach house, with the sounds of the ocean forming the background soundtrack, melding into my soft moans as he gently made love to me while my nails dug into his back. I thought I would die from pleasure and I shuddered when I eventually reached the height of my ecstasy. Above all, there was no law of diminishing returns in motion here. I had feared his passion for me would diminish when we finally had sex, but on the contrary, he became even more attached to me. This was the life. *plays verse of wizkid’s jaiye jaiye – I’m balling, I’m balling, I’m balling for two :D *
The first person that asked if I was pregnant was my boss. I initially thought he was just teasing, until I realized he was asking seriously. And no, I wasn’t doing the Nollywood vomit things at work. I asked him why he said so, and he explained that it was a gift he had, he was always the first in his house to know if anyone in the family was pregnant. I laughed it off, and told him I’d be his first failed preggy prophecy. Until I missed my period. Now, at twenty eight, making my own money and being independent, getting pregnant wasn’t so alarming, plus I knew who was responsible anyway. Still there was some panic I could not wish away and I went to my doctor. They took all the samples and it was confirmed, I was officially pregnant. I was supposed to see Ochuko that night and had planned a dinner to surprise him at Radisson Blu. I thought it would be a great time to tell him, with the ambience and all. Excitedly, I went home and wore my sexy red gown for the dinner. Preggy sexy mama!
Ochuko arrived looking all yummy and my heart skipped a beat. A few women turned from their men and followed him with their eyes until he sat opposite me and my heart swelled with unabashed pride. We had seafood with rice and peppered chicken wings. The food was beautiful and conversation splendid. “Ochuko, I’ve got some news for you,” I began. He had been leaning forward on the table and now he sat upright, eyebrows arched in question “News, you say?” he inquired.
I placed my hands over his hands and smiled into his eyes “Yes. Ochuko, I was at my doctor’s today, and he ran tests. I am pregnant for you. We are going to have a baby!”
“Wow,” he said smiling. I was glad, he was smiling. I didn’t look closely enough at the smile, which in retrospect now, I saw for what it was, a cynic one. He withdrew his hands from mine and dipped his hands into his jacket pocket. Out came a white gold wedding band and he slipped in on. It fit perfectly. And then he stood up and walked away from a dumbfounded me.
To Be Continued