Mami! Mami!! Mami !!!( mum! mum!!mum!!!)
She went straight to the backyard where she had expected her mum to be. As it would always be, Mami was getting ready to go hawk some fufu in molete.
Hope there is no problem Mami asked;
Mami I have to go to Lagos
o ! Ranti replied.
Lagos ke, mami replied with her eyes rolling.
Yes Lagos she replied. Uncle kola has finally found a job for me, I will be leaving in five (5) days.
Mami quickly put down the tray of fufu on her head, she could not hold her excitement. She dance and hugged me . Prayed for me and finally asked me what will happen to Laolu?
Laolu will be fine mami, I have already told him.
Are you sure o mami asked?
I am just coming from his hall in UI.
What did he say? He wasn’t very happy but I told him there was nothing to worry about.
Suddenly Mami‘s face lost all the excitement. That young man seems to be a good boy, I don’t want you to lose him.
Nothing of such will happen Mami. I need to go and pack my things, I should be leaving tomorrow.
So I set out for Lagos the next day, I took a bus from challenge to Ojota. Arrived Ojota at about 11am and headed to uncle kola's office
. I asked for the way at every contact I had with a human being. I finally got
to his office. He was so excited to see me.
Welcome to Lagos, he said. This is the small London!
So I adjusted into the fast paced lifestyle of the average Lagosian. Lagos is so different from Ibadan where I grow up. Oh I miss Ibadan (thinking aloud).
I was lucky to have gotten a job as an office assistant in one of the federal agencies. Uncle Kola was highly connected as I later came to find out. Everybody in the office treated me like a kid sister. They would buy me anything, I just needed to ask for it.
Oh yes, everyone wanted to introduce me to a brother/cousin that was single. I felt like a princess.
Uncle kola took care of me, advised me to save my earning and spend only what he gave me for upkeep. Of course I adhered. I was becoming a big girl in my own right. There was always food for me to eat anytime I returned back from work and Uncle Kola would be around to ask if I needed anything.
So I got home on this particular day, looking forward to another session of Uncle Kola talk on politics. I waited for him in the living room, hoping he would walk in any moment from then. I must have really been tired because I slept off on the couch while watching some programme on NTA.
A loud noise woke me from my sleep. I walked to the window, who could have been hitting the gate at this time. I looked the clock, it was midnight. Then I heard my name Ranti! Ranti!!. That’s uncle Kola, what was he doing out this late. I ran downstairs to let him into the compound . Uncle Kola had come home with two of his friends, they were obviously coming from a party. All looking drunk and oozed of alcohol. ‘Bola come and meet my niece, the one I told you about’ uncle Kola said to his friends.
As I greeted uncle Kola, I noticed the well dressed man looking at me in amazement. Are you the Ranti? Alhaji’s daughter? I said yes but I don’t recall meeting this man anywhere in Ibadan. I am Bola and we are neighbors in Ibadan but I’ve been living in Lagos for a very long time and probably that’s was why you’ve never met me.
So that was the beginning of everyday of seeing Bola’s face. He would come visit my uncle and used that opportunity to say hi to me. Always telling me I was too gorgeous not to have a boyfriend. Ranti, you belong to the Lagos big boys he would always say. He would join me in the kitchen and we would talk about almost everything. At times he would even offer to help me with the cooking. Very interesting young man.
He had a way with words and I just like him. We became close and I was forced to tell him I had a boy friend in Ibadan, that has promised to marry me. I didn’t want to lead him on. He was shocked. So you have a boyfriend? he asked. Yes oo I replied him. His name is Laolu, studying political science in UI. Suddenly his countenance changed. I became concerned and wondered if I have said anything wrong. What's the problem Bola? Why are you suddenly looking sad I queried.
I had told my friend you were single and he is already in love With you. Your friend ? I asked. Yes my friend. But I don’t know any of your friends, I said . Yes you do, his name is Tunji. He was the other guy with me the night we came to your house with your uncle. The midnight you mean? Yes, the midnight, Bola answered .
Oh I remember him, he seemed quiet and hardly spoke that night. But he didn’t express any form of interest in me. I even thought he was shy and unfriendly. Anyways tell him I am not interested, that I have a boyfriend.
Bola stood up from my side and left the house. He acted so strange. I ran after him but before I could catch up. He had walked past the gate . I felt bad. Bola’s friendship wasn’t the kind I wanted to lose. I had tears in my eyes. Bola has been a big brother to me. A very kind man.
As I walked sluggishly back to the house, I heard the sound of the gate being opened . I turned back and it was Bola. I was about to run and go jump on him when I noticed another man followed closely behind him. Then I paused and asked myself, who can this be? Bola moved closer and said the normal introduction line “Ranti meet Tunji , Tunji meet Ranti”. Tunji stretched out his hand to shake me but I was reluctant, I didn’t feel good about this introduction. I stretched my hand to receive his, as I wouldn’t want to embarrass the young man. Tunji spoke very differently and sounded very foreign. Infact he spoke like an oyinbo man. That seemed to be a turn off for me.
Tunji would come and check on me at home, in the office ,salon, market and even church. I kept telling him I had someone who had asked me to marry him. ‘How can you listen to that kind of person? He just wants to destroy a young girl like you, he should give you time to grow up. He’s just a desperate man
I said never! Laolu is not a desperado, he knows what he wants and he’s going for it without beating around the bush. This became a norm for Tunji, he would always make mention of Laolu desperate moves anytime he saw me. That was when I began to notice Tunji wasn’t bad looking anyway, he had a good dress sense, he looks better than Laolu in appearance and of course he has a job. But I still prefer my Laolu, what kind of dilemma is this!
While cleaning the house on one of those Saturdays that I had time and energy, I decided to clean uncle Kola’s special table. Nobody goes near the special table except uncle Kola himself. His reason has always been ‘I only keep office stuff here and I will always want to meet them the way I left them”. This special table looks dirty to me o, I will have to clean it, I said to myself. So I started cleaning the table and I stumbled unto some envelopes that had my names on them. Instinctively I picked the envelopes and checked the sides, and my worst fear was confirmed. Laolu had written to me four different times and I never replied. I burst into tears instantly, I could imagine him feeling very abandoned. His first letter came in just two weeks after I arrived in Lagos.
I read through the four letters and became so angry with uncle Kola. Why would he do that kind of thing to me? I confronted him and all he could say was “I didn’t want you to get distracted. You need to face your job squarely”
Of courseI didn’t buy his excuses. I replied Laolu and apologized. I told him the role my uncle played in me not receiving the letters early enough. Gisted him about my job and all the crazy thing that were happening in Lagos. I told him mami was coming to see me at the end of the month so he could send her to me. Laolu had promised me a lot of goodies.
So Mami arrived Lagos some weeks after, I literately jumped on her, I had missed my sweet mum. We discussed almost everything you can think of. My mum is a good story teller. So she finally handed a bag to me, saying “Laolu asked me to give this to you”. Wow!! So he finally got me these dresses. My Laolu!!! He would always keep to his words. There was a letter in the bag too. Laolu had just informed me he would be travelli9ng to the UK to continue with his studies but he would want me to go the airport with him on the day he was traveling. He wanted me and his parents to be with him while he bade Nigeria a temporary good bye.
So I prepared for the D day. It will be my first time of going to the airport and I was also meeting Laolu’s parents as their future daughter in-law.
The day finally came. I sat at the balcony, stretching my neck at every sound of a car. Suddenly a car appeared and it was coming towards the direction of our house, so I rushed downstairs to welcome Laolu. I was so elated, it was like I just won a jack pot. I rushed to the gate, opened it and jumped out. But I got the greatest shock of my life.
What are you doing here? I asked Tunji. I came to see you he replied. I was furious. How dare you just come visit me without any prior notification. Let it be the last time you try this kind of rubbish with me, I yelled at him. Instead of him turning back and head to his car, he went on his knees and started pleading with me not to be unkind to him, that he really loved and he would want me to be his wife. I told him to stop embarrassing himself as I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to meet him here. He rushed and grabbed my hands, his eyes were full of tears, I was shocked. Pls don’t do this to me he begged. I drove all the way from Abeokuta to see you. I beg of you in the name of God. Tunji mumbled amidst tears. I went numb. No man has ever cried for me. I felt for him. But I couldn’t attend to him, Laolu will be here any minute. So I asked him to come back the next and we could really talk. As I was about turning to leave , I heard my name
Ranti! Ranti!! Ranti!!!
I looked up and it was Laolu rushing out of his parents car to meet me. As I made to approach him, Tunji forcefully pulled me back. And asked me what I thought I was doing. How could I walk away from him to go and meet another man, that I should tell Laolu to wait for his turn.
Who is this? Laolu asked me.I told him he was uncle Kola’s friend. He greeted Tunji politely and turned to me ‘we should be on our way, I’m already running late’. So I asked Tunji to let go of my hand as he could see that I was joining my boyfriend for a ride to the airport. ‘Over my dead body’ shouted Tunji. You are going nowhere. He turned to Laolu, Mr man I would advise to start going so that you don’t miss your flight, this woman here will not be joining you. She is my future wife.
It was as if the ground should open up and swallow me, I screamed and told Tunji to let me go but he refused. Laolu being the gentleman that I know him to be, was just looking perplexed. His mum shouted from the car “Laolu you will miss your flight, we have to go right now”
Ranti is this true? He asked.
I was shaking, I couldnt speak. I was in a total state of shock. Nooooooo I mumbled ineffectively.
I could see the disappointment in his eyes as he stared into mine. He was heartbroken. As he made to leave, he turned and said ‘Thank you so much Ranti’.
I watched the car drove off in disbelief.
Join me as the realities of my life unfold in part two.