Jide felt a slight tap on his shoulder.
“Please, is this the queue for the buses going to Ikorodu Road?”
Her singsong voice matched her petite frame. Another quick glance revealed equally petite nose, and lips. Everything about her was cute and doll-like.
“Do the buses take this long to arrive?
“Well, this is rush hour and you know how traffic is…”
“Oh, that’s true. I haven’t taken the bus in a long while.”
Jide was in no mood for small talk. He’d had a very annoying session with one of the clients at the office, and he had two briefs to write and hand in tomorrow before he went to spend another equally annoying afternoon at the CAC office. And his oga at the office, haba! The old man was the modern day definition of “slave driver”. He rubbed his forehead with a thumb and index finger. Mondays! Well, he had to love them because of the paycheck they brought.
What was keeping the buses, abeg? He was getting irritated.
The woman behind him kept shifting uneasily from one foot to the other. She let out a sound at intervals, something that sounded like a cross between a sigh and wincing in pain. He looked down and discovered the cause of her discomfort.
Why do women even punish themselves in these ridiculous heels? These things can’t be anything less than 10 inches,o! Lobatan!
She didn’t look like she took the bus often. He chuckled at her discomfort.
She frowned slightly, wondering what was amusing him. Just then an empty bus rounded the bend with “Ikorodu” written in capital letters on the indicator. Those that had left the queue to sit on stone slabs or benches of the food hawkers, started coming back to take their places. As usual there were a few squabbles as some people tried to be smart and jump the queue. Good thing they were standing near the front of the line, so they were assured of having seats.
The ticket vendor started selling tickets and when it got to Jide’s turn, he bought two.
He never gave tips, and now here he was buying a bus ticket for a complete stranger. For no reason.
Well, it’s her lucky day.
He turned and handed one to her. She took it, hesitant, surprised at the stranger’s kindness. At the door into the bus, he stepped aside and let her go in first, bowing slightly at the waist.
She giggled. This stranger was beginning to look interesting. She took a window seat near the rear end of the bus and he slipped in to the aisle seat beside her. And smiled.
The traffic situation that day was something else! All routes were blocked. At a point, the traffic was at a standstill for more than an hour. Most passengers started sleeping, while some made the hawkers happy by buying almost every snack on sale to eat.
Jide had been playing Temple Run on his tablet and making small talk with his newfound friend. As the traffic dragged, he got tired of playing and they both ran out of discussion topics. He put an earphone in one ear and tuned into one of the radio stations. Some R & B song request show was on.
The playlist that night got him thinking about his current love-less state. His last two relationships had ended quite badly.
Nancy had gone off to the UK and sent him an email four months later to say she was now a Mrs. Amaju. Derin, well…he couldn’t put up with her breathing down his neck and policing his every move. He couldn’t make a call or text anyone in her presence without her suspecting him of cheating on her. He had to end it to save his sanity.
What was that? He felt a weight on his left shoulder. The pretty little woman had fallen asleep and her head was resting lightly on his shoulder.
He noticed her scent for the first time. Hints of some floral perfume laced with a fruity undertone teased his senses. He touched her hand lightly, feeling her soft skin. She stirred and continued sleeping. He wished it was lighter so he could see her other “interesting” features.
There was something about her scent and Joe’s Seven Days in his ear that was causing him to feel something he hadn’t felt in a while.
He looked down at her sleeping head, down the bridge of her nose, and in the semi-darkness that surrounded the stationary bus; his head moved of its own volition as it tilted down towards hers. Her eyes fluttered open that very instant but that didn’t stop him. His lips found hers in a kiss that was as sweet as it was simple. There was no pretense. His need matched hers, and he could feel her smiling as she kissed him back. It ended too soon, much like those cups of ice cream at Chicken Republic that finished just as you had begun to enjoy it the most.
He didn’t notice the cars had started moving up front and as the driver eased his foot off the brake, the bus jolted forward and threw them slightly apart. Her palm still rested flat on his chest as if to prevent his heart from jumping out of his chest as it thumped wildly behind his rib cage.
The lights of an oncoming car washed over her face, giving him another glimpse of her face He held her chin with his right hand and kissed her again. He was glad they’d chosen to sit at the rear end of the bus.
He held her hand for the rest of the journey. As they neared Ojota, she fumbled in her handbag for a piece of paper, scribbled something on it and stuffed it in his breast pocket.
“I’m getting off at the next stop. Call me. Please.”
He squeezed her hand and nodded.
“Sure. I will.”
When she got off, he read what she had written in the light of his phone. The name Efe and a phone number were written there in a very neat cursive.
Jide daydreamed about Efe all week.
His boss spoiled his plans to call Efe that weekend by inviting the entire staff for some party at his house, something about his wife insisting on throwing him a 60th birthday party.
He sat with some other colleagues under the canopy when he saw Efe. She was dressed in a lace outfit that matched what Chief Dumebi wore.
He nearly dropped his drink in disbelief.
“She’s hot, abi?” said Obinna, winking and digging his elbow into his side. “Our oga dey enjoy, sha. If she was my wife…chei! He ran his hand through his hair and let out a low whistle.
Jide looked at the glass in his hand. He surely needed a stronger drink.