Femi when are you getting married? Femi I don’t want an Oyibo man oo. Femi, are you listening to me? Femi...Femi...Femi...
Femi panted and increased her pace. She thought maybe if she ran faster, she could banish her mother’s voice from her mind. She huffed and puffed. She knew she should stop; for one thing, it was 9 in the night and her David would be worried; for another, her thigh muscles were really cramping up.
She doubled back and began the 10-minute race back to her apartment. The lights were on.
David, She thought with an inward groan. She didn’t feel like seeing him, he always knew when something was wrong with her, and she wasn’t ready to talk about it. He must have used his emergency key when she didn’t show up for their 4 0’clock date. He probably thought she was lying on the floor, half dead. He was such a worry wart.
She paused with her hand on the door knob to compose herself. Her heart was still racing from the exercise, and she could just make out David’s shadow as he paced the length of the small living room.
As soon as the door knob turned, he was in front of her in a flash
‘Where have you been Femi? I’ve been worried sick-‘
‘You’re always worrying, that’s not News’
‘What, we have a date, you don’t show up, you don’t call and I’m not supposed to worry? I CALLED YOU A THOUSAND TIMES!’
He dogged her footsteps and continued ‘I called your work, I called your Bible study group, I called your friends! did anyone know where you were? No! Did you bother to call and let anyone know where you were? Of course not, why should you? Let’s just give David a heart attack at 28, why don’t we? I came over here and rang the doorbell for AGES-‘
She turned around and held her hands up for peace. His hair was in spikes, he’d obviously run his hands through it severally. His forehead was corrugated; his green eyes, stormy, and his cheeks were flushed from either worry or temper, or both. Her lips twitched in spite of her gloomy mood.
‘Look!’ She said ‘I’m tired and sweaty-‘
‘And shiny, and annoying, and-‘
She turned around and continued walking ‘Look’ She said again ‘I’m going to take a shower, okay? I’m sorry I got you worried, but I really need a shower’
She walked into the bathroom
‘No, wait, Femi, I’m not done yelling at you-‘
‘You can continue when I get out’ she shut the door in his face and he heaved a sigh.
He knew she would stay in there for another 30 minutes, and his feelings would have dissipated when she showed up again. She knew what she was doing, alright.
Femi leaned against the door and decided to take a bath instead of a shower, and let her mind wander to the first time she met David.
She was new at the church, having just moved to Canada from Nigeria for her Masters program. She didn’t know anyone but she liked the church because the people were kind and the preacher spoke like he was talking to her. Church had closed and she was just walking out when a really tall guy walked up in front of her
‘Hey! I haven’t seen you before, you’re new, right?’
She looked up, smiled shyly and nodded.
‘I thought so. I’m not bragging but I know everyone here’ he said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. She was instantly charmed.
‘I’m David’ he said, thrusting a big hand in her face. ‘David Harvey’
‘Nice to meet you David’ She adjusted her books and placed her hand in his. His hand dwarfed hers instantly. His eyes flashed to hers, dancing with humour.
‘I was going to say something about your size, but we only just met’
Her mouth opened in mock surprise ‘You were going to call me small, weren’t you?’
He grinned hugely ‘I was leaning more toward little, but yeah’
‘What!’ She drew herself to her full height ‘I am a whopping 5 foot 4!’
‘Yes, yes, you look very intimidating, your size scares me’ he said.
‘It’s only because you’re so huge. I’m not that small’
‘Yeah, sure, what’s your name, you big giant?’
She laughed loudly ‘It’s Femi’
‘Femi. Hmmn. Where are you from, Femi?’
Just then, her phone shrieked out a Casting Crowns song, interrupting them.
‘Um...my phone is ringing’ she said
‘Yes, Femi, I can hear it too’ he looked confused
‘Um...I need my hand to answer it’
He looked down, only just realizing he still held her hand He dropped it hastily and flushed. It was amazing to her, the flushing. She had only read about that in books and seen it in movies. It supposedly signified embarrassment. She stared for a second longer than necessary.
‘Here, let me hold those for you’ he said, reaching for her books.
‘Thanks’ she said, dug around in her bag, found her phone ‘Oh, it’s my mum. I have to take this or she won’t stop calling. I’ll be right back’
‘No worries, take your time’ he was still red in the face.
‘So. Casting Crowns, huh’ he said when she came back.
‘Yeah’ she smiled. ‘They’re my favourite band. I hope to see them in concert someday. Listen I have to go. My mum says the whole family is waiting for me on Skype’
‘Oh. Oh yeah, sure, sorry. Um, do you need me to take these to your car or something?’
‘No, I don’t have a car. Don’t worry, it’s cool, I’ve been carrying my books around for ages. Thanks, anyway.’
‘Yeah. It was nice to meet you, Femi’
‘You, as well’ she turned and walked away.
She was almost at the door when he yelled ‘So you’re coming next Sunday right?’
She turned. A couple of people were staring. He seemed to notice to because he stuck his hands in his pockets and lifted his shoulders.
That was how it began.
Days slithered into weeks and weeks into months. He called her and texted her a lot. She thought about him a lot, too much for comfort.
She went to church every week. Joined the youth Bible study group and made a few friends. She and David talked regularly and hung out with other youths from their church. Sometimes they went to the beach, sometimes they rented vans and took road trips.
Then one Sunday after church, he approached her outside.
‘Hey David, what’s up’
He stared at her a moment longer than necessary. ‘Are you alright? You look a little tired’
‘Oh. Yeah i was up late last night; I’ve got a test on Wednesday’
‘Your nose is always stuck in a book. Ugh, I hate tests’
She laughed. ‘You’re not even the one taking it’
‘Right. Anyway I got you a present’
A wary look came into her eyes ‘What is it?’
He laughed. ‘I said, a present, why do you look so scared, don’t you like presents?’
‘Not really. I don’t know what to expect, and I’m not that good at hiding my feelings. What if I don’t like it?’
He waved that away, with confidence ‘Don’t worry. Bet you’d like this one’ he handed it to her.
It was a brown envelope. She opened it, looked inside and just stared.
‘David...’ she croaked. She cleared her throat and tried again ‘David...’
He was looking down at her, amused.
‘There are tickets in here, David’
‘I know, I put them there’ he said with exaggerated patience.
‘David, there are tickets in here. Tickets, Casting Crown tickets’ she looked up again, worried he didn’t understand.
‘I know, Femi’
‘You got me tickets to see Casting Crowns?’ Both of them were alarmed when her eyes suddenly filled up
‘Woah...woah, what’s happening’ he looked panicked.
‘No, I’m sorry, I thought you wanted them’
‘No I do, I do. I’m not really crying, It’s...it’s just the sun’
‘It’s the middle of winter, Femi’
‘Fine, whatever. I’m crying’ she dashed the traitorous tears off her cheeks in anger.
‘Why did you get me these?’
‘Because you said they were your favourite band!’ he was confused by her reaction
‘When did I say that to you?’
‘The first time we met, remember? Your ringtone was one of their songs. It was Courageous’
There was a pause. A line formed between her brows. ‘You...you remembered that? I only said it in passing’
‘I remember everything about you, Femi’ he said with a shrug. His eyes widened when her eyes filled again ‘Don’t start crying again, please’ he begged
‘I won’t. I don’t cry. I’m going home before I embarrass myself further’ she sighed, and then looked up at him again. ‘You don’t know how much this means to me. Thank you so much for this. Will you lean down a little so I can kiss your cheek’?
‘Oh’ He leaned down, and she gave him a quick hug and kissed his cheek.
‘Thank you so much’ she said again
‘You’re welcome’ His face was red
‘Wait...there are two tickets in here’
‘Yeah, i thought maybe you wouldn’t want to go alone and you might want to take one of your friends.’
‘I feel my eyes filling again. I’m just gonna go, okay? See you later, David’
That was the moment she fell in love with him. She thought about him all the way home. It wasn’t her fault. How could a person not fall in love with him? He was the nicest, most selfless, God-loving guy she had ever met. And he listened. And why was he so tall? He was her first everything. Her first real friend, he took her to her first riding lesson, he took her to her first swimming lesson, he was the first person who really listened when she talked. And he had kind eyes. You could tell a lot about a person by just looking in their eyes.
She thought about him throughout the day, when it was 6 0’ clock, she went over to his place and rang the doorbell.
‘We’re friends, right?’ she said as soon as he opened the door
‘Um...yeah, what’s going on?’
She handed him the tickets ‘You said I could go with a friend. You said we’re friends. Do you want to go with me?’
‘Sure, that’d be great...I mean, if you’re sure’
She glared at him. ‘I’d just like to point out that I’m here. It’s six...’ she consulted her watch ‘...fifteen. It’s the middle of winter. In Canada. Does any of that sound like what an unsure person would do?’
He laughed. ‘Point taken’ he said. ‘You should come in. Want some tea? You look cold. The whole family is home. Come meet everyone. Come on, don’t freak out’ he laughed and grabbed her arm before she could make a run for it ‘They’re just my family, they don’t bite’
‘I only came here to invite you to go with me to the concert!’ She was freaking out, meet his family? No way.
‘Mom, would you come to the door, please?’ he yelled
‘Shh! I’m going to kill you’
That was how she met his family.
The day of the concert came and went. She had the best time of her life.
‘Thanks for getting me these tickets, David, I really appreciate it. This has been the
best day of my life’ she gushed ‘And thanks for coming with me too. How did you get the tickets anyway?’
‘Oh my mum is friends with the drummer, I think’
‘Wow. Your family is so cool’ she said, as she turned her key in the lock
‘Thanks’ he shuffled from one foot to another in her tiny apartment.
‘I’m gonna make some tea, you want?’ she called from the kitchen.
‘Sure’ he called back.
She put the kettle on to boil and came back. He was still standing around, shuffling his feet.
‘Something on your mind?’ she asked
‘What...no, no...I mean, yeah...I mean, not really’
She smiled indulgently, ‘David, you don’t stutter. What’s going on?’
He was looking at her in a weird way. His normally intense eyes were even more so, and he looked really nervous.
‘It’s not important’ he was staring into her eyes. His very stance belied the statement.
‘Do you want to pray about hanging out more often’ he blurted out. He stuck his hands in his pockets and cringed. She was confused.
‘Hanging out? You mean like we do with the guys from church?’
‘Why do we need to pray about that, I mean, we already hang out, is there a problem?’
‘Um...I meant...er...without the others’ His color rose with every word he uttered.
There was a slight pause. When she spoke, her voice was quieter.
‘You mean, just the two of us?’
‘Uh...yeah...yes. I mean...could you stop looking at me for one second so I can concentrate on my...um... suggestion?’ When she furrowed her brows, he said ‘It’s just...I kind of lose my train of thought when you look at me for too long, you’ve got the most incredible eyes I’ve ever seen’ he passed a hand through his blonde hair.
‘What, me!’ she gasped ‘You should look in the mirror sometimes Dave’
They lapsed into an awkward silence, looking into each other’s eyes and quickly looking away. It was pleasant, but awkward.
‘Okay, fine, I’m not looking at you...I’ll just look at...’ she turned around ‘Oh yeah, this flowerpot looks like it wants to be looked at’
He chuckled. ‘Stop making me laugh, Femi, I’m trying to be serious here’
‘Okay. So, I’m 26 years old...wait, I never asked how old you are!’
‘What! You don’t look a day older than 18 but you talk like a 23 or 24 year old so I was a little confused. Anyway, I’m 26. I’m not a bad guy, I love God as much as you do, I’ve got a good job and it’s not like I’m, like, jumping or anything, but I just thought maybe we could...maybe pray about, you know, getting into a relationship. Just pray, nothing major, yet. But I like you. I really like you. I mean, i...’ he breathed in deep ‘I really, really, really like you, I think you’re extremely beautiful, inside and out. You’re on my mind like, all the time, and hanging out with you, I mean just seeing you makes me so happy and...I promise, I had more to say but you’re looking at me again’
She smiled and took his hand. The kettle was whistling in the background.
‘I was also going to say, I love how your hand fits in mine but you distracted me. So, do you want to pray about it?’
There was a knock on the door. It was David.
‘Femi? Are you alright? It’s been almost an hour’
‘Be right out’
She got out of the tub, towelled herself dry put on her pyjamas.
David was standing at the table, holding a spatula. She could smell chicken pepper soup, Nigerian style. The sudden rush of love that swamped her surprised her. She walked to him and hugged him around the waist.
‘I’m still a little mad, Femi’
‘I love you’ She breathed on his neck in a way that she knew tickled him. Sure enough, he laughed a little
‘You’re too small to give me so much grief. Sometimes I’m tempted to stuff you in my pocket where you’ll be safe and I won’t have to worry. You can’t just go MIA for hours Femi, you know I worry a lot.’
‘I’m sorry. It won’t happen again’ She kissed his neck and let go. ‘So, you made me pepper soup’
‘Yes. And you’re going to drink it all up and tell Uncle David what the matter is’
‘What makes you think anything is the matter?’
‘Honey. You went jogging. You don’t jog. You don’t exercise at all’
She laughed. ‘Maybe I was trying to surprise my heart. You know, with a little exercise. It must have been surprised because I kind of feel it’s still racing’
He set a bowl of soup in front of her and handed her a spoon. ‘Eat!’ he commanded. ‘And tell me what’s going on’
She felt the Spirit pricking her.
‘Guess what, David?’
‘We’re going to Nigeria’
Six months later, David and Femi arrived in Nigeria. She had called her mum and told her not to bother coming to pick them up, they would take a cab. She looked around Lagos as the taxi sped by. There was the woman selling boli along the road. Hawkers came up to the cab when the inevitable traffic caught up with them. She was nervous.
David rubbed her shoulders. ‘Are you alright, honey?’
‘Yeah, I’m fine, just a little nervous’
‘You? I’m the only one allowed to be nervous here, I’m the one meeting your parents
for the first time’
‘Good point. Are you hungry?’
‘Not really, but I could eat something’
‘You want some boli?’
‘Yeah, sure. Uh...what is it?’
She laughed ‘It’s just roasted plantain. It tastes nice with some groundnuts’
Five bolis and 2 yoghurts later, they arrived at her parents’ house.
‘So...this is it’
‘This is it’ he agreed. ‘I’ll get the bags, you go ring the bell’
‘Um...David, there’s something I have to tell you’
He looked down at her ‘Oh boy. I’m not going to like this, am I?’
‘Probably not’ she agreed
‘What’s going on?’
‘Um...they kind of don’t know we’ve arrived’
‘Oh...that’s not a problem, it’ll be a pleasant surprise’
‘Yeah, yeah, sure...but’ she stopped him as he bent to retrieve the bags
‘What is it?’
‘Um...they um...kind of don’t know we’re in a relationship’
‘What? Femi, come on. It’s been two years’
‘Yeah, yeah, it’s just...my mum isn’t really comfortable with white...I mean Caucasians’
‘She doesn’t like white people? How come?’
‘No she likes white people okay, it’s just...she doesn’t really like the idea of her daughter marrying a white person’
‘She thinks their divorce rate is through the roof’
‘Oh...well, that’s true, but you and I are never getting divorced. Come on, let’s go in and I’ll convince her. What about your dad?’
‘Oh my dad is cool as a cucumber’ she shuffled her feet
‘Um...there’s one more thing David’
‘Wow Femi, what could they possibly not know about, this time?’
‘You...They don’t know about you’
He dropped the bags. ‘What? That’s...’ He was weak
‘So you just, forgot to tell them you were in a relationship? What’s going on in your mind Femi?’
‘I don’t know!’ she cried ‘I thought maybe if they saw you, they would fall in love with you and kind of...not notice you were...you know, white’ she finished lamely.
‘Maybe i should just put some shoe polish on my face and arms and they won’t notice.
Sorry, lame joke, I know’ he said when she raised her brow.
They both turned at the sound of footsteps.
‘Who is there?’ a woman’s voice cane from behind the gate
‘Just, whatever you do, don’t say ‘Hi, Mrs. Babajide’, okay?’
‘What! What should I say’
‘Say Good afternoon ma. Nigerian mothers like that’
‘Who’s there’? The voice said again
‘Be cool’ she whispered to him
‘It’s me mum. It’s Femi’
The woman screamed and hurried to unlock the gate. She drank in her daughter’s face at first, and then she looked at David, looked at the way her daughter was clinging to David’s arm. Her eyes widened in alarm as she put two and two together. David just caught her as she fainted.
‘I am going to kill you, Femi’ said David.
To Be Continued...
p.s. sorry guys, I usually don't do this, but the story didn't want to end. I felt like it was too long and didn't want to give you guys undue stress. I'll post the next part later.