We will call him Boris. It’s hilarious, because I’ve never met a Nigerian who bears the name. But it sounds like a cross between "boring and painfully dumb", so it will do.
I didn’t like Boris. That’s the funny part. Not at all. The president and sisters’ coordinator of my fellowship introduced me to him at the mini market between Mbonu Ojike and Kenneth Dike, University of Nigeria. He was light-complexioned. Short. I picked a hint of an Igbo accent when he said my name and asked what it meant. He was a Bible study teacher. Fervent. Warm. Friendly. To everybody. So when, some nights, he asked me to take a walk with him, I considered it perfectly normal.
You remind me of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, he said. And of Dora Akunyili and of the Dean of the department of students’ affairs. But mostly Okonjo-Iweala. He was genuinely interested in my grades and my relationship with God. He told me to avoid being trapped by emotions; they messed things up. And to avoid the ‘small boys’ around; they’d mess me up. He said he liked me. But in a Christian fellowship, you do not read meaning into things like this. He began to call me sweetheart. But in a Christian fellowship, you smile and convince yourself it’s only a semi-inappropriate way of expressing God’s love.
So, Boris graduated and I missed his convocation ceremony. I’d have travelled from Enugu to Nsukka specifically for it, but then my friend enticed me with a plate of jollof rice and chicken and a can of malt, so I went to his room instead. Played video games until I had a headache. I considered it a good deal. Didn’t regret it one bit.
Boris came back to Enugu a few months later. He was processing his internship and had a little money to spare. We went to this cozy restaurant not quite far from school. It was Monday, prayer meeting day, but he called the president and told him he wanted to spend time with his sweetheart, so could she be excused? I could picture my president smiling half-nervously, half-uncertainly, as she said okay.
Boris told me he wanted to marry me. I was bold, he said, smart, and wise beyond my years. I’d be super successful, career-wise. Beneath my layers and layers of feminist aggression, he knew I’d be submissive; I’d manage a home well. He would wait for me to graduate, no pressure, but we could have a relationship, non-sexual, of course, until then.
So I smiled and said thank you, I told him I’ll sure pray about it, when all I really wanted to do was laugh-barf. Because, Dude, you’re short. Round. You aren’t financially stable yet. I don’t like your shade of yellow. Most importantly, 'hunnay,' I don’t like you.
But I’m very respectful, very reserved, so I decided I’d be mum, let this whole thing play out. Talk about being in a relationship with yourself. Hehehe.
When he suggested we go for a genotype test, I said sure, so long as we get to buy bole (roast plantains) and smoked fish first.
Results came in after what seemed like a lifetime. AS, both of us. Bummer. He almost cried. I told him, in a performance I still congratulate myself on till date, that this was beyond sad, but these things happen. He’d find someone cuter, smarter. Man, was I laughing inside.
He returned to Lagos. I went back too for the holiday. And in less than a month, he told me he’d found someone else, a student of his former department.
Oh wow. You don’t waste any time, do ya?
He wanted us to meet, hang out. I told him I’d ask my mum, expecting her to say no when she heard his coarse accent, when she smelled the 'un-poshness' wafting through the phone. She said yes. Because ‘he sounds very respectful.’
Ugh! Gag me with a spoon, Momma!
We went to the beach, and I shall not tell you what transpired there. But I will tell you that as we walked past the exit, shoes in hand, he said, ‘so after all these, you will not kiss me? Not even once?’ Not quite ten minutes later, he was telling New Girl on the phone, ‘sweetheart, don’t be vexed: we’ve left the beach. I didn’t see your calls. Oh and, Chekwube says hi.’
And on that vehicle, -a rickety white 15-seater bus plying the Victoria Island-CMS route-, i was sandwiched in-between a woman that smelled like Pears Baby Oil and burned jollof rice snoring away on my left ear, and Boris on my right, smiling sheepishly as he would turn to look at me occasionally as if he were to start up a conversation without actually starting one. With the sand in my left shoe pinching my foot, I realised that I, the unconquered, the hastily sort after, the queen of aloofness, was a SIDE CHICK.
Okay, now that I think about it, that’s a rather extreme term. It could almost be said that I was not a side chick. If the conditions to be fulfilled to have a valid side chick situation were on a scale of 5, we probably would be on 1.02. Yup, somewhere we around that point. We’d hit 8 at most on the pH scale, where alkalinity equals "sidechickness".
Let's push it. Let's see if we could represent this in a mathematical equation.
Ugh, okay, so, it should look like this: C8 (where 14(A) = [S]) There, i feel better.
I’m sure there’s a better way to put this but whatever. Don’t hate. I feel like a genius right now because I haven’t done theoretical math in five years!
But that was then. I was mad. Period.
He put the phone in his pocket, smiled at me. I smiled back, my mind screaming one word. Goat!
I got home two hours later than what we’d agreed on. My mum wasn’t angry. She asked if I enjoyed myself and when I gave her the loaves of bread he’d given me money to get her, she all but melted. Aww, she said, how nice of him. So this is what it feels like to have suitors pursue your daughter.
Facepalm. That spoon, Momma. Please, that spoon.
Of course, she didn’t know the whole story! I never told her.
Fast forward a year. I had an accident, you see, one I will write about later. Bottom line, my arm was in a cast. Boris visited the fellowship. Came to my hostel and we had a chat. He was still round, but a dignified kind of round. The yellow of his skin had taken on a fine sheen and he had acquired a touch-me-please beard and killer sideburns. His 'senator' (a perfect synthesis between a Western suit and traditional dress) was clean-cut and reeked of tens of thousands of naira. He talked less loudly, spoke in a slow, confident, almost-whisper that caught you and made you listen. That made me listen. And I thought, Of course. The universe is nothing but a bitch. 'His level had changed', as we say here.
His salary was about 570,000 naira, plus other benefits, he said. "I’m always offering to spoil New Girl, but she always refuses. That’s why I love her. She reminds me of you". I smiled tightly. He requested my account number. I wanted to tell him to keep his stinking money to himself, to tell him that this show was in really bad taste and I wanted him to disappear. Instead, I asked why. Because I want to send you something (an unnecessarily euphemistic term for a small amount of money among Igbos. I think it’s a stupid concept, by the way). You don’t need it, we both know you’re a big girl, but I want to do it. Please let me. Please. And so I gave it to him. He told me to care of myself, to keep to doctor’s appointments and to remain happy, for his sake. Of course, I quipped in agreement.
Two months later, there’s no money, and no call. I’m pleased. Only on the first count, though, his calling wouldn’t have been so bad. Mr. Show Off. Mr. My-Money-Grows-Like-Grass. Rubbish.
So I call him on a Tuesday night -when I’m sure he’s back from the hospital and has probably had dinner- to say hi. He apologises profusely, tells me he will be in Enugu in two weeks; he will come and see me, we will hang out. I say okay.
Two weeks later, his Whatsapp story says he’s in Enugu. Chilling with New Girl. In a restaurant. His family’s there too. Captions beneath her pictures: My queen. My heart. God’s own woman. My love. They even have a hashtag derived from the first syllables of both their names. It sounds like a fart.
Two days later I send him a message on Whatsapp: Left Enugu? He says yes, he couldn’t stay long because bgbuhgoihigdoigh jihiiuoghubgu jubufigpiup so he barely even had time to show his fiancée to his family before jibubgou uubhvigudhuo hdheidjiohg. And that he’s really sorry.
I take a deep breath. Weigh stuff, Calculate and balance equations. And then I basically tell him to fall off the face of my earth. I don’t feel good afterward. I should but I don’t. I feel...hurt. Now I look like a jealous cow. That’s probably what New Girl will tell him when he relates the whole thing to her. "She’s a jealous cow". And then he'd probably go; "Di’m, don’t mind her, abeg. Let me further prove my wife-worth by giving you an over-the-phone foot-wash."
This is why they say, allow a frog croak in your ear too long and soon you’ll notice it has got a nice ring to it and his large eyes are somewhat adorable and his slimy yellow –sorry, green- skin reminds you of ewedu soup, and ewedu soup is bae. right?
Moral of the story? Figure that out yourself. My friend got her hair denaturalised by mistake this afternoon and I’ve got to go make her feel worse.