When we reached Asunle bus stop the last passenger but the smiling beauty alighted, giving me room and rest of mind to access the saviour of my day. She was as fresh as morning dew, tender skin, soft smiles—and her dimples daggered at my soul— each time they narrowed into her check, a heavy lump of air pauses at my Adam’s apple banging at the depth of my heart.
‘What is your name?’ I heard myself say her.
‘Lidiah!’ she replied, but I heard some contraction in my ears. I had thought it was the surrounding noise of my jalopy.
‘Lydia, that is a beautiful name fitting an angel like you.
‘Tanku’ blew my way with the same earlier contraction. Obvious by now my queenly dressed city girl Lydia suffers from some ancestral accent. The original Omo Ibadan, Ki ni sho?! Whatever, my priggish head thinks this lady has only helped to save a situation and does not deserve of my ridicule. I will have to come to her level if I want to profit of the next round of communication, at least to settle our pending business transaction.
‘How much do I owe you now as chang?’ I asked in Yoruba dialect. This really surprised her as she immediately livens up.
‘Oga diraifa, se pe e si gbo Yoruba, le n wa fo ebo bi ipere (Driver why were you speaking English language If you could speak Yoruba so fluently)?’
‘Why not, I am a Yoruba boy from Ogbomosho, Alao is my name’ I responded in the dialect she loves
‘Na wa o!’ was her next remark.
She told me I would balance her #185. The earlier problem resurfaced—I still had no change!
Considering her graciousness to have saved me from a busybody, I took out a #200 note and gave her back that, of course, paid her back fifty per cent of her fare.
She thankfully took it and turned to the side of the door to get out of the car, I asked her for her direction, more as a polite request than of any interest.
‘Is that your house?’ I asked but without waiting for an answer, I lit the ignition—that’s surely my way, too.
Turning by Agbowo complex and through Orita UI, in no time we were in her street, she refused to let me drive her to her house on number 16 just as she refused to spare me few minutes in my room to appreciate her kind gestures. In case you are thinking served you right…well, am sorry to disappoint you, I’m not the kind of person…I only appreciated her kindness, and, of course, what’s the heck, her disarming smiles.
Anyway, she slotted me on her schedule for Sunday. If you ask me that’s okay by me. Sunday is the only day for any pleasure whatsoever.
Holy lord! I waited in vain on the appointed Sunday. I had perked up my room, with the little money my jalopy spared me after spending fortunes on repairs and deliver. I made provision for some grubs. But Lydia didn’t show up. That’s the way with village girls turn city chics, they tend to suspect every move but here I am trying to be nice for once in my life.
I’ve got little energy to fight off poverty in my life than to add women palava to my worries. One is evil and the other is a greater evil. In fact, with so many women in a life poverty is given an unconditional invitation to wreck such life. If I wanted women, how far wouldn’t I go with my course-mates given that I am the supposed efiko of the class? They come but I’d never given them enough room to stay.
But am I such a priggish snub? Far from it! There is this thing that I fear would come upon me if I am not diligent with my work and studies.
Legend has it that my grandfather, a successful cocoa famer had dared poverty, in a drunken stupor, to a duel of strength. He had boasted that nothing, not even poverty, could wreck his economic empire and that his children’s children would live in affluence till the seventh generation without having to work a day. After the calamitous Ijaye war my grandfather died working as a pawn on a farm in Ilesha village. Poverty having won the vain is set to ruin his entire lineage. My father died a petty fisherman. Farming was no option for us anymore we never prospered from it. I believe I am savouring my portion of poverty porridge in a disguise called life.
Lydia showed up at some quarter to seven that Sunday evening. Was I glad? You can bet! We ate. Played, talked, laughed and lost our senses.
That was two years ago. Lydia is now my wife and the mother of our three children. The paltry my jalopy was casting my way was never enough to pay my school bills and cater for a woman—a heavily pregnant one and a gluttonous son whose appetite is greater than Gargantua’s. Poverty has finally caught up with me. Truly, the thing that i fear comes upon me, and what i dread befalls me.
Quill Shiv is the host of this challenge on her blog