It is 6pm. Wale picks Kunbi from work as usual. She is reading a novel on her tablet while Wale drives.
“I can see you and Sola are getting real close. What are you guys up to?” He asks teasing.
“How do you mean?”
“Are you calling it quits with Ola?”
“No. I am not. Sola and I are just friends. No strings attached”. She responds trying to concentrate on her novel.
He casts her a quick glance. “But you go for lunch breaks together every day and….
“Wales, I said we are just friends”. She cuts him short.
“Well, I wouldn’t mind if both of you became serious with your friendship”.
“You know, a relationship?” He shrugs.
She drops her tablet on her laps and looks at him in annoyance. “Wales, drop the idea because it is not happening”.
“Noted. But I’m dead serious about what I just said. You know if you guys….
“Wale, can you please drop this issue. I really do not want to argue with you today. Don’t you get it?” She says irritated.
Could he read her mind? She always looked forward to her lunch dates with Sola. Every time she saw him, she felt butterflies in her stomach. His smile always made her melt and feel weak in the knees. But she was angry that he was out of her reach. If only, she could turn back the hands of time.
Wale looks at her with surprise. “Kunbi, are you upset already? You call me “Wale” only when you are mad at me…..
She gives him an angry stare.
“Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t bring this up again. I know how much you love your boyfriend”. He rolls his eyes as he says it. “Apology accepted?
“You ain’t sober about it”. She says frowning.
“Fine”. He says in absolute surrender. “I’m sorry”. He takes one of her hands in his.
“Then give me a smile”. He smiles at her.
“Leave me alone, Wales”. She says faking a smile.
“Yeah, that’s better. Why should my favourite cousin be upset with me?”
She picks up her tablet to continue reading while Wale slots in a music CD and begins humming a familiar song.
It is another lunch break and Sola and Kunbi are having lunch at a restaurant. They chat and laugh oblivious to others around them. They have eyes only for each other and could actually be considered a couple.
“What do women want in a man? Sola asks suddenly serious.
“Women have different needs from time to time. But what every woman wants is a man who is not selfish; a loving, caring and attentive man. Most importantly, a man who is committed”.
“Yes. Every woman demands attention. She wants to be assured that she’s loved and needs a man who is committed to her”.
“Yeah. C’mon, spit it out. Who’s she?” She hits him playfully.
“It’s a secret”. He says as he grins from ear to ear.
“What do you mean? I can’t be told secrets or what?” She says with a frown on her face.
“No, no. that’s not what I mean. Okay, I’ll tell you”.
“Better”. She answers; her frown turning into a victorious smile.
“I have a colleague at work. We just say “hello” and “good morning” to each other. I like her a lot but haven’t had the guts to say anything beyond our “hellos”.
“Go a step further when next you talk to her”.
“Start a conversation”.
“Okay”. He says as he puts his hand under his chin.
“You were able to talk to me. So why are you finding it difficult starting a conversation with her?”
“Your case is quite different. With you, I guess I just knew what I wanted and it is to go beyond being “friends without benefits”, but you have put me in a box”. He sighs.
“We are discussing about your colleague”.
“I know, Kunbi”. He takes a deep breath. “I gave my word and I don’t break my promises”.
“I am glad you don’t”. She says looking away. If only she could be the other lady. She could no longer deny her feelings for him but she had given her heart to Ola and she was not going to let him down. He did not deserve it”.
“Kunbi….Kunbi” He says breaking into her thoughts.
“Yes”. She smiles and throws every thought out the window.
“What’s on your mind?” He asks.
“Are you in love with her?” She asks unsure of what his answer would be as she holds her breath waiting for his response.
“Well, I….em….actually. I can’t really say. Anytime I see her, my heart skips a beat”.
She laughs. “That is what we call L-O-V-E, love”.
“But how do I tell her that I’m in love with her when we haven’t even had a proper conversation. There has been no opportunity to sit down and talk at length the way you and I do”.
“Make out time. Probably a weekend away from the prying eyes of your colleagues. Then show your love through your actions”.
“Yeah. Actions speak louder than words. Ever heard of that?” She says laughing. “C’mon Sola, don’t tell me you have not played this game before. Tall, good looking guy like you? No way”.
He shrugs. “Unfortunately, I can’t say I have had any serious relationship in the past. I keep being close friends with all the ladies but they end up getting married to someone else”.
“Why?” Kunbi asks concern written on her face.
“Sincerely, I think I’m at fault. I haven’t been able to commit to anyone. I just get scared and develop cold feet when I think of the commitment a relationship demands”.
“You are scared of commitment? Wow!” She was getting to know him better and was shocked to hear that.
Why would he be so good-looking with perfect dentition and have all the boxes checked to sweep her off her feet and be scared of commitment?
She sighs. “Okay. Let’s play it this way. One, start by giving her attention. Be interested not just in her well-being but in everything that concerns her. Since you work in the same organization, show concern about her job. Help out if you are in a position to. The bottom line is to show concern”.
“Should I get a lecture note?”
“You don’t talk in my class” She answers smiling.
He laughs. “My apologies ma’am”.
“Two, shower her with gifts. Start with little gifts that don’t mean any harm. A lunch date is a perfect example, a simple gift on her birthday or something like that”.
“Hmm…..Okay? Is that all?” He asks nodding.
“Three, send her cards, flowers, you know, be romantic.
He gasps. “Romantic?
“Yeah…..She stresses. “Romantic with a big R”.
“Hmmm….this lecture is sure interesting”.
“That way, you can be sure to win her love”. She says conclusively.
“So when do I proclaim my love for her?”
“Relax, lover boy. With all I have mentioned, she’ll already know what you are up to and then, you can do your proclaiming”. She responds with a smile.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course”. She laughs. “The three steps you took ahead would have wet the ground for you to step on”.
“Thanks a lot, Kunbi. I appreciate this”. He says as he stretches his hands across the table to hold her hands.
She is unable to look at him as she tries to stop herself from shaking.
“Oh, c’mon. What are we friends for if we can’t help ourselves? I wish you good luck and success”. She says as she removes her hands from his and refuses to make eye contact.
“You’ll be the first to know the outcome”.
“I’ll appreciate that”. She isn’t sure if she means that but all the same, she wants to be unselfish. She looks at her wristwatch. “My goodness, my lunch break is gone already”.
Sola looks at his wrist watch as well. “Let’s get going”.