School closes a few weeks later and Bola leaves for home on a Friday. Her mum is delighted to see her when she gets back from work in the evening. Since Bola has her own key to the house, she had let herself in earlier in the day and prepared dinner for her mum. They both sit at the dining table and talk about school, work and other matters. After clearing out the dishes and the kitchen, Bola retires to bed and decides to call Gboyega. It has been a week since she last heard from him and she was beginning to get worried.
“Hi”. She says as he picks up on the first ring.
“Hey you. How are you doing?”
“I’m good. I was wondering why I had not heard from you in a while.”
“I’m sorry. I have actually been busy.” Gboyega apologizes.
“Wow! Too busy to talk to a friend?”
“No way! I apologize.”
Bola smiles. “Hmm, so what have you been up to?”
The door to Bola’s room opens and her mum peeps in. She sees her talking on the phone and turns back.
“Trying to raise chicks.”
Gboyega laughs. “You heard me right. I bought a few chicks and have been breeding them. Something to keep me busy till I go for my NYSC orientation programme.”
“I need to start making money so you can take me serious.” Gboyega teases.
“Yes, Bola. Serious about dating you.”
Bola exhales. She stands up from her bed and walks towards her reading table. She picks up his graduation picture and goes back to lie on her bed.
“Bola, are you still there?” Gboyega asks as she has been quiet for too long.
“Yes, I am.”
“The only picture I have of you is the one from my graduation. But your face is ingrained in my memory. And the truth is, I’m in love with you. I remember our gists, our bible sessions and the look on your face when you pretend to be angry.” He laughs.
Bola takes a deep breath.
“Please give me a chance.” He pleads.
“Can we talk about this some other time?”
“Bola, you keep on pushing this. Are you scared that I will hurt you?”
“I really can’t talk about this right now.”
“Okay. If you say so. It’s late. You should go to bed now.” Gboyega concludes.
Even though Bola still wishes they could talk some more, she willingly accepts to end the call. “Good night Gboyega.”
“Good night Bola. I love you.”
The next day, Bola is up early. She goes to the kitchen to make breakfast for herself and her mum. She sets the table for two and calls on her mum when she is through.
As Banke walks towards the dining table, Bola kneels to greet her. “Good morning, mum.”
“Good morning, darling. You are up pretty early.” Banke says hugging her daughter.
“Yes, mum. I wake up early to read. Since I’m home and not reading, I decided to make breakfast.”
They both sit at the table to eat.
“So, who’s the young man you were chatting with last night?” Banke asks.
Bola looks at her mum from the corner of her eyes. “Mum? Were you eavesdropping on my conversation?”
Banke puts her hand on her chest faking a hurt. “Eavesdropping on you? Why would I?”
“You haven’t answered my question.” Banke says as she butters a slice of bread.
“He’s just a friend.” Bola says without looking at her mum.
“Hmm, just a friend.”
“Yes mum. Just a friend.” Bola emphasizes.
“It did not seem like you were talking to just a friend.” Her mum says eyeing her.
Bola looks up at her mum.
“You were all smiles. And even giggling.”
Banke raises up her hands and nods. “Okay, okay. He’s just a friend.”
Throughout Bola’s vacation, she and Gboyega keep in touch calling each other every other day. Bola steers clear of discussions relating to dating or relationships. Anytime, Gboyega brings it up, she immediately changes the topic of discussion. In a few weeks, she is back to school and Gboyega also prepares to go for his National Youth Service Orientation Programme.
Three weeks later, Gboyega returns from Ogun state after a grueling orientation programme. He drops his travel bag at home and takes a quick shower. He knows he should wait till the next day before embarking on a trip to Akure, but he has missed Bola so much that he would rather see her today. He gets to the bus garage at about noon. In five hours, all things being equal, he should be in Akure.
Bola is walking towards her hostel when she sees a silhouette like Gboyega’s from afar. She stops and squints. No, it must be my imagination. What would Gboyega be doing in Akure at this time of the evening? She turns back and begins to walk away. She gets to her room and meet her roommates all crouched on a bed watching a movie on a laptop. They look up briefly from their movie to acknowledge her presence. She lies on her bed and faces the wall. The person she saw from afar has brought thoughts of Gboyega and she realizes that she misses him. They haven’t spoken in a week now. He was supposed to be through with his National Youth Service Orientation Programme. She knows she should call him at least to find out how he is doing but she does not want to. She does not trust her feelings any longer.
She is lost in her own world and does not hear the door open. Her roommate taps her and as she turns her head, she sees Gboyega standing before her. Her jaw drops as she rubs her eyes to be sure she is not dreaming. He smiles at her and takes her hand. She lifts herself from the bed and instinctively hugs him. Gboyega leads her out of the room before her roommates decide to have a field day feasting on them.
“You looked like you saw a ghost in there.” Gboyega says laughing.
“I thought I saw someone that looked like you earlier on campus. I imagined my mind was playing tricks on me.”
“I would take that to mean you missed me.”
“Well, I think I did.” Bola smiles.
“You think? You are not sure?” Gboyega teases her.
Bola hits him playfully. “Hey, stop! Whatever!”
They walk towards the campus gate.
Bola looks at her wristwatch. It is almost 5.00pm. “When did you come back from camp? I hope you ain’t going back to Lagos today.”
“I came back today. And I am going back to Lagos today.”
Bola stops walking. “But it is late.”
“I know. I just had to see you today. Now, that I have, I can have a good night’s sleep.”
Bola blushes. “Gboyega, you could have waited till tomorrow. Now, that you are here, why don’t you sleep with a friend in the hostel.”
“Nah, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.” He says shaking his head.
Gboyega winks at her as he smiles. “Under one condition?”
“And that is?”
“I get to see you before I leave for Lagos tomorrow.”
Bola smiles. “Definitely.”
Bola sees Gboyega off to the bus garage the next morning. Before he leaves, he asks her one more time if she has given their relationship a thought. She shakes her head. She tells him that she loves the relationship they have together now. She does not want to get her heart involved. Gboyega holds her hands as they sit in a corner at the garage. “Bola, I love you. Don’t you understand?”
“Please give me more time. I am scared of getting into a relationship.”
“I would never hurt you, Bola. You have given me a reason to look to the future.” Gboyega says.
Bola sighs. “Give me some time, please.”
“Okay. I will.” He says. He wonders how long he would have to wait but he will, if that is what it takes.
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