Wednesday 8 August 2018

The Hopeless Romantic Series (The First Sight)

Susan yawned groggily on the swivel chair and stared at the wall. Her drowsy eyes made it difficult to for her to read the time. She yawned again and rubbed her eyes roughly.

“What? 12:20?” she sat upright and glared at the square-sized clock that ticked on the wall.

She heard someone chuckle beside her. It was no doubt, Olanma. “Lunch time is almost over and you’re here sleeping like you’re in your room.” Olanma’s face lightened in excitement as she stared at the mirror and applied powder on her face.

Olanma was Susan’s colleague and they sat beside each other. She was the centre of attraction in the office as the male colleague struggled, just to catch a glimpse of her new look. Yeah, she was hot, classy and very pretty. Her outfit were designer-made and a new model of car picked her every evening from work. She would call the man her ‘new catch’ and walk swiftly out of the main hall, her bottom curves forming the shape of a dancing ‘W’ as she cat-walked.  It was rumoured that she was a ‘runs-girl’ but no one had caught her red-handed.

Susan straightened her rumpled gray-coloured shirt and flashed back to reality. “Wait, the media manager came here?”

Olanma added more lipstick to her thick-red-coloured bold lips. She laughed mockingly and her braces sparkled along with her white-coloured neatly arranged set of teeth. “Of course, Suzy, he came by and watched you snoring during working hours.”

Susan gasped for air. “You could have woken me up.”

“I mind my business. You better go for lunch before the time elapse,” Olanma blurted as Susan scowled. “That’s why I mind my business,” Olanma shrugged and added more powder to her face.
Susan grabbed her purse and hurried out of the building. The ray from the afternoon sun almost blinded her vision and she regretted why she hadn’t taken her sunglasses along.

She walked briskly on the road, muttering angry words as she tried to avoid the cars and okadas that filled the path. The okadas annoyed her the most because they appeared when she least expected, like a housefly perking on foods, uninvited. The lunch period was usually a busy one, and she sometimes pray for the moment she would get a car to take around.

I’ll do my own back. I’ll horn and horn and horn, and scream at the leggedins-benz that walk slowly on the road. These car owners make us feel like we’re filth,’ she had once said to Ben, a colleague who accompanied her to the restaurant one afternoon.

A car had almost hit her and she had spent her lunch time, insulting the driver and giving him the piece of her.

Susan stared at herself through a glass door that she passed by…

‘Ugh, disgusting. I need to get fashion tips from Olanma…nope, she would just laugh and tell everyone that I also want to look great,’ Susan sighed deeply as she dragged her black skirt to her navel. 

Her dressing was typical and too common. Everyone could predict what she would be wearing, and what she would be putting on tomorrow, the next day…and the following day. She had a black skirt that matched with most of her shirts and chiffon blouses.

‘It is economical and it goes with everything. What else do I need?’ she would tell herself every morning, while standing in front of the mirror, looking for the best dress to wear to work. Her thick and coarse hair was packed with three rounds of red and green rubber band, and the five pimples that appeared on her forehead three days ago was very evident. Ngozi, her four-year-old nephew had called them groundnut, which aroused the laughter of all family members.

Susan didn’t join them in the laughter.

Nne, visit a beauty shop and take care of this good skin na? Your fine skin has turned to uncooked meat. How would you get a husband with this awkward look?” Ifeoma, her sister said.

Susan brushed off all thoughts as she entered the ‘Papaya restaurant’. It was her usual place and she had eaten there right from when she started working as a copyrighter for Brittle’s Advertising Company. It wasn’t just the name that fascinated her, their food was always delicious and the environment was very neat and well-organised.

Toke, the waitress walked up to her with a smile. “My girl, give me the usual. Add two pomo and more plantain. I haven’t had anything since morning,” Susan rubbed her stomach as it let out a growling sound.

Within minutes, her jollof rice was served and she started to wolf down the meal. She held the chicken drumsticks and sucked the sweet fluid from her fingertips. Life could be awkward sometimes but food wasn’t. Food never broke her heart and never made her feel low. She gulped a glass of cold Fanta and burped loudly, taking a spoonful of jollof rice. It was then she noticed an extraordinary man walking up to her table.
The man was flawless. He wore a fitting t-shirt and a jean trouser, his legs wore a pair of brown-leathered shoe. He wore a big smile that could tear Papaya restaurant apart. 

Susan froze. She held her spoonful of rice and gasped at the man that stood close to where she sat. Why was he coming towards her? Did he notice the improper way she had eaten in public?

“Do you mind I join you on your table?” the handsome man asked.

Susan could hardly breathe. Was she dreaming?

“You…want t..t..o s…iii…tttt?” she stuttered.

The man stared at her confusingly. “It’s okay, I’ll just sit somewhere el…”

“Its fine. Please sit!” she said, almost as a command.

The man smiled and took a seat, directly in front of her. Susan could feel her heart beat as she placed her spoon and started to eat like a bird who was searching for grains in the grass.

“I’ll like fried rice, salad and croaker fish,” he said to the waiter.

Susan’s hands trembled as she placed spoons of rice in her mouth. She could feel the man’s gaze on her and she didn’t know what to do. 

“What’s your name?” the man asked, still staring at her in a way that men did in movies.

She jerked in surprise. “Aw? Susan.”

“Beautiful name for a beautiful lady,” the man said, still smiling.

‘Does his cheek not hurt. He has been smiling since he stepped foot in the restaurant,’ she thought.
She fought her nervousness and asked of his name.

“I am Ugochukwu. I work down the street…”

He described where he worked and Susan was shocked to find out that they worked on the same street! How come they hadn’t met?

“I love your eyes and your natural hair… oh gosh, your skin is like the colour of egg shell. You are very beautiful,” the man trailed off and Susan knew that if she was light-skinned, her face would have been as red as an over-ripe tomato.

She imagined the look on Olanma’s face when she brings him to the office…oh, her sisters. She would laugh and tell them that she had won the cutest man without applying foundation, mascara and red-bold lipstick.

“I know this may sound cliché but it was first sight,” Ugochukwu said, chewing a chunk of fish and demonstrating with his hands.

She loved the way he gestured his hands whenever he was talking…wait! Love?! Was she also in love???

“First sight?” she asked.

“Yes, I fell in love with you at first sight.”

“It may sound awkward but I love you too Ugo. Who wouldn’t love you? You’re the cutest man I’ve ever set my eyes on.” She smiled in excitement.

Ugochukwu’s face became serious all of a sudden and Susan feared that she might have offended him. “I want to marry you,” he said.

“Yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…” Susan screamed, pulling him into a hug and moving her face closer to his. She ignored the stares in the restaurant and focused on her only true love…Ugochukwu. 

His hair smelt of strawberry shampoo and she was eager to run her fingers through his long and curly beard and feel her lips on his. Susan held her hands around his strong and broad shoulders. Her lips had just touched his when she felt pain…a deep pain.

Odeh! Look at this one oo,” she heard a female voice.

Ugochukwu has a girlfriend…or a woman that is pestering him? Susan would surely deal with her. She felt another hit and then noticed that her eyes were closed.

She opened her eyes to see Olanma in front of her, her high-waist skirt forming the letter ‘C’ at the back. Her eyelashes hung like a bird and her face looked like that of an American singer.

“Olanma? You’re my rival?”

Olanma snorted and gave her an unbelievable look. “Wetin I wan drag with you? Your unkempt hair abi your kro kro body? Free me jare!” she said.

Susan stared around her and then noticed that it was all a dream and this was the reality. She had been asleep in the office and Ugochukwu was not real. She stared at the wall and saw that her lunch time had passed.

“I loved him oo. Ugochukwu confessed his love. Maybe I should run to Papaya restaurant? He might still be there.” She looked around, wishing that the dream would come true.

“So, you’re an ogbanje? You’ve been kissing your spiritual husband in the sleep abi? You better go and seek spiritual help. Papaya restaurant ko, pawpaw restaurant ni,” Olanma said, cackling and returning to her seat, still stealing a glance at Susan and muttering some words to herself.

Susan stared at the wall and wished that she could return to the sleep. she wanted a man that would love her for who she was, cherish and adore her. She wanted true, everlasting and genuine love. Susan sat upright and turned on her computer screen. It was only a dream. She was what she was; a hopeless romantic.