Chinasa was her name. She had just turned 21. I was on my way home from a petrol station when i saw her standing at a bus stop.
”Are you going to the estate” i had asked.
She hesitated a bit before nodding.
I stretched my right hand from the driver’s seat and opened the passenger door for her.
”Good afternoon sir” she had greeted.
” thanks but i don’t like people calling me sir, just call me Austin” i said with a smile.
She was a shy girl which made her looked away each time i asked her any question. She was carrying a small bag full of clothes and a pair of shoes. According to her, she was celebrating her birthday the next day which was a Sunday. She also lived in the estate; block 33 down the road. I asked her if it was OK to drive her home and she agreed after telling me that she was definitely going to answer questions about who i was.
”don’t worry, i will make the answers easy for you” i said as we entered the front of their block.
They lived downstairs. Her little brother who was sitting in front of the house got up and ran to the door as i parked the car. He had stopped at the door while holding the handle but had started coming back towards the car as soon as he saw Chinasa coming out of the car.
” he is my junior brother” she had said as if she knew what was on my mind.
” Emeka, is mummy inside?” she had asked.
Emeka shook his head negatively.
Great, she had just made my visit easy.
Her father had naturally went to trade at one of the numerous markets in Lagos.
After few minutes of chat, i told her that i was going home. She asked where my block was and i told her. She didn’t say when or if she would come, but she took my phone number and promised to call in the evening.
However, she called as soon as i got home ten minutes later. According to her, she wanted to know if i had gotten home safely.
Love was in the air once more.
”Yes, i am home now and there was no problem on the road, not even a bump” i had said.
She laughed and said i was funny.
” I want you to come to my birthday party tomorrow” Chinasa said on the phone.
” Why didn’t you invite me when we were together” i had asked.
She said she didn’t know how to say that and wasn’t sure how i would have reacted if she did.
” Its alright. I will come but i don’t want your boyfriend to break my head” i joked.
surprisingly, she said ” My boyfriend will not do you anything. He is not violent”
Oh yes. Chinasa had just admitted that she had a boyfriend and that they were still together. I liked it when ladies told me things like that. The moment a lady told me she had no boyfriend, then it would be over with us. I liked competition. I liked to put the boyfriend on his toes. I liked to see how the girl would manage the situation. It was always fun while it lasted. It may sound such a bad thing to anybody but there has never been anything official about boyfriend and girlfriend, nothing. Engagement was the real deal.
I was going to compete for Chinasa just like i did with John the bighead over Agnes back in Asylum camp.
The only psychological problem with the latest competition was that i felt the playing field was not going to be level. I felt i was going to have some kind of upper hand over the other guy. Yes, that was what i thought throughout the night until the next day when it was time for the birthday.
Chinasa called me at about one o’clock and said i could start coming to their house.
Uzoma had called earlier and asked if Okey knew that we had sexx. I had told her that he knew. Then she had said she would come to the house that afternoon. I had told her not to come.
At about one-thirty in the afternoon, i drove slowly towards block 33. When i got down from the car and asked about Chinasa, a woman, whom i believed was her mother pointed me to a Primary school block down the road where i had driven past.
” If you are here for the birthday, that is where they are doing it” she said as she pointed towards the school block.
I turned my car around and drove slowly down there as if my car only had one gear.
There were about three cars packed there. Among them was the latest model of Mercedes ML SUV. Whoever packed the car was a big boy or girl and he or she was at the birthday.
I packed behind the ML and walked inside. Chinasa smiled and walked down straight to me and hugged me.
” i didn’t believe you will come” she said. People were staring at us. The music was blaring. Some rice and salad were being distributed. Some other beautiful girls were dancing and staring at us.
The Ozoigbondu had come on a suit, black shoes, a black eye glasses and newly shaven haircut; FBI.
I was the perfect gentleman.
I had smiled back at Chinasa as she motioned me to follow her to the table where some three young men, my age were seated. A quick scan revealed to me that one of them had come with the Mercedes. It was obvious that i was going to be outshined. The best thing to do was to stay calm; that was what i did,
” Austin meet Clement my boyfriend. Baby this is Austin, he gave me a lift yesterday and i invited him to the party” Chinasa had said as soon as i settled near the three men.
They were drinking a bottle of Hennessy.
I had stretched my hand to shake them. The first guy shook my hand but when i got to Clement, he snubed me. He didn’t even behave as if he had seen me.
What! The jealous type.
The competition was going to be fierce.
Chinasa had seen what her boyfriend did. I on the other hand had, decided not to shake the hands of the remaining guy who had brought out his hand.
It was obvious that i wasn’t welcomed in their setting, therefore i walked down to the car and brought out a brown envelop i had put some money for Chinasa, stuffed it inside my pocket and walked back inside.
I took up a seat beside a girl and started talking to her.
Her name was Julie, she had seen what happened at the table with Clement.
” He is such a kid” Julie had said.
” I have been up against tough
competition all my life. I wouldn’t
know how to get along without it.”