Sunday, 13 November 2016
Toun's Tale, a Story that 'Touches' - Part One
I don't know who comes up with these stories because if they are not true life stories, this person's mind is...OK, I have no adjective. I've collated the first nine parts of the story to make it easier to follow/read than a Whataspp message. And also because I want to share on my other platforms. It's a story that 'touches'. One of the saddest I've read in recent times. Enjoy and learn. Learn! Please🙏🏽..
God bless you Desola for sharing with me. Even though it made me cry😢.
The Exchange (Part 1)
It was the year 1977, I had just graduated from Secondary School and my dream was to be my own boss and start a hairdressing/beauty salon. I was not really the academic type and I knew what I wanted. I wasn’t dull but I just didn’t want post-secondary education…I actually passed my ‘School Cert’ (like we called it back then). My mum enrolled me with a friend of hers to learn the skills required for this ‘dream’.
My dad was not really in support because I was the only girl, the last child and all my older siblings/brothers were in various institutions of higher learning and he wanted me to at least get a National Diploma even if I wasn’t going to work with it. My mum stood by me and somehow got my dad on board…he wasn’t going to pay for the training at first, but he later did.
About a year after I started with “Aunty Betty” (My mum’s friend that was training me), I met one of her nephews, Tunji. He was a student of the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos…they were out of school due to the ‘Ali Must Go’ riots and had come to see her aunt. I was the only one at the salon when he came in…I was wondering what a man was doing at beauty shop, he greeted me with a smile and that was it. I couldn’t get that smile out of my head. He was soft spoken and very intelligent, he had asked me some questions about school and when I told him my plans, he said it was a wise one because there was nothing as fulfilling as following one’s passion in life. Aunty Betty officially introduced us when she arrived at the salon….I must have made an impression on him as well because he kept coming to the salon everyday till it was time to go back to his school. He would hang around and crack jokes…he was really hilarious. At a point, Aunty Betty had to ask what we were up to…she would say jokingly that she was totally in support, if we planned to take our friendship to the next level, to which Tunji would smile and I would pretend not to understand what she was talking about.
I wasn’t that experienced in relationship stuff…the only boy that ever claimed he was my boyfriend back in high school got a beating of his life when two of my brothers caught up with him (the benefits/woes of being an only girl with 4 big brothers). These were the same guys that would switch girls like they were disposable plates but their sister was off limits to all the boys in the neighborhood.
Tunji left after the schools were reopened and I thought that was it…after all; he never said he wanted to date me, although he was always coming to the salon all through his stay. At first I had expected him to say something but when he left, without words, I assumed he was just a friendly guy that wanted to spend time with me and his aunt. The day he left for school, he sent me a letter through his aunt but because I did not want to read it in her presence I put it in my pocket, when I got home I put it under a pile of clothes in my wardrobe but completely forgot about it.
There was a day I told Aunty Betty I wouldn’t be at the Salon because I had some errands to run for my mum. It must have been about 3 weeks after Tunji left…when I got home from where my mum sent me, he was in our house. He was in the sitting room with two of my brothers and they seemed to be having a wonderful time. They were talking and laughing…I was shocked to see him.
He later told me he came from school to collect some money from his aunt and would be around for a couple of day…he checked at the Salon and was told I didn’t come, Aunty Betty gave him my home address and he wanted to surprise me. I was more of afraid than surprised because my dad was home and I didn’t know what his reaction would be after Tunji left. It was the first time any boy came to look for me…I was about 20 years old then and my dad still saw me as a kid
The Exchange (Part 2)
I made Tunji leave and saw him to the gate, I could see the mischievous looks on my brothers’ faces as we were leaving. Tunji asked if I read the letter he sent to me, as that was one of his reasons for coming to see me…I told him I had forgotten and I would read it later that evening. He promised to come see me the next day, I begged him to come to the Salon and not our house.
When I got back in, my dad was waiting in the sitting room
“Who’s that boy?” He asked
I didn’t have any answer but my mum quickly responded that he’s her friend’s nephew. My dad nodded and said “I like his confidence”.
This boy must have two heads, I thought to myself…as the only girl; I was my dad’s most precious gem and he had made his position known that he did not want to see any boy in that house till I was done with my vocational training and had set up in my own Salon.
That night, my mum asked if anything was going on between me and Tunji and I told her we were just friends…she smiled and went back to the kitchen. I waited for everyone to sleep and I went for the letter. It was still where I had kept it, I opened it and it was my very first love letter…
Somewhere in my room,
A night before I depart,
XX XXX, 1978.
Top of the day to you my ravishingly beautiful friend. I believe you are having a wonderful day, if so doxology.
Just in case this is coming to you as a surprise, the past weeks have been the best of my life. I never thought I would meet a girl that would blow my mind and knock me off my feet. Right from the first day I saw you, I knew I was hooked. I have tried to get you out of my head but just couldn’t.
It’s as if it was predestined and written in the stars. Anytime I set my eyes on you I can’t explain the things I feel in my heart. It’s as if someone is filling my brain with symphonies of a wonderfully composed music; that makes my mind fly high into the splendor and grandeur of celestial places.
I love this feeling and I never want it to stop. Trust me; this must have been what Romeo felt. Only something this divine would make a man want to end his own life just to protect and preserve the feeling.
However, not even Shakespeare could have captured what I feel; ink, pen and paper would not do justice to it. It may look like I am perambulating but I just want to do my best to express this feeling. I want you to be my girl
It can't be wrong
When it feels so right
'Cause you, you light up my life
I know it sounds like I stole the lines from Kasey Cisyk, but girl, you truly light up my life.
Even my aunt knows that we will be great together. I am not just looking to pass the time, which is why I waited till I was leaving for school. I want something deep and meaningful. I want you for keeps.
What sayest thou?
Post Scriptum: I would have told you this in person but I wouldn’t be this composed in front of you, so I chose to write you this letter.
Forever in Love,
I must have read the letter like 5 times (I kept it for many years…many, many years) there were some words in it that I didn’t really know the meaning but I got the idea and I knew what Tunji was trying to say. Butterflies played ping pong in my belly all through the night. It was as if the letter woke some feelings up in me as well. I liked Tunji too, he was handsome and his spoken English was flawless
The Exchange (Part 3)
Tunji came the next day like he said he would and that was the beginning of our relationship. It was like a match made in heaven. My dad was the last person to warm up to him in my family but it didn’t take long at all. Tunji had this charisma that made people like him; he‘s soft spoken, calm and focused…all the qualities of a young man well brought up. Tunji was an orphan that had lost his parents at an early age…he had been passed around different family members’ homes while growing up. At a point, he lived with one of his teachers; who took him in because he didn’t want him to stop school. Tunji was a very brilliant student...he wanted to study Medicine but he didn’t have the financial capability, so he opted for engineering. That must have been another thing that endeared him to my father.
About a year after we started dating officially, Tunji completed his Higher National Diploma. Back then, only University graduates were allowed to go through the National Youth Service Program…so he moved back to Abeokuta, where I lived, and got a job as a teacher in one of the secondary schools. At the end of that same year, I completed my training as a beautician and hairdresser. I opened my own beauty salon and as expected, people started pestering us to get married. Tunji already rented an apartment and was running after-school classes to make some extra money. Government jobs were good back then and in no time, Tunji had furnished his apartment and gotten a car loan to purchase his car. It was a Volks Wagon beetle…I remember the first day he brought it to my shop. I sat in front with such poise, as he drove me home. My parents prayed for him and blessed the car.
Not long after this, my dad took ill and passed…it was devastating for the whole family; it was one of the darkest moments of my life. Tunji stood by me, he was equally hurting because my dad had grown quite fond of him; there were things he would tell him before telling me (her daughter). Tunji helped me to heal and move on. He would talk to all of us and use himself as an example of how God would never leave us even if our dad passed. He would tell stories of the things he had been through as an orphan and how God showed up for him. I’m sure some of the people that came to sympathize would have easily mistaken him for one of the deceased’s biological children. He would sit with my mum and console her…he would cajole her to eat and encourage her to be strong because she was all we had left.
Somehow we pulled through and gathered our lives together. After a while, I noticed that my mum was nudging me to get married so we could have a reason to celebrate and be joyful in the family. She would ask questions like
“What are you people waiting for?”
She would say things like…
“A woman is supposed to get married latest by 25, since she does not have a lifetime of fertility”
She even called Tunji and had a discussion with him…Tunji told her not to worry as he was trying to put some things in place and very soon he will make it happen.
I loved Tunji, he was everything a 👩 could ask for in a man but I wasn’t going to rush him. I just believed he must have his reasons for taking things slow. He already told me he would marry me but needed a little time to “put things together” (that was his phrase).
I could understand why my mum was on my case, as my elder brothers were not even thinking about marriage at that time. Our eldest had graduated and was working in the Public Sector. He had just gotten the job and was still settling in; he wasn’t even in any serious relationship. The one after him studied Pharmacy and was rounding up; the remaining two were studying the same course at the same university and were just a year apart.
The Exchange (Part 4)
My relationship with Tunji was more or less an engagement but nothing was official…I’m sure if people gave engagement rings back then, I would have been wearing one.
I was considered ‘marked’, everyone knew I had a boyfriend…my mum would introduce him as “Ǫkǫ Àfęsǫnà” which means Fiancé in Yoruba Language. Later my mum started suggesting that we should get pregnant but Tunji would just laugh and tell her not to worry, that we would give her all the grandchildren she was looking for. Tunji made a vow of chastity with me and had said we would wait till our wedding night before we ‘did’ anything. He would say “What’s the point of rushing to have a taste when you can easily have the whole pot for keeps”
Not long after that, a cousin of mine, Laide, who lived in Lagos was getting married and it was going to be a big party…that was the first grandchild of my maternal grandmother that was getting married so the whole family was all agog.
Laide and I were very close growing up…she would come spend some time with us during her school breaks and I would do the same during my holidays. We kind of drifted apart when she got admission into the University of Ibadan. She came with her mum (my mum’s elder sister) to inform us of her wedding.
It was nice seeing her again…the last time I saw her was when she stopped by after my dad’s demise. unlike that visit, this time, we had time to talk and we did for hours. She told me everything about her fiancé.
How they met at the University of Ibadan, when he came to visit his younger sister that happened to be Laide's friend,
How he studied Medicine abroad but is now working in his father's company
How he’s from a wealthy family
How they are planning to shut Lagos down for the wedding
She went on and on and on about how this was a fairytale come true for her.
How she already got a brand new car from her would-be father-in-law for saying yes to his son
How she would be travelling abroad with her fiancé to shop for the wedding
And finally she said she wanted me to be her chief bridesmaid (we called it ‘best lady’ back then)
I couldn’t say No, I was super excited for her…she took my measurements and shoe size so she could get me the things needed on their shopping trip.
They were with us the whole weekend and she met Tunji…
“Hmmmn, he’s so handsome” was all she said and they left Sunday evening.
My mum and her sister (Laide’s mum) already made arrangements for the “Asọ òkè” (the traditional head gear and cap for family members to wear at the wedding). They would meet at Ibadan some weeks later to go pick one and buy in bulk. Laide told me to come to Lagos before the wedding, she told me when she would be back from her trip and wanted me to come try my clothes and other things on…in case they would need adjustments. After they left, my mum still took a jab at me and Tunji, saying we should get something done soon.
My cousin got back and I quickly travelled to Lagos to go see her…the things she brought for me were beautiful. She bought everything needed to be the chief bridesmaid up to undies. I met her fiancé (Bola) for the first time as well. I also met the best man who happened to be the groom’s cousin. I noticed the way he was looking at me...I wasn’t sure I liked it.
Bola took us out to have lunch and his cousin came with us…I had never seen such lavish generosity in my life.
Poverty is a bastard…the restaurant he took us to…
The car we drove in…
The people we met at the restaurant….
I was seriously intimidated but I kept it together. I told myself I would just sit quietly and return to my Abeokuta after everything.
The Exchange (Part 5)
It was at the restaurant that the would-be best man started to talk to me. He told me his name…Babatunde, but said everyone called him Baba T. He seemed like a nice guy but I could sense some form of arrogance in him. He said we needed to be friends to make the wedding beautiful; he was funny and made us laugh a lot. I got to know, as we talked, that Baba T’s parents were even richer than Laide’s parents-in-law. The amount of money they (Bola and Baba T) were discussing scared me…they talked about how they wanted to take their parents’ business to the next level and make it even bigger. They had both studied in the United Kingdom and returned to work in the family business.
After lunch, it was time to go back to where I came from. Bola was going to drop me off at the motor park but his cousin volunteered to…he said it was on his way and he also wanted to get to know me. He didn’t say much on our way; he was just being funny and explained what I needed to do at the wedding because there was a surprise for the couple that we had to take care of, without creating any suspicion. He gave me some money at the park and said he was sorry he couldn’t take me to Abeokuta. I told him he didn’t have to; he insisted, so I took it, thanked him and got in the bus. It was after he left that I realized how much he gave me. I had forgotten I was in the bus as I screamed…I apologized to the people beside me and kept my cool for the rest of the trip. I had never been given that much money by anyone in my life…I wanted to tell Tunji but was afraid he could be intimidated or feel like something was going on and I didn’t want to start something where there’s nothing.
I told my mum everything that happened in Lagos and showed her the money…she paused for a while and later told me to be careful. Let me just say that the money was enough to buy an adjustable salon hair dryer I had been saving toward. I had to tell Tunji that my cousin gave me some money and I added to what I had saved to get the dryer.
I completely forgot about the ‘rich princes of Lagos’ and continued with my life until it was time to travel for the wedding. Tunji had planned to attend but had another engagement so he passed.
I got to Lagos about 4 days before the wedding…my mum and brother came three days later to attend the traditional engagement ceremony. I stayed with Laide in a hotel room. Her father-in-law said he wanted her to stay there because of all the visitors that would be frequenting the house. The groom and Baba T also stayed in another hotel, not too far from where we were. It was on the night of my arrival, at a dinner held at the groom’s house, that the best man told me everything about the surprise that the groom’s parents had for couple.
They had built the couple a house, to be presented to them as a wedding gift and wanted us to secretly move their stuff to that house (I later figured that was the reason for having them stay at the hotel rooms). It was an assignment to be executed by the best man and I, without ruining the surprise. During the dinner I couldn’t keep my eyes off how beautiful and tastefully furnished the house was…the cars in the compound, they even had cooks and maids. I was happy for my cousin and a little bit jealous of her at the same time. I thought to myself “Ó ti rí ibi ire sọ ęru ę k’alę sí” meaning she found a good place to settle in and live her life. I met Baba T’s parents as well and greeted them. Laide introduced me as her cousin…they all said I was respectful and well trained and Baba-T’s mum said jokingly that she wouldn’t mind ‘plucking’ another girl from our family (referring to me). I smiled, although embarrassed and walked away.
I was with Baba T all through Thursday as we supervised the moving of the couple’s things to their new home and got things set up. He was fun and really nice to me…he also took me out for lunch. I seized that opportunity to thank him for the money he gave me the first time we met. His response was “Don’t mention, beauty has no price tag”
I wasn’t sure of what he meant by that, but I smiled and thanked him again. He asked me a lot of questions that day; like he wanted to really know me. He said I had confidence and spoke very good English but I could tell he was concerned that I didn’t have post-secondary education. He said I should have still gotten it regardless of my entrepreneurial spirit as it would help me handle my business better. I told him he was beginning to sound like my late father and he said he was sorry but wasn’t done talking about it and would get back to it later. I figured I had just 3 more days to spend in Lagos and that would be it…so I indulged him. Besides, it felt good to have these conversations as I had not really done this before.
The Exchange continued (Part 6)
When we talked about my late dad he felt sorry for me, I could see the sincerity in his eyes…he said he could imagine life if he had lost his dad and told me the story of how his dad helped him to overcome some challenges that could have gotten him expelled from school while studying abroad.
Baba T dropped me off at our own hotel later that evening. As he was leaving he said “I think I like you”, all I could say was "thank you" as I hurried into the lobby. Laide was already very angry because she had no idea where we were. I quickly apologized and blamed it on the best man. She later told me that Baba T’s mum had been asking questions about me and wanted to know things about my family. “Don’t mind them, they are looking to add an extra to the wife they already got” I said as I made my way into the bathroom.
The following day was super busy, it was the day of the traditional wedding and I was with Baba T for the most part. We were running around to make sure everything went on perfectly. At a point, he asked if I could drive and wanted to hand me a car key so I could run some other errands…that way we would be able to cover more grounds before the ceremony that was slated for that evening. I told him I couldn’t drive and he promised to take care of that as soon as we were done with the wedding. In my mind, I was like “Where will you see me?”
As we drove around town, Baba T continued his ‘interrogation’ and wanted to know more about my mum and siblings. I told him of my eldest brother that was working with the government and had just gotten the job. Bab-T asked if he would be attending the wedding and I said yes…he said he would like to meet with him and have a chat.
The ceremony was nothing short of glamorous…everything was well planned and nothing was lacking. Food, drinks, decorations, clothes, accessories, the band was a high class Juju musician. That was the first time I saw people getting gifts for their traditional wedding. The couple got about 3 brand new cars from friends of the groom’s family. The money I made on the dance floor almost brought me to tears. Baba T and his friends showered me with lots of money as they sprayed endlessly (it was like a planned thing). My mum called me at the end of the ceremony and asked who the “Darosha’ was (Da rocha was the name of a Brazilian merchant that was believed to be the richest Nigerian a long time ago and people used the term derogatorily for a flaunter of wealth). I told him it was the man that gave me the money I showed her the last time I came to Lagos. She nodded her head for a while and told me to be careful (again).
Later that night, I introduced my eldest brother (Brother Kola, like I call him) to Baba T and they talked for a long time. I had to go back to the hotel with Laide to prepare for the big day. I thought the traditional wedding was glamorous until I saw the church wedding. Every detail had an aura of affluence…the groom and his family went all out to make the day extra special. Laide just kept shedding tears of joy and I couldn’t help but do the same. The Groom’s father talked about how he (the groom) had been a good boy from childhood and this was just a little way of showing how proud he was of him. It was during the reception that the groom’s father unveiled the secret present…a brand new fully furnished house where the newly wed would start their family.
I was in awe of the gifts they received…there’s no way they could have used everything they were given. I doubt if they had enough room in their house to even contain the gifts. I was the custodian of the bride’s money, that people were ‘spraying’ her…it was tiring, as the bags were getting filled up fast. Baba T and his friends ‘soaked’ me in money again at the reception when we were dancing with the couple…he did the same for my mum (I wasn’t sure how he knew that was my mum).
There was an all-night party that continued till Sunday morning…people ate and ate but the food and drinks kept coming. There were lots of eminent personalities and dignitaries at the wedding and indeed they shut Lagos down like Laide had said.
The Exchange (Part 7)
Laide told me they were travelling to Paris for their honeymoon and wanted me to stay for a few more days until she travelled. I sent my mum to Tunji to let him know I would be staying for 3 more days and I would see him as soon as I got back.
I helped Laide to count how much money she was ‘sprayed’ while dancing…my God! Let me just say that I made close to ten thousand naira (trust me, that was a lot of money back then…I had never even had or handled that much money in my life); that should give you an idea of how much money Laide was ‘sprayed’. Baba T offered to drop Laide and her husband at the airport and I came with them.
After they departed, Baba T offered to drop me at Abeokuta; it was already evening so I opted for public transportation. He insisted that he would drop me at home but I was scared as I didn’t want him to know where I lived and I also didn’t want any issues with Tunji. He wouldn’t listen and just kept driving towards Abeokuta…he said his mum would not forgive him if he told her that he didn’t take me home. “And how would she know?” I asked.
He replied that she would ask him.
“Don’t you know that my mum likes you?” he added. I had this uncomfortable grin on my face and Baba T continued by telling me the story of how he almost married an ‘oyinbo’ (a Caucasian) while in the United Kingdom and how the lady had introduced him to heroin and how it almost ruined his life. How his father used everything within his power to get him clean and rehabilitated and back to school. How his father helped him to complete his education. How his mum made sure he came back to Nigeria to join the family business after he graduated and how his mum swore that she would see to it that he married a Yoruba girl. He told me he’s an only child and that his mum could not wait for him to get married.
I asked what was delaying him and he responded that he tried dating a few girls after he got back but there were issues and besides, his mum had never liked any girl he brought home. I asked what he meant by “there were issues” and he told me not to worry about it. As we were approaching Abeokuta, I was secretly praying that Tunji would not be in our house when we arrived.
When we got home, Baba T helped me with my luggage…he also came in and said hello to my mum (who was shocked to see him). My eldest brother was also at home when we arrived and for whatever reason, he was very pleased to see Baba T. They talked for a while and when Baba T was about to leave, he gave some money to my mum; who somewhat hesitated but had to take it because the giver insisted.
“What are you doing?” was my mum’s question as soon as I entered the house after seeing my ‘visitor’ off.
“Maami, I don’t understand what you are saying” was my response. My mum was not very happy as she went on and on about how greed could cause a person to make wrong decisions.
“Be content with what God gave you”
“Don’t be distracted because of what you saw at your cousin’s wedding”
“Tunji is a good boy and he will make you happy. Don’t let money entice you”
I was getting really angry at my mum because Baba T had not even said he wanted to date me. I told her it was our roles at the wedding that brought us together, made us friends and there was nothing else to it.
“When a child is cutting a tree in the forest, only the elders can tell in which direction it where it will fall” my mum said and she stopped talking about it.
My mum was never the nagging type; she would say what’s on her mind and let you make your own decision.....
The Exchange (Part 8)
In the middle of our argument, Brother Kola...who had stayed outside to discuss with Baba T, said he had some good news. He said he had a chat with Baba T during the wedding and he promised him a job at their company.
The job was in Lagos, paid like four times what he currently earned, and came with an official car and some other benefits. He was to come over in a week to have a formality-type interview as Baba T already offered him the job.
“Now I can finally get married” my brother screamed as he jumped up and clenched his fist in celebration like someone that won a race. I could tell that my mum was confused and happy at the same time.
“How? When?” those where my questions for Brother Kola.
He said Baba T asked what he studied, when they met at the wedding and said he would be a good fit for their company. "He confirmed it just now when I saw him to the car" my brother continued.
There was another brother of mine at home (brother Dipo); he rushed out to check what the noise was all about…he wasn’t really impressed when we told him.
“So what? Do they think we are their charity project?” he said.
That statement almost turned to a physical brawl between my two brothers but my mum was able to quell it. She said we had to be thankful for every blessing; as God could use anyone to deliver answers to a man’s prayers.
Brother Dipo apologized to our eldest brother but said “I know there’s more to this sudden ’no strings attached’ philantropism and I will remind all of you when it’s time to pay back”
Brother Dipo took after my dad; he’s not easily swayed or impressed by anything and had trust issues with strangers. We forgot about the whole thing and I settled in for the night.
Tunji came the following day…it was really nice seeing him again; I didn’t know I had missed him that much as we almost broke our chastity vow. When he was about to leave, he told me the real reason he couldn’t attend my cousin’s wedding.
He said he had applied for a job with a multinational company a while back but they finally reached out to him and scheduled the interview for Friday and Saturday, same days as the traditional and church weddings. The interview was in Ibadan and it went really well. He was really certain that they would consider him for the position. The job required a 3-month new employee orientation training in Germany and there were just two of them left in the process. He said he didn’t want to tell me earlier, so as not to get my hopes up unnecessarily since he wasn’t sure if he would scale through the initial qualification. “If I get this job, I am going to marry you right away” he added.
I was excited for him…howbeit, angry that he did not keep me in the loop. He said he was sorry and asked how the wedding went. I had to give an edited version of the story and cut Baba T out of it.
Life was back to normal, my customers had missed me as I went back to work. I also gave my salon a facelift from the money I made in Lagos and it looked really beautiful.
Brother Kola got the job as promised and had to move to Lagos…he came back the following weekend with his official car. It was a brand new Citroen CX 2500 and it was really beautiful. All my other siblings were home that day and they all wanted to take the car for a spin. Brother Dipo congratulated Brother Kola but you could tell he was just being civil.
My mum got in the kitchen and cooked like it was Christmas, just to ‘wash’ the car.
Before my brother left for Lagos, he handed me a little note from Baba T and said “This guy must really like you, he is always talking about you and asking questions”. The note was just to let me know that he (Baba T) was out of the country and would be back in about a week. He also said he would try and come over to Abeokuta to see me once he got back. After reading the note, I began to wonder what Baba T really wanted from me. The wedding was over and I had thought parting ways would put an end to his infatuation.
I found myself thinking about this all day…I let my imagination run wild, playing all the different scenarios in my head and I decided I was going to stay with Tunji. He deserved it, he had been a good boyfriend and I had never regretted dating him. Baba T was nice too but he was a little arrogant (although he liked to call it confidence).
Two weeks after my brother came home, Baba T showed up at my salon. It was a Saturday afternoon, he had gone to our house and my mum told him I was at the Salon, so he drove
The Exchange (Part 9)
I almost screamed when I saw him…Tunji had been with me at the Salon all morning and had just left. Baba T could tell I was jittery
“Are you not happy to see me?” he asked. I told him I was just shocked to see him. He asked if we could go somewhere and talk, I quickly obliged as I did not want any drama if Tunji came back.
He said he had missed me and just wanted to see me again…he also brought me some gifts from his trip to the United Kingdom. He said he really wanted to spend some time with me and he also had some important things to discuss with me. We talked for a while but I just wasn’t comfortable, I had to tell him about Tunji and that he also lived in Abeokuta and I didn’t want any trouble. He laughed and reminded me of a Yoruba adage that means “A woman is permitted to be wooed by a thousand and one men, but can only marry the one on top of it”. He said he understood and that Laide (my cousin) already told him about my ‘boyfriend’.
“He is more than just a boyfriend” I quickly added
“We’ll see about that” Baba T responded
He asked if I could come see him in Lagos the following weekend so we could talk. He also said he had a big surprise for me regarding my business. I agreed to see him in Lagos and wouldn’t let him drop me off at my Salon; he got a cab to take me back however.
By the time I got home, my mum was curious to know what was happening. I told my mum that Baba T came to share a business idea/opportunity with me and would like me to come to Lagos to discuss it and all she said was “Mo ti gbọ o” (I hear you).
I told Tunji the same thing but left out the name of the person I was going to see. He actually wanted to drive me to Lagos but his car needed to be fixed and he didn’t want to risk driving it to Lagos. I told him I would be fine and I should be back in a couple of days.
When it was time to travel to Lagos, I told my mum I would stay with Laide and Bola or my elder Brother. I got to Lagos around 12:30 pm and took a cab to Baba T’s office (he had given me his card and told me to show it at the reception). I tried to look my best that day because I knew the kind of company that Baba T kept…I wore one of the dresses that Laide brought from her honeymoon and really looked like ‘one of them’.
As I stepped into the building, the coolness of the air condition reminded me of a Nigerian banking hall…the office was tastefully furnished. I was lost in the beauty of the art decors until I heard the receptionist’s voice “How may I help you ma’am?”
For a moment I thought to myself “Me? Ma’am?”
“I am here to see Baba T” I replied. She asked if I had an appointment and I handed her the card
She quickly picked up the intercom and said something like “She is here sir”
Then she told me to follow her…I later found out Baba T had told them he was expecting me and that they should take me to his private waiting room.
There was nothing they did not offer me; tea, coffee, juice, water but I didn’t want anything. Baba T showed up like 15 minutes later; he said he was in a meeting but had to end it. He looked at me as I got up to say hi to him, helped me up with my right hand and kind of spun me around
“Hmmmn, you look good…I really like what I’m seeing” he said. I blushed and said thank you. I asked where my brother was and he told me he was in one of their offices on the mainland, overseeing a new project.
“I’m famished…let’s do lunch, then I’ll show you a place and see what you think of it” He said as he grabbed his jacket and car keys.
I noticed that he held me by my waist as we stepped out of his office and the building. I could tell that all eyes were on me. He introduced me to one of their managers (the guy he was having a meeting with before I got there) as his ‘very good friend’. The guy smiled and said jokingly that I must be very special for Baba T to end a meeting abruptly because of me.
After the meal, Baba T drove us to a location in Ikeja and parked in front of this huge store-like building that was being renovated. It was right in the center of a very busy commercial area. He asked me to come see the inside…the contractor came to greet us, likewise the people working on the project. We went inside and I was shocked. It was an almost completed mega hair dressing salon…so beautiful and lavishly equipped. I could see the dryer stands being installed in the walls (in the walls). I saw glass ceilings, beautiful sets of furniture, and all sorts of high-end fittings.
“Do you like it?” Baba T asked with a smirk
I was so confused so I asked if he was planning to start a beauty salon business. He responded that it was for me if I would consider moving to Lagos.
“I love your entrepreneurial spirit and I want to help you become everything you can. I want to support your dreams and aspirations. You have so much more in you than that little place in Abeokuta…I see potentials and I can picture you as a successful business woman. Move to Lagos…please. There’s a whole world of opportunities for you here” He added as we sat in his car to talk.
“Why…why are you doing this? What’s in this for you?” I asked…I was so confused I did not know what to make of it. Trust me, there’s no way anyone would see what was being built and not want it to be theirs. I could only imagine how much money was put into the project.
To be continued in next post.
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