Even though I didn’t have a choice, I hated taking the bus not only because it wasn’t comfortable: The stench, mixture of body fluids, men conveniently but pretentiously rubbing their thighs against mine or their elbows on the side of my boobs. Every time I got on the bus, I would say a prayer, “Lord, provide a car for me please, I’ve done this enough”. The day I met Yemi, I had just closed from work, I worked in the last building on Adeola Odeku in Victoria Island.
On this day, after waiting to get on a bus for over 30 minutes without luck, I decided to walk to Ahmadu Bello -which was a little more than a mile from where I was- maybe I’d have better luck with the buses coming from Ademola Adetokunbo, a less busy road. When I arrived at that Bus stop, I found that there wasn’t much difference but I couldn’t go back, so I joined the crowd hoping to get first dibs at the next bus. Not less than 5 Minutes later, a black Toyota Camry pulled over on my side and was immediately rushed by commuters. I never took free rides so I didn’t join in the hustle.
“Ife,” I heard my name clearly.
So I followed the sound and it was Yemi, very tall, dark-skinned, white teeth contrasting sharply with his skin, I thought it was kind of funny and I smiled. “Yemi, I didn’t know that was you o,” I said as I walked towards his car, feeling somehow special, ‘only me amongst all these people, na free ride dey rush me.’ Hurry, get in before we cause more traffic,” Yemi said. I was immediately conscious of blaring horns and somewhere in my subconscious, a bus driver screaming at Yemi to move his car. I got into the car and before I could use my seat belt, Yemi drove off to join the 6 PM V/I traffic. I tilted to my side to get a good look at him, “Ehen, Yemi Yemi, this is you I just saw like this without collecting Visa o. How have you been? It’s been ages.” I said.
Yemi and I studied at the same university, we were not close friends but we had mutual friends which made us see often, especially during exams when we all read together. We had a good rapport and always had something to talk about. However, since we graduated, we had no reason to look for each other. This day was approximately 3 years after graduation. You don’t ask after people now. You know I never had your phone number in school so I just knew sha, we go jam one day,” Said Yemi as he tried to look at me and focus on the road at the same time, “You’re still skinny o, look at you, you’ve not changed, even your puff-puff cheeks are still there.” I laughed, I remembered this was his normal way of teasing me. “Won’t you ask me where I’m going? Abi you’re willing to take me anywhere?”
I asked because I had to be mentally prepared to alight at any bus stop that was convenient for him. “Ah! What do you mean? I’m taking you home, I don’t care where you live o” Yemi was serious. I found out he lived in Gbagada which meant he would be going further than his destination if he chose to drop me off at Maryland where I stayed. But he insisted and our friendship began. I stopped taking the bus because from that day, Yemi picked me up from home and dropped me off at home, every day.
I stopped asking if it was convenient when I started enjoying the commute with him. We became really close, he met my siblings, I met his and stopping by at each other’s houses became a norm, even if none of us was home. On the fourth week, Yemi asked for us to go to the beach, so we went to Oniru beach. He was a chatty man but on this day, he was really quiet and I allowed him as I also didn’t see the need to talk. We sat and enjoyed each other’s silence while we held hands. I was deep in thought, wondering what we were doing, knowing I really liked him but I was adamant that if he wanted more, he would have to ask me. So I waited for Yemi to do the needful. Y
emi, the kind gentle giant, smart, hardworking and in love with his family, playful and straightforward like me, even though he was extremely annoying and refused to read anything that wasn’t news. He wasn’t perfect but he was an amazing man, I waited for him to make the first move. “Can I kiss you?” His voice jolted me out of my thoughts. I had slipped into another life, where I was asking myself to behave, not to jump the gun, to enjoy the friendship.
I was my mum, chastising and calming myself at the same time. I shifted in my seat, it was an abandoned fallen Palm tree. I turned to look at Yemi, and through his sunglasses, I saw the smooth choreography of the waves of the beach. I shifted again to straddle my make-shift seat and moved closer to him. I could hear the birds sing and the ocean waves striking the beach as it was immediately accompanied by a ‘swooosshhh’.
The continuous “swoosh” of the waves created a rhythm in my mind but there was one sound missing; the sound of my heartbeat. I had literally stopped breathing. Focused on nature’s music, I touched Yemi’s heart through his T-shirt, it was strong but it thumped harder than normal. His T-shirt felt really soft under my palms, I closed my eyes and imagined reaching through it to hold his heart. I realised I wanted the kiss him too but I wanted to be sure we had a real connection. I removed his sunglasses, placed it on my head, touched his face and pressed my cheeks to his, it was a little wet and cold. I had not had enough time to process this when he playfully bit the tip of my ear. I was cold but that wasn’t what gave me goosebumps. When he bit my ear again, I impulsively detached my face from his.
I felt even everything, all the way to my toes and my body froze but my fingers, which lay on his other cheek shook badly. I was nervous, Yemi could tell. He removed my hand from his face and trapped it between both his palms. ‘Lub-dub, dub-dub, lub-dub’ Finally, I heard the missing sound now, my heartbeat rate had spiked, my goosebumps had multiplied. Yemi finally let my hand go, then he kissed me. I guess he didn’t see the need to ask again.
He was gentle. He ran the tip of his tongue on my lower lip, sliding it through every crack like he wanted to close them up. Then he pulled my lip gently with both of his, intent on sucking the life back into them. The roar in my ear had deafened the sounds of the birds, I was no more physically present, my eyes hurt from shutting them too tight, I felt my thighs pressing down too firmly against the tree. Even though I was seated, I was holding on tight. I felt something for this man it was pumping blood through my heart at record speed.
“Hey, kiss me back, please” Yemi pleaded, his voice was soft now and it shook a little. I didn’t realise I wasn’t kissing him back so I opened my mouth just a little more and our tongues quickly melted into each other as a frozen ice-cream would, in a warm mouth. There was no rush at all and I felt no urgency to go deeper but I finally wrapped my arms around him and he gently held the back of my head controlling the movement and the pace of our osculation. So does this mean you’re my girlfriend now?”
Yemi spoke into my mouth, I immediately disengaged and playfully pushed him away, “Bros, you better calm down. Ask me properly, take me on a date then I’ll tell you.” Yemi moved closer, searched my face as if he wanted to be sure I was serious. Then he said,
“Okay, I’ll take you on as many dates as you want, just say yes again the first time”. I laughed at him because at that moment, in my heart, I was already his. We lived happily ever after… for a few years until we heard the bad news, and there was no way up from there.
“I’m sorry to tell you, your blood genotypes are both AS.”