I hid behind a keke napep like a Naija police officer trying to catch an unsuspecting bike man. “She mustn’t see me” I said to myself, while staring at the keke Napep driver in the face lost in thought. It’d been seven years and I couldn’t still face her. I mean, how could I? What would I say to her?, I haven’t seen koko since the incident at Ojuelegba bustop, thinking about it now I could’t help myself but smile, “Oga” the driver interrupted my thought, “u dey go? abeg carry yourself comot for road make my passenger enter”. I looked above his words as I stood up to get a clear view of the park, koko was out of sight, I let out a huge sigh.
I froze as I heard someone call out from behind me.
I wasn’t going to take any chances. I stood in front of the yard, waiting for koko to come out. Dance rehearsals had just ended, and koko was amazing as ever on the dance floor, a rough concrete floor with little brown stones that stuck to your shoes when you danced like how I was stuck to koko, I always made sure I saw her off to Ojuelegba bus stop after rehearsals, but that hadn’t been the case in two weeks because my bigger cousin Austin picked out koko to make his moves on, of all the girls in the group . So, I had a duty to protect koko from my evil cousin. I liked koko a lot and saw myself as someone who was out to protect her. Someone who was going to be married to her with five kids: three boys and two girls. I had the most beautiful girl in the world, who turned eyes and dropped jaws of passersby. It made me feel bigger and proud. Who wouldn’t be?
We got to Ojuelegba bustop as usual and stood under the bridge waiting for her bus to come, “Chuks do you like me?” she asked out of the blue. We had been talking about something that had no connections to this at all, so her question threw me off balance. I didn’t know what to say. “I don’t get, what do you mean.” She smiled and asked again, “Do you like me?” Not answering her question this time would make me appear weak, so I mustered courage and said “I love you.” I have never seen koko laugh so hard. Her laugh attracted some weird look from the tout who was holding a cane waiting to collect money from a bus driver on the other side of the road.
“Are you serious?” koko asked.
“Of course I am. I have loved from the very first day you came to join our dance group, but I was just too scared to say anything, because I wasn’t sure you will feel the same way.”
I said all these in one breath with little breaks in between. When I finished she kept her gaze on me like she was trying to figure out if I was just pulling her legs. She was about to say something when I saw people running towards our direction from behind her, within seconds I was running too. I was hidden behind a Baba Ijebu kiosk before I realized I had left koko at the bus stop.
When the coast was clear, I came out of hiding to find Koko still standing where I left her. The walk from the kiosk to where koko was standing was the longest of my life. It beat the time I walked from eleganza to chevron roundabout in lekki because I had no money to take a bus.
“Chuks,” she said with a frown on her face. With my head down, I stood in front of her trying to smile to cover how horrible I felt, not because I left her at the bustop, but because the people I saw running towards us, were just chasing after a bus. It was rush hour in Ojuelegba. I should have known, but I didn’t. Now the running passengers were slowly boarding the molue behind me as I stood in front of Koko. I was going to say something when I heard “Lawanson Ijesha. Lawanson Ijesha.” Her bus was here. Without a word, she walked past me and boarded.
That was the last time I saw koko. Now here she was, looking as pretty as ever. Thank God I didn’t bump into her. Where would I have started from? What would I have said? These were the thoughts running through my mind when I heard the voice behind me. Slowly I turned to face my fears.
“Sir are you entering or not?” The lady whose voice I thought was Koko’s asked with a frown. I couldn’t see past the thick tribal marks on her face to tell if she was beautiful or not. Not that it mattered though; all I knew and was thankful for was that she wasn’t Koko. I let out a huge sigh of relief as I stepped aside for the young lady to go in.
I was raised in an area where when you see people running, you run with them. You don’t wait to ask what is going on or try to find out what they are running from. You just run. I know this may sound selfish, but there was no way I could have saved Kiko and I, even though I made the wrong judgment. Koko didn’t run, so I guess we were raised differently. What I am trying to say is, we were just too different. Our relationship wouldn’t have worked, so I guess it was kinda good that incident happened when it did, or what do you think?