The months flew by without Naima even noticing. She was always engrossed in household chores or busy helping with Aysha’s wedding. It was amazing how she had fallen for a totally different guy from her “standard”. He was in his early forties and all those who knew Aysha including her own mum still didn’t understand it. BB had been a good sport about it, and apart from his intial reaction of calling Naima a traitor for accepting to be in Aysha’a bridal train, he seem to have warmed up to the idea. He even called her once to ask how things were going and said to call him if she needed any help with the preparations, which was more than anyone could do given the circumstance in which they had broken up and how BB had come to find out only because the groom-to-be was his own father.
It was no news that since the divorce, his dad had made several attempts to remarry. It was only unnerving to think that they were actually dating the same girl as his first and only son. and even more shocking was that she had played BB skillfully for a whole year before the wedding preparations started. It was funny now how BB will say that she was the one girl he believed was going to change him. With all the tons of ladies he was seen around and the zillion others he had flirted with, he never would have believed Aysha had it in her. He treated her like a queen. He left all his player charm at home locked up in his virtual secret box each time he visited her, and was on best behaviour anytime he was seen around her. He didn’t even pick calls or reply messages when they were having a conversation. He gave her his undivided attention and often got upset whenever she teased him about leaving him in the past. The pain and betrayal was double edged. His own father and the girl he loved. He had no intentions of forgiving his father anytime soon. He was blinded by his fury to believe that his father had done this intentionally to get back at him for siding with his mother during the divorce. He had seduced the poor girl and she only agreed to it because she respected him as her future father-in-law all along, That was the comforting picture BB had painted in his mind. It may help him get past all the grieve, but the stories Naima heard in town made her believe otherwise, no matter how much logic and detail BB brought to beef up his claim. Aysha was known to be a sweet girl with good looks,but a sucker for fame,wealth and prestige,which was what his dad was offering as he was currently in the race for the senatorial seat in his home state. So many family members had tried to reconcile BB and his dad, and draw up a truce, but BB won’t even attend the meetings. He stayed at his mum’s since the divorce, so he was never really close to his dad. He had even worked at bringing them back together before he left for school abroad, now he understood fully why his mum had said he was an unrepentant psychopath who was to be avoided like a plaque.
It was almost noon by the time Naima got the girls to agree on what should be served at the bride’s sendforth. They had been at it for hours, with most of the girls wanting to serve a three-course meal and a few others like Naima arguing that light snacks and drinks will do the trick. They were not staging a royal feast nor was it to be a whole day’s event, “so why serve a three-course meal on the same day as the brunch the groom’s family had planned already?”, Naima reasoned. The girls re-distributed themselves into small groups with each assigned to cater for one detail or the other to make the sendforth a success. Naima let out a big sigh of relief as she turned on the ignition of her red 206 and zoomed off. She went as far as the next block as the traffic caught up with her. It was slow and painfully so. A new trend in the streets of Abuja that she clearly wasn’t pleased with, along with many other commuters. The council kept promising to construct more roads, and thus far, their afforts at expansion had only made the situation worse. Naima turned on the radio then, hoping to be distracted. She switched from one radio station to the other, but none of them got her interested enough to stay tuned. Her eyes drifted to her surroundings instead and she watched those around her with interest. Everyone’s face was colored with emotions; some looked upset, while others looked plain angry cursing and shouting at the traffic wardens, as if that will help. A few looked like they had prepared well for the situation, as they wore a calm face and looked on. Naima was clearly irritated,she tried severally to maneuver and take the shortcuts most of the taxi drivers took, but failed to outdo them. They were rather too risky for her liking. She was wearing a deep blue knee-length kaftan-inspired top and washed out denim. Her hair was securely held to the back of her head in her signature channel-O headgear. She wore a look of frustration and utter impatience. This was not how she expected her day to turn out. She still had to go see the caterer and help Aysha pick the colors for the sendforth and budan kai. That was Naima’s favorite part of the traditional wedding ceremony. The unveiling looked like a passing rite to her. It signified a sort of acceptance and welcoming of the bride into her new family. All the members of the groom’s family were expected to be present, they will welcome their new bride and accept her from her old family by paying a token equivalent to her beauty and poise. The unveiling had been in the hausa-fulani society for ages, and despite introducing modern day trends to wedding ceremonies, the budan kai remained an integral part of the main events.
Three and half hours later, Naima walked into her room drained from the day’s activities. The whole house was deserted since it was a Saturday. Her brothers were out,her mother at the salon, and their dad was out of town for a two-week conference. Aysha had gone with her to see the caterer to save time. They brisked through the many pictures and brochures of wedding cake at Zinny’s. All hell however broke loose when the groom had called to say he was short of cash and needed the bridal train cut down by half, tilting towards how ridiculous it was for him to buy five sets of ashobi each for a dozen girls. Naima did her best to reason with him and keep Aysha calm. But her feathers were ruffled by the call, as she began threatening to call off the wedding until he was ready. This had to be the kind of wedding shown on those bridezilla shows, as Aysha was still barking into her phone when she dropped her off at home. Naima thought to herself with a grin as she kicked off her plastic sandals and lay her head down on her bed. She closed her eyes and relaxed her mind. Her mind darted off to her last conversation with BB. He had hammered on her almost non-existent social life. He just didn’t understand why she chose to isolate herself.
“you might never get back into the dating game, if you continue this way” he lamented with clear disapproval. He claimed it was unhealthy for a girl her age to be that way. Naima had never given it much thought or cared about it. She had lived virtually all her twenty-something years that way. She was a loner, and an introvert in the true meaning if the word. She read books, surfed the net, or watched movies in her spare time. Otherwise, school had been the main thing in her calendar, and ever since she graduated, she had enough time on her hands. Still she rarely socialized. If she was seen anywhere, then she wasn’t alone. She was with family and friends, or on rare occasions sitting alone in the corner of a restaurant lost in thoughts and sipping on a drink.
“Maybe the dating scene just wasn’t for girls like her that were too chicken to stick around and wait out the storm.” Naima assured herself yet again. She had in some funny way accepted that her love life, if she ever had one, will be a rather troubling ride. It was like she was her own worst enemy. She expected it to get worse before it was any better. So far, she had been proven right once. It was unbelievable to accept that Kabir had actually gone ahead to start dating some girl. Everyone claimed she was warm, friendly and pretty. Naima couldn’t even bring herself to talk to him in a cool tone, talk more of being in the same room as his new girl. It was going to be inevitable with Aysha’a wedding coming up. She pushed the negative thoughts out of her mind as she picked up her phone and dialed BB’s number. She strolled towards the kitchen to grab a late lunch as she put the phone to her left ear and waited for it to be picked on the other end, using her right hand to unwound the cream veil she had made into the channel-O. He picked on the second ring, promising to call her back in a few minutes. She dropped the phone ontop of the microwave as she set about making indomie and boiled eggs. She was about to step out of the kitchen when his call came through. She danced a little to her miss independent ringtone as she set down the plate of steaming noodles to answer the call.
“Allu” she teased. They had grown a lot closer and fondier of each other since he got back. Their frequent chats on yahoo had kept them in contact while he was away.
“you witch! How did you know I was about to call you?” he accused her jokingly. She laughed in answer.
“abeg I no get strength for your wahala this afternoon” she was worn out and he could hear it in her voice.
“you can’t come along for the movie later then” he said disappointedly. He had told her about it within the week, but she had totally forgotten about it. He was looking forward to watching Christopher Nolan’s inception. He loved all his movies and thought he was a brilliant director. It was the first night it was showing in Abuja and BB wouldn’t miss it for the world.
“oh my! I totally forgot its today” she replied apologetically. Conceding was the only option but she made him promise to drive her straight back home after that, and not try hooking her up with some of his friends as he had done the last time. They hang up then, as she tried to finish her lunch and get more rest before he showed up by seven.
They were at the fourth floor of the sliverbird galleria by 8pm. She had only switched her top for a simple pink one. BB was wearing a brown Tee and black plain trousers. They bought drinks and popcorn as BB looked like a kid excited to be on his first ever roller coaster ride. They stood at the door and kept checking their watch waiting for the next few minutes before it started showing. The whole place was packed with an equally expectant audience as BB. Naima couldn’t care any less, she loved movies but not to the point of watching them on the day they premiered, that was more BB’s style. She kept looking over to her far left. She could almost swear she saw someone familiar, but it was no surprise in a crowd like this, especially at the cinema on a Saturday. She turned again to have a good look. Their eyes met , and she looked away immediately. She was instantly upset and uneasy. She turned to warn BB and saw him walking towards them already.It was too late. His long legs taking up the space between them with each step and closing in on them. The moment she had dreaded for months was about to happen. She could feel her heart in her mouth, pounding hard and fast. That akward time when she will have to act all civilized and normal under the searching eyes of Kabir was about to play out in real life and she was in no way ready for it. She turned and walked away in the opposite direction on impulse, just as he reached BB’s side, and instantly regretted it. It was foolish and childish, but she couldn’t care less. She ran towards the lifts as both men looked on, totally taken aback by her reaction.
... to be continued.