Ahmed Idris wrote about a young man who saw a beauty and set about scheming to make her his. Unfortunately, he was brought back from his utopian dreamland.
“How are you Usman?” I said in Hausa to the man selling fruits.
“I’m fine,” he replied in the same language.
I was about to pick an orange when a little sweet voice interrupted. “Aboki, how much for apple?” the voice said in a slow soft tone.
I turned around to see the reason why I was so calm and I was stunned to see the creature standing behind me. A young lady of about 22, she wore a blue gown that matches her charming moccasin shoes. Without been told, you know she doesn’t plan on staying long outside. I was about to make a comment, but I stopped not knowing why.
“There is something about this girl” I told myself. “When did I suddenly become dumb?” I asked. “Maybe I am just overreacting” I resolved.
The girl was a rare breed. She had glittering eyes that stimulates charm and charisma. She had an aura of mystery which took my soul on a journey of uncertainty. With a hairstyle that matches her skin colour and height, she was an image and symbol of true African beauty.
As an on-looker I was eager to change the present state of things. Luckily, the fruit seller was having problem communicating with her. I jumped on the opportunity to declare my presence.
“He said the green apples are for N80 while the red ones are for N150 each,” I chipped in. A sign of relief was visible on her radiant face. “Please tell him I need only two red apples. Will he sell both for N250?” she said. I told the fruit seller and he agreed. But I was determined to associate with this lady. And as a typical Nigerian guy who wants to get acquainted to a lady with such exuberance, I told her the man refused but she shouldn’t worry because I have taken care of it. She objected at first, but after so much persuasion she agreed.
I selected good ones from the fruits and put them into a nylon bag. Volunteering to walk her home, I held the bag as we started a journey into the world of our individual personalities.
I have never been so anxious like this moment. My thoughts were at war on what to say, and as we journeyed my heartbeat doubled. Although I was trembling inside, I maintained calmness and was unruffled physically. As we chatted, I was composed and we continued exploring each other’s history and genealogy and genetics. I discovered that she was quite a talker. I think behind every lady’s wall is a door full with energy, grace and love. The only problem is the door rarely opens.
Read this too: Had I Known – A Short Story by Sanni Ahmed Busoye
Anyway, Maryam as I came to know her by name was one of a kind. It felt as if we’ve known each other since childhood. I still wonder why she talked to me the way she did on our first day of acquaintance. We reached her house and stopped at the entrance to continue our discussion. We treated a lot of topics like education, literature and technology. We also ventured into politics and government, and dollar and the state of economy. I began to see a future with Maryam, fantasizing how we are going to build our relationship; daydreaming about a life with this fine young woman. I was so excited and thanked God for meeting a lady with such excellent character and superb appearance. “It was my lucky day”, I told myself.
We exchanged phone numbers and just as we were about to part ways, she dropped it! It was like a nuclear bomb on my heart. I was dumbfounded when she said it.
“By the way, I am honored to invite you to my engagement ceremony tomorrow by noon. Not many people will attend but I think a new friend like you will add to my day.” These words shook me like an earthquake of the highest magnitude. I was both stunned and startled and could not reply. I nodded while trying to fake a smile.
She gave me a look that seems to say, “I know how you feel, but I can’t help you. I’m sorry!” She smiled and thanked me for accepting while waving me goodbye and went into her house. I turned around to leave, but my thoughts and emotions were in conflict. My legs couldn’t carry me and I was struggling to concentrate. I turned again and I saw her standing by the gate of her house. She smiled and waved to me. I looked away and started walking towards my house.
Maryam! I thought I had found a jewel. Alas, but she made my day and also ruined it.
Read this too: Saleem: The Audacity of Love
All this time I thought I have found my light, but I was wrong. I suspended all activities for the day and tried to console myself by going to bed early. The next day was like a breath of fresh air, as all the emotions I had the previous day had gone. I sat on my bed reminiscing about the encounter, and I was happy to realize that it was just a moment of ecstasy.