Time like they say flies like a bird flies in the sky and each second, minute and hour culminate into memories. When recalled, some memories present us with sadness and regrets of past experiences, while others bring smiles, laughter, or shouts of joy. Hmm, nostalgia is real!
One of such moments occurred on the 25th of January, 2019. That fateful afternoon, the sun had hidden her face behind the clouds and rain was about to fall. Except for the few who could afford to ride, many wayfarers had to seek shelter from the impending rain. Soon, the breeze began to blow and the busy Under-G street became empty, except for a young man who was walking hurriedly down the path. That young man was me.
A week earlier, I had fixed a date with Toni, my best friend, and all-time crush. My previous attempts to take her out had failed because of impromptu lectures and tests on both sides. But this day, I was not going to lose the chance because of rain. For all I cared, if I got drenched on my way to the Lagos kitchen, I would consider it a shower of blessing. ‘My heart rob cannot be robbed of me by a downpour, not even of fire!’, I boasted and I took the final turning to the meeting point.
I stood for a second, readjusted my dress, and moved close to a parked vehicle at the front of the restaurant. I wanted to have a final assessment of my dress. I brought out my comb and ran it through my hair one more time.
‘Shayo, it’s time. You have waited and rehearsed long enough’, I smiled as I repeated the lines I had rehearsed for a week. ‘Let’s do this!’
I readjusted my bow tie and headed to the door of the restaurant. I pushed it opened.
There she was, sitting at a corner table gracefully adorned like a princess. Her eyes were fastened on the newspaper in her hands. Left to me, Toni was the most beautiful lady in the world. Had she contested for miss world, she would have won it 5 times in a role. She was my GOAT and the Ballon d’Or winner of my life, not Messi or Ronaldo.
I tried to remain calm as much I could as walk toward her table. She caught me in the act!
‘Shayo! ‘, She beamed with a smile.
Toni had a special way of calling my name. She was just too perfect to be real!
For about half a minute, I sat speechless as I held her hands. Millions of thoughts were running through my head. I was jeered back to consciousness when she cleared her throat.
‘You said you want to discuss something with me.’ She said.
‘Ye…, yes. But, first, what would you like to eat? ‘ I replied as I tried to compose my said again. I beckoned on one of the waiters.
‘ Fried rice and chicken’, she said.
‘Alright, please double her order and add two pieces of Hollandia yogurt to that.’, I said as the waiter proceeded with our order.
‘Toni, I’ll want us to eat first. Weighty matters are best discussed after the stomach is filled.’ I jokingly said as I ransacked my head for the rehearsed lines.
‘Alright, dear.’ she replied.
Throughout the meal, my mind was not settled. The proposal I had perfected in a poem had slipped from my memory and all I could recall were the first and last lines. I secretly wished I had listened to Mike who advised me to have a copy of it on my phone. I remembered laughing and assuring him that only chicken-hearted brothers would forget their lines in front of a lady. That self-confidence killed me!
Soon, another stream of thought began to flow: What if she gives a ”No”?
I countered the thought immediately. ‘How am I supposed to know? I’ve got to shoot my shot anyway. It’s better than not trying. ‘
We soon finished the meal and she was ready to listen to my ‘weighty matter.’
I closed my eyes for few seconds and begged God for utterance. I took a deep breath and then held her hands.
My heart began the pound heavily.
‘Erm, Toni’, I said after I had mustered enough courage to speak.
‘I am… erm, I am glad to inform you that this evening, this morning, erm…., this afternoon.’, my heart pounded more heavily.
‘I know, I see, I say. Erm, erm. Toni, I love you.’, At this point, my head also began to pound.
I let go of her hands. She held back my hands and smiled as she held them even more tightly.
‘It’s 6:45pm. The rain has stopped and it’s likely going to rain again. Let’s leave now because the next downpour can delay us here more than we wanted.’, she said.
‘Alright’, I said as I opened my wallet and beckoned on the waiter to bring the bill. My calmness was gradually returning.
‘I’ll get back to you tonight.’, she said as we parted in front of the restaurant.
Sleep eluded me that night as I laid on my bed thinking about the likely reply.
‘If it’s a ”Yes”, my heart rob is mine.’
If it’s a ”No”, God forbids a ”No”.
My phone rang. It was Toni.
My heart and head began to pound again.
‘I have dropped a message for you on Whatsapp. We’ll talk tomorrow, I need to cook now. ‘
Now, my eyes joined in the race, it was blinking very fast.
I switched on my data and loaded my messages. I took a deep breath as I opened Toni’s message and it reads:
‘I can’t believe that my poet would become that destabilize. Anyway, whether morning, afternoon, or night, my answer remains the same: It’s a YES. I love you too.