(By Daphne Duruoha) – As a poor swimmer, I always do myself the favour of swimming with a floater; and a life guard right beside me-but of course!-how else do you define not letting yourself drown, how else do you define looking before you leap? Well, call mine leaping before you leap-I just wouldn’t have it any other way.
I told Amara the other day that I would never dream of dating Kingsley. You know, you don’t date someone you wouldn’t dream of getting married to right? Exactly!
Kingsley is tall- six feet or more, he knows his way around people-my friends say it’s having connections-He drives a fancy car and he wears the most expensive shoes.
Amara calls him ‘fine boy’, what do you expect when he drives his parents’ Lexus? Forgive me; it’s his car anyway.
The thing is, all girls are not —the same and Kingsley doesn’t seem to acknowledge that fact. Just because I refused to share my contact on the first day he honks at me-cuz I wouldn’t call it “meeting”, we never met! Mister Kingsley thought as a young girl without a car I would run to the window of any young man who honks at me-it becomes his desire all of a sudden, to “have me”. Please how do human beings have other human beings? I used to think one could only have bags and hats. Well, with his “connections” he was able to get my contact and address-fair enough-but my no is a no that stays a no. “It’s not shakara!” I often yell at people who approach me with unsolicited advice -“You’ll soon pursue this boy with your too much shakara. A girl is supposed to form and do inyanga but with the way you’re going about it, aah the boy go run oo”
How do I date him? His definition of starting a conversation is “I’ve been calling you, why don’t you pick up your calls?”
Well, Kingsley is just one of those guys and like I said; I don’t dive to drown, but Amara does and that happens to be the problem, in fact, that happens to be the story!
His name is Ayo, that’s what everyone calls him. I wish Amara and I knew more you know, like his age, his Surname or even his full name-not just Ayo. He looks ten years older than Amara, but he claims he’s not married; at least that’s what he said after I accused him of hiding his address because of his wife.
I feel inefficient as a friend, you know what I mean? Like, what was I doing when she met this guy, sorry, man. I was so blindfolded by his numerous gifts and unending calls-wait, what were they even talking about all those nights, and mornings; and afternoons?
Was he just saying “You can call me Ayo?” Ayo what, Ayo stone?
I am worked up about this issue. To think that someone so close to me would be in the exact situation I dread and tell people to look out for.
And now that Amara thinks she’s in love, I can barely say anything against this guy. So there is no convincing her to walk out or at least set things right.
I was never so disturbed until today, he hit her! Yes, it’s the first time but how do we know it’s the last? Amara came back to my apartment in tears. Apparently, they got into an argument about having kids and taking their relationship to a ‘more reasonable’ next level. I was reading a journal when she placed a call and asked Ayo if it was okay for her to wait for him at the park. She told him it would be nice for them to meet at his place today. I watched her run off hurriedly after the call; I too would be in a hurry to finally visit Ayo’s home if I was Amara. Well, after about eight hours, she was back in tears and you should have a firsthand version of what she said transpired between her and her Ayomi.
“I waited for Ayo at the junction. He told me he was already there so I ran off, only to wait for 2hours; I was so upset, I threatened to be on my way home but he promised he would be there as soon as possible. According to him, his car broke down; I briskly walked to our Aboki’s Kiosk to ease my waiting. Unfortunately, when he finally arrived he was the one with the frown. I didn’t mind though, I felt he was tired from the stress of fixing his car. All through the ride, he acted so cold. I told him to stop so we could get Suya, hoping it would excite him a little-he likes Suya!-but he didn’t stop; he claimed to have meat at home if I was so keen on eating meat. I wasn’t surprised; Ayo talks like that all the time. A month after we got to know ourselves, he stopped bringing in the gifts-he’d call me to prepare Egusi soup for him before his arrival; which is fine-I don’t mind cooking for my man-although I expect him to come to me with food, considering my hard job and stressful class schedules.
We finally arrived at a hotel, and when I questioned him; he unapologetically said he couldn’t take me home because his mum lives with him. Then I insisted, I told him I do very well with mothers and after six years of dating; I do not see a reason why his mum shouldn’t see us together. I went on, saying ‘In fact I would love to meet the grandmother of my unborn child’, and this was where the real fight started.
He starts staring at me; so much anger in his eyes. ‘Prostitute! prostitute! prostitute!’ he kept on yelling.
‘I just knew you were one of them, you want to tie me down with a child!’
“Look Ayo, it’s not about tying you down. We’ve been together for six years, why are you so surprised that I am pregnant? What did you think would be the outcome of spending all those nights together? You just have to be man and meet my people” I replied.
This was when he punched my face and reached to strangle me as he continuously asked me ‘what do you know about being a man?’
“I immediately told him I was not pregnant to avoid further strokes-and it’s true, I’m not pregnant. I thought bringing in a child would make him see things differently. Next thing, he pushes the car door open and tells me to find my way back home.”
As she narrated to me, I stared at Amara’s teary eyes and now swollen lips, and it immediately dawned on me that love could also be a trap. The moment you find yourself in it-or what looks like it-you could as well say bye to your sight and in Amara’s case your hearing too. Maybe one should utilize the opportunity before they fall in love, make good use of your senses in the short time, while your eyes and ears are still vibrant.
I remember talking to her every now and then, persuading her to question Ayo on his personal information. She would agree with me and even contribute-saying “like play like play, she would date him for ten years without knowing even his full name”-and the moment Ayo arrives, I’d give her all the signs and body language to start up the conversation. We went on like this for two years before I finally decided to let things unfold by themselves. But look at where we are now, Ayo has done everything including hitting her; yet as we speak, Amara is in her kitchen cooking Egusi soup for this estranged man-She says it’s their dating anniversary, ten years today. The same ten years she claimed was the climax to be with a stranger. And yes, she still hasn’t been to his house; although he told her his full name- Ayomide Ajani-and that alone is now enough for my Amara. I quickly made my research on him and discovered he wasn’t extraordinarily rich or anything, which leaves me in search of the reason Amara is so stuck up on him.
As I earlier said, maybe I made a mistake with Amara; maybe I should have insisted or confronted Ayo by myself. But here I am now, sharing this story; hoping to correct my mistake. Like I often say, “experience is the best teacher, but who says it must be your experience?”
Daphne Duruoha is young writer  whose work is worth reading. She writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. Email:daphneduruoha@yahoo.com.

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