I once heard the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago. And the second best time is now. It is a proverb to encourage quick actions, and I guess it is a true statement.
As I sat down and absently picked at the food before me, with my mind preoccupied with questions on how to make the time with Tosin last longer, I waited patiently for her cousin to bring back my phone.
Tosin noticed the change in my disposition; ‘Any problems?’ She asked without shifting focus from the meat in her plate.
‘Nothing really.’ I said, ‘Just wondering how I can get to know you better.’
‘Half a day is a far too little time.’ I added.
It was the truth.
I had met my share of ladies in my brief time in the world, and more than once, I had fallen in love, or thought I did so.
I had seen people far more beautiful than Tosin, but there had never been a someone I met in a day, and started to like before the end of that same day.
She was beautiful; I would give her that. But not in the way I had always defined beauty.
She had a face which came alive whenever she smiled; and she smiled ever so easily. Her eyebrows were those kind that are not really visible but still managed to find a way to perfectly line the little bulge above the eyes in a way that only the best artists could illustrate.
And that was not all.
She had a kind of round face that is only straight on both sides of the cheek, so that whenever she talked, her jaws parted seamlessly as if controlled by a smooth and simple machine.
As I sat before her and took in the outlines of the delicate feminine features of her face, I became more resolute to make something out of the little time we had left.
At the exact time I was making the decision, Tosin looked up and faced my gazing eyes.
I smiled and looked down. ‘Sorry.’ I murmured.
‘What?’ She asked in a light voice, and dropped her fork on the plate.
‘Have you met someone for the first time who told you that you are very beautiful before the end of the day you met him?’ I asked.
Tosin smiled and looked down.
Her face softened and I started to wonder if she wasn’t the same confident and direct lady I had been with for the past three hours and more.
With her tender look that made her look more delicate, I could no longer withstand looking on such a wonderful creature of God with my belly squirming and my heart beating irregularly without speaking my mind.
‘Tosin,’ I called her name and heard my own voice faltering. I had once proposed marriage to a lady but even then, my voice had been clear and firm.
I couldn’t understand why my voice was suddenly sounding broken.
‘Tosin,’ I called again, and my voice had much more composure.
She looked up and the tenderness I had momentarily seen on her face was no more.
My confidence faltered, and I swallowed hard.
‘You have called my name twice.’ Tosin said. ‘Or should I wait for the third time?’ she joked and then smiled.
Her smile disarmed me and it was my turn to look away; if only for a second.
‘Well,’ I started again, ‘I am sure this will sound strange but I am going to say it nonetheless.’
I paused; and she fixed her gaze at me.
‘Okay. Just say it.’ She said firmly.
As I gathered enough strength and rehearsed the best way to put my words into a clear statement, I heard footsteps coming towards us, and I looked up.
Her cousin was back.
I rearranged myself quickly and rested my back against the chair. I smiled at her as she walked towards us.
When I saw my phone charger dangling from her right hand, I caught myself frowning, and I quickly brightened up.
‘Your phone battery has got to fifteen percent.’ The cousin said. ‘Seems you are using a fast charger.’
I stood up and collected the charger. ‘Don’t mind the phone.’ I said.
She handed the phone to me and I saw the notification of three missed calls on the locksreen.
When I unlocked the phone, it was my friend who had called. I knew he would have been worried when he didn’t see my message and call.
We had planned my first visit to Lagos together, he had volunteered to accommodate me, and we also decided to spend the weekend visiting some friends.
We had spent four years in the University as classmates, and in the last two years of school, we had been best pals.
He had moved to Lagos after our service year ended, and got a job in the city some weeks after we collected our discharge certificate.
Within the next couple of years, he had been able to advance his career and move to a private estate in a quite area in Ikorodu. And both of us had fixed my visiting date since two months.
I looked at Tosin again and looked back at my call records. Something told me that if I called my friend and he came around, I would miss the opportunity to discuss something important with Tosin.
As I decided to let my friend wait, he had been waiting for two months anyway, a call came in.
It was David, my friend. ‘Speak of the devil.’
I couldn’t avoid the call, and when I looked at Tosin, the look in her eyes forced me to pick the call.
‘Hello David.’ I said.
‘Where are you, James?’ He enquired without replying my salutation. ‘I have been calling you for the past twenty minutes.’
‘Where are you?’
‘My phone had been off.’ I explained. ‘I am close to the BRT Bus stop.’
‘Which bus stop?’ David asked.
‘Ehmm…’ I said as I tried to remember the bus stop where Tosin and I had alighted.
I gently waved my fingers at Tosin and she understood my unspoken question.
‘Agric Bus stop.’ Tosin informed me.
‘Agric Bus stop.’ I told David.
‘That’s good. That’s very good.’ he replied. ‘I am right in front of there now.
‘Where are you around the bus stop?’ He asked again.
‘One eatery in the next junction after the bus stop.’ I said.
‘The place no get name?’ David asked, and I laughed.
Again, I waved my fingers, this time at Tosin’s cousin, and mouthed the question, ‘Name of this eatery?’
When she told me the name, I repeated the same to David.
‘Okay.’ He said. ‘I will have to drive round to get to the other lane, and then get to where you are.’
‘Or will you just come back to the BRT bus stop so you can meet me there and we go home together?’ David asked.
When he asked the question, I looked at Tosin and frowned. She frowned too and sat up, looking intently at my face.
‘Abeg, I don’t know this Lagos o.’ I replied, even though it was just a straight road that led back to the bus stop.
‘Please come and pick me.’ I said.
‘Okay Master. You are the boss.’ David said.
I laughed. ‘Stop barbing my head’, I said. It was a slang we used for banter back in the University; and he laughed when I used the line again.
‘I am coming.’ David said. ‘Will be there in about two minutes.
The call ended and I dropped my phone from my ear.
‘Thank you very much.’ I said to the cousin and bowed my head as a gesture.
She bowed back and winked at Tosin as she walked back to the counter.
I slowly sat down and dropped my back against the backrest.
‘What happened?’ Tosin asked, a look of concern slowly creeping into her face. ‘Is everything okay?’
‘Yes.’ I answered. ‘Just that I only have two minutes to spend with you.’
‘It is far too little.’ I said softly.
‘Oh’ Tosin said.
Next new episode will come up