In·fat·u·a·tion (inˌfaCHəˈwāSH(ə)n) noun
a foolish and usually extravagant passion or love or admiration
Friday morning. Thankfully it’s the last day of class this week. I’m looking forward to the weekend, even though I don’t know what Danladi has planned yet. We’ve been ‘dating’ for three weeks now and it’s been great. We’ve gone out at least twice every week and seen each other on one day of every weekend. Turns out we like the same kinds of movies and we have the same love for the beach. He’s taken me to a different place every time and I’m starting to realize that I should really get out more because I don’t know the half of what Lagos has to offer. He seems so much more relaxed around me now, and I’ve conveniently forgotten that I have a boyfriend. I’m reveling in that awesome feeling of having met someone that I really like, the way I felt when I first met my boyfriend, the way I don’t feel anymore when I’m with him – not that I’m with him much these days him being in the UK and all…
Danladi is a breath of fresh air. He’s smart, funny in a serious kind of way and very attentive. He makes me feel like I’m the only girl in the world. More than half the time, I forget that he’s married. During lunch on our first date, he had told me that he had noticed me from the first time he saw me, which was surprising because he never showed any sign of that when I first showed up in his class. Turns out he had sat at the same spot at the bar, waiting for me to show up like I did every morning, knowing when I arrived because his seat gave him a good view of the gate (and I had been foolishly thinking that he was unaware, secretly glad that he sat in that same seat every day because I could see him as soon as I drove into the gate. Silly me). I had asked him at some point if he had been the one to put Mr.Nestor up to asking me to join his class, but he swore that it was just a coincidence, one that he had been ‘ecstatic’ about. I’m not sure I believe that though.
I’ve gotten used to the looks I get from other course participants – I just ignore them and act like they don’t exist. I’m secretly daring them to come and ask me what the deal is, because it’s now common place for me to leave my car in the school compound and drive off with him. They also see us sitting together every morning at the bar, having hushed conversations and laughing at our own jokes. My colleague Yvonne has tried hard to get me to talk about what’s going on. But I’m “proving difficult” – her own words. I told her that he’s a friend and he’s nice. To her question of where we go off to every time I get in his car, my answer is we go to see movies and sometimes we go to eat. To be honest, I would really like to talk to someone about what’s going on because I think I’ve gone and fallen for this guy. But it certainly won’t be anybody in this place. Thankfully, he doesn’t wear a wedding band, so I’m hoping no one knows that he’s married.
You can judge me now if you want, because it’s no longer an accident. I’m in with both feet and both eyes open. I mean, the guy holds my hand while he’s driving! He kisses my forehead every chance he gets. He puts a hand on my waist when we go out, like he’s staking his claim on me. He helps me into the car and opens the door for me to get out. He never answers any phone calls when he’s with me – he says he doesn’t want to waste any second of the time we’re together. He sends me a good night text every night and his text message is the first one I see every morning – today’s text read “good morning Sunshine. It’s another day and I’m looking forward to seeing you as always.” He’s probably the most gentlemanly man I’ve ever met. Plus he has a romantic side. I wonder how old he is. It’s interesting that we’ve never talked about age. I guess we’ve been otherwise preoccupied. I’ll make it a point to ask him today. Friday is ‘drinks’ day, so I’m looking forward to finding out where we’re doing drinks today.
2pm. Class is over, thankfully. If I know Danladi, he’s already waiting for me outside. I pack up my books and head for the door.
“You’re going off with him again abi?” Yvonne asks
“Well, yes. I am.” And I don’t see how that’s any of your business.
“I thought you said you had a boyfriend?” she says, folding her arms and raising a slightly skewed eyebrow.
“So what are you doing with this guy? Cos it definitely looks like you guys are in a relationship.”
“Who said anything about being in a relationship with him? We’re just friends and we like to spend time together.” I say, giving her a look to stop her questions. And I leave the class. I’m bristling from the audacity with which she’s asking. She’s not even my friend for God’s sake, I only met her here. What gives her the right to question my actions? I don’t poke my nose in her own business, so she should mind hers!
“Who or what has you all worked up lovey? You have the same mighty scowl I saw on your face on our first date. Did someone else lie to you about being married?” I hadn’t even realized I had reached Danladi’s car during my silent tirade. I look up at him now and he’s smiling, that cute lopsided smile that he has when he’s trying not to laugh at me. But he is cute though. And that face has a way of lifting my spirits.
“Some nosy classmate of mine jare. She was asking me about you and us and what we’re doing together.” I lean in for our customary hug. It feels so good to be enveloped in his arms.
“Well then tell her what she wants to hear. And she’ll probably leave you alone.”
“No way. You’re my little secret…” I say, pulling slightly away from him to look in his eyes “… and I intend to keep it that way.”
We then get in the car and start our trip.
“Where are we going today?” I ask, not really bothered as long as I was going with him.
“I thought we’d go somewhere closer to home. My home that is…” and he steals a glance at me, I guess trying to see my reaction to going somewhere near his home.
I try not to show how I’m feeling. I don’t know where he lives. We’ve never talked about it. I’ve never thought about going to his house, or going near it. But the thought of it does something to my insides. What if he takes me to his house? Should I be going to his house? He’s a married man. When boys ask you to come to their houses/rooms, it usually means one thing. Hold up though, he’s only taking me to drinks somewhere near his house. He hasn’t asked me to come to his house. So why do I have my knickers in a twist?
We drive to a beach side bar in lekki. I’m in awe as I take in the sea view from my perch on a bar stool. I look around and there are small groups of people in different spots in the lounge area, young and upwardly mobile-looking people, completely relaxed in their surroundings. But it’s a weekday. Don’t these people have jobs? I definitely would like to be this relaxed during my work life, I’m thinking when his voice breaks into my thoughts
“Babe, your drink is here.”
“Oh. Thanks.” I say, accepting the drink. I don’t remember ordering, wait a minute, did he just call me babe? Butterflies are doing all kinds of somersaults in my belly. He called me babe. He’s never called me that before. I smile shyly.
“You know, you look so pretty when you smile like that. It’s like the sun peeks out from its hiding place.”
I look down at my hands, I’d be blushing now if I were Caucasian. I feel his fingers under my chin, slowly lifting my gaze back up to his.
“Don’t be shy. And look at me when I’m talking to you. I want to see your eyes.” He says, in the softest tone I’ve ever heard him speak.
I hold his gaze and then I look away, afraid of what I see. I take a sip of my drink. It’s cold and very welcome down my parched throat. I can still feel him looking at me, and I’m wondering at his silence, wishing he’d say something, anything to break the tension. There’s a huge knot in my stomach and I can’t seem to stop fidgeting.
“What are you doing this weekend?” he asks.
“Nothing.” It comes out in a squeak, and I have to clear my throat and try again “I haven’t planned anything for the weekend.”
“Come to my house tomorrow. I’ll cook. And we can spend the day in a more… comfortable environment.”
“I have a boyfriend…” I blurt out
“I’d be very surprised if you didn’t have one.” He responds without missing a beat. “Although I suspect he’s not in Lagos because you’ve never mentioned him. And the last three weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time together, time which, were I your boyfriend, I wouldn’t let you have on your hands.”
“You’re right. He’s in the UK. Studying for a Master’s degree.”
“So we’ve established the fact that you have a boyfriend, and that he’s not around. Now…” he takes my hand “… tell me that you’ll grace my house with your beautiful presence. It would be nice to hear the sound of your laughter in my living room.”
He’s putting the moves on me. I know he is but still, I can’t stop myself from being drawn in. There’s no telling what will happen if I go to his house, but I know I want to. He wants me, I can tell. And it makes me feel good. This man makes me feel good. Must be the combination of a romantic language, a relationship shrouded in secrecy and the novelty of spending time with a married man. Whatever it is, it feels good, nothing like I’ve ever felt before. I feel grown up, I feel beautiful, I feel wanted. And weirdly enough, I feel sophisticated, because this handsome, sophisticated northerner wants to be with me.
“I don’t think I should…” I make a half-hearted protest, hoping that he’ll persuade me to change my mind. I don’t want to acquiesce so quickly lest he think I’m cheap.
“Come on. I promise not to eat you…” He says almost in a whisper.
“Okay…” I say without looking at him. Then I remember that he said I should look at him when he’s talking to me. So I look up. “I’ll need your address.”
“Oh, I can pick you up. Just tell me where.”
The voice in my head suddenly wakes up, alerting me to the fact that I shouldn’t agree to him picking me up. It would mean that my leaving his house would be dependent on him being ready to drop me off. I don’t think I want to be in that situation.
“No.” I shake my head. “I’ll drive down. Just give me your address and directions.”
“Not a problem Miss Independent. However, this Mallam is accustomed to taking care of the women in his life, so I’m going to ask that you let me cover the cost of fueling your car to make the trip.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’ll be alright. Is there anything I can bring with me? I’ll feel kind of awkward coming empty handed.”
“Just bring yourself. That’s enough for me really.”
On our way back to drop me off, I replay his words in my head over and over again. I’m one of the women in his life. He wants to take care of me. “Don’t get carried away” I hear my mother’s voice in my head. “There’s no such thing as free lunch.”