Gbemi was 10 minutes late. She left the office early enough but had a flat tire which caused her some 15 minutes. She was lucky there was a vulcanizer close by at the time the tire went flat. She didn’t like being delayed but more so, hated delaying people.
As soon as she got to their block of flats, she parked her car and headed straight for Gbenga’s flat. He opened after the first ring.
‘Hey, you made it’ he smiled.
‘I’m sorry I’m late’ it was at that point Gbemi noticed how well built Gbenga was. He wore a white T shirt, navy blue shorts and had an apron on.
‘Oh please don’t be, I was just rounding off in the kitchen. Please come in’ he extended his arm to show her in.
‘Thanks but since you are not done, why don’t I go to my place, drop my stuff and change into something more casual’
‘No problem then’
‘Great’ Gbemi turned around headed for her flat. She brought out her keys, opened the door and went in. she dropped her bags on the couch and went straight to her room. She flung her wardrobe opened and began to look for a dress to put on. After almost scattering all her folded clothes, she found a free knee length Ankara gown she sewed about a year ago. She ran into the bathroom and had a two-minute shower, in about 10 minutes, she was dressed and ready to go back to Gbenga’s place, she branched the kitchen and took one 5-Alive from the fridge.
Ding ding, the bell rang. Gbenga opened the door. ‘You look, refreshed’ he welcomed her in.
‘Yeah, I quickly freshened up. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting’ she said as she entered and admired the beautifully designed interior of his house.
‘No not at all, I just finished setting up the table’.
‘I brought this’ she extended the drink to him ‘I felt we could use it to push the food down’ she joked and added ‘I know it’s not wine o just help us manage it’.
‘Manage ke? It’s just perfect, thank you’ he smiled and collected it.
‘Wow, your house is so beautiful. I could have sworn that either a woman lived here or a woman was involved in the designing of this place’ she said as she looked around in admiration.
‘Well, you are not far from the truth. Not the woman living here part though’ he chuckled. ‘The interior decorator contracted to design the place is a woman’
‘She did a great job’ Gbemi complemented.
‘Thanks. So to the business of this evening, the table is set’ he pointed at the dining.
‘It looks so good’ Gbemi said as she walked towards the table. It was a square table with four chairs.
Gbenga was such a perfect gentle man, he drew out her chair for her and motioned to her to have a seat, he then loosened the rope of the apron he wore in order to take it off. It was at that point that Gbemi read the words it had on ‘My Dad is a great Cook’.
Gbemi smiled as she read it ‘awwww that’s so cute’.
Gbenga chuckled and hung it on one of the chairs as he sat down on the chair to her left ‘thanks, my sister got it for me. She really wants me to settle down. It’s amazing how she is becoming as good as my mom in putting pressure on me to get married’.
Gbemi chuckled ‘I totally get what that’s like’.
‘Yeah, I guess they just want the best for us’.
Gbemi went silent.
Gbenga noticed ‘let’s bless the food’. He said a word of prayer.
‘Amen’ Gbemi said. She was impressed that he wasn’t just homely and domestic but he seemed to be a spiritual person too.
He opened the first dish; it was spaghetti Bolognese. It smelt really good and looked so appetizing. The second dish contained stewed chicken and there was fried plantain, just as she loved it; golden brown covered up in a small plastic bowl.
‘Wow this looks amazing’ she said eager to taste it.
‘Thank you very much’ he smiled as he served her. ‘So how was your day?’
‘Fine’ would have been her usual response but then she remembered ‘the incident’ earlier that day. ‘It was…. ok I guess’ she didn’t sound so convinced.
‘You wanna talk about it?’ Gbenga asked with kin interest and sincere concern.
‘I don’t know’ Gbemi did think it was right to tell Gbenga about what happened in the office that day especially now that she knew he had met her boss.
‘It’s ok, you can share it with me’ Gbenga’s charm seemed to be working on Gbemi
‘It’s nothing really, I’ve just been a bit concerned’
‘About what?’ he took a sip of juice.
‘My boss wants me to travel alone with him to South Africa for an official assignment next week and I’m not comfortable with the whole idea’.
‘Have you spoken to him about it?’
It was at that moment she realized she never thought about that. ‘No I haven’t but I can’t predict him. I don’t know how he would react’.
‘Well I understand but I suggest you try first. You never know what might come out of it. I’m going to pray along’
‘Thanks, I really appreciate it’ Gbemi was beginning to be grateful she had a friend in Gbenga. ‘The meal was delicious. I must confess, when you offered dinner, I expected the worst but you have blown my mind away’
Gbenga laughed ‘are you serious? Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.’ He stood up and took the dishes to the kitchen.
‘I better get going, tomorrow is another busy day for me’ Gbemi said as she stood up and walked to the sitting room. ‘I’m so grateful for this exquisite treat’ she said nicely.
‘Haba, it was lovely having you around too’ he walked her to the door ‘oh, one more thing, your number’ he smiled and brought out his phone.
‘Sure’ she called out her number while he typed it into his phone.
‘Thanks dear, I’ll give you a call. Have a lovely night rest’
‘You too’ she smiled and left.
Back at work the next day, Gbemi summoned the courage and knocked on Mr Kalejaye’s door.
She opened the door and went in ‘Good morning sir’
‘Good morning Miss Johnson’ he said interested in what she had to say.
‘Sir, there is something I want to talk to you about’
‘Okay, I’m listening’ he said with full attention.
Gbemi began to wonder why she agreed to talk to her boss about the trip, she wished she could turn back without saying anything. ‘Sir, it’s about the trip to South Africa next week. I was wondering if I had to be the one to go with you’
‘Miss Johnson’ he paused and then went on ‘it appears you are not fully aware of your job description as my personal assistant. This is an official assignment and it is your job as my PA to escort me on this trip or do want me to find a replacement? Last I checked, there are tons of people who will do anything just to be in your shoes’
‘No sir, no need for a replacement’ Gbemi wondered if he meant ‘her shoes’ as the PA or as one traveling alone with her boss.
‘So if you know what is good for you, hold tightly to your job so you don’t lose it’
‘Any other thing?’
‘No sir’ she turned and left.
Back at her desk, she placed her head on the table and prayed for God’s help. She couldn’t afford for history to repeat itself.
Her phone rang; it was a number without a caller ID.
‘Hi Gbemi, this is Gbenga. How are you?’ the familiar voice said.
‘I’m fine thank you. How are you too?’
‘I’m good, you don’t sound okay. Have you spoken to your boss about the trip?’
‘Yeah, it appears I have no other choice’
‘It is well. Cheer up, God is in control’
‘Thanks. I’ll be fine’
‘If you need a friend to talk to, I’m just a phone call away’
Gbemi smiled ‘thanks, I appreciate it’. She noticed she was getting fond of Gbenga and was very comfortable around him.
‘Alright dear, have a blessed day’
‘You too’ she ended the call. She felt a lot better. ‘This guy is just heaven sent’ she said to herself as she resumed work on her laptop.
After work, Gbemi went for mid-week service at her church. It was Bible study. She hardly ever missed it. That particular Wednesday was a practical discussion session where they painted hypothetical scenarios and discussed the biblical way to tackle it. They were divided into groups
‘Any other scenario?’ the coordinator of her group asked.
Her hand went up. She really didn’t plan to ask a question but for some reason she found herself doing just that.
‘What would you do if your boss who you know is a womanizer instructs you to follow him on an official assignment alone?
The whole group went started mumbling, different people saying different things ‘Me ke, I will not go o’ someone shouted, ‘What is there, I will go fine fine, I will just be very careful ni’
‘One house please’ the coordinator said, in order to make everyone keep quiet. ‘It’s very simple, as a child of God, you have the Spirit of God to lead you. Pray and ask Him what He will have you do. If He says go then go, if He says don’t go then don’t go even if it will cost you your job’
Everyone was quiet.
‘Do you understand, Sis Gbemi?’ the coordinator asked
‘Yes I do’ she was quiet and began to think about what had just been said ‘I need God’s leading’ she thought to herself.
The week went pretty slowly, it was Friday night. She was in her sitting room reclining on the three-seater watching the news when her phone rang. It was charging at a corner of the sitting room and so she felt lazy to stand up. ‘If it’s important, the person will call again’ she said lazily.
It rang a second time so she dragged herself to get it. She looked at the caller ID, it was her mum. She picked it.
‘Hello mummy, good evening’
‘Gbemi, Bawoni (how are you)?’
‘I’m fine ma’
‘It’s been a while o, how is everything?’
‘Sorry mummy, don’t mind me, I’ve been quite occupied these past few days. How is bro Femi and Bola?’
‘They are kuku fine. Bola brought home her fiancé last weekend. It is your own we are waiting for o. Shey you want your younger sister to get married before you ni?’
Gbemi rolled her eyes ‘mummy we have different lives to live’ she tried not to raise her voice in annoyance. That exactly why she didn’t like calling home. Her mum spent the next five minutes counseling her on why she needed to settle down.
‘Mo ti gbo ma (I have heard ma)’
‘Good night my dear’ he mum finally brought the conversation to an end.
‘Good night ma’ she hung up. The call had already spoilt her mood. Just as she was about to connect the phone to charge, it rang again. She thought it was her mum and was already planning not top pick it when she saw it was Gbenga. She sat back in her chair and picked the call.
‘Hello’ she said
‘Hi Gbemi, how was your day?’
‘It was good o, you?’
‘Well, mine was just there. I was indoors mostly. You wanna go out tomorrow?’
Gbemi had nothing serious planned for her Saturday, hanging out with Gbenga wasn’t such a bad idea. ‘Hmmmm let’s see’ she paused for a while as if she was thinking. ‘Okay, where and what time?’
‘Graceland Park, say 1pm?’
‘Okay, that’s fine then’
‘I think we could leave together in my car or what do you think?’
‘Sure, that makes sense’
‘Alright then, see you tomorrow dear’
Saturday morning came like every other day. Gbemi had some house chores and laundry to do, she also wanted to start cutting the fabric for the next dress she wanted to sew. She had to do everything before 12noon in order not to be late for her outing for 1pm.
By 11:50am, she was in the bathroom, she had a warm shower. She had already brought out the cloth she planned to wear; a pair of jeans, a black top, and flowery kimono jacket. Her makeup was light, she let her hair down and wore a blue sandal. She didn’t have appetite perhaps due to the excitement. She managed to take a glass of juice. By 12:45pm, she was set. She decided to wait in the sitting room till Gbenga either called or pressed the bell.
Aside being well mannered, he was also a very punctual person. By exactly 1pm, he pressed the bell.
Gbemi stood up to get the door. The young man was looking good as always.
‘Hi’ Gbemi beamed with joy.
‘Hey you. You look amazing’ he said with a beautiful smile.
‘Thanks dear, you look good too’ she complimented him.
‘Are you set?’
‘Yes I am’ she smiled.
‘Shall we?’ he motioned with his hand. ‘After you Mademoiselle’ he attempted a little French.
Gbemi smiled as she led the way.
It took them about 30 minutes to get to the park. At the entrance, Gbenga paid for the both of them.
‘So what will you like to do?’
‘I don’t know about you but I’m hungry. How about we get shawarma and start off from there’ she smiled.
‘That’s not a bad idea’
As they walked to the shawarma joint, a guy walking in the opposite direction approached and looked at Gbenga as one who looked familiar.
‘Felix Felix, longest time’ the stranger tried shaking his hand. ‘How Cynthia na?. I hear say you two done marry last last’
Gbenga was confused ‘I’m sorry, you have me mistaken with someone else. I’m not Felix’
‘No be you wey go Uniben?’ the stranger asked seemingly confused too.
‘No, not me’ Gbenga said and turned to Gbemi ‘I don’t know why people always mix me up with other people’.
The stranger walked away still convinced Gbenga was Felix.
As they got to the shawarma spot, the man selling the shawarma welcomed them warmly and greeted Gbenga ‘long time Oga, how family?’
‘What’s happening today?’ Gbenga didn’t seem to understand. ‘Do I have a brother I don’t know about?’ he joked.
Gbemi was quiet all along. ‘What a coincidence?’ she thought to herself.
‘Good afternoon, please how much is your shawarma?’ Gbenga went on to place the order after which they sat down inside one of the hut-like building and waited for it.
‘So what have you decided to do about the trip to SA?’ Gbenga tried to break the silence that was beginning to build.
‘I prayed about it and I feel led to go’ Gbemi replied ‘I believe everything will work out just fine.
‘Yeah definitely, God will see you through’
‘So what University did you attend?’ Gbemi needed to clear every doubt.
‘I don’t know what that guy was saying o, I schooled abroad. I have never stepped foot in Uniben in my life’.
Gbemi believed him and decided to move past what had just happened.
‘Do you mind me asking a personal question?’
Gbemi had a faint idea of what he was about to say ‘go ahead’
‘Well, these past few days I’ve gotten to know you, I’ve discovered what an amazing woman you are and I couldn’t help but wonder why you don’t have a man in your life’ Gbenga was really interested in unraveling the mystery.
Gbemi was so correct. She knew he was going to ask something related to why she was still single. That was the most annoying question ever. She hated when people especially guys asked her why she wasn’t married. It was her life after all and not theirs. Gbenga, however, appeared different from other guys, there was something about him that made her free and open.
‘Hmmmm why don’t I have a man in my life?’ she echoed his question. ‘It’s actually complicated but I guess the simple answer is that I locked them out’. She knew Gbenga was going to want her to say more about it.
‘Why? What happened?’ Gbenga didn’t disappoint.
Thanks for reading
To be continued…
Drop a comment on your thoughts on this part. What happens next?
Watch Out For Gbemi Part 4 next week Sunday. Don’t miss it.