“Hello beautiful, how are you?”
I looked up from my book to find a cute, fair dude standing before me. He looked familiar, though I couldn’t remember where or how we had met. I recognized the polished accent; it’s hard to ignore when you live among rural folk.
Ignoring my silence, “my name is Uduak, may I sit?”
“Hello Uduak. Yes, you may sit.”
I stared, waiting for this tall delicious glass of Baileys to state his business. The longer I stared, the more appealing he seemed; so when he struck up a conversation, I obliged. The conversation I didn’t care to have turned into a 4-hour intense gist and argument session. Don’t judge, we were NYSC corp members at the time, though Uduak was a set ahead of me.
Uduak was very intelligent, so talking with him every day became “a thing”. I started to panic when I realised I got bitchy whenever Uduak was out of town and I couldn’t get to have face time with him (there was no Skype then). He must have felt the same way too because he came back from travel one Friday in April and told me about his fiancé… son of a **** (insert censor here)!
I was devastated. I wondered, why didn’t he tell me earlier? Why did he have to wait till I had developed feelings for him? Rural life is simple but that simplicity turned to hound me; I couldn’t seem to find a distraction at first. I started jogging and speed-walking in the mornings; it helped me clear my mind for some hours at least.
I was out jogging one Monday morning when I heard, “Hey beautiful.”
I went right on jogging as I thought, not today heartbreaker, not today!”. He increased the pace of his jog and caught up real quick, weaving from side to side in front of me, so I don’t get past him. Why are the guys around here so persistent?
“What now?” I asked as I rolled my eyes. “You are disrupting my routine.”
“I’m sorry. Why don’t I just come with, and I can talk as we jog?”
I picked up pace without responding as I headed to the nearest track field. He jogged beside me but remained silent. I took a quick glance sideways and met his gentle gaze; he had been looking at me the whole time, waiting for me to give him my attention. I immediately lost the battle of keeping a straight face and it annoyed me slightly.
I stopped and faced him, “ Alright, let’s hear it”. I wasn’t going to make this easy.
He extended his hand, “Hello, my name is Mark”.
I shook his hand, “Hello Mark, how may I be of service?”
He sighed, “I don’t bite Karen, I just want to be friends.” And there emerged a boyish grin that someone must have told him steals hearts.
“How did you learn my name?”
“I did my homework.”
“Indeed!” I considered him for a moment. “Fine! Let’s walk back”.
And so it began again! In a short time, Mark and I became so close that I was comfortable being vulnerable with him. Of course, this meant he got an earful about Uduak almost every day. I often detected a slight discomfort in his body language as he listened to me drone on about another guy but I was so hurt, I couldn’t seem to stop. Perhaps it was easy to take him for granted because he proved to be a very decent man.
I noticed Mark had grown a look, one that implied, I adore you Karen but listening to you talk about Uduak is exhausting. I started to caution myself and pay more attention to him. That was when I realised how much time I actually spent in Mark’s house on a daily basis, and how much I depended on him for emotional support. I admired him for his patience, and care; he never complained nor attempted to take advantage of me even though he could have, conveniently.
By the time I decided to do right by Mark, a new batch of corp members had returned from camp to settle in the community and Mark was already distracted by one beautiful, shiny object in the name of Amaka. I wondered, Karen, why did it take you so long to figure out? Why did you keep crying over spilt milk when a huge jar of fresh milk sat right before you?
I brought out all my sporting outfit to clean. It was time to jog and speed-walk again!