Tomiwa rolled down his window of his beat up Toyota so he could better hear what the girl standing in front of his car was saying.
“Are you going towards the hostel area?” she asked him in her soft voice. For a moment, he was lost looking up into her almost perfectly sculpted face and her fair skin. No one ought to be that beautiful, he thought to himself. He was tolerably good looking with his caramel skin and bushy eyebrows and was thankful that he had started following his cronies to the gym or else he would think he was completely out of her league. The girl repeated her question and he was forced to look up. He wasn’t going towards that area a few seconds ago but now he most definitely was.
“Sure, hop in,” he said confidently like he was offering her a limousine ride.
“Thanks,” the girl said as she sank gratefully in the car seat.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the campus shuttle. I’ve been standing there for nearly thirty minutes,” she said by way of explanation.
“I guess it’s because most people have finished exams and a lot of people have gone home so the buses are fewer.”
“Which hostel do you stay in?” Tomiwa said, willing himself not to look at her and to concentrate on the road.
“Moremi,” she said.
“That’s nice. I’m Tomiwa by the way,” he said.
“Ruth,” the girl offered simply.
Tomiwa exhaled. This beauty queen was Ruth. He knew this line was old but it had worked a few times so…
“Ruth, your face seems familiar. I think I must have seen you around campus one time or the other.”
Ruth smiled, amused. “It’s possible.”
Tomiwa’s stomach churned. How could that upward curving of the lips do such havoc to his insides? He deliberately slowed down. The ride to Moremi had to take at least forty five minutes.
Fola crept up behind her and covered her eyes with his hands. He knew she would be furious but he did it anyway.
“Fola!” Remi shrieked. “Remove your hands from my eyes this instant!”
He did so with alacrity as she turned around, laughing. “How did you know it was me?”
“Fola, you are a clown. You think I don’t know by now what your hands look like or smell like?” she said trying not to laugh herself.
He raised up the offending hands. “What can I say? You got me.”
She gave him a playful punch. “And now because of your naughtiness, we’re going to be late for Professor Ilori’s class.”
“Aw come on, he’s no fun anyway.”
They were both bookworms but Fola always pretended to be less serious than Remi. It was why they were such good friends. They shared similar interests and people had even told them they looked like siblings. Fola was dark, of average height with indistinctive features. Remi was chocolate, petite with a pert nose and she wore contacts.
“I don’t know about you but I intend to graduate next year and if you want to do the same, I suggest you go to class,” Remi said in mock seriousness.
He tweaked her ear. “That’s why I have you with me, to keep me on the straight and narrow. You’re my guardian angel,” he said laughing.
“Whatever,” Remi said trying not to smile. “You have your assignment done, I hope?”
“Yes ma’am,” he answered producing a foolscap sheet from his bag.
“Ok. Then let’s get to what’s left of Professor Ilori’s class.”
She picked up her handbag and they left the front of the hostel.
This was their second date. Chinasa gazed dreamily into space while waiting for her date to bring their orders. Her friends hadn’t believed her when she told them that she had no list of what she wanted in a man. The first time she saw Richard, she knew she needed no list. He was perfect.
There was an intense connection between them that was impossible to deny.
“Sorry I kept you waiting,” Richard said in his rich baritone. “There was a long queue.” He was very tall and as dark as Chinasa was fair and petite. They complemented each other perfectly, she thought.
“No problem. I think this is rush hour,” she said tapping her perfectly manicured nails on the table.
He sat down after placing the trays on the table and they began to dig into their meals. She had ordered porridge while Richard had gone for the ofada rice.
“Yes,” Richard said without preamble. “The other day you were telling me about your parents. You said you have two sisters, right?”
“Yes. I have a little brother too. The last child. He’s in primary five.”
Richard took a sip of water. “You know, your family and mine share a lot of similarities. I have three siblings too and-,” he paused suddenly holding his throat.
“What’s the matter?” Chinasa asked him.
He couldn’t answer. He looked like he was choking. Chinasa stood up looked frantically about for help.
“Please,” she beckoned to guests at a nearby table. “He needs help.”
Suddenly without warning, Richard fell to the ground and passed out.