The first time I saw Titi Lawrence in the University I knew she was trouble. She suddenly bumped into me on my way to the hostel and then looked at me as if I had upset her apple cart. Confused, I muttered a ‘sorry ,’ and then she laughed. She had a tinkling sort of laugh. Even from that first day, it grated on y nerves.
“It’s me that should be apologizing my dear,” she said patronizingly. “Don’t mind me. I’m just in a hurry to get to class. My name is Titi.”
“Chinelo,” I offered hesitantly.
“Alright Chinelo. See you around,” she said and sauntered off.
I thought no more of it till I saw her in the cafeteria that same afternoon. I was mildly irritated. Was she following me around?
“Hi again,” she said cheerily as she stood beside me. “What course are you studying?”
“Business Administration,” I said trying not to show my annoyance.
“Oh. I knew I had seen you somewhere before. We are in the same department.”
Nice, I thought. Gritting my teeth I Now she would never leave me alone.
Out loud, I said: “Ok.” And then proceeded to carry my tray to a nearby table. Sure enough, Titi was following close at my heels. After a while, I decided to enjoy her chatter and relax. She knew all the campus gossip and was eagerly pouring out every juicy detail over her plate of rice. Besides as an established loner, I didn’t have many friends. I needed all the friends I could get and Titi seemed willing to be one of them. That was my first mistake.
Christy’s shrill voice broke my reverie again.
“Chinelo did you see that?” she shouted. “That woman turned into a snake! I knew she was possessed.”
I hissed inwardly and sighed aloud. Christy and her obsession with African Magic.
I needed to get her to leave so I could concentrate on other things. Like plotting how I could see Titi Lawrence without being obvious. But before then…
“Ehen Christy did you give the new neighbor a welcome present?” I ask Christy.
Christy turns her face towards me, momentarily confused. “Welcome present? Biko, which one be that?”
I scrunch my eyebrows. With all her TV watching, didn’t she watch Desperate Housewives?
“Christy.” I say with exaggerated patience. “When a neighbor moves into your street the proper thing is to go and say hello to them and offer them a welcome gift. It’s usually food especially baked goods. It’s a sign of being thoughtful.”
Christy laughed. “Thoughtful kwa? That one na oyinbo business o. It no concern me.”
I was not to be deterred. I shook my head determinedly.
“No Christy. In this our estate we will do the right thing. So you and I will take a cake over to that Titi Lawrence’s house to officially welcome her into the community.”
Christy shrugged. “As long as you would bake the cake.”
I had expected this. “Of course I will.”
“You get time,” Christy observed and yawned. “Chinelo I’m hungry o. Haven’t you cooked anything?”
Now was the time to get her out.
“See Christy you just reminded me. I have a lot of work to do. I need to dust the furniture before I start cooking so please you will need to excuse me.”
Christy got up and stretched. “So you are driving me away abi?”
I didn’t answer. “See you tomorrow Christy.” And I closed the door behind her.
I got a rag and began dusting the furniture. I had no idea what would happen when I came across Tit Lawrence again. If nothing else, Ike would still get his chocolate cake treat the next day.