I had felt some eyes following me all day long. It was the kind of eyes that went right inside you and left you feeling all warm inside. The eyes followed me right into the bus.
It was long after lectures had ended and they were few students left in the compound so the bus was taking time to fill up but I didn’t mind because I was engrossed in my novel. So it was, that I didn’t bother to look at who sat beside me in the face (though I knew it was a male) till the bus was leaving the car park. It wasn’t the first time people asked to see what I was reading and I wasn’t surprised when he asked to see my book. I paused and quickly ran my eyes to the page before giving it to him. As I raised my face to his, the world ceased to be around us. Maybe, I should have taken that as a sign. He was ruggedly handsome . His brows were raised and the side of his mouth twitched in a soft smile. I said a soft “hi” and handed him the book. I was careful not to touch him because my antennas were jumbled and I couldn’t tell what was happening to me.
“I have read this book”, he said as he handed back the copy of Elechi Amadi’s ‘The Concubine’.
“Oh, it is an interesting one and I can’ t seem to resist reading it anytime”, I said.
The 30 minutes journey back into town was like 30 seconds. Time flew fast as we discussed ‘The Concubine’ and the different parts of the book that held our interests. I wished the bus would break down on the road, or that there would be traffic jam on the road so we could be delayed. Alas, they were all wistful thoughts as the bus made it to the last bus stop where we both alighted in one piece. We parted ways. I had already gone some distance before I realized that we don’t know our names nor did we exchange our phone numbers. “Too bad, I wasn’t going to see him again”, I said to myself.
I was in a blissful daze for the rest of the day and all through the weekend. My friends noticed my mood and asked what it was. I was embarrassed to tell them of the wars that were going on in my heart and of course the physical torments over a total stranger, but we have known ourselves since childhood and never hidden anything from each other. So, I slumped on the bed and told of my encounter with my “heartache”. I had to call him something and I couldn’t find a better word to use as he did make my heart ache with untold sensual desires and warmth. Kiki and Kemi laughed till they were gasping for breath. They were my closest friends but at that moment I felt like walking out on them and never coming back which I almost did had Kiki not stopped and dragged me back down on the bed.
‘Forgive us for laughing but you had to see your face whilst telling the story”, Kiki said in between laughter.
“ Girl, Kemi said, you are love struck” and they burst into another bout of laughter.
I couldn’t hold myself anymore because something in the way Kemi said it brought a grin to my face and the next thing we were all laughing our hearts out with tears rolling down our cheeks.
The sound of the door opening brought us to a stop with girlish giggles. Someone put his head in through the little crack that was open and said, “hi, I am looking for Nene”. It was like a sound from another world but before I could say any word, Kiki went to the door and opened it wider and there standing like a god was ‘my heartache’. I mumbled hi and gingerly got up just so he wouldn’t disappear the next moment. I looked at my two friends who were watching me in amazement and mouthed “my heartache’. Kiki spoke up and asked him in. He came in and took the chair that was beside the bed .
“It has been twenty-one days since we talked so I am here so we can discuss another interesting novel”, he said as he brought out Elechi Amadi’s “The Great Ponds” and a bucket of ice-cream ‘to go with it” as he pulled it out from the bag he was carrying. Kiki whistling Onyeka Onwenu’s ‘love nwa nti nti” opened the door and left the room. Kemi said she was going to get some cups for the ice-cream and left too. We were alone. The alarm bells went off in my head as I felt his eyes digging into me. Just then, before I could think about it, I blurted out, “it was you”. It was more a statement than a question. He said a simple yes without asking what I meant. Right there in the self-contained room I share with my friends , I knew my heart had been stolen by this handsome, soft spoken and intelligent young man. I was in no hurry to get it back.