Edet Udeme stood under the pedestrian bridge, at Anthony bus-stop, trying to hitch a bike ride home. Every time he tried to stop a bike, two, three other people chase after the rider, bargaining for a fair price to their destinations. The cost of commuting from one place to another in Lagos had risen due to the fuel scarcity and increase in the prices of fuel sold at the depots. The situation had gone from bad to worse over time, especially with the madden price of fuel sold at black markets. There was a crowd under the bridge, people waiting to board buses to different parts of town.
He would have walked home. His place of residence was not too far from the bridge, but, he was a bit tired. He had been trying to fix one of his customer’s car all morning. The vehicle’s engine had knocked thrice times in a roll that week. The man’s call was what brought him out of sleep that morning. As one who doesn’t give up easily, his doggedness had resulted into a successful repair of the car. The man gladly gave him an extra three thousand naira, after paying the agreed fee. He smiled to himself. It had been a very good day.
Someone in the crowd caught his attention. It was a very tall, slim, curvy fair skinned lady in a chocolate brown pleated skirt suit. She was very pretty and he liked the way her braided hair was woven in a ponytail at the back of her neck. She must have sensed that someone was staring at her, because she turned her head slightly and met his gentle watchful dark brown eyes. Something jogged in his memory. He blinked several times, trying to place the face. He could swear on his grand-father’s grave that he had seen her before. But, where? She looked away and adjusted the brown hand bag strapped on her shoulder.
A scene imbedded in the very core of his mind unfolded before his very eyes. The day a beautiful seductively dressed fair skinned lady came to his boss’ mechanic shop with an Alhaji. He had fallen head over heels in love that day and he had been praying for the lady since the day they met, hoping that she would allow God to save her. He blinked again and stared wide-eyed at the fair skinned lady in the brown skirt suit. Was she the same person? Same skin colour, some face, but with a slight difference. She wore a light make-up; unlike the day he first saw her. She seemed slimmer too, but, the curves were still generously intact. He swallowed hard, his throat had suddenly gone dry. She must be the same person, the girl he had been waiting for, for the past two years. What was her name again? He tried to recollect the conversation they had that day. She said her name was Beauty, but, her real name was Edua. He took a few steps towards her and halted by her side.
She turned to look at him. Her narrowed gaze sized him up. She had no idea who he was.
“Hi, it’s me, Edet. Edet Udeme. We met two years ago,” he grinned from ear to ear. He was sure she was the same person.
She began to shake her head. The guy standing beside her didn’t look familiar one bit. How did he know her name?
“You came to my boss’ mechanic shop with an Alhaji two years ago,” he added quickly. The expression on her face intimated him that she didn’t remember him.
She raised an eyebrow. She had been with a dozen Alhajis in the past. She had no idea who he was referring to.
“I think his name was Bature,” he clarified.
Her light brown eyes widened. Alhaji Bature? He was the last Alhaji she dated.
“It’s being two years too long, how have you been?” he smiled when he sensed that she at least remembered the name of the Alhaji.
She turned to look at the semi-empty road. Where were all the commercial buses plying that route? The thought of a cold shower, a hot meal and relaxing in front of her T.V set clouded her mind.
“You look different. Have you finally reconciled with Jesus?” He was filled with joy that finally, they met again.
She glanced back at him. His dark brown eyes glowed in excitement. Who was he?
“I have been praying and waiting for you for the past two years Princess. I told you that we were going to meet again.”
Princess? The only person that called her that was her late father. And one other person, the silly love-sick motor mechanic she met two years ago. Recognition hit her.
She looked him up and down again. Was he the same person? He looked more matured and cleaner than she remembered. He was well dressed this time around, in a fitted red short-sleeve tee-shirt and a pair of blue jeans with matching red boots. He actually looked very good.
He laughed out loud and sighed with relief.
“You look different,” she noticed his broad chest and muscled arms.
“So do you,” he sized her up and kept smiling.
“Do you still work at the mechanic shop?”
He shook his head, “I have my own shop now,” he sounded proud of himself.
She nodded, impressed. “Good for you.”
“Thanks. I told you that I was going to set up a world class Automobile Mechanic shop that will be patronized by the high and mighty in the society.”
She just smiled. She didn’t remember a thing.
“Well, that dream is still in the pipeline. I have a few boys working for me in my shop now. Things are picking up gradually.”
She nodded and turned to look at the road. Where were the buses?
“What are you doing around here?”
She turned to him, “I came to sit for a written interview at Aiico Insurance.”
“Oh… How was it?” he observed her tired face.
She shrugged, “Okay.” She hoped that she would get the job this time around. She was tired of sitting at home, while her bills piled up. She didn’t want to remain dependent on the Pastor and his wife any longer. She needed to be able to take care of herself.
“Do you stay around?”
She shook her head. “I am waiting for a bus heading for CMS. I live in Obalende.”
“Wow! You are miles away from home,” he placed his hands on his hips.
“Tell me about it,” she folded her arms across her chest. It was past six already. When was she going to get home? She doubted if she would be able to attend the mid-week church service that day.
“Don’t worry. You will get a bus soon,” he encouraged her.
She sighed heavily. “I hope so.” She was beginning to lose hope.
“Have you finally surrendered to Jesus?” he asked again, he needed to know. He had been praying.
She raised an eyebrow, then smiled. “Jesus is in total control of my life.”
“Wonderful!” he beamed and sighed in relief. “I have been praying for you.”
“Interesting,” she adjusted her hand bag.
“I stay around. Anthony Village to be precise. My mechanic shop is close to home too.”
“Nice…” she wasn’t really listening.
“I have been trying to get a bike, maybe I might just walk home. I will wait till you get a bus.”
She glanced at him again. “You don’t have to.”
He smiled, “I want to. Now, that we have met again, I am not going to allow you to just slip into oblivion.”
She started to laugh. He was as weird as she remembered.
“I have not stopped loving you.”
She eyed him.
“From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I knew that you were the bone of my bone, the flesh of my flesh,” his dark brown eyes lit with the emotions bubbling within him.
Suddenly drawn into the sea of his loving eyes, she tore her gaze away. “Stop talking nonsense.”
“I am as sure of my feelings for you as I know my name is Edet Udeme,” he emphasized.
She shook her head and avoided his gaze.
“Here is my business card. Let’s meet up sometime and talk. Can I please have your number?”
She collected the card and looked up at him. A motor mechanic with a business card? He was surely living in cloud nine.
“Hey look! That’s your bus!”
She followed his gaze and saw a long red bus heading their way. The crowd moved like bees around a hive.
“Come, I will get you on board,” he grabbed her by the hand, weaved his way through the crowd and got her on the bus.
She found an empty seat by the window, sat down and looked out. She saw him standing at the side of the road, waving at her. She waved back at him and mouthed ‘thank you’.
“Call me!” he shouted and blew her a kiss.
Her jaw dropped in amazement. The guy was definitely crazy.
Edua sat in front of her television watching the Telemundo channel, but, her mind kept drifting to her encounter with the motor mechanic. He was as crazy as she remembered. How could one claim to love someone who one hardly knew? Her relationship with Chidi and Kolawole had taught her that it was only a man that can dare to accept her past that could spend the rest of his life with her.
Edet knew absolutely nothing about her. He would surely run away like everyone else. What was she even thinking? She turned on her side and changed the channel to CNN. She had no plans of ever dating him, no matter how cute he looked. She tried to erase the image of his handsome face from her mind’s eye, but to no avail. He was a motor mechanic for Pete’s sake. He was way below her league. Her mother would definitely laugh her to scorn if she heard that she was going out with someone like Edet. But, should what people say matter? After all, it was her life. No one was going to live it for her.
She wanted a man after God’s own heart. Someone who would accept her past, present and future; hook, line and sinker. Someone who was financially comfortable and hardworking. She didn’t want to suffer. She was already suffering. She needed a job fast! She didn’t know that giving up everything for God was going to be so hard and difficult. Nevertheless, she was not going to give up. She would never go back to her vomit.