The honest plan was to finish this story in one post, but the way things are going, it would have meant keeping you waiting an extra week. Looking at how endangered this would make my life, I’m releasing this now. Here’s where we left off;
“Look. At. Those. Feet!” She said when they were done with him. She wasn’t exaggerating, even he had trouble recognising his feet. “How does it feel?”
“Like fresh air blowing over a santo head for the first time.” They laughed, along with the attendants.
He was about to pay when she stopped him. He insisted. “I let you drive, return the favor.” She complied. They were the last to leave. He couldn’t believe it; in his entire 29 years, he never imagined that his first date (if he could call it so) with someone he felt he could actually like would be at a nail parlour.
She felt peckish, so they stopped for ice-cream at Pinnochios. She chose for him. It was actually nice. She dropped him off at the office.
“Thanks Elsie, for my first ever pedicure. I’m beginning to worry my face now looks like the poor relative.”
She laughed. “You’re alright Yaw. You’re alright.” She revved the engine and drove off.
* * *
“Hey, you coming in today?” Yaw whatsapped
“Yup, but might be a little late.”
“I could save a seat for you.”
“Cool. Thanks :-)”
He walked her to her car after service. He noticed Hans making faces, but swerved him. He wasn’t ready to have an office buddy make things awkward. She had her signature scent on; La Vie est Belle. It made him linger when they hugged. She plucked herself, smiling.
She thought of him as she drove home. The old Elsie would never have given Yaw a chance…but time changes, so do people. He was such a good boy. He looked like he could be a bad boy, had the fashion sense of a cool dude, but he was a pure breed. He didn’t play games. He wasn’t rushing into her skirt, but he wasn’t as lively and boisterous as she was used to, and yet these were the same reasons why she felt drawn to him.
“Confused girl!” she said to herself. Then a chill run through her heart. If they did stand a chance, then there’d come a time when they’d come clean and debrief each other on their pasts. She shuddered.
She didn’t have many pictures on Facebook, but there was this one from Feb 2009 when she was in Level 300, Legon, when she still had permed hair. She was much leaner and her hair was held in a pony. She was wearing huge goggles, with a cute smile and her fingers held up in deuce. She was posing in what looked like Volta Hall, like she was getting ready for a lecture. Something about that picture kept bringing Yaw back every now and then. There was this captivating innocence about her.
This time, when he went on to check the picture out with office internet, he noticed that someone had written on her wall ‘El hun, birthday countdown’s on! What’re we doing this year? Which part of the world are we celebrating from?’ Antennae shot up! At that same time Hans showed up.
“Eeeiiii this my broda! What kraa this Elsie girl do you?”
“You kraa what be your problem?”
“Me my problem? Yoo, me hear I dey. You say this whole world, e be Elsie you day want.”
“This be why Ghana not day go on o. So so pull him down brodas.”
“Haha, I hear you. But vim, no shaking. Me I dey for you.”
Her birthday was seven days away and he felt like spending on her. Very strange, he’d not been like that. He’d always been so focused with work, saving to either start his business or pay for his masters in the UK. He’d been so indifferent with this whole spending on girls thing, but this year, Elsie was turning him into all sorts of different.
For days, he thought of what to do, something that’d really count. Something that wasn’t cliche. She didn’t know he knew, and he wanted to keep it so. Cake was standard and he got the lady at Velvet Memories to do a customised Oreo cake; her favourite biscuit. He didn’t know her shoe size and wasn’t familiar with lady’s dress sizes, so he went to a perfumery and bought a bottle of that signature scent she wore. He didn’t know the name at the time, so he had to sniff a whole store of scented sticks to try to figure out which it actually was. After all that trouble, La Vie est belle would forever be etched in his olfactory memory.
When the day came, 14th of May, the flowers got to her office first, with no name or message. Then the cake a couple of hours later, also with no name or message. Then around 4pm he sent through the perfume, no name no message. But soon after, he sent this via whatsapp:
Lovelier than flowers
sweeter than cake
more fragrant than perfume
Happy Birthday El!
Can I take you out tonight?
We can go to church after…or not at all, what do you think?
She’d suspected it was him, but was still surprised when he admitted it. Oh she wanted to take him up on the date, but she couldn’t.
“Awwww you’re too cute Yaw. Thanks. Means a big deal to me.
Have to say no to tonight though, but how about I make it up to you? Lunch at my place tomorrow; Jollof?”
He was disappointed. He’d made all the arrangements. She’d mentioned her love for Chinese so he’d already made reservations at Hin Lone. He had miscalculated, perhaps it was a bit ambitious of him to assume she’d be available on her birthday night. But if she wasn’t with him, then who was she with? Who had beaten him to it? Who the heck was it?! But he didn’t really have the right to ask, it’s not like they were officially dating. Regardless, he hated the thought of someone else being with her on such a strategic night. “Ah well, maybe she just wants to be by herself” he thought consoling himself. “Afterall, we even have lunch coming up. No p”
She lived by herself in a rented apartment in Westlands, like ten minutes from GIMPA. Following the location she’d sent via whatsapp wasn’t as easy as he’d imagined. The Google Maps lady hadn’t warned him that the shortest route to the place was actually the most rugged route.It didn’t really matter though; it’d take more than the world’s worst road to put him off.
When he turned unto her lane, she was at her gate, waving to make sure he didn’t make another wrong turn. “What a gerh!” He thought to himself. Oops, he hadn’t factored that she’d be outside, how was he going to brush his hair for the twelfth time and pop another Pectol in his mouth; she’d see him!
“Finally!” she greeted, opening up for an embrace.
“Not the easiest place to find”
“I’m not the easiest person to find.” She smiled, dashing in “Awurade! I hope it’s not burning. Feel at home, give me a minute.” She left the hall door open so he could let himself in. It was good she did that, she’d have noticed him gulp as his eyes widened. What a hall! There was a three seater wine leather sofa that matched with a one-seater, then there was a cream two-seater that matched the cream and black rug. The centre table was a delicate glass one. There were three red figurines on different walls and an imposing abstract painting that poured class into the place like wine into a glass. The curved giant screen against the wall evoked thoughts of how awesome playing FIFA 2017 on a screen that size would be. Music was playing through tiny Bang & Olufsen speakers peering from the corners of ceiling. The cream and wine drapes also complemented the furniture and carpet, and when he closed the polished Italian doors, just the right amount of fragranced cool air-conditioned air filled the hall.
“Wow!” he thought, just as she appeared with a bottle of water and a smoothie. “not bad at all” he commented.
“The drink? I was just trying my luck o.
“No, everything. Pure class.”
“Eii, you dat” she said dismissively.
It all mellowed him. He recognised the sophisticated taste that birthed such a beautiful apartment, but also the money that must have gone into it.
“I may apply for a job at your company soon o.” He teased
“More about multiple streams of income than a job you know.”
She was right, but it could’ve meant so many things…some he dreaded to consider.
They got quite close over the following weeks. They even carpooled often so that after the evening gym sessions, they didn’t have to ride in separate cars home. Yaw did his best to keep things from getting physical, and she complied, he’d tasted the softness of her lips though and gone halfway through base two. For how can a man carry coals in his bossom and not be burnt? How can a caterer be in charge of the jollof and not taste a little? They prayed together and shared quiet times every now and then, not in the way that grounded spiritos do, but like two people who had not long ago decided to be more serious about God after years of either being inactive or lasciviously adventurous.
It seemed like things were progressing gradually, but it was indeed fast. It was exciting, but quite unusual for both of them. Yaw had never been this into a woman, not even Ama, so everyone could tell. At times, it seemed as awkward as hearing a thick tall bouncer-type man dance ballet, but he wasn’t shy at all…which made it all the more admirable. He was as serious-minded as he’d always been, there were still a decent number of hot girls with the hots for him, but they didn’t register on his richter scale. He was still the backbone of his company, still the guy the other guys came to for thoughts and work-related validation, but he was different from them because of how freely he spoke about his Elsie. When they spoke about girls, it was more in a sexual playful way, he spoke about Elsie in the same way he spoke about going to the gym; ‘matteroffactedly’. They wondered if it was mutual, especially Hans, who always seemed to be suppressing something unspeakable.
But Yaw didn’t care about dirt or the past. He was quite pragmatic. He had Elsie now, he planned to have her for the foreseeable future, and that was all there was to it. She was both beautiful and hot, so ambitious and career minded, so keen to know God better, so good a kiss, so his.
She smiled when he said cute things to her. She had felt a lot in life, but he was making her feel things she hadn’t felt before. He was so different. It’s amazing how the mundane becomes thrilling with a little change of perspective.
On Saturdays, they usually gave each other space for the first half of the day; he’d play morning soccer with the boys, finish it off with squad waakye, return home to nap and work a little before meeting up with her around 4pm for an endless list of possibilities.
on this particular saturday, whilst he was celebrating his winning goal with the softest wele, a whatsapp came through from Elsie and that’s when he noticed he’d missed two calls from her.
‘I need to dash off to London tonight. Let’s talk when you see this.”
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PSS: Last Part coming up next week.