Twice Shy

By Aniekan Andikan:

I was chilling at the students’ park in my school and thinking about how I was going to manage the remaining 5000 Naira in my pocket till the end of the week. I was deep in thought when I got distracted.

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on her conversation over the phone after I heard ‘money’, ‘airport’, ‘car’ and ‘stranded’ in one sentence. I took an instant interest in the dark-skinned girl that I was sure was not up to 20 if she was even up to 18 years old.

She had a perfectly round face that housed round dark eyes, a pointed little nose and tiny lips that spoke so softly. Her hair was arranged in a ponytail at her back and she naturally gave off a countenance of total innocence.

Despite straining my ears so hard I couldn’t make out most of what she was saying but it seemed she was complaining about something to her father because the word ‘dad’ was repeated many times and she said dad the way only ajebutters are allowed to say it.

I went to her after the call.

‘Hi,’ I started not totally sure if I was qualified to talk to this rich kid.

‘Hi,’ she looked my way. Her eyelashes gave off the effect these girls that fix artificial ones try so painfully to get.

‘Seems you are having some issues. Can I be of help?’ I asked knowing it wasn’t going to be money problems because she looked like money – I inhaled deeply – and smelled like money.

‘Not really. Just a little frustrated,’ she replied softly in an English that only children that went to expensive schools can command.

‘Can you talk about it?’ I enquired as the gentleman I was.

‘Well, my dad, he just called me that he’s at the airport getting a flight to Lagos,’ she answered worriedly. I wondered what problem was there.

‘Are you worried his plane might crash?’ I asked, puzzled.

‘No!’ she said almost immediately, her voice a bit more audible. ‘He took my car with him and all my stuff are inside. My documents, purse, ID card, everything,’ she finished.

‘He said I should come to the airport and collect it,’ she continued since I was too speechless to say anything after hearing “my car”.

‘I guess you are sort of stranded?’ I said finally. I must be friends with this girl.

‘No’ I was getting disappointed when she continued ‘I just need to get to the airport and retrieve my car. I need some money though,’ she said though carelessly.

I put my hand inside my pocket and peeled 2 Nnamdi Azikiwe notes from the ten identical notes I just collected from the bank and pointed it discreetly at her.

She looked at the money the way Goliath looked at David in the battle at the Valley of Elah.

‘Don’t worry. This will not take me there. I will call my brother. He will take me to the airport.’ No no no! I have to be friends with this girl.

‘But it’s the airport in the next town here, how much do you need to get there?’ I asked hoping she didn’t get offended.

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‘I want to charter a taxi there, 5k should take me there,’ she answered in her signature low voice.

It felt like she could see through into my pocket. I brought out the remaining 8 notes and add them to the 2 in my hand and handed them all to her. She collected them.

‘I will pay you back as soon as I’m back from the airport. Let’s exchange numbers.’

I got her number and dialed, her phone rang. She was legit.

She left to get her car.

Since then till after two weeks now, all I hear when I dial her number is

‘The number you dialed is switched off! Please try again later.’

Yesterday, after withdrawing 10,000 Naira for textbooks from the bank, I went to sit at the students’ park to look at the beautiful girls that were passing so I could judge them by what they wore and how they walked.

I heard ‘yatch’, ‘seaport’, ‘car keys’ and ‘stranded’ in one sentence. I turned to look at a fair, bright, young beautiful innocent-looking girl talking so softly on the phone.

I just stood up from where I sat and ran away.

And like Lot, I never looked back.

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Aniekan Andikan
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