She laughed derisively when she saw the woman leaving the restaurant with a man who looked young enough to be her brother. She was a people watcher. Wherever she was she looked and looked some more. At restaurants she insisted on corner tables to get vantage views. In church she always sat at the back to observe the goings on. As a matter of fact her people watching had started in primary school where despite being one of the smaller pupils, she insisted on sitting at the back. She could be lost in long hours of reverie with only her eyes flitting rapidly back and forth in quick assessment of people’s actions.
Adeola was a pretty lady. She had grown up in a traditional home with her mum trading in fabrics at Balogun and a father who worked in a multinational company. They were rich as much as she could tell through infantile eyes. They lived in a middle class neighbourhood and life was mostly easy. Every weekend growing up, her mum had one wedding or the other to attend. There were an array of aunties, cousins, friends getting married in quick succession. She always played dress up with the incessant pieces of asoebi her mum bought. Luckily she sold most of them to the families and so her cost was minimal.
Every Saturday as her parents dressed up to go for weddings she would imagine she were the one getting married. Even as a teenager she had already picked out her wedding colours and designed her wedding dress. The only thing remaining was the groom. Well she had already pencilled down four likely choices – Gbenga, Lekan, Tosin and Ikenna. She didn’t think Ikenna stood a very good chance though because her parents were parochial and may not allow her marry ‘omo ibo’.
As she stared at the woman in the salon, she wondered if her own desperation showed quite as clearly. The woman had layers of make up on her face in a bid to appear younger. She was wearing leggings and a crop top. The leggings hugged her legs and accentuated every bit of cellulite while the crop top showed stretch marks where bits of her stomach showed. She had rings on her fingers and her nails were painted in different colours. It was obvious she was trying to hard to impress the younger man in her company.
The young man was wearing a bored expression on his face. He picked at the food before him with disinterest. Periodically she would wipe off imaginary flecks of food from his lips. Once he swathed her hand off in irritation and her face fell. She quickly composed herself and continued chattering away.
Adeola laughed derisively as they got up to leave. The body language showed a disconnect from the man but the woman hung on to his arm as they left.
She had finished university with good grades, done her youth service, gotten a job facilitated by her dad and was counting down to her wedding in her head. All of the four guys she had listed in her infantile fantasy had all moved on. Periodically she would update her hopefuls and as they moved on or married she would yet edit the list. There was a lighthearted jocularity about it all and she never brooded much when they moved out or on.
BY JANE OHAJI AKWANI