Bukky akara 1 to 4
Bukky and her mother’s younger sister, Kike, got down from the bus. It was about seven in the morning. She was surprised to find the market place crowded with people. She followed her aunt and tried to keep up with her.
“This is where I make ends meet every day,” Kike addressed her niece.
Bukky glanced at her. The woman was a little bit taller than her. One inch taller to be exact.
“I carry loads for as little as fifty naira, I fetch water for as low as ten naira per gallon, sometimes twenty naira per gallon during water scarcity. I assist buyers to get around the market for a token and I also help the sellers to look for customers. In a day, I make as much as three thousand naira and as low as five hundred naira.”
She nodded her head, taking in all the information.
“This is how I pay the bills, feed and clothe,” Kike directed her dark gaze at the average height girl.
Bukky nodded again.
“You have to fend for yourself. I can provide shelter, but, that is as far as I can go,” the note of finality in her voice wasn’t lost to the young girl.
“I understand aunty mi.”
“Good. I have to go now. We will meet at home around seven in the evening.”
“Beware of pick pockets and all those jobless touts,” she waved a warning finger.
“Yes aunty,” she watched her leave.
Eighteen year old Bukky looked around her. A slight tremor ran through her spine. Where was she going to start from? Her tummy tightened in vengeance. She wished she was still living with her parents. Things had gone from bad to worse for them that year. She and her siblings had been shared among relatives in order to ease the stress on their parents. Her father had lost his job and her mother didn’t make much from the sales of vegetable in the local market. It had become difficult to feed and pay the bills. She hoped they would get back on their feet soon enough. She wanted them all to live together as one family again. She said a quick prayer and merged into the crowd, looking for how to make money for her next meal.
Gbemiga Phillips towered over his parents and siblings. He was the tallest, about five feet eight inches and the darkest. It was a very happy day for them all. Their beaming dark faces looked up at him. He had just received a letter from the Ministry of education. He had been given a scholarship to study Economics and Statistics in the Lagos State University. He had passed his GCE and JAMB examinations with flying colours. It had been a relief that his parents wouldn’t have to suffer to sustain him in the higher institution. They had gone through thick and thin to get him educated. He was the only one who had completed the Secondary School education in his family. They couldn’t afford to add his younger sisters to the list. His father was a Security guard at the home of a rich man in Surulere. His mother and sisters worked as cleaners in Onward Paper factory. It would be difficult, but as far as the government paid for his school and accommodation fees, he had only feeding and books to worry about.
“God has answered our prayers, e se baba, baba e se…” Remi began to dance in circles and her daughters joined her.
“I am so proud of you,” Baba patted him on the shoulder.
“Thank you sir,” he bowed in respect and grinned. He was happy that they were all happy for him.
“By the time you graduate and complete your service year, you will get a good job, and move us out of this hell hole,” Remi eyed their surroundings, “My enemies will be put to shame.”
“Yes o!” Lola and Kemi chorused.
Baba and Gbemiga exchanged glances and began to laugh.
He caught the glimpse of a dark slim average in height young lady walking past them. She mumbled a greeting and walked straight into one of the twenty rooms in the bungalow. He knew everyone that lived in the compound. He could swear on his grandfather’s grave that she was new. He had seen her with Aunty Kike that weekend. Were they related? Was she on a visit?
“You must stay clear off all those bad boys,” his mother pointed a warning finger at him.
He glanced back at her.
“Yes,” his father nodded in agreement, “There are dangerous cults in that school. I have heard a lot of stories.”
“Brother Gbemiga is not in their level at all,” Lola, his immediate younger sister smiled at him.
“Yes o. He doesn’t have time for such nonsense,” Kemi, the last child, chimed in.
“Born again lomo,” Lola chuckled.
“Yes o,” Kemi added.
Their parents began to laugh.
Kike and Bukky sat on the mat and ate from a bowl of amala with ewedu soup.
“I am surprised that you made one thousand naira today,” she beamed at her niece.
She looked up at her aunt and swallowed the food in her mouth.
“I can still remember my first day out there, I didn’t make a kobo. I returned home and slept on an empty stomach,” Kike lamented. She didn’t like recollecting such painful memories.
Bukky dipped a lumped of the plantain flour into the peppery soup. She didn’t make a dime that day until about six that evening. She helped a woman to carry her purchase to the car and she was rewarded with a handsome tip. If not for that, she would have returned home without a penny. She had never worked a day in her life. Her parents had done their best to take care of her and her siblings. If only wishes were horses. She wished God would give back her father his former job so that things would return to normal.
“Once you are finished eating, go and fetch water and fill up our drum. That crazy tap might decide to go on strike tomorrow morning. You know we need to leave the house very early.”
Bukky nodded in affirmative.
Gbemiga placed a bucket under the tap. He was in a black tee shirt and a pair of brown three quarters khaki trouser. He turned on the tap and waited for the bucket to fill up. His heart missed a beat immediately he saw the person walking towards him, carrying about four plastic buckets. His eyes darted left, right, up and down as he searched his blank mind for what to say to her.
Bukky dropped the buckets on the concrete and looked up at him, “Good evening.”
“Evening,” he mumbled without looking at her.
He glanced at her.
“I hope to be in your shoes one day,” she smiled and looked away.
“Thanks…” the whole neighbourhood must have heard that he was given a scholarship. He lifted the overflowing bucket away from the tap.
She placed one of her buckets under the tap and waited for it to fill up.
“What’s the name?”
She looked up at him, caught unawares. He was about three inches taller than her.
“My names are Oluwagbemiga Philips,” he stretched out his right hand.
She looked at his hand, and then back at his dark face, “Oluwabukola Folorunsho,” she shook his hand.
Their gazes locked. The air became still. The background noise faded away. She felt pulled into the dark calm pool of his eyes. He took a step closer, drawn to her like nails to magnet. He brushed his left hand over the side of her dark smooth oval face. She sucked in breath. The light touch had ignited sparks within her. She stepped back and he dropped his hands. He carried his bucket of water by the handle and walked away. She exhaled and turned around. He was gone.
Bukky walked out of the house, clad in a blue jeans and a blue fitted tee-shirt. She held her small black hand bag close and headed down the street in a black low heel sandal. She took the turning that led to the bus-stop and saw Gbemiga afar off. Her heart missed a beat. She had a flashback of the other night. The way he looked at her and the intense feeling that coursed through her body when he touched her face. She closed her eyes and tried to block the memory. She had heard her elder sister talking with her friends about how she had, had a crush on a boy in their area. What she described was a bit similar to what she was experiencing, although hers seemed a little bit too fast. She had only known Gbemiga for a couple of days and the sudden likeness seemed too soon. The attraction made matters worse. Was it possible to feel so strongly for someone one just met? Maybe it was one of those things and it would fade away. What if it didn’t? She had never dated anyone before. She had been asked out a number of times, but, she had decided to wait until she was older. She was eighteen now. Was she old enough? The little she knew about relationships was what her elder sister and her friends discussed. The fact that several girls got pregnant and became single mothers in her former neighbourhood had back-pedaled her plans. Many had also died while trying to get rid of their pregnancies. She opened her eyes and saw him approaching her, he was grinning from ear to ear.
“Morning Bukky,” he halted in front of her, blocking her way.
“Morning Gbemiga,” she looked towards the bus-stop.
“Heading to work?” he followed her gaze.
“Can I see you off to the bus-stop?”
They walked side by side.
“Are you related to Aunty Kike?”
She glanced up at him and nodded, “She is my mum’s younger sister.”
“Oh! Okay. How long are you staying with her?”
She pressed her lips together. She had applied lip-gloss on it that morning.
“I don’t mean to pry,” he tried not to sound desperate. He had hoped against hope that she would be staying in the area for a long while.
She shrugged, “I don’t really know.”
“Okay, but, will you be here till Christmas?”
She shrugged again.
“I hope so,” he sighed heavily.
She looked up at him, wondering why he wanted to know if she would still be around during the holiday season.
“I will be resuming school in September. I hope you will still be around when I return home for the Christmas holiday,” he met her gaze.
Bukky looked away. She had no formal education. Her parents could afford to give them shelter, food and clothing in their early years, but, getting educated was like wishing for a house full of gold. Things had gotten worse when her father lost his job. She hoped her siblings were living well with her father’s siblings.
“I believe that you can get into the higher institution too. Don’t give up,” he encouraged her.
“I have never seen the gate of any school. Going to the university is far-fetched,” sadness glinted in her dark eyes.
Gbemiga pitied her. There were several people in his area that had no form of education too.
“I have always dreamt of going to school,” she tried to smile.
“Don’t give up. Whatever you place in God’s hands, he will perfect it.”
She nodded in agreement. She was going to take God up on that. They stood at the bus-stop and waited.
“I will be twenty in August, I am not celebrating or anything, but, I will like to spend that day with you.”
She looked back at him in surprise.
“My birthday is also in August too.”
“Splendid! Mine is on the 15th.”
“Same day,” she turned away and gave a shake of head. It was weird meeting her birthday mate.
She smiled back at him.
“Wow!” his head bobbed with excitement.
She heard a bus conductor shouting ‘Mushin Olosha’, “My bus is coming.”
“Okay. Our birthday is next month. I am going to save towards it. Maybe we can celebrate with cup-cakes and ice-cream or suya and drinks.”
“You barely know me,” she eyed him.
“That is why I want to spend that day with you; it is part of getting to know you,” he stressed.
She wasn’t convinced.
“I like you,” he opened up.
She directed her gaze at him, “So? I believe I am not the first girl you have liked.”
He started to laugh, “You are right. You are not the first girl I will be asking out either.”
She eyed him. He seemed too smooth for her liking. Why did guys who were easy on the eyes think they could smooth-talk any girl into a relationship?
“I know you like me too. There is something special about us,” his dark eyes bored into hers.
She rolled her eyes and waved down the bus heading for Mushin.
“So, what do you say?”
“As in?” she observed him.
“Come on girl…” he shifted on both feet.
“Not interested,” she got on the bus.
He watched the bus leave. He scratched a spot on his head. It had been a long time since he had been turned down by a girl. Maybe he acted too fast. He should have waited. She was right, they barely knew each other, but that night, what he felt, he could bet the whole world that she felt it too. He turned around and headed home. He needed a better plan.
Kike walked into the compound carrying a sack filled with yams. Gbemiga was seated outside the house, playing a game of ludo with some of his friends in the area. The moment he saw her, he ran up to her and relieved her of the heavy sack and dragged it into the building. He followed her into her room and placed it beside the waist length cupboard.
“Thank you very much,” she beamed at him.
“It is a pleasure aunty,” he bowed his head in respect.
“Bukky come and give me some of the mangoes I bought yesterday.”
His eyes widened in surprise. Was she in the room? He looked around and found her seated on the mattress. She met his gaze, turned away and got up. She had on a pink spaghetti top with a red and brown coloured wrapper tied around her waist. She picked a few mangoes from the bowl on the table beside the window and approached him. He collected the fruit and smiled at her. His hands brushed against hers; her eyes flew up and met his intense stare.
“God will bless you. I am so tired. Bukky what did you cook?” she walked towards the paper-thin mattress and settled on it.
She stepped away and glanced at her aunt, “I prepared yam porridge.”
“Please give me some. I am so hungry,” she pulled at her scarf and threw it on the bed.
“Good night ma,” he headed out.
“Gbemiga thank you,” Kike called after him, “Is the porridge still hot?” she directed her gaze at her niece.
“I don’t think so.”
“Go and warm it for me,” she kicked off her sandals and lay on the bed.
Bukky opened the cupboard and brought out a plate and a pot. She hurried out and headed for the kitchen which was at the back of the twenty room bungalow.
Bukky got down from the bus and started to walk home. She sighted Gbemiga standing at a corner and wondered who he was waiting for. She waved at him and walked past, but, he held her by the elbow.
“I have been waiting for you.”
“Really?” she seized him up. He looked fresh, as if he had just had his bath. He smelled well too. The red tee shirt and black jeans did justice to his good looking features.
“Yes. Have you forgotten what today is?” he released her hand.
Her eyes darted about. What was he getting at? She hoped her aunt was home. It would be great if she had also prepared dinner. A nice bath, then a palatable meal, what more could one ask for?
“It’s the fifteenth of August.”
She shifted on both feet, “So?”
Her response didn’t go down well with him, “I can’t believe you forgot our birthday.”
“Oh… that… I didn’t forget,” she scratched a spot on her eyebrow.
He eyed her, he wasn’t convinced, “I don’t believe you.”
“I know my birthday is today,” she started to walk away. She was in no mood to banter words with him.
He followed in hurried steps, “So is mine, have you forgotten?”
She shrugged and moved her hand-bag to the other shoulder.
“We were supposed to spend today together,” he sounded exasperated.
“Ehn… when did I agree to that?” she glanced up at him.
He sighed with frustration, “We talked about it.”
“You and who?” she eyed him.
“That time now.”
He halted and held her by the hand, “Stop playing hard to get.”
She snatched her hand from his grip, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
He looked heavenwards, then back at her, “There is something special between us.”
She started to laugh, “Wow… you are imagining things.”
“We are attracted to each other. Stop denying it.”
She sensed the seriousness in his voice, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Out of the blues, he pulled her into his arms. Gazes locked, her surroundings became blurred, mouth wide open, she felt wrapped in a warm tingling sensation that coursed through every part of her body.
“Can you feel that? Am I still imagining things?” the look in her eyes gave him the answers he needed.
“Let me go! We are in public for Christ’s sake,” she wriggled free and stepped back, “Please keep your distance,” she pointed a warning finger at him.
“I know you feel exactly the way I feel. I like you and I want to go out with you.”
She turned away. What rubbish was he vomiting? She was in no frame of mind to start a relationship. Things were topsy turvy in her life at the moment. She didn’t want to add the rigours of an affair to it.
“Spend the evening with me. I promise you a good time, no strings attached,” he tried to persuade her.
She looked up at him. She was very hungry. When was the last time she celebrated her birthday anyway? Here was her birthday-mate dying to give her a treat.
“O-kay,” she gave in.
“Halleluiah!” he raised both hands and looked up at the sky.
She raised a hand, “But… but, wait a minute.”
“What?” he beamed at her.
“I must be home before nine. I don’t want to be harassed by my aunt.”
“No problem,” he took her by the hand and pulled her towards the bus-stop.
“Where are we going?”
“I have it all planned out,” he winked at her.
On their way home that night, he took her to a cyber café and tried to teach her how to use the internet, but, her lack of education became a stumbling block.
He opened an email address for her and negotiated with the Café Attendant, who lived in their area, to help her send mails to him and also deliver any mails he sent to her from school. He hoped to get a mobile phone soonest, and hopefully get for her too, so that communication between them would be frequent. They bought popcorn from a shop beside the café and headed home.
“Hope you had a great time.”
She grinned, “Yes, I did. Thank you.”
“You are welcome. I hope you will spend this day with me next year.”
“May God keep us till then.”
“Is that a yes?”
“Yes,” she avoided his gaze.
“I will be leaving for school in two weeks time.”
“I will miss you.”
She remained silent.
“Will you go out with me?”
She didn’t respond. He reached out for her hand, but, she pulled free from his grip.
“I need an answer before I leave for school.”
They walked down the street in silence.
“I am not sure it is a good time for me to start a relationship.”
He turned his head and saw the uncertainty in her eyes, “I like you. I know you like me too. I will not disappoint you. Just give me a chance.”
She sighed and pressed her lips together, “Why start a relationship when you are going to be so far away?”
He grinned, “Lasu isn’t far away. You can visit anytime you are free. The cyber café attendant is my friend; he will help us to keep in touch. You have nothing to worry about.”
He sounded convincing. Maybe the distance was a good thing. It might help them build a strong connection.
He halted and looked at her, “Is that a yes?”
She stopped a few feet away from him and nodded. He started to laugh. He would have been depressed if she had refused him. He had a feeling that theirs was going to be a successful union.
“I have to go, it is almost nine,” she glanced at her wrist-watch.
“Hurry along, I am right behind you.”
She quickened her steps and hurried home. She met her aunt seated on a bench with a few other women outside the house. They were gossiping about people in the neighbourhood as usual. She greeted them all and went in. She unlocked the door to her aunt’s room with her spare key and walked in. She closed the door behind her and pulled off her sandals. She dropped her hand-bag on the carpet floor and sat on the mattress. Did she just agree to date Gbemiga? She lay on the bed and smiled. She was so crazy. She had never dated anyone before. What experience does she have?
Oh God… what have I gotten myself into?
She remembered the way he stared at her all night long. It was so obvious that he really liked her. She liked him too. She turned on her tummy. Gbemiga was tall, dark and good looking. His faith in God was an added plus. She reasoned that she had made the right decision. There was no need to panic. She wished she could share the news with her elder sister. They would have chatted into the night. Here in her aunt’s home, she had no one to talk to. She doubted if Aunt Kike would entertain such discussion. The thought of the way he held her made her to feel warm. The chemistry between them was undeniable. She would tread carefully. She had witnessed several girls been burdened with children that they were not prepared for. She would make no such mistake. She planned to remain intact until her wedding night. Be it Gbemiga or any other man, she swore to keep herself.
There was light off. Bukky and her aunt sat outside the house with some of their neighbours. Many complained about the incessant shortage of power supply, the terrible heat, and the nation’s economy as a whole. A few people spread their mats and lay under the moon, cooled by the night breeze. She wished she could join them. She was already feeling sleepy, but, dreaded sleeping in the hot baked room. She heard someone whistle. She turned her head and sighted Gbemiga standing by the entrance of the bungalow. He was looking straight at her. He retreated and stepped back in. Her dark anxious eyes darted left and right. She mumbled into her aunt’s ear that she was going in. The woman nodded and continued talking to the house wife seated beside her. She got up slowly and went in. She saw Gbemiga walking towards the back of the house. She hurried after him.
He halted behind the large kitchen shared by everyone living in the house and turned around. He smiled broadly when he saw Bukky walking towards him. It was dark, but the full moon illuminated their surroundings. She stood in front of him and folded her arms across her chest. She felt a tinge of happiness at the thought that she was finally alone with him. She saw him briefly that morning when she left for the market to hustle for her daily bread, and when she returned, she ran errands for her aunt until it grew dark. The lack of electrical supply also made movement a bit restricted.
“How are you doing?” he grinned at her. He had been longing to speak with her all day.
“I am okay,” she stared right back at him.
“I will be leaving for school tomorrow morning.”
She paled. She had tried not to think of the day he would resume school. They just started dating. Would the time apart make their bond closer and stronger or fragile?
“I will be home for the Christmas holiday,” he tried to cheer her up. The sad glint in her dark eyes mirrored is own state of mind.
“That is almost four months away,” she complained and frowned. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to start a relationship with him. Maybe they should have waited.
He reached out for her hands and held it in is warm ones, “I am going to miss you too. You can always visit.”
“I don’t know my way to your school,” she began to shake her head.
“My school is a popular place, you will not get missing,” he tried to convince her.
She raised an eyebrow and stared back at him. She doubted if she would be able to visit him in school. The transportation fare would surely be cut-throat.
“The café guy I introduced you to will help you check your mails and send replies.”
She dropped her gaze. She wasn’t comfortable with the arrangement. She couldn’t read or write. What choice do they have? She swore to herself. She would get educated one way or another.
“I am going to miss you greatly,” he drew her close and wrapped his arms around her.
She swallowed hard and looked up at him. Her skin became tensed due to his nearness. Her heart missed a beat. What if someone caught them? She pushed the thought and tried to relax. She wouldn’t be seeing him again for a very long time.
“I am going to miss you too.”
He dropped his head and claimed her lips. She froze. Should she push him away? Should she bask in the euphoric sensations that coursed through her nerve cells for a while then stop him? Indecision numbed her for a moment. She parted her lips and leaned into him. She heard him groan. She kissed him back; like a good student, she copied the way he maneuvered his lips and tongue. She felt his hands cradling her hips, and then settled on her soft, firm backside. He guided her towards the concrete wall. She rested against the rough wall, hands wrapped around his neck. She felt the pressure of the bulge between his thighs. The way he rubbed against her turned her on and to her surprise, the desire to be united with him clouded her mind.
She jerked backwards the instance she felt his hand on her bosom. She adjusted her blouse and lifted her shocked gaze to meet his intense ones. Why did he touch her like that? The fact that she allowed him to kiss her didn’t give him the right to fondle her.
“I am sorry.”
He didn’t look apologetic. She eyed him.
“I got carried away.”
“Don’t do that again,” her warning eyes remained on his face.
He smiled, “Okay. Whenever you are ready.”
“Ready for what?” her eyes widened.
He chuckled, “It is normal for two people who really like each other to express their feelings physically.”
She began to shake her head in disagreement.
“Come on. This is part of every relationship.”
“Not this one,” her eyes hardened with seriousness.
He opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it.
“I proised God that I will keep myself until my wedding night.”
He scratched his head. Every single girl he dated in the past allowed him to touch them. Although as a Christian, he wasn’t supposed to indulge in sex before marriage, but, at times, things got out of hand.
“If this relationship is going to progress, we can’t sleep with each other,” she folded her arms against her chest.
He stared back at her, “But, we can still kiss and…”
“Maybe once in a while. But, you can’t touch me… you can’t just grab me and start touching me anyhow,” her face wrinkled in a frown.
He sighed, “I get your point, it’s fine by me,” he hoped to be able to dissuade her from her almighty rules sooner than later.
She sighed with relief. She would have called the whole thing off if he had insisted on compulsory physical intimacy in their relationship.
“Will you be able to see me off tomorrow morning?”
She nodded quickly, “Yes.”
Her eyes darted about the moment she heard voices afar off, “I have to go. My aunt might be looking for me.”
“Okay. See you in the morning.”
She smiled at him.
“Can I get a goodnight hug?”
The smile faded, “Don’t be an Oliver Twist,” she backed away, turned around and sauntered off.
He started to laugh, leaned against the wall and sighed heavily. Thoughts of his girlfriend flooded his mind. It was a good thing that he would be resuming school the next day. The distance would help to cage his amorous feelings towards her. He placed both hands on his head. He reminisced on the taste of her lips, the smoothness of her skin and the way his body responded to her proximity. He wished he could stay in her arms forever.