It is a little after four. The dour and misgivings of the weather is apparent. I’m sitting at the bus park, the first traveler in a long line of grumpy plus soon-to-be grumpy passengers. The driver, a man looking forty but talking twenty, is splayed across one of these white plastic chairs, eating like a thieving refugee, laughing with all the restraint of a braying goat and doing a crude combination of things wrong to be in the same sentence. The ticket seller, a lady with supple breasts and eyes that demand more than a glance, is there, playfully screaming obscenities and looking for something I suspect is attention.
I’m there but I’m in my head, seeing scenes and inventing situations. The secret lives of drivers. The peculiar struggles of pedestrians. The forgotten dreams of advanced hawkers. The ebullient contentedness of young Niger mendicants.
Folks are passing through hell. Others are reaping through the hell of others.
I’m thinking, looking slowly around the way I perpetually do when I see her. Seated. Just across the park. In a provision store.
Yellow, brown and blue are the colours she’s wearing but I see nothing more. Not even her face.
I look away the length a fraction of a second, then I look back. At her.
She’s scribbling away at something, her head hung, simultaneously nodding rhythmically to a beat I suspect to be hip-hop. She does that for a couple of seconds, slows down like she suspects she’s being watched intently and looks up slowly, still nodding.
Her eyes scan slowly. In no time they meet mine. She stares, looking for signs of recognition. I do too. She sees none, stops and looks away.
I keep looking, interested in the picture I’ve just seen. The large, hazel-shaped and nut-coloured eyes set wide apart. The smoothened curves of her otherwise sharply angled face. The mouth, quite oversize, but having an oddly attractive mixture of a demure pout and a sexual one.
She looks down at her laps, adjusting her position like someone would when he senses he is being observed.
Now, I know. Now I know my face has been registered in her mind just the way hers had registered in mine.
I keep looking. She keeps adjusting. She ruffles her hair till they seem fuller. She straightens her blouse in little, imperceptible moves. She sits till she assumes a better position. Then she scribbles some more and nods some more, only this time with guarded flourish.
She knows I’m staring. She has an idea I’m getting interested in what I’m seeing.
I chuckle. Ladies!
And I stare some more.
She looks up, appearing to look for something, but before she looks down, she looks at me. That’s what she wanted to do anyways. Look at me.
Our eyes meet and disperse their different ways. She mirrors her previous movements, only in reverse.
We are now the only people in each other’s world now. Others have been blocked out. We are not aware of the presence of others. It is a charged world, a world wordless and instead, ruled by the proficiency of gestures and the mastery of moves.
I stare, my head trying to get into hers and my brows knitted in the process. She appears to write, but I know the pen is just floating across the lines of the book.
In the minutes that crawl by, she glances up to meet my eyes that have begun to smile to a certain revelation and plan hatching.
I stand, straighten my clothes and begin to walk. She glances up and stiffens. Because I’m walking towards her. She tries to be calm but the effort is, I suspect, too much for her.
I’m a slow pace or two before her, my eyes trained on her and my lips curved to a side in a boyish smile.
I get to her. Breathe.
“Good afternoon,” I say.
She appears to have regained her composure for she answers almost immediately and naturally, smiling. “Good afternoon.”
I look around. “You have La Casera?”
“La Casera? Ah, yes!” Her voice is musical. Thin as the rhythm of the lightest notes of the piano. She gets up to get me what I’d asked for.
My heart gives a bump because what I see is bump-worthy. She’s got a steaming hot waist and the most perfect ass on any slim lady I’ve found. The way she walks, the slow undulation of her hips, I know it’s calculated to fan the flames of interest.
She gets out the bottle and hands it to me, avoiding my eyes and glancing at them almost as soon as she receives her pay. I think of saying something to her but I hold it.
As I walk off, I uncork and take a swig from the bottle.
I sit and as I turn to look, I see her face moving swiftly from gazing at mine. Each time I look away, I feel her stare boring into my soul.
A lady comes to buy a ticket. She’s just dope enough to grace a local magazine but nothing higher if she remains like that. I stare a little at her, dismiss her and return my attention to my new friend. Her face has registered a slight frown. Like, why the hell are you looking at her when I’m here?
She gets up, comes out and walks slowly into the store next to hers, her back turned to me. Yeah, to show me the ass. She goes back in and sits, glancing some more.
“Ughelli don full,” the driver yells, blowing groundnut shafts. “Make una enter dat taxi for dia.”
It’s time to leave. I swing my backpack on. Straighten my shirt. I walk a couple of paces, pause and turn back. I had had an idea in mind before I did that. The idea that she definitely would be watching me leave, as sorry that our little conversation had ended as much as I was.
This time she fixes her gaze on mine.
My lips curve in a smile a little too wan to provoke a reactive smile. I raise a hand and stiffly wave goodbye. Her large eyes go round in surprise, then soften as she stiffly raises her hand and returns it. I tell her something unmistakable with my eyes. That we’re going to be seeing more of ourselves in future. She understands and for the first time, she smiles.
I smile too.
Then I walk towards my cab where my driver is still screaming his head off, thinking he’s making conversation.
Written by KIA