There are many words I use to refer to Tolulope, sometimes; I call him T-baby, Lulo or T-bunny, or on those days when he makes me laugh, I call him my Sunshine. Tolu is easily one of the most handsome men I’d ever met. Charming, dark and with enough charisma to turn heads as soon as he walks into any room.
I met him on a cold evening. I had closed from work late again, and had to walk down to the bus stop at Ajose Adeogun because all the bikes had closed due to the curfew. As soon as I got to the bus stop the last bus heading to Iyahna-Oworo had just left. I usually take the buses that go to Maryland to drop at Gbagada where I live but those buses closed at 6pm, and the buses that go to Iyahna-oworo close late. On the days I managed to close early, I would get a lift from Femi, a family friend who lived close to me but that hardly ever happened these days.
Sadly, I was stranded now, the woman selling roasted corn at the side of the bus stop told me they were expecting another bus but I could already feel the slight drizzle of rain. I got very anxious, knowing that if it started raining, getting any form of transport would be even more difficult. I was still thinking about what to do when a black Toyota Carmy pulled up in front of me and started pumping his horn.
“Madam, na you dat man dey call o”, said the woman selling the roasted corn. Dropping all notions of security, I rushed to the car. The male driver lowered his passenger’s window and said, “Do you want a ride, what direction are you going to?”
“Please, I am going to Gbagada”, I replied.
“Okay, come in, I am heading towards Maryland but I think I can easily drop you off at Gbagada,”.
“Thank you,” I said happily and quickly jumped in before he changed his mind. I prayed for safety as I entered the car. This was Lagos, there were too many horror stories.
Usher’s OMG was playing on the stereo; it was on the Cool FM 96.9 station, I began to nod my head slowly to the beat when he said, “Sorry for not introducing myself; my name is Tolu”.
“Tolulope Adeniran,” he added. Then I turned towards him, I could see a small dimple by the side of his right cheek, I was a bit shocked that I not taken the time to notice the features of my rescuer before entering his car. His face looked well structured but his ear looked too small for his face.
“Don’t you want to tell me your name?” he asked. I quickly stopped staring and smiled.
“Oh! No, it’s not that, I was just thinking of my bed, I am so tired and need to sleep”.
“Sorry, I guess you must have had a hectic day?”
“Yes, o the stress that we go through working in the bank is too much. My name is Uyi Inneh” .
“Really, you are a banker and from Edo State, right?” he said.
“Yes,” I replied with a short smile on my face.
It took us thirty-five minutes to get to my house, a part of me wanted our drive to continue. We exchanged phone numbers and he promised to check on me the next day. Six weeks and many fantastic dates later, we became an ‘official couple’. I’d never felt this close to any of my previous boyfriends. We shared everything and I found it easy to tell him things, about myself, I had never to told anyone. He picked me up from work every day, no matter how late it was, and we did everything together. After a while, our friends started complaining, but we didn’t care. We enjoyed each other’s company and that was all that mattered. In previous relationships, my boyfriends were always eager to have sex, but not Tolu. I told him I wanted to wait and he never pressured me. He was always looking for ways to make me happy.
“Baby, I want us to go to Malta, for summer,” he said to me one evening while we were bowling at The Palms. I was so surprised, I almost dropped the bowling ball on my foot. None of my ex boyfriends had ever asked me on a trip within Nigeria, so the thought of going to Malta was extremely exciting.
“Oh! T-bunny, I would love that. I just pray they approve my leave in August,” I replied as I moved closer to him. I could feel the ting of fresh tears in my eyes, as I kissed him on his check. The last 9 months with Tolu had been perfect, I’d never imagined there were men as thoughtful and sweet left in Lagos.
We left for Malta on August 10th, after the long connecting flights all I wanted was to sleep by the time we go to the George Hotel. The hotel was beautiful, classic, had a tranquil environment and their staff were so polite and amazing. When, I woke up the next morning, Tolu had ordered me breakfast in bed, it was like we were on our honeymoon. We went out shopping, sightseeing and made sure we had some rest before hitting the clubs. Two days before our departure, Tolu decided to take me for a dolphin swim at the Mediterraneo Marine Park. I was excited, I have never seen a dolphin before except in movies. We had just gone for a second swim with the dolphins, when I noticed one of the dolphins swimming really close to me with the instructor. I was about to scream out Tolu’s name when she opened her mouth and I saw a tiny box with a ring inside. I was still trying to put it all together when Tolu swam up beside me.
“Uyi, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I cannot promise that I would be the best man for you or that I would always make you happy but I promise to do my best with you by my side,” he breathed a while and finally said the words, “Please, marry me”.
I’d be lying if I told you I remembered my exact response. All I remember was the inexplicable urge to laugh and cry at the same time. I never wanted to leave Malta but I couldn’t wait to return to Nigeria with the good news and my fabulous ring.
We got married on November 6, 2010. Just like the cliché notion, my wedding day really was the happiest day of my life. Walking down the aisle in my ivory wedding gown with lace trimmings, I never felt happier. Watching Tolu’s smile lengthen as I approached him made me both nervous and exited, but I knew I had made the right choice. At the end of the day, we were both exhausted and did not even think about making love on our wedding night. Since it was going to be our first time, I wanted to wait for the perfect time. By Monday, we were off to The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa in South Africa. We walked into a room full of red roses and scented candles around our suite; the smile on my face was a giveaway of what I was thinking about.
That night I took my time to prepare myself for Tolu. I had bought the perfect red lingerie and my mind wondered to naughty places as I put it on. I couldn’t wait for him to finally make love to me.
“Come here, baby”, he said, as I walked towards him. Our lips melted into one and I could literally feel Tolu shaking as his hands moved over my body. When he finally took off my underwear, I took a deep breathe to prepare myself and then I saw him stretch his hands towards the bedside drawer.
“What are you doing?”
“I want to get a condom,” he replied.
His silence was beginning to upset me, so I asked again “Tolu, what do you need a condom for?”
He got off me and sat at the edge of the bed. I was worried. Did he not trust me? After all this time of waiting, why did he want to spoil things?
“Tolu, answer me, are you not ready for me, this is meant to be our night, what is this about?”
He placed his hands on his head and started sobbing, “Please, baby I am sorry. I am truly sorry.”
“Sorry about what?” I asked as I sat beside him.
“I never meant to hurt you like this. I really wanted to tell you a long time ago and my family even advised me too but I was so scared of losing you. I really hope you can understand that I didn’t mean to deceive you”.
“Understand what, Tolu. Please tell me what’s going on, you are scaring me” I was crying now.
“Uyi, I am HIV positive,” he said. My life froze.
Ejiro Gegere currently works as a brand/media executive in an e-payment firm in Lagos. She was a journalist with NEXT newspaper for two years. She enjoys gisting and joking with her loved ones and her two greater hobbies are watching movies/series and writing. She hopes to wake up one day to see her face on billboards.
You can read more of Ejiro’s poetry and prose here: www.ejirogegere12.wordpress.com