‘Oya Oya, Dami… Gist me’
‘Is that the new way to say hello?’
‘Dami, don’t play with me like that’
‘Nigerian men have a problem’ I reply, nudging the phone between my shoulder and my ears,while unhooking my bra, taking off my jewellery, wiping my makeup, washing my hands. My daily ritual once inside my room.
‘Nne, you are hot. That is their problem’ Amaka replies, excitement bubbling from her voice. I had sent her a message on whatsapp a few minutes ago. It had read ‘I am having an office romance (?) with one of the senior associates.’
Amaka is that friend with whom my friendship solidified over a painful heartbreak caused by her own closest male friend. He had spent 7 months wooing me. I was 19, had never been in a relationship and was afraid of trying it out.
‘I dont think I have time for this? It is too much effort. Too much committment’ I would tell him.
‘But there will be two of us, it will half the effort. It will make the commitment easier, Damilola’ Maleek would say
I gave in after 7 months and after the first date, we went to dinner, and on his persuasion went to my hostel accommodation and had sex, on even more extreme persuasion. He never called after that. When I did, he was never with his phone. I ran into him during Amaka’s 20th birthday and the dinner conversation was as stale as bread which had sat on the counter for an entire winter. Amaka later became privy to my heart break, listened to me cry about how he was my first and was going to be the last; how I screamed during sex not from pleasure but from intense pain. I told her I was raped as a child. I told her it felt like being raped, again. She cried at that point.I was the one holding her. Consoling her. She was the first person I opened up to, about being raped. She was the last. I do not know how to relate my feelings or emotions. She broke those walls and so with her, and only with her could I relate the darkest crevices of my life on which the sun does not shine, ever.
‘Hellooooo, but nne this guy is hot oo’ Amaka hollers down the line. ‘And you said he is 36?’
‘Yes Amaka. He looks incredible for his age.’ I reply, closing my door. I didn’t want my father walking in on this conversation. He had made a few high profile calls to get me this high profile internship.
‘Oya gist me now. Warrapun?’
‘I dont even know how to start this story.’
‘Start from what you wore on that the first day, what dress, what shoes, what lipstick…’
‘You know I wont do that!’
‘Dami, what is the point of this gist now? Are you not just burning my credit?’ Amaka hisses down the line, while I listen to the faint click-click sound in the background; she was still facebook stalking him.
‘Amaka, I don’t even think this is an office romance to be honest. You know I put the question mark right next to romance.’
‘Yeah I saw that. What does that mean? Okay, just start this gist from the beginning now. You just know how to kill a niggress’ vibe’.
‘I have told you I don’t like that word’
‘Really? Dami? Are we doing this now?’ Amaka says, an edge of irritation rising in her voice
I sigh and prepare to emotionally offload on her; unlike Amaka who gets pleasure in sharing details of her life with me, in finding out mine; I dread every minute of it. I unload the details of how I met Obi to Amaka. My father had pulled a few strings to get me an internship at a law firm. The first 3 weeks of the internship I had been working peacefully. Obi is a senior associate at the law firm. My conversations with him bordered on ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’. We never really spoke, unlike some of the obviously prey-like male associates, he never made comments on anyone’s appearance or made unnecessary conversation. He was the most mature and the most liked amongst the other interns.
‘So on the low he was eyeing you now, Dami?’ Amaka giggled girlishly; as though we were 12 years old and talking about our school crushes.
‘I wouldn’t say that Amaka. I mean I think everything changed the day another lawyer, asked me to go find out authorities for how on when the word ‘may’ when used in a statute actually connotes ‘must’ or ‘shall’. You know this is what is really interesting about words- not just in law but in every day life….’
‘Hian! Dami, you know I don’t give a shit about your law. If I start talking about Economics now, you will get lost. Just tell me about Obi now?’ Amaka chided, ironically ignoring the fact that most of our university days I had spent my time studying for two degrees, hers and mine, writing her cumulative essays and preparing her for compulsory exam questions. ‘I just want a 50’ she would say, while getting restless during the tutoring. ‘Pass mark. I am not too greedy’, she would add, taking jabs at my need to be perfect, in everything I did, especially my grades. While I concentrated hard on getting our two degrees, she concentrated hard on stumbling in and out of clubs and Afro-Carribean society events around London.
‘Anyway’ I said, realising that Amaka had little interest in lexicon and semantics.
I relieved to Amaka how I spent the day I was to be doing library research in conversation with him the whole day. Amaka thought that was abnormal because I had about 10 sentences to say each day, even to people I love. I told her how the next day, he had envelopped me in a very unexpected hug when I walked into the office library, and during the hug, broke off the hug to let his lips trace my face with kisses, down to my neck and back up, meeting my lips. Amaka squeals with excitement.
‘Why do you always get the juicy love stories?’ She exclaims! You are the cynic but you get all the Suits action.
‘This isnt Suits action Amaka. I can’t decide if this is a case of sexual harrassment in the work place. I definitely did not do anything to encourage this… I mean he just should think he can do that.’
‘But you did not stop him?’ Amaka says interjecting.
‘No, not really. I mean he is an attractive guy. I was attracted to him. In fact the first day I was introduced to him, I made a mental note of his hotness. But it stopped at that. I didnt go groping him in the office after that…?’
‘Wait Dami?’ What is your point? That if this happened outside the office you would be fine?’
‘No! The point is that he is in a position of authority; I am his intern, who happens to be female. But I shouldnt have to go through that; I shouldnt be treated differently from Erasmus…’
‘Who is that one now?’ Amaka pitches in
‘The other male intern in the office.’ I respond, hurrying back to my point. ‘Point is that he took advantage of that position, as well as jumped into conclusions kissing me, in the office library, merely a day after he met me.’A part of me feels I am being taken advantage of Amaka.’ I say, the last sentence, coming out frailly.
‘I see your pont Dami….’
‘But I didnt really stop him. I let him kiss me the first day. The rest of the days in this week, we have been having our little office escapades, I come in some minutes earlier to work because I am trying to beat traffic or on our way back from court…
‘So he is forcing himself on you?’ Amaka says taking on her motherly protective instincts
‘I wont say he is. I never initiate the kiss. But when he kisses me, I don’t push him away…’
‘Rightfully so, the guy is fucking specimen of beauty. Finally I have seen one hot Nigerian lawyer, because you people always look like struggle….’she teases.
‘Babe, see the fact is that I don’t think a guy should just assume he could do that, whether in the office or out of the office. He feels entitled to me and my body. Like he hugged me and kissed me based off of this entitlement…’
‘Abeg Dami, you have come again. This your feminism will not allow you find husband or boyfriend sef. Didn’t you just tell me you were attracted to him too? Maybe he could tell that you were feeling him too and he was feeling you and that was the result. All this talk about entitlement or not, and yet when he kisses you, you kiss him back finish and come here to give me lecture on entitlement’ Amaka lectures in mock derision.
‘Amaka, everything in life is not about finding husband. Sometimes take time to appreciate the niceties of issues before you link it to husbands, please’ I respond, mocking her too.
‘So what is happening now? Is he asking you out or what? ‘ Amaka continues, ignoring me.
‘He just keeps asking for us to hang out outside the office during the weekends…’
‘Dami, that one sounds like a booty call o’ Amaka says defensively.
‘That is exactly what I thought….’
‘Do you like him though? ‘
‘Amaka He is 36. I am barely 25.’
‘And your father is currently married to a woman 30 years his junior… So what is your point?. Abeg, do you like him? ‘
‘I think I do. But a part of me is scared because what happens when he makes more demands that I don’t feel comfortable with. Moreover this is highly unprofessional. He is a superior at the office…Mehn I don’t know babe. ‘
‘You should go out on a date with him. Just make sure you drive there and have vex money. If he makes any funny moves, text me to give you an emergency call…’Amaka rattles on and on.
‘I don’t know Amaka. We work in the same office…’
‘Man must sha find husband somewhere. Whether work or church… Stop over doing this feminism thing’ she finally says before the network cuts us off. I knew she would call back immediately.