The first time I saw Biyi, after almost two decades of silence, was at Shoprite in Ikeja. I should have known, Shoprite is a place where everybody who has a reasonable amount of money to his or her name shops.
I was shopping for a few household items since the end of the month had arrived and I had been paid. That’s the thing about being a teacher in a private school; your salary almost always appears on time.
He saw me first, because one minute I was running my fingers across the stack of detergents and the next, I felt someone invade my space. Then I looked up.
I didn’t recognise him at first, not even with his customary birthmark that snuggled somewhere beside his mouth. Maybe because I was too busy, admiring the broadness of his shoulders.
‘Excuse me, you’re in my space,’ I stammered, once I regained myself.
His lips curved, forming a full smile. ‘You really can’t remember me?’
I took in his well-chiselled features again and something tugged at the back of my mind, yet I couldn’t place my finger on it.
‘No, I’m sorry I don’t.’ I replied, eventually. ‘Have we met before?’ I took a step back; his cologne had a dizzy effect on me.
‘Kehinde, isn’t it? From Senator Yowa’s compound? We were neighbours, remember?’
I was between age seven and ten when we lived in the Senator’s house. So whoever this handsome stranger was, he must have been erm…the same age?
‘Biyi?’ the name left my mouth before I could stop it.
His answering smile was a confirmation.
‘Biyi! Oh my God, Biyi! Oh my…hug me! Hug me!’ in a frenzy I dropped my shopping basket and flung my hands around my childhood playmate.
‘Jesus! When did you get this big, tall…handsome!’ I reached up to touch his faintly-bearded chin.
‘I could say the same for you, Kay.’ His voice was deep, reassured and nothing like the childish soprano I remembered.
I couldn’t stop looking at him. When we were younger, my eyes were not as sinful as they are now. Come to think of it, my eyes weren’t sinful at all. I didn’t know who classified as handsome and who didn’t. To me, boys were boys, people who had pee-pees that were different from girls.
Now, however, I could appreciate beauty when I saw it. And Biyi was handsome. He had the dark good looks that scarcely graced Yoruba men. It was interesting to note that he wasn’t bald. But then again, how old was he? Twenty-nine, thirty?
‘If you are done looking, can we go somewhere and catch up?’ there was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke.
I laughed, nervous. ‘Are you done shopping? I am not, yet.’
‘Need my help? I could help carry your basket around for you.’
Ah Biyi, still the gentleman. When we were younger, he always offered to do the little chores Mum asked me to do. He was one of the few kids who managed to tell the difference between me and my twin.
‘How did you recognise me?’ I asked, handing him the basket.
‘How can I not recognise my wife?’
This is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.