“Hey! you look great” was the first statement Tunji made the moment she entered the car. Mila felt her face go warm. She smiled and replied not being able to hide her surprise at the fact that he really looked handsome in his black short sleeved native outfit, that had a sliver brooch on the breast pocket. He looked so clean as usual with his skin glowing and creating a sharp contrast with his outfit. The interiors of the car seemed to have the same tone with his skin making him look like he was manufactured together with the sleek car.
“Thanks. You look great yourself” she said before quickly turning away and removing her phone from her purse to fidget with.
Tunji didn’t stop looking at her; he took his time and that made her feel hot even in the cool air conditioned car. She wasn’t used to open assessments like this especially with the awkward silence that followed. Then he started talking again like he never stopped before.
“Now, first things first. I’ll just dash in there to get our tickets and then we move. Would you come with me?” he said
“Sure.” Mila replied, grateful that the conversation was back. She was about opening the door and going out when Tunji quickly said,
“No. Just stay put, I’ll get the door”
Then he came out of the car first, walked around to her side and opened the door for her. Mila was amazed. “Who are you?” she asked in her head. Nobody had ever opened any door for her. Not until now. She got out and was again surprised when he took her hand in his and they crossed to the other side of the street into Terra Kulture. They got the tickets almost immediately as it was almost sold out and were lucky to arrive Muson Center by exactly 5:30pm.
Mila was thrilled. She had so many firsts in her life and this was another one of them. She had seen a lot of plays advertised on TV and online, but had never attended any. Now, thanks to Tunji, she’s here. She wasn’t sure if on her own, she could have mustered up the courage to explore places like this cos she would rather stay at home and read her novels, do some writing or just do a plain stroll along her street .
The movie didn’t start until 6pm so they both spent the 30 minutes in waiting, gossiping about the other people who had come to see the play. Apparently, Tunji knew a lot of people as he kept pointing stylishly to each and giving a brief description about their lifestyle. This cracked her up so much for he looked so relaxed doing it. Then the organizers announced the opening of the doors of the theater for the play to begin and they went into the theater. Tunji again, led her in.
During the play, Mila explained to Tunji, the arrangement of the cast on the stage. She told him the name of the group of seven singers on the left part of the stage was called the “Chorus” in Literature and that usually, they should be a group of fifteen but this version was the modernized version that came with a full musical band. She explained the frequent use of “Aside” by some of the actors to converse with the audience and their use of “Soliloquy” too to think aloud about their issues.
Tunji was really impressed and leaned closer to her to learn more as she whispered into his ears in the dimly lit theater. During a sad moment in the play, she unconsciously held on to his arm and left it there until the end of the play.
The drive home was deliberately unhurried. Tunji wasn’t in a haste and Mila; as if reading his mind, enjoyed every moment of it. They had stopped for drinks somewhere she couldn’t remember and they had had fish soup to go with their drinks. There, she had told him she was originally known as Emilia Bassey but her parents were used to calling her “Mila” so the name stuck. Tunji totally loved her name and they had talked more about her job, his move to Nigeria and some funny happenings around. She had discovered that Tunji was more of a listener. He would sit quietly, with his palm resting on one side of his cheek and his drink in the other hand, drinking her in as she talked. He laughed at all the jokes she attempted even though she felt they weren’t funny and he in turn did same. She also got to know that Tunji was a strong believer of “less is more” as he pointed out a group of girls dressed like they were going for a red carpet event at a casual hangout. Her thoughts at the end of the evening was “this guy is just so unusual”. She felt Tunji’s palm on her hand as he told her,”
“Thanks for coming out with me. Your company was really enlightening”
“I should be saying that. I’ve never really been to those places you took me. I’m the one that got enlightened. Thank you”
He smiled as he looked at her surprised
“Yeah” she answered.
“A beautiful lady like you should be able to go anywhere she wants to go, whenever she wishes” he said matter of factually
“I wish it were so. You could say that for someone like Simi but not me” she said and smiled fondly when she mentioned Simi.
“Well, I’m glad you walked up to me and not some other girl cos usually, the kind of girls that walk up to me when I go out are girls with a lot of make up, long blonde hair that obviously don’t belong to them and of course, light skinned” he paused then added, “I love your color; you’re like rich coffee”
“But, I thought that’s what most men want. Girls with all what you just listed” she said not believing him
“I don’t know about most men but, I like what I see in you. You look natural and your makeup suits you. And, you’re not just beautiful, you’re intelligent”
Mila was flattered and baffled. Most guys like Tunji usually preferred light skinned and flashy girls. Why was he an exception? They were silent for a bit and then he asked her an unexpected question.
“Tell me Mila, why did you walk up to me. I mean, Simi could have come to me herself” he gave her a harmless smile to assure her that his question was borne out of curiosity and nothing else.
Mila sighed and answered “Well, asides Simi’s dilema, I liked your countenance and I felt that you’d be friendly if I talked to you. Why do you ask?”
Tunji gave a slight smile and said, “Nothing serious, it’s just that, since moving back to Nigeria earlier this year, that’s been the case whenever I go out so I get suspicious when random strangers walk up to me like that”
“Well, it’s your fault. You’re just too cute!” Mila said giggling and Tunji could’t help but join in laughing as well.
They got to the gate of her home with directions from the car navigator and Tunji stopped the car. He turned fully to face Mila before saying,
“I had an awesome time with you Mila and please, don’t change who you are for anything in the world”
With that, he leaned in and kissed her on her fore head. Mila was too stunned to move. All she could say was “Thanks” before coming out of the car. He watched her go in and shut the gate before driving off.
That night, Mila didn’t sleep early. She mused for a while the entire episode of the day and was glad that her evening with Tunji had completely erased the moment of distress she had encountered with the woman. She refused to even mention that woman’s name in her head, what’s in the past stays in the past she reminded herself. Afterwards, she spent some time on her laptop searching the internet for Tunji Jacobs and what she found shocked her to the core.