The gate-man just told me he loved me. At first I was compelled to laugh until the look in his eyes told me he was serious. The sun glistened over his shiny bald forehead making it impossible to completely look straight into his eyes. I studied his features one second, letting the tall Osun indigene take a place in my medulla. He was dark, had more than two missing teeth, smelled of garlic and beer and had lines drawn across his face in the name of a tribal mark. Three dots of thick chunky hair at the middle of his scalp that disturbed the baldness of his head looked like something a crazy Bear would do with his hair or perhaps a Sasquatch. Hence, he looked like a big monster—skinny though, indicating poor nutrition. He had red eyes—always red sometimes covered with dark shades that said ‘I do Marijuana every second’
The idea still seemed ridiculous. I eyed him, observing his neat dark trouser, boots and blue ironed shirt. I played the words in my head for the thousandth time.
‘I love you Ire, I want you to be mine, mine’
I held tightly to the swing iron afraid of thrusting forth like I had been doing already. The unnecessary interruption came to mind. I wanted to be angry. Yet, it still seemed funny, something I could just laugh and laugh about. I couldn’t wait for everyone else to hear this, Sissy, Lola and Ife, what would they think about this effrontery of a man way below our social status—and not just five steps down the social ladder, probably liken ten to fifteen steps, and not just anyone, a worker, the gateman. I chuckled and looked at him squarely.
‘haunty, hI said hI love you, hI want to marry you. From the first day hI…eyes on you, I knew you would be the one’ he said and I would think, nervous, hence the h factor and all the grammatical errors. ‘I knew it would be you and me living together with shildren.’
‘Excuse me?’ I asked angrier than I should be. I should laugh it off I thought adjusting my maxi dress as it flew with the evening wind. Just what he needed the shape of my legs, probably my thighs, to eternally torment him.
‘I think of you’ he started again, this time with less h-factor and more confidence and gesticulation ‘every night and every morning. I need you, else I would die’
I was getting tired of this confrontation. I was about to stand, I had already slipped my feet into my Mr. Whiskers slippers when he started singing
‘My heart go jiggy jiggy bam bam’
I was totally lost for words, knocked for six. I could have fainted right there—died more appropriately. I was dazed was this really happening? Was the gateman really talking to me like this, ‘’toasting me’’ singing to me—no, this, this was just wrong. He even started dancing, with a smile that changed the shape of his lips into a kissing position. He placed his hands on his chest as if clutching tightly to it—now I was just simply disgusted.
He switched songs almost dramatically; flipping his eyes opened like an awakened mummy or better still, a zombie.
‘He get as he dey do me do me do me’
I shrunk my eyes in bewilderment, and then looked around hoping to see any of my sisters. They had to witness this, telling a story might as well just bore them. Then he knelt down and did a slow motion, Wizkid Imitation
’I love me babeeey, thas my babeeey, I will always do you wrong.’
Babeeey? Wrong? From where to where I asked myself and knew I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stood up with a sort of finality I could muster without so many pretenses. Much like a spoilt brat who’d had enough; and started to walk toward the kitchen entrance door but he quickly caught on to my legs. Was he mad? I shook my leg and tried to wriggle free but his grip was too tight.
‘What is the meaning of all this Friday?’He leaned against my nylon maxi dress and I pushed his face back. Now, this, this was just too embarrassing.
‘wahlai, if you don’t leave me, I will scream rape’ I said He kept his nose nested to my legs. Thank God my dress choice was fit for this eventful evening unlike normal bum short days. Somehow, I was able to pull free from his tight grip, almost stumbling—luckily, Daddy’s car was right there to help me from meeting the floor—to think I always complained about the way he parked his car. My face met the cool window surface with a tiny thud but the kick I had used to escape this admirer of mine sent him crashing without mercy on the sand and of course, a pain on his back side and chest which he won’t forget in a day.
‘The next time you touch me again, I would kill you’ I said
‘aunty’ he said bringing himself up ‘you don’t understand—’ I started to walk away, afraid of what his next move might be—it could be that he’d hold my hips or God knows, my chest.
As if reading my thoughts, he screamed ‘aunty wait, I won’t touch you’
I looked at him with this compassion I had always hated about myself. He would read meaning to that, so I looked away and waited with the attitude of an impatient woman. You better not lay a finger on me I thought to myself waiting for his next words. He fingered his pockets for something I supposed was juju. I moved backwards a tidbit. He moved closer and when I stopped went on his knees, opening his folded palm to reveal a small box. No this isn’t happening, I thought wishing it was someone else—any of my elder sisters or Aunty Maria would have been ideal. They would have known what to do. Throughout my house, there were enough women for him to fall in love with. Why me? There was nothing special about me, my physical appearance or anything else. Why not the cook or the cleaner or Mummy’s maid—any other person generally. He opened the box.
I had imagined my proposal—nothing like this. Nothing at all. Not the person, not the environment, not the clothing and once again, not the person and once he opened the box, not the ring. The ring could have been taken for rubber, I closed my eyes and opened them, I was going to take offense now. Did I look that cheap? I hissed and walked towards the front door, hands akimbo.
It was a story I would be willing to tell my future husband. A tear slipped from my eye. I attempted a smile now that escape was visibly near, it should be funny. I was also in shock, he was not following me? The front door was ten feet away, my heart galloped and my smile disappeared. The heart came to peace and regular rhythm followed at five feet and at two feet heart beat increased again.
Funny how it was only recently that Mummy and a neighbor; Iya Ope had been talking about a driver who tried to rape her daughter who had been home alone. I took a second to look to heaven and thank God for a full Christmas house.
The gateman caught up with me. I swallowed hard. I was actually afraid, beginning to see the seriousness of this man. He held my shoulders tightly. Hugged me. cupped the small of my back. Traced his fingers around my cheeks. His grip was tight. I let out my first scream. Before it could end, his lips were on mine, bile rushed through me, I felt like puking, and then dying. I pushed his lips away with my elbow, struggled free and screamed again. He attempted a kiss, his hand moving to my backyard. My left hand was suddenly freer meaning he was beginning to enjoy himself; I let it go and slapped him. Harder than anything I have ever slapped. Then I heard footsteps. Loud, sharp and deliberate footsteps that somehow rhymed with my heartbeat. It took an eternity before the loud bang of the door I expected came through. As if via telepathy they knew about my plight or my silly girl scream was enough warning, the three stormed out armed with knives, brooms, and golf clubs and for this last one, I thought, if daddy should catch these girls ehn. Who would have known this London bred babies could be this Macho. Especially Lola. She was as macho as it got. Especially with her low cut hair, her blue suspenders as everyday clothes and deep voice.
Once he saw them, it seemed all parts of him deflated and scattered around like small stone pieces. He ran, off around the house, pleading, begging shouting in Yoruba ‘I have died, I will die, please don’t kill me, I won’t touch her again…’
‘O ri mi ti Fokasibe!’ he shouted running around in circles his hands clasped at the back of his head. Sissy natural sprinter was always closing up on him but the Sasquatch had nice dodging skills. These big sisters were just trying to have some fun. I sat there on the door steps, trying to gather myself, panting frantically. I smiled and then laughed wiped my lips ferociously. I knew the kind of night bath I was going to have and the kind of prayer God was going to listen to. I walked towards the gate, opened it up and waited for the gate man to run right through it into the night like an idiot with no dignity. Even sasquatches had more dignity than this one. No shame. Ife stopped panting and then screamed ‘and stay out‘Then we all laughed, watching the mad man scratch his buttocks as he screamed into the night.
With his scream but a ring in our heads, I sang.
‘’Just get out of my, out of my, out of my dreams. Just get out of my, out of my, out of my scenes’’
They were confused as to how Andrea Demirovic’s ”Just get out of my life” had anything to do with anything. I just shrugged and smiled sheepishly. We would have a lot to explain to mummy and daddy, nevertheless,
…..No more loving for that guy .