“Dodoyo” she said, she was referring to the driver who’d caused the obstruction. He’d rather delay traffic than wait for two cars to pass through the bottle neck created by the partially open gate.
“I’d thought dodoyo was a typical Yoruba curse word” he replied with a look of surprise, she couldn’t speak Yoruba.
“I grew up in Lagos, remember?” she answered with the smile she knew would needle him. Wise to her antics, he didn’t respond. She smiled again at her friend, the handsome man who was driving her home. He cleared to the side of the road.
“Let me wait here so those cars can have space to pass” he said and she remembered one more reason she loved him, why he was one of her best friends- his consideration for others. He was one of the kindest people she’d ever met, he was also annoying in the way only men could ever be.
Only that morning he’d told her he didn’t know why he did things for her so easily, he told her of his grand decision to put his foot down and stop being soft on her- you see he was also annoying.
“Put his foot down indeed” she thought. He’d said he was puzzled by the fact that he did so many strange things so easily for a woman who was not his “babe”. Her reply was that it was a gift from God, she was born that way.
As long as she could remember, people had done extraordinary things for her. It wasn’t even as a result of knowing her well, total strangers would go out of their way to help her, ex-boyfriends would move the earth for her, people who were younger than her even took under their wings. It bothered her sometimes, how fragile she must seem to those people. She’d learned to accept the troubling parts of her “gift”.
They continued talking, the desultory conversation only good friends could have. Plantains and potatoes came up frequently, she insisting he’d eat the food she’d gotten for him and he insisting that he’d not. They’d had various versions of the same conversation very often, he was stubborn and she was unyielding- a recipe for frequent arguments, yes?
She loved arguing with him, he didn’t, they argued anyway. He had a cute pout that appeared when he was annoyed, his lips were made for pouting. She liked watching the formation of that pout, the flash of annoyance in his eyes, the retraction of the upper lip. She decided to stop fantasizing about another woman’s boyfriend’s pout, she didn’t think she’d be successful though.
They got to her house and they continued their argument, more out of routine than spite. He finally tells her the reason he’d refused to eat, something basic that he’d turned into a maze. It was another thing she loved about him, his innate penchant for drama.
She remembered when she’d been afraid to love him, when she’d been afraid of just how precious he was to her.
“Loving you would destroy me” she told him, “I’d never thought I could feel so protective of anyone who wasn’t a sibling”.
He didn’t say anything, perhaps because he knew a time would come when she’d realise she was wrong. Loving him had saved her, made her human. The best thing about him was his silence when she was touching the depths of stupidity, he never made her feel like she was foolish even when she was, especially when she was.
As she packed his portion of the plantains and potatoes in a dish for him to eat later, she wanted to tell him the reason he’d do anything for her was because he knew she’d do anything for him. He’d have called her a fish. For most people calling them a fish would be an insult. For them, it was the highest endearment.