By Bunmi Sofola
Busayo, a happy-go-lucky events planner, confessed recently that one of the memorable experiences she’s had in her adventurous life was running into an ex on a trip abroad. This was some two years ago before COVID-19 put paid to any form of travelling. She tells her story:
“I would never have imagined that the next time I ran into Bolaji it would be on a plane en route to good old Britain. The last time I saw him was over 15 years ago. We’d dated briefly after he’d relentlessly come after me – with the whole works. Dinner, fancy presents and just sitting down for stretches of amusing natters. In the end, we became lovers. I’d left my husband then and was smarting from a broken relationship. Feyi, my current boyfriend had just put on an appearance too after a period of wondering where he was. Simply put, life couldn’t be better.
“Then, one fateful day, Bolaji was having a drink in my flat when Feyi came calling. I was amused to see Bolaji sit up like a ramrod. Feyi made his usual polite conversation but it was obvious Bolaji wouldn’t be hanging around for anything more friendly and was out of my flat as soon as he decently could, telling me firmly not to bother to see him off. I wondered if Feyi knew him but he obviously didn’t as he asked if Bolaji wasn’t one of the facilitators in my office as his face looked familiar. I quickly agreed that he was. I didn’t hear from Bolaji for a long time. Months after Bolaji had dropped me like a hot potato, I ran into him at a filling station. It was on a Sunday and he drove himself. He’d got out of the car looking good to eat in Barmuda shots. I was angry with him, if anything, he owed me an explanation for his disappearing act and I got out of my car to confront him.
“He didn’t look guilty. He looked as if I was a total stranger he was trying to place. “What happened to you?” I asked him. “How could you have disappeared without a word?” “What do you mean?” He wanted to know. “Did you think I could come to your place after running into my chairman in your house?” He wanted to know. His chairman? It was then he explained that Feyi was the chairman of a political party’s committee of which he was a member. “He was also one of our financial supporters.” He went on: “and I was just co-opted as a member of his committee when I ran into him at your place of all places. Didn’t want any trouble, so I stayed away. The way he looked at me, he was sizing me up to see if I would be a serious adversary. I just left and that was it.” That was the last I saw of him until I saw him a few months ago ambling his way to his seat on the plane.
“I’d sat with a stuffy man in a suit who’d come with a bunch of national dailies and had buried his head into one as soon as he settled in his seat. Bolaji, who now looked a bit rosy-checked and well, was pleased to see me. He told me he booked his flight rather late and was lucky to get a seat, albeit on the economy class. The man next to me glared disapprovingly at him and he left, promising to be back in minutes. He then came back to ask the man if he wouldn’t mind swapping seats with him as we both had things to trash out. He agreed most reluctantly, obviously that would be a better alternative than both of us disturbing his newspaper reading session!
“Travelling time flies if you’ve got a lively chatter-box to keep you company. By the time we arrived Heathrow, he’d told me his first grandchild would be christened the next day. Could I make it? What about his wife? “I had this child before I got married,” he explained, “I’ve booked myself into a service flat”. After exchanging phone numbers, we left. First thing the next day, he was on the phone giving me directions on how to get to the venue of the naming ceremony and he insisted on my taking a cab. As I arrived the place, he came out to pay the cab driver. By the end of the day, I was at his service flat, feeling as if we were on a first date all over again. The friend I stayed with scarcely saw me as I virtually moved in with him, closing the 15-year-gap between our first relationship.
“I was a bit amused when he offered to come with me for a weekend with a friend that stayed outside London. He would book himself into a Bed and Breakfast so I needn’t worry about accommodation for him. My friend’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when she saw him. Thank goodness her husband is not a Nigerian or he would have wondered at the number of cousins I kept showing up with. Thanks to Bolaji, I scarcely touched the holiday allowance I had with me as he happily picked up most of my tabs. He even took my friend’s family to an expensive restaurant on our last evening. When we left for London, I simply moved in with him and by the time he left a week later, I’d had a most mind-blowing holiday.
“He’d discreetly asked if I was still seeing Feyi and I said yes. His eyes clouded a bit, but he shrugged. He made it clear he would never want to cross Feyi and I understood. Why wouldn’t I? Apart from Feyi, my hands are definitely full with Deji, Joel and lately with my busy schedule. Where on earth would I fix Bolaji when we got back to Lagos? Giving him my little-girl-lost look, I told him I understood. He might be all right in no man’s land Britain, but I knew as a fact that he too had a very ‘busy’ social life in Lagos. The phone never stopped ringing in the flat and there were times he’d promised callers he would call them back.
“For now, I was the ‘flavour-of-the-moment’ who needed all his attention. By the time he left, the flat was still full of food stuffs brought in by his daughter who seemed happy to be ‘friends’ with me. I bet it was to get back at her step-mother whom she said she didn’t like. There were few days left until he handed over the keys to the flat to its owners, so I agreed to stay in the flat until his short lease ran out. My friends were definitely happy to help me clear up the left-over grub in those few days! The rest of the holiday flew past, and I was ready to leave.
“When you’re out of the country, Lagos pulls at your heartstrings and you start feeling homesick – most especially for the various social events you believe you just must attend.
“As I shuffled my invitation cards and scanned my diary as soon as I came back, I sighed with contentment. I couldn’t wait to show off the fashion accessories I came back with. The good times, so to speak, were back again! Only, once in a while, things got on top of you and you just had to let go some of that to-die-for parties because, believe it or not, the show would go on whether you attended or not!”