I walked into the famous Gidi’s haven, the one true place for the best of anything, food, drinks and of course, girls. I surveyed the bar and this night it didn’t look as likely as it normally did. The stage was almost empty except for a lanky man in a chair, in his own world beating a talking drum. That was different. The normal aura that came with the place was usually a bit noisy and serene at the same time, except the noise wasn’t noise but rowdy musical. So, a man with a talking drum gave the club an indigenous- Fela’s African Shrine- feeling. I liked it.

After scanning the environment and noting that the popular Haven girls weren’t there today,  I found a spot; and a familiar face. Was that Subomi R? It looked a lot like him, sitting at the extreme of the bar with his head bowed and his eyes boring into his phone. I couldn’t see his features well, slightly due to the phone-light’s reflection on his face, but I was sure it was really my S.R.

Yes, it was the man that taught me how to take my first smoke without coughing out. I was fresh out of secondary school when I met him; really met him. My mother used to make and sell leather footwear and Subomi R. loved leather footwear. He would come to her shop to purchase her latest design and my mother loved him for it.

He once offered to be her foot model because he believed he had, not fine, divine feet but my mother declined jokingly of course, (lest she lost herself her biggest customers) and stuck with the animated feet in leather sandals. How unlikely. All the while, I was a ‘shy-pot’, such that when Subomi R. came around, I would hide and watch as his ‘divine’ feet were slipped into shoe after shoe. I adored him, wishing every time that he were my uncle.

One day, I was left alone in the shop, mother having gone to get new stock. She must have assured me of something close to a poor customer day, as normally I wouldn’t have offered to stay behind.

True to her words, no customer came by except the one who had crossed the bridge from ordinary customer to family member- Subomi R. I was scared at first not knowing how to attend to him, as that was the first day he would be speaking to me. I answered him briefly, in a hurry to dismiss him. Happy at the fact that it was all over, I proceeded to return into the inner chambers. But he stopped me by pointing out how I always observed him surreptitiously when he came around. I was shocked. I had thought the covertness of my stares were award-winning.

Now as I looked at him from where I stood, I couldn’t believe it was him in person. I walked up to his spot expecting him to raise his head but he was so engrossed in his phone. I sat down in a cahir directly opposite him, causing him to look up briefly. He didn’t recognize me at first; at least not until I spoke and he looked up again.

“Subomi R.?”, a shadow of recognition crossed his face.

“Ileri?”, he remembered my name. “Is that really you? What are you doing here? I thought you travelled to Canada? How’s mumcy?”

He asked, question after question, not giving me chance to answer any. So, I said:

“Yes , it’s really me, not a ghost. I’m here because I always hang out here, and yes, I was at Canada months ago, I’ve been in Lagos for quite a while and Mumcy, well, Mumcy is presently in some 5-star hotel with her latest beau.”

Ever since my father died, she had always found solace in any rich and good-looking fifty-something-year-old that showed interest in her. This time he wasn’t just rich and handsome, that would be an understatement, referring to his status and so my mother had to make the best use of that opportunity. Luckily for her, this one seemed to be  staying.

Back to the present where I had Subomi. R. studying  me closely because I wasn’t the skinny, doe-eyed one clad in black leather and braids. Rather, I was dressed in Ankara-print shorts, polo shirt and boat shoes. my well groomed afro tucked in a baseball cap with some hair springs coming out from the sides. That was actually my idea of a good-dress sense.

We got into conversation and he was just interested in the years I had spent in the diaspora. I regaled him with stories of my Canadian life, how my first years were difficult without my mom and with very little friends. People hardly spoke to me because I hardly spoke to people. But I soon came out of my shell when I had to live with some of my school mates. My sudden friendship and bonding with them was as a result of my new love for brazenness and confidence. It was so evident in my peers that I couldn’t stand to be the ‘shy-pot’ anymore. I began to do things I wouldn’t normally do under my mother’s nose. Things I wouldn’t even have considered.

In the middle of my narrations to S.R. I noticed his eyes avert from mine to the door of the bar. I followed his gaze and saw a comely girl with endless legs walk in through the swinging doors of Gidi’s haven. She was dressed in short denim dungarees and a white sleeveless cotton blouse. S.R.’s eyes never left her as she went to the barman and ordered a drink. Something dark with foam in a tumbler. This item of drool got me wondering how easy it would be to confuse the males with a pair of long legs, smooth and light skin and a cherubic face. However, these were only icing on the cake of Miss Long-Legs-Fine-Face, because right on her chest were the most lovey pairs I had ever seen, neatly packed in the white blouse she wore. I did not blame S.R. for looking so hard because I was sure I did worse.

I tried to keep that part of me a secret with my choice of clothing. It all started in Canada. Every strange behavior of mine started there. My first time was with a room mate’s friend. Who was also inexperienced but for a first time at such, we felt really good, at least that was what she said and I didn’t doubt it. Again, on one night when I had to sleep over at my boss’s, I felt a faint fondling with my shirt and another fondling with my bare skin. Already sensing ‘danger’ I bolted up from the couch only to be staring back at my boss’s face. As I was about to express the next thing that came to my mind, a pair of lips covered mouth. I soon fell into character and we both did unforgettable things that night.

I sat and watched with admiration as the girl that walked in 5 minutes ago got up from her stool and walk towards our table, strange as that was, I got happy deep down. S.R. was already jumpy in his seat, if he were a dog he would have wagged his tail furiously. She got closer to our table and did the most unexpected. No one saw it coming.

S.R. probably thought she was coming for him. He was soon disappointed when she lowered her head to my ear. “You look like you want me. I know a room upstairs. Let’s get this done.”

I did a double-take, wondering how she guessed what type I was. Anyhow, Subomi R., who was anticipating an audience, got only a pretty sight of her rear as she led the way to the aforementioned room.

He said, obviously appalled, “what was that all about, Ileri? What did she tell you? Anything about me?”

Too amused by his desperation, I replied, “No.”

He wanted some explanations, his face said as much. But all I gave him was my cell number, asking him to ring me up as soon as he could. Obviously, not in the next, say, two hours. And then I said adieu, hurrying after Miss Long-Legs-Fine-Face.

Befor I stepped out of Gidi’s Haven, hours later, I checked the corner for Subomi R., he was gone. The stage was empty too, now that was sad. I would have loved to meet the lanky drummer one on one. I loved the sound of the talking drum on the stage of Gidi’s Haven.


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