Segun had been on my case for at least 2 years.
I met him one hot Saturday as I was waiting for a taxi on Grogner Street in Iwaya, Onike. He pulled over and asked where I was headed. I don’t ever talk to people on the road but this day, the look of the mist on the window of his air conditioned car made it difficult to ignore him given the extreme heat I was exposed to.
I stepped into his car, grateful for the ride, yet determined to let him know I was no cheap girl that jumps into available cars.
“Thank you so much, Sir, for the ride. I normally wouldn’t do this but I have been standing outside in the sun for at least 30 minutes. The cabs come in trickles and are either taken or too expensive. No one is interested in going my way”
“Where might that be?” He asked, totally ignoring every other thing I had said.
“I’m going to Ikota but I’ll drop off once we get to any major road where I can find a cab”.
“You’re in luck. I’m actually going to VGC but I need to get to Surulere first. So I can either drop you off at a taxi park or you accompany me to Surulere and then I drop you off at your doorstep.”
Inasmuch as I was so eager not to overuse help being rendered, I opted for the latter option. I was in no hurry whatsoever to go my empty home. Mom and dad were on their way to Ikene for a week long engagement and my younger siblings were all in school. My best friend, Mololu had kindly volunteered to spend the week with me but she would not be getting to mine until Sunday night so that meant I’d be spending Saturday night by myself with only Larry, the dog and Mustafa, the gate man, for company.
I looked at my wristwatch, with its recently cracked screen and declared,
“Well, it’s just 1.00 and I’m not in a hurry so I’ll go with you”.
I got to meet him properly. His name is Segun, a businessman who was into the oil and gas sector. He had been working for himself in Libya before moving to Nigeria earlier that year. The Nigerian side of his business was only just growing and was already facing major challenges but a meeting he had in Abuja two weeks from our meeting would determine if a major stumbling block would be removed and his license would be granted. He saw an RCCG band on my wrist and asked me to pray along with him. I promised to.
As he dropped me off at about 4pm that Saturday evening, I felt like I knew him already. Segun was very chatty, divulging a lot so quickly. During those hours we spent together, I also found out that he has a 5 year old daughter by a white French girl he dated all through his university years in France. The lady had gone on to marry another Nigerian and they lived in Port Harcourt with his daughter, Amélie. His dad was long gone and his mom had raised him and his siblings by herself. I did what I do not ever do. I gave him my phone numbers and my pin and from there, we became friends.
The problem with Segun was with his way of showing concern and love. My primary love language is Quality Time and I’m not really the type to get all mushy too early. So it came as a bit of a rude shock to me when I received my first “love you baby”, 2 weeks from the day we met. I really didn’t know what to make of the message and it abruptly ended our chat as I did not respond. To be fair to him, I assumed he was simply overjoyed as he was granted all necessary permits we prayed for, that he spoke out of turn.
About four hours after, at 1 am, I got another message from him telling me how much he’s so into me and how he feels like he has finally found what he had been looking for and if I would be okay being a second mom to his daughter and how he wants me to meet his mom. I read it and responded with a “BRB”. Later in the day, we met up for a meal and then I explained how, though I appreciate his feelings, it was all too soon for me and I would appreciate if I am given a bit more time to be on that kind of level with him. In the meanwhile, I suggested that we remain friends. He looked a bit disappointed but accepted and declared that he was in no hurry and would wait for me however long it took me to realise my feelings for him or develop them.
Segun was extremely generous to me, almost worryingly so. Once he travelled and brought me an orange Hermès’ Birkin 40cm bag which retails for about $2000. I was shocked and despite loving nice stuff, I didn’t want to take it from him initially but I eventually did mentioning it to him that he really didn’t need to spend that much on me and he should focus more on growing his business.
Mololu usually saw one Harrods or Neiman Marcus shopping bag or the other and was always encouraging me to “stop fronting and say yes to Segun before a sharp girl does”. I guess because of the manner in which he approached me, it made me a bit overly cautious since this his asking out was more like a proposal and he seemed so sure of his feelings for me. I slowed things down a lot and outrightly refused to meet his mom for the first three months. I didn’t want to get carried away at all and kept praying and taking things slow. Despite our living so close to each other, I hardly went to his and since I come from a relatively strict home, his visits were sparing as well (of my doing).
About six months after we met, work commitments took him away from Nigeria for a long while. During that period, he would come to Nigeria at least once a month, bombarding me with all manners of gifts. Even when he was not around, he’d randomly have flowers delivered to my office.
He would send handwritten letters by DHL and whenever anyone was travelling to Nigeria, he would have them deliver something to me, however small. There was a time he sent me a bottle of Lucozade because I had lamented that the Nigerian one tasted different. When it came to giving, Segun was without fault. But in my opinion, there was more to consider than how generous a man is.
Sometime, five months ago, Mololu was sent to England for a training to last 3 weeks and she used the opportunity to shop and ended up having 2 extra boxes. She complained over the phone to me telling me the airline was overcharging her and then, partly because I felt it right to help and partly because I had ordered somethings which she was bringing for me, I decided to ask Segun if he could help out since I know he always travelled light and never uses the extra allowance granted to him. He accepted to help bring the extra boxes and I gave her his hotel address to drop them off a day before her flight. He was due in Nigeria a week and half after.
My suspicion was first roused when, upon his arrival, he took the bags to Mololu’s in Ogudu, instead of as I expected, bringing it to me and having us sort ourselves out. I asked for the favour. I mentioned to him that my stuff was included in the box so it came as a surprise to me when he drove all the way to hers the next day to drop the boxes off. When I asked him why he did that, he said the boxes were quite heavy and that he was going that way and decided to drop them off. I had more questions but felt since I was not his girlfriend, there is a limit to the questions I can pose without looking funny. My pride got in the way and I decided not to mention it anymore.
The calls reduced. The texts were shorter. The usual “love you” closing went missing. ‘Mololu too reduced her communication with me. Then one day, she drove to mine and after lunch asked the most random question, ‘Are you and Segun in a relationship?”. She looked like she had struggled to ask that question but at the same time, as though that was her aim for coming to mine.
To be continued…
Read part 2 here