Distance Episode 5

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As they drove, there was a beep from
Dimeji’s phone, which was in his b—-t
pocket and he made as if to retrieve it.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Tobi asked, a tinge of fear in her voice.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to check
your phone while you’re driving?”
“You’ve predicted my future by asking
a question. O Great One, if you already
knew, then why did you still ask?”
Dimeji asked in a playful voice.
Tobi was not smiling.
“To knock some sense into your head,
obviously.”
“Are you saying I’m senseless?”
“Your words not mine,” Tobi said,
pouting like a spoilt child. “Or how
else would you describe a person who
fiddles with his phone while driving?
There’s no way you’ll be able to
concentrate on your driving.”
“You mean to tell me that you don’t
text, answer calls, type articles, make
eba, pound yam, make akamu and even
wash clothes while you’re driving?”
Dimeji asked, a wicked smile playing
on his lips.
Tobi laughed at his effort to lighten her
mood.
“I don’t drive, so the answer is ‘No.’ I
don’t make eba while driving. But, put
me on the back of an okada, and I
might even make stew to go with the
eba.” Dimeji laughed. It was one of
those genuine, heartfelt laughs that rise
from the belly and explodes through
the mouth.
“Hmmmm … But you’re clearly one of
those back seat drivers,” he said, as the
laughter died down.
“What gave me away?”
“Ah! The way you’ve been pointing and
gesticulating and telling me to slow
down since you entered my car. I’ve
been waiting to ask if maybe you
be yellow fever or LASTMA officer.”
Tobi chuckled. And then it struck her.
That mention of LASTMA could only
mean one thing.
“Wait o, Dimeji. Have you been to
Lagos?”
“Ah, I resemble village boy to you? So,
on top of all my baffing up , you still
think I’m a local boy? See my life?!” he
moaned in jest.
“O-o-o-h! Stop it jo. I was referring to
the LASTMA comment, not your
clothes. No one says “baffs” anymore,
old papa youngy …”
“Your body don wrinkle …”
Dimeji sang.
“Pata-pata!” they both chorused and
the car erupted in laughter.
“You dis girl! You’re just as razz as I
am. I like that.”
They had by now arrived at the Mr.
Biggs on the ever busy Nnebisi Road.
This was one of Asaba’s commercial
areas, but it was less busy that day,
being a Sunday. The restaurant was not
as packed as Tobi had expected. Many
of those present were young couples
with small children, but some older
people were also there.
Dimeji paid for their food, and they
went to sit at a table with three chairs.
“Won’t you check your phone? Your
girlfriend won’t like to be kept
waiting,” Tobi teased, in between sips
from a bottle of Fanta. Dimeji pulled
out his phone and came round to
where she sat. Still holding it, he
placed it right in front of her eyes, and
opened the text message that had come
in earlier. It was from someone
called Tiff Adesanya , and it read:
I hope you’re expecting me, Dimeji. I’m
coming to visit in one month .
With a questioning look, Tobi tilted her
head and looked up at Dimeji.
“Oh, that’s my cousin, Tiffany. We … I
mean … I call her Tiff for short.”
“Hmmm … That’s what you all say. It’s
always your cousin when you’re out of
town. But if she was here, you would
act like you didn’t know me.”
Dimeji cocked his head to one side and
gave her a funny look. But, he walked
back to his seat without another word.
Tobi wondered if she had not offended
him. She did not have to ask him for
he spoke up:
“I can’t speak for all men, and I
shouldn’t even have to. But let me say
this: Regardless of your own past
experiences with men, we are not all
the same. There are still some good
men out there, and–“
“Let me guess,” Tobi said, interrupting
Dimeji’s one-minute sermon. “You’re
one of them, right?” she asked in a
voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Yes.”
“Ever heard the saying ‘Don’t blow
your own horn’? It’s good advice, you
know. Your opportunity to convince
me of your humility just flew out of the
window. It has probably flown half-
way to Onitsha by now.”
“I had to address a more pressing issue,
my dear,” said Dimeji. You made a
generalized, and might I add, very
stereotypical statement about men,
when in fact, the qualities you
referenced are reserved
for certain types of men.”
“And what sort of man are you,
Dimeji?”Tobi asked, throwing the
question at him in a deceptively quiet
voice. Tobi had already drawn her own
conclusions about the sort of man
Dimeji was, but she took delight in
drawing answers directly from people.
To her, listening to people describe
themselves offered a rare opportunity
to test the level of humility in a
person. A proud person would
describe himself in near-perfect terms,
omitting his weaknesses and over-
emphasizing his strengths. But a
humble person would either decline
the invitation or give a more balanced
description of himself. As Tobi was
about to discover, Dimeji fell closer to
the humbler end of the spectrum.
“I’m a patient and forgiving man, who
still has a lot to learn in life. I love
deeply and people often take advantage
of that, but it won’t stop me from
pouring myself out.”
“Is that all?”
“The rest you’ll have to find out over
time.”
Tobi who had paused in the middle of
her struggle with a piece of chicken to
listen to Dimeji paint a self-portrait
with words, resumed her war. The
chicken was winning against Tobi even
though she was equipped with a fork
and knife, but by the time
Dimeji finished speaking, Tobi had won
the battle.
“Who says we’ll be spending more time
together?” Tobi asked. That
Dimeji assumed that they would be
spending more time together was
inferred from his last statement.
“You just said ‘ We ,’ Tobi. I rest my
case.”
– to be continued – Stay tune!