‘Yes! I’ll marry you!’ Lara screamed and jumped on her best friend, causing him to stagger. And as Seun caught himself from falling, bewilderment and confusion took over his better self as he wondered what had come over her. But his confusion slowly glided to fear as a grimly faced elderly pot bellied man marched steadfastly towards him, glaring and sizing him up as Lara’s embrace tightened around him. Holding her back with arms hanging loosely around her waist, he forced a shivering smile to the stern faced elder, and quickly scurried out with her.
‘Can I get some explanation now?’ Seun asked as they walked down to Lara’s car.
‘Ah ah? Talk again? You never tire? … abeg later jor…’ Lara shrieked, shutting Seun up with style.
Seun’s persistent silence and adamant readiness for an explanation flicked more words from her; ‘ma bi nu… I’ll tell you, I promise… Oya, let’s go and eat and I’ll tell you everything… and please can you drive by the way? I’m developing a little head ache already and God knows I need some good sleep right now.’
Taking the keys from her, he moved to the driver’s seat, wondering why she didn’t always develop headaches, being an exclusive chatter box. As a sales representative of her company, Lara had perfected the art of talking for a living. Though her products are not always required by all, her determination and smooth talks always ends up convincing even regular people to buy her expensive fumigation supplies. It was on one of her work days that she had clicked with Seun.
As a young partner in a law firm, Seun was the serious guy that only spoke when he had a deal to close and spent the rest of his time studying; but on that faithful day, his driver had just discovered a faulty brake pad and driven into a petrol station to get a qualified mechanic to fix it. On arrival, the man was already servicing a vehicle and tried to explain that he could invite another mechanic when Lara interrupted the conversation.
‘Oga, any problem?’ She asked Seun’s driver, and to the mechanic’s shock, she permitted that Seun’s driver be attended to.
Her chatter started almost immediately: ‘Please who is that man that will prefer to roast inside his car… is he allergic to fresh air?’
She had intentionally spoken to Seun’s hearing, and he glared at her in response. Out of fear for another unfriendly response from Lara, the driver pleaded with her, apologizing for his boss’ negligence and thanked her on his behalf for granting them the opportunity to be attended to. After strong bouts of laughter, Lara explained that she was only concerned for his health and wasn’t needy of his apologies and explanations.
‘Hello young lady, thank you for your kindness… but can I help you with something?’ Seun asked descending from the vehicle, in a bid to stop her unblinking uncomfortable stares towards him.
‘Let me rather help you with a thing’ she exclaimed, ran to her car and returned with some chemical mixtures in different bottles, a long tube with a nozzle at the end and a slim brochure and continued.
‘You are obviously not new to the word fumigation, so, in line with good health, I want you to be insect-bite-free and this product can help you’ she advertised, not minding that Seun was feeling embarrassed.
He gasped at her display of more madness as she began to describe the pros and cons of her product to the other onlookers, and out of shame for all involved, he indicated that he was going to purchase all of the items.
She had already started packing his purchase into his car when he recognized her.
‘You attend Trinity chapel?’
‘Wow, so it’s you!’ She screamed and began to rant about the day she had mistakenly blocked his car with hers in church and had to plead for 30 minutes just to get him to smile, and how she swore never to speak to anybody like him that could front such annoyance for only being delayed for 10 minutes.
Bursting into laughter, Seun explained that he was not really annoyed, that it was his default to appear serious, but that he was pissed when she kept begging and causing him to feel like a sadist. He mentioned that he had only forced a smile to avoid more drama.
Seun handed her a cheque and exchanged contacts with her after the brief conversation, and automatically invited a dramatic friendship into his life.
The next Sunday was hectic for Seun. Lara harassed him after church service for giving her a faulty cheque. His bank had refused to pay her and insisted he ran the transaction himself, and she had come to shoot him for it. She refused that Seun would call his bank officer, insisting that she was only going to consider collecting cash as the next option. For the sake of peace, Seun agreed to go with her and swore to run far away from her immediately afterwards; a decision he has long accepted as impossible.
Looking at Lara sleeping peacefully beside her at the passenger’s seat now, he wondered why she had suddenly reacted as she did in the face of the glum old man. In his 3 years of knowing Lara, they have gradually built themselves into each other’s lives without knowing it, so why did he not have a clue about this stranger. And marriage… why didn’t she just hug him… why agree to a non-existing marriage proposal? He had not yet considered marriage with Lara. To him, she was just his perfect twin, a part of him that he never knew existed. Her high spirit was something he could only imagine but never bring himself to become. She always loved his serenity and really admired his calm approach to life but fell sick the day she tried to be like him. He often wondered at how she was able to remain witty despite her carefree nature, and wondered at how her small frame was always able to carry all the strength and excitement that she brought forth; but it had never crossed his mind that she could be his ‘one’. His analytical brain had already begun to calculate if Lara really considered marriage to him when she suddenly woke up.
‘Life saver’ she began with a tired smile and Seun smiled back.
He had learned to smile. Who would not with somebody like her.
‘This expensive place? Shebi I’ve told you that I’d use only one-eighth of what is spent on a meal here to prepare a dish for a whole weekend?!’ she blurted out on realizing her environment.
Having no time for argument because it actually meant not eating at the restaurant, he tried to distract her; ‘you know you should be saving your strength for all the explanation, so just relax… and enjoy.’
‘There is no explanation jare, the man is the Chief that I was trying to tell you that swore he would stalk me until I became his 3rd wife but you were too busy watching Man U and Arsenal, so I left you alone… and please give me my key… if you’re eating here, you can as well find a means of transporting yourself back home’ she cut in and snatched the key from his hand.
‘And the “I will marry you” part?” Seun curiously asked as he shut the door, took back the keys from her and started to drive them out of the restaurant.
‘Ah! You didn’t see that man’s face? Like he was going to kidnap me? I had to rescue myself ni!’ and she continued to chatter away and drift into other topics.
Remembering how Lara managed to joke with sensitive lines, he shook his head at ever thinking that she was considering marrying him and continued his drive in silence, listening to her chatter away.