Dara woke up smiling, knowing fully well what was in store for this “beautiful day”. She must have woken up on the right side of the bed because from the moment she stepped out of the house it’s been one good news after another. “This day couldn’t get any better” Dara thought.
So much has been going on in her life. These past few months have been hectic, she needed a break with work, with life. After the huge break up with Tunde, she never thought she would be able to ever talk to a boy, talk less of liking one. She had taken the much needed break away from everyone and was now ready to put herself out there.
She rushed out of the last meeting for the day, where she was recognized for the new deal that was signed with BOA Company; a big multinational. She was going to get a humongous bonus so this was great. Everyone wanted to congratulate her, she felt on top of the world, but she needed to get to her long awaited date so sneaked out.
She drove into Circa in Lekki, expecting to see Ahmad’s very visible white Benz. She had never been to Circa since it opened and absolutely wanted to try out their food. It was a bit odd he was skeptical about coming here but that was alright, she was certain he would be pleased.
The thought of the first and only time they met flashed through her mind, it made blood rush through her cheeks. It was perfect. They had everything in common. He was softly spoken and very confident, which drew him to her. They had been paired together on the train for Ope’s wedding, and they just connected in an unexplainable and special way. It was natural and not forced at all.
Even though Ope was her best friend, she never really understood why she would be against this, she must know she feels strongly about him.
“Theres no way you are going out with Ahmad!” Ope had exclaimed, the night before.
“He is too weird, and to be honest, we don’t know him very well as he is a childhood friend of my husband. He could very well be a serial killer! Something is just off with him.”
“First of all, you can call Tunji’s name and not say husband every time” Dara says, making a face.
“We have been talking every day Ope, and we just connect. I can’t really explain it. He seems kind and I love that I don’t have to be worried he is with me for my money” Dara explained, trying to convince Ope.
She snaps back to reality with the knock on her window. She had to park in another spot so she wouldn’t be disturbed later.
“Why wasn’t he here yet” she thought as she locked her car and walked up the stairs.
She enters the building, and was being guided to a table when she spots him from afar. She automatically became nervous and excited at the same time. He was on the phone and looked like he had had a rough day for some reason. He looked up, spotted her and had a huge grin on his face.
“Aww, he looks so handsome and cute” she thought. Exactly as she had remembered his smile. Though he looked a bit unkept, his smile was one of his best features.
The last time she had seen him, he looked like a million bucks. He looked so dapper and carried himself really well at the wedding. Over the past few weeks, he had spoken of his deals and all his travels, he drove an expensive car too. They had not spoken about finances, but she could tell he was successful. It wasn’t about the money for her anyway, she could take good care of herself, but she didn’t want a repeat of the past and wanted to be with someone who was able to take care of himself too, so this was perfect.
“Hi Dada” he says as he stands up to meet her with a huge grin on his face.
“No! Not Dada please” Dara replies with a laugh, as she also stretches her arm to accept his embrace.
He had wanted to force a personal nickname on her when they last spoke. She didn’t like it at all but she’ll make that clear later she thought.
“I thought you were not here yet, I didn’t see your car downstairs” she says.
“My car had issues so I took an Uber” he explained.
“I have been looking forward to seeing you all day” he continued with a smirk on his face.
Dara was about to respond when she really looked at him. She couldn’t shake off the obvious change in his looks. It’s not that important but something was obviously wrong so she asked.
“Is everything good with you though? You look completely worn out. Did you have a bad day?”
“I’m great actually. I just relaxed today and made some calls, then came here” he replied.
Something didn’t make sense. He had mentioned he was going to be visiting different work sites this whole week. They had to get prepared for the expatriates coming in and since he was heading the project he would be busy, but would make time for whenever they decided to see each other again. She never forgets important details.
“Ookay” she said, dragging it a little bit while thinking.
“But you said you were visiting sites all through this week” she asked.
“Oh true! Plans changed” he answered.
For some reason she was expecting more than that response, but she didn’t get any and she didn’t want to push. This was odd as it seemed he was trying to hide something and giving incomplete answers.
The whole evening went in the opposite direction of what she had been expecting and dreaming of all day. If she was honest, he felt like a completely different person. Why did he seem more confident, super easy to have a conversation with and more open at the wedding? Besides, they had been talking almost every day and he seemed more interesting on the phone that right now. What was going on with him and what had changed? She was confused.
When it was time to settle the bill, the very worst happened. His face completely changed when the waiter dropped the bill. At some point, he was arguing about the disrespectful demeanor of the waiter, and then it moved to forcing the waiter to apologize to her for disrespecting her. She did not feel disrespected so this was all confusing. It finally ended with his card getting declined, and he making a phone call shouting and threatening closure of several accounts.
She was embarrassed and was quiet all through this. She wanted to leave immediately or disappear. She reached out for her bag and gave her card to the waiter who then went ahead to charge it. Ahmad then excused himself to go to the restroom, but left his phone and wallet on the table.
After few minutes his phone kept beeping.
Dara was skeptical now and had questions, so she took the phone to see, and for some reason, she could see the notifications on his locked screen and could read the recent messages.
Someone whose name was Rufus was sending him a million messages. Rufus says Ahmad needs to come back immediately, as the owner of the house just called to come pick him up from the airport. He must come take out his stuff and not meet him or his belongings in the house, Rufus said. He also mentioned that he had been looking for the key to the Benz so it could be returned it to his “Oga’s” room.
Dara was in shock. She couldn’t believe or understand fully what she just saw. She tried to make sense of everything but remembered he would probably be on his way back. So she quickly switched on the silent button by the side of the phone and returned it.
Ahmad came back and said with a smile “Shall we go please? Send me your details as well, so I could refund you later for the bill”
They took their belongings and walked out. On the way out Dara asked, while still thinking of what to do “so what next? And how are you getting home?”
He then told her they could go back to his, so she could drop him off and spend a bit of time with him before going home.
“Oh really?!” Dara replied, and started laughing hard. She couldn’t take or hold it in any longer. Her heart had been racing and she didn’t know what to do or say. At this point, if she blew up no one would be able to contain her. She wanted to burst.
He looked utterly confused. “I think you should check your phone Ahmad! Rufus has a few important messages for you” Dara said sarcastically, still laughing uncontrollably.
“Don’t call or talk to me ever again!” Dara said with a raised tone then walked away. She entered her car and drove off angrily.
On her way home she started thinking where she must have gotten it wrong. Did she miss all the signs or was he just a good liar. She didn’t think anything he had told her was true. How could she be so gullible? Was she desperate and wanted to believe whatever this was at all cost? All this passed through her mind as she almost started crying but pulled her self together. Even if she wanted to, not because of Ahmad! She couldn’t believe she had high hopes for this relationship. This pissed her off the more.
She then remembers Ope.
“Ope must have known something! There’s no other explanation. She must have known and didn’t tell me” she says to herself while driving.
She calls her best friend and tells her everything that had happened. Ope started laughing and she started laughing as well but she was still very angry.
“I told you I didn’t trust him. He was odd. Even Tunji mentioned he’d caught him in several lies and never seemed to want to open up about anything. Apparently, he always pretended everything was fine and it’s not like they were still best of friends anyway” Ope explained.
“But this is even making me angrier! Why didn’t you tell me!” Dara screams.
“I tried to Dara. I did. We were not sure what was going on with him and you seemed to have really hit it off with him. A part of me was hoping I was wrong” Ope replied, sounding apologetic.
“It’s fine. Happy I figured this out on our first real date. I feel like such a fool”
“You don’t have to beat yourself up too much. You have been through a lot and you deserved a break. I’ll come see you tomorrow okay? We can talk about this.”
“.....okay” Dara mutters after a long silence.
They both got off the phone and she wanted to call Ahmad to give him a piece of her mind, now that she had calmed down and processed this properly. But she decided he wasn’t worth it.
The sad thing was, she was willing to make this work. He didn’t have to lie about anything or make himself out to be who he wasn’t. She could tell there was a great guy in there, he seemed kind and honest these past few weeks. At least she thought he was.
She had just been shown again, some men can’t be trusted! She was definitely going on a sabbatical now. This she was sure of. This had to have been the worst date she had ever gone on.
“Men are scum!” She said out loud.
“Okay, some men are scum” she corrected herself, after feeling guilty for generalizing. She would still have hope.