I was twenty-one, single, and not even searching when I met my husband. It was the year when I was serving my country. One Friday in April, I had a lazy morning, and therefore decided to skip work. I worked at a government school where my presence was barely registered, and my absence made just as difference. It was the period of the social media craze and so I had me a BlackBerry, complete with BBM, Whatsapp, and Twitter. As I lay in bed that morning, generally fiddling around with my phone, I got a Whatsapp message from an unknown number. I would usually ignore such texts and block the number, but I decided to indulge the texter this day, as I was rather bored. He introduced himself as David. He claimed he’d found my name and number on his phone and had no idea how they got there and so decided to find out who I was. Obviously, his story annoyed me a bit, and I didn’t for one moment buy it; but he was good-looking and so we kept chatting. And he turned out to be quite interesting. We texted the whole day and by the next morning he requested to meet with me, seeing as we were in the same town. I was nervous and excited at the idea of meeting a strange guy less than twenty-four hours after first talking to him. Being rather conservative, I initially considered declining. But I called my friend, Boma, whose birthday happened to be that same day, and she convinced me it would be fun to do something that was adventurous and slightly dangerous for once. Therefore, I reluctantly invited David to Boma’s party. Boma’s party began at about 2, and David called at 2:15 to tell me he was on his way. About an hour later, he still hadn’t shown up. I was already beginning to doubt he’d show, when my phone started ringing. It was a strange number. Guessing it was him, I grabbed it off the table immediately, but waited a moment before answering, to avoid seeming desperate. It was him, calling with his friend’s number. His phone had died, so he’d lost the directions—I’d given him earlier— to the venue. I gave the directions once more, and he confirmed he was on track.
David finally showed up at 4 with a friend tailing along. I took them to a free table where he introduced his friend as Ayo. Boma came along to say hi and David gave her a package he’d got for her. I was impressed. As I sat opposite them, I studied their features. While David was chubby, light-skinned and very attractive, Ayo was tall, dark-skinned and had really dark eyes. He was handsome but more in an artsy way than in a showoff-y way. Ayo looked like he deserved to be studied in a school of arts. We all shared drinks and joked and talked about abstract things. About an hour in, David excused himself to talk to a friend he’d spotted. I sat there in silence with Ayo for five full minutes, feeling very self-conscious. He had such sharply chiseled features, and those dark mysterious eyes looked like you could drown in them and never get to the bottom. I caught myself sipping my drink nervously.
“You have beautiful eyes.” Even though I heard him clearly and I knew he was talking to me, I replied,
He smiled and repeated himself clearly.
“You have such beautiful eyes, Nina.”
I smiled back and replied, “Thank you, yours are … interesting.”
“Interesting? How so?”
He was staring at me intently.
My mouth felt dry as I struggled for words to describe eyes that threatened to swallow me.
“Uhm … They’re … they’re dark. Like your irises are really big and so dark. Like an abyss. Does that make sense?”
He silently swirled his drink around in his cup for a moment, staring down at it as if deep in thought. I was beginning to wonder if he took offence when he replied, “Well, that’s the most poetic description my eyes have ever got. I like it.”
I smiled, he smiled back at me and asked all the while looking right into my eyes, “Do you like poetry?”
“Why, yes, I love poetry. I breathe poetry.”
“Me too. I would love to read your work.”
“I’d love that too.”
There was an awkward silence so I said the next thing that came to mind.
“Do you have any of your work here?”
Smiling he replied,
“No, Nina, I write in a notebook. I’m somewhat old fashioned.”
“Oh … I type on my laptop.”
I shrugged weirdly, feeling inferior to him.
The atmosphere around us suddenly felt so charged, I had to excuse myself. I went outside to get some air. By the time I returned, David was back, with another girl who was sat between David and Ayo and was obviously into Ayo. David tried to indulge me in a conversation but I could hardly concentrate; in-between stealing glances at Ayo and the girl who were having what seemed to be a lively chat, and berating myself for the sting of jealousy I was feeling.
It was evening already, the party was ending and the crowd had thinned out so David offered to drop me off at home. I hugged Boma and a few other friends and walked out with Ayo, David and the other girl whose name I never bothered to learn. The ride home was awkward. Ayo cracked jokes and asked me random questions while David drove in silence. I was at the back with the other girl who was strangely quiet as well, although she laughed a few times. We got to my place and David came down, walked me to my flat and hugged me. He said something about seeing again sometime and I just nodded. I stepped in, locked the door behind me, and just sank to the floor right there. My throat felt dry and lumpy. I had an admittedly huge crush on Ayo and I felt terribly guilty because this was supposed to be a date with his friend. A first date. How could David do that to me? How could he just bring along the most appealing man I’ve ever seen, and then act like nothing would happen? I wanted so badly to see him—Ayo—again but I didn’t want to seem pushy so I deleted his number from my call logs to avoid calling him.
I woke up the next day to two text messages. The first one read,
“I still think you have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.”
I smiled, knowing who the texter was already. The second read, “Text me back. Please?” I laughed, amused at his politeness. I typed into the reply box, “I think your eyes are a work of art.”
I lay there for a moment, rethinking it, trying to talk myself out of this silly nonsense. Heh. I just closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and hit send. Less than a minute later he replied,
“You are a work of art.”
I blushed so hard! Throughout the next week, Ayo and I texted and called each other endlessly. We talked about any and everything.We asked questions, told stories, made jokes, and read poems to each other. Our first real date was a couple weeks later. It involved proper lunch at some expensive restaurant, after which we drove to the beach and took a long walk in the sand. We shared our first kiss right there under a beautiful sunset, and two months later we started dating exclusively.
When we got married a year later, David was our best man.
Written by Phidelia Imeghia. Follow on twitter via @delia_maraj