(An almost true story)
It was the first day of the free skills acquisition project organized by one of the corpers and work was in full force. Oiza had no idea what she had volunteered for would be back breaking. The pile of application forms kept increasing, almost like half the town had turned up for the exercise. But who no like awoof?
Her fingers shook as she flipped through them. It was hard to tell if it was the post-rain chills or the dude seated few inches away from her. He was one of the older corpers that had been posted to Ikot Asuquo. His name was Ola. That much she knew. She didn’t like people watching her while she worked and this dude was certainly boring a hole in the side of her head. They hadn’t even said as much as a sentence to each other, but still, his presence made her uncomfortable.
She looked up and realized he was lost in his phone. A deep breath escaped from her chest as she returned to sorting. Maybe I’m just over-reacting. After all, he isn’t even looking in my direction. Her foot was restless under the table as she still wished he’d move away and go hang with the other corpers instead.
“What do you think about this place?”
He better not be talking to me. Oiza looked in his direction and their eyes locked. He is talking to me. Damn, I’m really not in a conversation mode.
“It’s aite.” She returned her gaze to the stack and resumed working. Please, please, get the message. I don’t want to talk.
“So, I heard you came from Lagos.”
Why so persistent? “Yes. Pretty much a contrast to this place.”
Oiza turned to him and squinted. I can’t believe I’m encouraging this conversation.
“The air here is cleaner, roads are less congested, little noise pollution, everyone minds their business…” She looked towards the green field and shrugged. “…It’s just so peaceful.”
There was a moment of quiet.
“You don’t relate with people much, do you?”
Oiza chuckled and turned to him. The overhead light seemed to be dancing in his eyes.
“What do you mean?”
He crossed his legs and locked his fingers over his knee. “I’ve watched you for a while now.”
Her eyebrow shot up. Although she had stayed some weeks in the same compound with him, their paths have not exactly crossed. Nor has she encouraged any form of closeness with the other lodge mates. But that didn’t make her anti-people either. She just liked her space, one thing that’s really hard to explain to people once they invade it.
“No comment?” His eyes seemed to be mocking her.
No point explaining myself. He’s probably going to try and psychoanalyze me. “No comment.” She smiled and returned to her primary assignment. From the corner of her eyes, she saw him get up and walk towards the field. Finally, she whispered under her breath.
She clutched her purse by her side and stood, waiting for a clear to cross the road. A shadow fell in her path and she knew it was him before looking up.
“Off to the lodge?”
“Let me walk you.”
Oiza chuckled. What? The lodge was just at the other side of the road. She wondered if he was that desperate to friend her. Before she could turn his offer down, he grabbed her by the hand and pulled her across the road. By the time he let her go, she had goosebumps all across her arms. But this wasn’t chilly-wind-induced goosebumps. No. This was something different.
In the few seconds their hands touched, a jolt of electricity had shot up her heart. As she walked away from him, rather fast, Oiza knew she had lost this battle even before it started. It was only a matter of time.
“And that… was how the universe sealed our fate. Love does find us in the oddest place.” Oiza said, as she chocked back on happy tears.
The stage light bounced off her diamond ring as she sat next to her newly wed husband. He took her hand, placed it across his heart and looked in her glassy eyes.
“What do you think about this place?”
She bit her lower lip. “It’s aite.”
A lot of cute love stories are birthed in the place of service; I mean the NYSC year. If you have one you’d like to share, please do so in the comment section. We’d be looking forward to reading them.
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