Story Series

HARRIET GATE: THE UNTOLD TALE OF LOVE AND LIES

    On the 15th day of September, 2006, I was taking a stroll on the corridor of the Faculty of law during my undergraduate days when I saw a pretty, chocolate-skinned, mid-height, curvy and rotund lady with swinging hips swerving across my face bestriding the expansive space.
   
    What struck me was not just her ravishing beauty but her carefree innocent looks or so it seemed. Her teeth were big and sparkling white, just the way I liked them. She had only light make up on, and adorned the regulation dress for law students (white and black).
    I asked her what her name was and she briskly said, “Harriet” flashing a penetrating smile which sent cold shivers down my willing spine.
    I thereafter discovered she was my two years junior at the varsity. I decided to get close to her because I wasn’t dating anyone and I resented having an emotional relationship with my classmates on the correct presumption that such relationships rarely worked.
     I once opined that a man is not the mate of his female age mate as women are 5years more mature than their male counterparts. As such, a much younger person in age, class and experience was my emotional specificity and Harriet easily fitted in.
    We hit it off immediately and we became an inseparable item. I noticed that Harriet had the picture of a ‘dude’ on the screen saver of her NOKIA E5 phone but decided not to ask who it was out of maturity. It was obvious that it would be her boyfriend and not her grandfather!
     One thing led to another, we started chatting, visiting, and early October, we started dating. My elderly friend and classmates advised me severally against dating an ‘alien’  especially because I had little or no emotional experience prior to that time. But all entreaties fell on deaf ears.
    I visited her regularly till late in the night in her hostel and all her friends and roommate took a liking to me apparently due to my matchless generosity.
   I observed one day that the picture of that guy whom I later found out was Emmanuel, had swiftly disappeared from Harriet’s phone. His picture which was hitherto placed on Harriet’s table had been replaced with mine and I grimaced with a grin.
    Her roommates were always looking forward to my frequent visits as I never came empty-handed. Sometime with a benefit of hindsight, I felt they all masterminded to scoop freebies from me due to the unhidden affection I had for Harriet; so much that whenever I knocked on her door, running legs of scampering feet in striking similitude with the leviathan of the emirate as If clearing the ‘debris’, hiding the showing legs of deceit and cleansing the Augean stable always greeted my arrival.
   My car then, a Mitsubishi Galant was a prominent feature in her hostel premises as it ploughed that axis without end, seeking my ‘love’- Harriet, so much that I never bothered to check on my younger sister who lived in the same hostel.
   Seeing Harriet was bliss eternal as hearing her voice alone pumped my adrenaline without end. I remember getting to her hostel one day after promising to take her to Village Kitchen- the African cuisine arm of Mr. Biggs. I called her to notify her of my presence, and she replied, “We will be with you shortly!”
    I couldn’t believe my ears and I decided to blame the blurry conversation on crappy network. My instinct told me to speed off as far my legs could press the throttle as that was a clear invite to ‘magahood’ but my affectionate ‘mumuism’ mind beckoned on me to wait and find out that my ear was not even playing a fast one on me.
   Within 10 minutes, Harriet arrived with a barrage of 4 other female friends! I asked with a frown,  ”Are we going for a picnic?”
    She touched me at the back of my head down to my neck, pressing my mumu button, looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Common darling. I told them we had a date and they asked If they could tag along, and I said Yes that you would do anything for me. You wouldn’t mind,  would you?’
     Sheepishly, I nodded in negation, affirming her proposal by ratification. My acted frown promptly dissolved into a sensational smile and we exited the compound for the culinary jamboree. They ate like starved bulls and bought take away packs all on le boo’s bill. I didn’t feel used because I was buoyant. I returned them to campus afterwards. I gave because I had, not because they were smart, I thought (still mumu thinking).
   I was getting tired of what the world’s idea of a relationship meant as I gained nothing in return for my emotional investment and economic expenditure as a chaste no-sex thinking guy except a few hugs and occasional kisses. I tagged along all the same in a bid to feel among.
    Harriet told me one day in school that her ’21st’ birthday was coming up on the 21st day of October and would like to have a big celebration. I began to sweat profusely like a Christmas goat as that only meant one thing- a quick erosion of my fast-depleting finances.
    I summoned courage to give my love a special treat she would never forget in a hurry. Preparations began in earnest. She told me one Thursday morning that her ‘friend’-Emmanuel (remember that guy?) sent her some money to celebrate her birthday. She begged me to drive her down to her bank in town so she could withdraw it.
   I took her to the now defunct Intercontinental Bank on Bank road to withdraw the cash. I was shocked to the bone marrow when I discovered he only sent N2,500 all the way from Lagos. I almost ventilated my anger on her as I used about N700 fuel to convey her to and fro because of just N2500. It felt to me like paying a cow to claim a goat.
    I was undeterred and unperturbed still as I spent generously on the forthcoming birthday gig as though it was a wedding preparation. I gave her N36,000 for 6 cartons of turkey, N8,000 for a bag of rice, N25,000 for a giant-size teddy bear cake, N20,000 for 2 lovely birthday dresses, N50,000 for a new phone, N25,000 on her hairdo and make-up for her and her four evil friends, N30,000 to rent a hall, N25,000 for the Disc Jockey and many other expenses too numerous and bizarre to mention!
   I was in her hostel unannounced on the birthday prior to the event billed to hold at night to drop 5 x 50 litre kegs of catfish which I had bought at N42,000 in company of one of my younger friends, Tunde.
     Then I saw that familiar face seen severally in pictures, Emmanuel sitting relaxed like a Lord of the manor on Harriet’s bed, holding a fried turkey which he munched away like a fat carefree bullock!
    The door was left ajar, some  friends were frying a heap mound of turkey and assorted meat in a corner of the room. They asked who I was but immediately knew when my boys brought in the catfish.
    One of Harriet’s friend who returned to pick something from the room saw the rage in my eyes as she found the awkward situation. She called me without end as I stepped out of the room in a visibly distraught lack of consciousness.
   My younger friend, Tunde was thoroughly miffed and he advised that we take away the fried turkey, return the catfish to the seller and call off the celebration. But I dismissed his advice as cruel and immature. (Wish I had taken his advice though).
    You know what angered me most? Emmanuel greeted me and thanked me for my ‘generosity’! Na so my head spark!!!!!!
Watch out for Episode 2…
-‘Tosin Ayo,
(The ‘word bank’)

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