That must have been the one millionth time he would be saluting me over the phone. And each time he did, I would respectfully tell him he had got the wrong number. But no, his call would wake me up by 3:00am the next day and all he had to say was Salaam-Alaikum.
It was a hectic day at work; Femi and my humble self had just attended an exhausting meeting with a demanding client and we were on our way back to the office when Femi decided to conduct a quick transaction at the Bank. Femi was our Senior Account Officer and he needed to pay the contractors who had come to do some structural adjustments to our office space the other day. Whilst he proceeded to the banking hall at the third floor to make the transfer to the contractor’s account, I waited patiently for him in the banking hall downstairs. This particular hall was designed for low scale transactions. And as was usually the case, this hall was crowded. Tellers sat at their respective counters, attending to all and sundry.
As I sat in my seat, I could not help but notice the faces of everyone who came into the bank. Each face told a tale. Some were tales of expectations, others were tales of frustration. Then I saw this particular young, beautiful female face which bore both tales. I could see the young face wanted something and the face was sad that it did not get what it wanted. It was such a disheartening sight. I could have sworn it was the most beautiful, sad female face I had ever seen, but that would be a lie because I have a girlfriend who is the most beautiful woman in the world and I have seen her sad a few times. So yes, this particular face was beautiful and sad on this day – just like my girl’s on a few occasions. And my God, she was shapely too!
So, what does a busyless young man who was sitting in a crowded banking hall do with a sad beautiful face that reminded him of his girl? Brighten her up.
The lie I told myself for deciding to hit on another woman: help brighten her up.
She is sad and the only reason God put you on this earth is to come be her saviour and help relieve her of her sadness. When you were formed in your mother’s womb, God already knew that, a day would come when you would meet a young sad woman in a banking hall and it would be your God-ordained duty to make her happy.
So, I stood up from my seat and started approaching my God-ordained target. She had just been attended to by the Teller at the counter and apparently, he gave her some bad news. Maybe she wanted to make some withdrawals from her account but she did not have sufficient balance. God forbid that this was the reason for her sadness. I did not have a kobo to spare on a random stranger, irrespective of her beauty and shape.
Before I could make my way through the crowd to where she was standing, she had already made her way out of the banking hall and into the street.
Do I go after her? What if Femi finishes with his transaction upstairs and cannot find me?
Prior to today, it had been eons since I last chased after a random girl in public. What do I say to her?
Hi. I saw you a while ago and I like you. I think you look like Esther in the Bible …Can I have your number?
Please “Epp” me.
Just like that?
Well, today was the day I found out if I still had it in me. The thing about staying faithful in a committed relationship is that you begin to lose your “market” ratings.
So, I decided to go after this young beautiful woman. The closer I got to her, the farther she walked. She turned into the next street, and then the one after that and the one after that. I walked some distance behind her, buying time and calculating what I would say when I met her. I did not want to come out as some stalker – which obviously I was fast becoming.
She walked into a “business centre” complex. I waited at the gate of the complex, my head bowed, thinking my game was up. There was no way I would walk into the business centre with her, to start my silly misguided chat. Not with the crowd of people that were likely to be at the centre.
As I pondered over what could have been, I saw her walk right out of the business centre and headed for the gate where I stood. This was my chance.
As she got to the gate, I decided to be the man my father thought I was and stopped her in her tracks.
“Hi,” I said in my most upper-class accent.
She looked at me with puzzled eyes.
“Sorry for doing this,” I said, licking my upper lip. There was something about licking one’s upper lip when talking, especially if one is a guy. I had heard girls find it attractive. “I saw you in the banking hall a while ago and I thought that …umm…”
“You were at the bank?”
“Umm, yeah.” I said, smiling sheepishly.
“And you followed me here?”
The smile drained from my face.
“Before I could walk up to you in the banking hall, you had already left,” I said, a little flustered. “Umm, hi, I am Michael. I noticed you in the banking hall and there was this part of me which longed to talk to you.”
I waited for her aggressive and cold response. Even I was not convinced by my own pick-up line. It sounded jaded and off-point.
There was this part of me which longed to talk to you? That should be the worst pick up line she had ever heard.
To my surprise, she smiled at my attempt at being cool. She smiled beautifully. She smiled beautifully at me.
I smiled back.
“A part of you longed to talk to me?” she re-echoed with dimpled cheeks. Her dimples were flawless.
“What part of you is that?”
“My heart. My heart longed to talk to you.”
“Wow,” she said, almost inaudibly. I could see she was impressed. “And you came all this way…”
“To talk to you,” I completed her statement, squinting my eyes. Sexy as mad. “But I can see you are somewhat in a hurry… If you don’t mind, I would like to have your number so I can tell you later in the day, what my heart has got to say.”
I could not believe I had just asked for her number. I, who was in a committed relationship, had just hit on a random woman and asked for her number.
“Oh, umm,” she stuttered. “Umm, okay. Can I have your phone?”
I gave her my phone and she keyed in her digits.
“And…. you will be?” I asked.
“Christabel. Christabel Ugo.”
“Christabel Ugo, right. You looked a little disturbed at the banking hall…”
“Yes, I wanted to pay my tuition fees but I was told my school did not have an account with the Bank. I just got an admission into the National Open University and I have to pay my fees today as today is the deadline.”
“Oh, so what are you going to do now?”
“I came to the business centre to get some information from the school website about another Bank…”
“Ah, I see. Any luck?”
“Yes, fortunately for me, the school has an account with another bank just down this road. I must really be on my way now.”
“Oh yes, you must. Thank you for your time and I’ll give you a call…”
“My phone is switched off at the moment..”
“I’ll call later.”
And with that, the second most beautiful female face I had seen walked away.
As I rushed back to the bank, I tried to dial Christabel’s number so it could be stored on my phone call log. I would save the number later.
Just as I dialled the call icon, I lost network connection on my phone for a split second. That split second proved to be costly as, my phone did not store the call attempt in the call log. The hairs on my neck stood, my face became red and I started sweating. All my efforts had just gone with the wind.
But I would not give up so easily. I decided to go around the street, searching for any bank. I saw a few and quickly scanned their banking halls but Christabel was not in any. After about twenty minutes without success, I gave up and headed back to the bank where Femi was already waiting for me in the car at the car park just in front of the bank.
“Where have you been?” he asked.
“I came out to use the bank’s ATM but it was not dispensing cash, so I decided to use another bank’s just down the road,” I answered as I searched for “Christabel Ugo” on Facebook with my phone.
The ease with which we lie.
“Oh. I was about lodging a “missing person” report,” Femi teased.
My face smiled. My heart did not.
Just as Femi made to put the gear in reverse mode, I spotted Christabel in the side mirror, walking past our car. In that split moment, I told Femi I had just spotted an old friend of mine from college and would like to speak with her. Before he could respond, I alighted from the car and rushed towards Christabel.
“Christabel!” I called from behind. She turned around.
“Hey,” she said.
“Sorry I did not save your number when you gave it to me…If you don’t mind…”
Before I completed that, she reached out for my phone and gave me her number again. I dialled it this time around to make sure it was stored in my phone’s call log.
“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll ring you.”
With that, we went our separate ways again.
Back at the office, I could not wait to share my interesting story with some of the guys. But just before then, I decided to actually save Christabel’s name against her number. I knew I would not call her until after three days. This was the unwritten code of life for men:
Keep her wondering why you have not called. Did you not find her fascinating anymore? Was it her breath? Did it stink when she spoke? Her make up? Did she not use enough make up? Or was it rather too much? How about her…Oh my God.
Whilst saving the number, I discovered that, a digit was missing! The number was not complete. I had just toiled in vain. This realisation made me sick instantly.
Then an idea came to my head – try different number combinations by randomly adding a digit from 0 – 9 at the end of the Christabel’s number. One of it was sure to be hers.
And so my next journey began. I started trying different number combinations by adding random digits from 0 – 9.
Every number combination I tried was invalid. I kept trying the number combination thing. And then, one of such combinations went through. Well, almost went through, but for the fact that the phone was switched off. At this point, I remembered Christabel saying to me earlier in the day,” My phone is switched off at the moment.”
Yes! That must be her number!
I saved that particular number for later.
Later that evening, I decided to check if Christabel’s number was still switched off. The time was 8:31pm. To my surprise, it rang on the first try.
Yes! Yes! Yes!!!
And a voice came on the other end. But it was a masculine voice saying “Salaam-Alaikum, Salaam-Alaikum, Salaam-Alaikum.”
And there began my punishment for hitting on a random girl and getting her number. The masculine voice called every day and night to say “Salaam-Alaikum”. And each time the man did, I would respectfully tell him he had got the wrong number. But no, his call would wake me up by 3:00am the next day and all he had to say was Salaam-Alaikum.
Note: Salaam-Alaikum – Peace be unto you.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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