THREE YEARS EARLIER…
My heart skipped an actual beat, then it slowed down for a second or two, then it started racing so fast I could barely catch a breath. The reason for the odd behavior of my heart was standing, like a vision, right in front of me. He was the African version of Adonis, the Greek god. He was uncommonly tall, like six feet five inches, with a well-toned body and fantastic abs. I could see his abs because he had taken off his shirt in order to fix the vehicle he was hunkered over. If his body was beautiful, it was nothing compared to the face of this creature. His eyes were shaped like small almonds and their pupils were a deep brown, his nose was straight and pointed, his lips were slim and sensual and his skin was an even caramel hue.
He stood up and stretched out and I marveled at the way his muscles rippled in unison with all his stretching movements. Amina nudged me awake, “I’m glad you approve,” she said sarcastically, “although I’m not sure if ‘approve’ isn’t an understatement. Heh! Heh!”
“Very funny Mina”, I said rolling my eyes toward the sky.
“Umar! Umar! I’m home!” Amina was positively shrieking at the top of her voice as she ran toward her elder brother. He jumped a little at the sound of her voice, turned around with a slight look of surprise on his face and then, when it finally dawned on him what was happening, he broke into a smile that did the impossible: made him even more perfect than he previously was. He swept his little sister into his arms and laughed joyously, “So how is our little degree holder doing?”
“I’m fine! I’m fine!” came the laughing reply, “Oya put me down! Haba! People will think I am the elder child here. I came in to open the gate, seeing as how my horn is bad, but I didn’t think you would be home”.
“Oh? I’m on leave oh! I was supposed to hang out with Yaro and the other boys, but this car…” he kicked the wheel of the car in a burst of pure anger. I noticed a shadow of fear cross Mina’s face, but it was gone so quickly that I was not sure if it was ever there. Then she said with a smile, “Haba Umar! Geskiya, it’s not such a big deal. I mean I can see Mama’s car in the driveway, and even if she is going out, you can use mine now I’m home.” He smiled and said, “Minnie babe, but you are a life saver, geskiya, a real life saver!”
“Whatever boy!”, even though I could see that she was blushing. I had watched this exchange between brother and sister intently, well, okay I had watched the brother intently because I was hoping that he would raise his eyes away from his sister long enough to notice me, but I was fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate because his steady gaze never once left his tiny sister’s face so I could drink in his delicious looks to my satisfaction, unfortunate because the fact that he took no notice of me made me feel a little awkward and insecure. I began to fidget and wish I hadn’t come home with Mina. Just at that moment I heard Mina say again, “Come meet my friend Tayo from school. Mum said she could rent the boys quarters during our service year.”
She was pointing in my direction as she made this declaration and his gaze followed her finger. When he saw me he started, and then he smiled that fabulous smile of his, he strolled toward me and stuck out his hand, “I’m guessing you are the famous Tayo, right? Minnie mouse can’t stop talking about you, apparently you are Minnie’s role model. You know she is always saying, ‘Tayo this’ and ‘Tayo that’. We were beginning to wonder how she would survive after school. Apparently she and my mom worked it out.”
“H… hi … I guess”, I gave my greeting laughingly because he had somehow managed to put me at ease. Umar laughed with me and then stuck his hand out again, “it seems I have put you at a disadvantage. I know who you are but you don’t know who I am.” He smiled again, “Well, I…”
“You’re Umar Tijani, Mina’s beloved elder brother, about whom I am sure I know every intimate detail, seeing as how she cannot shut her mouth up about how fabulous you are. And speaking of role models, I thought you were hers.” I pulled a wry face and Umar and Mina burst into delighted gales of laughter. “Well!”, Amina exclaimed, “You guys seem to have saved me the trouble of an introduction and you seem to be getting along. Phew!”
I jumped when I heard Mina screech my name like that. I mean, I was already a little pissed off because my car had refused to start, spoiling my plans to hang out for a little while. So I turned toward her with the intention of berating her, or taking out my anger on her. I, however, noticed through the corner of my eye that there was someone behind her, so I forced a smile on my face and steeled my self for her ebullient greetings.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my tiny younger sister to the end of the world, but she couldn’t have chosen a more wrong time to come home. Luckily, I remembered in time that she had just graduated and that was why she was home. I think I might have congratulated her, but I am not really sure because I was barely paying attention to a word she was saying. All I wanted was a car to get out of the house that day, so my mind was wandering, but I am almost sure we had a pretty decent conversation.
“…be home.” At those words I actually began to listen to the little dear.
“Oh? I’m on leave oh! I was supposed to hang out with Yaro and the other boys”, at this point in my explanation I started getting a bit frustrated, “but this car…” I hit the car in frustration and ‘Minnie me’ backed up a bit and started blubbering something about my mom’s car being available, but what caught my attention was when she offered me her car. I let the angry expression fade from my face and put on a face of extreme gratitude, hugging her and promising her the world in return for her “favor”. The little thing looked so grateful and relieved I almost felt sorry for her. Well, not really, but you know!
When I turned to look at the guest, I felt like something had slammed into my stomach. She was beautiful, if beautiful is not an understatement. Then I noticed something, any time, she tried to look me in the eye she had to turn away. A slow smile spread across my face as it dawned on me. This lovely piece of art was shy; hence she could be controlled. I stood up a little taller and strode toward her as Minnie me skipped ahead to make the introductions.
When I got close to her I recognized her from pictures ‘Minnie me’ had showed. She was Tayo something or other from Amina’s school. Apparently ‘Minnie me’ had been so taken in by something in the young lady’s personality that she was all she ever spoke about when she came home for holidays. So when Mina begun to introduce her, I interrupted with a bow and said, “I’m guessing you are the famous Tayo, right? Minnie mouse can’t stop talking about you; apparently you are Minnie’s role model. You know she is always saying, ‘Tayo this’ and ‘Tayo that’. We were beginning to wonder how she would survive after school. Apparently she and my mom worked it out.”
I was watching Tayo closely as I said this and I knew that I had struck gold when she visibly relaxed and said with a relieved laugh, “H… hi … I guess”. I laughed and she joined me. At this point I was fairly sure that I would be able to get her to date me. It was just up to me to decide whether or not I wanted to date her, so I stuck out my hand and said, “It seems I have put you at a disadvantage. I know who you are but you don’t know who I am…” I took a breath and smiled and she used that time to interrupt, “You’re Umar Tijani, Mina’s beloved elder brother, about whom I am sure I know every intimate detail, seeing as how she cannot shut her mouth up about how fabulous you are. And speaking of role models, I thought you were hers.” I could tell she was trying to be funny, so I let the fact that she had interrupted me slide. She pulled a funny face and we all burst into laughter. Mina said something and we all laughed. At this point my phone rang.