I’d always loved Onus. He was what everyone would call the perfect man. Every female loved him. The three month old gurgled and laughed at his every tickle. The three year old cried excitedly, ‘Uncle Onus cawwy me!’ The 13 year old thought he was the best big brother figure in the world. I mean who else will let you drive their car from the car park to the gate. The 23 year old was in love with him. The 53 year old wished him to be her son in law. He was just almost perfect.
We were close. Too close. Despite this closeness, he kept details of his relationships to the barest minumum. The only give aways on his love life were the ‘I’m with her’, ‘we’re having problems’, ‘it’s over between us’ statements. I never probed. He’d always been a man of few words and this is among the qualities that endeared me to him. It always felt like there was more to him than he gave off and there was.
He was with Slyvie for almost 4 years. Theirs was a rocky relationship, off and on. Secretly, I was the happiest person on earth when he announced to me that they had finally decided to go their separate ways. She had found someone new and although he was still single, he had a few ‘maybes’ on the side and wasn’t too keen on anything serious for now. I was very elated by the news though I hid it well. I comforted him and called on him as often as I could manage. He seemed to be dealing with the break up quite well.
Why couldn’t Onus just see that I am perfect for him! Veronica and Simeon my other best friends said it was my fault that Onus just couldn’t see me as a potential. I was not sexy. I would drive to his house in my unbathed body wearing yesterday’s clothes. I would fart in his presence and carry on talking like nothing happened. I looked at the line up of girls he had dated. Ayomikun was the least pretty and she was pretty. Well, maybe not pretty but what she lacked in facial beauty, she made up for with her toned, athletic physique. Shola was the most beautiful and she was always well put together. His most recent ex, Sylvie, was the most intimidating of the lot. She is mixed race so in a way hers is an unfair comparison.
I decided to take the advice I was given. ‘First ditch this ‘Team Natural’ business and invest in a relaxer. You don’t even need to fix. Just have straight hair. Wear less boot cut jeans and more skinny ones. Add on a few heels and for the love of God, shapen those brows that are threatening to merge’.
This makeover cost me my entire salary for the month of August. I went to shops in Adeniran Ogunsanya and bought some fitted skirts, skinny jeans, sheer blouses, high heels and even make up! I never used more than powder and lip gloss but now I had a full make up bag along with some training on how to use my new purchases. God bless that attendant who took out a whole hour to show me how to use a mascara, eye pencil and blush!
My next stop was Make Me, also in Surulere. Blessing almost passed out when she saw me holding a pack of relaxer.
‘You are not planning to use that, are you?’ she asked.
‘Actually, I am’.
After almost 10 minutes of finding out if I was sure, she put the first scoop on my virgin hair. I had been natural for 23 months. But if having natural locks was making me lose out on what could be the best thing in my life, then it’s gotta go. I must admit the result was impressive. My hair had grown so long. I had them put rollers in it and straighten the curls out after. My makeover for Onus’ love was almost complete.
We attend the same Church in Yaba and so the next day was supposed to be my day of showing forth. I picked out skinny brown pants Veronica had given me six months ago which I just didn’t know what to match it with. I decided to wear one of my new sheer blouses, the cream one. As much as the idea of colour blocking intrigued me, I was going to play safe today. I completed the look with my four inch beige platformed shoes. After almost 30 minutes of making up, I was ready to go!
It was a Sunday morning so I figured if I tell a lie, I could go to Church and ask for mercy and so I told a lie. I dialled Onus’ line. ‘Hey dude, wassup? (Shoot! Veronica warned me against calling him ‘dude’. Too tomboyish, she said. ‘If you don’t have the courage to say ‘babe’ then just call him his name’)
‘Hi Temilade, how are you doing?’
‘Good good. Onus, my car is having issues (I figured saying ‘issues’ made it less of a lie) and I was wondering if you could come pick me up to Church or maybe Aunty Gbemi can drop me at yours on her way to her Church’.
‘No issues. I’ll come get you. 9:25 cool?
‘Yes. That’s fine’.
It was 9:05. So I spent the remaining 20 minutes refreshing my makeup . I added more blush then reduced it then added a little more. I dabbed on red lipstick thinking my nude colour was too boring. And then, I went to the living room and looked at myself in the floor to ceiling mirror for almost 3 minutes. Just as I was smiling at my reflection, a BBM came through. It was Onus telling me he was outside.
I quickly picked up my clutch and my Bible and jotter and almost tripped as I reached for the door. Mental note to self: you have to walk carefully in these instruments called heels. As I asked Musa, the gateman to open the door, I patted my hair down for the umpteenth time staring at my reflection in my little sister’s Picanto. Calmly, I walked to the gate and opened it to see Onus’ tinted red Mazda. I carefully navigated myself to the right hand side and opened the door ready to place my heeled left foot in. To my shock, a girl was seated there. Not just a girl, a beautiful girl. Onus had outdone himself this time.
I sheepishly proceeded to the back seat. I had to move an overnight bag in order to be able to sit properly. I also had to ask the girl to adjust her seat as my legs are quite long plus the heels added more inches. To make matters more awkward, the babe goes, ‘can you stretch out your legs to the back of Onus’ seat so that way you are less discomfited?’ Discomfited? Who uses such words except in books? I wonder internally.
After a few minutes of putting into action her suggestion, Onus says, ‘Lade, meet Ibiso, my girlfriend. Ibiso, this is Lade’. She turns around and gives me the brightest smile I have ever seen. ‘Hi Lade, I have heard so much about you’.
I was mute.
Disclaimer: *a piece of art on a lazy Friday morning*