The first time I saw her, she was standing right in front of our office, holding a huge bag in her hand. She was talking to the guys in the basement. I thought she was looking for someone but I later learned she was a lady who came around often to sell. That huge bag in her hand had a lot of things she was selling. Her customers are salary workers. She sold to them on credit so they could pay back on payday. I worked in the same office with the CEO of the company and that place was a no-go area for her and her business. It was the reason why it took me a long time to see her.
Another day, I saw her climbing upstairs with her things in her hands. She was struggling to keep her balance. The staircase was too long and tiring even for those who climbed without a load. I asked myself, “Why won’t she use the lift instead?” Anyway, it was none of my business so I moved on.
One afternoon after lunch, I was waiting in front of the lift when she passed by with her huge load, sweating and trying to keep balance on the heels she was wearing. She was heading for the stairs. I called her, “Young woman, wouldn’t it be easier if you used the lift instead?” She smiled shyly. She said, “I don’t know how to operate it. Also, I get scared when I’m in an enclosed space like that. I feel like the thing would stop midway and I would get trapped and wouldn’t know which of the buttons to press.” I smiled. I said, “Come, I will help you.” A few seconds later the lift opened and we entered. I asked, “Which floor?” She answered, “I’m going to the accounts. Which floor is that?” I tapped on 3 and waited. Immediately the lift started going up she held me. She said, “Sorry. It took off so suddenly.” I said, “No problem. If you use it often you’ll get used to it.”
I was looking at her from the mirror. She looked afraid. She looked like someone who couldn’t wait to step out of that tiny space. A bird in a cage kind of experience for her. She looked beautiful. Even in her state of fear and anxiety. I asked her, “What’s your name?” I was only trying to take her attention off the fear. She said, “Tricia.” I said, “Tricia, I see you here often. What do you do?” “I come here to sell. I have nice products for ladies and gents. I have a perfume you’ll love…”
Ding… the arrival bell rang and we stepped out. I was walking away when she said, “Wait let me show you the perfume. You’ll love it.”
I waited. She showed me the perfume and I paid for it. She looked for me anytime she came around. Sometimes, she brought items I was interested in. Somedays, she wore dresses that drew my attention to her. I was interested in her and not what she was ready to sell to me. For several weeks I bought nothing from her but she kept coming. One day she told me, “Whatever you need, just tell me. If I don’t have it here, I will get it for you the next time I’m coming around.” I gave her my number and took her number. I said, “I will call you when I need anything.”
One Saturday afternoon I called her. She asked if I needed something. I went straight to the point, “Yeah, I need something. Can we meet today or tomorrow so we talk about it?” She asked where and I told her to decide on that. Later in the afternoon, we met. She asked what I wanted I said, “You.” She laughed. “Are you serious?” She asked me. I said, “I’m serious. It’s you I want. I’ve seen you around for some time now. I’ve assessed your ways and I like to be part of your life.” She said, “You like this life I’m living? Peddling things on my shoulders from floor to floor? A life I’m trying to run away from? You like it?”
So that day, we sat for hours. I wanted to know her story. How it all began. How she started peddling things from floor to floor. She completed the university three years prior. She started looking for a job right after that. She moved from office to office peddling her CVs but she didn’t get the opening she was looking for. That was when she started selling things because she had bills to pay and a life to live. “So far so good,” She said. “I’m still looking for a job but when it comes to relationships, I’m already in one so I don’t think I can be in another one. Sorry about that.”
I felt a stab in my heart. Like a dagger had been pushed in too deep. I asked, “You have a boyfriend? Wow, that hurts.” She smiled. She continued saying sorry. She said, “It would have been a different story if he wasn’t in my life. We’ve done three years already. We’ve come too far to look back.” I did the honorable thing. I said, “I wish you well. I will be a friend then.”
To kill off the feeling I had for her, I started seeing her less and less. When she came around looking for me, I gave her excuses. When she had something to sell I told her I already had it. When we met in the lift we couldn’t look at each other in the eyes. But she never stopped coming around until I told myself, “Fuck it. That’s not the way to go if you want to win the heart of a woman. I will rather hang around. There are always low-hanging fruits I can lift my hand and pluck.”
We met again and this time it was friendly. We talked about life and how her relationship was going. We gossiped about the office. She told me about the guys there who had proposed to her. “It looks like I’d become an easy target but I know what I come around for and I’ll stick to the script.” I wanted her to stop the work she was doing so badly that I started sniffing around for an opportunity for her. I spoke to a friend in the recruitment agency. I told her to do anything within her powers to get her a job and I’ll personally pay for her services.
It took my friend only three months to get Tricia a job. I remember the happiness in her eyes the day she told me about the employment. She was full of thanks and was ready to lie on the floor for me. “What are friends for?” I said. But it looked like everything I did for her pushed her closer to getting married to her boyfriend. That’s what the job did for her. Her boyfriend was only waiting for her to get a job so they could get married. She said, “That is the arrangement. That I’ll get a job, save for a year, and get married afterward.”
I didn’t hear from her as I used to when she started working. I didn’t see her like we used to. She said she was busy; “Work is so tiring that I go home with a broken body. That’s why I’m unable to see you.” Later she said, “I know what you want from me and there’s no way I can give you that. That’s why I’m trying not to meet you. I don’t want to fan the flame.” Another time she said, “I don’t think it’s fair. It’s not right for me to visit you when I have a boyfriend. He won’t be happy if he sees me visiting another man, especially when that man is interested in me.”
The excuses kept coming until I decided to cut the cord that ran right through us. I stopped calling. I stopped texting. I tried to stop thinking about her. All communication ceased for close to a year. I had moved on. I tried my luck on a lady in my church. She later told me she was in a committed relationship. ‘You see that guy playing the keyboard?” She said. “I’m in a committed relationship with him. We’ve been going for two years now.”
All of a sudden, it felt like every woman I wanted was already taken.
One afternoon, Tricia called. She said it had been a long time. I said, “Yeah it’s been that long. Good to hear from you.” I was waiting to hear the reason why she called but she didn’t give any reason. A day later, she called again. Her calls kept coming every day. She was texting too. She said, “Don’t you see I’ve become a good girl these days? I’ve been calling and texting you every day. You have to big me up for that.” People don’t wake up one day and decide to change. Change comes from a reason. I wanted to know. I said, “Yeah, I noticed but I’ve been wondering why. Anyway, it’s always a good day when I hear from you.” She said, “If you ask me to visit you, I will. I have a lot of free time these days.”
One afternoon she came to my place. She was overly happy and jiggy. She walked with never-seen freedom in her strides. She spoke very fast and was confident in the things she said. In the evening when she was about to leave she said, “It didn’t work out and I want you to know. We’ve been apart for the last four months. As you can see, I’m a happy person now. There were too many red flags I ignored. I wasn’t working. I needed his support. Even when he fooled around, I forgave him easily but he didn’t see the need to change so I changed. I left him.”
All of a sudden, it felt like the one woman I always wanted was no longer taken. What she said sounded like the popular meme on social media that reads, “Do you remember that time I said I was taken? Well, they have returned me.” Her wounds were fresh though she looked happy. I wasn’t ready to jump into it immediately. I told her, “I’m glad to see you happy. I’m always around for you. Call when you need me.”
Our friendship picked the kind of speed that usually lands people in trouble. We didn’t know where it would land us but we decided to enjoy the ride. I saw her every day. On weekends we went to parties together. I could look at her amorously and feel no guilt. She’ll catch me looking at her and she’ll pose and ask, “You like this view, or I should change my style?”
I took her to her place one evening and saw someone sitting right in front of her door. It was around 11pm. When the person saw us he got up and started walking towards us. It was her ex. He said, “Oh so it’s because of this guy that you don’t pick up my calls? Or you think you’ll walk away just like that after everything I’ve done for you?” He turned to me, “Bro, you know she’s my girlfriend right?”
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Tricia responded, “He knows everything about you. If you think you’ll use these antics to destroy my relationship with others, you better think again. And don’t ever let me see you at my door like this again. I swear I will make a case against you if it happens again.” He rushed for her hand and I jumped in front of him. “You heard what she said. Don’t try to intimidate her. It won’t work.” He started shouting on top of his voice. The whole idea was to create a scene. He screamed, “When you were out there peddling items from office to office, no one liked you then. I was there with you, providing support. You have a job now so they are coming after you but remember who was there when you were a nobody.”
He kept screaming while we walked past him and entered the room. He never stopped coming. Unfortunately for him, whenever he came around, he came to meet me. He realized soon that I was not a push-over kind of a guy so he stopped coming and instead resorted to text messaging; begging and pleading to be accepted back. Tricia’s attitude towards him during those times said only one thing; that she had moved on and nothing would make her go back. I was acting strong but I was scared she might run back to him. You know some women and the kind of access they give to their exes. She stood firm. She dusted him off her shoulder.
Four years later, we are here raising the product of our marriage; a year and a half old boy we named Eden. Eden because what we have here is a garden of Eden. We water what needs to be watered. We prune what needs pruning. But most importantly, we bury what ought to be buried so when it rains, it will sprout into a new beginning. Love isn’t easy. Sometimes you wait and you lose. Sometimes, you wait and make the wait worth your while. I waited to have this. Now that it’s here, I’m doing all it takes to make the best out of it.
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