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He was slightly nervous as he entered the Globacom Towers on Adeola Odeku Street on Victoria Island, Lagos. It was his first day at work...

He was slightly nervous as he entered the Globacom Towers on Adeola Odeku Street on Victoria Island, Lagos. It was his first day at work, and he wanted to make a good impression. He was slated to start work at 8:00AM. At 7:18, he was already at the gate. He showed one of the security men his letter of appointment. “Welcome to Globacom,” the security man said. “Thank you,” Chibuzo answered.  He was shown to the lobby where he waited. His department was still locked. About ten minutes later, one of the staffers in his department arrived. It was a lady. She got one of the security men to unlock the door. As she walked in, Chibuzo followed her. “So, who are you?” she asked him. “My name is Chibuzo Eze. I am a new staff in your unit.” “Oh! You are one of the new hires. We were told last week that new staffers would be resuming today. Good to have you here. We desperately need some new hands. Welcome. My name is Mariam,” she smiled as she shook his hand. She had a beautiful smile. Her low-cut hairstyle complemented her perfectly. She wore a black skirt, a black suit and a white top underneath the suit. Her black shoes matched her outfit. “Pleased to meet you Mariam,” Chibuzo said. “It is my pleasure too.” 

Mariam noticed the firmness of his hand. His broad shoulders could not be fully masked by his black suit. They stood firmly, registering their presence with boldness. He was clean-shaven and his smile left her slightly shy for a moment. What a handsome guy, she thought. He is only a little boy, Mariam. Stop admiring him, she cautioned herself. Soon, the office was buzzing like a beehive. The new staffers were introduced to everyone and assigned their various desks. Chibuzo was assigned a desk beside Mariam’s and he was to work under her for a start. By afternoon, Mariam left for lunch. The staff restaurant was the gossip mill of the Globacom towers. “Have you seen the new handsome guy in purchasing department? Bukola asked. “Which one? I saw many of them today,” answered Amaka. “The finest of the bunch. The one whose smile makes me want to melt into his arms,” Bukola clarified. “The tall muscular one with a baritone voice that makes me want to listen to him all day?” Yes!!! That one.” “I hear he is working with Mariam. Miimii, maybe your single days are over,” Bukola teased. “The guy is probably three years younger and we work together. I am definitely not up for that.” “So I can make my move on him since you are not interested?” Bukola asked. “I admire him for sure, but I am not dating the guy, so you don’t need my permission. He is very likely much younger. I don’t want to delve into those waters now.”

“Me too, I am interested,” Amaka chipped in. “You have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to be interested,” Bukola remarked jokingly. “Even the dead agree that the young man is ‘stunning’,” Ayo said. They all laughed. “No, I am serious. If I were dead and that guy came to my funeral, I would just jump out of my coffin and hug him like a child latching onto the mother,” Ayo emphasized. Another raucous laughter ensued. As the days went by, most girls came by to ask for one thing or the other from Chibuzo. Mariam would look at him sometimes and wish that he was not younger. She stuck to her job, managing to keep her admiration for Chibuzo subdued. “I am going your way Chibuzo. Do you want to ride with me?” Bukola asked Chibuzo one evening. She left her office a few minutes earlier to catch Chibuzo before he left. “I live in Ikorodu. I understand you live in Ikorodu too. I can drop you off on my way home,” she added. “Oh, that is fine by me. Thanks!” Chibuzo replied. Bukola could hear her heart beating. They chatted about work, university, family and politics as they weaved through thick Lagos traffic. 

“So, you are new in Lagos?” Bukola asked him. “Yes. I grew up in the east; in Owerri to be precise.” “I have been to Enugu and Onitsha but not Owerri. Maybe I can go with you someday,” Bukola added subtly.” “I love it there. You should definitely come someday.” “I would be most delighted to. So, I guess your girlfriend is coming to visit you soon or something like that?” “I don’t have one at present,” Chibuzo added. Bukola almost shouted “Hallelujah!!!” When she dropped him off, she promised to pick him up in the morning, and the trend continued for weeks. Bukola slowly became close to Chibuzo. Amaka was not about to be left out. She too asked Chibuzo out for lunch whenever she could steal him to herself. Soon, Chibuzo noticed that all the girls around the office where clamoring for his love…and attention. 

“It is my birthday next Friday but I will be having a party on Saturday. I’d love to have you there. Please don’t say no,” Ayo told him one afternoon after lunch. “Sure, I will be there,” he answered. At the party, Ayo, Bukola, Amaka, Chioma and Efe tussled over who would dance with him the most. Chibuzo’s feet were sore eventually. Each time he sat down to catch his breath; another girl came to drag him off his seat for a dance. Each of them made a clear, direct effort to smooch him during the dance. Mariam sat in the corner, observing everything, wishing she could yank them all off him and have him to herself. Despite her feelings, she sat tight as though she felt nothing for him.

Soon, they had a staff party and everyone was in their sexiest outfit. “I wonder why he has not asked any of us out.” Amaka noted. “I have been thinking of that,” Ayo said. “I may have to ask him out today if he does not make a move. How long are we going to fall all over him before he stops this game and declare where he stands? Efe said. “I don’t know which party he is supporting. He either stands with us or against us,” Bukola pointed out. “Unless he has a girlfriend he has not mentioned to us,” said Amaka. “He told me that he broke up with his girlfriend of five years. She cheated during youth service,” Bukola said. “The girl must have been sick. Maybe blind. Who leaves a guy like this to run after another man? Honestly, if Chibuzo dates me, I would shoot any other man that comes near me,” Efe said dramatically. “You are not alone in that category,” added Antonia who had been listening to their discussion. “Oh, you too have interest in the guy?” Bukola asked her. “You have no idea how any times I see the guy in my dream and by the time I wake up, I am only hugging my poor pillow. You should see my pillow now. It is like a starved child stricken down with acute kwashiorkor (malnutrition),” Antonia answered. The girls laughed. “I have squeezed the life out of my pillow thinking of Chibuzo,” she added. “Look at him. Look at those muscles flexing and rippling like ocean waves,” Amaka pointed out as Chibuzo walked towards them. 

As the party got into full swing, they danced and sang on the sandy shores of Lekki Beach. “Would you like to dance with me?” Chibuzo asked Mariam. She looked up, wanting to say yes with every breath that she drew, but she found herself gazing at him as if she had never seen him before. Her lips were hanging open and her eyes were shining as brightly as the sun that lit up the beach. Her hands shook slightly. “Dance?” She asked through a croaky voice. Her throat suddenly went dry. “Yes, Mariam. I would love to dance with you.” “I am not a good dancer,” she protested. Idiot!!! She thought silently to herself. Get up and dance with him for goodness sake!! She thought. “I am not a good dancer either. Just move…that is all you have to do.” “I have seen you dance before…at Ayo’s party. You are an excellent dancer.” “You don’t have to be one to dance though. You become one by dancing.” “Okay, I will dance with you…just for a short while.” “Thanks. Even for a minute, I’ll be most delighted,” he answered. Mariam got up, offered her hand to him and he took it as he led her to the dance floor. 

“What am I seeing?” Ayo exclaimed. She pointed at Chibuzo and Mariam. “I thought she said she was not interested?” Asked Bukola. “Maybe she is the reason he has been ignoring our coded overtures at him. “After all, they work together. Who knows what goes on when they are seated near each other at work,” said Efe. “I don’t blame her if she has fallen for him, said Amaka. “But she should own it up. “There is no shame in falling in love with a guy like Chibuzo, but when one does fall for a guy and pretends about it, that gets me mad,” Ayo said. She was fuming. Without meaning to, Mariam leaned into his chest and he held him closer to herself. She could perceive his perfume. It tickled her nostrils gently. She felt her knees creaking. They both rocked gently to the song, ‘I need you’ by Marc Anthony. “What if I told you that you were the most beautiful girl I ever saw?” Chibuzo asked. Mariam could feel her body shaking as though a tremor was going through her. She looked over his shoulders, not knowing what to say. She felt his strong arms holding her tightly, his perfuming caressing her senses and his strong, broad shoulders holding her weak body up. She barely moved as a million thoughts went through her mind. 

“I said something Miimii. I hope you don’t mind if I call you that.” “I don’t mind. It is okay.” “So?” “Thanks!” “Is that all you can say?” “You are an adorable guy Chibuzo – handsome, kind, smart and confident. All the girls at Globacom Towers are dying for you. I am sure you can take your pick. I have stood and watched all that unfold. I don’t want to get dragged into it.” “Are you saying that you and I can never date?” “I like you Chibuzo. I have to admit that but…” “But what?” “I am not ready to be attacked by those hawks over there.” “Is that all?” “I think…I know…” “What do you think and know Miimii?” “Am I not older than you are? I am sure you’d want to date a younger girl.” “I saw your date of birth somewhere Miimii. I am two years older than you are.” “Are you?” “Yes. I was born in 1992 and you were born in 1994.” “Yes, I was born in 1994. I thought you were much younger than myself.” “Is that why you have been avoiding me? You kept everything professional between us.” “Yes I did.” “But I could tell that you cared about me, nonetheless. And I care about you too. Your low-cut hair style, your smile, your laughter, your passion for life and your self carriage; they all drive me insane. You are the one I think of when I lie in bed at night.” 

“I told the girls over there that I was not interested in you. Now they are going to think I am a hypocrite.” “You worry a lot about what people think of you. You don’t like to let people down right?” “I don’t.” “That is one of the things I admire about you, but there comes a point in life when you stand up to be counted. You are fairly quiet…you stay in the background, but you are probably one of the most beautiful girls in this building. My friends whom I have shown your picture think the same of you, so it is not just me trying to tell you nice things.” “Thanks.” “Will you be my girlfriend?” “I don’t know how this is supposed to work, Chibuzo. We work together.” “I am leaving in a few weeks’ time, Miimii. I got a job with KPMG. I will be handing in my resignation next week.” “You thought all this out, didn’t you?” “Yes I did. When one meets an adorable girl like you, they have to make sure they don’t let her slip away. I have been at Glo for a short time, but it will forever remain one of the most important periods of my life. I got to meet you. Please, would you be my girlfriend?” “I am afraid, but everything in me wants you…I have wanted you from the moment I set my eyes on you Chibuzo. Yes, I will be your girlfriend. I am fragile. Please don’t break my poor heart.” “I won’t my dear. You are precious to me.” “Thanks. I will do my best to be a good girlfriend to you.” “And I will adore you every day.” 

“What did you pull off at the staff party on Saturday, Mariam?” Ayo asked her at lunch on Monday. “What do you mean?” “You said you had no interest in Chibuzo but we all saw you in his arms. You held him like you were going to die without him.” “So he is no longer older than you are?” Bukola added sarcastically. “We should have known that you were going to steal him, after all you work closely with him,” said Amaka. “I don’t blame you,” said Efe. “What annoys me is that you are pretentious about it.” “Enough!!!” Mariam shouted. “What is your problem? I Stayed away from Chibuzo like I said I would. I did not offer to dance with him. He asked me to dance with him. Did I ever say I did not like the guy? I like him with every air that I draw, but I was not willing to date him, because I believed he was much younger. He asked to dance with him, and I did, and in the process, I found out he is actually older. He asked me out and I said yes. 

“I never made the move. He asked me out. Is that a crime? Which of you here would not do the same thing? Would you have come to ask the rest of us for permission before saying yes to him? I am sorry if you all feel like that, but what I have just told you is the truth. I love him, and I am not ashamed of that! I have been single for as long as you all have known me. I always believed that I was not beautiful enough. I don’t have your long hairs. I lack your long legs and height. I am more on the quiet side, and I struggle to face guys boldly. Can’t you all be happy for me for once? I never for once made my feeling for Chibuzo known to him. He was the one that made the move on me. He loves me. Please don’t ruin this feeling for me. This is one of the happiest periods of my life. I expect you to be happy for me. Do you have to politicize everything? Do you have to fight over everything? Fight and gossip about everything? I did not double cross any of you. Please don’t think of me like that.” She stopped and looked at them. Her friends felt sorry for their aggressive and selfish behavior. “I am sorry Miimii,” said Bukola. “Me too,” Amaka said. Efe walked over to her and hugged her. “I am sorry Miimii. I should be happy for you. Congratulations!” They all hugged her.


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