When you told your friends you were now going out with Sade, all they did was shout “At last”, “I knew it”, “Welcome to the club”, “Oh boy, you lucky o, Sade na fine babe”. They did not sit you down to give you a proper orientation. In matters like this, girls are more practical. Of course, they still make the requisite hysterical shrieks when they hear such news, but afterwards, they sit down and share valuable tips: how to get things from you, how to use the silent treatment, how to protect their interests. With the boys, it’s just the slapping of backs, bumping of knuckles and sharing of drinks, then one of them talks about how he tricks his many girlfriends. They don’t tell you important things like why you should never forget her birthday; which is what you did last year.
After she started the silent treatment, you tried to make it up to her with gifts. You’ve always believed there’s only one valuable kind of gift: books, so you bought her four books and a pink journal. She loved the journal. She did not say anything about the books until last week when she cornered you as you left church.
“Hope you remember my birthday is next week.”
“Of course I do.” You did not.
“So what are you buying me?”
“I don’t know yet. Shouldn’t that be a secret?”
“Yes it should be, but I don’t want a book again.”
“Last week, my sister saw a box in my room labelled Books from Emma. We sat down to go through the books and I discovered I’ve read just about half of the books you’ve given me.”
You thought she liked books. A book, a mirror and a lip gloss were the permanent fixtures of her bag. You thought she was, like you, a believer in the omnipotence of books. You were hurt that she never mentioned the fact that she didn’t like books as much as you thought she did. You wondered about the many times you spent talking about books with her. Was she bored by those talks?
“So what should I get you?”
“I don’t know. Just make it something thoughtful. You know, like that time you got your mother a beautiful Da Viva and gave it to her tailor to sew a jacket.”
That was for your mother’s fiftieth birthday. It was the most elaborate gift you’d given anyone. “Okay, but…”
“Just put some thought into it. You remember Flora’s boyfriend?”
“For her birthday, he sent her a chocolate cake in the morning, took her to Dominoes Pizza in the afternoon and gave her a Michael Kors wristwatch. I’m not saying you should do all of that, just surprise me, okay?”
You know Alex. He’s a spoilt kid; the kind that will ask his parents for money to buy gifts for his girlfriend.
As you walk from store to store, turning over tags and shaking your head, you realise all the good things are above your five thousand naira budget. You had increased it from three thousand after she issued you that reminder. You walk into a shoe shop and go to the flats section. You think she like flats. She wears them every day and has all sorts of colours. You see a purple suede flat with silver details. You know she’ll like it, but you don’t know her size. You pull out your phone and open Whatsapp to text her roommate.
“Hi Flora, please what is Sade’s shoe size?”
“Wow! You want to get her a shoe?”
“A purple suede flat”
“NO. Don’t get her flats.”
“She has so many she gives them out now”
“You should buy her heels.”
“Oh! Okay. Thanks.”
You walk to the heels section. The cheapest is eight thousand naira. You shake your head, walk out of the shoe shop, walk out of the mall, flag down a bike and head to the bookstore.
Featured image by Emergency Brake via flickr