At Tola’s Party (by Jumoke Caxton-Martins)

Hello Charlie,

(I hope it is still ok for me to call you that),

Now, I do not even know how to start. I am not sure you would remember me. Yet, when I consider how we met and all that happened between us, I am convinced that you cannot forget me. You looked into my eyes with all of you when we were together. However, that could have been because of the drinks. A little birdie said all the drinks at that party were spiked. I don’t know how true that was but I stuck to water to be on the safe side. It was undoubtedly the greatest party I’ve been to this year. Now, that could be because I met you.

I am sure at this point you are wondering what I am going on about. Well, good things are hard to find and I have coveted the connection I found with you all my life. I have never made a pass at a man before and I have no doubt that I lack the requisite skills and I am particularly ill equipped for it. I however want to make sure that you don’t forget me, at least, not in a hurry. So, I am bent on reminding you in the only way I can.

Tola is a friend of a friend. Since yesterday, I’ve been celebrating our linking friend. What if he hadn’t planned Tola’s party? What if he hadn’t paid for the venue? What if he had refused to invest in her clothes for the occasion? Then, I would never have met you. So great would have been my loss. It was while planning Tola’s party that Biodun asked for my help. He wanted to pick a suit for her. It was to be a surprise gift and he needed a female eye to help him select. I was that eye and that was how I got invited to the party. I am so glad I did.

The party had been just ok until you walked in in your nude coloured t-shirt and dark blue Valetino jeans. Your low cut, I’m sure fresh, reflected in the light gracefully. You became the cynosure of all eyes. Well, maybe not. You were however the cynosure of my prejudiced eyes, my swashbuckling stranger. Not so tall, not so dark and extremely cute looking guy. I instantly knew you were someone I could give my attention to freely.

Your gait was enchanting; being quite cocky. I was pained when you made a bee line for the drinks corner and not the empty seat beside me. I didn’t even consider the fact that you didn’t say hello to the celebrant. Neither was I moved by the fact that all the guys whom I later found out were your friends got from you were curt nods. My only coherent thought was that I had to get your attention somehow and you helped me get it. You came my way after procuring your first glass of punch.

If my ingenuity had not intervened, you would have walked past me. At the last minute, I placed my foot in the way of your advancing Ralph Lauren Swims and you tripped. I watched you in slow motion. I still replay that moment in my mind every few minutes. You looked at the liquid content of the glass in your left hand as if your life depended on it. I watched your thoughts flit across your face. Do you save the drink? Do you save face and struggle to fall in as dignified a manner as possible? Do you maim the cause of your fall? Thankfully, Gbenga caught you just in time. His salvation was also extended to your drink. You however spilled a few drops on my black patent shoes. I forgave you instantly when our eyes met; when I looked into the dark honeyed depths of your eyes. You forgave me too because you felt it as well: the instant electricity. As if drawn by the force of the attraction I felt, you dropped into the seat beside me.

“Was that deliberate?”

“Obviously.”

“To what end?”

This one I responded with a thousand-watt smile; flashing a dimple for good measure.

You smiled back, slowly but appreciatively, through your full lips. I liked your teeth. The chipped front tooth lent you a roughish appeal. I enjoyed the once over you gave me. You made me proud of my get up; my white short sleeved shirt and black waist coat, worn over my most form moulding black jeans. Not made up, I knew you would appreciate my face even more: even teeth beckoning to you from a frame of naturally pink lips. I’d never been so sure of getting what I wanted till that very minute.

“I’m Charles. My friends call me Charlie”

“I’m Jackie. My friends call me Jay.”

“Do you want to dance?”

“With you? You’d bet.”

Leaning your head to a side in a gesture akin to that of a dog cocking its ears, you assessed the music.

“I think Azonto is juvenile.”

“It is too early to say we have some things in common?”

“My friends like Etighi but I don’t.”

I smiled.

“I like waltzing under the stars.”

“Is it a full moon?”

“A crescent.”

“Just perfect.”

I’d never seen perfect strangers holding hands. I still wonder if I imagined our walk out of that room to the gardens outside, with your glass of punch. If I imagined it, then, let me share it to find out if we imagined it together.

Were you there with me when we rested on the wrought iron railings around the front stairs talking about music and trying to decide who was more entertaining: Fali Ipupa or Cabo Snoop? Were you in my mind when we were arguing about the colour of your shirt, whether it was champagne or nude? Was it my imagination or yours that made that moth fly past my ear, made me brush at it in fright, made me scatter my well arranged coiffure, made you try to help me arrange it back to no avail, made you brush your cute short fingers at my nape in the process, made me shudder involuntarily, made you put your hands on my shoulders and turn my body to yours, turn my face to yours, look into my eyes and speak.

“About that waltz.”

“I am ready.”

We stepped off the front stairs and walked to the lawn. We took off our shoes to feel the cold grass under our feet as we danced. We danced to the music of our hearts; in tandem. My head found its way to your shoulder while my arms were draped around your neck. I inhaled the scent of your perfume, mixed with the essence of you. Your hands rested in the small of my back, provocatively though tentatively. We swayed. I stood on your feet. We twirled. Then, you stopped. In moving my head to find out why, my cheek swiped against your cool cheek, I loathed losing the skin contact, you moved back, to look in. I gave the slightest of all nods and earth shifted.

I heard thunder. Yet, it wasn’t thunder, it was my heart; trying to match the rhythm of yours. The locking of our lips left me feeling Id never been kissed. That was true somehow. I had never been kissed like that. Sparring tongues engaged in some kind of primal dance. Temperatures rising. Hands roving. Fingers tingling. I didn’t know you but I knew you. It was just a kiss and it was so much more than a kiss, a proof of synchronization, a promise of beauty to come.

“Charlie, na only red wine remain o.”

I could curse Ope for that intrusion.  Id been seeing fields with flowers, hearing angels with harps and he brought you and I crashing to earth unceremoniously.

“I dey come”, you bellowed.

“I’d quite forgotten all about the party”, you whispered, rubbing my elbow like you felt I could be cold since wed left enough space for air to pass between us though we were still in an embrace.

“Party? What party?” I asked, blinking repeatedly, feigning ignorance of what you meant. We laughed: synchronised laughter too.

“You’ll stay by my side for the rest of the night?”

“If you, red wine and Ope would let me.”

“I can vouch that the first two would try.”

“Good enough.”

“Lets humour Tola and discover ourselves later”.

“As you wish”.

We went back in. I saw Tola try on her new white suit. I watched you get high on red wine and joke with the boys. I also saw you get drunk, forget about me and leer at Dr. Seun. I saw Ore slap you for bumping into her and spilling red wine on her lovely dress. I left with Biodun when the party was over, way after you did, without saying goodbye.

I have written all this and said all this to ask you just one thing. Charlie, do you remember me?

Let me know if you do.

Thinking of you.

Jay.
About The Author:

Jumoke Caxton-Martins is a lawyer whose day job is at the legal department of a leading commercial bank. She is not shy about her Christian beliefs, and is married with children. A lover of romance stories, Jumoke lives in Ibadan.

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2 responses to “At Tola’s Party (by Jumoke Caxton-Martins)

  1. My dimpled literary Teacher. I have missed your delectable offerings. Serves her right for becoming a distant memory if that is how she quickly falls into the amorous arms of strangers. Nice one as usual Teach!

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