It feels like Kike and Kiki. Two former friends who lived in different parts of the same estate. One lived close to the main entrance into the estate while the other lived at the extreme side of the estate, his residence bordering the huge fence that separated the estate from the other parts of the city. They were both of similar socio-economic status. The one a lady, the other a guy. Kiki sold spare parts at Ladipo spare-parts market, while Kike managed the only provisions store at the entrance into the estate, where Kike naturally got his supplies from, instead of the cheaper provision stores that dotted every corner of the spare-parts market.
Kike, guessed how much cash he could be saving from buying his supplies elsewhere but he considered that a necessary cost for the opportunity to familiarize himself more with the lady of his dreams, and her mother for whom he had great respect. In fact, his interest in Kike came naturally. It came out of his admiration for her mother. He was fascinated by what he observed of her dedication to her husband, children, religious duties and the shop, which she kept open every day, except Sunday. Somehow, he convinced himself he should give his heart to Kike, for the singular reason that she would be another version, a better version even, than her mother. A lioness only gives birth to another lioness, he would fantasize in his single room apartment, looking for more ways to convince himself he was on the right track.
But what was the best way to make his intentions known, he asked himself one day? Somehow, he suspected he could begin with Kike’s mother. They say mothers know these things. He was right. In fact, she dragged it out of him:
“Young man, you do not hope to buy your way into my daughter’s heart?” “I’m sorry, Mama Kike, please what are you talking about ma?”
“I’m talking about buying things…”
“Ok, ma. I need a pack of noodles, detergent, tissue paper and a loaf of bread.” “Have you suddenly exhausted the items you got yesterday?”
“No, ma, I mean, yes ma. Em, em, I’m sorry, why am I being so clumsy? I’m usually not like this.”
“I guess so. What exactly do you want to buy?” “I am sorry, ma. I don’t want to buy anything.” “Why are you here then?”
“You are not making it easy, ma.” “What am I not making easy?” “You know what I mean ma?”
“I know you are here for my daughter.”
“Thank you, ma. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for making it easy.” “Don’t be deceived. It is not easy. Exchanging hearts is not an easy thing. It is not at all.” “But it is easy for you, ma.”
“That is what you think. But you must know that what you think and what you see are not the same. It is the first lesson you must learn as you proceed on this journey.”
That was the longest conversation Kiki had with Kike’s mother while he was on that journey.
Any further attempts to glean ‘guidelines’ from her on how to proceed with her daughter were rebuffed. She admitted her pleasure when he told her he wanted to marry Kike because of what he had observed about her mother. But that was the farthest she went. She would not ‘persuade’ her daughter to marry anyone. Because her mother did not ‘persuade’ her. Besides, she does not want anyone coming to her tomorrow to blame her for the challenges in her marriage.
Kiki acknowledged her graciousness and moved on to do the needful. He would ‘show’ Kike he was really in love with her. Thus, he began his ‘show’ but Kike was only amused, she was not moved.
“Kike,’ I love you and want to marry you.” “You’re joking, right?”
“I am dead serious, Kike.”
“Dead serious? Death is serious business anywhere. I don’t want any association with death, please. Besides, why do you want to spoil what we already have?”
“What we already have?”
“Yes, why do you want to spoil it? You know I like you and have always liked you. I see you
every day, for crying out loud.”
“I like you too, Kike, but I want us to go beyond that.” “I am not ready for anything like that now.”
“You are. I will take care of you. I promise.”
“I see too many broken hearts everywhere. I am scared.” “I will not break your heart, cross my heart.”
Kiki could have crossed his kidneys, lungs and the other organs but it would have amounted to nothing. Kike was not moved. They were only words. She needed something more.
“Kike, you’re breaking my heart,” he pushed further
“Why are you so selfish? Do you want me to break my heart so that you can keep yours? You’re heartless. Please go away.”
As he walked away, Kiki didn’t understand why she had suddenly become angry? What did he say to warrant such reaction? Wasn’t he simply trying to be reasonable? Was there a better way to express his feelings? The more questions he asked the more depressed he became as the answers did not come along.
He kept his ‘daily buying appointment’ at the shop even though he did not see Kike there for the next thirty days. He believed she was avoiding him deliberately. But he was not going to push it. He was not going to stop getting his supplies from the shop either. Better to be a gentleman than be belligerent and Groucho Max. meanwhile, none of the unfolding development was lost on Kike’s mother. Yet, she would only show her hand in the most discrete way possible. She never spoke directly, only used parables and illustrations to pass across her message. She was 70% convinced Kiki was the real deal. That was as good a score any reliable suitor should have in her books. The rest may be covered with prayers.
By the time, Kike had put the pieces together, after two whole months of following her
mother’s trail of puzzles and illustrations, she knew she was ready to make the jump. And she did one morning when Kiki walked into the shop. She startled him, and not a few passers-by as she ran into his arms with a huge embrace.