Still confused and fuming, Dunni called her cousin after she got home from the memorial service two days ago to express her displeasure on having her plans scuttled. Toyin apologized and they agreed to meet two days later at her aunt’s village home where Toyin was staying with her children for the holiday visit.
Now, Dunni approached the large wooden door slowly, then stopped to study the intricate carvings before her. The six panels on the door had various themes from the story of Jesus – the savior as a baby with his mother, the Sermon on the Mount, his crucifixion and the resurrection among others. What amazed her was the detailing that had gone into the carving. Dunni moved closer, discovering as she rubbed her hands over the polished surface of the wood, that it as as smooth as the cover of the aluminuim vacuum flask which she used to take her own coffee to work. With reluctance, she raised her hand and banged the knocker.
They exchanged greetings and then Dunni stated the reason for her visit.
“Is Toyin home?” she asked, following Folarin into the cool interior of the house.
“She’s upstairs with mom. It’s the first door on the left at the stop of the stairs.”
Thanking Folarin and then following his directions, the echoes of her heels as they struck against the terrazzo floor preceded her until she got to the top of the staircase where her feet sank into some plush carpet. Following the voices she recognized as her aunt’s and Toyin’s, she soon came to the room she wanted. The door was open so she just walked in. The room was a small library, decorated in wood paneling, and with shelves up to the ceiling.
“Good afternoon, Ma.” She knelt down as she greeted her aunt. “Toyin, hi.”
“Ah, Dunni, you’re here. Toyin told me you were coming. How are you?” Her aunt was seated behind a medium-sized desk and she was getting up as she spoke.
“I’m fine, thank you, Ma.” Dunni joined Toyin on one of the armchairs before the desk and watched as her aunt moved around it and walked towards the door.
“I’ll leave you girls alone to talk. I know you must have a lot to catch up.”
Her aunt closed the door behind her and Dunni turned to Toyin immediately.
“Your apologies from Boxing Day are so not accepted, dear. What happened?”
Toyin laughed. “You’re such a firebrand, little cousin. Relax for Jesus, abeg.”
“Oh, it’s like that now?”
“Yes o,” Toyin replied, “Who is Babs Falade?”
Dunni was taken unawares. Trust her cousin to be as blunt as possible.
Toyin laughed as she stood and moved across the room to plop herself down on the sofa. She patted the seat beside her. “Come and join me here, let’s get comfortable. And don’t be so surprised, I just heard the interesting news from Folarin this morning.”
Dunni walked over, picking her words as she spoke. “So, that’s his name?”
“You didn’t know his name?” Toyin laughed again, slapping Dunni on the thigh.
“Well, I knew he was Babs but I didn’t know his surname.” And that had almost got her in trouble that day in the priest’s office. “Oh yes, I found out he was the deacon’s son on the day of the memorial service. By the way, what did Folarin say?”
“You’ll like to know, won’t you? He said the guy has been asking him a lot about you since the day you all went hill climbing. Folarin bumped into him yesterday and he asked for your number. So now, little brother wants me to get your phone number for onward transmission.”
“Really?” Dunni didn’t know what else to say.
“Close your eyes, or they’ll pop out,” Toyin laughed. “The guy wants to know you more, and you have nothing to say?”
“I don’t want to know him,” Dunni retorted. She already knew more than she cared to about the local lothario. She remembered Mrs. Sofola, her arranged mother-in-law saying how everyone knew he loved women. And each time she’d seen him, Babs himself had confirmed it. First ogling her at the Erin-Ijesha falls and then kissing her the very next time they met. When her conscience reminded her that she hadn’t exactly said no to his advances, she shut it up.
“Isn’t he like the black sheep in these parts?”
“What do you mean?”
“He came across to me, like one who he loves women.”
Toyin shrugged, “Have you considered that it could be that the women flock around his good looks too?”
Dunni shook her head, “In fact he said it himself.”
“I won’t debate with you then. From what I know of him though, he’s the perfect gentleman, down to earth and respectful. I first met him when he accompanied his father to see my mom some years ago soon after the deacon moved here. It turned out we were in the set from the University of Ilorin. Small world that it is, I’ve bumped into him several times since then. He also lives and works in Lagos.”
“Yeah, Folarin said that after we left the hike.”
“I think he works for one investment company or the other, and he’s doing very well from what I hear.” Toyin waggled her eyebrows.
“Be serious, Toyin,” Dunni pushed at her cousin. “What do I care about that?” Dunni had never cared about how much a man earned as a way to judge whether to date him or not.
“I think women should care o. Long term, you need security for you and the children.”
“Whoa. Who is talking about long term and children here? Have you forgotten that I’ll be going back to the States halfway through January?”
Toyin sighed and sat back. “That’s true. I was joking a little, but when I see a lovely unmarried lady like you, and you’re my cousin too, I want to believe it will work with any eligible bachelor. And Babs is a cutie, you both will look smashing together.” She turned to Dunni and wagged a finger, “Don’t think that because I’m married I don’t notice when another man is attractive.”
Dunni could not deny Babs looks either, but her cousin’s earlier words stuck with her. While she was pleased at being described as lovely and smashing, it was annoying that her cousin wanted to play matchmaker too. Not when she still had her mother’s plans over her head.