Read the daily, non-fictional tales of a young, unmarried Nigerian woman who lives in Lagos at this time.
"Hey!" I recognised the not-so-deep but soothing voice behind me, which was immediately followed by a slight nudge on my elbow.
"Hey, you!" I turned around, acting surprised to see the tall figure almost towering over me.
Even in the dark, I could make out Ikechukwu's lean, chiselled chest in a light pink sweatshirt paired with blue jeans. I did not particularly like colours on men but Ikechukwu was wearing this well.
I had spotted him and his friends huddled around Mohammed's kiosk earlier. They seemed engrossed in an animated discussion and I did not want to look too excited to see him or have my greeting ignored, so I went on my way, heading to Mama Ope's shop. She had more things anyway and my list was long.
"I thought I'd never see you again." His dimples deepened as he smiled. I couldn't miss it in the dark.
"Really?" I answered, beaming back, suddenly regretting my decision to wear this old, worn-out and loose pair of jeans trousers out of the house.
I half turned, now self-conscious, to collect the things I bought in a black polythene bag.
"So, where have you been? I haven't been seeing you around. Still in the neighbourhood?"
"I have been around o," I responded, standing hesitantly, not sure if I should wait to chat or leave him with his friends.
He looked at the polythene bag in my right hand and said quickly, "I'll only be a minute."
Okay. He wanted me to wait then. So, I stood, staring into space as I waited for him to make his purchase. It then occurred to me that I did not know the condition of my hair, because I had been too lazy to check it in the mirror before leaving the house. I pulled out my phone from my jeans pocket and checked myself in my phone camera as stealthily as I could. My hair was not perfect, a few knots here and there, but it was okay.
Ikechukwu was done in a short time, as he only bought noodles and a tin of milk.
"Shall we?" He gestured forward with a hand.
"What about your friends?" I asked, as we started to walk down the street together.
"They are not my friends," he responded.
"They are not?" I could not hide my surprise.
He chuckled. "I know how that must sound. I mean, they are more neighbours than friends. They'll be fine."
"Oh, okay," I said shortly.
There was an awkward silence between us during the first few minutes. But as we walked on, it grew less awkward and we were soon talking about almost everything, from the lockdown lift to the crowd at the banks on Monday.
He struck me as intelligent, very much so. He was not just fine, but intelligent, too. I thought that was cool, and as we exchanged phone numbers at my gate before saying our goodbyes, I realized that I might like him and could totally date him.
Anike! Getting ahead of yourself, eh? I cautioned myself.
I know! I act like a love-struck teenager sometimes.