“Every time we meet all you talk about is Farida. Did she cast a spell on you or what? She’s a local girl. See better girls throwing themselves at you but you are stuck on this Farida girl. Even Aisha that has fallen for you, you have refused to see her or talk to her” Dominic said to his friend Wale. They have had this discussion before but because Wale had refused to answer their questions, it kept coming up. They wouldn’t understand. Farida was very different from other girls. At a young age of eighteen, he had left a line of heartbroken girls from when he became sexually active at sixteen. There were always willing girls. The girls were from both divide; the rich and the poor fell easily to his charm. But one girl didn’t seem to notice him. That alone allured him to her. She had refused to see him since the last time they saw. He would park his car at a distance, sit inside it and watch her leave home and come back much later in the day. He did that twice a week. When he tried it on a Sunday, she didn’t come out at all. Why would a girl appeal to him this much? But she did. The Aisha they mentioned never appealed to him. He tolerated her because she knew someone who was very smart and discreet for their Jamb mission. She was trying too hard to fit in. When she started hanging with them, she exposed some of the girls in the lesson to them which earned her a seat in the car. He wasn’t physically attracted to her but because she was naughty, daring and available she was welcome. Since the incident at the eatery, he hadn’t spoken to Aisha. He told his friends that until she apologizes to Farida, he would never allow her hang with him again. They felt it was petty but then when he stood his ground, they had to agree with him or lose their seats. Aisha refused to apologise and was even badmouthing Farida. She called her a local girl who does household chores for people for money. She talked about her impoverished background and wondered what Wale found fascinating in her. She was ready to jump ship to other cool guys if it was her apologizing that would get her back in the group. Her bragging about jumping ship was to save face; there were no other cool guys with money to throw around like Wale. Wale was the coolest and most popular boy in that area. His father owned estates; their family house was an estate. His father married three wives; his mother was the last. Each wife and their children had their houses which were usually blocks of flats. With the exit of his siblings, he had a well-furnished three bedroom flat. His mother spared no expense on him. As the last child and only son of their mother, his siblings, most of whom were married, spoilt him. His stepsiblings were not left out. He never lacked anything. His father was his only problem. He was on his case to succeed as his other children had done but Wale seemed to be a loafer. This made his father put so much pressure on him. This was his second time writing WAEC and Jamb and his last chance as his father had instructed. “Or do you want to hit and run?” Tunde asked jokingly. “She is not that type. I want to get to know her more. There is something about her I will love to discover” Wale responded.“So, you are trying to tell me that if she offers you, you will not take?” Dominc added. This got his two friends laughing but Wale was not interested in what they were saying. He reminisced about their last discussion. She shared some of her dreams with him which inspired him. His father wanted him to attend Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife Osun state but he was considering changing to the University of Lagos just because of her. He would love to spend more time with her. He felt more like protecting her than dating her. He was attracted to her no doubt but her guilelessness could be taken for granted. He wouldn’t want that at all. For the first time, he was ready to sacrifice something for someone. He said out loud from his thoughts, “I need to see her”“See who?” Both friends chorused.‘Farida of course” he replied giving them a ‘matter of fact’ look.“You are serious about this chic” Dominic asked.“I am” he answered.“What if she refuses your advances?” Kunle added.“I don’t want her for what your dirty minds are thinking. I want her as a friend”“Wale!” they both chorused and laughed at the same time.“What is it?” he asked them confused by their reaction”“You have caught the love bug. You are in love with this babe” Dominic concluded. Wale smiled at them. They wouldn’t understand. It was not just love but a sense of duty; a sense of responsibility. He walked towards his car while they joined him. It was past 6pm. From stalking Farida, he knew she would be home or on her way home by this time. He hoped for the latter. They parked the car opposite Farida’s house. He asked his friends to wait in the car while he walked in. Iya Farida was the only one at home. She sat on one of the worn-out chairs in the sitting room and was watching a programme on the television. She was surprised to see Wale and responded to his greeting. She asked after his family still confused at his presence.“I was in the neighbourhood so I decided to check on Farida” He explained to her.“She is not back. She went to the market with her brothers. I believe they would soon be back”“I will wait for her outside ma” he offered.‘No. Responsible girls do not hang in corners to talk to the opposite sex. If you want to wait for her, wait inside here. If not, go and come back another day”“I will wait for her here then. Thank you ma. I didn’t want to inconvenience you”“You are not. They should be back soon”He sat down and watched the programme with her. His concern was his friends who were in the car. He will make it up to them. He waited for almost twenty minutes before Farida and her brothers came back. They were not expecting anyone so they came in noisy and loud. Farida was shocked to see Wale in the sitting room with her mother. Why was he here? What did he come for? Wale smiled when he sighted her, she did not return the smile. Her brothers greeted him and proceeded to the kitchen with the things with them.“It’s good to see you Farida. How are you?” Wale asked.Farida stood where she was to answer him “I am fine. How are you?” she asked in return. She didn’t hear if he answered or not. She was wearing her work cloth. It was a black top and a butterfly designed long flowing skirt. The problem was that they had no fitting and they were old. She became self-conscious.“Farida” her mother shouted her name to jolt back to reality. “He is talking to you”“Sorry. What did you say?”“What days are your free days? We can go for a drive. I will like to take you out”“I work every day. And I am not interested in going out with you”“I will come on Sunday. If you don’t want to go out, we can stay indoors and play games with your family. Anyone you choose”“Don’t come. I don’t have any free time”“I actually want your opinion on something. I thought we could discuss it when we are out”“What is it? We can discuss it here and now”“I don’t think so. I need your full attention and I don’t want you to complain”“I won’t complain”“I will be back on Sunday. I will take you out. What I want us to talk about is not private but it is a long discussion with different parts. Good night ma, bye boys” Wale left Farida standing where she was.His friends were grumpy by the time he joined them. He started apologizing even before he reached them. He was smiling though. He liked the look on Farida’s ace when he left. It was a mixture of confusion and anger. It appealed to Wale. A combination of her innocence and stubbornness was cute. He smiled all the way home. He didn’t hear a word his friends said. One of them shook him.‘Guy, what’s going on? You left us under that tree for so long. We saw her coming home with her brothers so what were you doing in there?” Dominic asked.“I’m sorry guys. I chilled with her mother before she came home. No vex now. I will make it up to you”“So why have you been smiling sheepishly? She don gree?” Tunde asked with a suggestive look on his face.“No, but we are going out on Sunday”“Where will you take her to?”“I am thinking to Ikoyi Club”“What? You want to take her to the club? Don’t try it, she won’t fit in. Starting from her clothing to her shoes and others. You will make a mockery of her”Wale thought about it. Truly, she wouldn’t fit in totally. The girls at the club will make fun of her and his guys there will wonder what’s up with him. He really didn’t care but he had to think about her. He hacked a plan in his mind and he started smiling again just the way they described it; sheepishly.Iya Farida was confused about Wale intentions. She thought them to be just friends but it was looking more like the boy wanted more. She also observed that Farida wasn’t interested in the boy. It looked like she just tolerated him. Whenever she sights him in the house her countenance changes. Iya Farida liked the boy. He was very respectful and didn’t look down on their lowly abode but blended in easily whenever he was around. She felt Farida should give the friendship a chance. Unless there was more to the whole thing. Did he try anything funny with her? Is that why she isn’t interested in him? She had a question that only one person could answer, Farida.“Farida, come out to the parlour, I want to discuss something with you in private” Iya Farida whispered to Farida in the middle of the night. Farida sprung up and joined her mother in the sitting room. She was agitated. They had never had such a discussion in the middle of the night before. She was worried something was wrong.“Yes maami. I hope everything is ok?”“I want to talk to you about Wale. He seems like a good boy. He is humble and obviously likes you. I noticed the way you react when he is around. Why don’t you like him?”“Is it because of Wale you are losing sleep? Don’t bother maami, there is nothing wrong. I know his type. He is a spoilt brat and feels he can mesmerize me into sleeping with him and then dumping me. It won’t work. He should go and meet Aisha that all those razzmatazz works on. For me, I am not interested in friendship with any boy except the person that will marry me. Until then, gaining admission into Unilag is my main priority”“You mentioned Aisha. Why did you say that about Aisha?” Iya Farida asked.Farida sighed and then narrated what happened from the night before Jamb and the outing after. As she told her mother, she felt lighter. It never occurred to her that the incident weighed her down. Maami listened with rapt attention. She could hear the hurt in her daughter’s voice as she spoke. Farida was still a child after all. She had behaved more mature than her age but now she realized you can’t cheat nature. It was time for them to have the talk. “Farida, there will be many more Aishas on this life’s journey. Life brings you into contact with different kinds of people. You will meet the good, the bad and the ugly. How do you manage such people when they show up? You ignore them and remain focused. Once you ignore them, they become irrelevant. Learn lessons from every encounter you have that didn’t go well but don’t let it weigh you down” “Yes maami”“Concerning Wale, I think he likes and respects you. He abandoned his friends to take you home after Aisha embarrassed you. He is interested in more than a friendship with you, I know but I do not see him dishonouring you. In this kind of situation, you have to let him know you are not interested in a sexual relationship of any kind for now. Tell him not to waste his time if that is his intention but if he wants friendship, you can be just friends with him. Let him know from the beginning what you want and don’t want. Think about it”‘I don’t want to be friends with someone who cheats during examinations. He has no honour. He cannot be trusted”“Then tell him. Let him know you do not desire his friendship because of this. Make it clear to him. Tell him you are not a gold digger”“Who is a gold digger?”“A gold digger is someone who goes into a relationship or marries a man because of his money”“Is it a bad thing?”“Well, for the woman it is not. But the world will still call her names as she is only interested in the man because of what he has” Maami was smiling now. She knew she had unconsciously hit a nerve.“My desire to marry a rich man does it make me a gold digger?”‘Well, sort of. What are you bringing to the table yourself? If it is just your body then that is who you are”“I am not bringing just my body maami, I am bringing a first degree from a reputable institution. Isn’t that something?”‘But you still desire to attract only rich men. Wait o, Wale is a rich kid. He cheated during the examination, so what? Some rich men do dubious things to make money. Some of them even kill people for it. So, Wale’s case is nothing compared to others”“Maami, I have no interest in Wale. Even friendship will be difficult”‘Then tell him and stop leading him on”“I will when he comes on Sunday. But maami, I don’t want to be called a gold digger o. I still want to marry a rich man”“Then you have to have acquired some amount of wealth before you can marry a rich man”“How will I achieve that?”“When you graduate, you will get a good job and we will take it from there”Sleep eluded Farida. She thought for hours. Marrying a rich man came with too many issues. Why can’t it be so easy as it is shown in the movies?