— By Remi Oyeyemi
Olabanke is a 38 year old single lady. She is a paradox. If there was a lady who wanted what scared her the most, that lady is Banke. She is so conflicted about the greatest desire of her heart that it frustrates her a legion of times. If there is anything she ever wanted, it was to be married. Happily too. Yet, she is so scared of men. She is so distrustful of men. She is so skeptical of men that she has allowed many interested men to go without being acknowledged. The few she had entertained have not impressed her
Her beauty is magnetic. Natural and special. Ebony black skin that is unmistakably glossy, in perpetual glitz, and gleaming ad infinitum. The smoothness of her skin is decipherable from close distance. Spotless. Stainless. Flawless. Faultless. She attracts men like bees into the beehive.
It is humanly difficult to ignore Banke, the moment you set your eyes on her. She is so hypnotic and bewitching in her beauty that one’s thought process becomes unwittingly skewed and disoriented. She is like a poisoned arrow, about which you could do nothing the moment you are hit by it. She is dangerously disarming. Awfully awesome. Harmless but lethal. Innocuous but mortiferous. She is everyman’s dream and the dream of every man that ever saw her.
As a matter of course, there is an aura of class around her. Though, she tries her best to be modest in appearance, there is a sort of sophistication about her that seems innate and intrinsic. Flagrantly fashionable, aromatically elegant, always regal and a veritable member of the gliteratti.
As an only daughter of her rich father, she has had many opportunities thrown at her feet. Surprisingly, for a child from such a rich background, she has paid due attention. She has been hard-working. She has always been focused. She is very adventurous. The wealth of her father had provided the needed insulation for her to be able to take risks.
At 14 years, when she was in form three, conniving with her Mom, she had with the help of her father’s attorney bought her first property at a very high brow area of the city and rented it out. She kept this secret for the first two years when she bought another one by luring her father to chip in with what she had in her bank account.
She graduated from the University at age 20 with a Second Class Upper B.Sc in Economics. By age 22, she has completed her MBA from the University of Ibadan. By that time she was worth millions. As she continued to invest in real estate, spread over choice areas in Lagos and Ibadan, she also became a restauranteur, buying some local franchises and setting up her own chain known as Lady B Cafe. By the time she was 35, three years ago, Banke was worth over two billion.
But as the money kept streaming in, the hole remains in her heart. She had no idea how to fill this hole. She had all the money in the world to buy anything she wants, except true love. She did not have time during her undergraduate days to date. She wanted money. She was making the money. That was enough for her then. But now that she had enough money, it is no longer enough for her.
In some of her quiet moments, she had often wondered if she had let her ambition blinded her to the importance of finding a lover and partner in order to raise a family of her own. She has had to ask herself if her priority had been wrong. She had wanted to be rich. She had wanted to make money. She has had opportunities and she had seized them. She had been focused primarily on making money. Now, with benefit of hindsight, she wondered if her priority had not been wrong; whether she had made right decisions, second guessing herself.
She has had two serious affairs. They both ended in disasters. The experiences had left her writhing in unfathomable, inexplicable pain. The second one was even more devastating and had pushed her into borderline depression. It was an emotional discombobulation. She felt thoroughly traumatized. Cheated. Taken advantage of. Used. And dumped. The support of her Dad and brothers as well as her Mom had proved invaluable during these harrowing times. They were like a rock for her. They did everything to help her through.
In spite of her bitter experiences, Banke does not despise men. Her father was too good a man not to be appreciated. He remains a shining example of a pillar, love, affection and understanding. Banke holds out the hope and belief that she would find someone like her Dad as a partner. She still hoped that she had a good chance of meeting “Mr. Right.”
Her two brothers, Kole and Dele, epitome of gentlemanliness. Decent. Courteous. Industrious and very well to do. Banke secretly envied their wives and the stability as well as the loyalty they enjoyed. Those ladies had exactly what she was looking for. “They’re lucky and fortunate,” she would say to herself, often times.
She surveyed Lawon with some disguised interest. She was too experienced to show any form of excitement or conspicuous interest. She maintain a mien swaddling her supplications and inquisitiveness. Intuitively, she could easily recognize the interest of Lawon in her. Despite her feeble cynicism, she was not about to discourage him.
With some trussed dexterity, she scanned Lawon’s physical features – tall, light skinned, gangly, well dressed and well spoken. With her experience, looks have never been enough. It could be misleading for all she cares. “But you still need a handsome man nevertheless,” she quietly said to herself.
“Banke, Olabanke,” she had said in the most hypnotising tone with an austere smile. Full of gratitude with unrestrained exudation of excitement, Lawon had responded instantaneously, “What a beautiful name that befits a beauty.” He stretched out his hand and Banke took it with a facial smile that concealed her nervousness and skepticism.
As she took Lawon’s hand, Banke paid more than due attention. She liked what she saw and love the texture of what she touched.
And the introduction continued.