Read Parts 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Pristine series here, here Here Here here here, here, here
There wasn’t only a wall separating their rooms, Uju was unlike anyone Dara had ever known. Nothing really seemed to interest her. Her quietness bordered on coldness, and after several attempts to find common ground, Dara realized she had been forcing it. Maybe civil neighbours and colleagues were all they were meant to be, not necessarily friends.
Uju seemed to lighten up wherever Chika was, though. Not that it surprised Dara, he was a known charmer. It was probably the reason why Dara thought nothing of their fast closeness, at least not till she began to notice the private jokes and the stolen glances. Sometimes she even saw him leave Uju’s room without stopping over at hers.
Three weeks passed, and on a sunny afternoon while walking home from the school, Dara summoned enough courage to ask Uju in as unconfrontational a tone as she could muster, “So what’s up with you and Chika?”
Uju shrugged. “I don’t know.” She continued after a few seconds, “He’s just someone I relate with quite easily. He understands my kind of person. Let’s just say he’s perfect company for me.”
“So I noticed. You guys have been spending a lot of time together,” Dara remarked dryly.
“He told me what happened with you.”
Dara quickly glanced at her. They were home now, each unlocking her door. “What did he say?”
Uju shrugged again. “Everything. He’ll never understand why you rejected him, why you didn’t want him, but I get it. You’re a serious-minded person and he just wants to have fun. Some of us don’t mind that, in fact it’s what we want.”
Dara continued staring at her door even after she had gone inside her room. Why on earth would Chika think she didn’t want him? He was the closest person to her in Gombe, she obviously liked him, why would he even think that? All she had done was stop him from kissing her in his kitchen, and she had been so close to melting that afternoon. Why then was he talking to Uju about it and not her?!
She got a chance to talk to him alone the following day. The state environmental protection agency declared an emergency meeting with the CDS execs to discuss a proposed week-long rally. The corpers were to stage a playlet on one of the days.
“I think we should throw it to everyone on Thursday, we’ll get more ideas,” she told him as they walked out of the office together after the meeting.
“Alright. If you say so. Although I know you can single-handedly come up with the best idea.”
She looked up at him, smiling. “You realize we hardly talk these days except it’s about CDS?”
He looked surprised. “You wanted it this way, right?”
“That just wasn’t how I pictured my first kiss. I didn’t mean we couldn’t remain friends,” she explained.
“Well, you didn’t exactly say what was on your mind, all you did was turn me down.”
“Neither did you. All you did was try to kiss me. Imagine how shocked I was to find out how you felt about my ‘rejection’.”
Chika smiled. “It’s okay, Dara, seriously.”
“So we’re cool now?” she asked quietly.
“We’ve always been,” he replied, squeezing her shoulders in a chummy way that irritated her. “I see you and Uju have been talking. Isn’t she like the coolest ever?”
Dara’s insides were raging with resentment, jealousy and anger, all in a mix. Were they both acting all loved up solely to hurt her for any reason or were they for real? Couldn’t Chika tell how bad it made her feel that he’d ditched her for Uju?
When he stopped a bike to take her home and waved her goodbye, she smiled in return. She had a new plan. Two of her students’ parents had spoken to her before about private tutoring for their kids. Maybe it was time to take that up. With no free time on her hands, Uju and Chika would be the last thing on her mind.
To be continued….