Link to Part 3: https://blackgirlinspore.com/2015/10/29/singapore-single-and-searching-strangers-on-a-train-3/
“Oh…hey!”, Lanre smiled nervously. “Two days in a row!”
Two days in a row? Dara listened in shock. How was this even possible?
“We hung out just yesterday”, Lanre must have heard the silent questioning. “Such a small world”.
“Singapore is tiny”, Dara replied, hoping her face didn’t give her away. She looked at her best friend expecting a reply, but Amaka just placed her sunshades back on.
“Yeah…”, Lanre trailed off.
“How are you getting on at the office?”
“Oh good, thanks. Settling in. Ian’s got me on a few cases, they just came alive this week I think”, he stuck his hands in his pockets.
“Wow, he clearly thinks a lot of you. He didn’t have me working on my own cases till I’d been with the firm six months”.
Unbelievable. It was such a boy’s club.
“You guys work together?”, Lillian interjected in her timid little voice.
“Of course! You’re the new senior associate”, Amaka sat forward. You could see the light bulb shining above her head.
“That’s right”, Lanre looked relieved that Amaka was speaking.
Dara threw Amaka a dirty look. What was she playing at?
“Hey man!”, Bayo’s voice came up behind the deck chairs. He walked up, bare chested, his ankara Okun swimming trunks soaking wet.
“Hey!”, the men shook hands, their palms squeezing into one tight fist.
“You found it ok?”, Bayo stood squarely, hands on his hips. He was shorter than Lanre, but stocky, carrying an athletic physique. He couldn’t be called handsome, ‘he had a nice smile’ was the furthest Dara could stretch. But what did that matter with a couple million in the bank?
“Yeah, no problem. I think I’m actually just round the corner”.
“Oh, where you at?”
“Novena?”, Lanre handled the word carefully.
“Oh yeah, that’s close by. Amaka, you’re in Novena too right?”
“Yup”, Amaka stared at her phone.
“I see you’ve met the Holy Trinity”, Bayo teased. “Hey Lillian”.
They greeted each other with a peck on each cheek.
“You really need to stop calling us that”, Amaka tutted.
“Yeah, there’s definitely nothing holy about you”, Dara joked, ignoring the sour look thrown in response.
“Ooh…”, Bayo winced. “Naughty naughty. What’ve you been getting up to Maka?”
“You don’t want to know”, Amaka crossed her legs, exposing some flesh from under her halterneck dress.
“Just don’t corrupt Sister Lillian here”, Bayo put an arm round her shoulders.
“You’re dripping wet Bayo!”, Lillian squirmed.
“What’s wrong with you? I’m trying to protect you!”, Bayo shook her. “Come Lanre, let’s get you a beer and leave these three Marias to instagram or snapchat or whatever you’re supposed to do these days. Have you eaten?”
The two men walked away, leaving a taut silence behind. Amaka, of course, was the first to break it.
“Well, well, well”, she pursed her lips.
“Well, well, well’ indeed”, Dara shot back. “When were you going to tell me you were hanging out with someone?”
“Maybe when you stopped chewing my ear about your new future husband. How was I supposed to know it was the same guy?”
“By talking. That’s what friends do, Amaka. They say, guess what, I just met this fine guy. Oh really, what’s his name? What does he do? Oh wait, that’s the same guy I just met”.
“Where I come from, you don’t spill your business anyhow”, Amaka shrugged, unrepentant.
“Where’s that? Your slum village in Victoria Island?”, Dara rolled her eyes.
“You never know”, Lillian interrupted, perching on the end of Amaka’s chair. “He might have a girlfriend. Maybe he’s not single”.
“He’s single”, Amaka dismissed. “And where were you on Friday? I went all the way to the Chinatown and you weren’t there”.
“You didn’t give your talk?”, Dara frowned. “What happened?”
“I got swamped at work. We had some last minute enrollments and I had to do student assessments. It took ages”, Lillian played with her handbag strap.
Something was off with her. She’d been going on about that lecture for months and suddenly she was ‘swamped’ at work. No offense to the teaching profession but lawyers got ‘swamped’, bankers got ‘swamped’. Teachers worked 9-5. It made no sense.
“So how did you meet Lanre?”, she asked Lillian. “On the way here?”
“It’s weird actually”, Lillian practically blushed. “I had a little accident after church, and he helped me, came to see I was alright. And we just started talking. We shared a cab over here”.
Great, they just met. No threat there then. Amaka was the one to watch out for.
“How sweet, he’s such a gentleman”, Amaka smiled, her eyes still hidden behind her shades. “We spent the day together yesterday, shopping for his mum. The guy’s a sweetheart”.
“Seriously?”, Dara looked at her friends. “Are we really fighting over a guy? Are we in high school?”
Lillian cut Amaka off, before she come back with a sharp reply. “Kike’s coming”, she whispered.
The three girls smoothed away their frowns and smiled at their approaching host.
“Hey chica!”, Dara greeted Kike, eyeing her colourful floral shorts and and pale pink blouse. “You look fabulous – as always”.
And it was true. She always looked too good for a mother of two, always toned and in shape. Her hair was always in a smooth bun tied at the nape of her neck, never a curl out of place. Evidently, she was the only one prepared to pay the extortionate prices hairdressers charged here.
“Oh this?”, Kike dismissed her outfit, a white wine spritzer in one hand. “It’s Iconic Invanity but it’s sooo old. Why aren’t you girls dancing, what’s the point of hiring a dj if no one’s going to dance?”
She pulled Lillian to her feet. “I know you came in late, Lillian. You missed the birthday boy so you’re dancing with me”.
“Awww, I can spring inside for a quick hello”, Lillian offered. “I love that little guy”.
“Never mind, he’s having his dinner now – oh, excuse me?”, Kike broke off, her eye fixed in the distance. “Who is that yummy stick of Magnum talking to my husband?”
“Lanre. He just moved here”, Lillian answered.
“Better get in there, ladies.”, Kike winked. “There’s only so many to go round”.
She laughed, hooking her arm through Lillians and led her to the ‘dance floor’.
Dara and Amaka looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
“I’m getting a drink-drink”, Dara stood up, picking her long silk skirt off the floor.
“Two please”, Amaka held up her glass. “No poison sha”.
“Ha-ha”, Dara replied mirthlessly.
She walked towards the drinks table, politely waiting for two Australian guys fishing for cans from a ice cooler to step aside.
“Two apple martinis please”.
“No problem”, the waiter grabbed a botle of vodka and twirled it in one hand.
She scanned the party. Kike, Lillian and a few girlfriends danced near the dj, about twenty people sat in wicker chairs and stools round the pool, and a handful of helpers towelled off the few kids still swimming. She could see the backs of Bayo and Lanre’s heads chatting with a couple she didn’t know. But her eye kept getting drawn to Kike, dancing like an extra in a P-Square video.
She couldn’t stand Kike sometimes. Everyone knew dating in Singapore wasn’t easy, why did she have to be so tactless? So smug? It irritated her that Kike felt sorry for her because she wasn’t married.
The first time she’d met her and heard that Cheltenham Ladies accent, she was convinced she’d despise the girl. A quick Google search confirmed what she’d suspected – Kike came from money. Big money. Daughter of a well known Nigerian politician and financial whiz, she’d gone straight from a rich Daddy to a rich husband. There were blog pages covering her splashy weddings. First, a three thousand guest extravangaza in Lagos, followed by an ‘intimate’ ceremony for three hundred on the Amalfi coast. Kike had had three outfit changes – Carolina Herrera for the church, Oscar de la Renta for the reception and a nude Roberto Cavalli gown in the evening.
A couple Youtube videos suggested a brief attempt at a singing career (expensive video, great outfits, mediocre voice), and a single that reached no 76 in the UK singles charts.
Dara feasted on the images, her envy and dislike growing with every second. But much as she hated to admit it, there was a very generous side to Kike and the little heiress had made such an effort to befriend the three girls, it was hard to dislike her for long. Even if she did spend most of her time doing pilates and writing an unoriginally titled blog called ‘the yummy mummy’s guide’.
Dara picked up the two martinis, careful not to spill them. Amaka was still on her phone. The couple with Bayo and Lanre left, waving their goodbyes.
Stop second guessing yourself and go for it!
She downed the first martini, put it on the table and headed towards the two men. She sipped the second drink, trying to act like she’d been part of the conversation all long.
“I’m telling you”, Bayo hammered his point. “Wenger’s got to go. He’s a dinosaur. I’m so sick of the excuses”.
“Man, I completely agree. We’ve had so many of our guys injured this season-”
“Exactly! I mean, thank God for Ozil. I don’t even want to think where we’d be without him right now!”
“He is the best attacking midfielder right now…seriously!”
She was confused. Were they arguing or agreeing? Was their team doing well or poorly?
“My dad and younger brother have season tickets”, she blurted out. “If you’re ever back in London and want to see a game, I could defintely hook you up”.
Hook you up?
“Oh, thanks”, Lanre looked surprised. “That’s really nice but I doubt Arsenal season holders will ever give them up”.
“You never know, they might be ill or…not in London”, she heard herself sound stupider by the second.
“Hun!”, Kike threw her arms round her husband’s waist. “Lillian and I were just talking about our Bali trip next month. Wouldn’t it be a great idea if we made it a group thing?”
“Lanre, this is my wife Kike”, Bayo put his arm round Kike.
“Hi”, Kike shook his hand, smiling knowingly. She turned back to her husband. “Don’t you think it’s a great idea? We’ve got the villa all to ourselves, there are at least six rooms…”
“You should definitely visit Bali”, Bayo nodded at Lanre. “It’s the best”.
“I’d love to come”, Lanre opened his hands. “Sign me up”.
“Me too!”, Lillian chirped.
“Dara, you in?”, Kike raised an eyebrow.
“Yes…”, she glanced in Amaka’s direction.
Amaka’s a Nigerian citizen. She won’t be able to get a visa, the thought rolled round her head, dropping like a coin in a vending machine.
“Definitely”, she purred.
Singapore: Single and Searching will be back in two weeks!