At the airport, they held onto each other like Siamese twins.
‘I will call everyday
‘No, I will call everyday. You are a student now. Save your money for books.’
They laughed and then cried again until Lolade stood in front of the customs officers who everyone knew were like bloodhounds, sniffing the air for any sign of weakness.
‘Madam, why are you packing so much Indomie? Are you going to sell it in America?’ Lolade knew better than to answer with anything but an ingratiating smile. Tife on the other hand rolled her eyes and hissed from the sidelines.
Once the bags were checked in, they clung to each other again so much so that people began to whisper.
‘Abi these ones no know say police dey find lesbians?’
That made them laugh and then cry a little more until it was time for Lolade to head to the boarding area.
‘I will miss you.”You wish. We will facetime every day’
And at first they did. Everyday for the first 2 months and then four times a week until it dwindled to an acceptable pace of twice a week, Saturdays and Sundays.
Lolade made some friends that first year but no one like Tife. Not that anyone could ever be like Tife.
They had met in Primary 5 and become inseparable instantly so much so that even their parents became interchangeable.
‘Mum, I and Tife need money for Jamb’ Lolade announced to her mother one evening as they both did their home work under her steady gaze. By then, the woman knew not to question the fates that had made her what into a mother of two rather than the one she birthed. She belonged to them both just as Tife’s parents had become Lolade’s.
‘Tife, we are going to Dubai for your summer holidays.’
‘Can Lolade come too?’ And so Tife’s father had to shell out money for another ticket to Dubai in addition to the 3 tickets he already purchased for the children born of his loins.
Tife came to visit that first year of Lolade’s PhD journey and it was a joyous time. They hung out everyday except when Ololade had to teach, a requirement of her scholarship and even then Tife would sit in the class like the other students, marveling as her friend taught biology to undergrads in one of the world’s best schools. How far she had come from their own undergrad days at Unilag.
They rented a car for the weekend Tife was around and went to Ithaca because Tife had read about its 100 waterfalls and wanted to count for herself.
It was the happiest part of that whole year for both of them but it was also then that Tife knew for sure .
‘Ore ogun o le sere fun ogun odun’
It was an adage she had heard her mother say many times when Tife demanded Lolade be included in every plan her own parents had for her.
They ended up seeing only 20 of the waterfalls before it was time to drive back to the city and for Tife to fly home.
’20 for all the birthdays we have known each other…’ Tife remarked as she took her turn driving but Lolade was already asleep, tired out from taking her own turn at the wheel and all the hiking of the weekend.
In Tife’s makeup bag was the ring she had accepted but never worn. Her excuse was that it had been the wrong size. But there was more to it.
It was the fear of realizing that this was a thing that Lolade could not share in completely and what then would be left of the love, the friendship they had built for so long.
It had taken this trip for her to realize Lolade was already living a life she Tife could never completely share in. That this was life, that friendships could survive friends changing and loving other people and things. That yes, with love and with good friends, you could eat your cake and have it.
She waited until they stopped for gas and it was Lolade’s turn to drive.
‘I know. He told me, sent me money for the ring…’
‘You bought the ring?’
‘ Well you already showed him what you wanted, he didn’t want it ordered online so I went to Zales and picked it up.’
‘I should have known…’
‘Well why didn’t you say yes?’
‘So where is your ring?’
‘Here,’ she said, dredging up the box from the insides of her makeup box. ‘I wanted to tell you in person but the right time never presented itself.’
‘I know what you are thinking Tife and It is okay I promise. I am going to be okay if you marry Ade. I will love you the same. ‘
‘You have only always had just me.’
‘Yes. But maybe it is time to have more- a new friend, a boyfriend maybe – and someday when and if i am ever done with this PhD, maybe a husband and kids. All of it maybes… But one thing is for sure, I will always have you. Maybe a little differently but I am content with sharing.’
‘I love you Lolly’
‘And I love you Tee…Now let’s find you a dress before you leave and get this wedding planning started.’
Song of the day: Michelle Branch – It’s You