“Hey, you! Yes, the lady with the cornrows!” A cheerful voice yelled across the street. Hailey looked over her shoulder surreptitiously. It was Ngene with a tall, athletic-looking bearded guy. She heaved a sigh of relief.
“Hey, Ngene! How you doing today?” She returned the greeting in an equally cheerful voice. Looking to the left and right, she crossed the street and stood right beside the duo. Ngene beamed as Hailey gave her a friendly pat on the shoulder.
“Now, where are your manners, young lady? How can I be standing right beside you and this Hulk Hogan without your introducing me to him?” The Hulk Hogan rolled his eyes as his companion looked away. Hailey waved her hand in front of Ngene’s face, bringing her back to the present.
“Hmmm…,” Ngene responded thoughtfully. “Pardon my bad manners, you know Tonya is not here to keep me on track.”
“Obviously,” Her listener remarked. “I’m still waiting for you to introduce me. Or don’t you know how to make introductions?”
“Of course, I do!” Ngene retorted. With a flourish, she turned to her companion, “This is Timi, my sidekick. Timi, meet my cheeky friend, Hailey.”
Timi nodded politely at the newcomer before he spoke. “So it is just because of a mere introduction you decided to do kweshon sign?” He asked as he made a gesture in the question mark sign in Ngene’s face. Both ladies laughed heartily.
“Now, now, I think all of us can sit somewhere to chat instead of standing around like jobless loiterers!” Hailey pointed out as she took her friend’s hand.
“Let’s go! Bunch of teenagers, both of you.”
As they walked down the dusty road, Timi kicked a pebble and watched it roll into a gutter. Ngene stared straight ahead, almost as if she were looking for a castle in the horizon. Hailey nodded to a beat only her could hear in her head. Presently, they got to a shop and sat down as the ladies shooed the mother hen and her brood clucking at their feet.
“So, what’s up with both of you?” Hailey asked her companions. “I thought your boyfriend was Amir. How come you introduced Timi as my sidekick?”
“That’s because he’s my sidekick!” Ngene returned cheerfully. “Aren’t you, Timi?”
“Sure Baby! We are in a three-way relationship, hence our initials N-A-T!”
Hailey blinked at him before she went on, “So are y’all in some sort of menage-a-trois? In Nigeria? Hmmm, this got to be some interesting gist for my new novel!” She leaned forward as she peered at them curiously.
“N-A-T, as in Not Available Today! So if you have something else to ask us we’d be willing to answer you!” Her female friend tittered as she gave Timi a chop knuckle.
“Lemme help you, Dear.” The hunk offered as he flashed a quick smile at the questioner, “Ngene and I are sidekicks. She has a boyfriend but we are buddies. She just can’t get rid of me even if she wanted to. I’m her confidant and the only difference between me and her boyfriend is that she isn’t screwing me!”
Hailey heaved a sigh of relief. “Honestly, I was scared when I heard her call you her sidekick. I don’t support cheating and she knows that!” Ngene made a face at her.
“Is there anything I don’t know about your romantic and sexual history, Ngene? You tell me everything, right?”
A ram walked past and Hailey reached out to scratch its head. “You know I adore animals. Not just animals, but domestic animals! That’s why I enjoy watching Dr Pol on Nat Geo Wild!”
“You be careful right there, animal lover!” Ngene warned. “How often do they bathe these animals? Do you want to contract a disease from playing with dirty, smelly animals?”
“If you love animals so much, why not play with my Alsatian? I wash him regularly.” Timi offered.
“I’m good.” Hailey turned down his offer as she brought out her hand sanitizer from her bag. She poured a little on her palms and rubbed them together before returning the bottle to her bag.
“So, Timi, tell me why you don’t have a girlfriend of your own.” Timi grimaced as he turned away. Ngene tapped his muscular arm before he responded.
“I think relationships suck, Madam! It is a lot less complicated to have many female friends who are dating someone else. Just like Ngene.”
“Ohk.” Hailey lapsed into silence for a moment, as she thought of the next thing to say. When she looked up from her musing, she noticed both of them chuckling away at an inside joke only them understood.
“Ngene, I want to know just how happy you are in your relationship with Amir. Do you mind my asking you?”
“Ah ahn, what kind of question is that? Am I happy in my relationship with Amir?” Ngene mimicked her friend’s manner of speaking. Timi looked at Hailey curiously, as though he was trying to read her mind.
“I’m serious. You don’t see me shining my teeth, do you?”
“Well…” Ngene’s voice faded away as she tossed her braids. “I don’t want to discuss the details of my relationship with you! That’s why I have Timi as my confidant.”
“Fine.” Hailey responded. “I take that to mean you aren’t very happy with Amir.”
Timi and Ngene looked at each other before shaking their heads at the speaker. “We are happy as friends, that’s what matters.”
Hailey looked at both of them with pursed lips as she turned away. A few moments later, she rested her gaze on the duo before she spoke.
“I know what your problem is, Timi! You have lots of anxiety issues which you refuse to deal with. Rather than face these anxiety issues you have from being in a relationship, you choose to feed off the free attention given to you by ladies like Ngene.”
“Watch your mouth, young lady!” Ngene warned menacingly.
“And you, Ngene, you fail to realize that Timi doesn’t like you as a person. He just likes the way he feels, thinks and sees himself behaving around you.” Hailey continued, deaf to her friend’s warning. “How do you expect that a guy with a mindset like Timi’s will be able to like your person?”
“I like Ngene, so I think you are wrong, girl.” Timi glared at Hailey.
“Oh yeah?” Hailey queried. “There are words for both of you. You, Timi are engaging in Altruistic surrender, while you, Ngene have a poor self-image!”
“Altruistic surrender happens when a person tries to live out his fantasies through another person.
Timi ostensibly isn’t looking for a relationship, but he feeds off the vibes of a relationship by befriending women with boyfriends.” Hailey replied calmly.
“And? I already know that about myself. Anything else?” Timi hissed.
“Timi tries to live out his fantasies of being in a real relationship by using you, Ngene. That is why he acts particularly curious to know the details of your relationship, what you did with Amir last night in Za oza room, and so on.” Hailey continued. “He is using you, Ngene!”
“I don’t feel used, Hailey.” Ngene said in a low voice. “Can you tell me why?”
“I can, Dear.” Her friend replied. “You don’t feel used because you don’t have a sense of self! You see yourself in terms of the roles, labels, and circumstances around you, not in terms of your core values. If your sense of self were stable, you’d see that your sidekick latches onto you just because of the way he thinks, feels, and behaves around you. Not because he can even describe your person without resorting to roles, labels, and circumstances!”
Ngene was silent for a moment. Then she looked up. “What is the way forward, Amateur Shrink?”
“Timi would do well to practice mindfulness and radical acceptance of his anxiety issues. If he doesn’t want a girlfriend, he should stop trying to live out his subconscious fantasies of being in a relationship by fixating on other women’s relationship and sex lives.”
“I sent you an article on core values a few weeks ago but I guess you never read it. That’s a good place to start.” Hailey reminded her friend.
“Now you wish to ruin my association with Ngene. Wehdon Ma, I see that you’re just like Satan: stealing, killing, and destroying!”
Both ladies laughed at Timi before Ngene replied, “Guy, you need a girlfriend! Stop being a vampire and a coward. Pick a side Hun! You detest relationships, stay far away from every mention of relationships, dating, sex, and marriage!”
Timi snorted as he got up from the bench. He looked at Hailey for a few seconds before walking away, a King Kong in the concrete jungle all around him.
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