by Tayo Fasuan
I was in SSS 1, and that day, together with my clique back then, were walking and chitchatting along the road, planning on going to one of our houses. Unlike other days when we would have waited under the Acacia tree in front of the school to gist and gossip and generally not wanting to go home, we decided to go to the house of one of us, walking as slowly as possible.
And that was when this girl walked and passed us by.
Of course she was pretty, short and plumpy, and with enough bounce in her gait to show that she was unusually happy about something. Now, we didn’t know what could be responsible for her attitude, but we didn’t care; one of us must give a chase, and as usual, it had to be me, Irunmu, a crazy name my classmates gave me because of being the first to sprout a full moustache when we were in JSS 2. Of course, my big stature and daring nature won’t let me be wise too anyway. I felt it was my duty to go.
The lot fell on me anyway: I just had to be the one to go and ‘toast’ her.
Now, the problem with roadside toasting is that it always comes with drama if it doesn’t go right. And we usually promise not to do it again…until we do it again. This my own experience took a surprised turn because I still don’t know how I would have responded even if it had happened even now.
So I walked faster to catch up with her, and when I finally did, I said “Hi.” The funny thing about writing about this was that I’m currently writing about this just few yards away from where I caught up with her over 20 years ago. If you are familiar with Ado-Ekiti, you would know NAO Supermarket, and it was right in front of that place, few meters away from Tolu Packard Pharmacy, that it happened. The sense of Déjà vu I’m feeling now is unbelievable.
Back to the story, I repeated the “Hi” again, and she just pretended I wasn’t there beside her, walking with the speed of over 80 km/hr and I was speed-walking as well to catch up. She was singing a popular gospel song that I can’t remember, and she was still with the dreamy, smiley look pasted on her face. On realising that was how she was going to play this, knowing full well that my friends were just some few feet behind us, I launched into a one-sided conversation, introducing myself and asking her what her name was.
‘Aunty’ still ignored me o.
And I kept talking too. Asking about her class, whether she was a science student or whatever. I then proceeded to tell her that I saw her, and I liked what I saw – a line I still use till date – and that I didn’t mind being her friend – another line that would land me in so many troubles later in life. That was when she responded with a bombshell that I never ever saw coming:
“Do you know Jesus loves you? Have you given your life to him?”
Ladies and gentlemen, I was stunned and didn’t know what to say next. Responses and replies hooked in my throat. If she had told me to move away, I would have found some responses to rebuff her ‘attack’ on me. But this one knocked my sail off. And what’s worse? As soon as she saw I was in a state of confusing confusion, she commenced a full sermon till she branched off to her street. I was just there looking like a robot. Me? A pastor’s son, being asked this question by a girl I was toasting? Ha!
On reconvening with my friends, they asked how it went down. Of course I didn’t tell them what she said. I gave them a fake name, told her I would see her again. They must be hearing about how it actually went down that day for the first time.
And that was the beginning of my issue with random toasting by the roadside. I never liked it, but I didn’t stop doing it.