Sitting with legs crossed under the big mango tree at the village square, Aminat waited patiently for someone to come by.
Not just anyone, you see, she was interested in a particular someone.
A certain dark complexioned, tall, lithe somebody. Somebody who was so good at getting from point A to point B without making a single sound, so good in fact that it was quite possible she would have no warning when he showed-
Suddenly a hand wrapped around her eyes, blocking all sight and plunging her into instant darkness. Another hand wrapped around her mouth. She felt the person restraining her close by. She relaxed.
This person was familiar.
With no other option, she licked the hand covering her mouth. Instantly, it vanished.
“Iyanma. Stop doing that na.”
“Well, you too stop sneaking up on me like that.” She couldn’t help it, she giggled.
He relented and chuckled softly. That was Bello for you. Every thing he did was quiet. He wasn’t much for noise or talk in general. People often pointed at him in the village when he passed, muttering about the strange quiet boy who never made a sound when he walked. It had become common for villagers to suddenly find him somewhere, like he popped out of thin air, since he didn’t give any warning at all.
But what Aminat liked the most about him was his kind heart. She had often seen him stop whatever he was doing to help a villager in need. Whether it was to catch a runaway chicken, or tie fronds to secure a broken fence or just giving a hungry child a lump of bean cake, Bello was known throughout the village to be generous.
“How are you?”
“Me? I am fine. How about you?” He replied, so quietly she had to strain to hear him. He put his hand in his shorts and brought it out closed as a fist.
“Close your eyes and open your mouth.” He chuckled a little at this. She gave the matter some thought. Bello was kind, but also mischievous. Everyone knew him to be a master prankster. She weighed the possibility of harm with the fact that to a huge extent she actually trusted him and made up her mind.
She squeezed her eyes shut, mouth open, pink tongue lolling. She felt something really sweet touch her tongue, felt it dribble down, delicious to the last. She closed her eyes even harder as a small sound of pleasure escaped her lips, then her tongue flicked out to catch the remaining stickiness around her mouth.
She opened her eyes. He had a honeycomb in his hand. She grabbed it from him and gobbled it up in one bite, smacking her lips heartily when she was done.
Then she noticed him watching her and shuddered pleasantly. It had nothing to do with how sweet the honey was, and everything to do with the fact that she had touched him, and furthermore, he was watching her. You see, she had just gotten to that age when every touch from someone of the opposite gender was a thing of great importance. A memory to be kept, explored, savored. Like honey.
Which of course, he had watched her devour like a wild animal.
Her cheeks grew hot with shame. She sat up primly, arranging her hands and legs in a more lady-like manner. Then her stomach grumbled and she stuck her sticky fingers in her mouth, licking it clean and enjoying it, very much ashamed yet unwilling to let even that deliciousness go to waste.
“You look hungry.”
“I am. I’ve been waiting for you since morning.”
“It’s late afternoon. Why didn’t you go home to eat?”
She looked down, drawing figures in the sand with the big toe of her right foot. How could she explain that she was getting quite fond of him? That she waited because she wanted, no needed to be there when he arrived. She couldn’t miss a minute of the limited time they had to spend, and already she has taken to wishing the days had more hours in them so she could spend them with him.
She drew a big circle, covering all the squiggly lines she had drawn previously. He reached out at grabbed her hand. He wasn’t normally a touchy feely person, so she froze. Then not wanting him to let go, she relaxed and let him pull her up gently to her feet.
“Let’s find you something to eat.”
Her stomach growled in reply.