The rays of the sun came slanting in through the window. The soft afternoon breeze blew in gently,sweeping its fingers lightly across my skin. I sat on the bench and watched the clock that stood firmly in its position on the wall. And at each strike of its hand, I could observe seconds grow into minutes and minutes into hours.
“Ahan ,Jumoke, are you still waiting?” a voice squeaked from behind the room. It was my friend Nkechi. I could easily recognize that soft tiny rat-like voice from a mile. “Are you still waiting?” she repeated as she came closer to where I was seated. Before I had the time to reply,Nkechi spoke again almost immediately, “See my friend, time isn’t on your side. You’ve been here waiting for something that we aren’t even sure you might get. Why not choose from what is available, must it be that one?” “No!” I screamed, not able to control the anger that was beginning to fuel up inside me. This startled Nkechi. I could see the astonishment she held on her face. “I’m sorry, but no”, I repeated trying to sound remorseful. “I know what I want, and I’m not settling for less.” Nkechi who by now had reached her peak of frustration just stood there confused not able to say anything. She was exhausted, it was obvious. She had been persisting all morning that I go for another dress. “It doesn’t have to be that one. There are so many other dresses to choose from Jumoke. They might even turn out better than what you want”, she had said that morning. “But you heard the shopkeeper didn’t you? They’ll have what i want in stock by 7pm this evening” , I had answered adamantly.
As she stood there looking both confused and annoyed, I turned to look at the clock. It was 3:30pm. I had been doing this and my eyes was beginning to grow weary from the continuous stares. My body felt stiff and I ached badly all over as a result of being in the same position for so long. “If only the dress would arrive before time”, I continuously wished to myself. ” “Why not go home and come for it the following day”, Nkechi suggested.”I know, but what if they run out of stock before I return the next day. You know they usually have limited stock. At least you saw for yourself, none of the other dresses fitted me perfectly, that’s why I need to wait for this one. It’ll be the best dress for me”, I pleaded with her ,hoping she wouldn’t press further. “Best dress kwa! Argh, Jummie, you’re one stubborn girl indeed. It’s not fair na. Look at the time, we got here before others and now we are the only ones left. It’s not like I got the dress I wanted, but do I have a choice? Moreover what’s the guarantee that the new stock will arrive today. Be reasonable na”, she pushed on, her voice sounding like the squeak of a rat that had just walked into a trap and was trying to get itself out. I cast my eyes at the clock again. The long hand was on 10 and the short hand on 4. It seemed like time had suddenly decided to go slow in its flight. I cursed silently for a while because of this, then diverted my attention back to Nkechi. “I think you should go. I don’t want to be the reason for your delay. I don’t want -” “Okay, okay. I’ve heard. I’m going. I’ll give you a call as soon as I get home. But if the dress doesn’t come, pick another one o, don’t continue waiting, because I know you”, she replied cutting me short. It was as if she had wanted me to give the go ahead all along. As Nkechi picked up her bags to leave, she added, “Life is like this o my friend, if you don’t get what you want, take what you see and manage it, ehen. I don’t like the dress I chose, but what choice do I have, so be like me, bye bye.”
“Be like me, be like me.” No way was I going to be like her or anyone else. I had seen so many young girls like us walk into the shop that day with a clear picture of the kind of outfit they deemed fit for themselves. And when it wasn’t available, after much persuasion from the shopkeeper, they opted for something else. Most times, it ended up not matching their tastes nor needs. I didn’t want a dress that didn’t fit. I had tried so many dresses that morning and they were either too short, extremely long, ridiculously tight or annoyingly loose. When that wasn’t the case, then they probably didn’t complement my skin tone ,or made me look fatter or thinner than normal. One of the the dresses almost met my desire, except for the material; it was made of silk, and I hated silk.
“If that’s the dress you really want, then you’ll have to be patient and wait until we have it in stock again”, the shopkeeper had told me that morning. “When will it be available?” “Hopefully by 7pm today”, she had assured me. It was 10:05am at the time. Nine hours had stretched out longer than i’d expected it would. In fact, it was beginning to seem like it would last forever. I peered at the clock for the hundredth time, it was 4:10pm. I yawned from time to time due to the fatigue that was beginning to set in and as I did this, I silently counted and wished the seconds would walk by faster.
“My dear, I didn’t know you were still around, why don’t you go home and check back with us tomorrow. Your dress would be available by then as promised”, the shopkeeper’s voice alerted me. I must have been dozing off, for I didn’t notice her walk by. “I’ll wait ma. I don’t want to take any chances, I’ll wait till 7pm”, I answered turning to look at the clock again. “Alright then”, she said as she bent round to return to her former position.
“I’ll wait for that dress. It’s the one I really love, so no matter how long it takes, I’ll wait” , I thought to myself while gazing at the clock. The time was 4:35pm.