I couldn’t believe it when Kehinde said “Yes, I’d love to go to the party with you Babs”. She smiled in a warm way that lit up her whole face and nearly made my heart stop beating. “Friday night you say – what sort of part will it be – casual or dressy? It wasn’t until I was on my way home from the campus, when I was passing ‘Dakova’ on the importance of her question struck me. ‘
Dakova’ is what my sister, Enitan calls a boy’s boutique which is one of the reasons I wouldn’t have been seen dead looking in the glossy windows the week before. Now though I just stood there staring in at all the fantastic clothes and it slowly dawned on me that though I’d managed to screw up the courage to ask out the girl of my dreams and she’d agreed to go to the party with me the truth is I didn’t have a thing to wear.
I tried to shrug and pretend that clothes didn’t matter, that Kehinde wouldn’t going to the party on Friday with a set of clothes – she’d be going with a person – somebody who really cared about her. To think that I’d spent my birthday money on a microscope for science instead of clothes a couple of weeks ago. A microscope! I almost groaned out loud. That was in those days before I became aware of Kehinde with her lovely hair and bright eyes. As soon as I got home, I dumped my books and ran up to my room, sank into my bed, remembering Mum’s voice, when she and Enitan were in the middle of one of their endless rows about clothes. “It’s a pity you’re not more like Babs. He hasn’t a vain bone in his body. So long as he is comfortable, he doesn’t care what he wear!”.
“That’s because he’s a boy!” Enitan always retorted scornfully. “You know they like looking scruffy”. Did we? I might not have disagreed before but now…….. I went round to Jide, my friend to see him “Hi Babs”, he grinned as he let me in, then he frowned. “What are you staring at” I tried to take my eyes off Jide’s obviously new blue shirt his spotless cream cords, it suddenly seemed that everybody had been dressing up behind my back – and I hadn’t even noticed before. I swallowed shoving my hands into my pockets. “Er” you know I’ve never been to one of your parties before, I was wondering……… that is, Kehinde was…… what kind of party?
He stared. Then he grinned, as if I was about ten “Oh; it’s OK, it’ll only be Coke, and records”, he said, “Noting heavy, tell your folks and we just wear casual gear you know – best jeans and shirt kind of thing. What you normally wear at the weekend.
That was it, then, I thought dejectedly, as I turned away. How would I go to my first ever real party, take a girl like Kehinde on my first ever real date wearing an oil – stained jumper and cord with a hole in the knee? For the rest of that night, I placed the floor of my room not even tempted by my Mum’s fish and chips – thinking of everything, coming up with no solution to my problem. Then I prayed fervently to God to provide ma a set of clothes to wear to the party. Next day, at lunchtime, I was talking to Kehinde outside the campus trying to pluck up the courage to tell her the party was off, when a bus passed, and someone frantically waved out of the window.
“It’s my mum” I explained, shuffling my feet with embarrassment as an Kehinde stared on her way to town. Kehinde smiled, “Is everything OK Babs? She asked. Then she went on, shyly, “I’m so looking forward to your friend’s party, you know, it is casual, like you said, I think I’ll wear”…….but before she had a chance to tell me the bus came and I slunk away. I felt really sick. On top of everything else, mum would want to know who Kehinde was. She’d never seen me with a girl before and I bet she’d tease the life out of me – and so would that Enitan. As for the party, I might as well forget that.
I was in no rush to get home, but when I eventually got in, mum smilled at me thoughtfully, “I thought you might be getting tired of chips so I made porridge Babs”, she said. “It’s much better for your skin, and teeth, anyway oh – and if you go up and look on your bed. You’ll find something for you, I – picked them up today, in a sale”. Puzzled I ran up the stairs, two at a time. And there, laid out my bed, was the answer to my prayers. A pair of brand new blue jeans with a “Davoka” label on the back and a white shirt. “Mum” I shouted as I ran downstairs with them. “They’re great! But – but how did……?”
Mum smiled conspiratorially, like she did sometime at Enitan, and I thought of the times Enitan had said she was the best mum in the world. In spite of their quarrels, that there were things she just….well….understood. “I thought they’d go quite well together”, she said, “for any….er….special occasion you might be planning………” She broke off, too wise to mention the party and the way she’d put two and two together, and I embarrassed, fiddled with the label on the jeans. “I hadn’t noticed you were growing up so fast, “she went on, a little sadly. Then her eyes flashed, and she became her own self again. “And you won’t get any older, if I catch you anywhere near that motorbike in them did you hear? I was so glad and grateful to God for answering my prayers on those clothes. God still answers prayers, will always answer prayers.