Today RWoWA would like to welcome a character from Sifa Asani Gowon’s latest release Playing by Her Rules. I think we’re going to have some fun with him.
RWoWA: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Since my lovely readers cannot see you, please tell them what you look like and your personality.
My name is Caetano Olufemi Oyeniran. That’s quite a mouthful, I know. Most people call me Kay…and my father calls me Femi when he wants to give me a lecture.
What do I look like? Now that’s an awkward question to ask a man. I’ll give it my best shot. I’m about 6 ft 2 inches tall, give or take half an inch…I have dark brown dreadlocks and light brown eyes. I’m told they’re hazel, which I think sounds very girly.
I tend to be straight forward and have even been accused of being sarcastic and broody. I prefer the terms witty and intense. I’m a go-getter and do not believe in wasting time or effort on anything I don’t feel is worth it. I’m energetic and do not like to remain stagnant or cloistered in one place for too long. That’s why being a footballer is the perfect profession for me: it’s a physical outlet for anything I’ve got going on within.
RWoWA: Are you in a relationship or do you have a crush on someone? Describe her to our readers.
COO: I wouldn’t call it a personal relationship per se- more like a professional relationship that seems to go off on a tangent most times.
The woman in question is Tari. She’s currently with someone else and I employ her services as an interior decorator and designer for my new house in Abuja. Crush? No…I wouldn’t quite put it that way. She intrigues me and infuriates me at the same time. And she’s bloody attractive too which doesn’t make keeping distance easier. And its more than just physical- she’s got…a wholeness to her I can’t quite explain and it makes me want to be around her. Even though I don’t want her to know that.
Right. Can we move on to the next question as I think I’ve embarrassed myself enough answering this one.
RWoWA: Your little non-relationship sounds complicated. How did you meet her? Is there anything noteworthy about your meeting?
COO: Hmmm…how could I forget? I had just come in from the UK with Emeka, my friend and generally more sensible human being, and Minka, my physiotherapist who also doubles as my self-appointed mother/babysitter, and I decided to buy a car. So, here I was minding my own business and driving my brand new Range Rover into the Hilton parking lot when she, Tari, reversed too fast, without looking and ran into my car. And it didn’t stop there.
I came out of the car, understandably upset and walked over to her and she proceeded to faint. I had to catch her to stop her from falling and hurting herself.
So, as you can imagine, I haven’t quite been able to forget that meeting nor am I likely to.
RWoWA: Quite the dramatic first encounter. Let’s move on to something completely different. Do you prefer showers or baths? Share any fond memories.
COO: I definitely prefer showers. I think growing up in Nigeria taught me to be frugal with water and I must admit that I see baths as a waste. In secondary school, we had to bath with one bucket of water, usually cold, and do so in the minimum amount of time possible. Even at home, my father did not like us to waste water so we had to watch how much of it we used.
I mean, why fill up a bathtub with water and sit in it? What for? Just jump in , wash up, rinse up and go. No need to make a long production of it, I think.
RWoWA: I think it might be an Africa thing to prefer showers over baths. The one bucket bathing is probably the most common. Is there a fond memory that you’d like to share?
COO: There are a few fond memories I have- mostly involving my mother, who died in a car crash when I was ten. I remember sitting with her in the kitchen while she cooked and she would hum some of the Latin hymns we sang at Mass. She liked to sing. She liked to sing along to Astrud Gilberto, a Brazilian singer. I remember that my father used to smile a lot more when she was alive. And I also remember her laugh too, and how she attempted to speak a little Yoruba with an accent. After she died…the memories weren’t as fond, I’d say. Not all bad memories as such- just not as bright.
RWoWA: You have my condolences. She sounds like a wonderful woman. Have you ever broken a bone? Where did it happen?
COO: I’ve torn a cruciate ligament on my left knee which is pretty close. On a scale of one to ten in pain, would measure an eleven! It happened in one of the final matches of the UEFA tournament and I had to be put out for over six months to recover. That’s when I came to Nigeria.
RWoWA: Ouch. I’ve heard those types of injuries can threaten a person’s football career if not taken care of correctly. I’m glad to see you’re doing better. If you could only have one drink, what will it be?
COO: This is going to sound very strange but next to water, I’d say the one drink I’d have would be milk. I can’t do without it. I’d rather have milk than any other drink.
RWoWA: Milk. Interesting. You have a way of surprising me with your answers. If you were in a rage, what or who can talk you out of your anger?
COO: If my mother were alive I’d like to think she’d be able to do that.
But now…I think Tari would. She has a calming effect which, in the strangest paradox, comforts and aggravates me at the same time, if you can make any sense of that.
Thanks for talking with me today. It was a pleasure meeting you. Good luck with all your ventures, and by that I mean snatching Tari’s heart.
Tariela ‘Tari’ Ekiye, a successful Interior Decorator living in the bustling city of Abuja, seems to have it all. Things just get better when she is commissioned to redesign Hill House, a coveted property recently purchased by a mysterious buyer.
Then she literally crashes into Caetano ‘Kay’ Oyeniran, her football hero and long-time celebrity crush, denting his brand new car and her ego in the process. Kay, who has returned to Nigeria to recover from a knee injury, just happens to be the new owner of Hill House.
Complications arise as Tari is torn between her existing relationship and growing attraction to Kay, with her faith and principles stuck in the middle.
The atmosphere at the Sheraton Hotel was charged right from the large gates, with a long line of cars being slowly admitted, drivers coming out to open car trunks for security guards to check. Cars honked in bursts, their occupants impatient, as the queue snaked its way in.
Kay regretted his decision to attend the event the moment her stepped out of his car. There was noise everywhere as people met,laughed and talked, in loud Nigerian fashion. He tugged at his collar in a bid to loosen the tie a little, feeling the cloying heat envelop him as soon as he left the comfort of his air conditioned car. He cursed himself for allowing Minka to talk him into wearing that particular suit. He hated formal events even more than he hated the accompanying formal wear. He sighed as he walked to the hotel foyer.
Important looking men, dressed in everything from the native agbadas and babanrigas to formal suits flooded the area. Various securitypersonnel attached to them swarmed the area, each trying to outdo the other in a bid to impress their Ogas. Women of varying sizesand ages clung to the men, some holding their heads up in pride and dignity, others looking slightly bedazzled, as though they werenot meant to be there. Light reflected off massive bosoms heaped with glinting gems and gold, as well as sequins and embroidery ontheir outfits. Ah, but Nigerian women could really ‘do’ magnificence, Kay thought to himself as he glanced at the various traditional-style outfits on display. Some of the elaborate aligogoro headgear worn by the women could easily rival those worn at Ascot. Almosteveryone had some mobile device in his or her hand, the older ones speaking loudly into them, creating a cacophony of sound and the younger ones taking photographs of themselves, ready to upload on Instagram no doubt.
Kay was met by a smiling hostess who gestured toward the large entrance. As he attempted to navigate through the crowd he bumpedinto a few people, including some government officials who shook his hand enthusiastically and inquired about his injury, insisting that he stand as pictures were taken. His eyes began to hurt from the intensity of the flashbulbs and he deftly sidestepped a group of boisterous kaftan clad men, only to bump into an older lady dressed in bejewelled, sequined iro and buba.
She turned sharply, her expression of outrage transforming into one of delight as she gasped. She raised her heavily drawn eyebrows and grinned through glossy fuschia lips.
“Come…are you not that footballer? The half caste Yoruba boy?” Her question was loud, causing a few people to turn and look at them. Kay cringed inwardly, gaping and sputtering an answer.
She didn’t wait for him to finish, gripping his forearm firmly as she steered him into a self-focused chat, her eyes gleaming in a predatory manner Kay found disturbing, as she batted her false lashes coyly. Kay’s mind was moving at breakneck speed, trying to come up with respectful ways to evade the lady when he glanced to his left and spotted her.
Kay’s breath caught in his throat as Tari walked onto the carpet, her hand firmly held in the Doctor’s. She was wearing a dress madeout of native ankara fabric emblazoned with multi-colored designs and sequins that shimmered in the overhead lights. There was nothing suggestive about it but it fell over her body in a way that made him stumble over his words, such that the matron had to ask him to repeat what he had said. He smiled and excused himself, going over to a corner to ‘regroup’. When he looked up Tari was gone.
He made his way to the entrance and there he caught a glimpse of her again, this time without the Doctor hanging around. She looked around her, eyes wide and unsure. She turned and spotted him approaching and smiled with a look of relief on her face.
“Hello Kay. You can’t imagine how nice it is to see a familiar face. I don’t do well in crowded places with people I don’t know.”
Her hair curled loosely about her face and she had a thin gold chain around her neck and her perfume, reminiscent of a tropical flower, drifted about her. Compared to most of the women present she was probably considered under-dressed. Kay thought she was stunning.
“You look beautiful Tari.” The compliment came out as strong as he had meant for it to be, being the most genuine thing he had ever said to her. Her soft smile and thank you rendered him temporarily speechless. Before he could recover and say more the Doctor came by, sliding his arm around Tari’s waist in a way that made Kay’s teeth set on edge. He suddenly had the overwhelming urge to reach out and take the Doctor’s hands off Tari, even though technically Kay knew he had no right to touch her. He forced himself to smile and greet the Doctor, reaching out to hold his hand in a firm handshake.
“So nice to see you here,” Hafis said. Kay could swear he caught the trace of insincerity in his voice.
“It’s good to see you too. I don’t really like attending these types of events…” He spoke in a disaffected way and the Doctor nodded politely before being momentarily distracted, turning his head away as Kay continued his statement. “I guess some times we do things just for the heck of it, with no real reason.”
Tari didn’t turn away from his direct look and he saw the spark of awareness in her eyes. The silent exchange seemed lost on the Doctor, who turned back and muttered vaguely, his polite smile still in place, “Yes, well…we have to go in now. Some other time then.” Kay nodded as the couple turned and headed toward the entrance.
He led Tari away, his hand resting on the small of her back. As Kay watched them go he was struck by the intense desire to be in the Doctor’s place, holding Tari like that.
About the Author
Sifa Asani Gowon is a Moscow-born/Nigerian bred thirty-something wife, mother of two, baker and writer; juggling all these while living in the scenic city of Jos, Nigeria. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes in a spirit. body and soul connection and that’s why she tends to veer towards inspirational romance. She enjoys reading, writing when the inspiration strikes, listening to music, keeping in touch with friends, building her faith in God and trying out new pastry recipes for her baking business and family. She also takes pleasure in the sound of her children’s laughter, jokes, and great food.