I watched the Lagos mud bathe my leopard printed suede shoes in disgust and the eyes of passersby at the bustop bear down on me, they too hadn’t been oblivious to the car which had raced down like a speed boat, splashing my shoes with thick slimy mud in the process. I bet they were waiting for me to do the typical Nigerian thing…*hurl insults*…but I was smarter than that, I chose the better option, I began to cry hard.
“My shoes…Oh my God! My suede shoes!” I wailed while people stared at me in confusion. “These are one of my favourite pieces, it’s Gianvito Rossi’s, do you know how much these cost? Five hundred and ten pounds!” I cried stamping my foot in anger.
Someone helped me get a bottle of water from the nearest kiosk and tried rinsing off the soot, instead, the mess grew worse. Shaking my head in pity, I hail a taxi cab and get in, tears staining my cheeks.
Born in Nigeria in the mid-eighties to middle class parents, I have lived my whole life in Lagos. I studied pharmacy at the University of Lagos and I had just quit my job at a pharmaceutical company in Lagos because I had decided that I wasn’t too happy with my career choice.
As opposed to the lives of many who ploughed my profession, I hardly ever woke up with the desire to discover a new medicine or find a cure to a long lasting ailment. My morning dews were bathed with my desire to shop for the latest designer wears and my nights were spent surfing the internet for couture, RTW and seasonal collections but my incurable fetish has always been shoes. My shoes have and will forever be my greatest assets as I have owned pairs from the shores of Prada to the high side of Louboutin. Friends call me ‘the shopaholic’ but I view myself in a different light; I’d rather be known as the Designer’s freak! I have forever loved and craved for everything designers, no wonder I had a dry bank account.
The taxi driver stares at me through the review mirror as I continue whimpering and sniffing in desperation. Suddenly my phone ring and I stare at the caller ID, it’s my boyfriend and seriously, I wasn’t elated.
“Hey boo…” I whisper into the receiver, sniffing loudly to make sure he notices my demeanor.
“Babe…are you alright?” He asks quietly.
I can’t hold the tears back anymore; I let out a loud wail which startles the driver and makes him honk his horn loudly.
“What’s the matter Hilda?” My concerned boyfriend asks.
“Oh Beckley…it’s my shoes…my Gianvito Rossi…something bad happened to them.” I wail.
“Oh thank God! I thought you were in danger of some sort.” He expels breathlessly, casually sounding relieved.
“Wait a minute! What are you implying?” I challenge.
“Nothing…it’s just that I’m glad you are fine and it’s just the shoes.”
“Just the shoes? Did you say, just the shoes?” I squeak in disbelief.
“Yes…I mean…they are inanimate objects…they have no feelings babe.”
“What? My shoes have no feelings? What the heck are you talking about? These pair are not just shoes…they are my friends and I have been with them since December 2012.” I say in utter astonishment at the way my boyfriend sounded.
“Alright…I’m sorry…so what’s up? I ‘d like us to have dinner this evening.” He says quickly dropping the shoe subject.
“No…I’m not up for dinner…I’ll be mourning my shoes.” I say flatly; he could go to hell for all I cared, anyone who disrespects my shoes, disrespects me, I conclude.
“It’s important to me babe…or have you forgotten? It’s our one year anniversary today.” He says sounding excited.
“Hmmm…really? Have we been together for a year? Wow! That’s long…I mean, this is my longest relationship ever.”
“Yes and it calls for a celebration…so are you up for it? My driver will come pick you up by seven.”
I finally agree to go for dinner after so much persuasion. The taxi drops me off at home and as soon as I get into the house, I stare at my shoes again. Taking them off at the entrance to the house, I critically inspect the extent of damage. The suede skin had been damaged by the mud and the heels were equally caked with a generous amount of clay soil. I hear my mother’s voice in the kitchen and rush upstairs inorder to avoid her, I didn’t want to be quizzed over my interview.
Yes, I had gone for an interview at a new pharmaceutical company at Ijora and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. The pay sounded good especially since it had three zeros complimenting it but I must confess, the workers outfit sucked. Being a pharmacist didn’t mean one had to be without sense of style, right? I was truly appalled at the dress sense and the shoes? I can’t begin to describe the horrific shoes; they resembled something from an ancient warehouse.
I walk into my bathroom and dump my pair of shoes beside the tub and honestly prayed for some sort of miracle, I needed to have them back in good shape, desperately. I walk back into my room and lay out a black Alexander McQueen dress uniquely designed for funerals and solemn occasions and choose my modest nude Stella McCartney’s sandals from my shoe closet. Starring at my wardrobe made me proud and happy over my achievements, I had a total of a hundred and two pairs of designer shoes, a full wardrobe of designer wears, a huge trunk filled with different designer hats and many other fashion accessories.
“It’s a pity Hilda hasn’t even begun acquiring all her assets.” I mutter to myself as I head to my bed. I collapse on its softness and my eyes drift off to dream land.
It wasn’t the alarm I had set that woke me up four hours later, it was the heavy bang at my door. Alarmed, I rose from sleep and stared at the clock…it was eight thirty five.
“Oh geez…what happed to my alarm?” I murmured as I walked over to open my bedroom door.
“Hilda!” My sister almost screamed. “What happened to you? You had all of us worried. Beckley says he has been calling your phone, where the heck is your phone?”
I yawned and stared at her indifferently.
“He said you guys were to have dinner somewhere and you haven’t shown up yet. His driver is downstairs.”
I nodded and walked into my bathroom, emerging minutes later feeling fresh and clean, I hastily don the black gown I had picked.
“What’s this? Are you mourning something?” My sister asked as she stares at me in confusion. She was still in my room, flipping through the magazine at my bedside.
“Yeah… my shoes died today!” I exclaimed and hastily wore my sandals.
“Oh please!” My sister rolled her eyes and glanced at the magazine again.
I was used to everyone’s mockery over my designer fetish but I didn’t care, I didn’t need anyone’s validation.
Thirty minutes later, I sit before my boyfriend and pay half attention to his chatter; all I thought of were my shoes and how they got soaked in mud.
“So…since I have been promoted to the position of G.M and err…things have been serious between us, I was thinking…” Beckley said but seemed to notice that I wasn’t paying attention. “Hilda…”
“Hmmm…sorry what were you saying?” I muttered, angry that he hadn’t asked over the wellbeing of my shoes.
He smiles and says;
“Babe…I have a surprise for you, it’s not much but I want you to know how much you really mean to me. I want you to be happy.”
My eyes light up in delight, I had waited for him to say this all evening.
“Really? Are you for real? Thank you babe…” I mouthed. I never liked people to do my shopping for me but for the fact that he made the attempt to replace my dead shoes was the best gift he had yet to give me. ‘Ofcourse that’s what he wants to give me right? A new pair of designer shoes!’ My thoughts pronounced.
Surprisingly and very confusing too, he stood from his chair and coming over to mine, he bent on one knee, opening his right palm, he revealed a small box. Flipping up the cover, he revealed a diamond ring.
“Hilda…will you marry me?” He asked.
Disappointment couldn’t have been better used at this time, I almost screamed in fury but knowing that I would draw attention to myself and to him, I could just stare at him in disbelief.
“No?” He asked looking perplexed.
“No boo…my shoes are dead and I’m still mourning their irreparable loss, I can’t accept your proposal at this time…please understand.” I said as I stood up from my seat and picking up my purse, I storm off.
I wish he knew how hard I held myself from actually renting, how could he of all people who claimed to love me, do this to me? I have had one philosophy in life and here it goes; ‘Hate me all you like, disregard my feelings but don’t ever mess with my shoes!’