Gems Of Yesteryear

8. Putting Her In Her Place

Another one of my very first works that I believe should have a place on this anthology.

Jay was loving the look on her face. She looked like she had been told she had contracted the HIV virus. Despondency was written all over her face as she faced him.

And his fiancée.

To think he’d be dumb enough to take her after the embarrassment she had caused him way back. Hell no! He had a wonderful lady now, more beautiful and caring than Robin. Maybe this would teach her a lesson not to have an immediate judgment of people.

Back in the university, Jay hadn’t been the most affluent of guys. His family pretty much struggled as far as money was concerned. So with him always excelling academically, it was quite a relief when he went through secondary school on a scholarship. In the tertiary part, though, his parents had to cough up the money themselves. They managed to, but of course, there wasn’t much left for Jay to really spend on himself.

So he was a little less than the normal guy. He didn’t have many flashy clothes, had a simple phone and, of course, didn’t have a car. And being the type of guy he was, he stayed satisfied with what he had.

Robin was one of the finest girls on campus. One who most guys would look at twice when she passed by. She wasn’t from a rich family. Comfortable was a better word to describe her background. Jay noticed her, and in a matter of weeks, he was smitten.

One day, he decided to make his move just before a lecture. Her class had just ended, and she was sitting by herself, typing away on her laptop.

He didn’t have that fear of rejection like most guys, so he freely walked into the hall, put his bag down, and approached her with a simple, “Hi.”

She looked up, and studying him for a split second, gave him a rather snide look. “Yes?”

“Oh, I got a lecture here in the next thirty minutes. I just happen to be an early bird, and I just couldn’t ignore you. Busy with those assignments, aren’t ya?”

Unfortunately for him, though, Robin didn’t seem too amused by his come-on. “Um, Mr. Man, do you mind? I’m in the middle of a serious assignment and your twittering is bothering me. Please leave me alone.”

Well, Jay was definitely turned off by her nasty response, but he wasn’t the hot-tempered type, so he just mumbled, “Sorry,” and went to his seat quietly.

She just made a ‘mtchew’ sound and continued typing.

After about 20 minutes, she got up, looked at him fidgeting with his little mp3 player, shook her head and left.

That could have been the end of it, but Robin had other ideas.

After Jay’s lecture, as he headed to his hostel, a group of girls he knew to be Robin’s friends giggled and whispered about him as he passed them. He heard one of them say, “She said his mp3 player is probably a 64MB type!”

Jay was somehow unperturbed by that. He never cared much about those types of girls. But in his hostel, a close friend came to tell him something rather interesting. “Robin is going round, telling everyone you proposed to her!”

Now that attracted his ire. “What?! That’s ridiculous! All I did was try to strike up a conversation with her, and she brushed me off like those half-caste kids you see on the streets.”

“Well, it seems that wasn’t enough. But it’s not just the proposal thing she’s saying. Boy, she’s demeaning you in front of everyone. Talking about your bag, shirt, mp3 player, phone, dude, she’s trashing you big time.”

Now that really hurt. If there was anything Jay detested, it was being mocked for not being rich. He was a firm believer of the adage ‘All fingers are not equal’, and nobody could be sure that once you were rich in the present, it would continue into the future.

The next day, from what seemed pretty obvious, half of the students around knew of Jay’s botched attempt to befriend Robin. Those who didn’t know him too well also learnt of his ‘financial plight’, seriously exaggerated by Robin. Some people were cruel enough to make mean jokes about him and taunt him. They stung like bee stings, but Jay held his peace.

Then he came across Robin, who, evidently, wasn’t done wrecking his reputation. She was talking to a different group of girls, and from the little he heard, she was scoffing at his ‘cheap necklace’. She turned just in time to see him. Giving him that ‘up-and-down’ look, she gestured towards him and said to the group, “Here he is.” Giggling followed suit.

Jay wasn’t the type of guy who was shy of girls, so he walked up to her and said calmly, “Robin, you know something? If you didn’t like me because I’m not a nice guy, that’s fine. But you can’t judge me because I’m poor. Not all fingers are equal, and your parents’ money isn’t automatically yours. I don’t appreciate your actions one bit, and I’d be happy if you ended it. Right now. If you don’t like me, fine, but don’t drag my name in the mud ‘cause I tried to make a move.”

All she had been doing was giving him that same look while he spoke. When he was done, she just looked towards her friends, and they all burst into laughter. Then she spoke. “So you admit you wanted to woo me? Did you honestly think I’d be caught dead as your girlfriend? Can you even afford to buy me a soft drink, or take me to 37 Bonjour? Please, let me think. No broke ass nigga comes making moves on me and lives without a regretting it. Get that into your poverty-stricken head!”, punctuating that by pushing his head with her index finger.

If Jay wasn’t such a cool guy, he’d have given her a serious beat-down. But beating women was way out of his league, and besides, he could see nothing would stop her. So he raised his index finger and swore, “I promise you this: Wo be hu mi aferi.” With that, he walked away, mocking jeers coming from the arrogant girl and her counterparts.

That was the last time they spoke to each other on campus. Till they completed their time there, Jay avoided her like a plague. She continued to mock him, constantly cheered on by her close friends and criticized by others. Jay always wished he had never approached someone as egotistical and terrible as Robin. Girls like her weren’t many, but those who existed were the type every guy had nightmares about.

Years passed. Jay became a successful banker. He had forgotten completely about that she-demon and was enjoying the life he had worked so hard for. His family was so proud of how he had battled the odds to become such a successful person.

He also had a dear girlfriend, Becky, who he was planning to get married to the following year. She was a wonderful young woman who loved Jay for who he was, and had supported him in his journey to be the best. She was definitely a woman worth having as his better half.   

One day, stopping by a bar after work, he ran into her. And what a surprise it was.

She gawked when she realized it was that same guy she had humiliated on campus who was now looking all smart and good in a three-piece suit and driving a classy car, as well as holding four different phones. Like a dog with its tail in between its legs, she approached him and tried to make conversation.

Jay knew it was her, and could have easily snubbed as she did a few years back. But he never believed in ‘an eye for an eye’, so he responded positively. And what a story she had to tell.

The boyfriend she had taken (who was rich, as you’d expect) was no good. He’d been cheating on her, so she dumped him. She had tried her luck with a few other guys, but none of them were good to her, so she was still as single as ever.

They said their goodbyes, Jay gave her his business card, and they went their separate ways.

That wasn’t the end of it.

Robin started calling him regularly. Just to see how he was doing. Then regularly turned to frequently.

Jay could smell a rat.

With time, the way she spoke when she called, the subjects she brought up for discussion, the text messages she sent all spoke a clear message.

She wanted him.

Did she really think he’d be that stupid to give in to her, after the embarrassment she had caused him? He mused over this for a couple of days, amazed at how people could change so quickly. Then he came to a realization.

Robin hadn’t changed.

She was still that materialistic bitch who looked down on others less fortunate. She only wanted him because she could see he was well-to-do. He seethed with rage. What a cheap woman! Even with all the trouble she claimed she had had with the other rich guys, she still wanted someone’s cash to suck on.

But he had a plan.

One night, when she called, she said she had something very important to say to him. He offered her the chance to say it at a little barbeque he was holding. She agreed.

The day came…

 She arrived at his place. There were a lot of people around, enjoying themselves. Then she saw Jay standing in front of the house. She went up to him, greeted him, and made savoury compliments about his house. She was clearly taken in by his well-acquired wealth.

Then she said, “Um, Jay, about what I wanted to tell you. Well, I… I think I’m in…”

“SWEETHEART!” a loud female voice called out.

“Oh, dear me, I forgot,” Jay said, putting his hand on his temple. “Robin, this is Becky, my fiancée. We’re getting married next year, by God’s grace. Becky, this is Robin.”

Stunned is an understatement to describe the look on Robin’s face. The expression was frozen on her face as Becky came around and gave Jay a peck before extending her hand. Robin could see she was clearly no match for the other woman, for she was undoubtedly more attractive.

Jay was loving the moment.

She looked stricken as she shook Becky’s hand, and as she watched them in an embrace, she looked pale, like she was deathly ill.

“Oh, yeah, as you were saying?” Jay asked sweetly.

Robin shook her head. “Um, I-I… you know, I think I have to rush home. I think I left my gas cooker on.” With that, she rushed off.

The young couple burst into laughter when she exited the area. “That’ll show her! Perfect timing, sweetheart! Our plan was a great success,” Jay gloated, hugging Becky.

“Did she really think you’re dumb enough to fall for her deceptions? I would’ve loved you even if you were the guy you were back in school,” his fiancée declared.

“I know, Becks. That’s why I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Not that gold-digger. I hope this experience teaches her not to judge people based on their pockets, but what’s on the inside, because that’s what matters in this life.” 

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