Tue. Feb 13th, 2024

PART 37

 

I met Chidubem in the sitting room with my father and brothers while my mother and I came out. He was quite handsome and had a lovely warm smile which hardly ever left his face. He was slim compared to Emeka and tall. He was fair in complexion. I didn’t really know him so I greeted him politely and was ready to head out. Father stopped and let me know he came to see me.

 

“Hello,” I said quite confused. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

 

“You look gorgeous if I must say. You are more beautiful than the last time I saw you. Pardon my manners, my name is Chidubem”

 

“Nice to meet you Chidubem. What can I do for you?”

 

“I was at UNEC to see my cousin Chidera who stays two rooms away from your room when I saw you. I liked what I saw. She told me everything about you and I have not been myself since”

 

“I know Chidera. You haven’t said what I can do for you”

 

“I am interested in marrying you”

 

I laughed. It was very funny to me. He was surprised at my reaction. I knew he didn’t know much; Chidera probably didn’t tell him. Father told us to excuse them; they left for church while Ikenna waited behind with me.

 

I replied to him, “Don’t be offended at my reaction. I suspect you don’t know much about me. Please find out about me and then come back for a discussion”

 

“I am attending Mass at your parish tonight. We can attend the service together and I will bring you back. We have a lot to talk about”

 

We left for church. He sat between I and Ikenna during service. He didn’t concentrate on the service but on me. During the offering, I saw Emeka’s family members. I made sure to smile at the ones that were good to me while I completely ignored Jacinta and Ugonna. Emeka didn’t come back. After the service, my friends came to say hello to me. Some of them were married, some had children while a small number of us were single. We talked for a while before I saw Uju who beckoned at me.

 

“Nne, you too fine. You look so beautiful. Emeka should have come back and seen you looking like a million dollars. Babe, what are you doing to look this radiant?”

 

“Nothing. I have peace of mind. I have nothing to worry about”

 

“Let’s take a picture together.” She handed her phone to a cousin who snapped several pictures of us.

 

“I want you to attend my wedding in Lagos. You will be part of the bridal train”.

 

“I will be happy to. When is the wedding?”

 

“Towards the end of the year. I am hoping in October. Will it be a good time for you?”

 

“It’s a weekend. I will organize myself”

 

“Will you be my chief bride’s maid?”

 

“Won’t your family be upset?”

 

“No now. I choose who I want. They can’t force anything down my throat. And I like you. You are smart. I like smart girls”

 

“Thank you. I have to get going”

 

‘Who is that guy? He is handsome and sleek”

 

“I don’t really know him; I just met him tonight”

 

“He seems very interested in you”

 

“Well, we will see”

 

I joined Chidubem and Ikenna back to the house. When we got home, he didn’t leave. We stayed back in the car talking. He told me about himself. He is the only child of his parents. His father died when he was ten and his mother took over his responsibility and never remarried. She was loyal to his father even in death. He said his mother’s brother introduced him to business after his OND. He worked with him for a year and started his own business. Now he is a big car dealer in Ikeja. He had a car shop and was also an importer. It was an interesting story.

 

I discovered he knew everything about me. He knew about my marriage to Emeka and the fact I walked away from the marriage. He told me Emeka was not a man; he should have stood with his wife outside and disciplined her inside. He was saying all the right things and his handsomeness was quite captivating. But I never let my guard down. He talked to me until 3:00am. I told him I had to wake up and help my mother cook. He asked if he could come in the evening to see me. It was okay with me. I enjoyed his company.

 

He was back that evening. He was offered food which he accepted graciously. He just kept smiling and it was difficult to dislike someone who had such a beautiful smile. He talked with my family for an hour. The men talked about football mainly. I helped mother clean out the kitchen. I was sweaty from working in the

 

 

kitchen all day so I went to take a bath and change. There was a beep on my phone which meant I had a notification. I opened it and it was a message. It was the picture of Uju and I took that morning. Then my phone rang. It was Emeka. I picked up.

 

“I love this picture”

 

“Thank you”

 

“You look so beautiful. You are blossoming into a very beautiful woman”

 

“Thank you” I repeated.

 

“This picture brings back memories. You won’t believe I constantly watch the video you sent because I can see you in bum shorts and bra. You are so s£xy”

 

“Emeka, it is a New Year. Happy New Year to you. Biko, hapum. Leave me alone. Stop calling or sending messages as if all is well. We are divorced. We are no more together. Please stop having hope we will get back together because we won’t. You are not getting any younger too”

 

“I’m a man and I can settle down at anytime I like. I am talking about how I feel right now. Take a picture and send to me. I want to see you”

 

“That’s how it starts. I am not playing this game with you. Bye,” I ended the call. Emeka had formed the habit of calling and soliciting for crazy things which I didn’t encourage. I could have cut him off but I needed him to put his family under control when the need arises.

 

I went back to the sitting room to join my family. Chidubem couldn’t take his eyes off me. It was just too obvious. He asked my father if he could talk to me outside and my father gave his permission. We went outside and sat in his car. He turned on the ignition and put the air conditioner on.

 

We talked about general things. He told me about his trips to China, Europe and America. He never spoke in a boastful way. He wanted me to know how hard he worked to get to this stage of his life. He asked me questions too. Most of them he

 

 

already had. He asked about school and why I liked my course of study. Interestingly, he asked specific intelligent questions. He spoke very well without an accent. I asked him how he managed it. He told me he grew up in Lagos and only visited home once in two years as his father’s brothers didn’t treat his mother well. I asked if he would like to go back to school and he laughed.

 

“What better school can one attend like life? Life is a school on its own. I am looking for ways to expand and make more money. What will school do for me?”

 

“It will expose to opportunities in your line of business. It will set you apart from your peers. You need to get a degree and then go to a business school so when you talk, people will listen because you are both streetwise and book smart”

 

“I should go to school? How will I manage my business while I am in school?”

 

“You can do part-time in Lagos”

 

“Ok, I have heard. I will think about it. Let us talk about ourselves. I like you and I am serious I want to marry you”

 

“You have made your intentions known but at the same time I have to let you know I am not interested in a relationship until after my graduation”

 

“When is that?”

 

“Towards the end of the year”

 

“That’s just around the corner. We can get to know each other before then. I have made my intentions known now so no one will sneak in and take you from me”

 

“Sneak from where?”

 

“Anywhere. I will visit you as often as I can. I supply cars to some businessmen in both Enugu and Abakaliki so I come there often. I want to see you whenever I am around”

 

“As look as you accept the friend title, there is nothing to worry about”

 

 

“I want to be more than friends with you. I will not pretend to be just friends with you. I won’t visit you as a friend but as a suitor until you accept my proposal”

 

“Remember I was married before. I am not in a hurry to settle. But thank you for the offer”

 

“You were married to Emeka from Umuejika village. That’s why I am making my intentions known now. His father wants you back in his family and so does Emeka. I know it is over between the two of you but he wants to come back into your life. I am also aware of how his sisters treated you. I know all you went through. Emeka can’t have you back, you are mine. I will wait patiently for our friendship to blossom to love”

 

I liked Chidubem, he said the right words and his smile was the charm. We spoke at length daily after that visit. I looked forward to his calls very early in the morning and late at night. He sends me messages all day. He took pictures of himself and sent to me daily. I liked receiving them but I couldn’t bring myself to reciprocate. Unfortunately, I caught the bug after some time. I sent him pictures of me fully clothed, in my lab coat, having lunch, in a car, at the park, with friends. He loved the pictures and treasured. He began to post them as his BBM profile picture writing things like, “The love of my life” “The Queen of my heart” “Heart robber” “Beautiful and Brainy” there were o many more. Each time I saw it, I smiled.

 

He visited me just before Valentine’s day. He told me he wanted to spend Valentine’s day with me. I enquired if it was as a friend or a lover. He said both. It was unfortunate I had an examination that evening and all I wanted to do was sleep afterwards. I went back to my room, plugged my phone, took a shower and dozed off. Chidubem called several times but I was so tired I didn’t even hear my phone ring. I woke up from my sleep at about 9pm. As I staggered to the toilet, my phone rang. I grabbed it and continued to stagger to my toilet.

 

“Hello,” I said while yawning into the phone.

 

“Happy Valentine’s day”

 

“Who is this?” I asked because I didn’t know the number.

 

“It’s Dubem” he replied.

 

“Hello, Dubem. I am so sorry. I fell asleep after my examination. I was so tired. I am still tired. I do owe you an apology”

 

“You can do that in person; I have been waiting for you to pick up. I am in front of your hostel heading to your door”

 

“My door? What’s going on?”

 

“Open your door” he ordered so softly.

 

“Give me a second to get tidy” I cut the call and I was scared. I hardly ever entertained guys in my room especially not alone. I wore fitted jeans trousers and a simple top. I then opened the door for him. His hands were full. I had to relieve him of some of the things in his hands.

 

“Since you couldn’t go out with me, I decided to bring the outing to you. Let’s set the table and have a nice night”

 

“You shouldn’t have”

 

I brought my table cloth and set it on the floor. I collected the nylon bags from his hand and set it then. He brought me some flowers. Although they were artificial, I loved them. He also had to go back for the cake in the car while I set the things in the nylon. He bought take away packs of Jollof and fried rice, grilled chicken, plantain, grilled fish, beef kebab, and salad. I arranged them in the table cloth before he came back with the cake and cookies. He had another bag with him which he dropped by the side of the bed.

 

We ate together and talked. He was interesting to talk to. We talked almost all night. I told him I appreciated the beautiful dinner, and cake he gave me. He told me he hadn’t given me my gift. He brought the bag by the side of the bed. He gave me my first gift. I opened it. I was the latest iPhone series. It was lovely. The colour was champagne gold. I thanked him but I couldn’t keep it. I felt he was

 

 

trying to buy my love for him. He laughed and then gave me the second gift. I unwrapped it and brought out a jewellery box. I opened it and I saw a beautiful bracelet. It was a string with many balls. It looked expensive. I liked it. He gave me the last gift which was a Million Lady perfume. I could see he knew how to gift.

 

“Thank you,” I said to him, “I can’t accept them though. You can’t give a friend these kinds of gifts. It is only a lover you give such to”

 

“And what are you?”

 

‘I am just a friend to you”

 

“I see a high potential lover. My lover for keeps”

 

How did he do it? How did he know the right words to answer that tickled me? His smile still disarmed me but I had to consciously take control of myself.

 

“I didn’t get you anything”

 

“What do you have to give? You are a student with no money. You have something invaluable to give me though”

 

“What may that be?” I asked.

 

“Your heart. Give I to me wholeheartedly and I will say we have equalized”

 

“Well played but it didn’t work. It’s past midnight. It’s time to leave”

 

“Time flies each time I am with you,” he said.

 

I saw him off to his car. He asked me to take care of myself for him (which sounded strange) and he entered his car and drove off. He didn’t make any attempt at me. I watched the cloud of dust his car had gathered in the wick of his departure and wondered if truly I could have a second opportunity. Was he for real or was he just a mirage?

 

Emeka had some similarities with Chidubem. I met both of them on New’s day.

 

They both approached me through my father. They were both generous especially

 

to me. I wasn’t certain if Chidubem was for real. I didn’t mind the attention I got

 

from him but there was still a hole in my heart created by Emeka and could only be

 

filled by Emeka.

 

AKWAUGO

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