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Home Post 10060-chapter-53

10060-chapter-53

*One year later…*

*Maduka’s POV*

“Sir, look this way, please.”

I obey the photographer, turning my head in his direction and giving a small smile. Hearing a series of clicks, my smile falters immediately, but seeing Agatha giving me a thumbs up from behind the man makes me rearrange my face.

“That will be all, right?” Agatha asks him.

“Yes, madam.” He turns to me, looking excited, and says, “I’m grateful you could grant us an interview. The National team can’t wait for tomorrow’s papers.”

We exchange handshakes and he leaves with his crew of about five people.

“I’m glad that’s done,” I say, loosening my tie the moment the last crew member shuts my door.

“They’ve been reaching out to you for months, Maduka. The National is one of the leading newspapers in Nigeria. I can’t believe you simply ignored their requests because you’re not in the mood!”

I sigh and move to my fridge for a bottle of water before settling on the couch in the sitting area of my newly refurbished office. The past year has been good to me, bringing in more profits than I expected. My fame has taken me from one conference to another as an honoured guest, giving me the opportunity to travel to different countries, especially in Africa. I am still jet lagged from my return from South Africa the previous day.

“What’s wrong, Maduka? Are you okay?”

“Yes. Just really tired.”

“You have the whole day off now. Go and rest, workaholic. You’re doing a lot.”

I give her a side look. “Says the person who dragged me out of my house for an interview by 9:00am today.”

“You have to admit that was long overdue na.”

I sigh again.

“You’ve sighed like twenty times now.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Really. Something’s upsetting you.”

“Agatha, discussing it makes me uncomfortable.”

“It’s Nwanyieze. It’s been Nwanyieze for a year now.”

“I can’t help it. Everyday, I wonder how she’s doing. I wonder if she’s alright. I have searched for her. Her guardian has moved out from Shomolu. I can’t find her on social media. Agatha…” I notice the look on her face and trail off. “I’m sorry this is not what you want to listen to.”

Although she insists that she’s fine with being friends, it is clear that she is harbouring hope that I will one day take up a romantic relationship with her. I have been completely honest with her about that aspect, and while I enjoy her company on a platonic basis, I was willing to end everything if she felt too uncomfortable with me because of rejection. But Agatha had been persistent- although she reduced the phone calls, visits and outings.

“Have I ever complained?” She asks with a bright smile.

“It feels unfair,” I murmur.

She shrugs and picks up her bag from my desk. “Life is never always fair. I have an appointment on the island. See you when I see you, Farmer.”

The nickname always makes me laugh. With a kiss on my cheek, she departs in an apparent haste, which I know has been facilitated by my mentioning of Nwanyieze.

But where is she, though?

I have searched on all social media platforms I can think of but they have proved abortive. I had hoped that one day, she would reach out…but that hasn’t happened.

What would you do, if you saw her now?
Funny thing, I don’t know.

Jide had mentioned something about Saheed still being in Lagos the last time I asked. He’d also mentioned, in passing, that Nwanyieze and Saheed were no more together.

To say I had been surprised is an understatement. I had let out a small laugh in that moment, and Jide had watched me like I was crazy. It wasn’t humour, I wasn’t happy about the turn of events, I wasn’t displaying any E.P.– enemy of progress– characteristics. I was just not expecting it, even though I knew their relationship was ill-fated from the start. I knew she would take out her pain on him, even though she probably didn’t intend to. I knew he would try to possess her in every way possible, and that their wills would clash often. I also knew, that she would never love him.

How did I know?

The past year has been a busy one for me. It has also been emotionally challenging, with having my parents and older siblings feel betrayed that I didn’t inform them about my decision to re-establish relations with my family in Imo State. Only Somto had stood by me. My parents had been shocked to hear that I actually knew my first home, and it had taken them a significant amount of time to recover from my story.

And then there were questions about Nwanyieze and how she had fit into all of this, because her name kept popping up in the story…and I didn’t feel the time was right to explain to them who she was…

‘I used to be a prostitute. In modern language, I’m a hoe… I sold myself. I accepted it as a part of my life… Until I met you.’

I can never forget the look in Mama Uju’s eyes the next day when I had showed up. There had been a deep sadness there, shame, and pain. She’d hidden Adanna behind her, stopping the little girl from running towards me even though Adanna had insisted. While I had known deep down but never thought of it, it dawned on me that Adanna, the biracial cherub, was born through an illegitimate union with an already married man.

I had stared at her for a few moments, wishing I could offer comfort. Reeling from the events of the previous night, I still felt compassion that these beautiful people resorted to such means of survival.

“She came back and left last night,” she had croaked. I could tell that she’d been crying. Her face was puffy and her eyes were red.

“Do you know if she’ll be back soon?”

She had moved her head from side to side. “Wait here.”

Dragging a confused Adanna with her, she disappeared into the flat for a few seconds. I stood right there, knowing I was no longer welcomed. She emerged after a few seconds, holding a white box. It was the box that Nwanyieze’s cell phone came in when I had bought it for her.

“She…she said I should give you this. She said thank you.”

“Mama-”

“I don’t know where she is. She doesn’t deserve this, she doesn’t deserve everything that has happened to her. She’s a good girl, but…she’s done bad things…we’ve done bad things.”

Before I could speak, Mama Uju retreated, saying, “Thank you for being a good man, Maduka. It’s better you move on.”

I don’t remember how long I had remained standing after she had shut the door in my face, tightly holding the box. I don’t even remember the drive to Jide’s place where I had spent the whole day, watching his television without the volume turned on. It was when he had tapped me for the third time and said I had been sitting still for most of the day that I, surprised, had automatically gotten up and left without saying good bye.

Jide had called after me, but he knew I preferred to be left alone.

They say Lagos can be a small place, that you might be fortunate enough to see a person twice anywhere in Lagos.

I wasn’t fortunate enough. I never saw Nwanyieze anywhere, or Mama Uju. It was like they had vanished into thin air.

Lagos is actually big. Very big, I had thought while sitting in my car on one of my search missions and chewing spicy plantain chips. Searching proved to be useless…and so I threw myself into my work at full steam. Despite my busy schedule, my fame caused a temporary descent into a place where I began to seek segzual pleasures, and with female admirers coming along the way, a few flings had occurred here and there. Nothing serious, really.

Nwanyieze is not coming back.

You might be wondering, why not Agatha?

Anything with Agatha, apart from friendship, will result in complications. Why? Because she already has feelings for me and has been in close proximity with me for over a year. Getting into bed with her will turn messy after one night of pleasure. The women I have been with had agreed it was with no strings attached, and that had gone well for me. Mutual satisfaction, and we had been on our own different ways

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