Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Home Post 10065-chapter-58

10065-chapter-58

*Nwanyieze’s POV*

“I don’t know why I have to be this fancy,” I complain to Temi, who is dusting off powder from my face.

“You deserve to be celebrated,” she tells me.

“Pizza and ice cream at home would have been fine.”

“You just made five hundred-k from an advert on your blog. Please, spare me the complaints. I’m taking you out tonight.”

Temi never backs down. She has proven to be more persistent than I am, and I know I am stubborn.

“Fine, fine.”

She laughs. “Like you had a choice sef.”

“Abi?”

“We’ll make tonight a memorable one, Queen. You deserve the best.”

Her words make me smile, but my smile gets me reprimanded for causing premature smile lines when the setting powder isn’t ‘set’. “Jeez, sorry na!” I exclaim.

She had gone shopping for a dress for me, and now she unravels the dress I am to wear. It is made of purple lace, off-shouldered with its full skirt stopping above my knees. There is also a pair of brand new shoes in a hot pink colour.

“Temi, I feel like Cinderella now,” I confess, twirling round in front of my full-length mirror to observe myself. “And you did wonders to my hair!”

Somehow, she had tamed my hair into an elegant chignon at the back of my head. Just as I am about to pat it with a haughty look on my face, Temi stops me. “You’ll ruin it!”

“Come on, it’s not like I’m attending my own royal wedding,” I joke.

“All I know is that you should not spoil my work abeg. Now let me get dressed. Sit down like statue and wait, you hear me?”

“Ehen.”

“Ehen.”

While my friend moves around gathering her things, I sit still on my bed in my room, alternating between watching her and delving deep into my thoughts like a diver, only coming up for air when they are overwhelming.

I am doing well. It’s amazing, I’m surprised, but I’m doing quite well.

Gratitude fills me. I might still have my regrets and nightmares, but I’m here today. I’m alive, I’m thriving. I’m not letting my past hinder me. There are days when I have terrible episodes of sadness and feelings of worthlessness, accompanied with tears and an aversion to going out and facing the world, but it doesn’t happen everyday at least. I hope to get better over time.

I still miss Maduka. I still think of him and berate myself for falling for him and letting things go the way they did. I still miss his touch, the comfort of his arms, the sound of his laughter, the way he always made me a priority…

Will anyone ever treat you that way? I wonder. I hadn’t bothered to find out after Saheed. Despite Temi’s not-so-subtle hints about giving love another try, I hadn’t…connected with another man.

“Ade at Gifts from God Home For Children called,” Temi says, bringing me back to the present.

“Oh, what did he say?”

“He said thank you for the money and gifts.”

“Sure. I’ll give him a call tomorrow.”

Through Temi, I give money to orphanages whenever I can. I had also made sure that majority of that money had been anonymously donated to the orphanage Maduka and I had grown up in. It seemed fitting that the children there received it.

“Where are we going to?” I ask Temi as she leads me out of the compound where a taxi is waiting for us.

“So many questions, Queen.”

“Okay, sorry ma. I won’t ask again.”

“Better.”

In the air conditioned car, Temi hands me two small blue packages. I stare at them in disbelief.

“Temi, what should I do with these?” I query with a laugh. My friend is kind of something else.

“I’m on. Put them in your purse for me. My own is full.”

With a shake of my head, I slide the two sanitary pads into my purse.

“No island flexing tonight?” I ask her when the taxi starts moving towards Ikeja GRA.

“The Mainland actually has it all. Just that plenty Lagosians think that going to the Island makes you posh,” she replies with her nose in the air. “All I see is potential flooding.”

Ikeja GRA–Government Residential Area– is home to world class restaurants, hotels, and fast food franchises. It is alive at night when the nocturnal fun seekers show up to indulge in foreign cuisines, sweet treats, partying or the luxury of being waited upon by staff willing to treat you like a king while your money slips away.

“We’re having Chinese tonight,” Temi announces.

“But we’ve never had Chinese before.”

“Exactly. It’s something different tonight. And memorable.”

“It’s also something expensive, Temi.”

My friend shakes her head at me. “Experience something new, this girl. You can afford it! And before you talk again, it’s all on me.”

“You’re far too kind.”

She just smiles and looks out the window.

Quickly, I search online for Chinese greetings in the Mandarin dialect.

At the entrance of the restaurant, we are greeted by a small, Asian man dressed in a crisp white chef’s uniform. He smiles and greets us.

“Nǐ hǎo!”

“Nǐ hǎo ma?” I reply with a nod.

He seems surprised for a moment, and his smile grows bigger. He leads us inside where we are greeted by the scent of assorted spices and a colourful sight. The interior decorations are dominated by traditional Chinese patterns in bold colours. The man directs us to a secluded table, away from prying eyes. I am actually excited about this new experience.

Once seated, he hands us menus and steps aside for a waiter to attend to us.

“Temi, I don’t know what these are!” I whisper to my friend after going through the menu.

The waiter, a young Nigerian in a black and white uniform, chuckles. “You’re first timers.”

“Obviously,” Temi replies jovially.

“Why not start with appetizers?” He recommends. “The pan-fried vegetable dumplings are really tasty and healthy.”

“We’ll trust your judgement and start from there,” I tell him.

“And drinks? Tea, fruit drinks or alcoholic beverages?”

I opt for apple juice while Temi chooses orange juice. When the dumplings arrive, I excitedly dig in with my fingers instead of using the wooden chopsticks provided. They are very hot and burn me immediately. Hissing, I dip my fingers into my glass of chilled apple juice without thinking.

“I’ll get you some ice,” the waiter promises before briskly walking away.

“Patience, Queen,” Temi laughs. With ease, she uses her chopsticks to pick up a cresent-shaped dumpling and dip it into the red sauce provided.

“So you sabi use this thing?” I ask, feeling envious already. “When did you cheat on me?”

“I practised it,” she replies proudly.

“For your mind now. ”

“Dey there dey dull.”

The dumplings are delicious. Contrary to my thoughts on Chinese cuisine, I enjoy them immensely.

“Wow, Temi. That was very good.”

“Wait till you try the main dish.”

“We haven’t even decided yet.”

She reaches for my purse. “I’ll have to use the restroom, be right back.”

“My purse!” I exclaim.

She raises her brows at me and feeling foolish, I remember her pads in my purse. I nod slowly and allow her to leave with my purse and hers. Seconds turn to long minutes, and Temi is nowhere to be found. I find it annoying that I hadn’t been smart enough to take my phone; at least I would have entertained myself with a game or some online reading.

I begin to drum my fingers on the wooden table top with no rhythm in mind. Thankfully, the table a bit hidden from the view of other customers.

“Fancy some company?”

I look up to say no thank you to the owner of the voice and my words die on my lips.

Maduka stands beside the seat Temi left a few minutes ago. I get to my feet faster than the speed of light.

“Don’t run. Please,” he says quickly.

I realise that I can’t run even if I wanted to; Temi has my purse and I can’t leave her alone.

Wait, isn’t this suspicious? a small part of my mind screams while the other parts are rolling helter-skelter, like a handful of beads cast upon a marble floor.

He slowly seats himself on the empty chair, his eyes never leaving my face. My eyes drink him in eagerly, marvelling at how he looks, just like he had looked when we had last met. But it is his eyes; they are less open, more guarded.

What is he here to do? To finish the confrontation? To tell me about the grudges he’s held for me for over a year? To destroy me and gain some satisfaction?

Suddenly it feels like the room is spinning, and for a few moments the colours in the room seem to blend into one huge swirl. I know that if I put myself under more stress, I might lose it. I had failed him, and now he was here, finding me after a long time. The dumplings I had enjoyed earlier thr_@ten to violently leave my stomach.

“You look sick. Please sit down,” he says softly.

His voice. That tone. I hadn’t forgotten, but hearing it again sent shivers down my spine. I obey, weakly settling with a thud. It’s amazing how he is affecting me now; I thought the effects would wear off…

“How?” Is all I can manage.

He hesitates, sighs, and says, “Temi reached out to me.”

“I should have known!” I exclaim, feeling anger lick at me insides. This is good, I’ll focus on my anger so my fear can be pushed to the sidelines, because I am scared. So scared, all I can think of is running off with my hands in the air, running off far away from him.

But why can’t you square up and face this like the big girl you are?

That’s the thing. With Maduka, my ‘big girl’ attitude melts away. It’s always been like this. He could turn me to jelly without even trying hard enough. What’s worse, I think he still can, but that is the last thing I want to happen right now. I take a deep breath and straighten my spine to prepare for the onslaught.

If we’re here, we’re here. He must have some thing to get off his chest and I owe him that at least.

“I’m sorry for everything,” I blurt.

If sorry were the solution, we wouldn’t be needing laws or cops, would we?

“I’m sorry, too.”

“What are you sorry for?” I ask him.

“I shouldn’t have let you leave alone that night.”

“Maduka, you don’t owe me anything. I was living a lie with you.”

He leans forward, his arms on the table. His usual stubble is still there, only a bit thicker. His hair is cropped short with carefully lined edges and a clean parting on the side. Once again I’m drawn to his eyes, more intense than they had ever been almost two years ago.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t owe you anything. You cut me off totally, Nwanyieze.”

With a mouth as dry as cotton wool, I say, “I had to. I had messed up badly, I was so ashamed, and I knew everything would be better once I disappeared.”

“You were wrong.”

“Maduka, do you even know what you’re saying? You dated a-”

“Don’t call yourself that,” he admonishes, looking annoyed.

“Call a spade a spade,” I say in my most Saheed-like imitation. “Saheed taught me that.”

We remain silent for almost a minute, each dreading one word: Saheed.

“I was in a relationship with Saheed,” I finally say. ” I’m sure Jide must have told you. ”

“That he did. And I met Saheed at that hotel after we bumped into each other. We had a little chat.”

“Oh.” My already racing heart moves even faster. My shame tries to crawl back onto my face, but I push it back, arranging my features into a mask. After all, it was not like I cheated on him. We were over.

Memories I had suppressed long ago suddenly come to the forefront of my mind. Screaming at Maduka at Tasha’s party, watching his face contort in shock and pain. Lying underneath Saheed while he held me down, trying to speak to me about what I had no interest in. Our last argument at my small apartment.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I kept things from you. I’m sorry I left you without any closure. I was scared and ashamed, I realised you’d be better off without me. I hope you forgive me one day. I can’t be here-”

Taking off my shoes, I hold them in one hand so I can move more easily. On my feet, I quickly move towards the exit without looking back at him. Breathing is suddenly a chore because my throat feels like an invisible boa constrictor has wrapped itself around it. The restaurant suddenly feels stuffy.

I’ll take a cab, and pay when I get home. Temi is in a lot of trouble. I’m going to ki|| her. How could she?

Advertisement
>