#5DaysToVals Contest Entry by James Ogunjimi
She cried as she threw her clothes together in a big bag she bought the previous day. She had to pack up and leave before her husband came back. She would leave him a note and hope he understands why she did what she was about to do. She couldn’t face him to tell him; she would lose her nerve.
She believed in soul mates, she believed in fate, she believed in destiny and she believed in love. Her beliefs however had started getting shaky when two years after their marriage, Charles was yet to secure a job. They didn’t live from hand to mouth – that would have been good – they didn’t live at all. The kind of life they lived could only be called life if sharing a cup of garri a day is living. It could only be called life if sharing 60 naira bread a day is living. In their life, there was no breakfast, lunch or dinner; it was just a meal. There was nothing like 0-1-1, 1-1-0 or 1-0-1; their feeding pattern was 0-1-0, 0-0-1, 1-0-0 or on days when fate was angrier than usual, 0-0-0.
Every day, he went out and came back home in the evening covered in dust; too exhausted to stay awake not to talk of make love to her. She saw the discouragement in his eyes; she knew it killed him, and every day, she tried to encourage him, to tell him that it will get better.
But as their third wedding anniversary drew closer, she found herself in need of encouragement, in need of someone to look at her and tell her, “Adebimpe, it will get better.” She had no friends; she had stayed away from all of them because of their regular complaints about how lean she was getting. She couldn’t go to her family either; one, because they never approved of her wedding to an ‘omo ibo’, and because of her parents’ never-ending questions about when she would give them grandchildren.
So, she found herself slipping away; she found herself considering things she would have chided herself over before; she found herself wondering if she should have listened to her parents; she found herself wondering if perhaps they weren’t made for each other.
There were days when she looked into his eyes, looking for support, expecting to see rays of light and hope glittering in his eyes, but every time she looked, she saw defeat, she saw a man that had long accepted defeat; whatever glimmer of hope he once had, it had died a silent and uncelebrated death.
And so she knew she had to leave; maybe her leaving will open doors for both of them; maybe the architects of fate will look upon them favorably; maybe their being together was not meant to be; maybe she was the hindrance to his progress – or maybe he was the hindrance to hers.
When she finished packing, she sat down to write – a feat she had failed every day for the past four days. After sitting there for fifteen minutes thinking of what to write, the only thing she was able to write was: “Forgive me, Charles. Maybe we were never meant to be.” She folded it and placed it in a white envelope which she placed on the bed.
She opened the door and went to look for a motorcycle that will carry her bag.
******************************She had been in the sun for about twenty minutes looking for a bike to carry her bag. It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen any bike man, but their charges were scary. She had only N150 with her, but the amount that the bike man with the least charge wanted was N400. She was begging, but they weren’t listening. She looked at the time on her cracked-screen phone; she knew Charles would soon be back.
After waiting for ten more minutes without success, she left for home. As she got closer to their house, she saw Charles coming out of the house. Her heart skipped a beat; she didn’t want to do this face to face. She toyed with the idea of running back, but he looked up in time to see her.
In his eyes, she saw something she hadn’t seen in a long time: hope. And then his lips began to curve into what had to be a smile. She stopped walking and blinked repeatedly; this had to be a dream; she hadn’t seen Charles smile for six months now. He was walking to her; there was a spring to his walk. It was then she looked at his hand; he was holding a letter. Her heart beat violently against her chest; he had seen the letter she wrote, but why was he smiling?
When he got to her, he picked her up and spun her around, laughing like a mad man. There was a mad glint in his eyes, and it scared her. Had her letter and the thought of her leaving him pushed him over the edge? Had she used her hands to destroy her husband’s sanity?
He set her down and handed her the letter. “Take and read.”
She shook her head, “Charles, no. It’s not….”
“Ssshhhh.” He placed his finger on her lips. “Just open.”
And so, with shaky hands, she opened the letter. But she didn’t see her writing; she saw carefully-typed words jumping at her.
She read the title of the letter: “LETTER OF APPOINTMENT” and the rest of the letter became blurry. Her eyes filled up with tears very quickly and the words jumped at her; words like; Mr Charles Okoro, Manager, Lekki, Car, house. She dropped the letter and stared at him. “Did you enter the room?”
He shook his head and asked, “What does that have to do with this? I haven’t entered the room; I only…”
She dashed off into the house and entered the room. Her letter was still on his Bible; she took it and flung it into a pile of books in their wardrobe.
Charles entered the house and asked her, “Darling, what’s wrong? You don’t look happy about the news.”
She moved close to him and hugged him, “I’m happy baby, I’m happy.”********************************Ten years later, and still no children, they were getting ready to go to an orphanage to adopt a child. Bimpe was cleaning the house and throwing away some old books when she stumbled on the letter she wanted to leave for Charles back then.
She opened the letter to read. She was surprised to see another handwriting below hers: “Clown! Of course we are meant to be. Forever.”******************************Later that day, as they entered the gates of the orphanage to adopt a child, she reached for his hand and squeezed. He looked at her and smiled. She felt something flutter in her; they were meant to be. Forever.