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Aisha woke up to the persistent ringing of her phone. She sat up in bed and tried to trace the direction of the sound. It stopped. Soon it started again. She swung her feet lazily off the bed and retrieved the phone from her handbag on the floor.
“Hello, Tee, what’s up?”
“Madam, you’ve been M-I-A, what happened to you?”
“Sorry dear. Nothing o. Went out for some drinks last night, came back really stoned.”
She felt him hesitate and she rolled her eyes. He should not even dare judge her. Where was his friend?
“Hmmn. Are you home? I want to come over.”
Aisha pondered for a few seconds. Why was Tayo coming over? Was Khalid sending him to clear the airways ahead of his arrival? That would be unlike him.
“Err, sure. Why? Is everything alright?”
“Yeah. We’ll talk when I see. I’ll be there in 10 minutes. You sound like you’re just waking up. Maybe you should wash your face.”
She laughed in spite of the unease creeping up her spine.
“Alright. See you soon.”
She hung up and tried to gather her wits. She felt better than she had when she woke up the first time but she still felt a little tired. Perhaps another hour of sleep would fix that. She yawned and looked at her phone. There were several missed calls from Khalid. So he was ready to talk to her now abi? She sighed and dropped the phone on the bed. It was best to hurry and prepare for Tayo’s arrival. She would call Khalid when Tayo had left.
Nothing prepared Aisha for what Tayo had to say.
“Whaat?! What do you mean accident?”
She trembled all over, shock waves crashed mercilessly into her.
Tayo held her and assisted her to the couch. She listened to him replay his earlier conversation with Khalid, reassuring her that he was fine and had not sustained any major injury. This was unbelievable! So while she was out having a good time with Bode and being mad at Khalid for not calling, he had actually been in an accident?
She picked her phone and dialled his number. The call simply would not connect and so she pinged him instead. Surprisingly, it delivered within seconds
-Kay! Baby! Tayo just told me what happened. Are you okay?
– Lol. Hi babe, I’m getting around to it. Other than some terrible headaches, I’m fine. You went off my radar luv. Were you so mad at me?
-I’m so sorry mine, really sorry. I kinda was but I was waiting to hear from you all day. Your calls came in after I’d slept off last night and I woke up really late. Not the point. How are you?
-Lol. Again, I’m fine babe. A bit shaken, but I’ll be alright. Trailer ran into my cab, I was seated at the back. Driver died on the spot, I passed out.
-Wow! I coulda lost you today baby! I’m so sorry.
-Relax love. I felt bad too. My last thought was of you and the fight we had. We really have a lot to talk about when I return.
-Sigh. Okay hun. When are you coming back? Today? Where are you actually? Hospital?
-Lol. Calm down babe. No, I can’t make it back today, I’m not in the hospital, I’m at my hotel. I was discharged late last night. It was really tough but I insisted I wasn’t gonna pass the night at the hospital. I’ve got a few bruises, but other than that and the headaches, I’m fine. Besides, I told Dr. Olivia about the accident, she said she’ll have a proper look at me when she gets here so relax, I’ll be fine.
Aisha rolled her eyes. This same Dr. Olivia
-Is it my headache or do I sense something unsaid in your undertone?
-Mine, I’m sorry but this woman makes me awfully uncomfortable. If it weren’t for her, you’d have been home safe with me today. Besides, I thought she was a psychologist? What would she know about ordinary medicine?
-Lol. Wait, what? I never said anything about her being a psychologist, how did you know that?
-I googled her up after you left yesterday. Silly, but I just had to know. Kay, what exactly is it with this woman? Why is she so important?
-Okayyy. Actually, it’s not she that’s important, it’s what’s between us.
Aisha felt something heavy sink in the pit of her stomach. She read that twice but before she could compose a reply, another message came in.
-Oops. Not sure that came out right. What I meant to put across is that she became a friend and confidant after we met over there, it’s strictly professional.
-Sigh. I worry for us Khalid. I really do. I don’t get this mystery that suddenly shrouds you. What exactly is going on?
-My love, I promise you, we’ll talk upon my return. I need you to just be a little more patient with me. I’ll take the first flight back tomorrow, we’ll have dinner at my place and we will talk.
-Hmmn. Okay o…
-Dr. Olivia just came in. Gotta run. Know this, you have my heart and there’s no one I love as much as you.
-Same here boo.
She looked up from the phone and sighed. Tayo was seated beside her fiddling with his own phone the whole time.
“So, you guys cool now?”
“Tayo, your friend has me really worried.”
Tayo smiled a knowing smile.
“He has me worried too, trust me.”
“Why is he acting all strange? What’s really going on?”
“What did he tell you?”
“Nothing actually. Just the accident and that we have to talk when he returns.”
“Tor, we’ll wait for him to return na. There’s not much else to be done.”
“You’ve started this your mumu brotherhood thing that you guys do ba? You won’t tell me anything.”
“That’s because there’s nothing to tell. Truth is Khalid really loves you. For a smart fellow, he does some very ‘un-smart’ stuff occasionally. But you can’t doubt his feelings for you. They are deep and true.”
“Abegi! Don’t go all poetic on me.”
Tayo laughed again.
“Well, I’ve got to go. He asked me to find you, I did, I need to go home and sleep some more.”
Aisha smiled. Tayo the nice guy.
She covered her mouth as she yawned
I’ll see you some other time. Thank you”
“This one you’re yawning like this by this time, what happened na?”
“I’m just tired o. I was so mad at Khalid yesterday, I went out drinking with a friend. I didn’t even intend to actually. It just happened. And I honestly cannot remember how I got home. I must have been pretty wasted.”
“Hmmmn. Okay o. Take care of yourself.”
She walked behind him and shut the door after he was gone. She thought of calling Bode to thank him for ensuring she got home safely last night but decided to put it off till later.
“You can’t hope to build a future on lies Khalid. In marriage, I always advice the couple to lay all their cards on the table. Let the other person know what exactly they’re up against. And if they want to stay, let it be on their own terms. You can’t choose for her Kay.”
“It’s difficult to just open up to her and tell her something so dark.”
“Kay, I don’t expect it to be easy. But if you love her then you will give her the choice.”
Khalid sighed. Dr. Olivia looked at him and smiled.
“Tell me about her.”
“Her name is Aisha. She’s a great girlfriend actually. She’s funny, smart. Not as smart as I am-“
Dr. Olivia laughed.
“Not as smart as you? Right! Go on.”
“She talks, a lot! But I love listening to her because she’s funny. Her sarcasm is unmatched! She’s just a piece of work. And she’s got this funny laugh too. She’s hardworking. She’s got a slave driver for a supervisor at work but she works with little or no complains. Then she’s nice. If Aisha likes you, she’ll go out of her way to make you happy. She’s a really great lady.”
“I like her already. How did you two meet?”
“The most unusual thing, I’ll tell you that. I was driving along the express and I saw a lady changing a flat tyre. I was totally blown away. Beautiful lady who could handle herself? I was smitten. Didn’t stand a chance. I offered to help. She laughed my offer away. I stayed there and watched her fix it all by herself. We talked for a bit when she was done. I asked her to dinner, she declined. Asked her to lunch the following day, she declined still. It was a bit of a shock for me. Ladies never turn me down.”
Dr. Olivia laughed long and hard.
“I really do like this lady. Self-assured, confident…”
“You snatched the words right out of my mouth. And she can be so stubborn! That just gets pretty annoying sometimes. She’s also highly opinionated. Even if she’s wrong, she’ll stick to her guns. It’s crazy.
Anyways, I followed her on twitter, she followed back. I think she was amazed to discover I was some sorta twitter celeb. We interacted a lot, I finally got my lunch date and the rest as they say is history.”
“Hmmn. What has been the most recurrent issue between you both?”
Khalid thought for a while
I’ll say it’s the distance. I travel a lot and sometimes we do not get to see for three weeks straight. It makes us edgy. But that’s about it. She does try to be considerate.”
“You’re afraid that telling her about Seye will change how she sees you?”
“I know it will. She’s always been proud of me. She shows me off to her friends and talks about me all the time like I’m some flawless hero. She won’t be able to reconcile the two people.”
“That is up to her Kay. If you tell her, you satisfy your conscience, you find peace. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. You’re so certain she’ll be disappointed but what’s to say she won’t forgive you? We never know unless we try. Truth is, if you guys don’t get past it then you were probably not meant to be.”
Khalid massaged his temples for a while.
“I guess you’re right…”
“Of course I’m right. Talk to her. The sooner the better. Don’t let her feel like you tried to con her into marrying you. Be transparent, lay all your cards on the table.”
They moved on to other issues and talked for another hour before Dr. Olivia finally got up to leave.
“If you want to travel tonight, I guess you can. You got really lucky. For an accident that claimed the life of another man, you sure came out without a scratch.”
Khalid smiled and thanked her. He got up and walked her to the door.
“I don’t know when I’ll see you again. But if all goes well and we fix a date for the wedding, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
“I’ll be expectant. You take good care of yourself now Kay. And don’t be a stranger.”
She gave him a quick hug and was gone. Tayo packed his backpack. He was not going to hesitate for a second. He looked at his watch, “2:30pm” If he was lucky, he would find a flight back to Abuja tonight.
Aisha slipped into the maxi gown easily. She brushed her hair and applied light make up in a rush. Khalid had just called to say he had gotten in and wanted to have a talk with her. He was coming to her house.
Her mother walked in and smiled as she watched her.
“You two amuse me. I thought you were fighting this morning?”
“Mummy leave that matter jor. Shey you’re supposed to be going out?”
“Imagine. You’re chasing me out of my own house because you want to talk to your fiancé. Why don’t you people just go out sef?”
Aisha laughed and playfully pushed her mother out of the room. The elderly woman laughed
“You better do and marry o and stop harassing me in my house.”
By the time Khalid showed up, she was gone.
Aisha welcomed him, warm hug, deep kiss and a big smile. She served him a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs and when he was done eating, (Khalid barely picked at his food) they moved to the living room.
Without wasting any time, Aisha went straight to business.
“So what’s this big story you have for me?”
Khalid looked a little uncomfortable. His discomfort set her on edge.
“I know it’s cliché and stupid for guys to start a confession with ‘you know I love you’ but somehow I feel like I really should.”
“Okay? You’re getting me nervous.”
“Before I start, I’d like to read something I wrote for you.”
He dug out his phone from his pocket, fiddled with it for a few minutes and began to read
“There’s something sticky about you. Regardless of how much I try, I just can’t get out of your grip
And I’m not even trying. I remember the first time we met. I knew in that moment that you were the sorta woman that would complete me. And then we fell in love and over time, you proved me right
You love me beyond measure. You are my greatest treasure. Being your partner gives me the greatest pleasure and loving you is not something I do for leisure
My sun rises and sets with you and no matter what I do, I’m constantly thinking of you
I’ve given up thinking of why I love you so much. The list is just endless. I only hope and pray that I’ll be that man deserving of your love that you’ll always be proud of. I love you babe, always and forever.”
Aisha felt a warm bubbly feeling course through her. She was all smiles when Khalid dropped his phone and took both her hands in his.
“I love you too baby. And that was really very sweet. Only I’m worried. It’s the first time you’d write something for me…”
Khalid laughed, a little uneasy. He cleared his throat and began to speak.
“Six years ago, I did something utterly stupid. Something I deeply regret and something I’m still paying for.
I was young and immature and I allowed myself to be overcome by peer pressure. I was in love with a girl and I was about going off to school in Malaysia. My friends suggested to me that if I slept with her, she would not forget me and we could always pick up from where we left off upon my return. I was young and stupid and I didn’t know any better so I took their advice.”
He noticed how she subtly removed her hands form his but he continued all the same.
“Seye was a virgin, pretty young girl. She was definitely not going to agree to premarital sex so doing what my friends suggested was going to be difficult…”
He paused and tried to come up with the appropriate words, to phrase them correctly. Aisha looked at him, understanding dawning on her but still she refused to believe it. Khalid couldn’t possibly have!
“You raped a young girl Khalid?”
The horror on Aisha’s face ripped his heart.
“It was a mistake. I got drunk and I did it and the following day, I left for Malaysia…”
Aisha had a look of total disbelief on her face. She covered her mouth with her hand, eyes wide open.
“Khalid, you rape a little girl, then you abandon her and run off to Malaysia?”
Khalid swallowed. He tried to respond but his tongue was glued to the roof of his mouth. No words came out. He nodded instead.
“Unbelievable! So what happened to her? She got pregnant and had a baby for you?”
Khalid shook his head again. This was it. The climax of it all. The most difficult part of his confession. He felt the room cave in on him. But he was determined to get this over with.
“She died. She got pregnant, tried to abort and died in the process.”
Aisha blinked severally. She retreated further into the couch. Khalid tried to reach out to her but she cringed and drew back.
“And why did you wait this long to tell me?”
“Because I wasn’t sure how you’d react. I was scared.”
“So why did you tell me now?”
“Dr. Olivia, she was my therapist when it happened. It’s why I needed to see her and talk to her. I was having all these panic attacks. She suggested I tell you the truth.”
Khalid was finding it really difficult expressing himself. There was so much he wanted to say but he just could not find the words.
“Wow. So if she had not said so, you would not have told me? Khalid, a young girl died because of you. You asked me to marry you without telling me that. I think that’s just cold and selfish.
We’ve been together for over a year, I was sure I knew everything about you. I was sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you but not anymore.
You know what? I think you should leave.”
“Khalid, please leave. I can’t believe you raped a girl and she died afterwards. Like that wasn’t cold enough, you wanted to keep it from me. Just go. We’re done talking.”
She felt the tears gather in her eyes but she fought them. She watched him get up and walk to the door shoulders slumped. He was leaving without a fight. She was hurt, she was angry and she was broken. Her fiancé was a rapist.
She shut the door behind him, sank into the couch and just let herself go. The tears came down in torrents and she did nothing to hold them back. She felt the tears would not stop and the hurt of Kay’s betrayal would not go away. There was no way out of this. They were over.