The shrill noise of his phone’s alarm saved him from the nightmare. He was sweating profusely. “Not this dream again! What the hell is about to happen this time?” he said getting off the bed. He had a 10am meeting with the powers-that-be, he had to hurry. As he headed for the bath, he could hear his phone beep – BBM. “Yewande” he murmured.
Since he’d met her at the bank early on in the year, they’d gotten really into each other. It was all good, she was wonderful and the content of her early morning messages were always prayers and well wishes. She knew about Chioma, his girlfriend of three years and four months. Yes, Yewande was cool like that. But Chioma did not know about her. No, the daughter of the Oil Magnate he’d met while getting his MSc in Newcastle would never share anything, definitely not her man!
He drove to work listening to the notes he’d made the night before. By the time he got in the escalator and hit the floor number, he was sure he was ready. He’d gotten the offer for this job a few weeks to end of his program. He’d taken it without a second thought. The position and remuneration were attractive and he saw prospects. Three years and a handful of raises, bonuses and promotions later, he was very comfortable and well on his way to the extra large league.
“When did the meeting end?” Those were the first words out of her mouth. “A little after 4pm” he said signaling the waiter. He knew she was annoyed. It was almost 6:30pm, he knew he was very late. He also knew she threw a fit whenever she was kept waiting. “So, what have you been doing? You weren’t even taking my calls nor reading my messages.” Chioma went on. “I’m sorry, dear. After the meet, we all just stood around discussing. You know how it is. And my Chief needed me beside him to field the technical questions. This is my baby, it was my idea and now folks are paying attention, I could not just leave, you know?”
He did not enjoy the meal. He did not enjoy the date. She was mad at him. She could not make it back to Abuja, she’d planned to fly back after the date, but he’d been late and nothing he said could ever set things right in her sight. Chioma was like that. she didn’t concern herself with his work and didn’t regard it as a good enough excuse. All he had to do was marry her and he’d get strong referrals to whatever organization he wanted. She didn’t see why he bothered ‘kissing ass’ at his current employment.
He walked her to her car. His suggestion that she pass the night at his’ and catch the first flight out fell on deaf ears. She insisted on staying on the Island at her friends’. “Good night”, she said, got in the silver Jaguar XJ Sedan and was whisked away by a driver. He had given up keeping track of the different cars she’d shown up in. Now, watching the car leave, he simply gave up any chance of making her see his life from his own point of view. It just was not going to happen.
Home was in Surulere but he found himself heading towards Akoka. He just needed some succor. A lonely flat was not what he needed at the moment. He had to see Yewande. She listened. She showed interest. She’d be dying to hear all the board room gist. Up on her BBM PM was “All the best today, love. Go stun them!” and a few nice smileys. He dialed her number. “Hello” She sounded excited, “Babe, you home?” He asked, “Sure, you coming over?” she asked, more excited, “Yup. Should be with you in less than 10.”
“What’s bugging you, dear?” Yewande asked him. He’d picked her up to his place, she’d asked and he’d told her about the meeting. Now they lay in bed and she’d noticed something was not right with him. She was good at that. Over the phone, he could hide his worries, but once with her, she noticed them, no matter how hard he tried to keep them concealed. “How do you do that?” He asked honestly curious. “Do what?” She asked snuggling closer. “How did you know something was eating me up?” He pressed. “I knew from the way you made love to me and my guess is its about her.”
Charles stood at his window with his best buddie, Ambrose. Ambrose was one of the many who thought Charles was one lucky devil. “See, bro, calling off the relationship with Chioma for Yewande is a very wrong move. At least at the moment.” He’d told Ambrose the happenings of the previous day and like he’d done so many times, he’d complained about Chioma’s insensitivity towards his work and aspirations. “Aside all that, which kind babe person go get when I go dey beg, dey tease and she go still dey bent on vexing? That’s scary, bro.” Charles lamented. “Still, Charlie. Still, not enough to call it off. What you guys need is a heart-to-heart.” Ambrose said.
Three weeks later, he’d not taken Ambrose’s advice. He’d distanced himself from Chioma. They’d not seen each other yet, but she’d began to complain about his inattentiveness and reduced calls. He’d not taken a good percentage of her calls and had limited his responses to her messages. On the other hand, he’d spent a lot of time with Yewande, taken her on many dates and had her crash over more often. She’d traveled for a few days in that period and he’d missed her sore. Ambrose had seen the signs but had let him be. Charles was thankful for that.
It was a friday and he’d got off work pretty early. He decided to go see Yewande at her place. He called and she was just rounding off on campus. He however got to her place before her and she’d told him over the phone where she kept the spare keys. He got them and let himself in. It had begun to rain slightly, she called to say she’d be a while longer, she’d had to take refuge somewhere, so he decided he’d just take a nap while he waited. He didn’t use pillows, so he moved her numerous pillows aside along with the dolls. Something under the mattress was causing a bulge. Curiously, he reached for it pulling out a plastic file.
For some reason, his heart began to race as he emptied the contents on the bed. The things he saw made him freeze. He’d had a few shockers in his life, but this was way up there with the deepest – no questions! Documents. Pictures. Evidence in all colors. When he finally regained motion, he sat down on the rug as far away from the bed as he could manage. He could not tell how many minutes he sat there starring at the items on the bed before Yewande walked in.
“Oh! My God!” she gasped. Charles got to his feet, picked up his car keys and walked out of the room with a weeping Yewande on his arm begging, explainimg. It was still raining and they must have made a curious sight as he kept his track to his car while she kept trying to stop him without lasting success. Through it all, he’d heard her say it was all fake, an arranged marriage, the guy was a family friend, he needed to get a green card hence the fake court marriage, he was going to pay her and her family could do with the extra fund. He was past caring. He knew she was a citizen of the United States by birth. It should all have made sense to him, but somehow it didn’t.
He didn’t recall how he got away from her, got in the car, managed to shut his door and drive off. He ignored countless calls and messages. He didn’t bother calling up Ambrose, he was too ashamed, he felt like a fool for the first time in a very long time. He simply drove to the Airport and bought the first available ticket he could find to Abuja. He only had a short wait in departures, enough to make one phone call. “Hello, Charles” He heard, “Chioma, I’m at the Airport, boarding in a bit. Could you pick me up at the Airport in Abuja?” He said, straining to keep a level tone. “You could have told me earlier, naughty boy!” She teased, “Yeah, just wanted to surprise you.” He replied, swallowing hard. “Sure, dear! I’ve missed you. I’m on my way already!” She said excitedly.
He switched off his phone and headed for his boarding gate. Good thing he had been forewarned.
To be continued…
– Greg Emuze.