I WISH I NEVER MET HIM

It was the 27th of July, 2011. I had morning lecture so I hurriedly prepared to be there on time before the over demanding lecturer decides to stop entrance into the hall. Even though I had a wristwatch, I couldn’t tell if I was late or not. I met my friend, Kacy on the way and I knew I was early because Kacy was never late.

As we sat down, the lecturer who seemed to be the most significant if all dies were cast, walked in and began his lecture. If I were a computer, I would say I had a virus which made me malfunction because for the first time in my life, that part of me that couldn’t observe anything during lecture was completely gone. As I looked about in my ignorance of being lost, my eyes went forward and I saw someone who became my object of study throughout lecture and I wished I could talk to him.

I joined a study group which my friend told me about and was happy when I heard and saw that he was in that group. I just didn’t understand the cause of my happiness.

A week after I joined the group, the group leader divided us in two’s based on area of study. He and I were in the same group.

I believe in fate, so I didn’t think it was a mere coincidence. I summed it all up, ‘he was meant for me and I for him.’

It was no surprise rather joy when he asked me out a month later. I couldn’t be so easy to get so I told him I needed time to think it over. On my way home that day, I was so full of joy. I wanted to scream for joy and at the same time I thought of if to reply him verbally or through text. I remember I had a familiar voice calling out my name but I don’t remember seeing any of my friends or even building on my way. I seemed to fly.

After two days, I accepted his proposal and on our first date, he told me to keep our relationship a secret, he said he wanted the news of our end to come as a blast especially to his parents. I needed not to think about his reason for saying so cause he already gave me one and what he meant by ‘our end’, I didn’t bother to understand.

How easily I fell for him. I was so intrigued by his personality. I loved the sweet names he called me, I loved the way he looked at me, how much he reminded me of his true love. I allowed him to prove his love for me in the way he thought best.

I was so lost in the republic of love birds. I loved him and I thought he loved me too. I had little time for my friends cause he was always there and he made my school work easy too. We had dates, did our assignments together and so many other things.

On the week of my final exams, he told me needed to travel. He said he didn’t know when he’ll be back so he’d call me often. It was a lie, throughout my exams he dared not call me. When the results were out, I was so happy to have passed that I ran down to his house thinking we could finally be together forever. I knocked several times but no one answered. I looked and saw his shoes outside and the shoes of a female, a bright red heel. Maybe his sister, I thought. It took about 15minutes for him to open the door. As he came out, a lady followed him from behind with the same wrapper that I had tied. I saw lipstick on his face and the stern look when he asked, ‘Who are you?’

I couldn’t say anything, I just moved away thinking of reason to justify him but when I found none, I broke down in years. Only then did it occur to me, he was a fake, a scam. He robbed me of my dignity as a woman. I offered myself to him, I imagined my world with him.

I entered my hostel room crying, no one knew why so no one could console me. I cried, keeping my pains to myself. I wished he had never left me.

I couldn’t spend the whole of my days counting my loss. I got a job and was well paid. Sometimes I didn’t know what to do with money, I wished for true love. My wish was granted and the space occupied when I introduced myself to Kitt Ronald. And although I’ve been married for three years now with a kid, I still wish I had never met Chris Harrison.

NOT YET DESPERATE

She dressed up, put some documents in her leather hand bag before buttoning up her sleeves. She was not excited. Her parents however,were excited. Her mum had told her that everything would be fine as long as she smiled and answered all the questions correctly.

And so, she put on a red lipstick and wiped it when she thought it was too bright and expectant. She used lip gloss. As usual, she would go early to use chances, if there were any.

Three days ago, Adaobi had told her about the chief. How he was always willing to help people and how he would help her because she(Adaobi) ‘knew the chief’, she just said it in the way that ‘you have to know somebody that knows somebody to get what you want’.

Adaobi had arranged her meeting with the chief. She had not told her how many people were interviewing for the job. Instead, she told her not to dress so formerly, she was after all meeting with the chief. She didn’t want to, but she found herself doing what Adaobi had said. Perhaps she was getting desperate.

She after all did not want to live with her parents, did not want to drive her father’s car, did not want her mother cooking for her and certainly did not want them buying things as common as pads for her.

She remembered Adaobi telling her to please the chief, she was set in for that, or at least she thought so and held faith in her CV.

‘Taxi’, she yelled, ‘ministry of housing and interior’. She walked in, holding her chin up and then stood facing the receptionist. She requested to see the chief and the secretary began to whine. She phoned Adaobi, walked back to the secretary and told her that Adaobi had sent her. It was her gate pass.

She walked into the office with a mixed feeling of excitement and anxiety. The chief was nothing like she imagined him. He was a man in his late forties. Standing tall and firm on the ground. She had imagined him putting on an Agbada, but here he was in a simple shirt.

‘Good morning, chief’

‘I’ve been expecting you, sit’.

In the few minutes that the chief continued as if no one was with him, she examined his features, he looked as though he was trying too hard to be serious. As if he was trying to create the impression she would see.

She cleared her throat, moved noisily in her seat to get his attention but he acted as though he wanted to make her believe he had better things to do than to attend to her.

When he spoke to her, his speech was informal. He didn’t ask for her name, he called her ‘nwayioma’, a fine woman. He talked as if they were reuniting classmates. After their chat, he didn’t shake her hands, instead he hugged her closely, pressing her chest to his and wrapping his arms around her lower waist. She was at the door when she turned back,

‘Chief, we haven’t discussed about the job.’

He smiled and asked her to sit, he had been waiting for her question.

‘You see, when I was a little boy, I gave my brother my piece of meat so he could teach me how to ride a bicycle. I was still a little boy when I learnt the value of exchange’, he walked behind her and held her shoulders.

‘Nwayioma, this world is give and take’, he didn’t finish his statement when he let his hands move from her shoulders to her breasts. She wanted to feign surprise but she wasn’t, not at all. What did she think when Adaobi asked her to please the chief? She wanted to hate the chief and abuse him, but she couldn’t. Without saying a word, she grabbed her handbag, walked out of the taxi, out of the building, halted a taxi and headed for home. She was not yet desperate.

RUMPLED PAPERS

During holidays, mama would always send Dubem and I to visit grandma. Akwa to me was an old movie, dull and slow moving. The air there was dry and it smelt of ancient times.

After our first visit to grandma, I never anticipated another. I didn’t want to see grandma’s wrinkled face hurling commands at me, her falling arm muscles pointing out directives and making me slave away to everyone, including Dubem. Ignoring me unless I spoke igbo.

The last time we visited grandma, just as we arrived her house, grandma said,”Dubem my boy, are you thirsty? Achike, go and get Dubem some water, he is tired.” As if I was not tired and thirsty.

Dubem however, loved to visit grandma, loved how much grandma thought him superior to me. He loved how much grandma would make me slave away to him even though I was the older twin. When the holidays were near, Dubem would often threaten to report me to grandma when I refused him something.

Every visit was slightly different, but there were so many things common to each visit. Grandma would often wake me earlier than Dubem, with a broom in her left hand. Telling me that women do not sleep so much and then she would say,”sweep.” On my first visit, I asked ,”Won’t Dubem help?” She looked as if I had said something abominable,”Men don’t sweep.” I was surprised but I never again repeated the question.

After sweeping, she would make me sit with her while she cooked. I hated cooking more than anything else. At home, mama never asked me to cook. The worst part was that grandma disliked the idea of using a gas cooker or electric heater, she said fire wood made food sweeter.

After breakfast, grandma usually had visitors. When the visitors were elderly men, she would make me come out to greet them and serve them drinks. Afterwards, she would tell me which one had a son who was looking for a wife. On some evenings after dinner, we would sit with grandma and she would tell us stories. I loved her stories. She would tell Dubem how he would become a big man, buy so many cars, build houses and marry a hard-working wife. Her word “hard-working” filled me with contempt. It was her only description of a woman. To her, it meant beautiful, great and others merged into one

Then she would tell me how I would marry a big man and have good children. I would forever remember how it made me feel shriveled and worn, like rumpled paper. How it filled my eyes with tears and how I felt disgust at the same time. I felt pity for this ignorant old woman but I wanted to slap the flapped skin on her face and watch it shake. At bedtime, I would think about the day. It would feel as though someone pierced a spear through my chest and I would cry in pain and pity till I slept off.

One of those days, grandma had called me out to greet her visitor. I met her saying,”she is a well behaved girl,full breasted and wide hipped, ripe enough for marriage”. When she noticed my presence, she told me that in a few years after my secondary school I would marry her visitor’s son. I stared at both of them. I was just fifteen. Then as my instincts commanded, I picked up his cup of palm wine and poured it on his head. After he left, grandma beat me mercilessly, saying I was possessed. I kept quiet all through the beating while Dubem stared.

Mama knew that I disliked visiting grandma. She knew because I did not pack my things days earlier like Dubem, did not smile when I hugged grandma and when I said goodbye to her. I never talked about the visit. She knew but she said nothing.

So this summer break, I made up my mind to go nowhere and when mama shouts that it’s time to go, I walk up to her and say that I am going nowhere. I tell Dubem to enjoy his holiday and I tell mama not to make me visit grandma because if she did, she might not pick me up alive. She is shocked, so she lets me walk into my room and lock the door.

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