Photo Credits – Google
“But you can’t just leave me Ini.”
It took all of my willpower to look Naomi in the eye, but I did.
“I have to dear. In another hour I’ll either be on a flight heading home or at the airport waiting to board one. I’m going back to my life babes; you should go back to yours.”
“But wait, why this all of a sudden? Why leave me now? I need you here Ini. Who’ll take care of me? Surely you’re not about to abandon me in the hands of that man I married are you?”
I looked away and blinked a few times to clear the tears threatening to force their way through. It really hurt, but what had to be done had to be done.
“I just got a call from the office. I’ve been gone without notice for too long already and it’s impossible to delay my return any further.”
“Okay, I get that you have to go back to work, but when will you return?”
It took a while for me to respond.
“I don’t know Nam, I really don’t know. Months, years, maybe never, who knows?”
“What! Years? Never? Surely you kid Ini. Why? How? Have I offended you in any way? What will I do without you? How will I cope?”
Rather than answer I stood up, went to the window and peeped out. She had been moved to another room on a different wing in my absence and she now had a window looking out into the back garden. The view was calming.
“Ini answer me, I asked you a question. What am I supposed to do without you?”
I let the drape fall and looked in her direction.
“You’ll be fine” I said softly. “Your husband will be by your side.”
I crossed the room and returned to her bedside. As I passed under the lights she noticed my swollen eye.
“Wait babes! What happened to you? Your eye, it’s swollen. Where did you go?”
I smiled ruefully. If only she knew.
“It doesn’t matter baby” I said. “What matters now is for you to get well and patch things up with your husband. As for me, I have to run.”
“So you’re seriously going to leave me to my fate?” she asked with tears in her eyes.
“Your fate is not mine to control dear. We’re both victims of circumstances, hapless slaves to the consequences of our choices.”
“Really Ini? Then what happens to always and forever?”
Her tears ran copiously, tugging at my heart strings. By then I knew it was time to go.
“Let’s just say…forever is too long a time. Goodbye babes, be safe.”
I turned and marched towards the closed door.
“Ini! Ini! Come back here. Please come back. Ini. Don’t leave me. You promised me Ini. You said what we share is forever, that you’ll always be there for me. Please…”
Behind me I could hear her moving, futilely trying to get up and follow me. I reached the door and yanked it open, stepped out into the hallway and slammed it shut.
My tears were also flowing.
The nurse seated in the corridor looked confused as I stopped at her desk and told her to go and attend to my sister, then rushed down the stairs before she could start asking questions.
The flight back to Abuja was very turbulent. Ordinarily I would have been holding my seat and praying to God with every bump, but this time I just sat there with a blank look on my face replaying the last part of my conversation with Naomi’s husband.
I stopped nursing my face and looked up at him.
“You mean…you knew…”
“Yep” he replied. “Oh, you’re shocked right? You’re surprised I know about that? Don’t be.”
He smiled mysteriously.
“But… but how?” I asked.
His smile widened as he dipped his hand into his pocket and brought out Naomi’s phone.
“I hacked her phone a while back. I used to run the streets in Spain before I came back to Nigeria to settle down, so it was pretty easy. I read everything you guys talked about.”
“Yes man, everything. The chats, the pictures, I saw everything. That was how I knew what to tell the nurse who called you…”
“Wait. The nurse from the hospital? That was you? Always and…”
“…forever” he finished for me. “Yes man, always and forever, your secret code. Cute eh? Beating her that badly was a very unpleasant, but I had to do something drastic to be sure you’d come running again, something vile enough to stir up your emotions when you did. I know how close you guys are, and I gambled on you getting mad once you realized the extent of her injuries, mad enough to come looking for vengeance or something. I was there every step of the way man, from the cleaning lady who took her to the hospital to the nurse. The PHCN bill in her bag didn’t look too convenient to you? I’ve been sitting here for three days waiting for you to show up.”
I slumped in the chair. He’d obviously outfoxed me.
“But why” I whimpered in defeat. “Why?”
“You ask me why? I’m a desperate man my friend, one tired of playing second fiddle in his own house. I’m tired of always being in your shadow. I love my wife, but I’m tired of competing with you for space in her heart. I’m tired of fighting a battle I seemingly can’t win even after I’ve done everything. I want Naomi one hundred percent without you looming on the horizon. I want my wife to love me and only me and I believe once you’re totally gone she will. I can’t deal with this love triangle anymore.”
Our situation was quite ironic because I was the one nursing injuries but it was the man who inflicted them that was pleading.
“I want you to walk away now and never come back.”
“That’ll be hard for both of us, but harder for her. You know that don’t you?”
He stood up and pulled his seat closer until we were nose to nose.
“You’re going to make it work man. I have faith in you.”
His smile was like that of a cat about to pounce on a bowl of fried fish.
“I’ll be watching her closely. If I so much as catch a sniff of you guys still relating, I’m going to be brutal with her man. When I say brutal I mean very brutal, and the sin will be on you. I’m a man at the end of his tether here, a man in a dire situation. If need be, I won’t hesitate to use this.”
He hitched up his trousers for me to see what he was referring to.
Safely nestled in the comfort of an ankle holster was a small silver pistol.
“So you see man, the ball is in your court. Leave me and my dear wife alone and we’re good. If you don’t, then there will be blood, and it won’t be mine. The choice is yours bro.”
The pilot announced our entry into Abuja airspace. In another few minutes the plane was down on the tarmac and we were disembarking into the hot afternoon sunshine.
Since I hadn’t informed anyone of my arrival, I had to board one of the many private taxis in the car park to take me into town. The driver held the door open for me to enter and waited for me to settle down in the Camry’s air conditioned interior before closing it, effectively shutting out Abuja’s heat and all the troubles of Lagos.
Always and forever was officially history.