Photo Credits – Google
“Alright Nee” Einar said as we disembarked from the company truck.
We’d been out since lunch time inspecting the new office building being constructed at Garki
“See you tomorrow. Ja?”
“Okay Einar” I responded. Let me just pick up some stuff I need to work on overnight and I’ll be out in a minute. See you in the morning.”
He walked towards his waiting car while I entered the administrative building, took the stairs to my floor and walked leisurely down the deserted corridor towards my office, my footsteps echoing in the silence as I did. There was nobody around at that time, the official closing time being 5 p.m.
In a second I retrieved the file I came for from the filing cabinet and was about to leave when I glimpsed a brown A4 envelope with a business card clipped on it lying alone in my incoming mail tray.
The card read Rev Sam Kolade, Holy Life Church. Akure, and immediately brought back the telephone conversation I had with baba aladiye a couple of days back.
“Inioluwa, ka re o. See daada ni, bawo l’abuja. O ma t’ojo meta?”
“Abi o. Daada ni sir. Abuja is fine, just hot. Akure nko?”
“Daada l’oloyemekun na wa jare…”
The rest of his response was truncated by a bout of intense coughing.
“Epele sir” I greeted. You still haven’t stopped doing that thing sir?”
Baba’s one vice since I knew him was his love for smoking dry tobacco leaves. I’d been pleading with him for a while to stop on account of his advancing age but till date all my pleas had fallen on deaf ears. The cough had been there for a while but had gotten worse lately. Any time it started, there was nothing to do but wait patiently till it subsided and he could continue, usually with his eyes red and watering.
“Woo Inioluwa” he said when it finally did, “I’m almost 78 and so I have no reason to fear death any more. A man can only die once jare, let me live until my time comes.”
I knew better than to start arguing with him.
“Ewo la wa rigbo bayi sir? I’m sure something must have led to this call.”
“Be e ni ti e ri, always straight to business. I called because you have a letter. One man brought it here last week or so, and said he was sent by a friend of yours to drop it for you. Our small pastor is coming to Abuja for crusade next week, and since one doesn’t know when you will show up here, se ki n fi ranse si e?”
I had no idea who or where the letter could be from in this age of telephones and emails but I told him to send it anyway.
The pastor must have called while I was out on inspection duty.
Yawning, I picked up the envelope and dropped it inside my bag along with the file I came for, locked the door and headed outside to my parked car.
Just as I stepped out of the shower later that evening my phone rang. Clad in only boxer shorts, I hurried to the sitting room and picked it up.
It was Dooshima.
Since we met at an Abuja Chamber of Commerce organized investment forum a couple of months ago, Dooshima has stayed close. Intelligent, beautiful and fun to talk to, she had everything a reasonable man could possibly want in a woman and she didn’t hide the fact that she liked me and was open to something deeper.
I liked her too, a lot in fact, and we talk almost every other day.
“Hey there, how are you today?”
“Is that how you greet someone who spent all day worrying about your safety on that construction site? Is that the best you can do? Are kisses that scarce or expensive nowadays in Abuja?”
“Aww, I’m sorry. Mwaaah!”
‘There, that’s better!” she said. I could hear the pleasure in her voice.
“How was the inspection?”
“It went well. Got back to the office late in the evening though, and gosh I’m so tired.”
“E ya. Sorry. Need a massage or something? I can be quite generous you know, but only if you beg me nicely. Just give me your address.”
I laughed heartily, because I knew I didn’t even need to beg for her to come running. That was one of the reasons why I hadn’t let her know my abode. I wasn’t ready yet.
“Naaa Doosh, I’m good. I just had a bath by the way, and with a good night’s sleep I’ll be fine…”
“Hold up, hold up. You just had a bath? Hmmm…does that mean you’re not dressed mister…?”
“Hian” I cut in. “Oya come and be going. You inner man-eater is already showing and I can’t deal”
“Duh!” she responded. “That’s if it was hidden at all in the first place.”
We talked for a little longer before I finally said good night and got off the phone.
A few minutes afterwards and armed with a hot cup of cocoa, I sat down at the dining table to tackle the file I’d brought in from the office. The brown A4 envelope dropped out as I offloaded my bag, so I decided to see to its content before work. There were three smaller ones inside with no address, so I picked one at random and tore it open, exposing the neatly folded pink paper inside.
The typewritten note smelled kind of familiar.
I lost another baby this month, a boy this time. It’s the fourth since I got married to Nnamdi, and I’m very sad. Life is lonely right now and I wish you were here to comfort me, but unfortunately wishes are not horses. I resigned from my job on my husband’s insistence and now I spend almost every hour of every passing day crying my eyes out since I have nothing else to distract me. I can’t bear to have him touch me again though, and I’ve told him so in no uncertain terms. To be honest, I wish I can leave this house but where will I go?
Have you found someone? Is that why you won’t check on me? Please, don’t let me suffer alone this way. Get in touch.
Naomi! Old memories welled up like spring water and my pulse rate increased as I dropped that one and picked up another.
Ini my love,
How are you? These past few weeks without any form of contact have been hell for me. Where are you my dearest? I must have called your number like a million times without success. How I’ve waited and waited for a message, any message at all from you.
Thank God I found your Akure address in my old NYSC diary; at least I know someday you’ll get to read my letters even if you choose to still remain incommunicado. I’ll keep writing my love, and I hope in time my words will touch your core and bring you my way again. I still don’t know why you went away in the first place, but I pray daily for love to bring you home.
I miss you too much to describe Ini, and I hope you’ll get in touch soon.
P.S – My husband is behaving rather well these days. Who would have thought?
There were no dates on both of them, but the second letter looked to have been written before the first one I read. I guessed baba aladiye must have forgotten he had three of them in the house or something.
I had a wistful smile on my face as I picked up the last one.
You have taken your light from my life me and I have been in total darkness since you left. I’m hurt that you broke the promise you made and I’m pained because you have remained unmoved by my conciliatory attempts. I’m sure you got all my letters. The fact that you chose not to reply any of them means that you’ve finally moved on. I can’t say I blame you for doing so though, but it still hurts, and very much too.
Since the last letter I wrote to you things have gone from bad to worse here. Every moment I live in this trap is filled with agony. Life no longer holds any attraction for me and continuing with it is bad for all concerned, so I’ve decided to check myself out of this dungeon.
Chances are that by the time you read this I’ll be gone, finally out of everybody’s way. I know nobody will miss me and that makes me sad, but what makes me sadder is that I somehow managed to lose the one person I would have sworn would have my back till the very end.
I never stopped loving you Inioluwa, and I never will. You were always there for me even when I couldn’t return your love and for that I will always be grateful. It is however now time for me to go ahead and prepare a place on the other side for us, a place of beauty and peace, where we can share our love without any inhibitions when you eventually come over. You can be sure I’ll be patiently waiting. That’s what people do for those they love, they sacrifice.
I hope you’ve found someone to make you happy my dearest. Be sure to tell her about me, about us, about our love, and about how life conspired to keep us from finding fulfillment toegther. Let her know how much our love meant to me, and tell her I’ll be looking down from heaven, smiling down on both of you and wishing you well in all you do. If you guys ever have a daughter together, make sure one of her names is Onyinye just like we always planned to do.
Please don’t grieve for my soul when you learn of my demise, but be happy that it has finally found rest.
I love you Inioluwa, for always and forever.
Yours till we meet never to part again,
The first Arik flight from Abuja to Lagos landed at exactly 9.05 a.m. the next day and I took a bike from the airport straight to Magodo, desperately urging the astounded bikeman to go faster every second of the way.
The gate at number 32 Emmanuel Kunde was unmanned just like it had been when I first visited over a year ago and I ran inside, my heart palpitating.
The entrance door was wide open.
Naomi’s husband, looking disheveled and totally different from the suave smiling man I met the other time was sprawled on the sitting room floor staring at nothing in particular. With a guttural scream, he scrambled up and charged in my direction immediately his eyes rested on my inquiring face.
“You bastard!” he fumed as he attacked.
“Why are you here? You killed my wife. You took her away from me you murderer, you killed her! You killed my Naomi. Why have you come here? Why?”
I didn’t bother to defend myself as he took out his sorrow on me. There was no need; the wind had gone out of my sails. The only woman whom I ever loved had taken her own life and it was my fault. I’d allowed fear to rob me of my treasured gift. I’d shamelessly abandoned her to her fate and she had finally snapped.
I was guilty, and I deserved no mercy.
I was like a zombie all through the journey back to Abuja. I’m sure I would’ve been the object of many curious and pitiful glances from different quarters because of my bloody and ruffled appearance, but I didn’t care.
My Naomi was gone, nothing else mattered.
For three days I holed up in my room not taking any calls or attending to anyone. For three days all I did was curse and cry, until I decided on the next course of action.
A packet of Lexotan washed down with a bottle of Jack Daniels sounded like a nice way to go and it wasn’t that hard to actualize once I made up my mind.
There were no parting messages to write and no calls to make. Life and the rest of the living would definitely soon forget me and keep moving.
When it was done I set the air conditioner at its coldest and crawled back into bed with her picture, cradling it to my chest.
Finally, I and my Naomi were going to be together as one.
Always and forever…