Category Archives: To Love and to Hold

To Love and to Hold – The continuation

Hi,

Thanks for following me on this romance story between Chinedu and Fadeke thus far.

“To Love and to Hold” has been published on Okadabooks.

Find out what happens after Chinedu reveals himself to Ma Win in the concluding episodes on http://www.okadabooks.com/book/about/to_love_and_to_hold/12281 for N500 (Five hundred naira) only.

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To Love and to Hold – Episode 31

The weekend passed by in a jiffy for Fadeke and she was back in the office on Monday. This time, she decided to take a look at the signage on the ground floor to know which organization was on the 5th floor. The Excellent Auditors, the signage read. “So could it mean we both work in the same building?” Even if they did, she wasn’t ready to find out. She walked straight into the elevator and pressed the 12th button. As far as she was concerned, Chinedu was a closed chapter in her life.

Chinedu resumed in his office an hour later with one mission on his mind; to find out if Fadeke worked in the building. He wasn’t sure of the floor she had taken the elevator from but he was going to find out nonetheless. He tried to remember the way she was dressed the previous night. She was wearing a grey pant suit and carried an ash coloured hand bag and a laptop bag. Did she have an ID card on? He closed his eyes and tried to think. He remembered seeing a green lanyard wound round her left hand; that could only mean one thing. She worked in the building. The green lanyard was the ID of the National bank on the 12th floor.

He had been transferred to Lagos two years ago and had worked in the building the last two years. He wondered how come their paths had never crossed. Maybe, she just got employed with the bank. He had a few friends who worked with the bank and they had gone for lunch together on occasions. He had looked for her for six years. He wasn’t going to let her slip away this time. For four years, he hadn’t been able to get over the pain. She had left without a word and had made no contact. He lost interest in other ladies and had diverted his whole attention to work. At a point, his mother had to step in. “You can’t remain single for life just because of Fadeke. Life goes on and you have to move beyond the past”. She had said. He tried dating two ladies when his mother would not let him be but the relationships never worked out. His attention was always divided. He was in a relationship presently and his mother was glad that this seemed to be working out. It was the longest he had had in the last twenty months. The previous ones hadn’t lasted beyond three months but this was in the fifth month. He would finally settle down with someone and his mother was glad. He was indifferent but he just wanted to make his mother happy. So he was trying his best to make the relationship work.

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He stood up from his desk as he dialed on his mobile phone.

“Wassup?”

“I need a favour”. Chinedu replied.

“Okay”.

“Does any Fadeke Peters work in your office?”

“Yep! Regional Key Accounts Manager”.

“Really?”

“Yeah. You know her?”

“Hmm…something like that”. Chinedu said.

His friend chuckled. “Or you want to know her? She’s a beautiful chic and mehn, guys here are falling over for her”.

Even after so many years, he had to admit that she was as beautiful as she was when she was younger.

“So?”

“No, I don’t want to know her in that sense. She looks familiar and I just wanted to confirm if she is the same person I know”. Chinedu replied.

“Oh okay. So are we meeting up today or you busy?”

He thought for a few seconds. “Nah, not today. I got a lot on my plate today”.

“No qualms. See ya”.

He walked back to his seat thinking. So she was the Regional Key Accounts Manager at the bank. He would have loved to ask more questions. If she was recently employed, what time she left the office daily, if he knew anything about her personal life, but his friend would have known that there was more to the questions. He would have to find out every other information himself.

As much as Fadeke tried, her mind was half at work. She had never taken note that Excellent Auditors had an office in the building. Even if she was aware, the last she knew, Chinedu was in the Abuja office. Had he been moved to Lagos? Seeing him had brought back painful memories but she just wanted to know. She willed her heart to be still and put in an extra effort into getting her job done for the day. Chinedu was history and he had to remain so. By 6.30p.m, she was picking her handbag and laptop and looking forward to an evening with Kike.

Chinedu sat in his car waiting. He had closed at 5.30p.m and had been sitting in the car the last one hour. He wasn’t sure how long he would have to wait but he wasn’t bothered about that. His girlfriend, Amara, had called about thirty minutes ago and he had told her he had issues to deal with in the office. This was one issue he had to sort out today.

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He was trying to recline his seat a little more when he saw her walking towards her car parked a few metres away. He dropped his face a few inches and tried to remain unseen. She dropped her laptop bag into the booth of the car and eased into the car with her handbag. He saw her pick up a blue tooth gadget and fixed it to her ear. She reversed the car and was out on the road. When he noticed she had gone a little distance, he started his car and followed her.

She drove into the expressway and was soon on the third mainland bridge. He kept a safe distance but made sure he did not lose sight of her. Traffic was light which was unusual for a Monday. They came off the bridge about ten minutes later and she faced the Gbagada axis turning in at Anthony Village.

He followed still.

She turned into an estate and honked at the front of a traffic barrier. He waited at the tail end of the street from where she had turned in and watched. The traffic barrier was lifted and she drove in. He wasn’t sure if he should follow. He was still undecided when he saw her honk again in front of a black gate. A young dark skinned man wearing a blue Jalabiya opened the gate and closed it after she drove in.

So that was where she stayed. He made a reverse back into the adjoining street and drove home.

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Chinedu closed a little earlier from work. He hadn’t been able to sleep all through the night. How he was going to accomplish his mission had been uppermost on his mind and that had kept him mostly awake. As he eased into his car and drove out of the car park, he said a little prayer in his heart that his action would not boomerang right in his face.

He got to the estate and honked in front of the traffic barrier. A man peeped out of a gate house and walked towards his side. He wound down the window.

“Madam Fadeke’s house”. He said.

The man walked back to the gate house and lifted the barrier.

As he drove into the close, he parked by the fence adjoining the house and the next to it. He opened the back door of his car and brought out a big box wrapped with purple ribbons. He walked towards the gate and tapped on it on getting there. The man in the Jalabiya opened a shutter on the gate and asked; “Yes?”

“I’d like to see madam”.

“Which madam?”

“Madam Fadeke”.

He eyed him. “She neva come back from work”.

“Can I drop something for her?”

“From where you dey come?”

“Na someone say make I drop this thing for her”. He lifted up the box for him to see.

“Okay. Wait, make I go ask Ma Win”. The man said as he pulled the shutter close.

“Ma Win?” He shrugged in confusion. Well, he was asked to wait; he definitely would. There was no turning back.

The man was back in a few minutes and he opened the gate for him. “Ma Win say make you enter”.

“Thank you”. Chinedu replied.

The house was a bungalow and it had beautiful shrubbery planted round it. He tapped on the door and it was opened by an elderly lady. She was wearing a pink boubou that was heavily embroidered.

“Good evening ma’am”.

She smiled. “Good evening. I’m told you have a package for Fadeke”.

“Yes ma’am”.

“Can I receive it or will it be too heavy for me to carry?” Ma Win asked.

Chinedu smiled. “I would rather carry it in myself and not put you through the trouble.”

She stepped aside. “Please come in”.

“Thank you”.

He walked into the living room and smiled. The whole room was filled with touches of green and purple. He noticed some toys to one end of the room and wondered about them.

“You can drop the box in that corner”. She pointed to a section beside the toys.

He dropped it carefully.

“So who should I tell her this is from?”

“Erm…erm…actually it is from me”. He stammered.

“From you?”

“Yes ma’am”.

She looked at him carefully. “Sit down”.

He did as she bade.

“Who are you?”

He sighed. This was a story he had not had to relay in years.

———

Photo Credit: http://www.gettyimages.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 30

Fadeke woke up tired. This was becoming a norm and she wasn’t sure she could continue this way. Waking up early and driving to work which had previously been a necessity had now become a luxury. Her father had presented a car to her a week after her graduation party and she drove it herself. She did not need a driver to take her around; she had told her father. Right now, she was beginning to wonder if that request couldn’t be reopened. She knew she couldn’t talk to her father as he had refused to acknowledge her presence in the house since the Sunday morning he had instructed her to go for an abortion. She also tried to stay out of his way; waking up early to go to work and going straight to her room immediately she was back from work. Her mum had employed a cook and her meals were brought to her in her room.

As she stood up from the bed, she thought about putting in her resignation at work. Even though, the dizzy spells had reduced, she had been advised that she needed to take rests. She was working herself too hard; the in-house doctor had told her. She put her hand on her tummy. She was almost twelve weeks gone and she was beginning to show a bump. She had started wearing loose shirts to work and she did not want her colleagues to find out before she tendered her resignation. The sooner she did it, the better. She had to talk to her mother. Over the past few weeks, they had become closer. She knew her mum was disappointed and she did not fail to chip it in once in a while but she had accepted the present situation and was trying to make the best of it. She would ask her mum for a chat when she returned from work.

“I want to resign, mum”. Fadeke said later that evening. She was dressed in a loose blouse over a pinafore and her legs were stretched on a stool.

“Why?”

“I don’t think I can continue this way. My bump is beginning to garner a few stares from my colleagues”.

“Is that the reason why you want to resign?”

“Coupled with the fact that I get tired easily as well”.

“That is a norm once you are pregnant”.

She sighed. “This ain’t easy, mum”.

“You should have thought about that when……”

“Mum?”

“I’m sorry”.

“I don’t need this right now”.

Mrs. Peters was quiet.

“What do you think about my resignation?”

“If you can’t handle it anymore, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. But you have to let your father know”.

“He hasn’t spoken to me in weeks”.

“You still have to let him know”.

Fadeke fidgeted with her fingers. “Mum, can I ask you a favour?”

“Go ahead”.

“I want to go stay abroad till I have my baby”.

Her mother looked at her astonished. “Why?”

“I…I don’t want Chinedu finding me in this condition”. She stammered.

“He is in Abuja. How is he going to see you?”

“He’s coming home in about a week or so”.

Her eyebrows rose. “How do you know that?”

“We had discussed about it before. He is taking his vacation and he wanted to come and see dad”.

“He better not”.

“I sincerely don’t know what he would do but I don’t want to be around when he comes”. She paused. “Can I go stay with Aunt Morayo in the states?”

“Till you have your baby?”

“Yes mum, please”. She pleaded.

She put her right hand on her head and looked at her daughter. She wished things did not have to be this way. Aunt Morayo was her cousin and would gladly take in her daughter. With four sons and no daughter; she treated Fadeke like the daughter she would have loved to have. Fadeke always stayed with her during her visits to the states so living with her now would not pose a problem. The problem however, was convincing her husband. It was bad enough that father and daughter now lived like strangers. Sending her out of the country was going to totally breakdown the relationship between them. Whatever the case may be, she wanted her daughter’s happiness.

“I’d talk to your dad”. She concluded.

“Thanks mum”.

“But you would have to do the talking as regards your resignation”.

She sighed. “Okay. I would try”.

“Your father loves you and wants the best for you. You do know that, don’t you?”

She dropped her head. “I know mum. I know he is disappointed in me and I accept that I made a mistake by falling in love with Chinedu. I hope he forgives me”.

“He would. He is just hurt”.

“I am sorry I can’t have an abortion like he suggested”. She looked at her mum as tears filled her eyes. “Deep down in my heart, I still love Chinedu even though he has hurt me so much”.

Her mother moved closer to hug her. “I know darling”. She put her hand on her daughter’s tummy. “This baby would always remind you of the love you had for him”.

As they both sat there crying in each other’s embrace; each had reasons for tears.

Fadeke; for her heart which was hurting. Her mother; for the relationship her daughter was losing with her father and the hurt they were both going through.

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Adeola gave his sister a hug. She was scheduled to leave on the 11p.m flight on Delta Airlines. At nineteen, he understood what the whole family was going through. He was studying Architecture in the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in Ogbomosho, Oyo state. Being a five year course, he had one more year to go before graduation. Fadeke had called him two days ago to inform him about her trip to the states. He had been surprised as he wasn’t aware of the present situation of things. He however came home as he wanted to see his big sister and know what the sudden move to the states was about. They had both talked for hours last night.

Mrs. Peters looked at her daughter with tear-stained cheeks. After much persuasion, her husband had eventually agreed to let her go to the states to stay with Aunt Morayo till the birth of her baby. He wasn’t exactly in support of her having the baby but he had listened to the voice of reason from his wife. What if complications arose during the termination? She had asked him. His daughter would never forgive him. She pulled her daughter close and held her tightly. “Promise me, you would take good care of yourself”.

“I promise”. She sobbed.

“I love you so much darling. Don’t ever forget that”.

“I love you too, mum”.

“I’d visit you in the next two months”.

“Okay mum”.

“Enough of the pity party. You should get going”. Mr. Peters said irritated.

He was hurting and was finding it hard to express his feelings. This was not what he had planned for his daughter. He had been a proud father until some weeks ago. He watched his daughter grow up into a beautiful girl and had even been the envy of some of his friends. A few of them had joked about visiting him soon with their sons to seek for his daughter’s hand in marriage. That dream had however been dashed by the Igbo boy she had gotten pregnant for. He never imagined his daughter becoming an unwed mother. If he had known, he would have flown her out of the country to continue her education. He never imagined that Dupe would not handle the situation as appropriate. He wasn’t just upset with Fadeke. He was also upset with her. Her carelessness had resulted in Fadeke getting pregnant.

When she sought his opinion about having the baby in the states, he had been angrier than ever. She was meant to help her get an abortion, but she was doing otherwise. “Do you think I am glad that my daughter is pregnant?” She had asked him. He had walked out on her without a response. He had come back home much later that night expecting everyone to be in bed. But she had waited up for him. She had knelt down before him in tears pleading with him. It wasn’t her desire that things were going this way, but they had to look beyond the present situation and think of their daughter’s future.

Fadeke looked at her dad. “I’m ready to leave now”.

“The driver would take you to the airport”.

She stammered. “I…you…I mean….you ain’t going with us?”

“What do you need me there for?”

Fadeke looked downcast. “Nothing”. She paused. “I just wanted to give you a hug”. She said without raising her head.

Mrs. Peters looked at her husband with pleading eyes.

Mr. Peters moved closer to his daughter, lifted up her chin and hugged her.

Fadeke burst into fresh tears. “I’m sorry, dad. Please forgive me”.

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Chinedu flew into Lagos at 9.00am. He took a taxi straight to his house and headed out almost immediately. Today was the first day of his vacation and he couldn’t wait any longer. As he walked into the premises of the bank, he looked round to see who could attend to him.

“Good morning”. He said to the lady behind the customer service desk.

She smiled at him. “Good morning. Please sit down”.

He sat down.

“How may I help you?”

“I would like to see Miss Peters. Could you help, please?”

“Miss Peters?”

“Yes, Fadeke Peters”.

“Is it official or personal?”

“Personal”.

“I’m sorry. She doesn’t work with us anymore. She resigned two days ago…..”

“She resigned?” He interrupted.

“Yes, she did. If it is official or something I can help you with, I can refer you to…..”

“Don’t bother. Thanks”. He said as he stood up.

He walked out of the bank lost. What is happening? This had been his last hope of getting across to her. After the incident during his last visit to her house, he had decided that the best place to meet with her without any intrusion was her office. With the new development, he was left with no option than to go back to her house. He flagged down a taxi and gave him the address of the Peter’s residence. As he got to her house, he saw a Lexus Jeep driving out of the house with Mrs. Peters sitting in the backseat. He eased out of the taxi in a hurry and ran towards the car. Mrs. Peters saw him and asked the driver to stop as she wound down the window.

“Good afternoon ma”.

“Yes, how may I help you?”

Unsure of what her next reaction would be, he stammered. “I….I wanted to see Fadeke. Is she home, ma?”

Mrs. Peters eyed him. “What do you want from her again? Haven’t you done enough already?”

“I’m sorry ma. I still don’t understand what is going on. Please, I need your help”.

She laughed derisively. “My help? Did you just ask for my help? Look here Chinedu, Fadeke is far away from where you can harm her. Do you understand me?”

Chinedu stood transfixed.

Mrs. Peters wound the window back up and the car sped away.

What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment? What did she mean by far away from where I can harm her? I have exhausted all the options I have of getting across to her. Have I hurt her so much that she wouldn’t even give him an opportunity to defend myself?

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He was still standing there when the door man tapped him on the shoulder.

“Mr. Chinedu, Aunty Fadeke has travelled”.

“She has?”

“Yes, she travelled yesterday night”.

“Do you know where she travelled to?”

Haba, Oga Chinedu, dem no dey tell me dat kain thing nah. How I go know?”

“Okay. Thank you”.

He walked back to the taxi; as the man was still waiting to get paid. He eased into the taxi and gave him his address. This was too much to bear. Fadeke had travelled without a word. He had no one else to talk to.

Everyone he spoke to seemed not to know anything and those who knew had decided to keep mum.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 29

Chinedu had tossed and turned all through the night. Sleep had eluded him and as he lay awake on his bed; streams of sunlight peeking through the curtains; he replayed the events of the last twenty-four hours in his mind. There had to be a missing link between Fadeke’s proposed visit to Abuja and her rush back to Lagos. What could possibly have happened that he wasn’t seeing?

After he left the Peters’ residence, he had gone home. His mother had been surprised to see him. He narrated the events that had taken place to her and she had also been at a loss.

“You said she came all the way to Abuja to discuss something very important with you?”

“Yes, she did”.

“So, how come she did not wait to see you before she left?”

“That’s the part I do not understand. Her friend, Kemi said that she was really broken”.

“Could she have succumbed to pressure from her father to give up on you?”

Chinedu thought for a minute. “If she had, she wouldn’t have left Abuja in tears. She was at my house but did not wait….”

All of a sudden, it dawned on him.

“What the …” He swore.

“What is it?” His mother asked alarmed.

“Tochukwu came to my house the day before Fadeke’s trip”.

“Who is Tochukwu?”

“Don’t you remember her? The lady I told you about; Fadeke’s roommate”.

She thought. “The lady that came to congratulate you and Kunle on your graduation?”

“Yes”.

“Okay. What was she doing in your house?”

His face was grim. “Oh mum. I hope I haven’t made the greatest mistake of my life”.

“Calm down and tell me what happened”.

“She called me on Friday morning and said she was flying into Abuja that evening. She wanted to sleep over at my place and I told her it wasn’t possible”.

His mum nodded.

“She said she would have stayed over at her friend’s place but that her friend was travelling early Saturday morning. I asked her what she was doing in Abuja and she said she came for an interview”.

“Okay”.

“So she needed a place to get dressed as the interview was scheduled to hold at 10a.m. I told her it would be advisable to stay in a hotel or in the alternative fly in with the first flight at 5.30. She flew into Abuja that Saturday morning and I asked my taxi guy to pick her up from the airport. By 6.30, she was at my place. I wasn’t ready for any of her troubles that morning, so I decided to leave home earlier than I had intended”.

“If you knew she was trouble, why did you allow her in your house in the first place?”

“Good question, mum. She obviously realized I was avoiding her. On my way out, she told me she and Kunle were back together. She asked for my forgiveness over all what she had done in school and she was even shedding tears”.

“Hmm. Crocodile tears”.

“I’m used to her tears, mum. They don’t move me one bit. I told her it was okay and just told her to drop the key to my apartment with my next door neighbour”.

“You left her in your apartment?” His mother asked with surprise.

“I did not have a choice. I know Tochukwu too well to have stayed there with her. I hadn’t spoken to Kunle in a while to confirm if they were back together and I wasn’t ready to wait and watch her spill tears that were scripted”.

“So do you think Fadeke met her in your apartment?”

“I don’t know mum, I don’t know. She has refused to speak to me”.

“Then we can assume that she must have met her”.

“Possibly”. He thought for a moment. “Do you think Tochukwu could have fed her with lies? She always had this beef with her”.

“What’s that?”

“You mean beef?”

“Yes. What does it mean?”

He smiled. “It means a grouse”.

“Since Fadeke would not talk to you, you could find out from Tochukwu if they met. Then you can be rest assured that Tochukwu is behind all this”. She concluded.

*******

Chinedu stood up from the bed and stretched. He had to talk to Tochukwu. She was most likely the missing link. He picked up his phone and dialed her number. It rang out twice before she answered.

“Hi dear”. She said groggily.

“Hi. Did Fadeke meet you at my house yesterday?”

“Excuse me!”

“I asked if Fadeke met you at my place yesterday”. He said getting impatient.

“What kind of question is that? Is that the reason why you woke me up this early?”

He was quiet for a while. “I’m sorry I did not realize you were still sleeping”.

“Now you know”.

“I just wanted to know if you were at my apartment when Fadeke came. She came into Abuja to see me and left without doing so”.

“No. We did not meet”. She lied.

Chinedu sighed. “Are you sure? I mean, you did not maybe see her on your way out or something?”

“Look, if you are not sure, why don’t you give her a call and leave me alone”.

“She has refused to pick up my calls”.

Tochukwu smiled. “Well, I can’t help you”.

“Sorry, I woke you up”.

Tochukwu dropped the call and smiled. Her plan had worked. The next step was ensuring that they never came back together.

If she couldn’t have Chinedu, neither would Fadeke.

**********

By 9.00p.m, Chinedu was back in his apartment in Abuja. This weekend had been his worst ever and he felt he needed a break. He was tired both physically and emotionally. What was he supposed to do? He had run out of ideas. He had tried calling Fadeke on different occasions during the day but as usual, she had refused to pick up his call. The only option he had now was to send a text message.

“Baby, I don’t know why you are doing this to me”. He texted. “What have I done wrong? Don’t you think you should at least let me know? You came to Abuja to discuss something very important and left without even waiting to see me. My love, please talk to me. I am down and out of ideas of how to reach you”.

After waiting for five minutes without a response, he sent another text. “My love, please talk to me. You are breaking my heart”.

No response.

He went to bed two hours later dejected.

Fadeke had seen the text messages. She was still upset. He had betrayed her love and her trust so why was he trying to reach out to her now. When she read the second text message, she broke down in tears. He wasn’t the one heartbroken; she was. She had given everything she had to him; body and soul. And she had to pay the ultimate price. She thought about her father’s threat earlier in the day. How could he be advocating for an abortion? She was torn. What was she supposed to do? What if she died in the process? She had heard stories of people who never survived one. No, she wouldn’t do it. If her father wanted her out of his house, so be it.

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Chinedu woke up earlier than usual on Monday morning. He hadn’t been able to sleep all through the night and he knew if he continued this way, he was probably going to break down. He got dressed early and stepped out of his apartment. The next flat was directly opposite his and as he tapped on the door, he prayed in his heart that his question wouldn’t sound silly to his neighbour.

“Hi Wale, I’m sorry to disturb you this early”.

Wale was knotting his tie as Chinedu spoke. “No problems. I hope everything is okay”.

“I just wanted to find out if you saw my girlfriend here on Saturday?”

“You asked her to drop the key to your apartment with me, didn’t you?” Wale asks.

“Erm…not exactly. I mean that’s not my girlfriend. She is just an old friend that needed a place to change; she had an interview that morning”.

“So, who else are you asking about?”

“Fadeke. Did you see any other lady come out of my apartment? I know it sounds weird but I really need to know”.

Wale thought for a few seconds and shook his head. “Nah…I don’t think so. I wasn’t taking note anyway”. He shrugged.

“Okay, thanks”.

“You are welcome. I hope no hassles. You don’t look like you’ve had any sleep”.

Chinedu rubbed his eyes. “I’m okay. Thanks”.

He walked back into his apartment and sat down on the couch. Who else could he talk to? He picked up his phone and dialed.

“Hi Chinedu”. Kemi said picking up the call on the second ring.

“I’m sorry if I woke you up”. He realized he was beginning to do that often.

“Not at all. I am getting dressed for work”.

“Quick question”.

“Okay”.

“Has Fadeke spoken to you?”

“No, she hasn’t called since she left. I tried calling her yesterday but I guess she must have been resting ‘cos she did not pick up”.

“If she calls you, could you please convince her to talk to me?”

“She hasn’t spoken to you?” Kemi asked surprised.

“No, she hasn’t. I had to fly to Lagos that evening”.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes. I went to her house but her mum walked me out. I did not get to see her”.

Kemi sighed. “I’m sorry Chinedu. I really wish I could help”.

“Just ask her to please talk to me; that’s the help you can render”.

“No problems. I will”.

“I really appreciate your help. Thanks a lot”.

“You are welcome”.

With that done, the only thing he could do now was to look forward to his leave which was just two weeks away. He had asked for a four week vacation because he needed time with Fadeke. He had also intended to use the period to see Fadeke’s father but with the turnout of events, he wasn’t sure of anything anymore. The only thing he was sure about right now was that whatever had caused the friction in their relationship had to be nipped in the bud.

And that was exactly what he was going to do.

———-

Photo Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 28

Fadeke arrived Lagos at 1p.m and took a cab straight home. She had cried enough. Tears weren’t going to change the situation. She needed to think of the next step. Her life was going to take a different course and she needed to think. The one she loved had rejected her and the only person she could turn to now at this time of need was her mother. She knew it wasn’t going to go down well with her but she needed her.

 

As she sauntered into the house, she heard the hum of the blender and moved towards the kitchen. Her mum was making an apple smoothie and did not hear her walk in.

“Mum?”

She looked up surprised and switched off the blender. “I thought you said you were coming back tomorrow evening”.

“There was a change of plan”.

She looked closely at her daughter expecting more. “Okay?”

Fadeke looked away and was quiet.

“Is there something I need to know?”

Her mother knew her too well. She burst into tears again; invading her mother’s space and hugging her tight. She wept like a baby while she was rocked from side to side. When her sobs subsided, she looked up to search her mother’s face.

“Mum, I am so sorry. I know you would be disappointed in me”.

Mrs. Peters cradled her daughters face in her hands. “Fadekemi, I love you no matter what you may have done wrong”.

“I…I…I…went to see Chinedu in Abuja”.

“Okay…and?”

“I’m pregnant”.

Mrs. Peters hands dropped. “You are what?”

“I’m pregnant, mum. I’m sorry”. She broke down again.

Mrs. Peters looked on like she was in a trance. My own daughter pregnant? “Fadeke, how could you?” She cried.

“It was just once”.

“And you did not deem it fit to use protection? How am I supposed to explain this to your father?” She screamed.

Fadeke fell on her knees and sobbed. If only her mother knew the rest of the story. She did not think she could bring herself to tell her. She felt like her heart had been ripped apart. Her mother turned her back on her as she sobbed.

“What did Chinedu say?”

“I couldn’t tell him”.

She turned round to look at her daughter astonished. “What do you mean? Isn’t he responsible?”

“He is but…but….I met my roommate in his house”.

To Love & to Hold 41a

“What?”

“She said Chinedu had been playing games with me all along”.

Mrs. Peters raised an eyebrow. “And you believed her?”

Fadeke looked dazed. “Of course, mum”.

“So did Chinedu confirm what she said?”

“I did not wait to see him. I left with the next flight back to Lagos”.

She sighed. “You didn’t give him an opportunity to prove whether what she said was right or wrong. What if she had lied?”

“I know it is true. She said so many other things to prove that I had been deceived all along. I was devastated, mum. I couldn’t take it. I just had to leave”. She cried.

Mrs. Peters pulled her daughter close to her. Her sobs were breaking her heart as well. “Sssh….Go upstairs and take a rest, okay? You’d be much better when you wake up”.

She nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks.

***********************************************************************************

The plane touched down at exactly 5.30pm. Chinedu looked out of the window at the runway but his mind was far away. He had tried to figure out what Fadeke could possibly want to talk about which brought her all the way to Abuja. What could have happened between when she arrived his house and when she decided to leave but no ideas had come up. He was lost and he needed to find his way out.

As he stepped out of the plane, he flagged a taxi to take him straight to Fadeke’s house. He knew he risked meeting her father at home but she hadn’t given him much of a choice. If she could only pick up his calls; maybe he could decide on an alternative. He tried calling again. Her phone rang out again and he decided to give up. There was no use calling. She wasn’t going to pick up and he also did not have a choice; he was going to meet her.

 

He looked at his wrist watch as he stood before the expansive gate of the Peters’ family. It was a quarter to 7pm. He hadn’t even called his mother to tell her he was in town. That could wait. The matter before him was more important right now. As he pushed down the door bell, the door man looked at him through the pigeon hole.

“Yes, how may I help you?”

“I want to see Fadeke”.

The man looked at him surprised. “Now?”

“Yes”.

“Uncle, seven don almost nack oh and my oga dey house”. He said in Pidgin English.

Chinedu thought for a minute then answered. “What about madam? She dey house?”

“Yes, she dey”.

“Abeg, help me tell her say na me Chinedu”.

“I know you nah. I just dey wonder the time wey you dey come”.

“Please, it is urgent. Could you tell madam that?”

“Okay. I dey come”. He said as he closed the pigeon hole and ran towards the house.

 

“Come inside”. The door man said as he opened the gate. “She said you should sit down in the guest parlour”.

Chinedu nodded his thanks as he walked towards the house.

As he opened the door to the house, he met Mrs. Peters’ easing herself into a couch in the guest living room. He greeted her as he closed the door shut.

“How may I help you, Chinedu?” She wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries.

“I’m sorry I came to visit this late but I really need to see Fadeke”.

“She’s asleep”.

Chinedu moved closer to her while still standing. “Please, I need to know what is wrong. She has refused to pick up my calls. I am confused”.

Mrs. Peters’ looked at him and simply shook her head. “You know her father is home, right?”

“Yes ma. I was told”.

“So I’d advise you leave now. I only came to attend to you out of courtesy. If my daughter doesn’t want to pick up your calls, then you can be rest assured she doesn’t want to see you as well. Have a good evening”. She said as she stood up to leave.

Chinedu stood rooted to the spot. Was this really happening? He rubbed his eyes to be sure he wasn’t dreaming. Mrs. Peters’ who had shown him love in the past had walked him out of her house. This was a bad dream and he wanted to wake up from it.

***************************************************************************************

Fadeke woke up with a splitting headache. She looked at the little clock on the bedside stool. It read 4 a.m. She had slept for twelve straight hours. The events and the journey of the previous day must have taken a toll on her. She staggered out of bed towards the bathroom. She opened the essentials cabinet and took out two tabs of panadol. She walked back to the room, opened her bedroom fridge and took out a glass and a bottle of water. As she poured the water into the glass, it dawned on her that no one had awoken her for a chat. Did that mean that her mum was yet to tell her father that she was pregnant? She downed the water and the pain killers, dropped the glass cup on the fridge and lay back on the bed.

She put her hand on her tummy and thought. What is going to become of my baby? I am going to be an unwed mother. Everything about my life is going to change. What she wasn’t sure of was how her relationship with her father would fare. As she closed her eyes, she gradually drifted back to sleep.

 

Mrs. Peters peeped into her daughter’s room at 6a.m. She needed to talk to her. She had informed her husband about the situation last night and he had flared up. He wanted to go wake her up but she had pleaded with him. She had had a bad day; she told him. He was even more upset that Chinedu had enough guts to come looking for her at home. “I told you he was no good but you wouldn’t listen. The result is now in her tummy”. He spat. “You better take her to the hospital and get that thing out of her”. He had concluded.

She had been too dumbfounded to say anything. How could he be asking his daughter to have an abortion? She hadn’t been able to sleep all night. She had wanted to talk to Fadeke right away but she knew it would have been a futile effort. She was tired and needed to rest.

Fadeke was already awake but just lay in bed. She saw her mum peep in and lifted up to sit.

“Good morning mum”.

Mrs. Peters walked into the room and sat on the bed. “Good morning darling. Did you rest well?”

“I tried”.

She sighed. “Things have taken a turn for the worse, I must confess”.

“You told dad”.

“Yes, I did. He says you should have an abortion”.

“What? No way”.

Her mum just looked at her without a word.

“You are not in support of that, are you?”

“Honestly, I don’t know what I am in support of at the moment. I am confused”.

“I’m sorry”.

“I just wish you had been more careful, Fadeke. In this time and age, I’m surprised you could take such a risk. What happened to protection?

Fadeke bowed her head.

She sighed again. “We need to think this through so that we don’t take a decision we would regret later. Do you understand me?”

Fadeke nodded.

“Chinedu was here last night”.

Fadeke raised her head. “He was here? What did he want?”

“He wanted to see you. I had to attend to him in the lounge. Your father was upstairs and you can imagine what would have happened if he had seen him”.

“Mum, do you think he looked remorseful?”

“Do you want the honest truth?”

She nodded.

“He looked confused. He really doesn’t know what is going on and I think you should talk to him”.

“But I don’t want to”.

“Okay, fine. I can’t force you to, you know? Anyway, you should be hungry.

“I’m starving”.

“So, let’s go make breakfast”.

They both stood up from the bed and walked out of the room.

 

Mr. Peters was already in the living room watching the early morning news. It was a Sunday morning and they should normally be getting ready for church; but the events of last night had upset him so much that he wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere. Fadeke was walking ahead of her mother and as she entered the living room, she stopped short. She hadn’t expected to meet her father sitting in there so early. This was unusual. Her heartbeat increased as her father looked up from the television set and met her eyes. She was about to turn back when he spoke.

“Come back here Fadeke”.

She looked at her mum who was standing behind her with pleading eyes. She understood immediately and held her hand; walking her towards the living room. As her mum sat on the couch opposite her dad, she huddled beside her.

“So you still continued with your relationship with that Igbo boy? You see what it has caused you?” He paused and looked at his wife. “Have you arranged how to get that thing out of her?”

To Love & to Hold 41b

“My dear, let us think about this before……”

“Think about this? Hear yourself speak. What are you thinking about? She would not have that bastard in my house”. He scowled.

“You can’t ask your daughter to go for an abortion”.

“I am not asking her to. I am telling her she must have one if she is to remain in my house”.

Fadeke who had been quiet all along suddenly burst into tears. She knelt down and pleaded. “Daddy, please”.

He stood up infuriated. “Why are you begging me? You were so stupid to have given yourself to an Igbo boy. Pray that I don’t set my eyes on him ‘cos he would be as good as dead”. He stormed out of the living room leaving both mother and daughter dumbfounded.

———

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com
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To Love and to Hold – Episode 27

Chinedu was confused. What could have happened? He wasn’t expecting Fadeke until 2p.m and he was meant to pick her up at the airport. If she was coming early, she would have called him to pre-inform him; but she had not done that. She was supposed to discuss something very important and he had not the slightest idea what it could be about. And now; Kemi’s call. He remembered Kemi back in school as the nerd but he hadn’t known that she and Fadeke had become friends. He also did not know that she was also in Abuja. So much he did not know.

He stood up from his desk to go talk to his boss. It was just 10.30a.m. He had sought for permission earlier on in the week to leave the office for 1.30p.m. He hoped his boss would grant him another favour if he asked to leave now.

“No Chinedu, you can’t leave the office now”.

Chinedu’s countenance fell immediately. “I understand that our earlier agreement was 1.30p.m but I really need to attend to some personal issues”.

His boss looked at him over the rim of his glasses. “What time should I expect the report you are meant to deliver?”

Chinedu sighed. The report was what had brought him to the office in the first place. He had not gone half-way with it and he knew there was no way he could leave the office without delivering it to his boss. “You would get the report in another two hours”.

“Once your report is submitted, you can leave”.

Chinedu walked back to his desk and for the next two hours, he put all his efforts into getting his report done. If he had to leave the office, then he had to be focused. By noon, he sent the report to his boss by email and immediately shut down his laptop. He did not want his boss calling him back, so he removed the battery out of his official mobile phone so that he would be unreachable and put the second one on silent. His colleagues could reach him on the second one if there was anything urgent. He however prayed that nothing would come up. He hurriedly went down to meet his taxi driver as he had called him about thirty minutes earlier. As he eased himself into the taxi, different thoughts ran through his mind.

To Love & to Hold 40

“Mr. Chinedu, I dropped Madam Fadeke in the house this morning”. The taxi driver said as he drove off.

“Oh, did she call you?”

“Yes, she asked me to pick her up at the airport before eight this morning”.

“Was she okay?”

“Okay? I don’t understand, sir”. The taxi driver asked looking confused.

“Never mind”. Chinedu said trying to focus. If she had called the taxi driver to pick her up, it meant she had changed her flight but had not informed him. He checked his personal phone to see if he had any missed calls from any of his colleagues and found out that Kemi had called him six times. Oh no! He had not considered that Kemi would also try to call him. He rang her number back and she picked up on the first ring.

“I thought you said you were coming immediately. Why haven’t you been picking your calls?” She hissed.

“I couldn’t get away from work earlier but I’m on my way to your place now”.

“Don’t bother coming”.

“Why?”

She sighed. “She left already”.

“How? How could you let her leave without seeing me?”

“Look Chinedu, I am pissed already. So don’t let me say what I would regret later”. She said with irritation.

Chinedu tried to calm down. “Okay, I’m sorry I flipped. I just don’t understand what is going on”.

“Well, I also don’t. You were meant to come and fix whatever went wrong, right?”

She had a point and he had bungled that opportunity.

“What time did she leave?”

“She left with the 12 o’clock flight to Lagos. She was bent on leaving. I almost felt that she knew I had called you”.

“But she had not pre-booked, had she?”

“No, she was a walk-in”.

Chinedu blew air from his mouth. “She was running away from him. But why?

“Kemi, I know the question may not sound right; but did she give you a faint idea of what could have happened?”

“No, she did not. But whatever it was, she was really hurt”.

“Thanks. I appreciate your help”. He said cutting the call with Kemi.

He scrolled through his phone and dialled.

After the usual introductions, he spoke “Hi, my name is Chinedu Ugo and I would like to fly to Lagos on the next flight”.

“The next flight is at 2.30p.m sir but there are no available seats”. The lady on the phone crooned.

“Please I really need to get to Lagos. Could you check through again?”

“Please hold on sir”. She was silent for about two minutes which looked like forever to Chinedu as he tapped his fingers endlessly. “We have an available seat for the 6.15p.m flight. Would you like to book that sir?”

“6.15 is too late. Please I need your help. I need an earlier flight”. He said in desperation.

“I am sorry sir. I wish I could be of help but….”

He interrupted. “Could you take down my number and call me once you have a window on the 2.30 flight? It is 0801 234 5678”.

“Okay sir. I have your number penciled down for a probable 2.30 slot”.

“I would really appreciate it. Thanks”.

 

As soon as he arrived home, he asked the taxi driver to wait for a few minutes. He went in, packed an overnight bag and he was off to the airport. It was a quarter to two already and he was getting really tensed. The airport attendant hadn’t called back to give him news and he was spent already. He wasn’t thinking straight anymore. He decided to call Fadeke. She should be in Lagos by now. Her phone rang out three times without a response. She was running away and now she wasn’t picking up his calls. What have I done wrong? Why would she torment me this way?

 

He got to the airport and eased out of the car in a hurry. He ran towards the departure desk and introduced himself. “I called earlier for a seat on the 2.30p.m flight. Tell me there is an opening now, please”. He said almost out of breath.

The attendant smiled at him with compassionate eyes. “I’m sorry, sir. It is filled but we have an open slot on the next flight which takes off at 4.45p.m”.

He put his hands on his forehead. He was beginning to have a headache. “Please put me on that flight. I need to get to Lagos today”.

The attendant asked for his details and when he was done, he looked for a tuck shop to buy a coke. He was tired, hungry and absolutely on edge. As he opened the can, he tried calling Fadeke and her phone rang out again. “What is the meaning of all this? Why won’t she even pick up my calls? Even if I have done something wrong, at least, I have a right to know what it is”. He spoke to himself. He looked at his wrist watch. He had over two hours to wait for the next flight.

Two hours of his life which seemed like forever right now?

To Love & to Hold 40b

———-

Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 26

Fadeke touched down in Abuja at 7.45a.m. She changed her itinerary at the last minute and decided to take the second flight into Abuja. She knew Chinedu wasn’t expecting her until 2p.m but she wanted to give him a surprise. She had called him two nights earlier and he had confirmed that he would be leaving home at 9.00a.m. Since it was a Saturday, he did not need to get to work very early; he had said. If she could get to his house before 8.30a.m, she was sure she would catch him at home or most likely on his way out since his office wasn’t too far. Even in her state, she was still very excited that she was going to see him. She had thought over and over about how she was going to break the news to him. She wasn’t sure what his reaction was going to be. He loved her no doubt; but a baby hadn’t been part of what they had planned for. She pulled out her bunch of keys from her jeans pocket. She looked at the key to his apartment and smiled. How else could a guy prove that he loved his girlfriend? He had given her the spare keys to the apartment on her last visit and told her the house belonged to both of them. She placed a call to his taxi driver and asked him to come pick her up.

 

In fifteen minutes, she was at the apartment and tapped the door gently. It was just 8.25a.m and the neighbourhood was quiet. She tapped the door the second time and straightened out her hair. She should have brushed it. The door opened and she saw the last person she was expecting to see.

“Who do we have here?” Tochukwu said resting sideways on the door lintel. She was dressed in one of Chinedu’s shirts which barely covered her thighs. The top buttons of the shirt were open revealing her bust. If she were a man, the sight before her would have caused a lot of heat to flow through her.

Fadeke stood unable to say a word.

“Come on in. I don’t want you attracting the neighbours and causing a scene”.

Fadeke still dumbfounded walked in like a sheep led to a slaughter house.

“Sincerely, it never crossed my mind that you were still dating Chinedu”. Since Fadeke was still too stunned to speak, Tochukwu tried to gain an upper hand in a conversation.

“What in the world are you doing here and in Chinedu’s shirt?” Fadeke screamed suddenly finding her voice.

She shrugged. “What does it look like?”

So many thoughts started running through Fadeke’s mind. How long had this been going on? She remembered what Kemi told her about Tochukwu and Kunle dating back in school. What was going on? If Tochukwu and Kunle were back together as Kemi had said, why was she dressed scantily in Chinedu’s shirt this early in the morning?

“Hey, why are you looking like the world has come to an end? Did you think you had sole ownership of Chinedu?”

Fadeke tried to talk but Tochukwu shut her up with a hand.

“I am not finished. I had always been there before Chinedu decided to look your way for reasons best known to him. I wonder what he saw in you”. Tochukwu spat as she eyed her from top to bottom.

To Love & to Hold 39

Fadeke’s jaw dropped.

“You want proof? Kunle is enough proof. I only dated him because Chinedu decided to look your way and I was just waiting to have him back when he was through with you. And as for Kunle, I knew about all the stunts he tried to pull with you. It was just to get you away from Chinedu so I could have him back where he truly belongs”.

A tear slid down Fadeke’s right cheek. “Tochukwu, I trusted you”.

She lifted up her hand and hissed. “Abeg, spare me the pitiful face. “As you can see” – She said placing one hand on her bare thigh and the other on her bust – “He is back where he was meant to be all along. So take a walk, I don’t want him coming back and meeting you in this sorry state”.

“Why Tochukwu? What have I done to deserve this?”

“Why? Why?” Tochukwu laughed sardonically. “Because, you are just a tramp who wants to reap where you did not sow”.

Fadeke had had enough. She struggled to open the door, tears blinding her as she did.

“Bye bye”. Tochukwu flicked her hands.

******************************************************************************************

“Fadeke, talk to me”. Kemi said shaking her friend by the shoulders.

“I….I…..”  She tried to talk but the sobs caught her throat and she stopped.

She had gone straight to Kemi’s house after leaving Chinedu’s and she was lucky to find her at home. Kemi had planned going out earlier in the day but when she remembered Fadeke had promised to fly in, she decided to stay back till her friend called. Fadeke had refused to call Chinedu’s taxi and had taken another cab instead. She had sobbed all through the thirty minutes trip to Kemi’s house.

Kemi had tried in the last ten minutes to find out what had happened to her friend but the only thing she had gotten was that she was coming from Chinedu’s house. What could have happened there to make her sob uncontrollably? Fadeke’s body shook with every sob and Kemi was beginning to get scared. She stood up to make a cup of chamomile tea to help her relax.

To Love & to Hold 39b

Fadeke had her head in her hands when Kemi came back with the cup of chamomile tea. Kemi pushed it into her hands and encouraged her to drink. She was beginning to have a headache and she asked her friend for pain relievers. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Kemi what she had seen. How long had Chinedu been deceiving me? Was I that naïve that the three of them; Chinedu, Kunle and Tochukwu had taken advantage of me and played me for a fool? Five years of being fooled. Five years of being blind. I have been so blinded by love that I failed to realize it. She remembered the hate Tochukwu had shown for Chinedu. It had all been a farce. Or maybe it was hate that he was dating me? I have been living with the enemy for years without knowing. I was such a fool. The pain in her heart hurt so much and she felt she would pass out. She thought about the growing baby in her womb and tears started streaming down her cheeks again. This was the result of her being naïve. A result of her foolishness. A result of her absolute trust in the one she loved.

She sighed and Kemi looked at her expectant. She couldn’t tell her; No. This was her cross and she was going to bear it alone. How was she going to break the news to her parents? They were definitely going to know that Chinedu was responsible for her pregnancy. And then, her father would have proved himself right. Her hands shook and she tried to steady the cup in her hands. What did I ever do wrong? She burst into tears again.

Kemi had had enough of her tears. She was going to call Chinedu right away. Whatever, he had done to her; he had better come undo it. She remembered Fadeke had given her his number a while back. She would cajole her to go take a nap to ease her headache, and then she would call him.

Once Fadeke was soundly asleep in the room, Kemi scrolled through her phone to look for Chinedu’s number. She was grateful that she hadn’t deleted it as she never had a reason to call him before now.

“Hi Chinedu, this is Kemi calling”.

“Okay?”

“I don’t think you would remember me but we were in school together. I was in the same class as Fadeke”.

“Oh ok. How are you?”

“I’m good. I’ll go straight to the point”. She said getting impatient.

Chinedu listened.

Kemi told him about how Fadeke had come to her place that morning after leaving his house and how she had sobbed uncontrollably.

“But…..but, her flight was meant to arrive at 2p.m”. He stammered.

“Well, she is in my house right now. I had to give her some chamomile tea and cajole her to take a rest.

Chinedu was quiet for a while. “I still don’t understand. What could have happened to make her breakdown in tears?”

Kemi laughed sarcastically. “I should be asking you that question, don’t you think?”

“It is just that……”

“Look Chinedu..…” Kemi interrupted him. “Are you coming over or not?”

“Give me your address”.

“It is No 10, Mohammed Tinubu crescent. I’d be waiting”.

“Wuse?”

“Yes, Wuse”.

After the call was dropped, Kemi went to check on Fadeke in the room. She was still sound asleep but had a disturbed expression on her face. She prayed in her heart that Chinedu would come early enough to sort out whatever had caused her so much pain.

———
Photo Credit: http://www.wikihow.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 25

Fadeke was quiet all through the forty-five minute trip to Lagos. Her colleagues chatted on end about different issues but she chose to stay alone. She needed to brood over what had taken place last night. It had not been planned but it had happened all the same. She had woken up at 6a.m and found Chinedu sleeping on the couch in the living room. She almost thought she had been dreaming but when she saw their clothing strewn all around the room, she knew it had been no dream. She had gone to the bathroom immediately and washed herself. She tried to calculate her menstrual cycle backwards to see if she was safe but she wasn’t sure. As she got dressed in a blouse and jeans that Chinedu had bought for her during the week, she hoped they hadn’t made a mistake that would cost them their relationship. She had tried to talk to Chinedu about it but he had apologized profusely and hadn’t given her an opportunity to say anything.

He had called his taxi driver and the man had taken both of them to her hotel. He had helped her pack her luggage and she had been grateful. He had however; been so quiet that she wondered what was on his mind. Was he regretting their action? He had continued to apologize and had been careful as his hands brushed hers while he was putting her clothes into her travel luggage. After her other colleagues had called her room to find out if she was ready as a cab was waiting; she had moved closer to kiss him but he had barely touched her lips with his and had stepped back. He had however hugged her so tight that she had thought he was going to break her.

To LOve & to Hold 38

As the plane touched down in Lagos and she switched on her mobile phone, a text message dropped. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened last night. Please forgive me. I love you very much and would never do a thing to hurt you”.

She sighed and started texting back. “For how long do you want to keep on apologizing?”

“For as long as it takes”.

“Please can you quit the apologies? Is that the reason why you refused to kiss me back?” She texted back.

“I’m sorry about that. I did not mean to take it out on you”.

“Baby, I love you very much. Don’t let the event of the night cause a strain in our relationship”.

“I love you too darling. Much more than you can imagine”. Chinedu texted back.

“I’d call you when I get home”.

“Okay, my love. I’d expect your call”.

The weeks flew by and the event of that night was quickly forgotten. Fadeke was back at work while Chinedu asked his boss for a transfer to Lagos. His application was rejected as the organization felt that he was needed more in Abuja. They had enough experts in Lagos and did not see the reason why he should become a statistic in Lagos when he could stand out in Abuja. Since he couldn’t get the transfer, he decided to look forward to his vacation. He had so many things to sort out and topmost on his list was meeting with Fadeke’s father. It had to be now not later. He did not care what grouse the man had against his tribe. He was going to introduce himself to him as the man who had fallen in love with his daughter.

 

Eight weeks after the trip to Abuja, Fadeke started feeling sick. Since she wasn’t one who readily fell ill, she waved it aside as the stress associated with her job. She took some pain relievers and tried to rest more during the weekends. She felt much better with the extra rest and was back on her feet in a week. Chinedu was going to be on vacation in three weeks and she was already looking forward to the time she would spend with him. She had just arrived home one evening from work when all of a sudden, she felt dizzy. She tried to steady herself by quickly finding a couch to rest on. “What was wrong?” She thought. She had had lunch and she knew it couldn’t be hunger. Yes, she was tired but she did not think it was enough to give her a dizzy spell. She decided she would visit the in-house doctor in her office the next morning before getting started with work. She did not want her mum getting unnecessarily agitated, so she decided it was best to keep what had just happened to herself.

“Miss Peters, the result of the test is out”.

She looked at the doctor indifferently “Okay. So what’s wrong with me?”

“You are pregnant”.

“I’m what? How can I be?” She cried out.

The doctor just looked at her without a response.

“Are you – are you sure of what you are saying?” She asked suddenly becoming jittery.

He looked at her grimly. “Yes, I am. You are about nine weeks gone”.

She put her hands on her head and opened her mouth but no words came out.

“We treat every case with confidentiality so you can be rest assured that what we have discussed remains in here”.

She looked at the doctor’s face and wondered. “Confidentiality? That was the last thing on her mind. How could she have gotten pregnant? It had only happened once. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Her father was going to be so disappointed”.

“You are free to take a rest if you wish to”. The doctor said as he stood up to leave the room. He could see she was shocked and confused. She needed time to process what she had just heard.

Fadeke sat down in the doctor’s office for another one hour with her head in her hands. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she thought about Chinedu and the night they had spent together. He had been so apologetic and she wondered if the reason for his apologies was because he thought that single mistake could get her pregnant. She thought about her father’s threat. She couldn’t get married to Chinedu, he had said. But right now, the situation was different, she was carrying his baby. Everything seemed to be spiraling downhill and she wondered if she wouldn’t be consumed.

To Love & to Hold 38b

She arrived home like one in a trance. Her mind had barely been at work and her boss had advised her to go home and rest. He had noticed that she did not feel too well. She arrived home and found out from the doorman that her mum had gone shopping. She went in with her own key and slumped on her bed without taking off her clothes. She was grateful that she did not have to face her mum in this state. Within a few minutes, she was fast asleep.

 

The mobile phone in her handbag kept on vibrating and Fadeke turned over to push the bag down from the bed. When the phone refused to stop ringing, she picked up the bag and was about to switch off the phone when she saw it was Kemi calling. She had missed her so much.

“Girl, where have you been?” Kemi asked.

“Around”. She replied unenthusiastically.

“I heard you were in Abuja and you did not bother to call or check on me. That ain’t fair, you know?

“I’m sorry. We were always so busy in the office that I hardly had time to myself”.

“Hmm….but you had time to visit Chinedu, didn’t you?”

“C’mon girl. You know the way things are”. She said as she smiled sadly. “So how did you know I was in Abuja?”

“A friend of mine was just transferred from Onitsha to your Abuja office. He told me you were among those chosen to go prepare the Abuja office for them. Girl, you are big. Enjoy the life”. Kemi said as she laughed heartily.

Fadeke smiled. If only she knew what that trip had resulted into. She sighed.

“Guess who I saw some weeks back?” Kemi said excitedly.

“Who?”

“Tochukwu and Kunle. I think they are back together”.

“Back together? I don’t get it”.

“Yeah, back together. Have you forgotten that Kunle broke up with her in her second year?”

Fadeke opened her mouth but couldn’t say a word.

“Hello”. Kemi called thinking the line had cut off.

“I’m…I’m here”.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I am. I was not aware that they ever dated. I’m just…..”

“You didn’t know?” Kemi asked dismayed.

“No, I didn’t”.

“C’mon Fadeke, how couldn’t you have known? She was your roommate”.

“Kemi, I’m serious. I’m just finding out from you”.

“Anyway, they dated for a year before Kunle dropped her for some chick. She was devastated and I don’t think she ever got over the pain”.

Fadeke remembered all that had happened. The night Tochukwu had come back to the hostel almost in tears. She also remembered she had asked her who the guy was the day she was moving out of the room to her new apartment. She had been evasive with her answer. It dawned on her now, that Tochukwu obviously did not want her to know she had dated Kunle. But why? Did Chinedu have anything to do with it? She tried to put the pieces together but it did not fit.

“I should be in Abuja this weekend”. Fadeke said interrupting her friend who was still chatting about Tochukwu and Kunle.

“Really? Cool. So should I expect you this time?”

“Yeah. I’d check on you”.

“Okay. You sure you are good? You don’t sound excited”.

One thing she had found out about her friend was that she was so perceptive. “I’m okay”.

“Honestly?”

“Honestly”.

“If you say so. I’m a call away if you need to talk, okay?”

“Thanks dear. I appreciate this”.

“Always welcome”.

After Kemi’s call, Fadeke decided to call Chinedu. She informed him that she would be arriving Abuja on the 2p.m flight and that they needed to discuss something very important. Chinedu had tried to persuade her to give a hint but she had been persistent on discussing it with him in person. He had told her that he was going to work that Saturday but promised to pick her from the airport at 2p.m. She dropped the call ten minutes later and thought about the excuse she would give to her parents. An official trip would go down well. As she lay back on the bed, she thought. So many things were going to change between her and her parents and right now, she needed Chinedu more than ever before.

———-

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To Love and to Hold – Episode 24

Fadeke and her colleagues flew into Abuja mid-day of Friday on the Nigerian-owned airline. They checked into the Falcon hotel and once they were settled, they decided to go to the office to put in a few hours before sun down. By 9p.m, they all got into a cab which took them back to the hotel. Fadeke was tired but she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep without seeing Chinedu. Immediately she got to her room, she changed into jeans and a loose tee-shirt and set out. Chinedu had said it was a stone throw but since she wasn’t sure of the distance, she decided it was best she took a cab.

To Love & to Hold 37

She was standing in front of Chinedu’s door five minutes later. The building was a block of four flats. Two flats facing each other. He opened the door on the first knock. He pulled her in and planted a gentle kiss on her lips. “Welcome home”.

“Thanks darling”. She said hugging him.

She looked round the apartment and was impressed. The sofas had a touch of mint green while the curtains were a combination of mint green and army green. The floor was tiled and the walls were painted in two shades of green. The room also had a small home theater system and a 21’’ LED flat screen TV which hung on the wall. “Nice”. She said as she sat on a sofa.

He sat by her side putting his arms around her shoulders. “Thanks. I had to furnish according to your taste”.

She smiled.

By the time she was leaving an hour and a half later, it was already 11p.m. Chinedu already had a dedicated cab driver who took him out whenever he needed to. He called the driver and they both got into the cab. He wanted to ensure she got back to the hotel safe. Once she was dropped off and she was in, he asked the cab driver to take him back home.

 

Since Fadeke and her colleagues had just a week to set the project rolling, they spent their weekend at work as well but tried to close by mid-day. The rest of the evening was spent in Chinedu’s apartment. He usually would have hung out with his friends but with Fadeke around, this weekend was different. Fadeke spent the rest of the week shuttling between her office, her hotel and Chinedu’s apartment. Her colleagues and she were meant to leave Abuja on Saturday and she wished the week would stretch longer. By Friday, she wished she did not have to go back to Lagos. “If only the bank could post her to the Abuja branch”. She thought. Chinedu also felt the same way and he started thinking of working his way to Lagos. His organization had a Lagos branch; maybe this was the time to seek for a transfer.

“What time is your flight tomorrow?”

“10a.m”.

“Do you have an idea what time you would be getting off work today?”

She sighed. “Good question”.

“Guess that means no idea”.

“Honestly? I don’t have an idea. I just hope it’s not too late so that I can still spend some time with you”.

“If it’s too late, can I ask my taxi driver to pick you up and bring you here directly?”

“Yeah, I’d appreciate that”.

“I’d call him right away and tell him to hang around”.

“Thanks darling”.

 

Fadeke and her colleagues worked till late. By 10p.m when they eventually left the office, the taxi driver had been waiting for an hour. She eased herself into the taxi and in five minutes had dozed off. The taxi driver had to wake her up when they got to Chinedu’s apartment. Chinedu had been worried as he had tried calling her but she had missed the calls. Immediately, he heard the honk of the taxi, he stood up to open the door.

“Welcome darling. It’s obvious you are tired”.

She fell into his arms as he tried to hug her. “Jees, I don’t think I have ever worked this hard”.

“Sorry love. What would you like to eat?”

She smiled. “Eat? No way. I don’t even think my mouth can do the job of chewing”.

He helped her to the sofa and lifted up her legs as he massaged her toes. “You would feel much better after this”. He also massaged the kinks in her neck and she felt so much relief that she was soon asleep again. He decided that it was best she slept over. He lifted her up and she groaned. “I’d take you to bed. You need to sleep”. He said.

She laid her head on his chest as he carried her to his room. He placed her gently on the bed, switched on the air-conditioner and pulled the duvet cover over her.

She looked so beautiful even while asleep. He kissed her gently on her lips and her eyes opened half-way and closed again. He had thought they would be able to discuss their next line of action but she was obviously too tired for that. He took a spare duvet from his closet, switched on a bed-side lamp and was about to leave the room when she called him almost in a whisper.

He walked back towards the bed.

“Please stay with me”. She said groggily.

“Okay”. He lay by her side and lifted her hair from her face.

She moved closer to him and placed her head on his chest.

He stroked her ear and traced his fingers down her neck. “You are beautiful even when asleep”.

“Hmm”

“And I love you so much”.

“Hmm, I love you too baby”. She replied her voice unsteady.

As he continued to trace his fingers down her neck, she raised her head an inch from his chest to look at him with sleepy eyes. He moved his face close to her until they were inches away. Then like a ravaging storm, she kissed him with every strength she could muster. He tried to pull away but she refused to let go. He kissed her back slowly at first; then with a passion like no other, they tore each other’s clothing away and did not stop until they had given themselves entirely.

To Love & to Hold 37b

Chinedu woke up at a quarter to 3a.m. He and Fadeke had acted on the spur of the moment and he regretted it. Even though, they kissed and caressed, he hadn’t expected that they would go all the way. He looked at her still sleeping and prayed in his heart that she was safe. Her father was yet to approve of their relationship and he did not want anything to stand in the way. This was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened especially as they had not used any form of protection. He picked up a spare pillow from the bed and closed the door gently trying not to wake her up. He lay on the couch in the living room and couldn’t sleep any longer. “For how long could they keep away from each other”? This was becoming more difficult as the days went by. In a few hours, she would be taking a flight back to Lagos. The separation was beginning to tear him apart. He had slated his vacation for three months away but now he wished he could bring it backwards.

Fadeke’s father needed to be paid a visit and that was exactly what he was going to do.

——-

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To Love and to Hold – Episode 23

“Fadekemi”.

“Hello mum”. She answered cradling her phone between her left ear and her shoulder. She had been preparing amala (yam flour paste) when her phone rang. The delicacy was one of Kemi’s best. Kemi had offered to assist but she had declined the offer. She felt she owed her friend as she had helped a great deal during the exam period.

“Your school is on vacation, right?”

“Yes mum”.

“Aren’t you coming home?”

She did miss home but she wasn’t ready to face her father. “Should I?”

“Fadekemi…..”

“Okay mum. When do you want me to come home?” She gave up knowing this was an argument she wasn’t going to win.

“I want you home today. I’m sending the driver right away. He should be in your school in the next hour and half or two”.

She sighed. “Okay mum”. She scooped the amala she had prepared into a bowl, poured a quarter of ewedu (Jews mallow puree) into another bowl and added a spoonful of stew. She had prepared the stew earlier and it contained all the needed body parts of a cow; shaki (stomach), abodi (intestine), pomo (skin) and ese eran (cow leg).

Kemi felt overfed. She had not eaten this well and this much in a very long while. She downed a cup of cold water and smiled. “Was this what Fadeke enjoyed alone?” She thought. She was more surprised that she was a good cook. She had assumed that as a result of her pedigree, she would be one to shy away from the kitchen.

“My mum is sending the driver to pick me up soon”. Fadeke said breaking into her thoughts.

“Are you serious? I thought you said you weren’t going home”.

“I said I wasn’t sure. She called me when I was preparing the meal”.

“I should start packing my things then”. She said standing up.

“Where are you going?”

“Home”.

“You mean your uncle’s house?” She had said it before she realized that it came out rude.

“That’s where I call home”.

“I didn’t mean to sound rude”.

She smiled. “I understand. Besides, like you rightly said, it’s my uncle’s house”.

Fadeke felt uncomfortable but was at a loss of what to do. Going home or to her uncle’s house; whichever it was called, was definitely not a pleasant experience for Kemi. She couldn’t take her home with her. She did not feel she knew her that well; besides, she had not pre-informed her parents that she was bringing a friend home. She could leave the keys to her room with her; that is if she was willing to spend the rest of the three weeks holiday alone. She looked at her as she moved from one corner of the room to the other packing the few dresses she had brought with her when she moved to her room. She put them in a worn travel bag and Fadeke swallowed looking at it. She hadn’t noticed the travel bag the day she had brought it in as she had moved all her things at night.

“Why are you taking all your clothes home? Are they dirty?”

Kemi laughed. “Dirty? Not at all”.

“Then why are you taking them all?” Fadeke asked again looking confused.

“I’m going to wear them at home”.

“Excuse me”.

“I said I’m going to wear them at home”.

Fadeke looked more confused. “What….I….”

“They are the only clothes I have, so I wear them at home as well”. She said matter-of-factly.

“Was she having it this bad?” Fadeke thought. She wouldn’t have imagined that to be the reason why she was taking all her clothes home. She thought about all the fancy clothes she had in her wardrobe at home that she hadn’t worn for about a year; just because she had newer ones. Kemi needed clothes and that was what she was going to get.

 

As Fadeke was about to retire to her room, Mr. Peters tapped on the door. She had arrived home two hours earlier; had dinner with her family and told them she needed to rest. Her father had noticed that she was unusually quiet at the dining table but had decided it was best to talk to her later.

“Yes, come in. It’s open”. She called from inside.

He entered into the room and sat on the bean bag opposite the bed. “We need to talk”.

“Okay dad”. She said sitting down on the bed and looking at her feet.

“Why have you been avoiding me?”

“Avoiding you?”

“Fadekemi….”

“Yes dad”.

“I want the best for you”. He paused. “And dating an Igbo boy isn’t part of the plans I have for you”.

She raised her head to look at him. “Have you thought about how I feel, dad?”

“You’ll get over it”.

She looked stunned. “I’ll get over it?”

“Yes, I’ll help you. Once you are through with your graduation, you are going abroad to do your masters”.

She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Her father was bent on tearing them apart. He wasn’t even bothered one bit about how she felt. Anger began to rise within her and she squinted at her dad. “Okay daddy”.

“I promise you that you would be glad you took this decision”.

She said nothing.

Her dad rose up and kissed her goodnight.

As he walked out of her room, she paced round her room upset. “What right did her parents have to interfere with her life and her feelings?” They obviously had this planned. “Did they think they could take control of her life?” She had thought her father would reason with her but she hadn’t even been given an opportunity to voice her feelings. She picked up her phone to call Chinedu. It had been three days since she last spoke to him. And right now what she needed was his soothing words to calm her soul.

************

The three weeks holidays were over and Fadeke was back in school for her final semester. Kemi had arrived a day earlier and she had to squat with someone on campus since she did not have a key to Fadeke’s room. Getting and maintaining a mobile phone was luxury; so she couldn’t call her to find out when she would be back in school. Fadeke was just about unpacking when Kemi walked in.

“Hey you!”

“Hi. How was your break?” Kemi asked.

“Just okay”.

“And yours?”

“The usual”.

Fadeke understood what she meant but thought it best to keep quiet about it. This wasn’t the time. “Did you come back with your clothes?”

Kemi laughed. “Of course I did. You want me going around school naked?”

“Not really. Could you put everything outside the door?”

Kemi looked confused. “Outside the door? Are you…..”

“No, I am not sending you out”. Fadeke interrupted suddenly understanding her confusion.

“I brought you a new set of clothes. They are in that bag”. She said pointing to a travel bag she had put on the spare bed.

“You did what?”

She ignored the question. “You can try them on. I’m sure they would fit nicely”.

“But you didn’t have to”.

“Yeah, I know but I did. So can you please quit the pity party and try them on?”

Kemi was at a loss of what to say. How could she say thank you for this gesture? “Fadeke, you are a true friend. Thank you so much”. She said blinking back the tears that were beginning to gather at the corner of her eyes.

 

Kemi and Fadeke got closer over the next few weeks and soon they were both writing their final exams. Fadeke tried as much possible to tell her only a bit about her relationship with Chinedu. Even though, Kemi had become a good friend, she would rather keep her private life to herself. When their call up letters arrived, Kemi was posted to Plateau state while Fadeke was to stay in Lagos. Her father wasn’t ready to let her go to some unknown town, so he had gotten a friend in the NYSC office to effect his daughter’s posting to Lagos. Kemi graduated with a first class degree; and this was not lost on her other course mates. They knew she earned it. Fadeke came out with a second class upper degree and was glad she did not disappoint her parents. Her parents in turn decided to throw her a graduation party. She invited a few friends as she wasn’t interested in having a large crowd. Kemi was also at the party and her friends who knew her were amazed at how close she and Fadeke had become. One thing however kept her unhappy throughout the party; Chinedu’s inability to attend. He couldn’t take time off work; he had said.

By the time her friends were about to leave, the doorman brought her a wrapped box about three feet high and said it had just been delivered by a courier. She wondered what it was about. She took it from him and placed it on the dining table. Her friends however did not want to miss the moment and asked her to open it. She reluctantly opened it after much pressure and found a massive teddy bear holding a heart shaped pillow close to its heart. She noticed there were inscriptions on the pillow and she moved closer to read what was written on it. “I love you so much, baby”. Tears gathered around the corner of her eyes as her friends hugged her. Even though, he hadn’t been able to make it, he had put a smile on her face.

 

“So when would you like to leave the country?” Mr. Peters asked. Her friends had all left about an hour earlier and she was tired and wanted to go to bed.

“It’s too early to decide, dad”.

“Why? Don’t you want to do your masters immediately?”

“When I am through with my youth service, I’d decide”.

He shrugged. “Okay, if you say so”.  He looked towards the teddy bear still sitting on the couch. “Where did that come from?”

“Chinedu sent it”.

“Chinedu?”

“Yes dad. Chinedu, my boyfriend”.

He pulled her by the cheeks smiling. “You can keep it if you want to but I’m sure you know that you aren’t going to marry him”.

She walked towards the couch, picked up the teddy bear and put it on her hip like she would a baby. “I’m going to bed, dad. I’m really tired and I’m beginning to have a headache”.

“Okay darling. Have a good night rest”. As she walked past him, he held her by the hand. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

She looked up at him and smiled. “Yes dad. I do”.

 

She put the teddy bear on her bed with a sad smile. “Why did things have to be this way”. She loved her father and did not want to go against him but she also loved Chinedu, even more. Her father’s refusal to accept him was tearing her apart. A tear slid down her cheek and she lay down on her bed hugging the bear. As she sobbed quietly, the day took its toll on her and she was soon fast asleep.

To Love & to Hold 36

*********************************************************************************

The National Youth Service Camp was over in three weeks and Mr. Peters pulled enough strings to ensure his daughter was posted to one of the foremost banks in the country. Fadeke put her all into her job as she knew her prospects of getting retained were quite high. Kemi, on the other hand was posted to a telecommunications company. She kept in touch with Fadeke and both of them grew closer even though they were miles away. Chinedu came home on a few occasions when the company he worked for sent him on assignments in Lagos and on such occasions, he made his visit worthwhile. He made another attempt at visiting the Peter’s home.

Even though Mrs. Peters welcomed him, she told him she was at a loss of what to do as her husband had refused to listen to her entreaties to let them be. Chinedu became more confused than ever. There was no way he could get married to Fadeke without her father’s consent. He thought about coming to visit when he was home so they could discuss man to man but Mrs. Peters advised against it. She was okay with him dating her daughter but coming to talk to her husband was recognizing trouble and walking into it head-on. “He needed to give her husband time”. She had said.

Chinedu decided to listen to the voice of reason and give Mr. Peters time. If that was what his wife said he needed; so be it. Even though, he felt time was against him as he was settled and ready to make Fadeke his wife, he knew there was no point pushing it. He would wait till he was accepted by Mr. Peters.

 

The one year youth service rolled to a finish and Fadeke got retained in the bank. She was transferred to the head office. Kemi was also retained but was moved from Plateau state to Abuja; where she was meant to understudy the job for a few months before being made a team lead. She was overjoyed and Fadeke also shared in her joy. She couldn’t believe what she was offered. God had finally put a smile on her face and she cried tears of joy when she received her letter.

Fadeke had worked for a few months in the bank when she was asked to go with three of her colleagues to Abuja to commence a project. The project was to be handled by the Abuja team but they needed assistance from the head office to get the project going. The head office team was meant to be in Abuja for a week before handing over the project to the Abuja team. Fadeke was overjoyed that she had been picked. It was an opportunity given her to become skilled at her job and most importantly; it was an opportunity to be with Chinedu for a whole week.

She put a call to Chinedu informing him of what was going on. “So, that’s it”.

“Cool. But I’m sure your office would have booked a hotel for everyone, right?”

“Yeah, they did”.

“Write down my address. It is Flat 4, number 202, Babatunde Fashola way, Wuse”.

“Okay”.

“Which hotel are you guys staying in?”

“The Falcon hotel”.

“Oh, that’s at Wuse as well. It’s about a stone throw from my place”.

“Really?”

“Yeah”.

“That’s cool then. We would be in Abuja next Friday”.

“I’d expect you then”.

After the call ended, Fadeke couldn’t contain the joy she felt. Even though Friday was just 7 days away, she felt like it was forever. She went home that night with renewed energy. In a week, she would be with Chinedu and that was all that mattered right now.

———
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