After Kike had been put to bed that Saturday night and the domestic workers had retired to bed, Fadeke walked round her two bed room flat like one in a trance. She had tried not to think about the past but the more she pushed it away, the more her heart willed her to go back six years in time. The past six years had been filled with pain and heartache. At a point, she started having heart palpitations and panic attacks. The pain was too much for her to bear and she felt like she was losing it. Ma Win had come into her life then and became a source of strength to her. She had cried enough tears to last a lifetime and she needed to stop being selfish and give her young daughter a life; Ma Win had told her.
She went into the shower to take a warm bath. As the water coursed down her back, she remembered how she had been so much in love with Chinedu. Nothing and no one had mattered to her. They had both promised to be together till death did them part. The five years they spent together had been blissful. Even though, Tochukwu had tried to be a stumbling block, she hadn’t succeeded but how wrong she had been. She had been so naïve to trust everyone. She had trusted Chinedu, Kunle and Tochukwu. Her heartthrob and her friends. But they had turned round to stab her in the back. She was such a fool to have believed Chinedu had loved her sincerely.
She stepped out of the shower and slipped into her night gown. She had loved with her heart, her soul and her body. She shook her head as she walked to her room. She did not deserve this. She hadn’t only lost Chinedu; she also lost a relationship with her father which they were just trying to find again, courtesy of Ma Win. She felt her chest tighten and she became scared. She became dizzy and struggled to keep herself from falling. Was she having another attack? She coughed and tried to stay calm. She started breathing in and out gently as she pushed herself to her room. As she lay on her bed, she felt her body calm down. She had promised Ma Win she was never going to let anything get to her again but she was doing it again. She was letting the event of last night take its toll on her health.
She closed her eyes and her heart took her back in time to the year Chinedu had gone to Abuja for his youth service. She had fulfilled her promise to visit him once more before he left. She had gone to his house a day before his Abuja trip and that day had been so emotional for her. He had promised to try to visit once a month but deep down her heart, she knew that would be asking too much from him. Whatever allowances he received would be used to take care of his accommodation and feeding. She had felt her heart ripping apart. She hoped she wasn’t going to lose him.
A man of his words; Chinedu had kept his promise. It hadn’t been easy coming home once every month but he had made a promise to Fadeke and he was bent on keeping it. He had been posted to a foremost auditing firm in the country and was paid fairly. Coupled with the allowance he was receiving from the National Scheme, he tried his best to manage his living costs. The National Scheme had built Youth Corper lodges round the city and he was lucky to get a room in one of them. The room had been bare with just his mattress, a bucket and a stove with which he cooked his meals. If he had to save money, he would have to do away with other luxuries.
Fadeke always looked forward to the end of the month when Chinedu would come home. He would take a night bus on a Friday evening after work and leave for Abuja on Sunday afternoon. He visited her in school most of the time and she admitted that it was a sacrifice on his part. The journey from Abuja to Ibadan and sometimes to Lagos on periods when she was on vacation hadn’t been easy; but he had kept at it. Even his mother had complained on more than one occasion about the frequency of his visits, but he had waved it aside. Fadeke meant the whole world to him and no sacrifice was too great to take for her.
The one year national youth service rolled to a finish and Chinedu was eager to come back home. The organization had been impressed with his job and offered him a permanent placement. He had been overjoyed. Most of his mates were not retained at their places of assignment. But there was a snag. Staying in Abuja meant being away from Fadeke for longer than he had anticipated. There was also no guarantee that he would get a job soon in Lagos; if he decided to come home. The unemployment rate in the country was high and denying an offer when thousands roamed the streets without one would be a silly decision. He was torn; unsure of what to do.
He asked that the organization give him a few weeks off work. He needed time to think as the next decision he took was going to alter the course of their lives; his and Fadeke’s.
“Are you serious? That’s good news”.
“Yes, it is. But it may not sound so good when you hear the other part”.
“Okay. So what’s the other part of the story?”
He sighed unsure of how to break the news. “I have to stay in Abuja”.
Fadeke shook her head vigorously. She now understood the reason why Chinedu had asked that she come over. He couldn’t break the news to her over the phone. He had arrived home late last night. He called her that he had something very important to tell her and that it couldn’t be discussed on phone. For a moment, she had kept quiet on the phone; her mind playing tricks on her. “Had he found someone else?” “Was he breaking off their relationship?” They were on vacation and she had been home for about a week lazing around as usual. When she hadn’t responded, Chinedu had thought the line had cut.
“Hello, are you still there?”
She stammered. “Yes, I am”.
“Are you okay?”
She wasn’t sure what her answer was meant to be. She didn’t think she could stand a break up.
She had agreed to meet him at home the next day. She hadn’t been able to sleep that night. She had tossed and turned counting the hours as they clocked.
When she got to his house, every doubt on her mind about him breaking off their relationship had been erased. He had swooped her off her feet and kissed her with a passion she hadn’t noticed before. She clung tightly to him savouring the moment of bliss.
“I’m confused”. Chinedu admitted.
“And if you come back to Lagos…..” She let her statement trail off. She was also aware that there were very few job opportunities. How could she deny him of this? It would be very selfish of her.
“Go ahead and take the job”. She concluded.
Chinedu opened his mouth but was at a loss for what to say.
She blinked back the tears that were beginning to gather and smiled. “You have shown me how to love. This is the least I can do to return it”.
He pulled her into an embrace. “I love you, Fadeke and I promise to do everything to make you happy”.
As she stayed in his embrace, she prayed in her heart hoping that she had made the right decision.
A week before he was meant to leave for Abuja, Chinedu called. He wanted to meet her parents; he had said.
“Are you sure about that?”
“Absolutely sure. We can’t continue hiding forever, can we?”
“I understand. I’m just not sure if I am ready to do this now”.
“Well, I am”.
“Okay. I’d rather you meet my mum first. When would you be coming over?”
“The day after tomorrow”.
“I’d talk to her this night then”.
“I thought we had talked about this sometime ago”. Mrs. Peters said frowning at her daughter.
“Fadeke, your father must not hear about this. I’m surprised you still went ahead with your relationship with the so called Chinedu”.
“The so called Chinedu?” She thought. “Was that how her mum felt about him?” She was about to say something but stopped. This wasn’t the time to argue with her mum.
She knelt down and held her mother’s hands. “Mum, if you love me like you say you do; meet Chinedu and after that make your conclusions about him”.
“That’s blackmail. Do you realize that?”
“Why would I want to do that? She cried. “I just want you to give him a chance”.
“And your father?”
“Chinedu wants to meet you day after tomorrow”. She said ignoring her mother’s last question.
She sighed. “Stand up. I hope you know what you are getting yourself into?”
“I do and I am going into it with my eyes wide open”. She said standing up and kissing her mother on the cheek. “Thanks mum”.
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