POSTED 03/19/2018 16:38:13
Five steps up the staircase, Timi remembered she has forgotten her purse in the hotel room and had to go back.
'Why must I forget?' she scolded herself.
Angrily storming out of Chika's presence, she had vowed never to set eyes on him again. But there she was, with no other option but to go back. What started years back as a pretty cozy adventure has suddenly become a fairytale.
Chika and Timi's paths crossed years back, with each conceiving a fantasy of how their future together would look like.
‘Why were you staring at me that much' Timi managed to break the silence.
'How did you know I was staring at you?' Chika shot back. You sound so childish' Chika added and barged away.
Not too long, pairs who nearly started off as enemies were already finding each other's company enjoyable.
The duo was in the higher institution when they met. Timi had visited Port Harcourt where her uncle resided to spend the holiday and Chika was already a resident there. She had met him on one of the nights she attended church service. From a stare to 'Hi' and from 'Hi', the rest of the story continued.
Initially, she grew up to like only people from her ethnic group. For whatever reason, she never liked the Igbos. In fact, she had to be duly persuaded before she could accept leaving home for holiday elsewhere. As against her view of the Igbos, she became close with Chika, and would attend church service just to see him.
Timi simply could not imagine her life without him, each passing day radiated a sense of what she could not fathom. She knew something in her had been changed, something had hit her but she did not know what it was. She prayed her holidays did not come to an end so she will not have to leave. But that only remained a wish as 10th February, 2013 was the last day she set her eyes on him.
She gathered courage to go back for her purse, which contained vital things she didn’t want to lose. As she climbed down the stairs heading towards the streets, Chika's last word kept replaying in her mind,
'My family says you are too bland. And the most important thing here is that they will not allow me get involved with a Yoruba girl, let alone marry one. I am the first born, if I do not listen to them, I will lose my inheritance and I am not ready for that.' The tears that began to settle in her eyes were by this time already rolling down.
She could not imagine where she had possibly gone wrong. Could it possibly be because she refused to have sex with him since they got into a relationship? And to think that Chika chose his inheritance over her was unimaginable.
She recalled that after she left Port Harcourt, they still maintained their closeness and to make things easy, Chika promised to visit her when he had the chance. One year passed, the second too and still they did not see each other, by the third year, their love had grown stronger even when it was a distanced relationship. Already three years into it, Chika travelled to India and since then things were no longer the same. Timi on her side became more confused and indecisive; her attention to things that matter like her education had reduce, her fantasizing moments became more than her sleeping moment. She was obsessed.
Chika took a step of travelling down to Lagos to see her. One morning, he arrived at her door unexpectedly, the first thing he said was
'I shouldn't have come.' Her smile told him he was wrong.
He should have come years ago. He looked better than she remembered, and she had remembered him often. For years they missed each other. Not missed meaning felt the absence of' but missed meaning were totally oblivious to.' They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but for them it was proximity. At first they barely liked each other, but after years of constant conversation their emerging fondness for each other became too strong to ignore.
He made an off-hand remark about wishing they lived in a time when people wrote love letters and kept them in boxes.
'But we do', she said, and she showed them the boxes where she kept printed copies of every sweet mail he ever sent her.
After he was gone, she no longer thought about the imperfections of their imperfect life together. She remembered being happy together and that was enough. At a point, she was totally not aware of what she felt but she wanted to keep all her minds thought to herself because the next step to take was not known. All she wanted was for Chika to love her back truly.
Timi got back to the hotel room and luckily he had not checked out yet. She barged into the room and met another lady there. The bitterness in her heart gave way to violence as she struck him in the face.
'Even if you wanted to leave, you would have said so. You called me bland simply because you have another option. Listen Chika, It is not my fault that I am bland and I do not know why my ethnic background should be a problem in our relationship. I had dreams. I had my life all planned out, but I did not plan for this. I'm abandoning everything I thought I wanted, but your love has taught me I wasn't dreaming big.' She searched where she left her purse, found it and left.
She left Chika's presence with the thought that very soon, she will surely be someone who would be worth more than a mere inheritance and she was determined to work towards that. The first six months was tough as she fought hard to forget the man she loved so much. She found company in a game she had abandoned long ago; Badminton. Every day she trained, not because she wanted to be good at it, but because she found solace in it.
Three years later, she had already rounded up with her education. Her family thought she would proceed for Master’s Program immediately, but she insisted she wanted to engage in the Badminton game for a while since by this time her skills had improved and she was already going for competitions outside the country. A game she only took to just to keep her busy had suddenly become her knight in shining armor. She participated and won several medals. And as one of the rewards for winning in a tournament, she was awarded a house in the country's capital, Abuja and a car as well.
'I will move to Abuja next month and I will apply for my Masters there' she said to her parents.
Being relieved that she has finally thought of furthering her studies, they conducted a house-party in her honor before they finally bade her farewell.
The first two weeks of arriving at her new base, she located a Badminton court so she could go there sometime for training although her main focus was on her education. One day she had to go home late because of her tight schedule. She drove past Wuse Zone 2 and heading towards Zone 5 when she drove into a scene where a man was being beaten and when they sighted the light from her car, they took their victim's car key and zoomed off, the helpless man was left there at the point of death lying horizontally across the road. Timi got frightened and wanted speeding off when the victim's hand was raised up waving as a sign seeking for help, She was touched and immediately carried him inside her car and drove straight to a nearby hospital.
'Madam, I'm sorry we cannot treat this young man, he has been shot on his leg and nearly beaten to death. This is a serious case. We advise you go to the police first with him and report the case before any treatment can be carried out on him' the Doctor told her.
'What?? This man is dying, can't you save his life first? I do not know him, I only saw him in this state and decided to help him. I will take the pains of giving a report on his case to the police, but please save his life first'' Timi pleaded with tears already in her eyes.
But the Doctor wouldn’t budge. She took him back to her car and drove off. ''What kind of country is this? So a man cannot have compassion on his fellow man, but prefer to stick to stupid protocols that do not even matter. This is wickedness!'' She muttered will driving.
She took him to her house, and immediately put a call across to her paramedic who is always present whenever she trains in the Badminton court. Luckily, the man had full expertize in the medical field and again he was able to understand when Timi explained everything to him. He commenced treatment on him immediately. Owing to the fact that his face was badly battered, it had to be bandaged for several days.
Neither the Paramedic nor Timi knew him, so they had to seek the help of the police in finding his family and also look into his case. One of those days when Timi came back from the Police station, she decided to check his pockets for any clue, she got hold of an Identity Card which read, Ukeje, Chika Imiekame. And when she turned her eyes to the passport photograph, she frozen. She felt a sharp pain in her heart as she turned towards her bedroom.
Chika's bandage was due to be taken off the following day, but Timi had gone to ask her Paramedic if she could extend it.
'If the bandage is left for too long after the due date, there might be an effect' he responded. ‘And what is your reason for wanting to sustain the bandage?' he asked.
When Timi could not hold it in, she allowed the tears flow and told him everything.
'It is so unfortunate that people's thought could be so shallow as to think that two ethnic groups cannot unite. You do not have to worry, everything happens for a reason. We will reach out to his family while I take his bandage off. You know you do not have to see him if you don't want to'.
'Thank you sir', Timi responded and stood up to take her leave.
She could not go to her house anymore. Her Paramedic understood how she felt and decided to be the one who contact his family and before long, they were able to locate him. Chika's father was so thankful and asked who saved him, the Paramedic had to plead with Timi to come out and meet the family.
'My daughter, thank you very much for saving my son's life'' Chika's father appreciated Timi after a long silence when he realized who actually saved his son. ''I and my family are sorry for what happened. We also lost Chika since that year, we don't know what came over him, but he left us when we kept tying his inheritance to marrying an Igbo. He told us he was no more interested that he wanted to go and work for his own wealth.' Chika's father explained further.
Timi broke out crying and Chika as well, he admitted he was wrong and asked for her forgiveness. Timi looked back at her Paramedic...
'It is never enough to love, but how strong you could hold on. Timi, Forgiveness is important and I will leave you to decide what you want.'
Timi held his hand and moved away from everyone. They walked out of the living room to an open space outside.
‘If this were a movie we'd probably kiss now,' Timi broke the silence
'Too bad this isn't a movie, huh?'
'Yep.' He took her hand as they walked and laughed.
And although they did not have their movie kiss at that moment, they would have many to come as they headed toward a happy ending that no movie could match.
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