I dashed to her place later that evening. When I got there I asked her younger brother to call her for me. He told me she wasn’t at home that she went out since afternoon and hadn’t returned yet. I was livid. So she actually went elsewhere despite our plans to see at my place. The thought pierced my heart like a sharpened dagger.
I waited for her till it was dark. Not too long I spotted a pretty slim figure from afar. I didn’t need to be told it was her. I just know. In the greyness of the night, her fair skin still had that peculiar sunshine sparkle.
“Nkem,” I called out fiercely with a hoarse voice from the corner I had been sitting waiting for her. “’Where are you coming from?” I demanded harshly.
“I’m sorry –“
“Keep your sorry, I asked where are you coming from?”
Nkem’s mien was apologetic. I could see it written all over her. If it were any other day my anger would have quenched almost immediately. But not today. Not after she deliberately decided to go out instead of dropping by at my place like we agreed. I shot her a firm gaze prompting her to speak up.
“Erm… I was actually on my way to your place when I received a call,” she swallowed hard. “It was very urgent I had to go.” She stared at me with pleading eyes. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to your place as planned. I’m reeeeealllly sorry.”
“So who is the person that called you, eh?”
Nkem coughed. She averted her gaze from mine. I could sense her nervousness. It made me to believe she’s actually not being entirely truthful.
“Let’s just forget about this, please. I promise to make it up to you. Cross my heart.”
“NO!” I bellowed emphatically. “I need to know who called you and come to think of it I called your line countless times without you picking up. How do you explain that?”
“I’m sorry my phone entered silent mode, you know how these android phones behave sometimes.”
“So didn’t you see my missed calls later to call back.”
“I didn’t have airtime.”
“Give me your phone,” I stretched my hand to collect it.
She hesitated before giving the phone to me. I checked through her phone like a CID detective looking for evidence in a crime scene. It was there on her phone’s call list. Jeremiah. He’s the one that called. He’s the one Nkem went to see. I couldn’t believe my goodness. I raised my head slowly, like they do in the movies for dramatic effect, our eyes intersected. There was a knowing in the way we stared each other in the eyes silently. I know and she knows that I know. Jeremiah was the reason she forfeited seeing me.
“So it’s actually Jeremiah you went to see abi?”I felt my stomach become taut. My head was pounding severely. I caught an instant headache. I was no longer myself, it was as if I had drifted away leaving only my body behind. I heard a distant faint voice, it sounded familiar.
“I can explain…”
Craig David’s song begun to play in my aching head.
I’m walking away …
I walked away from the faint voice. In the distance I could still hear the faint voice calling my name.
I’m walking away…
I kept walking until the faint voice diminished into thin air.
I was heartbroken. Nkem had betrayed my trust. Why? That night while I laid teary on my bed I picked up my phone and sent her a vicious breakup text. I was ruthless and careless with my words, I wanted to hurt her the same way she had hurt me. I wanted a pound of flesh. Her flesh. She didn’t reply or called. I waited all night if she’d reply or call. She didn’t still. The next day, she didn’t call or text either. After about a week of waiting for her to text or call in vain I couldn’t bear it anymore. I took the plunge, I went looking for her.
It was night. From where I was a few meters away I could make out the two familiar figures sitted at the back seat of Papa Onome’s keke, packed in front of Nkem’s compound. Papa Onome’s blue and white commercial tricycle used to be our special rendezvous spot every night. As I sauntered closer, my doubts were confirmed true. My worst fear had befallen me. It was Nkem and Jeremiah together, gisting carefreely. They didn’t even notice my presence until I called Nkem by name.
“Nkem, so it’s true…” my voice was broken. I felt my cheeks moisten. It was tears from my very eyes. “So all these while you had been deceiving me all along, what a fool I had been.”
“I never deceived you, I really loved you but you kept pushing me away at the slightest provocation. Any little misunderstanding we have, the next thing from you is breakup. I got fed up…” I willed my tongue to say something in defense but they were too weary to do my bidding.
“That night you saw me, I didn’t tell you it was Jeremiah because I knew you’d lose your cool at the mention of his name notwithstanding the circumstances at hand. Well, so you know, Jeremiah was involved in an accident. It was the clinic he was taken to that called my line, it was an emergency. I rushed right away to his family house to inform his parents and we dashed to the clinic together. It was from the clinic I was coming from when you saw me.” It dawned on me that moment that I had been quite hasty in concluding she was actually playing foul. I bowed my head in shame. Jeremiah was silent all through, he didn’t mutter a word.
“I’m sorry I doubted you Nkem.” I began to mumble.
“It’s okay. I hold no grudge against you. I’ve only decided to move on and expect same from you too.”
Nkem’s words came to me as if I had just received a tragic news. I was grieved sore to the soul. Like Jesus, I wept.
“Nkem, you leaving me?”
“I’m sorry, I pray you find someone better than me…”
Gbam! Gbam! Gbam! Rings the vigilante’s bell. It is then it dawns on me that it is already dawn. I had been up all night keeping watch just like them. Mama’s voice would soon ring from the sitting room anytime soon for us to assemble as family for morning devotion. While singing and clapping and praying, my mind drifts far away to the cemetery of the past where I shall forever mourn my loss.
I should never have let her go.
Photo credit: loversofsadness.com