|Written by: TAYO FALOYE
Walking down the aisle of his fiancée’s church to solemnize their six months relationship was nothing but a huge surprise to him. If somebody had told him some months back that he would be getting married that day, he would have argued. Everything had hit him like hurricane Katrina, sweeping him off his feet and shaking his life so violently, he thought he would never recover from the shock. But, after the storm came the calm; a calm of love and bliss.
I will describe his story as a twist of fate. One minute, he was a very sad, hurt and betrayed man, and another minute, he is the happiest living man. Now, he has come to realize that “love is ever sick, and yet is never dying”.
In anger and self pity, he had picked up his car keys and driven out for somewhat but nowhere. He was really furious and hurting. As he drove out of Festac along the Festac access road, his eyes caught a billboard that read “DJAMZ Base”. He pulled over, alighted from the car and headed for the club. He just wanted to do something that would take thought of her out of his mind. He walked into the club.
The inside was dimly lit with the music of Lionel Richie “love, oh love” softly filtering through the evening air. He took a seat at the farthest corner of the club and ordered for a bottle of beer. This was something he never did. He was never into alcohol or smoking, but the pain was too much for him to bear. He wanted to do something beyond the usual. One bottle followed the other and he drank himself to stupor. Five empty bottles of beer or more were lying scattered on his table.
Amidst his drunkenness, a figure suddenly caught his attention. He could still admire a damsel when he saw one. Not able to resist the urge in him, he stretched out and grabbed her hand as she walked past his table. Repulsively, she shook off his hand with so much energy that almost threw him off balance. She walked on, cursing under her breathe. But he wasn’t deterred by this reaction. He regained balance, stood up and staggered after her, oblivious of the people in the club starring at him. He caught up with her and held her hand again. This time, she stopped, gently disengaged her hand from his and folded them across her chest, looking at him and waiting to hear what he had to say.
“Hello baby” he said in a quavering voice “I like your shape, can you keep a lonely man company tonight?” He asked swaying from side to side as he talked.
“Who are you and what do you take me for?” She asked, giving him a disdain look.
“Ehm, I don’t mean it that way… my name is Raymond, Ray for short. I just came here to catch some fun, and I think I should do that with a lady like you.” He said in a drawled, incoherent tone.
“Where is your table?” She asked forcing a smile.
At the table, they had drunk, ate and discussed at length. When it was time to go home, she refused to let him drive. She took the car keys from him and drove him home.
As the morning sun ray penetrated his room through the narrow spaces of the window curtain, he opened his eyes. The ray momentarily blindfolded him and he felt a slight headache. He gradually drifted back to reality only to discover Vanessa was gone. He sat up and took a glance at the wall clock. It was 8.13am. Turning to the side of his bed, he saw breakfast on a stool. His room was all tidied up and neat that he had to take a second look around to be sure he was in the right place. He went to the kitchen to take a glass of water as was a daily routine and found that the dirty dishes had also been done. She had done almost all the house chores he had piled up for the weekend. He was amazed.
Being a work free day, he went back to bed and the escapade of the previous night flashed through his mind. They had come back together and she had managed to get him to his room. In the process of trying to get him out of his clothes and shoes before putting him to bed, he had grabbed her and dragged her on to the bed. As he kissed her hungrily, she succumbed, and what followed was indescribable. She had taken him to heavens, moaning as she did. She was simply wonderful. He couldn’t remember what followed thereafter.
Now she was gone. The mood of despondency was fast crawling back on him. He needed to see Vanessa again or he will die a heartbroken man. He doesn’t ever want to think about that infidel again. She was gone and out of his life for good. He must look for Vanessa. There is something different about her. She doesn’t look like a hooker. Suddenly, he was snapped out of his thought by his landlord’s greetings “Good morning Raymond, how are you today?”
“Ah! oga Landlord, good morning oh, I dey fine,” he replied smiling to himself. The landlord was such a pleasant fellow.
At around 8.00pm that evening, he set out for the club where he had met Vanessa. He waited all night, hoping to see her, but to no avail. The second day wasn’t different; he was there about the same time yet there was no trace of her. On the third day, as he was waiting and praying for Vanesssa to show up, an idea struck him. He got up and walked up to the barman. After describing Vanessa to him, the barman directed him to a lady who could know her. He walked up to the lady. She was sitting in a group of six – three ladies, herself inclusive and three guys. Their table was filled with bottles of beer. The guys were doing the talking and smoking heavily while the ladies just listened and laughed animatedly. He excused the lady in question from the group an asked her if she knew Vanessa. She was reluctant to answer his question until he told her Vanessa and himself were together some couple of days ago. “Well, Vanessa is my friend but she doesn’t come here. The day you met her was her first time here.” She answered. He asked her if she could give him Vanessa’s address but she refused. After prolonged a pleading, she reluctantly gave him her address.
Armed with Vanessa address, he went in search of her the following Saturday. He got to her house in the suburb of Satellite town. The house was not a too large bungalow but cozy and neat with a garden in front of it. He rang the bell and a young boy came out to see him.
“Hello big boy” he greeted. “Is Vanessa home?”
“Yes, but she is cooking in the kitchen” he answered.
“Could you tell her Raymond would like to see her?” He continued.
The boy looked at him curiously and dashed inside. Minutes later, Vanessa came out of the house and walked towards him.
“What do you want?” She asked, before he could open his mouth to utter a word.
“Haba Vanaessa, that was harsh. I just wanted to see you again. Since the day we met, I have not been to get you out of my system.” He said stammering.
“Look ehm, Raymond, I am sorry I sounded that way but please forget we ever met…. And don’t ever come to look for me again.” She snapped and walked away.
He was dumbfounded but quickly put himself together. “Vanessa! Vanessa! Please hear me out” he shouted but she just walked on.
However, Raymond was not deterred by that. He went to her house the following day after church service but she refused to see him. He kept on going there everyday hoping that he would run into her one day. Shortly after, his efforts paid off. He was returning from work on a Friday and decided to drive down to her house. He parked opposite her house and waited in the car. He nodded rhythmically to Tuface Idibia’s ‘Nothing dey happen’ that was blaring from the CD player of his car. He waited endlessly, eating some biscuit and drinking from a bottle of water he had bought on his way back from work.
He refused to go home as he was determined to see and speak with her that day. As his wait continued, he fell asleep only to wake up the following morning in the car. He got out of the car and washed his face with the leftover water and continued his daylight vigil. Since it was a Saturday, he was sure he would see her either coming in or leaving the house. At about 10.21am he saw her come out of the gate, carrying a basket, walking towards the exit of her street. He immediately knew she was going to the market. He got out of his car and ran after her calling out her name as he ran. She looked backed, saw him and increased her pace. “Vanessa, why don’t you just listen to me” he said some few steps away from her.
“I told you to stop bothering me,” she snapped and walked on.
“Vanessa, I slept over in the car in front of your house, just to see you” he pleaded.
“Good for you,” she retorted.
“Is that all you have to say, Vanessa? I could have been attacked or killed all because I wanted to see you again.”
Those last words did the magic. She stopped in her track.
“Ok what do you want from me?” She asked slowly
“I just want to have a chat with you. Gathering his confidence he added. “Can I take you out today? He coaxed, almost on bended knees. She reluctantly agreed and they fixed a date for 5pm, but she would not allow him drive her to the market.
Standing and waiting for Vanessa in front of her house gave him mixed feelings. This is a girl he met at a club, and who graced his bed on their very first day together. Yet, there is something different about her. She has this air of homeliness and decency. As he thought, he saw her walk towards him. He did a quick assessment of her. She was looking very radiant in her blue evening gown. Her hair was adorned with a pink floral ribbon and she had a pink bag and shoe to match.
As their eyes met, she smiled, revealing a white, well structured dentition and full lips that would make any man want to plant a kiss on them. He drove straight to the Cinema where they watched a film titled ‘Closer’. They left the cinema for Mega Plaza, and ended up at a cozy fast food restaurant where they discussed over dinner.
“Vanessa, why didn’t you want to see me again after spending the night with me? He asked after she had given him a summary of her background.
“I went to the club all through the week to look for you without luck” he continued.
“I am not a club person. I just went with my friends that Friday night because I was heartbroken” she replied.
“What happened? Do you want to talk about it?” He asked, looking at her curiously. She said nothing but instead fiddled with the cutlery on her plate.
“A problem shared is a problem half solved. I really want to hear it.” He persuaded.
“It’s a long story” she said softly. “Segun and I started dating while we were in our final year. We graduated together and had high hopes. We planned settling down together and life was full of promises. Two year after our graduation, Segun secured a visa to the US. He traveled promising to send for me immediately he got a job and settled down. I believed him and faithfully waited for him. In my wait, I never had anything to do with any man.”
He held her hands and squeezed them gently as her voice became faint and croaky amidst sobs.
“Be strong, okay” he urged her on.
“About a year after he traveled, his phone calls reduced. Sometimes, I would try his number for days and will not be able to reach him. Whenever I eventually got him on line, he would give me a myriad of excuses. I trusted him and waited patiently for him. Little did I know that those excuses were all lies. Recently, a friend paid me a visit and told me he saw Segun in Nigeria. I became confused; it was June, so I knew it couldn’t have been April fool. Well, Segun could be very unpredictable and full of surprises at times. So I thought he was up to one of his numerous surprises. I waited for about four more days before I deciding to go to his family house to confirm the story. That was where I got the greatest shock of my life.
As I got to his family house I saw their security guard opening the gate. I greeted him and as I was about asking him questions, I saw Segun in the compound getting ready to enter his car with a black American woman carrying a baby and holding another little girl barely two years old. He looked up and saw me, and we gazed for almost eternity. By then, the other woman was looking at the scene with bewilderment written over her face. Segun pulled himself together and introduced the woman to me as his wife and the babies, his children. A cold wave swept through my body and I felt like passing out. When I could no longer stand the embarrassment, I ran out of his compound, weeping.
I cried for days until I decided to come to the club with my friends to get over his thoughts. I had been a fool to have waited for him all this while and I just wanted to do something stupid…. I don’t know…. And I met you that night.” she concluded as tears welled up her eyes.
Raymond was so moved by her story that he almost forgot his own pains.
“I think we have something in common right now,” he said “would you like to hear my own story?” He asked. She kept mute dabbing her tears with a tissue she had brought out from her bag.
“I had a fiancée I was going to marry, but the relationship crashed. She left me for a richer guy.” Raymond started his story.
“My meeting with Jennifer was a dream come true for me. I had first seen her at the Sunday church service. She looked so beautiful yet simple and naïve. I only attended church on Sundays but because I wanted to meet her again, I had started going for some mid week programs after work. Before then, my mother had perpetually driven it into me that it was better to marry from the church, and this had molded my mindset. So I didn’t just want Jennifer for only myself. I wanted to please my mum too” he took a sip of his drink and continued.
“I eventually met Jennifer again at one of these programs and what started as a mere friendship soon grew into a serious relationship. My mother loved her. At that time, she didn’t have a job and I did everything possible within my power to satisfy her. Some months later, she got a job as marketing executive in one of the new generation banks. She got my support and I even strategized with her on how she could meet her monthly target. She was a very ambitious lady.”
In pursuit of her monthly target, she met this rich guy, who according to her was just a client who deposited money just to assist her, and was also giving her contacts of prospective depositors. I took her for her words and never suspected anything. However, my friends were wary of their relationship because the rich guy was always giving her a ride back home from work almost on a daily basis. They warned me but I was just too trustful of her to heed their warnings.
“Sometime later, I realize that her visit to my house was declining. I asked why and she gave me excuses about traffic, an extension of their closing time and many more.
Afterwards, her visit stopped completely. And whenever I visited her, it’s either she had gone out or she was sleeping. And when I call her on phone, she would tell me calmly that she would see me soon. I knew something was wrong but I could not place it.” He paused and took a sip from his drink.
“One day, a friend of hers visited me” Raymond continued, “and from her countenance, I knew she had something bottled up in her. Initially I though something had happened to Jennifer, but I discarded the idea on a second thought.”
“After a prolonged silence, she braced up and told me Jennifer was having an affair with one of her clients and that she was even pregnant. I immediately knew it was the rich guy whom she claimed was helping her meet her target. I fought to hold back tears from my eyes and thanked her for the information. I decided to see Jennifer by all means to confront her with the story. So during the week, I went to her office to see her. I saw her and we left her office premises to a nearby joint to discuss. I told her my observations and what I heard; not mentioning the source of the story. She could not look me in the eyes and began to shed tears, telling me she was sorry. I saw my world collapsing right before me. I have been an idiot trusting her. I walked out on her. That weekend, burdened by her betrayal, I decided to go somewhere to ease off. I came to the club and met you. That’s my story” he concluded.
Vanessa looked at him for seconds and said she was sorry to hear about his story. They ended becoming good friends and not long after, they were head over heels in love. Six months later, they were walking down the aisle in holy solemnization of their relationship in marriage.
Sometimes when life shuts a window in your face, it opens a door in return
– Olutayo Faloye