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Previously on Almost a bride.
His large brown eyes left her with questions she wanted answers to. As he said the grace, his baritone voice made the hair on her skin rise. Their hands were still locked together and even when she reluctantly tried to break free, he held onto them. Ihuoma didn’t force it. Whenever Mr-Brown-eyes was ready to let go, she would be fine with it.
He finally let go and she was brought back to reality. Ihuoma waited for him to provide answers to her unbeknownst questions.
“Hi”, Ihuoma replied.
“Are you new here? I haven’t seen you before”
“Nah, I’m a regular but I don’t stay back to fraternize with people after church”
By this time Ihuoma was grinning from ear to ear. She wanted this one and she was going to have him. By the time they had talked at length, he dipped his hand into his breast pocket, brought out a yellow coloured business card and placed it in her palm.
“This is to make sure you stay back next week to chat with me”.
“Alright then, we’ll see”
Ihuoma wasn’t going to play hard to get this time around. She would just let it flow at its own pace. She wasn’t a regular church goer but that Sunday, she decided to go to church and a miracle was bestowed on her. She had heard of the Church and how it manufactured Husbands for single ladies, so she came expectant and she wasn’t disappointed. The card read, Olalekan DaSilva, IT Consultant for Avirat Communications. Ihuoma was impressed. She wasn’t going to sit around waiting for him to call her after all she didn’t even give him her number. She sent him a text message immediately she got home;
“Hi, I hope you got home safely.
Hope to see you on Sunday. Have a nice week ahead. IHUOMA”
Ihuoma hadn’t made a midnight call in about 3 years but that night she spoke with Lekan till about 3 a.m. He asked her about everything and she told him all he wanted to know. There was a kind of peace and calm that she felt as she talked with him. She laughed like a hyena from time to time. She wasn’t sure if the jokes were that funny but she laughed all the same. They said their goodbyes for the night and Ihuoma went to bed feeling like a princess.
The calls became more frequent. From twice a day to about 8 times a day, but hey, who’s counting? They talked about everything and anything. Her friends became his friends and his friends became her friends. They became closer and closer. He always made her laugh. He always looked forward to the end of work each day, where he would tell her about frustrating clients who weren’t sure of what they wanted. She had her own stories to tell from the hospital but she preferred to listen to him as he poured out his heart to her. While they were saying their goodbye’s on one of such evenings, he promised her a suprise during the week. He always threw surprises at her and that endeared him to her. The first time he surprised her she was swooning in excitement for the greater part of the day. The flowers he sent practically blocked the entrance into her office. She wondered who would make such mistake of dropping a huge bouquet in front of her office. She saw the card on it and it read thus;
“Roses are red, violets are blue
I look at the sky and all I see is you.”
There was no name on the card but she knew who it was. He promised to surprise her and that was exactly what he did. She hadn’t received flowers in forever and here was this bouquet, obstructing her way. She raised her eyes to the ceiling and muttered words in appreciation to her maker for a blessing like Lekan Dasilva.
Lekan’s office was as busy as a beehive on Tuesdays; it was something he had gotten used to with time. He was expecting one of his frustrating clients and he couldn’t wait to get the contract over and done with. This particular client, Chief Eze, wore trouble on his head like a helmet and everybody avoided him like a plague. Why he always wanted Lekan to handle his deals for him, remained the 8th wonder of the world to Lekan.
“Mr Lekan, how are you na? This one that you don’t pick my calls again, hope no problem,” Mr Eze said as he pushed himself and his pot belly into Lekan’s office.
Lekan tried to sugar coat his reasons for not picking the calls but Mr Eze couldn’t be bothered about it. Mr Eze went straight to the point and told Lekan about the 100 million dollar contract that he had just secured. He wanted Lekan to execute it and his cut would be 40%. Lekan was ecstatic, he couldn’t believe it. He called up Ihuoma to share the good news with her but she was sounding laid back and tired.
“I’m just bored! Patients aren’t really coming in, Clinic flow today is really slow”, she replied
“What are you doing this evening? Stop over at my house on your way from work, let me make dinner to cheer you up.”
She could point out the many reasons why she loved Lekan but not a single reason to hate him. He always made her happy. All the guys she had dated before were charming and handsome but not one of them gave her so much joy, effortlessly. She couldn’t wait for the close of work so she could have a taste of his cooking.
She smelt the chicken sauce from the door as she made her way into his house. The table was adorned with scented candles and a ravishing centre piece. The rice was garnished with sweet corn and greens. The sauté vegetable by the side was the reason Ihuoma believed most people preferred to die as vegetarians. All that goodness in one plate was enough to convert anybody into a vegan. He ushered her into a seat and they wined and dined through the night.
As much as she wanted to go home, Lekan wouldn’t let her go. He was vehemently against women driving at the night and so he asked her to stay behind. After dinner, they got into a play fight over who should hold the remote control to the TV. She finally got hold of it and he started chasing her around the house. He carried her in the air a couple of times and she kept screaming like a little child. His energy was amazing and she liked it. He chased her a few more times then suddenly, his mood changed. He dropped her on the couch and sat still starring into space. She tried to nudge him back to reality but he started shouting at her, asking why she was in his house and who invited her. Ihuoma found it amusing; after all, he was the one who invited her. She laughed it off and gave him the side eye. All the wine that night had filled Ihuoma’s bladder. She ran off to the bathroom to empty it. By the time she returned, he had entered his study room. He always went there when he had some important work to do so Ihuoma didn’t bother to go there. She slotted in the House of cards DVD she saw on the table and tried to catch up on the episodes she had missed. Lekan came out at midnight to find her sleeping on the couch. He put off the TV and carried her into the room. Like the gentleman that he was, he allowed her to sleep in his master bedroom while he managed to get a shutter eye in the guest room.
Ihuoma heard the door creak but she wasn’t sure if it was in her dream or a reality. She confirmed it was reality when Lekan returned a few minutes past 7 a.m. He made it a duty to jog every morning and Ihuoma didn’t see the need for it. His physique was okay and he wasn’t over weight. She would never understand his obsession with jogging. Even in moments of severe illness, he still found time and energy to make the rounds. She looked into his wardrobe searching for one of his rumpled shirts so she could throw it on. She noticed that her clothes were slowly taking residence in his wardrobe and she didn’t mind. He always had new clothes for her whenever she visited so there was no need to take her old clothes back home. She quickly made breakfast for both of them and headed off to work. She would return to his house by weekend.
Apart from her beauty, her food could soften a heart of stone. They were hosting their friends to dinner that weekend so Ihuoma had to make dinner for all. After everyone had eaten their fill and taken their leave, Ihuoma cleared up and prepared for bed. She had a splitting headache and as much as she hated drugs, she knew she had to take something before the headache turned into a migraine. Lekan was already deep asleep and she didn’t know where he kept his painkillers. Her search for a pain reliever led her to the cabinet in the bathroom that had a mirror as a door. She opened the cabinet and the amount of drugs there could be mistaken for that of a shelf in a pharmacy.
She was surprised at the drugs she found in the cabinet; Depakote, Stavsor and Topamax. They were not the regular over the counter drugs. These were drugs she had prescribed for patients before. They were half empty. Ihuoma closed the cabinet and sat on the toilet seat. They were drugs used in the management of bipolar disorder.
Just like everyone trying to get their life together, she was quite surprised that regardless of his cheerful nature, he was managing a condition. It all made sense now; the clowning moments and the sudden mood swings, it was a classic case. She didn’t have a problem with it but the fact that he kept it away from her was what exasperated her. His explanation even did more damage than good,
“I thought you would leave me if you knew about it and I don’t want to lose you.”
That was the response she got when she confronted him about it. She expected it but it wasn’t good enough. She was determined to make the relationship work so she put it behind her and moved on with the relationship. She tried to help him and encourage him through it but he wasn’t cooperative. He developed a nonchalant attitude over the next few weeks and it wasn’t helping the matter at hand. He always killed her efforts at showing him love and it weighed her down emotionally. She was hurting herself in the process of taking care of him and she wouldn’t have it. He abused her emotionally and psychologically. He urged her to leave him alone and when she couldn’t take it anymore, she decided to leave.
”Leave me alone! Get out. I don’t want anybody around me. I don’t need your pity or fake love. Leave me! I hate you and everything you stand for. Get out of my life!” he screamed at her one evening.
Ihuoma felt numb and starred at him. She had gotten so used to defending her love for him that it no longer made sense to her. She took one look at him and shook her head. She was not sure if he was depressed or in his normal state of mind, she no longer cared. She knew she wasn’t ready for the relationship. She hadn’t fully recovered from the heart blow Chinedu dealt her before she delved into this but she took the risk. Her boxes were packed already, she was leaving. She didn’t realise how much of her stuff she had at Lekan’s apartment. She thought she had found the one, apparently the one was still caught up in traffic somewhere, probably a long way from home.
As she dragged the boxes out the doorway, she remembered the words of the pastor on the pulpit the morning she met Lekan. They resounded in her ears:
“…let go of all that tried to weigh you down in the previous year. Deal with every hurt before it makes you a bitter person…”
To be continued…
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