I felt a heavy lump on my throat as I waved goodbye to Valerie. There was every possibility it would be my last time of ever seeing her. She was silent all through the journey to the park, giving me no clue into what was her mind.
As the bus moved away, I felt like chasing to get one more opportunity to hold Valerie and ask her forgiveness. I needed it badly, as it would be one more opportunity lost to find love. My brother’s curse was indeed coming true. As the bus veered off my sight, I couldn’t help but agree that it was time to find Jojo and have him reverse his curse.
It was 2:15pm, going to the office would be a foolish decision. I lost track of time the moment Valerie stepped into my apartment that morning. The best decision was to return home and carefully consider how to get back on track with my life. I had lost count of how many ladies who have walked out of my life. Getting no younger, there was an important need to come to terms with my problem.
I silently said a word of prayer to God for a safe trip back to Asaba for Valerie. I really cared about her and still hoped she would come back to me someday; after I must have settled scores with my brother. Valerie was too much of an angel to lose, she was my perfect fit, and I resolved to do all within my power to get her back.
On my way home, I stopped at my favourite bar, not far from my house. I needed to clear my head, in order to create a proper strategy towards redemption. As I settled for a cold bottle of beer, I received a notification on my phone. It was a ping from Valerie.
“Thanks for making this journey a memorable one.” Her message was simple and clear to me. I understood what she meant by the word ‘memorable’ and that caused a sting in my heart. As I looked back at my phone, attempting to reply her message, I had hardly typed a word when she suddenly disappeared off my screen.
I frantically scrolled through my contacts, searching for her name. After going about the whole contact list repeatedly, it dawned on me that Valerie had deleted me off BBM. Not giving up, I logged on to Twitter, and went straight to my DM. My last conversation was with her, so I quickly typed every apologetic sentence that came to my mind. When I was done typing, the notification that popped up on my screen was that I am not allowed to send direct messages to someone who is not following me. I was alarmed. I continued to search through twitter for Valerie’s handle, I eventually found out she had blocked me.
Feeling terrible, I decided to put a call through to her. I waited in vain for a response, but none was forthcoming. The phone was not switched off, but Valerie seemed to have barred all calls from me.
I was covered in cold sweat. Could that really be the end between me and Valerie?
That was the only phrase that rang through my head as I made the long journey back to Asaba. It really felt like the whole idea to have come to Lagos in the first place was borne out of hypnotism. A whole me! To have decided to come all the way to Lagos to meet a random guy I met via twitter was out of this world. I had to agree with my self that I was stupid. Not only did I foolishly travel, I did more foolish things with him, and fell into trouble with my uncle. To make matters worse, I had a bigger one awaiting me at home.
While I could easily forgive myself for all the foolish things I did, events that unfolded within the last hours of my stay in Lagos was not only unforgivable to myself, but I decided to forever hold a grudge with Greg! Yes, it was that serious.
I woke up very early that morning because I was eager to leave Uncle Steve’s house. I was mad at him for calling my father to report me missing. The thought was unbearable, and the more I entertained it, the more hatred I bore in my heart against him. Every other minute I spent in his house was like poison, so it was quite a relief that I had to leave his place when I did.
Greg was the reason I went missing in the first place, but I wasn’t intending to hold it against him. I decided to check at his place before boarding a bus back to Asaba, because I wanted to see him again and also because he said I left something at his place. Despite having convinced myself that it was a lie (no belonging of mine was missing when I checked), I still gave him a benefit of doubt and went ahead to visit him – it proved to be a very foolish decision I will not forget in a hurry.
I arrived at Greg’s place at exactly 7:30am, hoping to leave before 8am, but again, I inexplicably didn’t return to consciousness until 1:50pm!
The last thing I remembered was asking Greg to tell me what I had forgotten, but he was beating about the bush, and trying to kiss me. In order to have him answer me quickly, I gave in to his advances to kiss me, but that was it. I fell into some form of unconsciousness until afternoon.
I jumped out of his bed, stark naked! He was too. I knew immediately what had happened, but the more important thing was to get to the park and head for Asaba as soon as possible. Uncle Steve had called my parents the moment I left his place, and at the moment, my father would be expecting me home. Lagos to Asaba was roughly four hours. I had spent five hours on Greg’s bed!
I jumped into my gown and slipped into my shoes quickly. Make up was the last thing on my mind. I had to leave quickly.
“Why are you leaving so soon?” The annoying sleepy, lazy voice of Greg called out.
“I have lost track of time, my parents expect me home already” I responded quickly, hiding my disgust, but stating clearly my urgency.
Greg lazily rose and spent some extra minutes putting on what to wear. At long last, we were out of his apartment. It was clear that Greg wanted to delay me, hoping I would sleep at his place. I was highly disappointed in my self, for sleeping with Greg again, when I should be going home. I was more disappointed in Greg, first for taking advantage of me, and for being inconsiderate despite explaining the situation I expected to face at home with my father. I doubted if he ever had any true feelings for me. “One who loves and cares about me will not be selfish like him” I told myself.
I resolved to cut all ties with him, and forget I ever met him. I made sure I deleted him off BBM and twitter, and every other connecting point available.
The Greg episode was over, a tougher one awaited me at home.
Luckily for me, I was the last person to board the next bus going to Asaba. I didn’t spend up to ten minutes at the park before the journey began. Despite the difficulty getting out of Lagos traffic, I spent just a few minutes above four hours to arrive Asaba.
I got home at exactly 6:40pm. I felt the magnitude of what awaited me at home right from when I alighted from the bike which took me home from the park. My younger brother was the one who met me to receive my bag. He was not exactly excited to see me, and would give me no hint as to what to expect.
“Is Papa at home?” I asked.
“He is not, but he is not far away. He didn’t go to work today. He said he is waiting for you” Ovie, my brother replied.
My heart pounded. I didn’t realize how serious my father took Uncle Steve’s report. If he refused to go to work just to await my arrival, then I am in for big trouble. Mama was my only hope for help.
“Where is Mama?” I asked almost immediately.
“She has gone to traders’ meeting” Ovie responded as he disappeared into the house while I slowed down, thinking about what to do.
I wasn’t ready to face Papa’s wrath. I didn’t know what Uncle Steve reported to him exactly, but I knew I would have to conjure an explanation for leaving Uncle Steve’s place as early as 6:45am and getting home at 6:40pm.
I had fun at Tekena’s birthday. It was a good outlet to forget my worries and ease off the pressure of work. After all, it was a Friday, and I could easily use my weekend to get things done. By the time the guests were beginning to leave, I was exhausted. Tekena’s wife advised me to stay over. According to her, I was in no good condition to go home, but I assured her I was only tipsy, not drunk.
I danced with a lady at the party, but we couldn’t get talking because she excused herself to attend to someone. She didn’t return, and I had forgotten about her until she appeared again when I was about leaving. She was far away, so I had to tell Tekena and wife to give me a few minutes to talk to her.
“She is my colleague at work, a good friend of the family. Her name is Itohan” Tekena’s wife, Sheila noted.
“Thanks for the info, it’s coming very handy” I replied, catching Tekena and his wife exchanging knowing glances, and silently urging me on.
“Hello Itohan” I said, tapping her gently on the shoulder.
“Hi” she answered. “How did you know my name?” She queried.
“That would be something to discuss another day. I am Joachim, you can call me Jojo for short”
“Nice to meet you, Jojo.”
“It’s my pleasure. Why are you still here? I thought you had left.”
“I will be on my way soon. I am waiting for my fiancé to pick me up. He is on his way”
The mention of the word ‘fiancé’ was all I needed to know I was towing a wrong path. I was unhappy that such a beautiful damsel was already taken but I could do nothing about it, even if I wanted to.
“I only thought to check on you” I responded, resigning to fate. “I will be on my way now”
“Thank you, Mr Jojo” she answered, full of smiles. Her beautiful dentition only added to my feeling of loss.
I returned to meet Tekena and his wife, relating the outcome to them.
“I am just as surprised. I didn’t know until now that Itohan was engaged” Sheila explained, feeling sorry and probably as embarrassed as I was.
“Not to worry, Jojo has a pool of ladies around him. I’m glad he is finally thinking to settle down. He can easily pick the best from the abundance of ladies around him” Tekena joked.
As I drove home, I pondered about what Tekena had said. It was true that I had an abundance of female friends, but I have never had the impetus to take things to the next level with any of them. I wondered what brought about the sudden courage in me. I am finally becoming a man, I thought to myself.
Itohan was the first lady I determined to exercise my new-found boldness upon, but she stopped me in my tracks before I could even say ‘Jack Robinson’. Nonetheless, there was joy in my heart. I was overcoming my old foe – the fear of wooing a lady.
I became overwhelmed with joy, and I began to see myself having the swagger and courage of a playboy who could get any lady. The only song that played in my head was Itohan, and I didn’t care that she had a fiancé. I fell into some sort of a daydream, seeing myself rapping beautiful lines of love to the imaginary figure of Itohan standing before me.
Suddenly, the beautiful figure of Itohan faded and was quickly replaced by a truck parked by the roadside. I tried quickly to regain control of the car, but I was late, and before I knew it, there was a loud bang… I saw nothing!
To be continued…