Ifesinachi Transport Booking Office,
Jabi Central Bus Station,
June 18th 2012,
It was a chilly Monday evening. I had arrived earlier than the stipulated time. I was standing outside the passengers lounge as I waited for my bus to arrive. My bus was scheduled to leave at about 2230 hours. There were a lot of people milling around. From porters, loaders, passengers, drivers and touts. It was a bee hive of activities. The streets were filled by hawkers trying to sell you every manner of things. Herbal medicines, chargers, power banks, watches, earphones, and the rest. Both old and young women also tried to folk out a living from their merchandise. They had a wide variety of goods ranging from coconuts, pears, grapes, African oil bean and kola.
My mind was preoccupied as I listened to the sounds of different engines while they were on idling mode. The baritones coming from some of them was orgasmic. I noticed a shiny black sleek car that pulled over next to the gas station which was adjacent to the booking office. An old man in uniform came out from the driver’s seat and went around the left side and opened the door. Surely this must have been someone very important. Then I saw her. She had the most beautiful legs. Legs that one would wish to have them around thy shoulders. Her eyes had a deep brown topaz color. She was in denim shorts and a gold chiffon top.
At the back of my young mind, I knew that was a suicide mission. Her type did not look like that they would mingle with common folks who smoked cheap cigarettes and downed their innards with cheap whiskey from shady dingy pubs. She stood out from the rest of the crowd. Our eyes got locked for a moment.
“Excuse me Sir, would you mind if I sat by the window? I’m asthmatic and I would not want to disturb you every now and then by telling you to open and close the window.” She asked.
“Sure, no problem.”
Few Hours Later.
We were both heading in the same direction. Apart from the request she had earlier made, nothing else was said between us. I tried to find words and I would always be left mouth open agape like a fish. Each time that happened I had to stifle a yawn. After a few hours of speculation, I gathered courage and introduced myself.
“Hi, I’m Jonathan, I boarded the last bus to Lagos.”
“Hello Jonathan, I’m colleen and you sure are late.”
I could not help but laugh. She was soft spoken, kind, and her laughter came from deep within.
“Jonathan, I never told you my name, I’m Belle.”
Back To the Present.
For the next five years, Belle gave me life. She gave me love. The type of love that was unrivaled. Belle was the altar, while I was the priest. I was full of devotion whenever I worshiped at her shrine.
Belle got married today, and the groom by her side was not me.
I got wind that she was getting married. I dressed well, and went to where the ceremony was. Folks I could not just get out of the car. I instead sat in my car at the parking lot and listened. Lots of questions went through my mind. “How would she react if she saw me?” “Would she wear the same smile she had when I knew her?”
Maybe I played myself lads, maybe I did score my own goal.
A month ago.
I sat by the porch reading a book, nope my mind was not in the book. I was agitated and anxious. I put the book down and stood and paced back and forth. I went to the front gate and opened it. I had a far flung look, a look that went past the mirage, beyond the streets we know. Streets that had pubs which had patrons flocking at 1300 hours, due to the fact that each lunch hour was a happy hour.
I called her, my phone pressed tight against my ear. I was hopeful that she’d pick up yet at the same time I did not want her to pick up. What would I tell her?
Belle: Hello, Jonathan.
Her voice was still the same, soft spoken, silky, with a kind touch. The first time I heard her voice since she left 2 years nine months ago.
Me: Hello, Belle. Long-time no see.
Belle: Yes, hope you doing well.
Me: Yeah sure.
Belle: To what event do I grace this call?
Me: Thought of you, and was a bit hoping that you’d not pick up.
Belle: Well, you broke my heart for the five years period you were with me Jonathan. But a part of me still wanted to hear your voice. Part of me hoped that you would call and check out on me. I hoped that you would come and look for me after I left but you did not Jonathan. It broke my heart when months later I saw you in town with another woman. I was in a queue waiting to be served by the cashier minding my own business then I heard your laughter. I could recognize it from anywhere. I felt butterflies in my tummy but it was short-lived. You were standing on the other line, you did not even look at me. I called; wanted to tell you that I had seen you. You just took your phone from your pocket and locked it off. I felt crushed. I was jealous
Me: I didn’t know that you had seen me at a queue in the supermarket.
Belle: Did you not have the courtesy to at-least return my call?
Me: I thought you made it clear that you were done with us.
Belle: Jonathan, did you ever love me?
This question threw me off balance. I shared five years with her. Yet somehow, I managed to make her doubt everything in the five years. I never answered instead, I just hang in there breathing shakily. Whichever word I’d say would be met with more doubts.
“Jonathan abi, why doesn’t Belle not call me these days? It is been a month and few days since I last spoke to her.”
“Jonah, is everything okay between you two?”
“What did you do this time that you made a good girl run away?”
Long after she had broken up with me, Belle still checked up on mother. I felt remorseful, melancholic and I could not bear the site that mother was about to witness a grown man breaking down. I turned away from her so that I could conceal the tears that were already forming in my eyes.
“Jonathan, it is time you marry that girl. Stop running around with these other women who look like Elianto bottle.”
How do you tell your mother that you no longer have relations with the girl who helped her sweep the kampound? The girl who would not mind cooking fufu and egusi soup using firewood as fuel in-case the gas supply ran out? Belle loved me enough that she loved my mother. The girl that brought mother lots of things from Abuja. But how? How do you even begin on it?
A week before her wedding.
I lacked answers to my mother’s queries. I suffered for it. I called Belle once more. I wanted to see her, even it would have been in a public place. She declined. She could not risk seen being in my company.
“Jonathan, I’m getting married next week. Please don’t make things difficult as they already are.”
“Yes, Jonah. I waited for to amend your ways but you did not. I asked you if you ever loved me, you never answered Jo. You went quiet, I wanted to hear one more last time.”
“Please Belle, just one more chance. And this time I mean it. I’ll do everything right by you.”
“Too late Jonathan.”
I could hear a sob and a huff at the other end of the phone. Her voice was much softer than usual.
“I gave you five years, you did not change. When you called last month, part of me hoped that you’d sway me into believing that you have changed. It’s done love. Bye Jonathan.”
“But we are soulmates Belle.”
“Soulmates get over each other after all Jonathan.”
Today at the reception grounds.
I got out of the car, opened up the trunk and took out my wedding gift. Wouldn’t it be bad to show up for a wedding without a gift?
P.S: Happy New Year Ladies and Gentlemen. Hope January is kind to you.