Dr. Awele was tall, fair, and averagely good looking. He was a resident doctor at Jos University teaching hospital and was in Lagos for a surgeons’ conference. She had found that he was a christian and served as a volunteer in his church’s medical team. At 7pm, Regina exited her car and stepped into the lobby of the restaurant. She looked stunning in her blue dress. It was knee length, fitted, and covered in sequins. She glowed and she knew it.
Glancing around, she spotted Awele at a table, waving her over, and smiled. He looked simple in a black shirt on black pants. “Well”, she thought. “I will have to teach him about blazers, I guess. Probably not part of the medical curriculum”
He rose to greet her with a hug. “Regina, you look much better in person” “So my pictures had you worried? ” she joked.
“No. I mean I was ….I got more than I expected”, he sat opposite her. “Would you like a drink?”
“Water is fine, for a start. Thanks”, she smiled.
” He ordered water for her and a cocktail for himself. “So, how was work today?”, he asked.
“Great. How’s your conference going?”
“Very insightful. I’ve learned a lot. You know, as a surgeon, one has to keep updating his skills”
The waiter appeared and offered them the menu cards.
“Do you come here often?” he asked.
“I’ve been here only once”, she concentrated on the menu.
“With a boyfriend? ”
“I’ll have the duck soup for a start, thanks”, she smiled at the waiter.
Awele placed his order as well.”So, I was asking who you had been here with”
“I hope you don’t mind but, I would rather hear about you. Tell me about Jos. How is the town?”
“Jos is great, lovely weather, friendly people”
“You schooled there?”
“Yes, I was born in Kaduna. I have lived in the north all my life. The only time I worked in the south, was during NYSC, when I was posted to Enugu”
“How did you find it?”
“It was a culture shock, for me. Things are certainly done differently there”
Their food arrived and they tucked in. It was tasty, just as she had said when she recommended they meet there. He, being new in town, went along with her suggestion.
“So, what are your views on submission? “, he suddenly asked.
Regina nearly choked on her food. “Huh?”
“We are not kids. I am 38, you are 34. Frankly, at your age, fertility is beginning to drop. However, I am willing to overlook that. One thing that is a deal breaker for me, though, is pride”
“Hmm”, She could not believe her ears.
“Yes, the bible said it. Wives must submit to their husbands. It was not me who said it. So you just have to do it”, he looked at her seriously.
She swallowed the retort that sprang to mind. This must be a test.
“How many exes do you have?”, he went on.
She fumed mentally “Is he just daft or am I overreacting? ”
“Feel free to tell me. I won’t hold it against you. Because of my profession, I am a very good listener”, he probed further.
“Awele, why do you need to know?”, she dropped her fork angrily
“Shouldn’t I be aware? I like to know what I’m dealing with. Relationship history, financialhistory, reproductive history…..”
“All on the 1st date?”
“Why not? We are not kids. If this is not heading to the altar, why are we wasting time?”
Regina rose and picked up her purse. “I have to leave. Thank you for a lovely time”
“Did I do something wrong?”, he rose.
“Let’s just part as friends, okay?”, she shook his hand and turned to leave before he could say another word.
“Reproductive history”, she fumed in her car. “I know where he was going. Father, where are all the good men? Can’t you spare 1 for me?”
She sat in the lot for a while, trying to get a hold of her emotions. Her phone rang. It was Miriam.
“Hello, girl, sneak out to the restroom and give me gist. I couldn’t wait anymore. How has it been, so far?”
“He wants to know if I can submit”
“Ah, ah. You should have said yes”
“How many exes I have? Who I’ve been to the restaurant with? My reproductive history?”
“What! Is he a learner? Who does that? ”
“I left him there. Let him go and ask his mother all those questions. I’m coming to your house”
“Come over, let’s eat ice cream”
“Just what I need”
“You know I know you. Cheer up, dear. It wasn’t meant to be”
“I tell you”
Ijeoma was sitting in her car during the lunch hour. She usually ate a packed lunch to save costs but today, her appetite was poor. There was a tap on her window. It was Chike.
“Nne, kedu? (how are you? )”, he smiled
“I got you some chinese take out from that place you like. Hope you don’t mind?”, he lifted it so she could see.
Against her better judgement, she reached through her open window and accepted the package. A hot meal was always welcome.
“I’ll leave you to enjoy. Bye”, he left.
She was surprised, having expected him to hang around and make a nuisance of himself. As she dug in, she spied Benita, standing on the stairs of the complex, arms folded over her ample bosom, eyes fixed on her.
“O well”, she thought. “She will gossip whether or not I give her reason to. At least, I will have fuel in my tummy for her nastiness” Benita was standing with her gossip partner, Collette.
She could see her gesticulating, clapping, and laughing, with a sneer on her face. Ijeoma watched her via her rear mirror while she ate.
“Don’t go and lose that weight, akpa awo!”, she muttered. “As old as you are, no relationship prospects!”
Her phone rang. It was Magnus.
“Hi, honey”, he said.
“Why so sullen? Aren’t you happy to hear from me?”
“I’m jumping up and down. What is it?”, she snapped
“I just wanted to know how you’re doing”
“Honey, please, give me a chance. What can I do to make you happy? ”
“I’m already happy. Thank God for God. Who knows where I would be”
“Say what you want; let me finish my lunch”
“Do I come and take you out for lunch?”
“Ij, I need you back. I miss us”
“I’m right here. I never left”
“You left. For some time you have not spoken to me without raising your voice, or complaining. I want to do better, I want to be better. Help me. Show me how”
“Are you not a christian? Go and ask God to show you!”
She burst into tears.
“Please….”, he pleaded.
“I can’t forgive you for hiding Chibuike from me. How could you do that?”
“Would you have married me if you knew I had a younger brother with such a condition? ”
“It’s not that”
“It is. 2 other girls I wanted to marry, met him and chickened out. Not only was I not very rich, a lot of my income was going to his care. I didn’t want to lose you”
“As a child of God, is that the right thing to do?”, she sniffed
“Forgive me, please”
“I don’t know if I can. I’m tired of living this life of poverty. He gulps all your money and you never say No. When will it be my turn to fly abroad, buy designer shoes, and ride a nice car?”, she complained.
“Soon, baby, soon. There’s this deal at hand. I expect to make enough for you to leave that job if you want”
“What deal is that? ”
“Can we talk when we get home? Please don’t shut me out as usual”
“I love you”
“I love you, Ij”, he repeated
“I love you, too”, she muttered. She could sense him smiling. “And why are you smiling?”
“Honey, you are something else”, he replied cheekily.
TO BE CONTINUED
Akpa awo : Fat frog
Ij nkem : my Ij