Fadeke touched down in Abuja at 7.45a.m. She changed her itinerary at the last minute and decided to take the second flight into Abuja. She knew Chinedu wasn’t expecting her until 2p.m but she wanted to give him a surprise. She had called him two nights earlier and he had confirmed that he would be leaving home at 9.00a.m. Since it was a Saturday, he did not need to get to work very early; he had said. If she could get to his house before 8.30a.m, she was sure she would catch him at home or most likely on his way out since his office wasn’t too far. Even in her state, she was still very excited that she was going to see him. She had thought over and over about how she was going to break the news to him. She wasn’t sure what his reaction was going to be. He loved her no doubt; but a baby hadn’t been part of what they had planned for. She pulled out her bunch of keys from her jeans pocket. She looked at the key to his apartment and smiled. How else could a guy prove that he loved his girlfriend? He had given her the spare keys to the apartment on her last visit and told her the house belonged to both of them. She placed a call to his taxi driver and asked him to come pick her up.
In fifteen minutes, she was at the apartment and tapped the door gently. It was just 8.25a.m and the neighbourhood was quiet. She tapped the door the second time and straightened out her hair. She should have brushed it. The door opened and she saw the last person she was expecting to see.
“Who do we have here?” Tochukwu said resting sideways on the door lintel. She was dressed in one of Chinedu’s shirts which barely covered her thighs. The top buttons of the shirt were open revealing her bust. If she were a man, the sight before her would have caused a lot of heat to flow through her.
Fadeke stood unable to say a word.
“Come on in. I don’t want you attracting the neighbours and causing a scene.”
Fadeke still dumbfounded walked in like a sheep led to a slaughter house.
“Sincerely, it never crossed my mind that you were still dating Chinedu.” Since Fadeke was still too stunned to speak, Tochukwu tried to gain an upper hand in a conversation.
“What in the world are you doing here and in Chinedu’s shirt?” Fadeke screamed suddenly finding her voice.
She shrugged. “What does it look like?”
So many thoughts started running through Fadeke’s mind. How long had this been going on? She remembered what Kemi told her about Tochukwu and Kunle dating back in school. What was going on? If Tochukwu and Kunle were back together as Kemi had said, why was she dressed scantily in Chinedu’s shirt this early in the morning?
“Hey, why are you looking like the world has come to an end? Did you think you had sole ownership of Chinedu?”
Fadeke tried to talk but Tochukwu shut her up with a hand.
“I am not finished. I had always been there before Chinedu decided to look your way for reasons best known to him. I wonder what he saw in you.” Tochukwu spat as she eyed her from top to bottom.
Fadeke’s jaw dropped.
“You want proof? Kunle is enough proof. I only dated him because Chinedu decided to look your way and I was just waiting to have him back when he was through with you. And as for Kunle, I knew about all the stunts he tried to pull with you. It was just to get you away from Chinedu so I could have him back where he truly belongs.”
A tear slid down Fadeke’s right cheek. “Tochukwu, I trusted you.”
Tochukwu lifted up her hand and hissed. “Abeg, spare me the pitiful face. “As you can see” – She said placing one hand on her bare thigh and the other on her bust – “He is back where he was meant to be all along. So take a walk, I don’t want him coming back and meeting you in this sorry state.”
“Why Tochukwu? What have I done to deserve this?”
“Why? Why?” Tochukwu laughed sardonically. “Because, you are just a tramp who wants to reap where you did not sow.”
Fadeke had had enough. She struggled to open the door, tears blinding her as she did.
“Bye bye.” Tochukwu flicked her hands.
“Fadeke, talk to me.” Kemi said shaking her friend by the shoulders.
“I….I…..” She tried to talk but the sobs caught her throat and she stopped.
She had gone straight to Kemi’s house after leaving Chinedu’s and she was lucky to find her at home. Kemi had planned going out earlier in the day but when she remembered Fadeke had promised to fly in, she decided to stay back till her friend called. Fadeke had refused to call Chinedu’s taxi and had taken another cab instead. She had sobbed all through the thirty minutes trip to Kemi’s house.
Kemi had tried in the last ten minutes to find out what had happened to her friend but the only thing she had gotten was that she was coming from Chinedu’s house. What could have happened there to make her sob uncontrollably? Fadeke’s body shook with every sob and Kemi was beginning to get scared. She stood up to make a cup of chamomile tea to help her relax.
Fadeke had her head in her hands when Kemi came back with the cup of chamomile tea. Kemi pushed it into her hands and encouraged her to drink. She was beginning to have a headache and she asked her friend for pain relievers. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Kemi what she had seen. How long had Chinedu been deceiving me? Was I that naïve that the three of them; Chinedu, Kunle and Tochukwu had taken advantage of me and played me for a fool? Five years of being fooled. Five years of being blind. I have been so blinded by love that I failed to realize it. She remembered the hate Tochukwu had shown for Chinedu. It had all been a farce. Or maybe it was hate that he was dating me? I have been living with the enemy for years without knowing. I was such a fool. The pain in her heart hurt so much and she felt she would pass out. She thought about the growing baby in her womb and tears started streaming down her cheeks again. This was the result of her being naïve. A result of her foolishness. A result of her absolute trust in the one she loved.
She sighed and Kemi looked at her expectant. She couldn’t tell her; No. This was her cross and she was going to bear it alone. How was she going to break the news to her parents? They were definitely going to know that Chinedu was responsible for her pregnancy. And then, her father would have proved himself right. Her hands shook and she tried to steady the cup in her hands. What did I ever do wrong? She burst into tears again.
Kemi had had enough of her tears. She was going to call Chinedu right away. Whatever, he had done to her; he had better come undo it. She remembered Fadeke had given her his number a while back. She would cajole her to go take a nap to ease her headache, and then she would call him.
Once Fadeke was soundly asleep in the room, Kemi scrolled through her phone to look for Chinedu’s number. She was grateful that she hadn’t deleted it as she never had a reason to call him before now.
“Hi Chinedu, this is Kemi calling.”
“I don’t think you would remember me but we were in school together. I was in the same class as Fadeke.”
“Oh ok. How are you?”
“I’m good. I’ll go straight to the point.” She said getting impatient.
Kemi told him about how Fadeke had come to her place that morning after leaving his house and how she had sobbed uncontrollably.
“But…..but, her flight was meant to arrive at 2p.m.” He stammered.
“Well, she is in my house right now. I had to give her some chamomile tea and cajole her to take a rest.”
Chinedu was quiet for a while. “I still don’t understand. What could have happened to make her breakdown in tears?”
Kemi laughed sarcastically. “I should be asking you that question, don’t you think?”
“It is just that……”
“Look Chinedu..…” Kemi interrupted him. “Are you coming over or not?”
“Give me your address.”
“It is No 10, Mohammed Tinubu crescent. I’d be waiting.”
After the call was dropped, Kemi went to check on Fadeke in the room. She was still sound asleep but had a disturbed expression on her face. She prayed in her heart that Chinedu would come early enough to sort out whatever had caused her so much pain.
Chinedu was confused. What could have happened? He wasn’t expecting Fadeke until 2p.m and he was meant to pick her up at the airport. If she was coming early, she would have called him to pre-inform him; but she had not done that. She was supposed to discuss something very important and he had not the slightest idea what it could be about. And now; Kemi’s call. He remembered Kemi back in school as the nerd but he hadn’t known that she and Fadeke had become friends. He also did not know that she was also in Abuja. So much he did not know.
He stood up from his desk to go talk to his boss. It was just 10.30a.m. He had sought for permission earlier on in the week to leave the office for 1.30p.m. He hoped his boss would grant him another favour if he asked to leave now.
“No Chinedu, you can’t leave the office now.”
Chinedu’s countenance fell immediately. “I understand that our earlier agreement was 1.30p.m but I really need to attend to some personal issues.”
His boss looked at him over the rim of his glasses. “What time should I expect the report you are meant to deliver?”
Chinedu sighed. The report was what had brought him to the office in the first place. He had not gone half-way with it and he knew there was no way he could leave the office without delivering it to his boss. “You would get the report in another two hours.”
“Once your report is submitted, you can leave.”
Chinedu walked back to his desk and for the next two hours, he put his all his efforts into getting his report done. If he had to leave the office, then he had to be focused. By noon, he sent the report to his boss by email and immediately shut down his laptop. He did not want his boss calling him back, so he removed the battery out of his official mobile phone so that he would be unreachable and put the second one on silent. His colleagues could reach him on the second one if there was anything urgent. He however prayed that nothing would come up. He hurriedly went down to meet his taxi driver as he had called him about thirty minutes earlier. As he eased himself into the taxi, different thoughts ran through his mind.
“Mr. Chinedu, I dropped Madam Fadeke in the house this morning.” The taxi driver said as he drove off.
“Oh, did she call you?”
“Yes, she asked me to pick her up at the airport before eight this morning.”
“Was she okay?”
“Okay? I don’t understand, sir.” The taxi driver asked looking confused.
“Never mind.” Chinedu said trying to focus. If she had called the taxi driver to pick her up, it meant she had changed her flight but had not informed him. He checked his personal phone to see if he had any missed calls from any of his colleagues and found out that Kemi had called him six times. Oh no! He had not considered that Kemi would also try to call him. He rang her number back and she picked up on the first ring.
“I thought you said you were coming immediately. Why haven’t you been picking your calls?” She hissed.
“I couldn’t get away from work earlier but I’m on my way to your place now.”
“Don’t bother coming.”
Kemi sighed. “She left already.”
“How? How could you let her leave without seeing me?”
“Look Chinedu, I am pissed already. So don’t let me say what I would regret later.” Kemi said with irritation.
Chinedu tried to calm down. “Okay, I’m sorry I flipped. I just don’t understand what is going on.”
“Well, I also don’t. You were meant to come and fix whatever went wrong, right?”
She had a point and he had bungled that opportunity.
“What time did she leave?”
“She left with the 12 o’clock flight to Lagos. She was bent on leaving. I almost felt that she knew I had called you.”
“But she had not pre-booked, had she?”
“No, she was a walk-in.”
Chinedu blew air from his mouth. “She was running away from him. But why?”
“Kemi, I know the question may not sound right; but did she give you a faint idea of what could have happened?”
“No, she did not. But whatever it was, she was really hurt.”
“Thanks. I appreciate your help.” He said cutting the call with Kemi.
He scrolled through his phone and dialed.
After the usual introductions, he spoke “Hi, my name is Chinedu Ugo and I would like to fly to Lagos on the next flight.”
“The next flight is at 2.30p.m sir but there are no available seats.” The lady on the phone crooned.
“Please I really need to get to Lagos. Could you check through again?”
“Please hold on sir.” She was silent for about two minutes which looked like forever to Chinedu as he tapped his fingers endlessly. “We have an available seat for the 6.15p.m flight. Would you like to book that sir?”
“Oh no. 6.15 is too late. Please I need your help. I need an earlier flight.” He said in desperation.
“I am sorry sir. I wish I could be of help but…”
He interrupted. “Could you take down my number and call me once you have a window on the 2.30 flight? It is 0801 234 5678”.
“Okay sir. I have your number penciled down for a probable 2.30 slot.”
“I would really appreciate it. Thanks.”
As soon as he arrived home, he told the taxi driver to wait for a few minutes. He went in, packed an overnight bag and he was off to the airport. It was a quarter to two already and he was getting really tensed. The airport attendant hadn’t called back to give him news and he was spent already. He wasn’t thinking straight anymore. He decided to call Fadeke. She should be in Lagos by now. Her phone rang out three times without a response. She was running away and now she wasn’t picking up his calls. What had he done wrong? Why would she torment him this way?
He got to the airport and eased out of the car in a hurry. He ran towards the departure desk and introduced himself. “I called earlier for a seat on the 2.30p.m flight. Tell me there is an opening now, please”. He said almost out of breath.
The attendant smiled at him with compassionate eyes. “I’m sorry, sir. It is filled but we have an open slot on the next flight which takes off at 4.45p.m.”
He put his hands on his forehead. He was beginning to have a headache. “Please put me on that flight. I need to get to Lagos today.”
The attendant asked for his details and when he was done, he looked for a tuck shop to buy a coke. He was tired, hungry and absolutely on edge. As he opened the can, he tried calling Fadeke and her phone rang out again.
“What is the meaning of all this? Why won’t she even pick up my calls?
Even if I have done something wrong, at least, I have a right to know what it is.” He spoke to himself. He looked at his wrist watch. He had over two hours to wait for the next flight.
Two hours of his life which seemed like forever right now?
This story was excerpted from “To Love And To Hold” by Olubukola Adekusibe. Please click here to get your copy now.