Episode #15 – The Finale
Sitting morosely at lunch with some of her colleagues, Lara’s phone was directly before her on the table. She kept glancing at it after every few minutes willing it to ring. It was over two weeks now. Malik hadn’t bothered to call since he left her apartment that Saturday morning. She had analyzed the whole episode and decided it was on him to call her so, she wasn’t going to call but was willing to pick his calls within the next few days. Otherwise, it is ‘bye-bye baby boo’.
If he didn’t call in the next couple of days, it is over. I won’t bother picking his calls until I am safely married to someone else…..if only to spite him. That ought to show him how mad I am at him for not at least calling so we can talk about it. Men can be such jerks sometimes. If I were to marry someone else right now, who would it even be?
The following week went by without any sign of Malik’s name flashing across her screen. At this point, Lara was beyond mad at the man. She had re-saved his number as ‘never answer’ effectively closing that chapter of her life. She was glad she had not fallen stupidly in love with Malik before their first and only fight ended a relationship before it had a chance to begin. She decided to redirect her energies towards Dele in the meanwhile after all, he made her blood sing every time he touched her.
Picking up her phone, she dialed a number.
“Hey baby!” crooning
“Hey! You remember me today?” came Sandra’s voice
“Not really” came Lara’s hiss “I just wanted to inform you that Malik is officially history. You won’t believe he has not called in the last three weeks. Just because I panicked for a minute.”
“Or it could be because you finally gave him some sugar” came Sandra’s contribution
“Yea……that is also a possibility. Men are so terrible. You won’t believe he stopped calling my name and would only call me ‘ife mi’. He begged several times for me to stay with him only for him to disappear at a slight display of trouble”
“Hmmmmn” drawn out encouragingly
“I’m totally fed up with these men. In fact, I give up. I will just stay with my Dele jejely” Lara complained bitterly to her friend
“Don’t give up so easily. Did you try calling him to find out what happened? He may have lost his phone or maybe his mother had another attack and died sef. You don’t know”
“Lost his phone how naa? Malik can not lose his phone. He is always very careful and he doesn’t take public transport”
“Listen to yourself. So, because someone is careful or does not take public transport, that gives his phone immunity in Nigeria eh? Better wake up and smell the thieving economy” Sandra advised
“Me, I am not going to call him. He should have called by now. If he thinks this will be like the last time in Abuja, he is dreaming. I will not call him” Lara emphasizes
“It is well dear. Maybe it is for the best”
“Yea. Anyway, let me allow you return to whatever you are doing. I will soon close for the day”
“Be safe girl”
“You too” disconnects call
Letting the phone drop into her bag, she climbs the staircase back to her work station. It is well and over she repeated firmly as she climbed.
At the close of work, she checks her phone for missed calls, unconsciously hoping to see something from ‘never answer’. Nothing. Another sigh deep inside her.
When the heart badly wants something, it sometimes doesn’t happen; but just when you give up on it and let go, it comes back at you with force. Lara contemplated her budding relationship with Malik and how a single moment of panic seem to have nipped it in the bud. She regretted not going with him to Abuja for another full minute. All the could-have-beens.
Remembering a T.D. Jakes message she had listened to over the radio not so long ago where a young woman wanting so bad to marry a man, she cried, prayed and fasted for weeks when the young man broke up with her. So, she said to her pastor “Pastor, you have to pray this into reality. You have to pray for him to come back. I can’t live without him. I love him and can’t marry anyone else” the pastor was heartbroken for her.
Many years later, she returned to the church to visit. She was smiling this time when she said to him,
“Pastor, remember the young man I cried, fasted and prayed over years ago?”
“Yes, I do” answered the pastor “Well, I didn’t get married to him praise Jesus. I’m married to someone else and I love him completely. We have two kids, a house and God has been so good to us.”
“So, what about the other man” asked the pastor
“He has been through two divorces already and the third one is in court. I thank God everyday for not answering my prayers. I can’t help but shudder when I think that could have been me married to him and divorced already.” she informed him
Thinking on this whimsically, Lara decided it was time to let go. Of all the answered prayers….
Unfortunately for Lara, today was not one of her driving days therefore, she thronged with the multitude of her co-workers going to the junction to catch a bus home. Sprinting with a couple of guys towards the taxi as it coasted towards them, at the last minute, she decides to let it go and wait for the next one. Somehow, she felt her chances were better with the next taxi.
Finally in a taxi, sandwiched between two plump women, she felt like chicken breast in a mini-oven. The woman on her right wore a short-sleeved dress and appeared to have figured out a new way to make only the sweat pores on her arms work. She was sweating seemingly only on her arms and it felt nothing like sweat, very sticky, squishy and annoying liquid that threatened to soak entirely through the sleeves of Lara’s shirt. Slightly annoyed to say the least. Gravitating towards the woman on her left to avoid the bollocks of sweat to her right threatening to drench her shirtsleeve.
Moving closer to the other lady, she almost choked to a stop. This one stank all kinds of stale. What was she carrying on her person? She probably took her bath this morning with last night’s washwater. Dang! Deciding to vacillate between her handkerchief or behind the driver’s seat until either of them got off so she could hug the window to death, she patiently endured. None of the women got off until Lara did. She quickly alighted, took a gulp of air and hurried towards her junction. I need to scrub this Ebola-like sweat off as a someone with OCD would shuddering as she walked down her street.
Approaching her gate, Dele calls.
“Hey Hey! Did you see the message I left you on Facebook?” cautiously
“I did. That’s why I’m calling”
“So why are you so chirpy?” heightened caution
“Because it confirms to me that even my baby cannot be trusted as much as I imagined in my head that she is beyond such temptations” he said in that annoyingly chirpy voice
She hung up. Three seconds later.
“Did you hang up on me?”
“No. It must be the network. Those your girlfriends in MTN do not want you talking to me” she jibed
“This is serious shit. Why are you trying to trivialize it?” he accused
“I’m sorry babe”
“So, you kissed a guy over there?” he said “Are you sure that’s all that happened?”
“Yes. That’s all that happened. He kissed me. I didn’t kiss him first and I didn’t kiss him back….technically”
“Are you trying to panasharp what you did?” sarcastically “Are you trying to tell me you were just walking on the street minding your own business and a random guy stumbled across your lips where you were minding your business and somehow your lips was open and his too and they met in midair?” more sarcasm in a grim voice.
She started laughing.
“Oh! I see. You think this is funny”
“I’m sorry babe. I do not. It was just the way you painted the scene” she apologized
Sigh “So, tell me what happened exactly” he said
“Errr, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I just felt so bad within myself but with this ‘no-holds-barred’ thing we agreed to, I decided to just come clean with you so my conscience can allow me sleep” trying to assuage him
“Just tell me what happened. Tell me how he stumbled on your open lips when you were gently walking down your street because that must have been what happened eh?” fresh sarcasm
“Baby, I just said I was sorry. Are you going to be like this about just a kiss?”
“Oh! ‘Just a kiss eh”? You imagine I believe only a kiss happened between you both? You are kidding right?”
“Baby, I swear I won’t lie to you. After deciding to tell you what happened, why would I lie to you?”
“Well, you are yet to tell me how it happened. I still await your side of the story. Unfortunately, I will be hearing only your narration. The poor bastard that stumbled across your open lips on the street will not have the privilege of telling his”
“Baby, please you have to stop saying it like that”
“How else do you want me to say it when you won’t tell me what really happened?”
“That’s what I have been trying to do.” hotly
“I’m all ears” simply “first, what is his name?” he queried
“Aha!” recollecting this was the name he had seen flashing across her phone screen that night in his house. So they did hook up and had been hooking up behind his back since then! Let’s hear the pretty liar out first.
“He came to visit me on Saturday morning. I assumed it was just an innocent visit since we work together and it was morning. I woke up late, remember you called and I told you I just woke up and was rushing to get ready for work? Remember?”
“Continue” came the response
“So, I felt he came over to give me a lift to work. My car has issues with the alignment and I don’t want to have an incident when I’m driving by myself. I told you that too. Remember?” accusingly
“This is not about fixing your car babe. Don’t start accusing” he returned
“So, I was rushing around the place trying to get set while he sat watching some soccer re-runs. Then, I came out of the room and he complimented my dress which I thought nothing of since we all do it at work all the time. I said ‘thank you. Ready to go?’ Are you with me babe?”
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything” he seemed to have found a new lease on sarcasm this evening
“Then, as I approached the door, about to say something to him, he just kissed me. I swear I don’t know how it happened but it was him that kissed me. I was too shocked to respond or anything” she concluded
“Oh! You were panning to respond to him before abi?”
“No. That’s not what I meant. I mean, I totally did not see any of those things he did coming so I didn’t know how to react immediately.” trying to explaining
“The things he did? You mean there were other things he did? You are trying to tell me right now, babe that he still did other things beyond stumbling upon your lips?” he asked incredulously
Hastily “Baby, allow me to explain myself. I meant, him coming up to my house and kissing me and being nice. I just assumed because we worked together and because I was rushing for work, I didn’t analyze them properly before the kiss happened. I’m sorry”
“You are sorry? You invite a strange guy into your home, this and whatever else you have decided to not tell me happens and you say sorry!” close to raging now
“What else do you want me to say? He isn’t a stranger. We work together. Are you ever around? Do you ever have time for me? Do I see you unless I come visiting? Do you ever just surprise me and fly down here with chocolates and wine and rose flowers? Do you? Do you?” yelling into the phone as she sobbed now. This was turning out to be a real bad day for her. First, Sandra had warned her against confessing anything to Dele.
“Babe, you don’t go confessing anything to your man. They do worse but you will never hear it from them. Even when you catch them, you better be sure to catch them good and say right there to them ‘I see you o. We will talk about this’ else, they will deny it totally even if you have a picture! They will just tell you ‘na photoshop’. Don’t do it babe. He will never forgive you”
“I just want complete closure on this Malik’s thing. Dele won’t hold it against me. He totally loves me.”
“Love eh? Wait till you tell a guy another man kissed you then you can watch him redefine love in your relationship. Don’t do it Lara. Why am I even telling you not to do something you already made up your mind to do? I’ll be here waiting. Lemme know how it goes”
She should have listened to Sandra. Apparently, you do not confess your sins to your man. Mistake no.2 in the women’s handbook for men now experienced firsthand. She was worried. Would Dele be able to let this go? They had both gone silent in the meanwhile but both remained on the line.
“So that was what he did? Wine, chocs and roses? That’s all he had to do to get you?” He accused bitterly in a low voice “So, I’m up here working every day of the week and most weekends so I can take care of you, treat you like a woman should be treated, provide everything you can desire, trying to build a life for us that we both can be proud of yet you can complain about wine and chocs Lara. Have you ever said to me ‘baby, I miss you and I want you to come over this weekend’ that I refused? Have you ever invited me to your place Lara? After I paid for the place, furnished it and came to see if it was comfortable for you, did you ever asked me over since then? Let me also ask you this since we are on the topics of chocs and wines, when did you ever say to me, ‘baby, I’m coming over today or this weekend and you got here and wanted chocs, roses, wines or whatever that I said ‘NO’ to you?”
She was crying again. “No Lara. Don’t cry. This isn’t the time for you to cry” she cried harder. He had called her Lara instead of the usual endearment. No matter how mad he had been at her in the past, he never used her name. This must signal the end of them she surmised. Dear Lord! What have I confessed to!
“Don’t cry yet. Allow me to finish. You must think because I work so much and do not seem to have a social life that I am a recluse impervious to other women eh? You think I cannot recognize a beautiful woman besides you right? I disciplined myself for your sake Lara not because I can’t be like other men but now………..” he let his statement hang threateningly
She was still crying. “So, just chocs, roses and wine Lara? Things you can get for yourself with your own money is what this Malik guy got you with! I’m thoroughly disappointed”
“I’m sorry baby. I’m sorry. I was distracted” pleading
“Oh! Now, it is distraction? Not because I did not bring you wine and chocolates?” twisting the knife in
Pulling herself together, recognizing this as the relationship one-up ‘having one over your partner’. Rarely, would a partner let stuff like this go if then can use it to make you do something in their favor. This was the part where she had to offer him a blank cheque to write whatever figure he desired. He had the upper hand now. Taking another deep breath to clear her head.
“I’ll do anything you say Dele” deliberately using his name to let him know she was serious
“Hmmm. Fine then, come to Abuja tomorrow” calmly
“Tomorrow? I have to go to work!” exclaiming
“You said you would do anything” he reminded her
“But tomorrow, tomorrow? Please can it be Friday instead?” pleading
“No. You can come Thursday however” relenting
Sigh. “Okay. Thursday. You will pick me up?” hesitantly
“You can take a taxi…..” hearing her resigned sigh “Of course I will pick you up. We don’t want fresh strangers giving you a lift” he couldn’t resist
Another sigh was her only response.
“Thank you babes. You forgive me?” she wanted to know she was in the clear
“When you come over, we’ll talk about that” he said and hung up
She was left with an empty dial tone and wondering what did I just do to myself?
Dialing, Sandra was not picking up. She dialed again. She should be home by now. She picked up on the third ring.
“Tell me” the first thing out of her mouth
“Hmmn I should have listened to you” came Lara’s sad voice
“I know you should have listened to me girl. I should listen to me all the time too but I never do” Sandra soothed
“I just handed him big time leverage and he is already using it.”
“He wants me to come to Abuja on Thursday to show how repentant I am and whatever else he has planned, I have no idea at this point” Lara informed
“Well, you already got into it, might as well ride it through. If you do everything he says, it will soon blow over but you gotta go along with all he says tho” cautioning
“What if he says something ridiculous like ‘marry me so something similar does not happen again”?
“Simple: you marry the man!” came Sandra’s rejoinder
“What?” Lara exclaims
“What is what? Ehn Lara? what is what? Why have you been wasting your time dating him all these three years if you had not the slightest desire to marry him? Why couldn’t you do like other women and just shut up about Malik instead of allowing your conscience beat you to death till you confessed?” allowing her muse briefly, she continued “You know what, I think on a subconscious level, you wanted to be found out by Dele. You wanted a way out of the relationship so you can be free to chase that unserious Malik guy that goes on and off like PHCN. Too bad Dele loves you too much to give up that easily. If he says ‘marry me Lara’ that’s exactly what you are going to do”
“no buts. I admit I encouraged you about Malik. I was wrong. This time, no more mistakes. If that’s what Dele wants, that’s what Dele is going to get. He has tried more than most of the weyreys you keep dating anyways. If that’s what he wants after your stupid confession which any man can tell is a half confession, then you are going to say ‘yes’ to the man or ain’t you tired of counting calendar?” pausing meaningfully. ‘counting calendar’ referred to single girls always counting their cycle on calendars to determine their safe days so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies with their boyfriends.
A deep sigh. “Alright. I hear you and I’m somewhat relieved you have helped me put it all in perspective. Malik is a no-show and if Dele still wants me after what I told him, then, I’ll gladly marry him. His mum barely has a say in what he does these days ever since he got this great position and became the financier of the family. Thank you Sandy” she said fondly
“You are welcome anytime girl. See you Thursday?”
“Ah! I don’t think so. Dele said he will pick me up and I guess that means we would be gong straight to his place or his office depending on the time I get in”
“nawa o. Just now now wey we talk something, you don quick grab am dey act like Ruth abokoku! Diariz Godu o” They both laugh “No P. Just keep me posted. Love you girl”
“Love you too. Thanks for this Sandra”
Now, for that OCD scrub and a relaxing cup of white wine and fish afterwards. This was shaping up to be a great great week and a promising weekend ahead. Just then, her phone begins ringing ‘Never answer’ was flashing across the screen for the first time in three weeks. What does this devilish maniac want just after she thought she had closed his chapter and settled her head on Dele! Oh well!, that’s why his name was now stored as ‘never answer’. He will tire and go away she told herself as she sailed into the bathroom peeling off her clothes as she went.