It was a very cold night in Abuja, my very first time in the capital city. I had heard so much about its tranquil scenery and grandeur. For someone who had spent almost all his life in Lagos, the city that never sleeps, this was a challenge to me. I had often bragged about how no state in Nigeria could compare with the standard and beauty of Lagos, but Abuja had me questioning the basis of such argument.
The events that led to this particular moment were quite interesting I must say. This was indeed the wildest night of my life, mine and that of my friend Deji. We had driven all the way from Asaba in my dadâ€™s old grey Peugeot 206 I inherited just before he left for the states two years ago. I had done a few crazy things in my life but this was by far the worst, with the aid of my vivacious friend, everything seemed effortless. I had no idea of when or how we were going to get home. My debit card had maxed out and Deji… Well letâ€™s just say he and money donâ€™t really get along very well. He had even suggested we turn gigolos for the night. â€œWhatever happens in Abuja, stays in Abuja,â€ he said quite a number of times as he got himself drunk.
In my hands was a glass of Remy. It had a been a while since I last drank alcohol, but this was my stray night and I tried my best to savor the moment, from the flamboyant youngsters bathing themselves in expensive champagne, to the beautiful young ladies in short tight dresses doing their best not to go unnoticed. Well I did notice one.
Opposite the bar counter were I stood, sat a young lady. I couldnâ€™t see much of what she was wearing because the lights were dim and a lot of people were on the dance floor, but I was able to catch a glimpse of her face. Occasionally our eyes met, and the last time it did we couldnâ€™t help but smile at each other. I took that as my cue. My boyish charm came in handy and I could boldly tell myself that I hadnâ€™t lost it all in the dreadful NYSC camp.
â€œCharlie! You be the baddest.â€
â€œSee as that mammy water dey look you like fish wey just comot (came out) from water.â€
I couldn’t help but laugh at Dejiâ€™s last comment. The wine had gotten so deep into his system it was altering his accent.
â€œShe doesnâ€™t know what just hit her fam,â€™ I bragged and we both smiled at each other. It was obvious that the alcohol had begun to set in. I was feeling wavy and at the same time confident that I had a chance with the lonely lady at the V.I.P section.
â€œBut wait ooâ€ I paused. Trying to retrieve whatever that was left of my brain, â€œI donâ€™t have money to buy V.I.P drinks, plus we donâ€™t have money for gas to take us back to Asaba.â€
â€œComâ€™on okoro, when did you start to reason like your old man?!â€
â€œAre you trying-”
â€œâ€”just look at her,â€ he pointed towards her direction, â€œShe is a waist bender Okoroâ€”okoro drinks arenâ€™t her problem.â€
â€œYou sure?â€ still confused about the waist bender part.
â€œHave I ever been wrong?â€
The look on my face answered the question.
â€œOkay, okay maybe once or twice, but this time Iâ€™m hundred percent. I swear on my late grandmotherâ€™s grave.â€
â€œBut you grandma isnâ€™t dead.â€
â€œSee you are missing the point here, go get your girl charlie,â€ he patted me and ordered for another drink.
His last statement was quite convincing for a man in his state. I took my last sip and with all the confidence I could muster, I got up from my seat and marched towards her direction.
â€œOkoro!â€ A loud husky voice called out from the crowd. It was loud enough to upset my morale, and it did. I was seconds away from hitting the ground when two chubby hands grabbed me from the back and they werenâ€™t Dejisâ€™.
â€œHow many times will you call me? Nne hug me!â€
I and Fatima had had some history together. She was my best friend and half-hearted lover. We met about six years ago. We became friends after several failed attempts to woo her. But I never totally gave up. At the back of my mind I believed we were meant to be. We had been through a lot together to suggest that feelings for her werenâ€™t just true but divine. Call me sentimental but I believe in things such as destiny. I believed she was my destiny. But things never really kicked off between I and Fatima, as a matter of fact, things went in opposite direction â€” we drifted apart. And for the past two years I have not seen or heard anything from her until now.
Our long embrace was interrupted by the tall gentleman standing right next to her. At first glance he looked quite intimidating I must confess. He seemed a little over dressed in his grey tuxedo. I could have sworn him to be her body-guard but he was far from that.
â€œWhere are my manners? John meet Okoroâ€ She said
We both exchanged pleasantries with a nod.
â€œOkoro meet John, my fiancÃ©eâ€
I canâ€™t say for sure what happened the next few minutes because I was totally blank. It left like those words took a piece out of me. A million and one questions where running through my mind, a million and one questions I could not ask.
â€œFiancÃ©e?â€ I could feel the words tumble about my mouth. I stood there dumbfounded as they both affirmed to me my worst fears. I was handed their wedding invitation on the spot. It all felt planned. In my entire life, I had never felt so much contempt for anyone like I did for her, and I was certain she felt it.
I walked out on them without saying a single word. All I could think of was how I could get of this city, out of the club, out of my mind, I was infuriated. But at the same time I felt guilty. I didnâ€™t know how but this whole saga seemed to be my fault.
I couldnâ€™t find Deji and honestly I did not care.
â€œOkoroâ€ Fatima called. She had followed me all the way to the parking lot. She held my hands just seconds before I could open the door to my car, her tender hands just right above my arm. I felt weak and childish. What possibly would I tell her? That I was unhappy because she found happiness? My eyes was heavy and it was certain that they were going to pour.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong Okoro? You know you can talk to me.â€
â€œwhere have you been Fatima?!â€
â€œI I donâ€™t understand.â€
â€œFatima you left for Abuja and you never told me. I havenâ€™t seen you in two year and now you show up from out of the blue to rub this in my face?!â€
â€œWaitâ€¦ I donâ€™t understand. What are you trying to say? You didnâ€™t want to talk to me remember?â€
â€œPlease give me a break! You literally said we were forcing us.â€
â€œThere has never been â€˜usâ€™ Okoro.â€
Everywhere went cold. She knew she had crossed the line but it was too late now. She was right, we were never together, it was all in my head.
â€œSave it. You are right.â€
â€œI wish you well.â€
I got into my car and zoomed off, never to see Fatima again.
Minutes later I was involved in an accident that took my life. So if you are reading this, your guess is right, I am dead. Itâ€™s been six months after my accident and rumor has it that Fatima never got married to John. She still mourns my lose, she blames herself for my death. If you by any chance see Fatima, please tell her that she is wrong, that I am to be blamed for everything, for not being there when she needed me and not letting her live without me. Tell her Iâ€™m sorry
Please read: The Woman I Am Meant To Be by Olivia Nsofor