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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Birthday Gift (1)

(What do you do when your fiancé dumps you a month before your wedding? Do you lick your emotional wounds and move on or you plot vengeance? This is the situation Naomi, the protagonist in this story faces.)

He promised me forever, that our love will last till the end and we would never be apart. I gave him four years of my life and what was my reward? To be dumped unceremoniously just weeks before our big day! Even now, over a year later, the memory of Thad's betrayal still hurts like an open knife wound that refused to heal. 

That day is imprinted in my brain forever when Thad told me he could no longer marry me because he had fallen in love with someone else. An old school friend of mine for that matter! What kind of man does that? He did not even consider my feelings or those of our families, friends and well-wishers who were looking forward to our wedding day. Or the four years we had been together as a couple whom our friends envied because of the great love we had for each other. Four years of love, devotion and care down the drain in a jiffy...

I first met Thad in the second company where I worked after leaving school. He was already a manager then and was full of drive and ambition, traits that I find very attractive in a guy. Maybe that was what drew me to him because back then, I already had a boyfriend, Jeff. The only problem was that the relationship with Jeff had no future as he had made it clear to me that he was not ready to settle down anytime soon. 
 "Marriage is not for me; at least not now," he often said whenever I asked where the relationship was heading. So, when Thad started showing interest in me, I did not think twice about leaving Jeff for him. From the beginning, Thad made it clear that he wanted me for a serious relationship and not 'just for fun.' He said he wanted a woman who would be supportive and help him actualise his goals and dreams in life.
"I think I have found that in you, Naomi. So, will you be my girl?" he had asked that evening after one of our dates. We had been sitting in his car by the gate of my family home where I still lived back then. 
I told him 'yes' as I had fallen for him then and a few months later, we became officially engaged. Thad wanted us to get married straight away as he did not see any reason to delay the wedding. I agreed with him but my parents were not too keen on our getting married less than a year after we met. 
"It's too soon. You just met him not too long ago. Take your time to study him, know him better. Men are like the chameleon, they can change anytime. So, be sure, my dear that he's the one for you," my mother advised. Based on that, we had to shift the wedding date till the following year.
Later, other things happened to further delay the marriage. Thad lost his father whom he was very close to. It took him sometime to recover from the shock of his father's death. I had to be there for him to console him as his fiancée. Then, Thad was nominated by the company for a management course in the U.S. He was away for about eight months and I missed him terribly. On his return at the end of the programme, things went back to normal and we resumed our plans for the future.
We chose a date in April last year for our wedding, which was my birthday as I wanted it to be a double celebration. 

The bombshell
A week before Thad dropped his bombshell on me, I had gone for the final fitting of my wedding gown. My friend Winnie had introduced me to a lady who made exquisite bespoke wedding gowns in town. Her prices were steep but she was very good and her gowns were lovely. Her store was at Lekki and I had spent a long time there while she made some adjustments on the gown and veil. 
"Have you put on some weight? Your waist looks bigger than the last time you were here," she stated as she measured my bust and waistline with a tailor's tape. 
"Maybe I ate too much at the party I attended last weekend', I said, laughing. I stood in front of the large mirror and checked out the gown. It was a strapless design with a bolero jacket to cover up during the church service. Apart from the small train on the skirt and some adjustments here and there it was almost ready. 
"It's looking good," I said, spinning round to see the back. 
"Just don't put on more weight so it can fit properly especially in the bust and waist," said the designer as she knelt down to check the hemline.
"I need to do more exercises then," I said, smiling. I was happy with the gown and our wedding plans too which were going well. It was stressful with all the arrangements, but I did not mind; at the end of the day, Thad and I would be together always.
That evening, Thad came to pick me up for an outing we had. I told him about my visit to the designer as well as the caterer we had booked for the reception.
"She wants the deposit by next week so she can make her preparations. We still need to make the booking for the hall at the events centre. I spoke with the manager yesterday and he wants us to come for the final inspection," I said as we drove off.
As I continued chatting about other matters concerning our nuptials, I noticed that Thad was a bit absentminded. Usually, he would be highly interested in what I was saying but that day, it was as if his mind was elsewhere.
"What did you say?" he asked turning to me in the car. I had just asked about his mother but there had been no response from him.
"You've not been listening to me, have you?" I said. "What are you thinking about?" I queried.
"You," he said with a smile.
"I'm here with you so why would you be thinking about me?" I asked teasingly. 
"Because you are looking really sweet tonight, baby," he said.
I laughed.
"You always say that anytime I'm dressed up and we are going out," I noted, caressing his cheek.
Later that night, we were leaving his friend's house where we had gone visiting when Thad's phone rang. I sat in the car and waited for him while he took the call which lasted for a long time.
"Who was that?" I asked when he joined me in the car.

"Oh, just a friend I met during the training in the States," he said, starting the car...

To be Continued...

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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