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Thursday, December 03, 2015

A love to hold (1)

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A young man falls in love with an older lady, which leads to serious opposition from his family.

***
A friend of mine used to say something that I often found puzzling. "You can't control who you fall in love with," she said with the wisdom of an elderly person, whereas she was just a young, precocious school girl of 16.
My present situation brings to mind those words succinctly. I never planned to fall for Lenny.  It just happened and now I have to face so much heartache and uncertainty over my future because of my heart's desires. Lenny and I love each other very much and we want to be together. But so many obstacles have sprung up against us that sometimes I wonder if we can ever make it as a couple, something we so much want.
As I write this, I'm full of despair, wondering what will happen to Lenny and I, to our love. My present mood is in sharp contrast to my state of mind at the period I first met him. It was like this. I had just been promoted in my office to a senior position with a higher salary, an official car and other perks.
Feeling euphoric, I had contacted a couple of my friends for a celebratory dinner. Two of them, Neenah, a very good friend who is like a sister to me and another named Maria turned up. It was just the three of us and we had a swell time at a nice, upscale restaurant I had picked for our outing.
It was at the end of the evening that Neenah told me about her cousin, Lenny. He was an IT specialist, she said who had trained in the U.S and returned to set up his own consultancy firm the year before.
"He's very good. Since he's been handling the systems in our office, we've not been having much problems with our computers and network. I'm not saying this because he's my cousin. You need to recommend him to your company," she said.
I told her I would consider it and promptly forgot about the matter. I remembered her words though, about two weeks later. We had been having major problems with our systems and my immediate boss was considering bringing in someone to overhaul them. It was then I remembered Neenah's cousin.
I called her and she arranged a meeting for the following day. She arrived with him at my office shortly before noon.
"This is Lenny, my cousin. Please give him all the assistance you can," she said.
"Alright, Neenah. I'll do my best," I assured her as I looked over her relative. He was of average height, with a quiet, serious mien and looked to be in his late 20s.
 Later, after Neenah had left to go back to her work, Lenny and I sat in my office for a while to review the proposal he had made on our systems overhaul and maintenance. I showed it to my boss and he seemed to like it.
 "Bring the young man to me after the departmental meeting later," he said.

Blossoming Romance
Lenny got the job and he immediately set to work. It was a long term job which involved him and a couple of his staff coming to our company nearly everyday. He was very appreciative of the help I had given him in winning the IT contract and one day, he invited me out for dinner, 'just to say thank you,' as he put it. I declined at first, thinking it was not necessary.
"Neenah is like a sister to me and I will do anything for her," I told him that afternoon. But he persisted and I graciously gave in.
We went to a new place that had just opened on Victoria Island. That evening I saw the other side of Lenny, his fun relaxed side which was not noticeable at work. He told so many jokes especially about his school days in the States that I laughed nearly throughout the evening.
"That was so much fun," I stated sincerely as he took me home later.
"Yes, I had a swell time too," he said. Then he added: "Perhaps, we can do this again, some other time?"
 I looked at closely before saying in a slightly amused tone of voice:
  "Are you asking me out on a date?"
 He shrugged.
  "If you put it that way; yes," he replied, taking his eyes briefly from the wheel to glance keenly at me.
  "Well, thanks for the invite but sorry, it's a no," I said lightly.
  "Why? Is it that you don't like me?" he asked.
  I laughed briefly before saying:
  "My dear, this has got nothing to do with liking you or not. In case you've forgotten, I'm Neenah's (whom by the way you call 'Sister Neenah') close friend and age mate. That should give you a clue."
 "So, it's because of the age gap then," he finally stated.
 "Now you are talking! I should be like 7 years or so older than you," I pointed out.
 "But you don't look it. You could pass for someone my age or even younger," he stated, looking at me again. Even in the dimness of the car, I could see the admiration in his eyes.
 "Thanks for the compliment. But that does not change the fact we are not mates. So, let's drop this, shall we?" I said, and taking my phone from my bag, I checked my mixed calls and messages.
 I thought I had heard the last of the matter, but to my surprise Lenny kept on pestering me to go out with him. His persistence amused me at first but when it became too much, I had to put my foot down.
 "Lenny," I said one evening in my office, "This must stop! There can never be anything between us. Don't you get it? I'm not for you!" I said in an exasperated tone. He had just invited me to attend the birthday party of a friend in Surulere.
 "What will your friends say when they see you with someone like me, your elder sister's mate?" I queried.
 "Seeing me with a beauty like you, they will call me a lucky guy and will be envious of me too," he stated, smiling at me.
 I was not amused.
  "Well, good luck to them. But the fact remains that, I see you more like a younger brother not..." I began saying when he butted in:
 "As a man," he said. Then he added: "Look, I'm a man and I know what I want. And I've liked you from the first day I saw you. You are on my mind all the time. Even at night, my sleep is haunted by thoughts of you. Agreed, there are a few years' gap between us, but why should that be a problem when it comes to love? I think you don't like me, that's the real problem," he concluded sounding gloomy.
 He was not quite correct on that. Truth was, I was beginning to like him. He was intelligent, hardworking and also good-looking too. Besides, he was mature and focused for his age. He knew what he wanted out of life and he always worked hard towards his goals. He was my type, the kind of guy I liked and if things were different, I would have accepted him as I was not in a serious relationship then. Six months before, I had broken up with my boyfriend when he kept insisting on my having a baby before our marriage. When I pointed out to him that it should be the other way round, marriage before babies, he had got angry and walked out. Out of my life for good. I was not in love with him anyway, so his leaving was no big loss to me. In fact, I felt more of relief than heartbreak after that break-up.
  Since then, though, I had been praying for a decent man to come my way, someone who will love me for myself and not as a potential baby making factory. So far, my prayers seemed to have gone unanswered.
 Lenny was still speaking.
  "Please, Rosa, don't let such an inconsequential thing as age difference stop us. Give me a chance and I know you will grow to like me with time. Stop pushing me away. Please," he pleaded earnestly.
  I studied him for a while, noting the sincerity in his voice, his dark eyes.
  I made up my mind then.
   "Alright, let's do it like this then..." And I began to speak of a way out...

To Be Continued...


What did Rosa say to Lenny? Details next edition!


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


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