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Monday, December 07, 2015

Santa's gift (1)

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A lady who is in a long distance relationship with her husband, due to loneliness, is beginning to rethink her commitment to him

"I'm sorry, dear. I thought I would be able to make it this year. But something came up and I had to cancel my travel plans to Nigeria. Please, bear with me," Barri, my husband said over the phone. 
 He was beginning to sound like a broken record with his excuses. This was the third year he had promised to come home for a visit since he travelled abroad about five years ago. It was either one story or the other and I was getting sick of it all.

 "But Barri, that was the same excuse you gave last year. How long will I wait for you? Don't you even miss me at all?" I said beginning to get angry with him. He reassured me he missed me very much and could not wait to see me again.
 "Baby, I might not be there with you physically but you are always on my mind, in my thoughts," he said.
 "That's not enough. What I need right now is you here with me, by my side. I'm tired of being alone, as if I don't have anyone when I have a husband," I told him.

 "Sorry, dear. I promise to make it up to you. Soon," he said soothingly.
 "You better do. I have been understanding with you. But there's a limit to my patience! I can't wait for you forever," I stated sharply before hanging up. 
 How could Barri do this, I thought angrily as I went to the kitchen to get some water to drink. After raising my hopes of reuniting with him after all these years of being apart, now this! It was not meant to be like this. The plan, when he was leaving for the U.S was that he would stay for about two years to settle down before returning to pick me to join him over there. 

 "I'll need some time to get a job and sort out my papers before coming for you," he had said just before his journey. 
 Now two years had turned to nearly five, yet there was still no sign of him. Initially, I had been understanding when he told me he was having some problems getting his papers that would enable him reside in the country without hassles from the immigration people. But he had crossed that hurdle late last year and secured his papers. So, what was the problem now?

  Even my mother, who had always liked Barri was getting concerned about his long absence.
  "Why is he behaving like this?" she wondered when I told her Barri was no longer coming home this year.
 "I don't know, Mum. I'm really getting tired of his stories," I said glumly.
 "Maybe he has married another woman over there. You know some of our guys who travel overseas do that to regularise their stay," put in Estel, my cousin who lived with us.

  "Shut up, Estel! What do you know about that? If you don't have anything reasonable to say on this matter, then keep quiet," ordered my mother, turning angrily on her. Then she added: 
 "Don't mind her, my dear. Barri will definitely return one day. Be patient as you have always been," she said.

  Patience- that was all I hear about these days where Barri was concerned. But for how long? Five years was a long time for any couple to be apart, especially newly weds like us. We had been married just a few months before he left. There had even been no time for a honeymoon as he was so busy making preparations to travel. I knew sacrificing the honeymoon was for a good cause so I had not minded too much. Afterall, we were going to spend the rest of our lives together so what was the rush, I had reasoned.

  Now, I did not think so anymore. I missed him terribly and wanted him with me. If not for anything, at least to ward off other men who keep pestering me and would not leave me in peace.

 So much pressure...
You see, I work in marketing, which means I have to deal directly with clients of the financial institution I worked for. It exposes me to all sorts including propositions from men who want to date me despite my marital status. 

  "It's just a ring. Just take it off when you need to do your 'runs'," one guy had told me one day. I had showed him my wedding ring when he wanted me to go out with him before he could buy one of our company's products that we were marketing. He had laughed at his own words but to me, he was not funny. Infact, I found him disgusting and annoying with his big pot belly and arrogant attitude and I told him to his face, before storming out of his office.

  He wasn't the only one. That was what I went through all the time in the line of my job. Propositions, pressures galore! I had thought about resigning a couple of times but my mother had encouraged me to hang in there, at least until Barri came to take me away.
 "All these people keep bothering me and won't just leave me alone," I stated with a hiss as I narrated to my colleague and friend Ernest what had transpired between Mr Big belly and I in his office.

  "You should not blame them, Bella. You are a very pretty, sexy lady and any hot blooded man would be interested," he said to my annoyance.
 "So, are you supporting what he did?" I queried.
 He shook his head.
 "No, I'm just stating the facts. In fact, you are lucky you got married before we met or..." he started to say then stopped.

  "Or what?" I prodded him impatiently.
 "Nothing. Just tell that 'absentee' husband of yours to come home 'ASAP' before some one takes you away," Ernest said.
 "Someone like who?" I asked again. 
 But he did not say anything; he simply walked away to his own corner of the office we shared with a finger pointed at his chest, his eyes full of mischief.
 I made a face at him and returned my attention to my computer. Though he made a joke of it now, I knew he liked me and had told me so a couple of times in the past. But the answer I had always given him and the other 'toasters' was, 'I'm taken' and they should leave me alone! 
 I liked Ernest as he was friendly, cheerful and always helpful to me professionally. But I drew boundaries when it came to personal stuff. I did not want to be like some of the other married women in the office who dated co-workers and ended up with battered reputations. I blamed it all on Barri. It was his fault that I was in such a situation for if he had come for me as promised, then I would not have been having all these issues, I thought.

   "So, what are your plans for the Christmas holidays?" Ernest asked one evening. We were at the office working late on a project our boss had given us. It was part of the end of year promo our company was organising for our customers and we had a deadline to submit it. So, we had to work extra time. The other lady in our group TY had left a short while earlier to pick her baby from the crèche to take home and we were alone.

"Plans? I don't have any," I replied brusquely.
 "Why not? Everyone has one! It's the holiday season, a period of joy, happiness and merriment. You can't be left out," Ernest pointed out.
 I shrugged.
"I had some, but they didn't work out," I said shortly. The plan was for my husband to travel down and spend the Christmas holidays with me and the family before traveling together to his base in the U.S early the following year. But all that was on hold now as he was no longer coming.

Ernest looked at me for a while before saying:
"It's Barri, right?" 
 I nodded, feeling suddenly sad.
 "He promised to come over this year but like the previous occasions, he has broken that promise. I don't know how long I can hold on," I said quietly.
 "I'm sorry to hear that, Bella. Just hang in there, don't lose faith," he stated reassuringly.

"It's easy for you to say, but I'm the one going through all these hassles and stress over him. I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm just sick of his excuses!" I said. To my shock, I burst into tears and started sobbing.
 Ernest left his desk and was by my side in a jiffy. He held me close, comforting me and assuring me that all would be well.

 "Don't worry, I'm sure everything will work out fine in the end," he said. He brought out a hanky from his pocket and wiped the tears from my face.
 "You think so?" I said gazing up at him with tear soaked eyes.
"Yes," he replied. Without warning, his face drew closer and closer to mine, his lips parted as if to say something...

To be continued...

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

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