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Monday, March 28, 2016

Finding Tiwa (2)


For the rest of the long vacation, Martin and I were always together. We could not openly date as he still considered me too young.

"Too young? I'm no minor but a young adult old enough to vote!" I would protest. 

  Another issue between us was Nkem, his girlfriend on campus. I had seen her a couple of times when she came to visit Martin. Each time I saw her, I hated her more if that was possible. She was tall, slim and very beautiful. And intelligent as well. 

 Besides her, I always felt ignorant, as if I did not know much about things or life.

 Whenever Nkem was around, Martin never had time for me and I hated that. You can say I was jealous and you will be correct. I hated seeing any girl near my Martin.

 One day, she had come to visit as usual and they had spent a long time together talking, laughing and playing silly video games.

 I had left the house in anger both at her and Martin. Later that evening, by the time I returned to the house, she had left.
 "Oh, You're here Tiwa," said Martin on entering the living room where he sat watching TV. "Check if there's ripe plantain in the kitchen. I feel like eating dodo and eggs this evening," he added.
 Usually, whatever request he made, I would do it happily. But I was pissed with him that day.
 I eyed him, hissed and walked past him towards the guest room where my bag was.

 "Tiwa, I'm talking to you and you're walking away! What's the matter?" he asked, coming after me to the room.
 "You want dodo, abi? Then tell your precious Nkem to prepare it for you. As for me, I'm out of here!" I said, heading towards the door.

 But he held me back, staring searchingly into my face.

 "My God, don't tell me you're jealous! Ha ha ha!" he laughed, throwing his head back in mirth.

 "It's funny to you, is it?" I said sharply.
 He stopped laughing and taking me by the hand, sat me on the bed.

 "Look, Tiwa, you have no reason to be jealous of Nkem or any other girl. Nkem and I have known each other for some time and I'm fond of her. But it's you Tiwa my heart belongs to," he stated, pressing my hand against his chest. "I love you, not her. So, stop frowning and give me one of those wonderful smiles of yours!"

 He was my love, my heart and I could not stay angry with him for long so I smiled at him. He kissed me and we made up.

 I believed him when he told me he loved me. I had no reason to doubt him. He was my first love and I did not have much experience of men. 

 How was I to know that he was nothing but a liar who was simply taking advantage of my innocence and naivety for his own amusement?

 ***
Soon, the holidays were over. It was time for him to return home before heading to school. He promised to call regularly and visit when he had the time.

 Our last night together was a sad one, at least on my part. I wept, thinking of the long separation, wondering when I would see him again.

 He kissed my tears away, stating:

 "It's ok, baby. Don't cry. I hate to see you this way."
 I held onto him tightly, sniffing.
 "I'm scared you'll forget me once you get to school. With Nkem there and all those campus girls..."

 He held me by the chin so I could look at him.
 "I promise you, I'll never ever forget you. Even if we are apart for many years, I'll always find you, Tiwa," he assured me.

 That calmed me down a bit. I stopped crying and held him tight, cuddling up to him on the couch...

 He kept his promise. Back at school, he often called me through my mother's phone as I did not have a mobile then.

 Then about a month later, he came to see me. His grandmother, who had helped raise him was sick and in the hospital. Martin took me to see her. It was my first time of meeting any member of his family apart from his uncle.

"Mama, this is Tiwa, my girlfriend," he introduced me. "You need to get well fast so you don't miss our wedding!" he added in a teasing tone.

 The old woman had pneumonia and a chest infection that made breathing difficult. 
 She smiled up weakly at me.
 "How are you, my daughter?" she enquired.

 We were about leaving when his mother arrived with a cousin of Martin. She was less friendly than his grandma, simply eyeing me in a speculative way when Martin introduced me to her.

 He stood chatting with his mother for a while then we left.

 A week after his return to campus, the lecturers went on strike and the school was shut down.
 Unknown to me, that singular act was the beginning of my troubles...

  ***
 The strike dragged on for weeks, then months with no end in sight. It was at this period that Martin's father made arrangements for him to move over to Holland to continue his education.

 His mother was firmly in support of the idea though Martin was not too keen. As for me the thought of my Martin going so far away frightened me more than anything in the world. It was the worst thing that could have happened to me, to us.

 But there was nothing I could do about it. And the day finally came when he left Nigeria, leaving me all alone, sad, miserable, empty.

 The next time I saw him was in that interview room nearly eleven years later...
 So, what happened in the intervening years, you might wonder. A lot as you will see.

  ***
 A holiday fling

Shortly after Martin's departure, I found out I was pregnant. It was a shock because I had been taking contraceptives, that is apart from a period when I had malaria and I forgot to take them and Martin had been around then...

 As you can imagine, I was confused about what to do. A friend Chika suggested I had an abortion but I was scared. A girl in my class in SS11 had died during an abortion that had gone wrong and I did not want to end up like her.

 I had no option but to tell my parents. They were, understandably angry with me and disappointed as well. 

 "After all the training I gave you on good conduct, this is how you end up! Pregnant before marriage and at your age!" my mother said, fuming.

 My parents were ordinary, decent folks who worked hard to provide for my three siblings and I. I had taken the JAMB* exams and they had been looking forward to my joining my elder brother Segun, who was already in the higher institution by the next academic session.
 Now this. 

 "You just want to destroy your future! Stupid girl!" said my father, in a vexed tone.
 The worst thing about the whole situation Martin could not be reached. He had promised to write me and even call but I had not heard from him since he left.

 My parents later decided that Martin's family had to know about the pregnancy. So, one morning my mother and I went to see his mother at their home at Gbagada.

 The woman did not seem too happy to see us when she heard the purpose of the visit.
 "My son is out of the country and is in school presently. What do you want him to do? Return to Nigeria because your daughter got pregnant?" she asked sarcastically.

 My mother explained that all she wanted was for him to know what happened to me so that they can decide on the next thing to do.

 "Alright, I'll tell him the next time we communicate," she conceded grudgingly. I also gave her a letter I had written to him, detailing everything that was happening to me and how much I missed him.

 Some weeks later, Martin's mother sent for me that she had a message from him.

 "Here," she offered me a piece of paper. "He wrote to me and enclosed this for you."
 I eagerly opened the paper, to read what my darling had written to me. Instead of the sweet words I was expecting, I got the biggest shock of my life.
  
 This was a summary of the letter-

 "Tiwa, I think it's time you know the truth. You were simply a holiday romance, a fling, a little toy or plaything to while away time, kill boredom. Did you honestly think I would have any permanent relationship with a little thing like you? I never loved you. I pretended to so I could have my way with you.

 As for the pregnancy, do whatever you want with it. I don't care. Not interested in it or you one bit. Whatever was between us is over!

 And don't bother to write again becos you won't get any reply from me.

 Gudbye. 
 Martin.


You could imagine my state of mind then. That letter tore my heart to pieces and almost ruined my life. This was a guy I loved with all my being, rejecting me in such a manner. And in my condition, with his baby growing inside me!

 I was nothing but a holiday fling, he said. So, all his declarations of love and promises were all fake, I kept thinking bitterly.

 At a point, I felt suicidal. What was the point of living without Martin, I wondered. So, one day, I decided to drink rat poison to end it all. All the pain, misery and dejection I felt. But my mother saw me on time and averted a disaster.
 I wept and mourned the loss of my love for a long time.

 And I never forgot his betrayal, the way he used and discarded me like a used rag.
 Anyway, life had to go on. I had the baby, who was a spitting image of his father. I thought I would hate the child but the moment I laid eyes on him, I was hooked. All the love I had for his father were transferred to him and I was besotted with him.

 Later, I got admission to the university to study Business Administration and left the baby, Henry, with my mother. I finished school and started working at a company in Apapa before getting another job at a manufacturing firm in Ikeja.

 Then about a year ago, I was reading a magazine, one of these society types when a face seemed to leap at me from the page.
 I looked closely to make sure. It was a face I would recognise anywhere- Martin!
 He looked more mature, older but it was him alright. The same eyes that had so mesmerized me, the handsome face that still haunted my dreams many years after...

 He was with a group of friends at a party and he was smiling. They all seemed to be having a swell time.

 Was he back in the country or just came for a visit, I wondered.

 I did some research and found out he had returned to Nigeria about three years earlier and was even working with a communications firm at Ikoyi.

 So he returned and could not even bother to ask after me or his child, I thought with bitterness. Why would he do that anyway; afterall, I was simply a toy, a plaything to him...

 I think it was from that moment that I began to plot my vengeance on him. I wanted to do something, to pay him back for all the pain and heartache he caused me.

 From then on, I kept careful tabs on him and his activities. 
 Fate seemed to help me in my plans

 A few   months ago, his company advertised for some vacant positions and I applied. Luckily I was among those selected for interview.

 That was how Martin and I met up again, over ten years after we parted. 

 Stage one of the plan- meeting up- worked perfectly.

 Now to the next level when we see again hopefully soon...

  ***
  What happens when Tiwa meets up with Martin again? Don't miss the details on Wednesday!


Note (for foreign readers): The Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) is an entrance examination board for tertiary-level institutions in Nigeria. Held once a year, the board conducts entrance examinations for prospective undergraduates into Nigerian universities.

To Be Continued...

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