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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Caught Up (1)


People say all’s fair in the game of love. I agree with them. Except, I’m not in it for love. Love is not my end goal.

Seems sad? Lonely? But that’s from your perspective, not mine.
 My name is Stephanie and I’m a playgirl….for life.

 You’ll probably be wondering why I choose to be that; a player toying with men’s hearts, but I’m sure you’ll understand when I tell you my reason or you may not. Not my problem. I’m living my life to the fullest and benefitting from it.

 When I was a little girl, I often found my aunty crying. From the talk between her and my mother, another guy was at it again, not sparing her heartache. I always wondered what my aunt did wrong that made all the men she met treat her so bad. She was always good to me and everyone around her. She was caring, even more affectionate than my mother but even my mom had my dad. So what was it?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Funny truth women don't 'hear' men say

A newly wedded couple had this conversation in the middle of the night:

Wife: If I had known you were this poor, I would not have married you!

Husband: What were you thinking when I was telling you that you were the only thing I had in this world?

Dear readers, who is at fault?

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Sophie (5)





  I could not believe what I was seeing. Was the half naked girl sitting cosily on my friend's lap really...

 "Sophie!" I exclaimed.
 To say she was surprised was putting it mildly. She stared at me, her mouth agape, disbelief, shock and fear in her eyes.

 "Nonso, what...what are you doing here?" she stammered, obviously confused.

 "I should be asking you that question. What are you, my fiancé doing here, in this house, on his lap?" My voice dripped with all the anger and disgust I felt.

 She did not say anything but stared blankly at the floor. I turned my attention to my so called friend who had not said a word but kept gazing warily at me as if afraid I was going to pounce on him.

 In the heat of my anger, I felt like doing that to the 'snake' who called himself my friend but I controlled myself with effort.

 "And you, this is how you show your friendship by sleeping with my girl. How could you? I trusted you to take care of her but you betrayed me! Traitor!"

 Then I faced Sophie.

 "As for you, so this is the reason you no longer pick my calls or come home for holidays! I didn't know you were this cheap! I never want to see you again. It's over!"

 With that, I marched angrily out of the house. I had to leave because I was so furious, I feared I would do something terrible to both of them if I stayed a moment longer.
 Back at my hotel room, I laid on the bed, still fuming and my heart and hopes shredded by what I had just witnessed.

 Besides the anger I felt, an empty feeling assailed me. I felt bereft, as if I had lost a very precious part of me. 

 I could not believe that my Sophie could betray me in that manner, with my friend of all people!

 How could she? What did I do wrong? What was my offence that she would leave me for that man, I wondered, turning restlessly on the bed.

 I had done my best as a fiancé to love and support her in whatever she wanted to do. I thought we had a solid relationship, a love that was unbreakable, the envy of our friends.

 Our friends had even nicknamed us 'Romeo and Juliet' teasing us that only death could separate us.

 My mouth twisted in bitterness. Obviously, it took something other than death to break the strong bond that bound us together.

 Later, Sophie came with Boma to the hotel.  But I was still too angry and refused to see her.
  "I don't want to see her. I've nothing to say to her," I said to Boma. "She has hurt me badly. I trusted her and see how she treated me, cheating on me. And with my friend! Tell her to leave because in my present mood, I might do something to her she won't like!"

 Before leaving, she gave me a letter from Sophie which I flung on the table, refusing to read it.

     ***

 I returned to Lagos and tried to put the incident and Sophie behind me. But it was difficult. The hurt and pain was too deep, like someone had plunged a knife into my heart, twisting it viciously.

 Sophie had been a part of my life for so long that being without her was a bitter pill to swallow.  I felt empty without her but I could not bring myself to forgive her.

 I finally got to read the letter which shed some light on what really happened.

 She explained she had been hearing stories of how I was dating someone in Lagos, a colleague of mine in the office.

 "I felt heartbroken when I heard you had another girlfriend. I even got pictures of both of you at a party dancing and acting like lovers. I was devastated. Dr, your friend was very kind to me, offering me a shoulder to cry and lean on. I realise now I should have confirmed from you if the story was true but I was not thinking straight then. 

 "It was not my intention to cheat on you. It just happened. I still love you, Nonso and I hope you'll forgive me for the sake of the love we share..."

 What girlfriend and pictures was she talking about, I wondered. The only party I remembered was an office party for a colleague that was leaving for another job. It had held in a club where there had been dancing, drinking and lots of fun. I had danced with a few of my female colleagues. Had someone taken pictures that day and sent to Sophie? Who would do that?

 Things became clearer when a mutual friend of the lecturer and I revealed to me sometime later what really occurred.

 "Dr boasted to me sometime ago that he was going to snatch Sophie from you by any means available to him. I thought it was an empty boast. But I believe he was behind the pictures and the rumours of your supposed new girlfriend. I never knew he would stoop so low to do this to you, a close firmed. It's very bad of him," he said.

 He was right. It was the lowest form of betrayal from someone I regarded as a friend and brother.

 Though Sophie begged me to take her back, I just could not get over the thought of her with my friend. All the trust I had in her was gone and there was no way I could marry a lady I could not trust, who could be unfaithful to me the minute my back was turned.

 Sophie broke my heart badly and it took me a long time to get over her. It made me have trust issues as well, especially with women. 

 But a few years ago, I met this wonderful lady at a conference I attended and we later got married. We've been blessed with beautiful twin girls and I am happy with my family.

 But sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been like if Sophie and I had stayed together. 

 Though she later married my friend, she's having a tough time in her marriage from the stories I hear from mutual friends. I was told he beats her and disrespects her by keeping lovers and mistresses and even flaunts his infidelities in her face. 

 "You won't recognise Sophie if you see her now, Nonso," a friend had told me sometime ago. "She looks miserable, no longer the happy, beautiful girl we used to know..."

 I feel bad about her situation but well, it's the choice she made. So, she has to learn to live with it. That's life...


The End!

 

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sophie (4)


    I missed Sophie after she left for school. We tried to keep in touch through calls and messages and other forms of communication but it was not the same.

 I wanted her with me.
 During school holidays, however, we often had sweet reunions. Like her first vacation home. It was just before Christmas and a festive air hung in the air.

 Sophie's parents and siblings travelled to their village in Delta State for the holidays. But she remained in Lagos so she could spend some precious time with me.
 We had a good time visiting fun spots and partying.

 I felt bad when the holidays ended and she had to return to school.

 "I wish you didn't have to go back. I miss you so much when you're away," I stated one evening. It was a few days before her departure and we were in my room at home.

 "Maybe, you should get me transferred to a school closer home. Then we can be seeing more often."
 I pinched her nose and drew her close to me.

 Things went on well between us for the next few years. Then, in her third year in school, things began to change.

 It began with the phone calls. From being regular, they reduced drastically. Whenever I called, she would blame her lack of communication on bad network or pressure of school work. 

 Then, I stopped hearing from her totally. Worse, she was no longer picking my calls or answering my mails, making me really worried.

 'What could have happened?' I thought, confused. As if her silence was not bad enough, she did not come home for the long vacation that year, which was very unusual.

 That week, I went to her parents' house to check if they had heard from her. To my surprise, she had also not contacted her family.

 "We heard from her some months ago. That was when we sent her money through a relative that was going to her school," her father explained.

 That was strange. Usually, Sophie kept in touch regularly with her parents as she did with me. 
Why this silence now, I wondered.

    
                           ***
 I nursed the idea of visiting her at school but I was very busy at work at that time so I could not get away.

 Things continued in that manner for some time, with no news from Sophie.
 "Why don't you go see her in school? Find out what's going on," suggested John one day when I had complained about Sophie's continued silence.

 I shook my head.

 "Things are tight at the office right now as we are short of staff. I'll see my boss on Monday about giving me a few days off so I can travel to her school."
 My boss refused my request for casual leave, blaming the workload in the office.

 "You can take your annual leave when Kayode returns from his vacation."

 I waited patiently for his return, all the while full of anxiety about my Sophie.

 I arrived Sophie's school and went straight to her hostel. She was not in her room on my arrival. 

 Her roommate Boma informed me she had not been on campus for some days.

 "Where did she say she was going?"

 "Visiting a friend. She didn't tell me the friend though," the girl said, shrugging.

  I did not know any of her friends on campus so I decided to leave and return later.

 My lecturer friend also lived on campus and since it was a Sunday, I felt he would be at home. So, I made for his house.

 He lived in a bungalow in the staff quarters. In front was a nice garden screened in by a thick hedge of luxuriant-growing ixora plant.

 There was no answer to my knocking so I pushed the door, which was unlocked, open. In the living room was my friend with a lady curled up on his lap on the sofa.

 I was about to greet him when the lady sat up and my mouth hung open in shock...


 To be continued...

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Sophie (3)

 After that day, Sophie and I started seeing regularly and soon, she became my girlfriend. My friends were all envious of me because of her but I did not care. I was in love and felt on top of the world.

Before Sophie, I had dated other girls especially while on campus. In fact, I was a bad guy of sorts with the ladies as I hardly stayed in a relationship for long as I easily got bored; then my eyes would wander to the next 'catch.' I had broken a few hearts in the process.

 But this was different. Within six months of being with her, I knew I had found my soul mate. I dumped the other girls I was seeing then and focused all my love and attention on Sophie.


 My friends thought I was a fool, saying it was stupid to put all one's hopes on one lady.
 "Most of these girls are unreliable. What if she dumps you for someone else? What will you do then?" John and the others asked.

 "Sophie's isn't like that so you guys should not stress yourselves over that. She loves me and would never betray me." Back then, I was so sure of my Sophie and trusted her completely.

Our relationship waxed stronger and with time, I introduced her to my parents as my fiancée. We planned to marry in the future probably after she had graduated from school.
With my encouragement, she retook JAMB. I advised her to choose my former school at Ife as her first choice so I could use my contacts there to help with her admission.

 She did well in the exams, scoring enough marks to guarantee admission. To be doubly sure, I gave her a letter to a former lecturer of mine to help facilitate her admission.

 Luckily, she got the admission. Things were also going well for me as I got a better paying job in a company at Ikeja.

 Before Sophie left for school, I had a chat with her about school life.

 "You have to be careful, sweetheart, so you don't fall into temptation.Avoid bad company especially all these 'runs' girls on campus who run after 'aristos' or 'uncles' or whatever they call them. You're from a good home so you don't need all that stuff.

 A lot of girls' lives have been ruined dating those sugar daddies. And, remember, you have a fiancé back home so no messing around," I said, wagging a finger at her. 

 "Ah, Nonso! Don't you trust me? You know I love you and can never cheat on you," she said.

 "I know. But you are very pretty and I know those guys on campus won't let you be. And some of the lecturers too disturb the girls and..."
 She burst into laughter.

 "You are funny, Nonso! You think I'll have time for those people when I have you? I'm yours forever so don't be afraid of losing me!" She hugged me then and I held her tight to me as if afraid to let her go.
 The following week, Sophie went to school and I started work in my new company...


What went down with Sophie on campus? Details coming soon!


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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sophie (2)



    That opportunity came a short while later. There was a day I was returning home after dropping my mother at the church. I was driving on the street next to ours when I almost hit a little boy of about three.

 He had run out of a compound onto the run and I had to quickly apply the breaks to avoid crushing him. I ran to where he sat by the side of the road, crying.

 "Are you ok? Where's your mother?" I asked worriedly, inspecting him to ensure he was fine.

 Just then, a girl came out of the compound. 

 "Tobi! What are you doing here? I've been looking everywhere for you!" She took the boy from  me, looking at me curiously.

 When she told me the boy was her brother, I scolded her for not keeping a close eye on him, narrating the accident that nearly happened.

 "I'm so sorry! I was in the kitchen and didn't know he had left the house." She looked contrite and apologetic.

  After checking the boy was ok, I got back into the car.

  She came up to the car window and asked:

 "Do you stay around here?" 

 "I live on the next street."

 "Thanks for taking care of my brother. The name's Sophie, by the way."

 I looked up quickly on hearing that name. 'So, this is the famous Sophie all my friends have been raving about,' I thought as I studied her closely.

 They were right. The girl was really lovely with a kind of luminous beauty that attracted men to her like flies to honey.

 I did not see her again until two weeks later. I was going out one weekend to visit a friend at Amuwo-Odofin when I saw her at the busstop.

I gave her a ride and we got talking. She told me she was waiting for admission to a higher institution after leaving secondary school about three years before.

 "I've written JAMB so many times, I'm getting sick of it all," she grumbled.

 I encouraged her to keep trying until she succeeded.

 "Many of us who have graduated had the same bad experience with JAMB. So, don't give up."

 We kept running into each other regularly after that and it wasn't long before I began to fall for her. I wanted to take her out but didn't know if she would agree to a date with me.

 Then a member of our group of friends, Akintunde was relocating abroad and all our friends organised a farewell party for him.

 I asked Sophie to be my date and to my joy she accepted. When I arrived the party with Sophie, my friends could not believe their eyes.

 "How did you do it?"

 "Did you use juju (charm) on her or what?"

 "Nonso, you are a bad boy! So, you were eyeing her all this while and you didn't tell us!" They all said when Sophie was out of earshot.

 I simply smiled smugly at them like one that had won a million naira at the lottery...

  To be continued on Monday. Have a nice weekend, everyone! To make it a more funfilled one, get a copy of our ebook today! Happy reading!

 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

eBook: Tomorrow Never Ends - Out @ Last!!!

Our much anticipated ebook 'Tomorrow Never Ends' is finally out!! It's a must read and page turner so don't miss it.

Thanks to everyone including my wonderful readers, friends, colleagues and family for their encouraging words of support and advice while working on this book. You all are appreciated.

Special thanks to David, my amiable blog administrator for his hard work and cool headedness in the face of so much pressures and harassment from me.

Presently, the book is available only in the online retailers listed below. We are making plans to have it available on other online platforms.
 
It is available on
Okada Books and on Smashwords 



Readers who want the book sent direct to their box need to subscribe to this blog. 

  The first ten subscribers will get the book free! It's our way of saying thanks for your love and loyalty to this blog all this while.

So, what are you waiting for? Don't miss this opportunity to get your hands on this exciting book.


Brief description of Tomorrow Never Ends

It's a love story with a twist and it's the first in a two book series.

Oma Imoni is the workaholic and intelligent young woman who runs her own Advertising/PR firm. Her desire is to grow the fledging agency into a successful one in the cutthroat advertising industry in the country.

However, she's not willing to compromise her standards for anything. Thus she lambasts a prospective client, Daniel, on a day of an important pitch, for daring to make her an indecent proposal of sex in exchange for the lucrative account of his company.

However, they are destined to be together and love happens to them eventually. But it's a doomed love as certain forces, including an old family feud, his family's choice of bride, threaten to destroy their relationship and happiness.

Enter a mysterious figure simply known as the Seer, a man reputed to have the abilities to fathom things the ordinary eye cannot, a kind of mystic.

He advises them to embark on a journey to their past to seek a solution. But can this save their love?


 Below is an excerpt from the book for your enjoyment:

      
                                                        ***
  
The soft light of the moon, which hung over the earth like a bloated ball, shone over the waves in their steady, eternal movement to the shore.

Their endless motion, ancient and timeless, had a music of their own that was beguiling.
A few steps saw Oma standing by the water's edge, so close, water lapped at her bare feet. 

She stood on the deserted beach, looking at the immense sea, feeling as if she was alone in the world. Oma softly inhaled the salty sea breeze, which left her feeling calm and clear- headed.

Then remembering something from her childhood, she picked some pebbles at her feet and began to toss them into the sea. These created little ripples which were soon swallowed up by the hungry waves.

"Calming," a voice said close to her.

She turned quickly to see Daniel standing by her. She wondered how long he had been standing there as she had not heard him walk up.

"Yes," she agreed. It was more than calming; it was magical. She wished she could stay there for a long time to rest from the hassles of city life which could be overwhelming at times.

"There're days I feel like letting go. Work, commitments, the business, everything. Leave it all behind and move here," said Daniel. 

She gazed up at him, his face inscrutable from the dark shadows cast by the moonlight.

"So, what's stopping you?" she queried.

"Responsibilities. There're just too many of them. Their grip's too strong," he stated with a sigh.

She could understand the feeling. Though her outfit was small, she had had to work extremely hard most times just to stay afloat, keep the business going. Imagine what it took to run a company as large as his.

Oma felt a faint stirring of sympathy for him, at the heavy burden on his shoulders.

Then he took her hand and said:

"Come. I want to show you something."

They walked along the beach in the opposite direction from the guest house and loud music.
A short distance away was an empty canoe lying forlornly on the beach. 

Daniel climbed in and holding out his hand, guided her inside.

They sat side by side on the small wooden platform that served as seats.

"Are we going fishing this night or what?" she said jocularly.

He laughed.

"It's too late for fishing. It's an abandoned fishing boat. I come here to chill sometimes and imagine myself rowing in it, far away into the sea, to a far away place, where nobody can reach me. No mobile phones, internet, nothing. Just me and the big, blue sea," he stated grandly.

"You really wish to get away from it all, don't you?" she observed. 

"The temptation is always there," he said. Then turning to her, he added softly: "Especially with you here with me, Oma."

As he spoke, he drew closer and closer till their faces were almost touching. Then she felt his cool fingers on her face, caressing, exploring as if striving to imprint her features in his palms.

Her heart began to beat rapidly, wondering if he kissed her like the other time, if she could resist him. She could not deny it anymore, she was deeply attracted to Daniel and being so close to him, with his hands on her face...

His mouth pressed lightly on hers, with his hand moving to the back of her head to draw her closer still. Sighing, Oma opened up to receive his kiss, which soon deepened into a passionate clinch which left them both shaken.

All was forgotten except the ecstasy of being in each other's arms, the wanting, the desire...

"Oma, what have you done to me?" he intoned as his mouth trailed down her chin to her neck.

"Daniel," Oma said softly, holding him tight, all the emotions she felt, all the feelings she had for him embedded in that one word.

  They were so engrossed in themselves, they failed to see the lone figure standing a few feet away observing them. 

Then he drew closer and spoke in a booming voice.

  'The broken thread of many moons past, will be renewed. But the red ones can't be found. 
  I see crisis, troubles ahead. Unless the red ones return to their place...'

  The voice startled Oma out of her dreamy state. She tried withdrawing from Daniel's arms but he held her tight to him.

"Don't move. Please," he said...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sophie (1)


It was Monday morning and I was on my way to work when I ran into Harry. We had been friends for years and had lived in the same neighbourhood in Festac, Lagos.

 I stopped at a filling station when someone called my name.

 I turned to see my old friend, seated in a yellow cab, smiling at me.

 "Harry! When did you arrive Nigeria?" I enquired excitedly, happy to see him. He had left the country a few years after we graduated and had lost touch for some years.

 "Last week. I've been looking everywhere for you, Nonso," he replied.

 We stood chatting, with him asking after some of our old friends, most of whom were scattered in different parts of the country and abroad.

 We had to part after a while as I was running late for work so we exchanged numbers.

 That weekend, I visited him at the hotel where he lodged at Ikeja. We spent time reminiscing about old times, the pranks we played as youngsters.

 Then turning to me, a mischievous look on his face, Harry asked:

 "So, how's your sweetheart, Sophie? When are we getting the wedding invitations?"

 At the mention of that name, I grew silent.

 "Come on, man! It's time you married her! You two have been together like forever!"

 I sighed and said quietly:

 "She's married."
 "Married? You mean, you guys got married without letting me know? How could you, Nonso?" he asked.

 I shook my head.

 "She's married but not to me."

  He stared at me, confusion registering in his eyes.

 "Sophie married someone else? I can't believe this! What happened?"
  He was not the only one. It had taken me a long time to believe it too, that the girl I had loved so much and planned to spend my life with had been snatched from me.

 "My brother, it's a long story," I stated sadly.

 "Tell me please. Men, this is shocking news!" Harry said.

 He served me some cold wine and sat down, looking expectantly at me.

                                                                             ***

He listened quietly as I narrated the story to him, what led to the painful break up between Sophie, the love of my life and I.

 "That's a really sad tale," he remarked at the end of my story. "Wow! I could never have guessed that this could happen to your relationship. You two were so much in love. I used to envy you for having someone like her. It's sad."

 Harry was not alone as most of my friends had been jealous of me because of Sophie. 

 To understand this, I need to go back to the period when Sophie and I first met and our love story began...

 Star of the street
Sophie and I lived in the same neighbourhood. I had just graduated then from the Uni and was teaching in a private school not too far from my home.

 The job didn't pay well but I needed something to do while I continued the search for a better job.

 At that time, I did not know Sophie that well though I had heard about her. She had moved to our area while I was still doing my Youth Corps programme. I had returned from service to hear all my friends raving about her.

 "Nonso, you need to see this babe. She's cute!" Tom, a friend and neighbour had enthused one day.

 We were at a pepper soup joint near my house relaxing with drinks and the spicy delicacy.
 "So, what's new about that? You always say that about every girl you want to date even if she looks like a chimp," I stated sarcastically. The others laughed.

 Tom was notorious for his womanizing and how he had chased nearly all the girls in our neighbourhood and beyond.

 Tom shook his head.

 "Seriously guy, this one is different. You need to see her. She's sweet," he said, kissing his stubby fingers at the same time.

 "Tom is right for once. The babe's fine," stated John, another of our friends. He added that anytime she was walking past, most of the guys on her close would come out just to stare at her. "I no go lie. Meself dey look o!" he said in pidgin and we all laughed.

 "Coward!" I taunted him. "All you can do is look and fantasise. Can't you 'toast' her?"

  Tom spoke up.

 "You think a girl like that will have time for a broke ass loser like him? One who's always borrowing money and stuff? He hasn't even paid me the 5000 Naira he borrowed over two months ago!"

 We all including John laughed again. John balled his fist and playfully aimed at Tom's head who dodged the blow like a pro.

The way they all spoke about the girl piqué my interest, making me keen to see this paragon of beauty myself...


 To be continued.

 Thanks for stopping by my blog today. In a few days, our ebook 'Tomorrow Never Ends' will be available for download at selected online retailers. 

So watch out!


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Friday, July 08, 2016

Dangerous Glance (3)




  He was in the living room, still holding the phone when Stephen came in an hour later.
  
 Stephen took one look at him and sat beside him.

  “What’s wrong Dad?”
 His hands shook as he showed him the picture. “Who is this?”

 “That? Susan transferred it to my phone yesterday. I asked her to. When we went to the pool, it was because she had something important to tell me. It’s a long story but that’s her real mum.”

Dele’s whole life crumbled in that moment. “Tell me more,” he said.

“Susan’s adopted father met her mum, the woman on the phone, when Susan was two. They got married but she died soon after. 

He remarried and both him and his wife have taken care of Susan like their daughter ever since. 

They are the only parents she knows. She thought she should let me know since we are now engaged.”

Dele tried to be strong. “Do you know her name?”

“I think she said - Omowunmi. Dad, what’s the matter? Did you know her?”

“Yes.” His voice shook. “But I didn’t know she was dead.”

Dele covered his face with his hands. How on earth was he going to tell Stephen that the young lady he planned to marry was his blood sister?

The sin he thought he had covered up was back with full force to haunt him.

His mother was right; nineteen years ago, he should have just looked away. 


The End


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Monday, July 04, 2016

Dangerous Glance (2) long shadows


Some years later...
Stephen Benjamin, Dele's son, was with two of his close friends as he walked to the Faculty office with trepidation in his belly. 

Five weeks before, he had completed his final exams at Rockwell University; he had put in his very best and now he could only just hope the results would justify his efforts.

 His two friends sat in front of the Faculty Officer while he stood. The results were in sealed envelopes and the officer quickly extracted the ones for his friends. He watched as his friends opened their envelopes.

The first one broke into a wide smile and mouthed to him. “Second Class Upper.” Stephen slapped him on the back. “Congrats!” His other friend opened his envelope and shrugged. “2:2”. Stephen smiled and gave him a thumbs up.

 “Did you say your name is Stephen Benjamin?” the Faculty officer asked. “I can’t seem to find your results. It should be here, they are arranged in alphabetical order.” 

 He looked confused and took a moment to think. “Hmmmn? Okay, I think there should be another batch of B’s.”

 He found it, with Stephen’s envelope right on top. Stephen took it. He didn’t have the boldness to open it there. He turned and quickly walked out of the office into the open space outside. His friends ran after him.

“What’s your problem men?” one of them said. “Open this envelope, joor!”
He took a deep breath and tore open the envelope.

The slip of cream paper inside read...“We are pleased to inform you that you have successfully
completed the academic requirements for a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, and you are hereby awarded a certificate with First Class Honours.”

Stephen exhaled. The enveloped dropped out of his hand as he punched both fist to heaven. “Yes! Thank you Jesus!”

His friends picked up the letter. “Waoh! Waoh! Waoh!”
Their noise drew the attention of some other students and they gathered round. 

 Spontaneously, they lifted him high and marched around the
Engineering block. “For he’s a jolly good fellow....”

 ***
Stephen waited outside the female hostel. Life was good and everything was on track. The next stage was his master’s degree in the United States just like his father had promised.
He saw Susan first before she saw him. 

 Quickly he walked up to her and wrapped his arms tightly around her with a throaty laugh.
She hit him on the shoulder, and pushed him back so she could get some air. “Take it easy; Mr First Class.”

“I’m just so happy,” he said, unable to take the grin off his face.
She was smiling too. “I know. God is really faithful. I haven’t stopped thanking him all day. I was borderline and wasn’t so sure what would happen but then I made a 2:1.”

 “Let’s go for a walk,” he said, and took her hand in his.
He fell in love with Susan a year ago. They had been classmates and casual friends when they started University together but then the two of them were assigned to a project at the beginning of their final year and a deeper friendship began.

He led her to a bench in the centre of the University Park, beside a shrub of red roses. Their results was what he had been waiting for. Now that that was out of the way, he hoped they could take their relationship to the next level.

“Susan, can I tell you something?”
She sat up straight and looked into his eyes.
“What?”

“Do you know that you are my first love?” She smiled.
“It’s true. I’ve read about love, watched it in movies, but I never really understood it before I met you.”

“Awwww...” Her smile wobbled.
“You complete me. Every day, I pray that God should keep you for me. I don’t know what my life, my future, would be without you.”

Susan sniffed and suddenly a dam of tears rolled down her face.

He watched. She looked so beautiful. Somehow, he loved the tears; they gave him hope.
He put his hand deep in his pocket and brought out a ring which he held up to her face. 
“Susan, will you marry me?”

“Stephen?” she said, through her tears.
“I’ve thought about it long and hard. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I promise you, I will be the best husband you can ever have, so help me God.”

The tears fell harder. He wanted to hold her but was afraid that would just spoil the beauty of the moment.

He handed her his handkerchief with his left hand and watched as she cleaned her face.

She looked up to him. “Aren’t we too young? You are 20, I’m 19.”

“No. We have found what takes many people decades to discover. I’m not saying we should get married tomorrow, let’s just commit.”

She broke into a smile that looked like sunshine after the rain. She stretched her left hand towards him. “Yes! I will marry you.”

Carefully, he slipped the ring onto her middle finger. “And I will always love you.”

 ***
“Dad, all I’m asking for, is that you meet them.” Stephen was sitting on the edge of the sofa
opposite his father.

Dele’s face was a mask of confusion. “Why the rush? I will meet them when you are at a good enough age to get married. Only a foolish man will marry off his son at twenty.”

 “What’s the meaning of that? You are not marrying me off. I want to get married,” stated Stephen.

“You are too young, Stephen. After your Master’s degree and when you complete your Youth Corps, we can talk about it then. But surely not now. You used to be a focused young man, but now this girl has gotten you distracted and messed up. That’s one of the reasons why I think she might not be right for you.”

“You’ve met her. You told me she’s a nice girl. What has changed?”

“You introduced her as a friend, not as a proposed wife. She’s just a baby. What will her parents think of your mum and I?”

“Her parents have agreed to the introduction. Or why else would they give us a date?” He moved closer to his father and gesticulated passionately with his hands. “Ok Dad, lets meet halfway. 

My major fear is that I’m going away for one and a half years. Anything can happen during that time. What happens if she meets someone else? At least if our parents meet, then that is some formality and it will give me some peace of mind.”

Dele was battle weary. He could never really resist this son he loved so much and who had done him proud. “Fine. But you will be the one to convince your mother. Let me know if she agrees.”

 ***
Dele Benjamin did feel a little uncomfortable as he sat with his wife at the luxurious dining room of Susan’s parents. They were not bad at all and they did try their best to make him relax.

Lunch was good and Susan’s mum gave them detailed stories of Susan’s growing up years. She seemed to be a bit of a tomboy and by the time they were through, he quite understood how his son had fallen for her.

After lunch, they sat around the lounge of their living room. Stephen and Susan excused themselves, something about them wanting to talk beside the swimming pool.

“I really admire your son,” Susan’s mom said, “he’s such a focused young man. He knows what he wants and is committed enough to know how to get it. And it’s quite impressive that he made a first class.”

“Thank you," Dele’s wife said. “And it is very easy for us to reciprocate the compliment. Susan is a very good girl. You have done a good job with her.”

  ***
Monday afternoon, Stephen was in school to process his transcript; one of the requirements to finalise his Master’s degree admission. He was halfway through the process when he realised he had left the e-mail address of his contact on his other phone at home.

No problem, his Dad was on vacation and would help him get it. He sat in a quiet spot along the faculty corridor and dialled his number. Dele picked up the call on the first ring.
“Hi Dad.” 

“Stephen?”

“Pls I need your help. I stored an email address on my other phone and I need it now to process my transcript. It should be on my bed. I’ll hold on...”

A minute later, his Dad was back on the line. “Got it so what do you want?”
“Pls check the contacts under US Case File...”

“Phone is locked.”
“Sorry, my password is ...Susan.”

He heard his father chuckle on the other end. He smiled too; he knew what he was thinking.

“Case File. Tamara72@uncl.com”
Stephen took note.

 “Thanks Dad. See you later.” 

 Dele was about to drop the phone back on the bed when Susan’s picture on the screen saver caught his attention. The girl was so very attractive, beautiful, dark. 

 He studied her face, then without thinking, sat back and clicked on the phone gallery. There were hundreds of pictures and videos and half of them were of Susan.

He scrolled through with a smile fixed on his face. The pictures reminded him of when he first met his wife and how much they couldn’t take their eyes off each other in those days.

 He shouldn’t really be snooping through, but the pictures gave him an interesting insight into another side of his son’s life.

Suddenly, he froze as his eyes locked onto an image that he had stored away in the dark recesses of his mind. What was her picture doing on Stephen’s phone? It must have been taken 19 years before, about the last time he saw her...

  Omowunmi.

 To be continued

 By Dupe Olorunjo (Contributor)

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