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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.

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