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Thursday, October 25, 2018

It's A Love Story (8)

My name is Margaret Alozie, and this is neither the beginning nor the end of my story. I came back in search of redemption, but I ended up in a dungeon. The whole place smells of sweat, shit, urine and blood. I am used to this exposure already. 

Four months in this dump can get any being unhinged. My desire was the bait and my desperation was the line that pulled me by the neck, to the place where I am. I was guided by ignorance through this path. If only I had done things a bit differently.

Where I am, the light is dim all day long; I can only merely tell if it is night or day by sounds and smell around me. The room is dim because the walls are so high and there is only very little opening in it. The opening is a little square in the wall with four vertical iron bars just a little longer than my arm.

 The wall of the room is so high that the sun needs to climb to get in. The rays trickle into the room in tiny details, like unending chains of yellow droplets.

As I sit here on the bare, cold floor, I reminisce on the moments that led to me being here. I remember Martha and our plans. The plans we made to get my Tony back, and make Seun pay for all she did to both of us.

After the plane landed in Lagos we parted ways, but not before we exchanged contacts; house address and e-mail mostly, and then I left for home. At home it was just my mum around; Juliet, my younger sister was not on vacation yet so she was still in school. 

She was due to return in about two weeks. I had really missed her and I could not wait to see her. I had decided to go see her in school that weekend, after my first meeting with Martha. My mum put together a little welcome home party for me. The house was filled with plenty people that I did not know. 

Not like I expected anything less, I mean, a party organised by my mum? It was the last thing I wanted. I just wanted to rest and prepare for my mission ahead. To find Cindy and get Tony back.

I was up and about early the next day. I had to set myself up properly in Nigeria; get a new phone and network provider too, and other things I had to take care of. I had to also scout for a new place to locate my outfit that I started back in London. 

Martha promised to help me with that. It was the main reason we were meeting that day. We agreed to meet by 1pm in one of the eateries along Bode Thomas in Surulere. Martha was already waiting by the time I got there. She seemed to have been there quite a while. They were two empty bottles on the table she was at. It seemed like she had been with someone before I got there. I did not bother her about that, it did not seem necessary.

We sat and talked for quite a while. She told me that Lagos Island was where all the hot spots were, and if I wanted my clientele to consist of the rich and glamorous, and if I wanted to make a lot of profit, I had to locate my outfit there. 

Then we talked about Seun and Tony. She gave me full gist on them. She said they were getting married in four months. I screamed when I heard that. It meant I had only a short while to work my magic.

Then we revisited our plan, her plan mostly. She told me that if I wanted to get Tony back, then I had to get Seun out of the way for good. I did not quite understand what she meant by that, “for good”. Then she explained to me that the two of them had gotten so close and it would be difficult for Tony to leave her for anyone.

Not even me. Seun had him by the balls. She was his life support, the air that he took in. Without Seun, Tony only had enough money to be broke. Seun was the key to his wealth and position in the financial industry.

 Martha made it clear to me that, no man would leave all that Tony was gaining from Seun, to go back to someone who dumped him three years ago and ran off, after receiving a few pieces of silver.

She was right on that one.

After that, what was left was how best to execute Martha’s plan. “You have to get rid of her”, Martha said. I looked at her face from across the table as she said those words.

 I had not gotten rid of anyone before, so I did not know how to go about that. I asked her to give me some time to think about things. I needed to focus on establishing myself in Lagos first of all. I asked her for a month to really make up my mind.

 She reminded me that Tony and Seun would be getting married in a couple of months, and so I needed to work fast.

“Three weeks,” she said finally. “You must be ready in three weeks, that is, if you still want my help. Otherwise, be ready to catch the bouquet when Seun throws it at her wedding. And you can kiss Tony goodbye forever.”

I reluctantly agreed. I did not think too much about why she was in such a hurry to have me get rid of Seun.

I had done a lot of background work on the Nigerian fashion market before I left London. My feasibility study was complete and so was my market penetration strategy. I just needed a physical space to set up, and then I could start recruiting and open for business in a month. That was my plan. Martha helped me get a suitable place somewhere in Victoria Island. That reassured me of her loyalty. But I never saw past her actions...

 Watch out for the concluding part of this story coming soon!

Monday, October 15, 2018

It's A Love Story (7)

When I was little, my elder brother told me that the world would come to an end some day; that life and death as we know it will have a different meaning entirely. 

I asked him what would happen after the end comes. He replied, “I guess in the end we’ll start to think of the beginning; a new beginning.” I never quite understood what he meant; I don’t think I really understood many of the things he said to me while he was alive. 

I was really young. He was clearly a different being; one with a profound insight into affairs pertaining to life, humanity and existence. I was nothing like him. He had all the answers, I asked all the questions; his state of mind was almost perfect, and I made all the mistakes. Perhaps that’s why he died at such a young age, because his mind had lived a hundred years already, or more.

I’ve made mistakes, like leaving Tony, and I still make mistakes. I guess that’s part of what makes me human. I wish my brother was alive, he would have surely been able to advice me on what to do now, on how to go about things. He always had the answers.

Two days before my trip back home, I went through some of my old stuffs. I found a picture of Cindy and I back in high school. We lost contact almost as soon as we left high school. 

Life was different for me after my father died. A lot of things changed afterwards and our friendship suffered. In all, I guess life took its toll on both of us, and we just went our separate ways, dealing with our individual predicament. 

I still remember the night before our graduation; she shared with me her deepest secret. She cried as she explained to me in details, about the pain and agony she endured that night. 

That was the night her father raped her. We both cried as she told me what happened. When I saw the picture again, that night before graduation was the first thing I remembered. I cried again. How can a man be so cruel as to rape his own daughter? I don’t think even my late brother would have been able to answer that question.

I set out on the path of recovery. To get back all that I have lost- my friendship with Cindy and more importantly, my relationship with Tony. But as they say, hope for the best, but expect the worst; either way, it’s a risk I am willing to take. And so I walked on; inspired by my desire, but blinded by my desperation.

On the plane back to Nigeria, I sat next to this young lady; she said her name was Martha. We got talking and I spilled a lot about myself, including my relationship with Tony and the awkward scenario that led to my departure, and also about my desire to have him back at any cost. 

Along the course of our discussion, we got really close, and I found out she knew Seun. I believed her. She said she was the daughter to the Commissioner of Agriculture for Ondo state, the same state Seun was from. 

They used to be good friends, thanks to their fathers’ political relationship. Their friendship lasted, until Seun betrayed her. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the crux of the matter was a guy. At least that was what she told me. They had both met the dude at the same time. Seun seemed uninterested, but Martha made it clear to Seun that she was interested in the fellow.

 To cut long story short, she said she dated the guy for about three months, till she found out that he had been cheating on her with Seun. She confronted Seun and they had a fight. When they could not resolve their issues, they went their separate ways.

There was no way I could’ve verified her story, my desperation made me very gullible. I believed her wholly, so that by the time we landed at the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos, we had already formulated a plan to get back at Seun. I was happy. I was sure of victory, seeing that I had an edge, an old enemy who had become my good and trusted friend.

To be continued

Friday, October 05, 2018

It's A Love Story (6)

My mother started appreciating me again after I started sending money home. She began to respect me and seek my opinion on various issues.

We stopped depending on my father’ s people to cater for our needs. I put my sister back in the school I finished from and I opened a small store for my mum where she sold provisions amongst other things.

Initially my mum was curious about how I was getting the money I had. She calmed down when she saw a few of the clothes I designed for some clients in Nigeria that I asked my sister to help me deliver.

For once things were working out for my family, and I was happy about that. I heard my mum laugh along with me again after a long while, when I told her about a certain guy I met at the train station on my way home from campus one evening. 

I might have liked him still if he had not spoken at all. He was dark skinned, handsome and quite macho too. He walked up to me and said, “Excuse me miss, have we met before, cos you look quite ‘ similar’?” 

I did well to hold my laughter by pretending not to hear him, and I replied, “I beg your pardon?"
I had hoped that it was a mistake and he had realised it, but he went again:

 “I said you look quite ‘ similar’. Have we met before?” 

“No, I don’ t think so," I replied and then walked away very quickly. My mum just kept laughing and I knew for sure that all was well between us.

But all was not well with me and myself. I dated a few guys after Tony, but none proved worthy. The white guys I dated just wanted to score a black chick and the black guys just needed company till they returned home to marry a virgin from their village. 

I am tired of being sick and tired. I know what I want and I know that I had it once in my arms, but I gave it all away for next to nothing. Once I had silver in my possession, but I let it slip because I sought gold.

My brother said to me once, “What is worth the price is always worth the fight.” Seun made me understand this advice fully. 

She saw the deal in Tony and she wanted to have him by all means, because he was worth it. I did not recognise this initially and now I’ m paying for it in full measure. But for how long?

How much must one endure before it becomes enough? This is the question I’ ve been asking myself of recent. Last night I picked up the phone and I called Tony,

 “Hello” said the voice from the other end. It was Tony. Damn! I missed that voice. 

I was just too overwhelmed to respond, my tongue clove to the upper part of my mouth and I froze where I stood. I remained in that position even after he had hung up when I did not respond. I knew immediately that I needed to get him back and I was going to do that at all cost.

Thanks to Seun and my selfish heart, I am now in final year of studying business administration at the Imperial College here in London. In a few weeks I would be done and I would return home. I am more equipped now to fight for what rightfully belongs to me. I am coming and Seun had better prepare...

To be continued

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