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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Forever 6

  The waiter brought her wine and opened it for her. Just then, King strolled into the restaurant. Alewa was so relieved to see him, she jumped up suddenly and that startled the guy sitting opposite her.
 “Wha….?” he started, turning back to see what caught her attention. By then, King was beside her. He looked from the confused guy to Alewa’s smiling face, wondering what was going on.

 “My date is here.” Alewa told the dumbfounded guy He quickly scrambled to his feet and hurried away. Alewa laughed.

 “What was that all about?” King asked “Oh don’t mind the guy. He was just being a nuisance.”

Alewa sat down and King joined her. It was then she looked at him properly and his beauty took her breath away. He smiled and her hear skipped ten beats. What is going on here? She wondered.

 “I bet he couldn’t resist the beauty he saw.” 
 Alewa just rolled her eyes.
 “I’m serious. You look really beautiful tonight. That color suits you well.”
“Thank you.” she smiled shyly. “You look handsome too.” 

 King watched Alewa as she sat across him smiling shyly and prettily. She was so unaware of the effect she had on the opposite sex. Every guy in this restaurant is probably thinking how lucky he was to have such a beauty seated opposite him. He had a feeling that if she could shed the tight cloak of invisibility she had enveloped herself in, she would end up shinning brighter than a diamond.

 Is that the part I’m supposed to play in her life, Lord? He asked thoughtfully. She shifted in her seat and King knew she was squirming because of his scrutiny. He could not help but stare at her though. There was a luster on her skin he hadn’t noticed before; it was as if she was shining inside out. King couldn’t take his eyes off her but he knew he had to break the silence.

 “I see you’ve ordered some wine,” he finally ventured.
 “Yeah, I took the liberty while waiting. You don’t mind, do you?”
 “Not at all. I didn’t come late, did I?” he took a sip of wine. 
 “No, I came early. I was trying to beat the traffic.” 
 “Traffic was a bit light tonight.” He felt like a tongue-tied teenager, spouting inanities.
 “Hmm hmm.”

 “How was work today?” he asked.

 “It was good. I gave Sandra a piece of my mind,” she smiled thinly.  “Sandra? Who might that be again?” 
“My colleague who invited me to hang out last Friday.”
 “Oh, that Sandra.” 

 She laughed. “Yes, that Sandra.” 

 “Thank God I came to your rescue on time.”
 “Came to my rescue?” she arched her brows playfully. “You were just my ride.”
“No, I wasn’t. I was your knight in shining armor.”

  She laughed. “Arrogant much?” 
 “Not arrogant, never arrogant; just confident.”
 “More like over-confident,” she countered. 

 He smiled. “Alewa, I need to be honest with you,” he began. “When I told you I wanted you to go out more, I meant with me. I was thinking of myself when I said that. I never imagined you’ll go off by yourself and almost get into trouble.”

 Her eyes widened. “Really? You wanted to hang out with me?”
“Yeah. Does that surprise you?”
 “Yes. I don’t see myself as very entertaining or a good company.”
“Well true, but you just need the right kind of technique to bring you out of your shell. I believe I’m the right man for the job.” He smiled.
 She laughed softly. “Careful. That arrogance is peeking out again.”

“Still confidence my dear.”
“Whatever you say, your highness.”
He rolled his eyes. “So, can you see yourself hanging out with me, more than we do now?”
 “I’ll love that King but…”she looked down.
“I know, I know we have a lot to talk about.”
 “Yeah.” King glimpsed a very sad look on her face and wondered what that was about.
 “Can we eat first and talk later? I’m very hungry and I don’t want to be thinking about food when you’re talking to me.”

“That’s okay. Although, I might have lost my nerve by then.”
“Don’t worry I’ll go first. By the time I’m done, I’m sure you would have found your nerve back.”
She smiled. “Okay, let’s order then.”

 Forty five minutes later, they were done eating. Alewa had coconut rice garnished with shrimps and a nice slice of grilled beef by the side. King decided to go for a local delicacy and opted for semovita and egusi soup with innards, ponmo and smoked fish fighting for attention in the soup.
After an enjoyable meal, they both settled back to enjoy their wine.

King looked at Alewa and smiled when he caught her watching him. She hurriedly diverted her gaze and looked out the window. King cleared his throat to get her attention. “Can we talk now? Are you ready?” 

 Alewa sighed visibly. “I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.” she said quietly.

 “I promised to share my story with you. Maybe after you hear what I have to say, you’ll be more inclined to tell me your story.”

 “I’m all ears.” She turned back so as to see him better. 
 “Okay. Where do I start from? My parents got divorced when I was very young, I think I was about ten and all I could remember was my life became a downward spiral after the divorce. My mum moved away and my dad married another wife. We kids were not allowed to leave with our mum; African culture dictates the kids are for the man and not the woman so my sister and I remained with our father. 

 My stepmom was not all that. She could not care less about us kids and my dad was rarely around, consequently, we were mostly left to our own devices. I fell in with a very bad group and everything just went to hell from there. Before you know it, I was in a cult, inhaling Indian hemp like air and committing all sorts of atrocities.

 It all came to a head one day in the university. I got shot by a rival gang member during one of our raids and it was only the grace of God that saved me. My roommate then was a very spiritual person, a fervent Christian and he was the one that led me to Christ. I almost lost my life in the struggle that ensued for my soul. My cult members were not ready to let me go, they were not prepared to lose a vital member of their club. God prevailed on my behalf though and I was able to pull free.” 
He looked in her eyes so his next words would register properly.

 Alewa was watching him intently.
“Alewa, I believe if God can save me then there’s nothing impossible for him to do. I have killed, I have maimed innocent people, I was the worst sinner on earth but I found mercy in his loving arms. Nothing is impossible for God.” He took her hand and gave it a squeeze.    

Alewa did not even flinch; she just kept watching him steadily. “Why was God silent when my father was molesting me at a tender age? Why didn’t God strike him dead that first night he crawled into my bed?” she asked quietly, still watching him steadily, waiting for the answer he could never give. Alewa sat patiently waiting for King to answer her question. He seemed at a loss for words, he was looking everywhere but directly at her. He refused to meet her unflinching gaze. Finally, he sighed and looked at her.

 “Alewa, what happened?” he asked with a tortured look on his face. She had already made up her mind to tell him all about herself. She just needed to unburden herself to someone. The pain she had been carrying all these years threatened to consume her and she needed an outlet. She felt a strong urge to unburden herself to this man, and despite her fears and misgivings, she decided to go ahead with it.

 “My mother died when I was very young,” she began. “I was no older than ten when she passed on from a strange disease which I later recognized as sickle cell anemia when I got older. She was in and out of hospitals throughout, and she suffered a lot.

She finally gave up the fight when she could not live with the pain anymore. I was thirteen when she died. “Due to her many frailties, she didn’t have any more kids, so I was left in this world with no mother, no siblings, an only child. It didn’t take long for my dad to start molesting me. It started when I was too young to fully understand what was happening and by the time I was old enough, he was dead. I had no one to confide in, only distant relations whom I barely knew.”

Alewa went ahead to talk of her brief stay at her aunt’s and eventually moving in with her dad’s lawyer. She told King of the inheritance her dad left her and how rich she was.
“Now to the most difficult part,” she continued. “I recently had a discovery that changed my whole world. I learnt about it the day we met at the parking lot of the hospital.” She paused a while to gather her strength. King extended his hand to take hers on the table. 

He covered both her hands with his to encourage her to go on. Alewa sighed deeply. “I discovered I am HIV positive,” she said in a barely audible voice. King let go of her hand in shock and Alewa drew back as if she was bitten.

 It’s happening already, she thought...

 To be continued

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