Chidi felt restless and he knew why. The feeling of restlessness came when he was supposed to be somewhere else, or doing something else. Presently, he felt restless because his gentleman nature kept reminding him of his rudeness towards Olanma. ‘She was just trying to help, besides she was saying the truth’ his conscience told him. He agreed with his conscience, as, since that day, the urge for self pity was missing. He allowed her voice to get him out of depressed states, and his conscience kept reminding him he needed to give her an apology. And he knew only one way to go about it, get her number and call her. But he also knew he might go farther than just apologising. He needed a cheerleader, and she seemed good for the job, since she did it without being invited to, at the event.
He ignored his mind telling him she would make him a good wife. He didn’t want to dwell on what could have been if he had known her before Laura. He knew he couldn’t get married anymore as he wanted the total package of marriage, or none at all. He finally made the move, and called Obinna. He crossed his fingers as he heard the ring back tune ‘ what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grieves to bear, what…’ hello Chidi what’s up? Are you alright?’ Obinna’s voice asked, breaking the calmness Chidi got from listening to the song.
‘Hello Obi, I am fine, and there is no problem. I hope you won’t expect bad news each time I call?’
‘No I won’t, but you can’t blame me. When you left here last time, you were distraught. I don’t know what to expect.’ Chidi couldn’t argue the fact that Obinna had a right to be worried, it actually felt good that someone cared about him without judging him. He had dealt with his guilt and had taken his part of the blame. He had been plain stupid. Plain stupid. But he was thankful to God that he could still make his way right with God. He also knew enough about HIV AIDS to know he can still achieve something great with his life, just that it would not involve marriage. The one thing that drove him into the mistake with Laura is what he finally lost, he smiled wistfully.
‘Chidi, are you there?’
‘Yeah, I am fine. And you don’t have to expect the worst, I will be okay’
‘Are you sure?’ Obinna didn’t understand the change in Chidi. ‘Have you gone back to the hospital for counselling and treatment?’
‘No, I am still trying to gather courage for that. Once I do that, I may have to announce it to my parents, I am not ready for that yet.’ Hearing Chidi truthfully analyzing the situation, Obinna knew he was on his way to restoration, maybe not bodily wise, but at least mindset wise.
‘Alright, if you ever need me, I am here to help’ Obinna announced.
‘I know, and that’s why I called’
‘Don’t ask why, but I need Olanma’s phone number’
‘I don’t understand, what…’
‘Don’t ask why.’ Chidi repeated, cutting Obinna halfway
‘Okay, but I don’t have it. I will have to get Chidinma to send it to you.’
‘Please do it yourself, she will also wonder why I need it, and as a woman, she will get her answer. I am not yet ready for that.’
‘Alright, I understand, but that will be in the evening, when I get home.’
‘Okay, I can wait’ After some seconds, they ended the call, with Obinna curious, and Chidi mentally preparing how to talk to Olanma.
Olanma was talking with her mother about an old man who died in the village. Her mother was informed when she called some people back home to ask about their welfare. Olanma had a job tomorrow, and should be sleeping as she has to set out early, but her mother needed her. Since her father was dead, Olanma found herself having to listen more and more to her mother, so she doesn’t miss her companion too much. It was time consuming at times, but what else could she do. It was just the two of them now. She found herself hoping that her future husband will understand that and respect it. In fact it will be part of the criteria before she accepts any man, he has to love her mother too. She was still daydreaming and listening to her mother that she didn’t hear her phone ring in the room.
‘Is that not your ringtone?’ her mother asked
‘Your phone is ringing in the bedroom. Hurry up and pick it, it may be another job.’ Olanma could hear the pride in her mother’s voice. She couldn’t believe that she could make her mother proud even without being married yet. Her mother was her biggest fan, always cheering her on and praying for her. She smiled at the excitement always present in her mother’s voice when she talked about Olanma landing another job. She didn’t recognise the number calling her, and wondered if her mother was right about it being another job.
‘Hello, good evening.’ She greeted, hoping the caller will introduce his or herself without her asking who was calling.
‘Hello, good evening. Am I speaking with Olanma?’ She recognised the voice, but didn’t believe he would call her, so she asked
‘Yes you are. Who am I speaking with?’
‘This is Chidi, the friend to your friend’s husband’
‘I know, but I didn’t believe it. I recognised your voice. I am not going to ask how you got my number, as it is obvious, but I hope all is well?’
‘All is well. Why, do you think something is wrong?’ Chidi was trying to get her talking before he apologized, so he could know how bad his rudeness had affected her.
‘Nothing, just that you didn’t look too happy last time we saw. I have been praying for you though, and I have learnt that anything in God’s hand is safe. I guess I was just asking to know.’
‘You really prayed for me?’ Chidi couldn’t keep the surprise out of his voice.
‘I told you I will, didn’t I? You needed it, and I’d say it’s already working as you sound a lot better.’ Chid felt humbled he didn’t know what to say
‘Thank you. I actually called to apologize for my rudeness. You meant well, and I should have realized that before acting stupid. I am sorry.’ Olanma was surprised
‘apology accepted, but I held nothing against you. You were defending yourself, it’s allowed.’
‘I had no right to be disrespectful; I could have told you I didn’t want to talk about it. It didn’t call for rudeness. I want to make it up to you, let me take you to dinner, tomorrow.’
‘Wow! Hold on. I told you, you didn’t have to apologize. I hold nothing against you.’
‘I will feel better if I bought you dinner. I also wanted to talk to you about something, I think I need your help.’
‘Chidi, you don’t have to, and besides I will be busy tomorrow. I don’t think it will be possible as I will be too tired to do dinner. Except… no, don’t worry.’
‘Except what?’ Chidi asked. He didn’t like how his plan was about to change.
‘Don’t worry, it was a crazy idea, and I doubt you will accept.’
‘Well let’s hear it, I may accept, as I am pretty desperate to make it up to you’ Olanma smiled, she was enjoying this
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‘In that case you have no choice. Can you get the things for cooking dinner, come to my house, cook with my mum, and then when I get home we eat.’
‘Okay, I didn’t foresee that. Are you sure about this? And how will your mother take it?’
‘I think she will agree.’ Olanma didn’t believe she was actually ready to allow her mother think she was serious about a man for the first time, especially when she knew that nothing could happen. But she knew she wanted to see if Chidi will get along with her mother. She just have to make sure she didn’t find out…
‘But don’t mention anything about your HIV status. I am not sure how she will react to that yet. She is of the older generation, she may not know as much as we do about it.’
‘I understand’ Chidi said, ‘so what time do I get there, and when will I get the directions?’
‘I should be back by 8pm, so maybe you can come by 6. I can give you the directions now.’
‘Ok, I’m listening.’ Olanma described the directions for him, and they said their goodbyes, Olanma walked back to the parlour and told her mother
‘Mama, we are having a visitor tomorrow’ she went ahead and explained to her how Chidi was to come over and cook with her.
‘What has this world turned into? In our days, we showed the men we hoped to marry that we can cook, but you want a man to cook for you?’ her mother was surprised.
‘Mama, I’m not marrying the man, and you know I can cook’
‘He is the one getting married to you, not me’
‘Mama! I am not marrying him.’
‘Olanma, you never look at men, for you to invite this one to see me, you must like him.’
‘It’s because I don’t have time tomorrow!’ Olanma knew her excuse sounded shallow, but she stuck to it anyway. Her mother didn’t know the whole story. She ignored the voice reminding her of her mother strange ability to say things and they happen. ‘Mama good night’
‘Let us pray before you run from the truth.’ Her mother replied. Olanma refrained from replying and turned back for the evening devotion. After the devotion, she went to bed, but for a long time she stayed awake wondering if she made a mistake inviting Chidi over.
At the same time, Chidi laid on his bed, waiting for sleep. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that Olanma was testing him. He just didn’t know what the test could be. He just found himself hoping he passes the test. If he can’t get married to a good woman, at least he can have one as a friend, Yes until she tells you she has seen a man she wants to marry, then you suffer heartbreak Chidi shut up the voice in his head, and closed his eye until sleep arrived. He was taking one day at a time, and living each day positively.
‘Tomorrow is going to be a good day’ he promised himself just before he slept off.
The story continues…