10 years later…
Ebere and i were running a restaurant now, she had quit working some five years ago. I found joy in cooking, my customers were always praising my excellent culinary skills. I also took some courses in baking and cooking. We also had a sharwama and licks spot, we were raking in a tidy sum every month. We had even moved into a bigger apartment. Every Friday, we threw a mini party and Ebere’ s friends from the past would bring their clients. We made almost a millionaire every time we threw such party.
Life was getting rosy for us, we had both gone to a driving school to learn driving, after we got our driving licence, we bought for ourselves two second hand cars. We had enough to eat, we had money in our bank accounts and we had a booming business, life was truly good. I stepped into the chilled bank environment, I had gone to deposit to cash a check, i ran into a hard muscled wall and stumbled back. A hand reached out to steady me.
” Sorry” We both said at the same time. I went to do my transactions and when i came out much later i saw the wall i had walked in to earlier leaning against a Prado jeep.
” Remember me?”
” Are you the one on five hundred naira?” i asked rudely.
He laughed. ” Ify come on! You are too young to have alhemezier. You were once the best student in Clive high so don’t tell me you don’t remember me!”
The wheels were turning in my head, the voice was a bit familiar, and that grin…….oh my God!
” Chi boy”
He gave me a breathtaking hug, we exchanged contacts and he promised to give me a call. day dream all day, expecting every beep to be his incoming call but it never came until the next week. He explained that he had to rush out of the country for a meeting. We saw more of each other and he asked me to be his girl, it was kind of old fashioned the way he asked but i readily accepted.
” Ify my daughter. How are you?” Mrs Ukandu asked me warmly.
Chiboy ‘ s family accepted me into their family without any questions about my background or my parents.
” Am fine mommy, have you eaten yet?”
Chiboy had gone on one of his trips so he asked me to go check on his mother who was home alone. He lost his dad when he was still a little boy, his older siblings were all married.
” I brought you Oha soup made with bush meat and semo. Let me microwave it for you ma.”
” No forget about food first Nne. Sit down.”
I dropped the polythene bag i brought with me on the table. I felt so tired and weak, Ebere had insisted i stayed back home for some days to rest. Some days i would retch till my intestines threaten to spill out of my mouth. Chiboy would tease me lightly that maybe i was already carrying his baby. Some days my bottom would be glued to the toilet all day, i would squeeze my nose as the foul smelling waste product land into the WC with a loud thud. Ebere would run out of the flat laughing.
” Are you pregnant?” I heard her ask me.
” No ma”
She gave me a look which said she didn’t believe me. ” We can easily arrange for a quick court wedding before you start showing. ” she said, ” I don’t want my grandchild to be born out of wedlock”
I laughed. I loved the woman so much, she never took life too serious, her motto was : There’s always a way out. I thanked her and went into the kitchen to heat up the food for her. Chiboy returned from his trip later that week and he asked me to get myself a new dress. He was taking me to dinner.
” Mama Ebere will you stop fretting over me already! your daughter is a big girl!”
She laughed. ” I just can’t help it my daughter! You have to look so delectable Chiboy would literally dine on you instead”.
We both laughed. We heard a car honked and i quickly grabbed my purse awaiting my self appointed Mother’ s approval. She gave me the thumbs up and i walked out of the flat. I hoped Ebere would also find someone who would love her and cherish her like Chiboy. She deserved to be happy. Chiboy and i necked in the car for some few minutes before we broke apart laughing.
” Have ruined your lipstick baby” he said kissing my earlobe.
” I will fix it up, if only you can keep your roaming hands to yourself.”
We laughed again. I pinched myself lightly, so it was real. How could one person be so full of happiness? I felt so blessed.
” Down to earth baby ”
I laughed. The restaurant was so elegant, i felt like a star in a romantic movie. A waiter brought my dinner. I opened the dish and was stunned. Chiboy got on his knees immediately and my eyes misted with emotion. On the center of the dish laid a ring with a large glittering stone. He must have spent a fortune on it.
” Please say you will marry me Ifeoma Ambrose”
I flew into his arms, smearing my foundation on his shirt. I felt my heart pounding in disbelief.
” You still haven’t said yes baby”
” Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The other couples in the restaurant were clapping for us happily. So i finally had my happy ever after.
” Hello baby, when are going for the tests?” I said into the mouth piece of my phone whilst stirring the stew boiling on the gas cooker. The past weeks had been so hectic, Chiboy’ s mom insisted we had a proper church wedding with bridal train and all. ” What time tomorrow? Alright……love you too.”
” Sha no pour spit for the stew o” Ebere came in and handed me a glass of juice. ” My God! what happened to your arm?”
There was an ugly purple bruise on my upper arm, where do these strange bruises come from?
I sipped the cold juice, savoring the sweet fruity taste of it ” I think hot water spilled on my arm some days ago while i was making garri for Chiboy’ s mom.”
” You think? You are getting very careless ooo.”
My fiance picked me up the next day, after a sumptuous lunch at our restaurant he drove down to the hospital. We were both seated before a pot bellied doctor in his fifties but he had kind eyes, and a kind smile. He gave Chiboy his results, genotype : AA , HIV : negative. My fiance gave me a wide smile, pecking my cheeks.
” Mr Ukandu do you love your fiancée?” Doc asked softly.
Chiboy and i traded looks.
” She’s my life…….my heart beat.”
He nodded. ” It is obvious that you love her dearly….but can you die for her?”
We both laughed. ” Of course i can” my man boasted.
” So easy to say my boy. Life has a way of throwing challenges on our path unexpectedly. Only true love can see us through it all and we would triumph in the end.”
We both nodded. What is this man saying?
” let me tell you a short story…….a man came to my hospital some years ago. He actually came to pick up his test results….turns out he was HIV positive. ”
We both moaned and said the necessary awws and ohhs.
” I called his wives, you see he had two but they were both negative”
” How’s that possible sir?” I asked.
” He had been using protection with both wives since they had both decided not to have another child. ”
” What did the wives do?” Chiboy asked.
” I told them to carry on as a family, show him more care and love. The wives accepted him and went on loving him…….the man is still alive today.”
” Awww, what a heart rendering story” i said.
” HIV is actually manageable, there are groups who support such special people and there are also drugs that are given to such people in government hospitals. A lot of people are under the misconception that it is an airborne disease and that it is could also be contracted with a physical touch but they are all misconceptions. ”
Chiboy and i nodded. The kind doctor got up, and handed a result he had withdrawn from his drawer to my fiancé.Chiboy stared at it, his hands trembled badly before he bent down his head. I caught the paper before it slipped on to the floor. My name was written at the top left corner of it. Positive. My happy ever after was over.
Question: Guys would you go ahead with the wedding? Ladies would you allow your brother go ahead?
To be continued
Allen’s Avenue Episode10