“Mine, I’m sorry I left you here all by yourself. I just wanted to finish up a discussion I was having with the guys. This country is really in trouble. If care isn’t taken, it’ll only be a little while before the economy totally crumbles.
I’m thinking we should try to stage another occupy Nigeria protest…”
Khalid was just behind her and he put both hands on her shoulders. Aisha took a deep breath, pulled her wits together, and turned around slowly. By the time she was facing Khalid, her face was totally blank.
“The economy has always been in trouble Khalid. It’ll always be like that.”
“No. Don’t say that. Things can change. In fact, they have to change. Look at countries like China and Singapore. Even India! They have left Nigeria far behind. We keep paying attention to the wrong things. How can the government not know to diversify the economy by now? They should leave oil alone and explore agriculture; especially given the high level of corruption involved in the oil sector.
Look how much money disappeared under the subsidy scam. Oh it’s really convenient for them. Chop money to the detriment of the economy. They are selling the future generation into slavery! Talking about the future generation; look at the education sector! This government pays little or no attention to education! How can a governor give out iPads to school kids and feel like he has contributed immensely to the education sector?”
Khalid waved both hands in the air as he spoke and while he did that, Aisha blanked out. Listening to Khalid rant about the economic state of the country was exhausting and she was not even in the mood. She took the belt from the loops, neatly folded the trouser and managed to slip the condom back where it had come from without his notice. She kept the trouser on the bed and when she bent down to retrieve the next item from the bag, Khalid stopped her. He had noticed she wasn’t paying him any attention.
“What are you doing?”
Khalid folded his arms and raised his eyebrows.
“Babe, are we okay?”
“I’m confused Khalid. What could possibly be wrong with us? Malaria?”
Khalid sighed and began massaging his temples.
“Your sarcasm tonight has been rather high. Why would you say you’re dancing alingo?”
“Because, clearly, I’m helping you unpack and you can see that, yet you ask what I’m doing.”
Aisha was spoiling for a fight. That much was evident.
“Okay. Would it have killed you to just say that? Besides, I don’t need you to help me unpack. I’ll take care of it later.”
“Why darling? Is there something in there you don’t want me to see?”
Khalid looked really confused. Her tone was pretty suggestive.
“Aisha, are you sure we’re okay? Because right now I get the feeling there’s something you’re not saying. What could I possibly have to hide from you?
I’ve been really stressed the last few days, the last thing I need right now is a fight. I wanted to invite you to the living room so you could say goodbye to the guys. They’re just about leaving.”
Aisha was not sure how to respond to that. How could he pretend he had nothing to hide when she had just found a condom in his pocket? There was absolutely no reason whatsoever for it to be there. She and Khalid weren’t having sex so they had no need for it. Her friends had teased her about going celibate but she had her reasons. Now this. There was only one answer. Khalid was cheating on her.
Focus girl, focus. We’ll deal with this later.
“Fine. I’ll come say goodbye to them. I’m right behind you.”
Khalid stood staring at her for a few seconds. He looked like he would leave without her. Then he reached out to her.
“I’m not going back there without you. I told them I was coming to get you to bid them farewell and I’ve been in here long enough. Let’s go.”
She still had a defiant look on her face so he added “Please.”
She placed her right hand in his and let him lead her out of the room.
Within a few minutes, the guys were all gone and they were left alone. Alone, with the tension still between them.
“So how was Port Harcourt? You spent two weeks there. I’m sure you have a lot of gist for me.”
Khalid looked at her but did not respond. Something was definitely wrong with Aisha. Her tone was accusing, like she knew something he did not.All the sarcasm tonight. She mostly went into full sarcasm mode when she was angry with him and expected him to figure out the reason himself. Could it be because he hadn’t come home that weekend two weeks ago?
He thought she understood. His schedule was pretty tight and he needed to get rest whenever he could find the time to. There was so much to tell her about the trip; several random incidents and small events that he had noted at the back of his mind to share with her and laugh over; but no, not tonight. The atmosphere wasn’t right.
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“Port Harcourt was ok. The meetings went well. Just normal boring econ stuff.”
“So nothing special happened there?”
“Uh… I met with the governor and a few of his cabinet members, we discussed what they were seemingly doing wrong and how we could get things right… Babe, there was nothing special, really. Just regular econ stuff and lots of politics too. I don’t want to bore you with details”
Aisha wasn’t convinced.
They sat in awkward silence for a while.
“Do you still want to go for dinner?”
Innocent question. Or so Khalid thought.
“Oh? You don’t want to take me again ko? I’m suddenly too thick to engage in a conversation over dinner?”
Khalid’s patience snapped.
“Aisha,what exactly is wrong with you? I told you. I had a very hectic time over the last two weeks. It was from one meeting to the other. I spent hours doing research over the internet,spent more time writing reports and proposals. I certainly did not come back home for any of your theatrics. If there is something on your mind, you had better say it now and quit being annoying and sarcastic!”
The look on Aisha’s face was hardly describable. Khalid was turning on her? He was losing his temper when she was simply giving him an opportunity to confess? Like she’d had a swell time here in his absence.
Her supervisor at the office was a crazy control freak that constantly kept her under pressure. Each time she needed to talk to Khalid about how her day was going, he was never there. They barely chatted over bbm in the three weeks that he was away. Lagos to Port Harcourt. He was the one who had cheated and now he was here losing his temper. He must be a joker.
“Actually Khalid, there’s a lot on my mind but I’m certainly not saying anything tonight. I’m going home.”
She went into his room, picked her handbag and walked out. Khalid was standing in the doorway.
“Aisha, what have I always told you about communication?”
“Don’t use that tone on me Khalid. I am neither your daughter nor your little sister. And I don’t care what you have told me about communication. I don’t want to talk. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got somewhere I need to be.”
Khalid’s eyes softened as he looked at the beautiful petite lady before him. Aisha was a lot to handle. Quite a package actually, considering her small stature. You could not help but love her, especially when she got mad. That was a sight to behold. Pursed lips, fiery eyes, hands on her waist and a set look on her face. Just the way she was now. He wanted to lift her off the ground and spin her in his arms. He wanted to kiss her deeply and tell her how much he had missed her. He wanted to tell her that every day in Port Harcourt had been frustrating without being able to effectively communicate with her. He wanted to tell her about the governor’s daughter who had flirted with him and who he had to outrightly tell that he was engaged. He wanted to do all that. But he did not. Rather, he stepped aside and let her walk through.
He followed her to the car and watched her get in. She shut the door, placed her left hand on the steering wheel and then turned the key in the ignition with her right. When the car came to life, she took her glass down and turned to look at him, her left hand still on the wheel. She opened her mouth to speak but before she could utter a word, Khalid spoke.
“You’re not wearing your engagement ring…”
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To be continued to