Nnamdi burrowed deeper into his duvet ignoring his ringing phone. He wasn’t expecting any calls, and besides it was too early to be calling.
It a bid to confirm his last thought, he opened his left eye and gazed at the wall clock. He was right, this was only 5 a.m., and he had planned a sleep-in today to avoid the show of red he was sure was going to fill up the streets.
His Facebook wall was already filling up with Valentine’s Day wishes as at the time he went to sleep by 1:24 a.m., showing him what today would be like. So today he was undertaking a Facebook fast, as well as spending his day indoors. Thank God he had no event engagement today.
With that last thought, his eyes flew open. His manager was the only one who dared to call him at anytime he deemed fit.
Quickly picking up the still ringing phone, he saw that his guess was right; it was his manager calling.
Making no attempt to conceal the grogginess in his voice, he picked up.
“Good morning Nnamdi, I have been calling you for the past thirty minutes,” the manager said, you know I don’t just call you, and so for me to call, it has to be important.
“I was sleeping,” Nnamdi said, the tone of his voice saying the manager should have known.
“Well, you have a job today, and it is in about four hours’ time,” the manager said.
“I thought we agreed that there won’t be any impromptu jobs anymore?”
“Yes we did, but this is great for you. It will get you more opportunities, and besides they are from your tribe,”
“What has that gotten to do with the price of fish?” Nnamdi asked under his breath, before he could stop himself. His manager was fond of trying to use the ties of tribe to get him to do jobs he wouldn’t have done otherwise, and he always won.
“What did you say? I didn’t get that,”
“Nothing, I am just not prepared for any job today” Nnamdi said. He was already thinking of the energy needed to get dressed and leave the house. “Event-hosting involves preparing the state of your mind,” he ended trying to sound important.
“Nnamdi you have to do this job, or else I am no longer your manager,” came his manager’s reply, shocking him. “I will be sending you the address and the amount that will be sent to you after you finish the job. Dress to impress.”
Before Nnamdi could reply, the call was ended. Moments later, he got a text stating the direction to the venue and the time he was expected to be there. His eyes widened at the amount he was to expect, and he decided that it was worth it, he just had to find a way to get to Lekki and avoid the shows of red he was bound to see all around.
Three hours later, Nnamdi was at the venue, and asked to meet the host, so he could introduce himself.
He was shown to a young woman who had a beautiful smile. The wedding band on her ring finger reminded him of the reason he was alone on this day.
She should be a married woman by now, according to the text she sent to him that day, three months ago.
“Follow me please,” the woman with the beautiful smile said to him, breaking into his thoughts, but he could still recite the words contained in the text, without thinking
“You are not romantic. I don’t want to endure my marriage. Also I don’t think I can die for you, and I know you can’t die for me. I know I can die for Michael. I’m sorry.”
“Meet my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ugwu,” the lady was saying as she walked towards an aged couple who sat on a sofa, identically dressed, holding hands and laughing at something only them found funny. “Today is their anniversary. They got married before they even knew about Valentine’s Day. They have been married for 58years,”
Nnamdi stood transfixed as he watched the couple still talking to each other in whispers. The happiness was evident on their faces, and for the first time, he was beginning to understand what Onyinye had meant. He had no doubt that these people could die for each other.
“Mama, Papa, meet your MC, he will host your anniversary party,” the lady was saying to them, and Nnamdi felt as though she was interrupting rudely. It was obvious that they were in their own world.
“Leave them al…” he started to say before the couple looked up.
“We told them we didn’t need a party,” the woman said with a smile as she held out her left hand to him, her right hand still clasped in her husband’s. “But they insisted. You are welcome my son.”
She pulled him to the free space on the sofa beside her, her hand feeling very soft, like a baby’s.
“Tell me how you met,” He asked, as their daughter left them alone, possibly to attend to other things. He tried to sound professional, but really wanting to know.
The narrative which came after his demand was the highlight of his day.
The woman, speaking slowly and gazing at nothing in particular spoke on how, back in school, her husband had kept asking her on a date, but she kept turning him down until the day he took a risk of getting himself killed and attacked the men who tried to kidnap her.
It was on one of the many study nights she had in school, and he had followed her. She had just warned him to stay away from her, and was walking away when two men appeared from a shadowed side and tried to take her away.
“He had no reason to fight for me,” the woman explained turning to look into her husband’s eyes. “I was rude to him, and each of the men were twice his size with muscles, but he fought for me. They beat him up badly and only my shouts, which attracted people, saved him as they ran away leaving him bloodied. It looked as though they were bent on killing him for interfering.”
“I couldn’t walk away,” the man continued the tale from where his wife stopped. “I was already in love with her, and could do nothing else but interfere. But she also proved herself. After the beating from her near-kidnappers, she agreed to go out with me, and just two months into the relationship, I got some symptoms which was diagnosed as failing kidneys and interpreted to me needing a kidney donation, and she got herself tested and signed for the donation without telling me!”
“I knew he wouldn’t approve,” the woman cut in.
“Exactly! When I found out, I threatened to end the relationship if she tried to go ahead with the donation, and her reply told me all I needed to know,”
“What did she say?” Nnamdi couldn’t help asking.
“She said, ‘at least you will be alive to break up with me’. Luckily it was a wrong diagnosis, and her kidney was not donated, by then I knew she was totally mine,”
The silence which followed was a peaceful one, as the couple gazed at each other, Nnamdi felt he was intruding on their privacy, and so he excused himself.
Just before he left them, the old man said to him, as though he knew of his experience, “Don’t worry my son, when she comes, she will stick with you,”
He nodded and walked out.
As he walked down to where the guests were getting seated, he knew he had answers to his questions of why things didn’t work out with Onyinye; she was not the right one, and so she could not complement him, they couldn’t complement one another. That was also why he could not act romantic towards her.
By the end of the day, Nnamdi had let go of the anger he felt towards Onyinye; it was not her fault and neither was it his. They were not meant for each other.
Getting home that night, Nnamdi felt a deep satisfaction from the fact that though he didn’t celebrate the day with anyone special, he had witnessed what he wanted.
He wanted someone he could die for. He wanted someone who could die for him.
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