“Drive anywhere, just create as much distance as possible between you and those three jealous girls” the voice in his head kept telling him as he drove on furiously. Traffic on the road was relaxed being a weekend.
“How did they all end up together”, Amadi wondered. He felt that there was a conspiracy somewhere, the three girls had conspired to meet with him at the same time. He was worried about his household items, what would happen if they all had a big brawl? They would definitely destroy some of his furniture. What will be the neighbours perception of him when the news spreads that girls were fighting over him in his house on Valentine’s day?
It was infuriating running away like a thief from his own house on a hungry stomach!
He felt a sense of sobriety, he would have to end this multiple girlfriend lifestyle and stick to one girl. At the moment, he doubted if any of them would want to continue a relationship with him.
He turned onto the long stretch Aba road expressway, drove on the Airforce flyover bridge and branched into Aggrey close. With no clear destination in mind, he drove aimlessly on the road, gazing at the valentine atmosphere in this part of the city.
He saw pedestrians wearing red outfits in the spirit of the valentine season, supermarkets decorated in red colours, hawkers selling valentine themed products. Amadi sighed and pulled over by a pharmacy to buy a bunch of ripe bananas from a street hawker. He quickly devoured them inside the car and took off once more. He had turned off his phone to keep the girls from bugging his line. He would be on the road for one more hour and after then return to his house. Things would definitely be calm by then.
The three girls stood with a righteous air of indignation and looked at the direction where Amadi had zoomed off. They all had frowns on their faces. One after the other they walked back into the living room and sat down keeping as much distance from each other. They sat for minutes, each of them silently ruminating over the event that had just played out in the last minutes before their very eyes.in their minds.
“Amadi is a coward” Annabel spoke out, “why did he run, why didn’t he stand and see the effect of his actions?” she ended with a long hiss.
The other ladies nodded in agreement and the air of hostility between them appeared to have thawed momentarily.
“I feel so ashamed of myself, look at how I cheapened myself and allowed Amadi to play me” Suzzy said with regret, “I even went the extra mile to make sure that I had my way with him today”
“What extra mile did you go to?” Maria and Annabel asked.
“You will be surprised if I told you, let’s just forget it, it is all in the past now”
“So Amadi has been playing all of us, I feel used. Look at me coming all the way from Warri to spend valentine with him only to be told that he doesn’t believe in Valentine anymore” Maria complained.
“I came with the intention of spending the night here and securing a marriage proposal at the end of the day” Suzzy said in a tone of regret.
“Hahahaha” Annabel laughed out loud, “I just came here to have fun today,” She said.
The three ladies were now chatting like close friends united by a common foe, Amadi, who had wronged them.
“This just breaks my heart, I thought this valentine would be special, look at the way things have turned out to be. I just can’t believe this is happening to me, I am leaving. ” Suzzy was deeply disappointed. Amadi didn’t give a chance for her Real desires seduction potion to do its work.
“His number is switched off” Annabel announced, peering over her phone.
Suzzy got up and took one last look at her fellow girls and said ‘goodbye’. She carried her bag and walked out with the air of one who has lost the plot.
“I am leaving soon myself, let’s just say I am tired of playing games” Maria told Annabel who was fidgeting with her shoelace.
“I wanted his money, I didn’t think he was actually gonna marry me. I am sorry for the name calling. I am actually nice person, not as bad as the picture I painted” Annabel said.
The two ladies smiled and exchanged phone numbers. Annabel left.
In a short while, Maria had packed her bags and was ready to leave. The death knell had sounded on her relationship with Amadi.
She locked the door and dropped the key under the front mat. She then sent a text message to his number informing him that she was gone and that he should pick his keys under the mat. He would get the text when he chose to switch on his phone.
He had not been in this part of Port Harcourt before, he had gotten curious when he was at the junction and decided to explore the area. The road was a long one lane road. It appeared deserted and bushy. Few houses stood on the fringes of the bush. He had driven past a cluster of palm trees when he saw an elderly woman standing by the roadside. She flagged him down and requested for a lift.
“My son, please help me get to the junction, I have been standing here for 30 minutes without seeing a vehicle.”
“Come in, I am going towards your direction.” He invited her in.
She thanked him got into the front seat. He drove off. The woman appeared to be in her late 50’s, she wore a light blue Ankara buba on top of a deep green coloured wrapper. The sandals on her feet were dusty. Her face was roundish with wrinkles on the forehead and few strands of grey hair sprouted from her hair. She had lively eyes and a bright jovial face.
“I went to check on a piece of land and I forgot to tell the taxi man who dropped me to wait for me. I was thinking I would easily see a vehicle back home” She informed him.
“I have never been here before, what’s the name of this area?” Amadi asked.
“Eliaozu” she replied.
“Alright, where exactly are you going madam?” Amadi politely asked.
“I am going home, you will drop me at the junction and then I will take the earthen pathway home”
“I will drop you at your house” Amadi told her.
“Oh that is so thoughtful of you, thank you my son. May God bless you”, she continued, “Where are you going to this Saturday morning?”
“Nowhere in particular ma’am, I am just driving through the city doing sight-seeing”
“Are you not wasting your fuel? Hahaha, today is valentine day. Are you doing some hunting for a valentine partner?” she chuckled
“No madam”, “well…I am trying to avoid some people” He replied. The woman was such a pleasant lady and a good conversationalist, he felt completely at ease talking to her.
“Are you avoiding your girlfriend? You young men are funny people. In our youthful days, things were not like this. Nigeria was such a good and warm place then.”
“Tell me, did you people used to celebrate valentine as we do now” Amadi inquired.
“Yes of course, Valentine was celebrated in our days. Those were the days when love had meaning. We had true love then. People loved each other for the sake of love not for material gain like you young people do in this age. Valentine used to be wonderful and interesting. There were lots of fun places to go to with your sweetheart, you could go to the beach to relax, listening to good music from Bongos Ikwue, Chris Okotie, Onyeka Onwenu, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and a whole bunch of other Nigerian and foreign artists. You share whatever you had, no matter how little, with your lover in the spirit of love. Life was good.” The woman was becoming nostalgic.
Amadi listened attentively to her as she spoke. Her words were refreshing and penetrated his mind.
“Valentine was a day set aside for sharing of love, not only romantic love but love for people. People used to give items to the needy, they donated to the orphanages, shared food, exchanged gift items and love letters. That is the true essence of valentine. This modern age had changed the meaning. You young people are living life on the fast lane. You have turned it into a day of celebration of sex and all kinds of perversion. We elderly ones just look at you people and shake our heads in pity, your generation has lost it.”
“Madam, you wouldn’t believe this, three girls came to my house this morning to celebrate valentine with me. I had to run away from my house; that is how I ended up driving in this part of town.” Amadi opened up fully.
“What do you do for a living?”
“I am a banker, I work in Companion bank”
“Oh I see, the girls came to meet you because you have been spending money on them. You see that is the problem, you created it for yourself, why date three girls at the same time? Is one not enough?”
“It is just that they keep throwing themselves at me” Amadi said in his defence.
“Then you have the will power to say ‘No’ my son. There is more to this life than sleeping around with girls because you have money to do so. It is the decline in our morals that has made girls to become suckers looking for readymade men to spend on them not caring to know the source of the money.
In my days, a girl dated only one boy with a promising future, married him and acquired riches with him as God blessed their handwork. Life is meant to be simple. Your money is meant to meet the needs of people and of yourself. Spending your money indiscriminately on women that you are not going to marry is a waste, look at the tight situation you have put yourself in now. I hope you are investing your money. I have a friend’s son, who got laid off from a bank last year”
“Yes, I have bought land and I am currently moulding blocks”
“Oh that is good, you have a good head my son, landed property is the best investments in these times. All you have to do is to let your money go in the right direction.
“I have learnt my lesson ma” Amadi said as he turned at the junction and drove through the untarred pot hole ridden road enroute her home.
“What is your name?” she asked him.
“Okay, I am Mrs Sarah Pepple. A widow with four children. Two of them are married and have their families. I have a daughter who is in her final year in the university, I have a son in UK. You should meet them.
Mrs. Sarah Pepple’s house was a bungalow fenced round by high walls painted with white. It was a beautiful compound adorned with flowers.
Amadi felt a sense of peace and harmony on entering the house with his hostess. Mrs Pepple insisted on serving him with a soft drink to reciprocate his kind gesture.
Two small boys played with him as he sat in the living room watching the television set. The boys were two year old twins, her second set of grandchildren, MrsPepple explained to him, they came with their parents on a weekend valentine visit.
Her 23 year old daughter Olanna was at the backyard peeling cassava tubers preparing to make garri for the family.
“A final year student, peeling cassava for garri on valentine’s day?” She must be very humble and hardworking, I would like to meet her” He said to himself. He went around to the backyard.
Olanna was a beauty. Amadi stared at her and suddenly felt small and inconsequential in the presence of the queen. The girl smiled at him exposing a gap tooth and two dimples. He smiled back and suddenly offered to peel the cassava tubers with her despite her protestations.
It was a new beginning for him. Peeling cassava for an hour with Olanna was the highlight of his Valentine’s Day. Maria, Suzzy, Annabel and Ruth were discarded to the past. He knew that he would come back to visit her. He had fallen in love on Valentine’s Day. Life had a new meaning.
Amadi went back to his house and found everywhere deserted. Maria had left a note for him calling it quits with the relationship. Suzzy, Annabell and Ruth told him on separate occasions that they were no longer interested in a relationship with him.
He went back the next week to Mrs. Sarah Pepple’s house to visit Olanna. He became a regular visitor to the house. Olanna was an embodiment of beauty, intelligence, love and simplicity. They dated for one year and got married.
Every Valentine’s day, Amadi takes Olanna his wife on a special romantic evening and narrates the valentine nightmare story to her and she always laughs heartily.
By Iniobong Umoh
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