Exams were soon over and Kokumo packed his travel bag in a hurry. He half-ran to the bus stop to catch the next bus out of town. As he sat in the bus that was loading, he waited impatiently hoping the bus would fill up on time. He intended to go to Ajoke’s house before going home. He could not risk going to his house first and getting distracted from his mission. His mother had not seen him for over a month and he knew once she did, she would kick against him going out immediately after his arrival home.
As the bus moved and eased into the snarling traffic, he prayed in his heart that Ajoke would be home. He knew he took a risk by going to her house but he had no other choice. The matter at hand had to be handled today.
In one hour, Kokumo arrived Ajoke’s village. He threw his travel bag over his shoulders and walked towards her house. He was a few metres from her house when he saw her sitting on a low stool and frying garri outside her house. He looked to the left and to the right to see if anyone was looking. When he noticed no one around, he stood at a corner where he would not been seen and whistled. Ajoke’s hand movement stopped immediately she heard the whistle. She looked around her to see if her mother was in the vicinity before looking in the direction the whistle came from.
Kokumo whistled a second time. This time, Ajoke packed up the garri she was frying in a hurry, covered it up and took it into her house. She stepped out of her house with a water pot and started walking towards the back of the house to the path that led to the stream. Kokumo took the cue and also passed through another path which would eventually lead him to the stream.
Ajoke dropped her water pot on the ground and waited as she craned her neck to look out for anyone passing by. She tapped her hand on her laps impatiently as she waited. She almost jumped when she heard the rustling of leaves behind her. As she turned back, she was face to face with Kokumo. He had a smile on his face. He removed the travel bag slung across his shoulders and dropped it on the ground without breaking eye contact with Ajoke. Ajoke stood rooted to the spot. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Kokumo closed the space between them as he took her hands. She hugged him tightly and the tears began to flow freely.
Kokumo pulled her back and kissed her lips gently. Ajoke responded with a passion that was unmatched with his. She ravaged his lips as the tears continued to flow. When she eased away from him, Kokumo wiped her cheeks with his thumb. “I love you Ajoke.” He said.
“I am getting married to Adejoro in a week.” She cried.
“What?” Kokumo’s eyes widened. “A week? Why?”
“I don’t know, Kokumo. I don’t know what to do.”
Kokumo exhaled as he picked up his travel bag and put it on his shoulders. He also picked up Ajoke’s water pot and held her by the hand. “Let us walk to the stream.”
Ajoke sniffed as she nodded.
They got to the stream and looked for a secluded area where they could sit down. He found a spot where they could see anyone coming to the stream to fetch water but remain unseen. There was nothing to sit down on, so Kokumo took out his wrapper from his travel bag and spread it on the ground. He placed Ajoke’s water pot and his travel bag by a corner and sat down resting his back on a tree. He spread his legs apart as he pulled Ajoke down to sit in front of him.
“So who is this guy?” Kokumo asked.
“Adejoro. He is Broda Adisa’s friend. They have been friends for long but I never knew he was interested in me.”
“Hmm….so your father just decided you were getting married to him without consulting with you?”
“Maami discussed it with me. When I kicked against the idea, she asked to know what made me different from my friends who were already married. I had no words to answer to her.” Ajoke replied.
Kokumo put his hand on his head as he thought. He hadn’t bargained that Ajoke’s wedding will be so close. He was confused. Was there really anything that could be done at this point to salvage their relationship? Was this the end of their dream?
Ajoke turned to look at Kokumo when she noticed he was silent. She removed his hand from his head and looked straight at him. “Let’s run away.”
Kokumo looked at her surprised. “Run away? To where?”
Ajoke shrugged. “Anywhere. As long as we are far away from the village.”
Kokumo shook his head vigorously. “No Ajoke. We can’t do that. Have you forgotten that you are an only daughter? Your father will never forgive us.”
“I don’t care.” Ajoke said throwing a tantrum. “Did he think about that before deciding to seal my fate with a stranger?”
Kokumo put his hand on his head as he looked to the heavens. “Ajoke, your father believes he is doing this in your best interest.”
“And you?” Ajoke asked, getting angry.
“Ajoke my love, you don’t know how much this hurts. Do you think if I knew this could happen, I would not have asked for your hand in marriage before going to the University? Our dreams are being shattered before our eyes. I wish I knew what to do. I am as confused as you are. If we elope, where will you stay? How will I cater for you while I am still in school? I wanted a better life for us. A life different from what our parents have in this village where civilization is still a dream.”
“So you are just going to let me go? You would leave me to live a life of misery married to someone I do not love?” Ajoke asked as tears began to stream down her cheeks again.
“Ajoke…..” Kokumo stressed her name as he turned her so that she sat face to face with him. “I cannot help it. What do you want me to do? If we could think of a way out besides eloping, I am ready to go that route.”
Ajoke burst into tears as her body shook. This was not the dream they had when they were leaving the secondary school. They had had lofty dreams; Kokumo especially. He had been so sure of a bright future ahead of them. Even when she had been discouraged knowing that her education ended at the secondary level, he had lightened her spirit by telling her that once they got married, she could go back to school. He wanted her to be educated as well. All the dreams they talked about were crashing before them like a pack of badly arranged cards. She understood everything Kokumo had said. She knew eloping with him did not make sense but she was ready to gamble on their destiny.
As she sobbed, Kokumo pulled her close and hugged her. This was difficult for him as well. His heart was also getting broken. He had never loved anyone the way he loved Ajoke. She was his first love but fate was turning its back on their love. Fate was tearing them apart leaving each one of them in the cold. How he wished he could turn back the hands of time. How he wished he had listened to his mother. It was almost as if she knew this would happen. He would have visited her father immediately to make his intentions known. He would have gotten married to her and took her home to his mother. He would have still continued his education but he would have also saved their love. Now, his inactions had caused both of them great pain. He sighed deeply as he held on to Ajoke.
Ajoke looked up at Kokumo’s face and his heart broke. She was more broken than he was. She took Kokumo’s face in her hands and kissed him passionately. She kissed him with so much dexterity that Kokumo almost wondered where she learnt to kiss. As she held on to him, she raised herself from her sitting position and knelt before him as she continued to kiss him. Beams of passion began to burn in Kokumo’s body and he tried to pull back but Ajoke refused to let go. She began to caress his body as she put her hands under his tee-shirt. The sensations Kokumo felt were indescribable as blood began to seep into his nether region. Ajoke was waking up every member of his body. He kissed her back matching her passion and soon, they were both panting. Ajoke began to unzip his trousers and his body began to seek expression. He tore the wrapper she tied round her waist away as he lay her down gently to take pleasure in her. Just as he was about to merge his body with hers, he remembered what she had told him a few minutes ago; I am getting married to Adejoro in a week. He shook his head as if a spell cast on him had suddenly been lifted and stood up as he began to zip up his trousers.
Ajoke lay on the ground with her eyes closed awaiting his pleasure. His kisses had pleasured her and she wanted him to take her whole. She opened her eyes when she noticed she couldn’t feel his breath on her again and saw him standing and watching her. She looked at him confused as she realized he had zipped up his pants and was holding her wrapper.
“We can’t do this, Ajoke.”
Ajoke sat up. “Why? We both want this.”
Kokumo breathed hard. “Yes, we both want it but it is not right. You are getting married next week.”
Ajoke opened her mouth to say something but shut it again. She stood up, snatched her wrapper from Kokumo and tied it round her waist. She picked up her water pot and was about walking away when Kokumo held her arm. She looked back at him angrily. “Leave me alone, Kokumo.”
“Please understand Ajoke. The embarrassment a woman goes through when her husband finds out someone else had made her a woman is great. I love you and do not want you to go through it.”
“Kokumo, I said leave me alone.” Ajoke repeated in anger.
Kokumo exhaled. He regretted leading her on and as much as he would have loved to be the one to make her a woman, he could not stand the embarrassment she would face later. He retrieved the water pot from her and dropped it gently. He hugged her tight but Ajoke struggled to free herself from him. When her strength failed her, she sighed and stayed still in his embrace.
“You don’t know how much I love you, Ajoke. I am willing to make this sacrifice to show you how much I love you.” He said as he cradled her face and planted a gentle kiss on her lips. He bent down to pick up her water pot and handed it to her. She collected it without making eye contact with him. She had cried enough for the day.
Kokumo took up his wrapper, shook it before placing it back into his travel bag. He picked the travel bag and held Ajoke’s hand as he led her towards the stream. He collected the water pot from her, filled it up with water and helped to balance it on her head. They walked quietly towards the path that led to her house.
When they got to the junction before her house, Kokumo stopped walking and kissed his fore and middle finger and placed it on Ajoke’s lips. Ajoke smiled sadly as she knew this was his goodbye. He turned back and took another path that would lead him back to the main road while Ajoke watched in sorrow.
By Bukola Adekusibe
THE WAIT continues
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