(Read part 1 here).
‘Can you remember how we met?’ Nnamdi asked suddenly. Idia frowned. ‘Yes, I remember’. She had gone to buy fabrics from his mother’s store at Garki Plaza. His mother had introduced them; Nnamdi had stopped by during his lunch break. He had asked Idia for her number and a few weeks later, they were dating. That was over two years ago.
‘Honestly, I wasn’t really ready for a relationship’, Nnamdi said. ‘My mother said she knew you and knew your parents from church’. He shrugged. She frowned.
‘But…I didn’t force you to date me’.
‘Wow. No, that’s not what I meant, Baby’, Nnamdi turned to look at her again. ‘It’s just…I usually go for flashy girls. You’re very…different’.
Idia looked at him, and looked down at the chipped nail polish on her toes which she had been so worried about. She suddenly realized that what love she felt for Nnamdi before that moment was slowly evapourating from her body, like a balloon that had been burst gently.
And she was not as distraught as she had felt she would be.
In fact, she felt fine.
‘I’m glad you’ve told me this. I don’t know what else to say… I’ll miss you’. She meant it-he was a good-natured and funny guy. I’ll also miss your abs, she added silently.
She stood up and walked out of the living room, with Nnamdi following silently behind her.
Idia turned when she got to the front door and hugged him briefly. As she opened the door, Nnamdi said, ‘Baby?’
‘Does that mean you’re not cooking stew for me anymore?’
Idia stared at him in disbelief, started to say something, but changed her mind.
She shut the door with more force than was necessary.
It took about a month for Nnamdi to finally get the message that Idia was no longer his girlfriend. He called several times in a day, so often that she had to apologize to her co-workers and put her phone on silent mode anytime she was in the office.
He sent messages; some were cajoling (‘Baby, please let’s talk about this’), some were bitter (Wow,I knew you never really cared about me’) and some were ridiculous (‘if you could just cook that stew for me one more time, please’).
‘Hmm. Okay’ was all her mother had said when Idia had told her about the breakup. She had looked at the phone and put it back against her ear. Short responses were not her mother’s usual style.
‘Mummy, did you hear what I said?’
‘I heard you. I’ve been praying for you very seriously these past few months; my spirit has not been at rest. Nnamdi is a nice boy, but over two years and no marriage talk? No, I prayed and I prayed, and God has answered my prayers. Maybe he would have been a bad husband’.
Idia sighed. ‘Yes, Mummy’.
‘And what kind of man drives such a large car that is so far above the ground? Honestly, that boy wasn’t ready for marriage. And he is always wearing black clothes. Maybe he is even a cultist. Who knows?’
‘Yes, Mummy’. Idia put her mother on speakerphone as she put on a sweater. Her room was getting cold because of the Air Conditioner, but the electricity could go off at any time, so she wanted her room to get as cold as possible.
‘In fact, he is too handsome. I know that God has answered my prayers. You will meet your husband soon’.
‘Yes, Mummy’. Idia imagined telling her mother that she did not want to get married. She imagined her mother getting on the next flight from Benin to Abuja solely to give her a brain-resetting slap, before returning to Benin. At age thirty, she was more terrified of her mother than she would admit.
She listened as her mother listed out all the things she did not like about Nnamdi, and she dozed off.
‘I can’t believe that you’re actually letting me cook for you’, said Taju.
Idia smiled. I can’t believe it either, she thought.
She had been friends with Taju even before she met Nnamdi, and had kept in touch on and off over the years. Somehow, some kind of secret signal was sent out into the universe that she was no longer with Nnamdi, because out of the blue, he called her to ask her out on a date.
‘I have a cold, so I really don’t want to go out’.
‘How about I make you my world-famous rice and shredded beef sauce?’
‘World-famous? You mean, famous in Ogun state only?’
‘Ah, this woman, you’re so mean. Please. Let me cook for you’.
Idia’s first instinct was to say no. Instead, she found herself saying, ‘Sure, come over’.
Before you could say ‘shredded beef’, Taju was at her house, seasoning and stir-frying and boiling until the kitchen smelt heavenly.
‘I don’t eat peppery food, so I only put a little pepper in the sauce. I hope this is okay?’ He asked.
‘It’s perfect. I don’t like pepper either’, Idia said, smiling.
‘She said that I don’t love her, and then she ended things with me, Mum’.
‘It’s okay my dear son. The river goddess knows why she directed that you constantly eat peppery food cooked by a young woman. I chose her based on her looks; the goddess was very specific. I will find another woman for you, don’t worry’.
‘Thanks Mum, you’re the best’.
Ivie M. Eke November 2018.