“A million words would not bring you back, I know because I tried, neither would a million tears, I know because I cried.”
The vibration of my phone next to my ear prompted me to take a look at my phone screen. I told Derin to hold on as I checked. It was a message from Lenka. It read,
‘Hey bebe, I hope you got home safely. I just wanted to thank you for tonight. You’re such an amazing man and the little things you do for me is what makes you the best. I love you and even forever is not enough to show you how much. Good night bebe.’
My mind was in a turmoil. There she was, thinking about how she wanted to spend forever with me, not knowing I was a big jerk who had just canceled her surprise proposal.
“Hello, Fa’a.” Derin’s voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Sorry mehn, I was reading a message.” I replied weakly.
“I am still waiting for the almighty secret o.” He reminded me.
I already felt guilty as it was. If I told Derin about it then, he would definitely make it worse so I told him I’d come by his office the next morning so we could discuss the situation. After being his typical dramatic self, lamenting and ranting that I made him swear for nothing, he hung up.
I was still thinking of my life and all the stupid decisions I had made that night when a message from my sister, Hajara came in. I had told her about my intentions to propose to Lenka and in her excitement, she spread the gist to my other sisters and my mother. I didn’t have a problem with her running her mouth because I mean, it was good news. But now that the proposal didn’t happen, I became angry at her for telling the others because I knew that if I told her that the proposal didn’t happen, she would not waste time to report me and my mother will not rest till she hears the reason why I didn’t propose which for obvious reasons, I cannot tell her.
Hajara wanted to know how the proposal had gone and why there were no pictures yet. Thank God I warned all of them not to talk to Lenka about it till I gave them a positive response. If not, Hajara would have called Lenka to scream congratulations in her ear. As if I knew something was going to happen that night.
I didn’t know how to explain it to Hajara so I didn’t reply her message. I just wanted to go to bed quietly and get the day over and done with but alas, it wasn’t to be as my phone rang again. This time, it was my mother and I knew it was definitely because of the proposal. You would think that a mother wouldn’t be this interested in things like this but not mine.
My mother was in her early fifties and was one of the hippiest mothers ever. She didn’t even look like her age and if you saw both of us together, you would think she was my elder sister. Since her husband was providing everything for her and she didn’t need to work, she spent her time achieving cool status, staying fit and being in all her children’s businesses. My sisters indulged her and let her get involved in their businesses so I had no choice than to let her get involved in mine too. I was now regretting it because if I didn’t let her get involved in my relationship, she won’t have even had an idea about my proposal, not to talk of calling to find out if it had happened.
I didn’t pick up the first time and trust my mother not to relent. She kept calling till I finally picked up.
“Fa’a, menene? Why aren’t you picking your phone?” She asked.
“Good evening mother.” I greeted.
“Good evening. What happened? Did she say yes?” She asked eagerly.
I didn’t know what lie would be sufficient enough to keep her off my back.
“Fa’a, are you there?” She asked.
“Yes mum.” I answered.
“What happened? Didn’t she say yes?”
“The thing is that, I didn’t ask her.” I answered.
“I was… scared?” I muttered.
“Kun tsorata. Since when? When did that start?” She questioned me.
“I don’t know mother, I was going to but I got cold feet and took a step back.”
“Faraji, wahali this your story is not making any sense, gaskiya.”
“Mum, it’s not easy to just move to the next phase. It’s something you need to think about carefully.”
“Fa’a, you’re never ready for these things. You have to take the bull by the horn and move once and for all. You’re thirty years old and if you don’t move now when will you move?” She asked me.
That was a foolish lie I had told and I knew that I won’t hear the last of it. She would tell my sisters and they would continuously torment me with it.
“Mum don’t worry, I’ll propose sooner than you think and you’d finally be able to gather all your friends and wear matching outfits and all of that.”
“Insha Allah baby.” She laughed.
Even at thirty, my mother still called me baby because I was her only son and she had a soft spot for me.
“Ok mum, good night.”
“Good night, baby.”
We laughed and she hung up.
Immediately she did, I turned off my phone and went up to bed. I didn’t want any other person calling me to talk about the same thing. The mistake I made was telling my friends about it and I had gotten their hopes up. Technically speaking, it wasn’t exactly my fault, after-all, I myself thought a proposal was going to happen.
The next morning, I didn’t even turn on my phone till I got to the office. I was sure that there would be one or two WhatsApp messages querying me about the proposal situation. Of course there were. Amir had messaged me and even Tosan, all of them asking me the same question. I didn’t bother answering because no explanation would be sufficient for them.
I tried to go about my day as usual but I was very distracted. All I could think of was my meet up with Wangi that night. I had so many questions in my head that I couldn’t wait to get answers to. I wanted to know if she finally got married, who she married, everything about her. My ears were itching so much that nothing seemed to work that day and to make matters worse, the day was as slow as hell. I felt like I had sat in my chair for seven years when it was 4pm. At that point, productivity was very far from me so I called it a day and headed to Derin’s office. I planned to stay there till it was time to go out with Wangi. Then I remembered, I hadn’t sent her a venue for out meet up. I quickly made a mental search and decided on Sao Cafe. I texted her the venue and told her to meet me there at 6pm.
I strolled into Derin’s office to meet him laughing loudly on the phone. Immediately he saw me, he told the person, Dee definitely, that I was there and he had to go. Then they started debating on who would hang up first. I rolled my eyes and looked at Derin before his sense came back to him and he hung up.
“My main man Danjuma.” Derin hailed me as we shook hands.
“Do you do any work in this office at all?” I asked him.
“So all these files and documents on my desk is not work abi?”
“I’m just asking because you’re always on the phone, laughing hysterically with Derin.”
“Abeg abeg, it’s not my fault your relationship is not as spicy as mine.”
“Whatever you say. Just don’t lose your job because Derin will not stay with a broke man, namesake or not.” I advised.
“Leave us alone abeg.”
“Speaking of relationships, you still haven’t said anything about yesterday night.” He said seriously.
“That’s why I’m here mehn. I didn’t end up proposing yesterday.” I dropped the bomb.
“What? Why? Abi you forgot the ring at home?”
“No joor. I had it with me. I had even gone to give it to the waiters like we planned but the proposal didn’t happen.”
“So did the waiters misplace it abi what?” He asked impatiently.
I made him reaffirm his oath of secrecy before proceeding to tell him all that had happened. Derin knew Wangi because we all went to uni together. The expression on his face when I told him that I saw Wangi the night before was more than shock. He almost screamed when I told him that both of us still had our individual halves. When I finished narrating the story, he stared at me and didn’t utter a word for almost five minutes.
“Derin say something now.” I broke the silence.
“You’re mad o, you know abi?” He finally said. He didn’t wait for me to say something before he continued, “so you stopped a proposal that we had been planning for weeks because you saw a girl who dumped you years ago. Who does that Faraji, who?”
“See I was confused, it happened so fast.”
“You even went ahead to bring out that yeye half note when she brought hers out. Didn’t your head tell you that you were falling into a deep pit?”
“I didn’t know what to do then. I was excited that I had seen her again and all the memories just came back.” I had to defend myself from this attack.
“You’re not even helping matters. How can you want to throwaway your relationship with the most amazing woman just because of that nonsense Wangi?” He shouted.
“I’m not throwing away my relationship Derin. It’s just that there were so many things left unsaid between Wangi and I. All I want is closure so that I can move on in one piece.”
“You know I won’t lie to you right? I just want you to know that you sound stupid, very very stupid. Which kain yeye closure you dey find? Lenka has closed everything for you so if you know what is good for you, don’t go and reopen it, don’t even try it.”
“Derin, I’m going to see her tonight. I have too many questions and I need answers.”
“Oh God! This boy! I just told you that you cannot scatter things because of Wangi and now you’re taking your foolishness a step further by going to meet her. Guy, you dey craze?”
All the words he was saying was entering one ear and coming out of the other. My mind was already made up and I was going to meet with Wangi that evening so I warned him not to go running to report to Derin.
“Unlike you, I have a conscience. I won’t do anything to break that poor woman’s heart. But you on the other hand, would throw everything away in your silliness and exuberance. And everyone says I’m the one without sense.” He sighed.
“Derin that’s not what I’m trying to do. I…” I tried to explain.
“No need to explain brother. Go ahead, make the mistake you’re about to make and I’d be here, waiting to tell you, ‘I told you so.’ and as usual, help you clean up your mess. That’s what best friends are for right?” A sarcastic smile crept up his face.
I sighed, picked up my car keys and stood up.
“I’ll see you later.” I said and left his office.
As I drove to Sao Cafe, I thought about everything Derin had said. He was saying the truth but I don’t know why I refused to listen. I was thinking with my heart and not my head and I knew it was bad but I couldn’t stop it.
I was nearing Sao Cafe when Wangi called me. She was already there, waiting for me to arrive. I apologized for my lateness and blamed it on the small traffic that was ahead. She told me not to worry and I told her to order whatever she wanted that I would pay for it. She laughed and told me to only worry about getting there in time.
The traffic finally cleared up and I made it there just a few minutes after six. I walked in and searched for her with my eyes till I found her sitting near one of the windows. She looked even more beautiful that she was the day before. Her hair was silky straight and she had little or no make up on. She was wearing a burgundy mono strap dress and her skin looked as smooth as butter. She looked like an angel who had just come from heaven.
She got up and gave me a hug but I took it a step further by kissing her on her cheek. She smiled and sat down again. She was having a chapman so I ordered the same thing and we started talking. She asked me what I had been up to since after graduation and I told her how I had gone abroad for my masters and come back a few years after. How I had gotten three jobs before landing my present one.
“That’s nice. You didn’t really have it tough and from what I remember, your family is upper class so it was easy for you.” She said.
“You sound like you have a personal vendetta against me.” I pointed out.
“Personal vendetta? Absolutely not. I just always wondered why you refused to marry me when you could easily have.”
Wow. She was going to go ahead and guilt trip me? And instead of me to clear her, I started making excuses.
“But Wangi, I couldn’t have. I was 22, young graduate, no money, how could I have started a family?”
“Faraji, your family is not broke so money was never the problem. You probably didn’t want to marry me for reasons best known to you.” She said.
“Wangi that’s not true and you know it, I loved you a lot, I was devastated when you left me. I thought you had another man.”
“It’s fine Fa’a, water under the bridge. Ohh and for the record, there was no other man.” She smiled.
“Are you sure? I stupidly asked her.
“Yes, really.” She reaffirmed.
I smiled at her and asked her what she had been up to. She told me that she worked in a media company for a few years before starting a fashion business. I wasn’t surprised because Wangi had always had a good eye for fashion but I wasn’t interested in all of that. I asked her the question that was topmost on my mind and I was heartbroken when she gave me her answer.