And so marks the beginning of the second phase of our relationship, Dili and I. Maybe because we are both aware of everything truly at stake…and the limited time we have together…we both enter it with everything we have, not holding anything back.
And it is so much more intense. So, so much more.
We reach a level of intimacy that surpasses sex. Many times we are together, we are content to just be in each other’s arms, sometimes even in complete silence, no sex involved. If I thought I was in love with him before, in the weeks and months that follow the Christmas party, I find my feelings for him multiply in leaps and bounds. He becomes everything to me.
And from the way he looks at me, holds me, wants me…I know the feeling is mutual.
With the dawn of the New Year, as grateful as we are to see another year, we are painfully aware of the fact that our time together is slowly coming to an end. Unless Dili chooses to lie to Onyeka when he gets his permanent Green Card, he will have no more excuse to continue this arrangement with me. In an ideal world, once that happens, the next thing will be to begin divorce proceedings…while he arranges to bring Onyeka over.
But we choose to live in denial. We don’t talk about it…and we don’t talk about her. Instead, we immerse ourselves headlong in our love…our beautiful love. We become each other’s appendage…together from the moment we open our eyes…to when we shower…to when we have breakfast at the Starbucks down my block…to when we share a cab to work…to when we meet up for lunch…to when he stops by my office on the way home…to when we share a cab, or sometimes even walk home…to when we have dinner…
We become each other’s everything.
He must limit his contact with Onyeka to when he is at work, because he doesn’t do so when we are home together. There are no more midnight phone conversations with them whispering sweet nothings to each other. It almost seems like she is fading from his life. And when he makes no moves to travel to Nigeria for Valentines Day to ‘surprise her’, I can’t help but feel somewhat victorious…and hopeful.
By the end of February, I can’t help but start to hope. Maybe Onyeka will soon be a thing of the past after all. Maybe what they have will fade naturally and uneventfully. Maybe she will even be the one to back out of the whole thing, after perhaps meeting someone else in Nigeria.
Maybe Dili and I won’t have to divorce after all…
I have so many daydreams about what our vow renewal will be like. It will be a sharp contrast to that rushed ceremony at City Hall for sure. I daydream about wearing a beautiful wedding gown, very likely a Monique Lhuillier or Elie Saab, preferably in pink or blush tones, in a sunset ceremony on a rooftop with a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. I daydream about having my sister, Ebere, fly in from London with her family, and my brother, Enyinna, come from his own base in South Africa. Dili’s mother and siblings will also be there…as will our close friends here in Manhattan. Instead of it just being the two of us, we’ll be able to share our special day with our loved ones.
And every time I think about this, my heart always wants to burst with hope and anticipation…of what could one day be.
In March, he surprises me with a romantic trip to the Maldives for the Easter weekend. As we arrive the beautiful luxury resort, it feels like I am truly in Heaven. With the chalets laid out to give the illusion of being suspended in water, looking out into vast expanse of sea from our veranda, it feels like we are the only two people in the world.
I nod in agreement. Staying here forever would be to forget about the complexities of our lives that await us back in Manhattan. How wonderful would that be if it were possible!
“This is, without a doubt, my second favourite place on earth!” I say.
Dili looks at me with a raised brow and a curious smile. “Second favourite?”
“Nothing beats Friday Harbour in Washington State as my ultimate favourite place in the world!” I exclaim gleefully.
“You went there with Seth?” Dili asks, an edge in his voice.
“No, silly!” I giggle, tickled by his jealousy. “I actually went there alone. It was shortly after our breakup and I just needed some time away to recharge. A colleague at work suggested it, and off I went. And it was the best experience ever!”
“Really? I never would have imagined Washington State as the ultimate travel destination.”
“It was the most beautiful experience ever! I rented a waterfront house on Rosler Road…I’ll never forget. Apart from the beautiful ocean, there were also ponds on the property, and acres and acres of beautiful greenery!” I sigh as I remember it. “I’m going to buy a retirement home there. On that same street, if I can. When I’m old and grey and ready to leave this world, that’s where I’ll retire to. That’s where I want to die.”
“You won’t get a retirement home in Umuahia, your home town?!” Dili teases. “What if your significant other has other old age plans for the two of you?”
I smile slyly as I look at him. “Well, does he?”
Dili shrugs and looks away, and it leaves me light headed, wondering if that is his way of telling me that he has no plans to leave…that our love will stand the test of time and we will indeed grow old together.
Later that evening as I lie in bed, I reluctantly pull out my iPad. Even though the last thing I want to do is write, my Editor has been breathing down my neck over the irregularity of my column and I know I need to do better if I want to keep the gig.
Dili is still on the terrace, reading a book. From where I sit on the bed, I have a great view of his beautiful profile, and for a moment I just stare at him dreamily, wondering how on earth I got so lucky. He is pure perfection.
With a sly smile, I select my song of the day.
Me & Mrs. Jones (Michael Buble) – March 27, 2016
Me and Mrs. Jones
We got a thing goin’ on
We both know that it’s wrong
But it’s much too strong
To let it go now
We meet every day at the same cafe
Six-thirty and no one knows she’ll be there
Holding hands, making all kinds of plans
While the juke box plays our favourite songs
Me and Mrs. Jones
We got a thing goin’ on
We both know that it’s wrong
But it’s much too strong
To let it go now
We gotta be extra careful
That do we don’t build our hopes up too high
Because she’s got her own obligations
And so, and so, do I…
“What are you doing? Writing your column?” Dili asks, startling me. “I need to find time to read it one of these days.”
“I’d rather you didn’t!” I laugh, remembering some of my very salacious articles in recent times.
He takes the iPad from me and smiles. “Me & Mrs. Jones? Really?”
I grab it from him, suddenly embarrassed. “It seems rather apt, doesn’t it!”
He is quiet for a moment and listens to the music still playing, as if hearing its lyrics for the first time. “Well, I’d rather not to think of us that way…as two people sneaking around.”
I look him in the eye. “Aren’t we?”
It is the very first time I have made any reference to Onyeka since our reunion. Even though his gaze doesn’t waver, he says nothing in response and I decide to take his cue and drop the topic. No good can come from ruining our beautiful, romantic holiday by bringing up Onyeka.
“I remember the very first song I heard you write your article to.” he says, smiling. “Russian Farmer’s Song by Keane. You made me fall in love with that song. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I listen to it almost every day.”
“Really?” I exclaim, genuinely surprised. “I thought you called it ‘white music’.”
“Good music.” he counters. “Every time I hear it, I think of you.”
And with that, my article, Onyeka, and everything in between are permanently forgotten for the night.
We spend another magical day on the island, before leaving the following Tuesday. Flying through Dubai, we are tempted to push forward our connecting flight back to New York and spend some time in the city, but with work beckoning both of us, we reluctantly decide to do the right thing and continue with our journey.
Our plane lands in JFK at 7pm on Wednesday, and Dili and I are exhausted as we make our way through Customs and as we get a cab to Manhattan. On the ride to our apartment, we power on both our phones which were switched off the whole time we were on holiday, and immediately, messages start to drop. I see a small frown crease his face, and I wonder if they are perhaps messages from an enraged Onyeka, unable to reach him for almost a week. But I don’t ask. And he doesn’t say anything. It does feel like a small victory though…keeping him away from her for so long…but better still, that he didn’t even miss her at all.
It just serves to convince me that she just might soon be a thing of the past.
We walk into the apartment, and as is habit for me, I click on the answering machine to hear our messages. The first few are messages from Ebere and her family, and also a few of my local friends, wishing us a Happy Easter. But it is the fifth message that changes everything.
Obi’m….I can’t get through to your mobile phone. Ebee ka ị nọ? Where are you?
Both Dili and stop dead in our tracks at the sound of Onyeka’s voice. We both turn to look at the answering machine like it is the woman herself.
I’m sure it’s the network. Anyway, how are you? And Sis Ezioma? I hope you guys had a lovely Easter. Then she giggles. Babe, I have a surprise for you! I didn’t want to tell you until the thing clicked, but I added my passport with those going to the U.S for training in my office. I just tried my luck, especially as I wasn’t selected for the training. And guess what. I GOT THE VISA!!!!
As she giggles hysterically, my heart literally stops beating and I sit on the nearest chair, unable to fully process what I am hearing.
Heiii! Chukwu Daalụ! Thank God! Can you just imagine this favour after all this time we have been waiting for your Green Card! And they gave me 2-years! Chineke dị ukwuu oooo! God is wonderful oooo!
I steal a look at Dili’s face, but it is stoic and unreadable.
And I have another surprise for you! she giggles. In fact I wanted to surprise you by just showing up, but I decided against it only because it won’t be nice to just come without letting Sis Ezioma know beforehand. I’ve bought my ticket! I bought it from my savings! I told you I’ve been keeping money aside from what you send me. I’ve bought my ticket and I’ll be leaving Nigeria on Saturday, to arrive in New York on Sunday!
This time, Dili and I look at each other, the gravity of her words falling on us like a pile of bricks.
Can you imagine? After three long years, God has finally done it! Chineke emeela ya! Nna anyi n’ekele gi! I hope Sis Ezioma won’t mind me staying with you…but you said she’s a nice lady, so I’m sure she won’t. Biko kelee ya. Thank her for me. Thank her for this wonderful thing she has done for us. Only God can reward her for her kindness!
And then her giggles turn to tears.
Can you believe we will finally see each other again, obi’m! N’oge na-adịghị anya ị ga-eji ịhụnanya gị! You will soon be with your love! After three long years. God is good! God is good! By the time your Green Card comes out, we can marry immediately and you can file for me. Then she giggles again. Ewo, my airtime has finished. Biko kpọọ m mgbe ị nwetara ozi a. Call me as soon as you get this. I love you!
And then silence pervades the room.
I look at Dili and small beads of sweat have formed on his forehead, despite the cool spring weather.
Neither of us needs a soothsayer to let us know the party is over.
Catch up on Ezioma’s story here:
- A Love of Convenience! 1: Handbags & Gladrags
- A Love of Convenience! 2: There she goes
- A Love of Convenience! 3: The day will surely come
- A Love of Convenience! 4: Russian Farmer’s Song
- A Love of Convenience! 5: Moonlighting Strangers
- A Love of Convenience! 6: Knocks me off my feet
- A Love of Convenience! 7: A simple kind of life
- A Love of Convenience! 8: I can’t help it
- A Love of Convenience! 9: Edge of desire
- A Love of Convenience! 10: The Fear
- A Love of Convenience! 11: Ordinary People