February 17th, 2010
I was still thinking of what choice words to throw at Ifeanyi, when I saw him look in the grass cutting direction, with a steely look in his eyes. I smiled when I looked, and saw Ogonna pouring Chiemela and Marizu cold glasses of water. Marizu downed his in seconds, and returned to work, but Chiemela and Ogonna stood there, chatting. From the smiles on both their faces, it was clearly not about the grass.
“Please don’t be angry that I insulted you, o? Of course you are too big to cut grass.” I remarked sarcastically. “I will send someone to bring you something to drink…because as you can see, Ogonna is erm…preoccupied!”
As I walked away, I had a good laugh. I couldn’t remember when last I had been this childish, but childish or not, I was extremely tickled!
I walked quietly, so that Ogonna and Chiemela wouldn’t hear me approach, and stood behind a rose bush, so that they wouldn’t see me either. I wanted to hear what they were saying.
“Thank you for coming. I didn’t think you would.” Ogonna was saying.
“After flying all the way here? Not a chance!” Chiemela answered. “Why? You thought your loverboy would scare me away?”
“Mellie, it’s not like that…” Ogonna protested feebly.
“Then what exactly is it like? That’s the same thing you said yesterday. If it’s ‘not like that’, please tell me what exactly is going on. Because you two seem very cosy!”
And my mumu sister kept quiet! She didn’t give any worthwhile response. I wanted to stone her, to move her lips to tell Chiemela that Ifeanyi was just a nuisance who meant absolutely nothing. But rather than say any of these, she was mute.
Chaiii! This girl has messed up!
Chiemela smiled, but I saw that it was a pained one. “Ogo, you don’t have to feel bad about anything. These things happen. We can’t help who we fall for,” he reached out and held her hand. “Babe, I will always be your friend. If you have found love with him, then I’m happy for you. Obviously, I’m crushed, but I know these things can’t be forced.”
“No, no, Chiemela…That’s not what I’m saying at all!” Ogonna protested, as if the gravity of it all was just dawning on her.
“Ogo, you might not be saying it with your words…but your body is saying it for you!” he embraced her. “I have loved you for almost all my life, and the most important thing for me is that you are happy. If it’s with another man, then I just have to live with that!”
From the intoxicating smell of his perfume, I could tell Ifeanyi had also walked up to where they were standing.
“My angel, I have been looking for you!” he said, talking to Ogonna, but glaring at Chiemela.
Chiemela immediately let go of Ogonna, and stepped a few feet away, obviously trying to give them privacy.
“Nwoke’m! I don’t think we’ve met!” Ifeanyi called out, not wanting to let Chiemela off that easily.
Ogonna cleared her throat nervously. “Ifeanyi…this is Chiemela…my childhood friend. Chi…this is Ifeanyi…”
“Another childhood friend!” Chiemela completed for her, the glint in his eye showing he was also up for whatever it was Ifeanyi was trying to draw him into.
“Oh, I’m more than a childhood friend.” Ifeanyi answered. “I am her suitor…who will soon be her husband, God willing!”
“Ifeanyi!” Ogonna exclaimed.
Chiemela smiled, looking from Ogonna to Ifeanyi. “Well then, I’m very happy for you! It was a pleasure meeting you.” and with that he walked back to join Marizu.
At that moment, Ogonna saw me, in my hiding spot, and as our eyes locked, I motioned an “are you out of your mind” gesture, because as far as I was concerned, the girl was out of her God given mind!
My sister, obviously emotionally drained, just shook her head and shrugged.
I briefly contemplated walking over to Chiemela, but decided against it. What use would it be? What could I possibly tell him that would undo this whole mess? Nothing at all!
Later in the afternoon, JJ and my father-in-law arrived, and they were closely followed by people from Church, and other people for the wake keeping. When the program kicked off, at about 6pm, I was so grateful that JJ was here, as the whole thing was taking me back to a time I thought I had gotten over.
All of a sudden, it was 1990 again. And it was my Mom’s wake keeping. Like today, we had also been clad in Ankara aso-ebi, except that it had been a dull blue then, instead of today’s royal purple. But the somberness was the same, the sadness was the same, the melancholy was the same, even the hymns were the same.
With each song, I found myself 18 years old again, and weeping for the premature loss of my mother. JJ had been with me in 1990, and just like then, he put his arm around me, and held me, as the tears started to fall. I wasn’t weeping for Aunty Felicia. I was weeping for my mother.
And that was when I noticed that Ogonna was also in tears. I didn’t even have time to question how come it was Chiemela who held her, as she wept, and not her ‘suitor’ Ifeanyi. I was just grateful that she also had someone to comfort her. Like me, I knew it was our Mom she was mourning afresh.
And then I saw Akwaugo, standing alone, and trying to compose herself. Her eyes were masked by her sunglasses, but it was the clenching and unclenching of her fists that gave her away. And, if this was anything like 1990, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the torrents broke.
In 1990, she had tried to be the strong one, the one who comforted Ogonna and I, as we wept. But it had proven too much for her 21 year old self, and she had soon broken down, and wept inconsolably. Of all three of us, she had been the closest to our Mother, and had been the hardest hit by her death. Which was no wonder why she had packed her bags and left with Ogonna, almost immediately after.
Watching her now, I could see the tears streaming down her face, and I knew I couldn’t leave her alone. Breaking away from JJ, I started walking over to her, but the most unlikely person got there before I did.
Our Dad had obviously noticed that she was on the verge of breaking down, and had walked over to where she stood. Unlike 20 years ago, when we had all collectively shunned him, this time, Akwaugo had melted in his arms, and given reign to her tears…weeping for the dear mother she had lost too early, in the arms of a father she had also mourned.
So that Legachi and Marizu wouldn’t be alone, I walked over to where they sat, and took my father’s chair. Legachi held on to me, and I could feel her raw pain. I was only a few years younger than she was when I lost my own mother, so I knew how she was feeling. With my other hand, I reached for Marizu, who held it with a grip so strong, it almost cut off my blood supply.
And we all stayed in our new positions, all through the rest of the singing, and through the Priest’s sermon, right through till the end of the program. And when it was all over, Dad and Akwaugo remained in their seating position, her head nestled on his shoulder, with him rocking her in consolation. I had to smile through it all. Even in this sadness, there had been reconciliation.
As we said goodbye to the guests, and got involved in the cleanup, I kept an eye out for Ogonna, to ask her how far! She was getting me dizzy, with this Ifeanyi versus Chiemela business. Where had Ifeanyi been this evening? How come she had sought comfort in Chiemela’s arms? But she was nowhere to be found. Chiemela, on the other hand, was doing some heavy duty clean up, packing up canopies and chairs, alongside JJ and a few other members of the family.
I soon got my answer.
Walking to the house, I spotted Ifeanyi’s SUV, parked in its usual spot, the engine running, and with Jodeci’s Forever my Lady, playing from its sound system. Ogonna was in the passenger’s seat, with both her hands in Ifeanyi’s. From the intense look on both their faces, it was some very serious discussion.
I smiled, despite myself. This man sure knew how to set the mood! It reminded me of the early days with JJ, and I could understand the rush Ogonna was probably feeling at this point.
I had barely completed the thought, when the car kicked into motion, and they drove off into the night.
I sighed deeply.
Catch up on Ihunna’s story here:
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 1: Grubbido
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 2: Fragile
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 3: Defiant
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 4: Progress
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 5: The Gym
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 6: Killjoy
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 7: Pain
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 8: Frenemies
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 9: Exhilarated
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 10: Popcorn
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 11: Free-fall
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 12: Sunday Morning
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 13: Mission Reactivated
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 14: New Things
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 15: Bad Business
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 16: Luxury Items
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 17: The Solution
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 18: Magic Formula
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 19: Date Night
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 20: Quinoa
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 21: Perfect Fit
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 22: Keeping In Touch
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 23: Delete
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 24: Philosophical
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 25: Keep it Moving
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 26: My Co-Wife
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 27: Old Jeans & Old Friends
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 28: Prawn Stir Fry
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 29: Facebook Tagging
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 30: Detox Part 2
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 31: Abs & Crunches
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 32: Making Notes
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 33: Christmas Party
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 34: Ashiedu
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 35: Willpower
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 36: Packing…and TV
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 37: Last Minute
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 38: Body Image
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 39: Christmas Trip
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 40: Christmas in the Village
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 41: Daddy’s Girl
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 42: 2010
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 43: Uzoamaka
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 44: Sugar Binge
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 45: The E-mail
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 46: She whose name must not be repeated
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 47: Smokescreen
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 48: Running away
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 49: Fry-Up
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 50: The Only Solution
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 51: The Intervention
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 52: Tri-State Sisters
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 53: Manhattan
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 54: Daddy’s Girls
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 55: Stunned Silence
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 56: Bereavement
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 57: The Reconciliation
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 58: Staying Back
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 59: Friends & Marriage Proposals
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 60: Colourful and Happy
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 61: Sweet Potato & Chicken Salad
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 62: Miss Amerikana
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 63: Tragi-Romantic
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 64: Dead to me
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 65: Love Triangle