February 18th, 2010
And so, I ended up sleeping alone in the guest room last night.
JJ and his dad insisted on going back to Nkwerre last night, to return on Friday morning, for the funeral.
Akwaugo had spent the night in our Dad’s room. I heard them talking, late into the night. Unlike Ogonna and myself, Akwaugo is more practical than emotional. Forget yesterday’s tears, on a good day, my sister na stone! Logic over emotions any given day. In that regard, she is more like our Dad than any of us. So, far different from the reconciliation with Ogonna and myself, which had involved less words and more emotion, with Akwaugo, the only way she could get any closure, and move on from the past, was to talk it to death! And talk they did, all night long!
As for Ogonna…hmm, she was a no-show after she drove off with Ifeanyi. From Chiemela’s countenance before he left for a nearby hotel he had checked into, I had a feeling he had seen her leave as well.
At this point, I had pretty much had enough. However she liked it, abeg!
It dawned on me that, with Ogonna M.I.A, it was up to me to get things sorted this morning. But by the time I got downstairs, I saw Legachi coordinating things like a boss! Gone was the timid girl we had met when we got here 2 weeks ago. Ogonna has obviously rubbed off on her, and she was fully in charge. Watching her, my heart swelled with so much love for her. Just to think that, only a few months ago, I had considered her a pest! But here she was…my younger sister. I am actually looking forward to building a relationship with her.
As Legachi and I stood in the kitchen, making arrangements for breakfast, I saw Ogonna trying to sneak into the house. As I didn’t want to embarrass her in front of Legachi and the cooks, I said nothing, and let her think she had succeeded in sneaking in unnoticed.
“She has never stayed overnight before.” Legachi remarked. I guess she had seen Ogonna after all.
I could only sigh in response.
Looking out the kitchen window, Ifeanyi’s SUV was parked in its usual spot, and I decided to have a word with him, once and for all. They were both too old for this madness.
He sat in his usual location, but was dressed down today, in jeans and a polo shirt. No crisp white kaftan to sully.
“I knew you would come to attack me,” he muttered.
I just stood there before him, my rage building. I didn’t even know what to say to him. Because really, he hadn’t done anything wrong. Ogonna had entered his car, with her own two feet, and at the age of 43 (almost 44), she was not a kid whose actions I could dictate.
“Ihunna, please sit down,” he said. There was something different in his voice today. There was a vulnerability that hadn’t been there before.
I reluctantly sat, arms crossed to relay to that I wasn’t open for a friendly chat.
“Look, I’m sorry for the way I have behaved these past few days. I know I have been a little arrogant…”
“And rude…and cocky…and annoying…” I cut in.
“All of those things!” he accepted, to my shock and surprise. “I will be the first to admit that I am not a humble man. In the last decade, I have acquired more wealth than I ever thought was possible…and yes, I have allowed it get to my head.”
I stole a glance at him, from the side of my eye. What game was this man playing?
“Do you remember me from back in the day?” he asked, and I shook my head. He laughed. “You probably do, but you can’t match the two people. I came to see Ogonna at your Uncle Osita’s house a number of times. It was always under the guise of some assignment or the other, but I was always there.”
I frowned, trying to jog my memory. No, I didn’t remember anyone like him. Apart from the girls in Ogonna’s crew, there was only one tiny, little boy, who made it a point of duty to bring Ogonna books and past question papers, every holiday. Surely, that couldn’t be Mr. Fine Boy Ifeanyi. That boy could barely have been any taller than 5 feet.
Ifeanyi smiled, as if reading my mind. “I was much, much smaller then. I didn’t get my adolescent growth spurt until I was in University. Ogonna never saw me in a romantic light. I was just her little friend, whom she could always depend on for school work. But I have loved her from the very minute I lay eyes on her in September 1978, when we were fresh Form 1 students. Apart from her beauty, what drew me to her the most was her heart…her kind heart. She was one of the few people who didn’t tease me about my appearance…or the fact that, unlike the rest, I was a poor kid, lucky to be rubbing shoulders with the rest of them, thanks to the State Scholarship I was on. My father was a farmer, and my mother a petty trader, so I didn’t have the same pedigree. But your sister never treated me that way.”
By this time, I was looking at him in amazement. This was not what I had thought I’d hear.
“After school, I got a scholarship to the University of Port Harcourt, and I had to leave. I kept in touch with her…I wrote her letters almost every week, but I was still so afraid to let her know how I felt. And when I was finally ready…I heard she was dating a guy called Afam, her classmate in Med school. Hearing that, I backed off, and shortly after, I heard she left the country.”
For Ifeanyi to know about Afam, it was clear proof that he had truly been keeping a tab on her all these years.
“I was lucky to finish with a First Class degree, and I was immediately employed by Schlumberger. After spending about 12 years with the company, I decided to start my own service company…and God has been good. I am now one of Schlumberger’s biggest indigenous competitors, and have large projects from several of the international oil companies,” he paused for a few moments, and it was clear he was trying to process what he would say next. “A few years after I joined Schlumberger, I married a nice girl I met in University. There weren’t a lot of sparks, but we had a deep mutual respect and affection for each other. She gave me two boys, and we lived happily together. But your sister never left my heart. I thought of her every single day…wondering how she was, what she was up to, who she had married, how many children she had. I wasn’t in touch with anyone from school, so there was nobody to fill me in on how she was,” he sighed. “Ten years ago…I lost my wife to cancer. It was diagnosed late, and by that time, there was nothing we could do to stop it. And, very shortly after being diagnosed, she passed away. I had just started my company at the time, and I honestly can not tell you how I was able to get through it, with two children under the age of 10, and trying to build a company at the same time. But I praise God, we made it through. Today, my sons are 18 and 16 years old, and in school in England.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw Ogonna watching us, but I couldn’t tear myself away from this person I was just meeting for the first time. This man speaking to me was nothing at all like the man I had grown to despise these past few days.
“About a year ago, my sons introduced me to Facebook,” he shook his head and laughed. “For the longest time, I didn’t even understand how it worked. And one night, after I found out I could actually use it to locate people, I did a search with her name…and there she was!” his eyes lit up as he spoke, and I could tell he was reliving the excitement of finding her, all over again. “I added her as a friend, and she accepted. We chatted a few times…mostly trivial things, like her marveling over how I had turned into a man, and not the tiny boy she remembered. But I didn’t have the nerve to say anything more…or ask her anything more. I was so scared of any form of rejection, that I just held back. Until the day I saw her status, saying she was in Enugu. That day, I decided I had wasted enough time, and that I was finally going to go after the woman I have loved for almost 32 years!”
Looking at him, I knew this was no bullshit. This man wasn’t forming. He had bared his heart to me, and I could see there was nothing but sincerity there.
“But you know she is seeing someone…” I said feebly.
“I am ready to fight to the death, this time around!” Ifeanyi said, his voice firm in his defiance. “If I’d had the nerve to approach her, Afam or not, she would be my wife by now. As for that Chiemela…I remember him very well! He was your Uncle Osita’s neighbor, and on one of the occasions I came to see Ogonna, he almost ran me over with his father’s Volvo. I could tell from his eyes that he was also interested in her…but neither of us had the confidence to approach her. If it means me losing my life, I will! This time, I will fight for my wife with every fibre of strength I have in my body!”
As Ogonna walked up to us, and from the look on her face, I realized that there might not even be any need for such a fight. It was clear that the battle had already been won.
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
- Confessions of a Fat Girl 66: Forever my lady