Anuli and I lay on the bed long afterwards, talking some more. I asked her more questions about Gozie, and it was like talking about her late son was the balm she needed. She recounted so many heartwarming stories about the dear boy, and I could tell that, so many years later, the boy still held a significant place in her heart.
“I wonder if she thinks of me…” I said, after a while. “I wonder if my birth mother thinks about me at all.”
“Unless she is a beast, she most surely will.” Anuli answered.
“Do you think we’ll ever find her?” I asked, pensive. “We’re in the second month now, but everything seems to have dried up. I’ve been thinking of just calling off the whole search, because it seems like a waste of time.”
“No, Golibe. Let’s stick it out for the next few weeks. Three months was your plan. Let’s continue searching, so that you’ll know you at least gave it your best shot.” she sniggered. “And it’s not because your brother paid me. If you must know, I haven’t touched a kobo of that money. It’s in fixed deposit in the bank. So, if push comes to shove and I have to return it, it won’t be a problem for me.”
“Nobody is going to ask you to return any money.” I giggled. “Not even if we call the whole thing off now.”
“Ah, my dear! You never know oh. That’s how because of man, your neck veins were already bursting, shouting ‘You will pay back every penny!’“ Anuli teased.
I laughed, remembering our exchange from the night before. “Yeah, I guess we both got pretty passionate.”
She looked at me from the corner of her eye. “But Amobi though?”
I looked at her from the corner of mine. “What about him?” I asked. “You seem to think he’s cute, so why not him?”
She sighed deeply. “Golibe, my admiration for him has just been mouth service. You think if I was really, really serious about him, I wouldn’t have been camped in front of his door step every day? I think I just like the idea of him…nothing more.” she asked. “Amobi is an arrogant guy, one who’s used to getting his own way. A girl like me is tough enough to handle him, but I don’t want you to get hurt.”
I smiled. “Don’t worry. I’m tougher than I look.”
She shrugged. “Okay oh! But just let him know that if he tries anything, I will hang his head from a stick, in front of that their General Hospital!”
“I hear you! You that couldn’t even take him on last night!” I laughed. “See the way you took off when he opened his door.”
“But I’m surprised though.” she said, when the laughter had subsided. “The way you were asking about Duke when you arrived, I thought he was the one you had your eye on!”
I looked at her incredulously. “Why would you think that? I was just curious about him, that’s all.”
She shrugged and smiled. “If you say so, Goli.”
We lay in congenial silence for a little while, before I asked, “Do you think we’ll ever find her though? My mother?”
Anuli didn’t answer immediately. “I don’t know. I hope so. But we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that we might not.”
I nodded, having already reached that conclusion as well. We had run out of ideas, and even though I still had a few more weeks to the expiration of my 3-month deadline, the odds of making a breakthrough were not looking very good. But somehow, even if I didn’t find her, all wasn’t lost. I had gained family. I had found sisters in Awele and Anuli. I had also found love…or at least, what I thought was love…
“But girrrrl! 40 though!” I teased Anuli. “And all this while, I’ve been talking to you like we’re age mates!”
She hissed. “Golibe, biko don’t remind me. It’s only in this Ogwashi that anyone has that information. Back in Lagos, I’m still 28!”
“It’s a blessing to look the way you do! You look amazing! Not many women can pull of looking 10, or even 15, years younger than their age!”
“It still doesn’t change the fact I’m 40 though.” she mused, before laughing. “That yeye Amobi. The minute he found out was the very minute he stopped taking my calls!”
I laughed along with her. “He did mention something along those lines.”
By this time, we were both rolling in laughter, so much so that we didn’t hear the door open.
“What’s so funny, that you two have been up here all day? You didn’t even come down for breakfast or lunch!” Aunty Ekwi remarked.
Anuli and I exchanged a glance, and laughed some more.
But the older woman wasn’t phased. “Golibe, you have a visitor downstairs.”
“It’s probably Amobi.” I said, sitting up. “I guess he thinks he can visit me here, since the cat is out of the bag.”
Aunty Ekwi smiled coyly. “No, it’s not the handsome doctor,” and with that, she turned around and left the room.
Hearing that, my pulse began to race a little faster. I got off the bed, ran my hands through my hair and proceeded to leave the room, without another word to my cousin.
Getting downstairs, my heart almost leapt out of my chest at the sight of the person seated in our modest living room.
He rose to his feet when I walked in. “Hi Golibe. I’m sorry to barge in like this.” he said nervously. “I was a little worried about you…”
I smiled. “That’s very kind of you. Thanks so much.” I answered. “I feel much better now. Anuli and I have talked, and all is fine.”
He nodded. “I’m glad.” he said. “It was irresponsible of me to have spoken so carelessly. You never should have heard all that from me.”
“No, Duke. I’m glad you did tell me. There were some things I just had to know.”
“She told you about Tagbo?” he asked.
“I feel really bad about what he did to her. Tagbo and I lost touch about 2 years after I left. I guess we both got tired of writing letters. I haven’t heard from him since.” Duke said. “James and I reconnected when he was in the States. He was the one who told me what happened.”
“She told me about James as well. I’m guessing you already know about them.”
“James loves her very much.” Duke answered. “She probably doesn’t know this, but he’s been in love with her as far back as when we were in high school. Long before she and Tagbo got involved.”
“So, why didn’t he make a move on her then? Why did he allow Tagbo beat him to it?!”
“I guess some of us don’t move quite as fast, and have to stand by and watch as other men take the women we want.” he answered, holding my gaze.
Suddenly, the room felt like all the air had been zapped from it.
“Aren’t men supposed to be masters of their fate?” I heard myself asking.
A slow smile formed on his face, as he recognised the quote from Julius Caesar.
“True.” he answered, before adding, “But it is also true that the robbed that smiles, steals something more from the thief.”
It was my turn to smile. “Othello.”
His words hung in the air, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was making a direct reference to Amobi and I.
“Thanks for taking care of me this morning.” I said, eager to prolong our conversation. “And you have a lovely home, by the way. It looks nothing like it does on the outside.”
“I’ve tried to keep the house as comfortable as I can for my mother.” he answered. “But she insists on not letting me do anything to the outside of the house. She thinks it will attract unnecessary attention.”
“So, it’s true…about your mother.” I said, looking at him in a completely different light. “You gave up your life just to take care of her?”
He smiled ruefully. “It’s nothing quite so dramatic or self righteous.” he answered. “Don’t believe everything you’ve heard.”
“True. But you have a chance to set the record straight. Remember you promised to tell me everything over drinks, many weeks ago?” was my own coy response.
“If I didn’t know better, I would say you’re flirting with me, Golibe.” he answered, equally coy. “Not sure how Dr. Amobi will respond to my having ‘drinks’ with his girlfriend…”
It was at the tip of my tongue to tell him that it didn’t matter. That what Amobi thought didn’t matter. But I caught myself. Not only would it be way too forward, it would be extremely disrespectful to the one whom I now called my boyfriend.
“Thanks for dropping by, Duke.” I said, smiling.
“The pleasure is mine, Golibe.” he responded. “Please give Anuli my love…and apologies too.”
“Now I see why you’re so patient with her.” I said, as I walked him out of the house.
“I know she’s only lashing out. I’m the reminder she has of Tagbo, so if lashing out at me makes her feel better, then I’m ready to keep being on the receiving end.” he answered. “But please tell her to at least hear James out. Ask her to please hear what he has to say.”
Before I could say anything in response, Amobi’s Honda Accord drove up to the front of the house. Duke and I stopped talking, as we watched him disembark, his anger evident on his face.
“What are you doing here?” he asked Duke, without even casting a glance my way.
“I came to check on Golibe.” he answered. “She wasn’t feeling well this morning, so I came to see her.”
“I didn’t know you’re now also a doctor!” Amobi retorted. “Or do you go to ‘check on’ everyone who is ill in Ogwashi?!”
Duke smiled and turned to me. “Take care of yourself, Golibe. Do get some rest.”
As he made to walk away, Amobi grabbed him by the arm. “If I ever see you near my woman…”
“What will happen, Amobi?” Duke asked, looking him square in the eye. “What are you going to do?”
“Please stop this!” I exclaimed. “Amobi, don’t be unreasonable. Duke was just concerned. I fainted right in front of him this morning, while on my morning run. So he had plenty of reason to be worried.”
The two men remained glaring at each other in a stand-off, before Duke snatched his arm out of Amobi’s grip and walked away.
“Why didn’t you call me? If you had a medical issue, shouldn’t your boyfriend, a medical doctor for that matter, be the first to know?!” Amobi demanded.
“I f-a-i-n-t-e-d, Amobi!” I snapped. “And when I got home, I went straight to bed. Forgive me if picking up my phone to call anyone was the last thing on my mind.”
“I don’t want to see him near you again!” Amobi snarled, obviously referring to Duke.
I looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “Duke is a family friend! You can’t stop me from speaking with him!”
“Family friend, my foot!” he shouted, before realising what he was doing and reaching for my hand. “Goli, I’m sorry. I overreacted. I know I have nothing to worry about, and that Duke has a better chance of walking on the moon than taking you from me!”
I allowed him embrace me, but found myself struggling to keep the discussion with Duke out of my head. Had he hinted that he had feelings for me?
Later that night, just when I thought my day couldn’t get any crazier, I got a call from a strange Nigerian number. I stared at it, puzzled, before eventually answering it.
I immediately wished I hadn’t.
“Emma? Emma, thank God you answered!”
“Dozie?!” I exclaimed, wondering how he could be calling from a Nigerian number, and if he was using one of those funky phone cards that were becoming popular to call countries in Africa and the Carribean.
“Yes, Emma. You haven’t been taking my calls for weeks…so I had no choice!” he answered. “I’m in Nigeria. I arrived this morning. We have to talk!”
I sat on the bed, dazed and confused.
How could Dozie be in Nigeria???!!!
Catch up on Golibe’s story here:
- Golibe 1: The Journey
- Golibe 2: Brave
- Golibe 3: Blood Relative
- Golibe 4: Strangers
- Golibe 5: Fill the Gaps
- Golibe 6: Awele
- Golibe 7: Frolicking
- Golibe 8: The Trunk
- Golibe 9: Retrace my steps
- Golibe 10: The Exchange
- Golibe 11: Quoting Shakespeare
- Golibe 12: Dead End
- Golibe 13: Something in the Water
- Golibe 14: Intoxicated Butterflies
- Golibe 15: The Boyfriend
- Golibe 16: Anuli
Catch up on our other series here: