“Dozie?!” I exclaimed, shocked.
Anuli looked up from the bed, wondering what had elicited that reaction from me.
“What are you doing in Nigeria?!” I demanded. “Why are you here?!”
“Emma, you left me no choice!” he answered, his high-pitched voice sounding increasingly irritating to me. “You’ve refused to take my calls for weeks. Not only was I getting worried, I was starting to wonder what on earth was going on with you…with us!”
I sighed deeply. There was no point running away from the fact that my estranged boyfriend had actually flown almost 5,000 miles just to see me. “Where exactly are you now?”
“I’m in Lagos…at my Uncle’s house. You know my Uncle I told you about? The one who is some sort of senior Government official?” he asked.
I remembered very vividly his father’s younger brother who nary a day went by without me having to hear about how influential and powerful he was back home in Nigeria. So yes, I remembered very well.
“So, I guess you’re coming to Ogwashi-Ukwu then.” I stated, not asked.
“That’s the thing. I was only allowed to come to Nigeria on the condition that I don’t leave Lagos. My parents forbid me from traveling anywhere out of state.” he answered.
“Ooookay.” was my own confused response. “So, if you’re in Lagos, and I’m over here, how were you hoping we would have a discussion?”
He cleared his throat. “I was kind of hoping you could come. I would if I could…but my Uncle has given me bodyguards and everything. I can’t slip through them, not even to go down the street. They would never let me come all the way to your hometown.”
By this time, I’d truly heard enough and burst out laughing. “You are a real piece of work, Dozie!” I exclaimed. “So, you want me to get on the highway and come to Lagos to see you? Are you kidding me right now? Did I ask you to come to Nigeria? Who told you that it’s my own family that loves the idea of me criss crossing all over the country?!”
“Goodbye, Dozie! Enjoy your stay in Lagos! Please don’t call back!” and with that, I terminated the call.
“Bia, bia, bia!” Anuli retorted. “I hope I didn’t hear that conversation correctly. Your Dozie is in Nigeria? And he wants you to come to Lagos to see him?! Is the boy foolish or something?”
“Straight out of his mind is what he is!” I laughed. “He says his parents have ‘forbidden’ him from leaving Lagos! A 28 year old man!”
Anuli clapped her hands and laughed. “Babe, you really dodged a bullet with that one oh! What kind of lily-livered man is that? So you are the one that is the superwoman that can be running up and down the highway, abi?!”
“The boy is a joker!” I muttered, waving my hand dismissively. If Dozie thought I would put my own life on the line, just because he wasn’t man enough to do the right thing, then he had another thing coming.
Lying in bed that night, it wasn’t Dozie on my mind. It wasn’t even Amobi. All I could do was replay the conversation Duke and I had. “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.” Those had been his words. Was he referring to his me…or his ex-wife? Was she even an ex wife? Maybe she was still his wife?
And why did I even care?
When my eyes opened the next morning, it was a no-brainer for me. I had to go for my morning run…and not because of any fitness goals or milestones I had…
Approaching Duke’s house, I saw him from the distance. He was leaning on his car, smoking a cigarette. From the paraphernalia by his side, I could see he had just washed the car. As was the case the last time I saw him doing that, music was playing from the car’s surprisingly modern audio system. He looked up as I approached, and I couldn’t quite decipher the look on his face.
“I didn’t expect to see you this morning.” he said, when I approached him. “You should be resting, especially after yesterday’s scare.”
I shrugged. “I’m fine. Yesterday, it was just the shock of thinking Anuli could be my mother, that made me pass out. I’m totally fine.”
He nodded lazily, not taking his eyes off me.
“So sorry about yesterday. I don’t know what got into Amobi…” I stuttered.
He laughed. “Nothing ‘got into’ him. That’s classic Amobi for you. Maybe you haven’t been around him long enough to know that.” he retorted, putting out his cigarette.
Not wanting to talk about Amobi, my attention was grabbed by the Jodeci song playing from his car.
“You have a very eclectic music taste!” I remarked. “From Fela, to Oasis, and now Jodeci!”
“I love all genres of music. And I mean all.” then he smiled ruefully. “Besides, how do you even know Jodeci, young lady?”
I looked at him incredulously. “You’re not the only one who likes music, old man!”
He laughed. “Touché!”
I proceeded to sing along to the rest of the Come and talk to me, and he shook his head in amazement.
“How on earth can you know this song?” he exclaimed. “It was released before you were born!”
“No. It was released in 1991, from their debut Forever My Lady album.” I answered proudly.
We fell into silence listening to the song, and for some reason I don’t know, I blurted, “Dozie is in Nigeria. My boyfriend…my ex-boyfriend.”
He raised a brow. “Let me guess. Your boyfriend in London.”
I nodded. “Yeah. We’ve been together a long time. But when I got here, he wasn’t very helpful…” my voice broke off. “To be honest, things haven’t been great with us for a while. Even before I left London, we were struggling. I convinced myself that the reason I began this search in the first place was to make myself more acceptable to his parents, as I’d overheard them talking about how I have ‘no roots’.” I paused, remembering how devastated hearing that had made me. “But the truth is, I embarked on this quest for me. I’m not doing it to please Dozie or his family. I’m doing it for me.”
“What happened when you got to Nigeria?” Duke asked.
“He was very uninterested. He couldn’t be bothered. He provided absolutely no emotional support whatsoever…” I shrugged. “So, I stopped taking his calls completely.”
“Ah, I see.” Duke said knowingly. “No wonder he’s in Nigeria. I’m sure he was worried sick!”
“But here’s the punchline! He’s in Nigeria, but his family has ‘forbidden’ him from leaving Lagos!” I threw up my hands and laughed. “Like, who does that?! He’s here to see me but he wants me to be the one to journey all the way to him?!”
Duke didn’t seem amused. “It actually makes sense that his family would be apprehensive about him coming this way. You do know it’s kind of dangerous around here, right? Kidnappers, robbers, that kind of thing?”
“But I’m here, aren’t I?! I haven’t died, have I?!” I retorted.
“Golibe, you have to cut the guy a bit of slack. He came all this way to see you.” he interjected. “He’s done the first 90%. It’s not too much for you to do the remaining 10%.”
PM Dawn’s Set Adrift on Memory Bliss was cued in next, and I was happy for the distraction. How he could think it was okay for me to be the one to go to Dozie, was absurd to me.
“I love this song!” I said, and meaning it. It was one of my all-time favourite songs.
“You’re really full of surprises, Miss Golibe.” he said, smiling. “Looking at you, one wouldn’t guess ’90s R&B as your songs of choice.”
I raised my brows. “Oh, because of my tattoos, I look like someone who only listens to House and Grunge music?!”
“Nothing to do with your tattoos, babe. Just your age.” he laughed.
As he laughed, all I could think was how I loved the sound of it. His laugh. And how I wanted to make him laugh all the time.
Maybe to fill the ensuing silence, he started singing along to the song, and I joined him.
She broke her wishbone and wished for a sign. I told her whispers in my heart were fine. What did she think she could do? I feel for her, I really do. And I stared at the ring finger on her hand. I wanted her to be a big PM Dawn fan. But I had to put her right back with the rest. That’s the way it goes, I guess.
We laughed in unison as the song came to an end.
“It’s my older brother that got me hooked on 90’s music.” I said, leaning on the car with him. “That’s almost all he listens to. That and Nigerian music.”
“Chuka. I saw him once…many years ago.” he said.
I nodded. “He said so.”
A silence descended on us, and I stole a glance his way, wondering if, maybe, he was reminiscing about the life he once had. About the family he once had. About the wife he once had.
PM Dawn’s I’d die without you started playing, and he seemed to drift even deeper in his thoughts. Even though it had always been one of my favourites as well, I almost seemed to be hearing the lyrics for the first time. I stole another glance at him, and all I could wonder was if it was his wife that was on his mind then. If the beautiful, but melancholy, lyrics had teleported him back to happier times with the woman he loved once…or perhaps still did.
“Thinking about her?” I blurted. “Your wife?”
He turned to look at me, his eyes dark and unreadable, but said nothing in response. He held my gaze, and I found myself suddenly unsteady on my feet.
“Ehen! I knew I’d find you here!” came Anuli’s voice, startling us both.
I looked at my cousin, surprised. “What are you doing out here so early?”
“I woke up, saw that you weren’t there, and thought to surprise you on your so-called run!” she said, smiling coyly. “Duke, how na?”
He looked momentarily surprised, perhaps expecting her to ignore, or insult, him as usual. “Very well, thank you Anuli.” he answered cautiously. “And yourself?”
She shrugged. “Can’t complain.” then turning to me, she smiled coyly. “I thought you would be running. Not being all cosy with a man. Don’t allow Doctor Amobi catch you oh!”
“Duke thinks I should go to Lagos to see Dozie.” I said, dramatically changing the subject.
“Go where?!” Anuli exclaimed, as expected, glaring at Duke. “Did she beg him to come? Why should she go?”
“It’s the right thing to do.” he answered. “Even if it’s just to give the poor guy closure. He came all this way. It’s the very least she could do.”
“So she should enter the highway, risking her life, all because of a spineless man?!”
“She can fly there.” Duke answered coyly. “You do know there is an airport in Asaba, right?”
Now that was news to me!
Anuli shifted uncomfortably. “Do you know how expensive those plane tickets are?!”
“I’ll pay for her ticket.” Duke said, with a knowing smile. “Heck, I’ll pay for your ticket as well. She needs a chaperone.”
“You don’t have to do that!” Anuli mumbled. “I’ll pay for our tickets.”
“Fantastic!” he said, looking at me. “Trust me, you’ll feel better when you do.”
As Anuli and I walked back home, she punched me playfully on my arm. “After you’ll say I’m imagining things! You and Duke looked so cosy back there, leaning on the car and listening to love songs!”
“It was nothing. We were just enjoying the music.” I muttered dismissively.
“I hear.” she giggled.
“And why did we come by road to Ogwashi anyway? When we could have flown?!” I demanded.
Anuli looked at me and laughed. “Nne, hapu that one! I was trying to save money, kill me!” then turning serious. “So…you really want to go to see Dozie?”
More because Duke said so than a need to see Dozie, I nodded.
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
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
- Golibe 17: Masters of their fate
Catch up on our other series here: