The following evening, Anuli and I were on the 5:10pm flight to Lagos from Asaba. She had reluctantly bought the plane tickets, and I had reluctantly gotten myself in the frame of mind to see Dozie again…after almost 2 months. I found myself neither happy nor sad, excited nor nervous. I was just…indifferent…well, indifferent bordering on irritated. It’s amazing how I had gone from thinking I was in love, to darned right feeling inconvenienced.
As we flew at 24,000 feet, I couldn’t help but think back to when I had informed Dozie of my trip to Nigeria. It was shortly after my father died, and a few weeks after I’d overheard his parents calling me a girl with no lineage…no history. He’d dropped by the house to convince me to try to get another job, after having quit my last one in Reading to move back to London to care for my father.
He’d been halfway through talking about how I needed to move on with my life, how I was harming my career by leaving such a wide gap in my CV, when I said to him. “I’m going to Nigeria for a few months.”
“You’re going where?!” he had exclaimed. “Why on earth would you want to do that?!”
“Because I want to know where I come from…from whom I came from!” I’d retorted back. “I told you what I heard your parents say. God knows how many others think the same of me!”
He had softened after that, but only temporarily. “Emma, it’s not a good idea. You haven’t been to Nigeria in a while. It’s not the same place you remember.”
But apart from that lame attempt, he hadn’t done much to stop me…or support me either. He hadn’t asked if I had enough money for the trip, or even how I would survive there for three months. He hadn’t asked me where I intended to start my search, or what he could do to help. Instead, he had been aloof and nonchalant as I put together the finishing touches to my trip, and even though I updated him of my progress and preparations, he was still surprised when I called him the night before I left.
“Oh wow, your trip is tomorrow?!” he’d exclaimed. “I completely forgot! Fly safe, Emma…and stay safe!”
I wonder why I’d been surprised when he’d been so uninterested about my progress or lack thereof, when I spoke with him in the early days of my arrival in Nigeria. But even more, I couldn’t fathom or comprehend how that same Dozie could have gotten on a plane, to fly thousands of miles just for me!
We landed in Lagos at 6:30pm, and we took an airport taxi to the address Dozie had given us, in Old Ikoyi.
“Isn’t it a little late?” I asked Anuli. “Won’t it be better to just go tomorrow?”
Anuli had glared at me. “Don’t you just want to get it over and done with?!” she’d retorted. “Besides, Ikedi’s house is all the way in Gbagada, so I’m not going to come back to the island tomorrow!”
Ikedi was one of her older brothers, whom I was pretty eager to meet. For some reason, Anuli had decided against us staying at her flat in Jibowu, and to be honest, I was happy about the decision! As the flights to Asaba were every other day, we were already stuck in Lagos for 2 nights. Seeing Dozie meant I’d have a free day to pretty much just do anything. Pretty much.
By the time we drove onto Dozie’s Uncle’s street on Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi, it was already almost 8:30pm! Looking around at the posh houses, I could immediately see why he would feel right at home in the exclusive neighbourhood. But seeing him was to prove easier said than done. For starters, the guards outside were not convinced enough to let us into the house. I guess seeing two lone women, one of them heavily tattooed and the other heavily made up and adorned, didn’t elicit much confidence. Not even when Anuli prompted me to turn up my English accent were they moved. In the end, I had to resort to calling Dozie on the phone, who then promptly proceeded to call the Guards on their intercom. I had to stiffle a grin, hearing Dozie yell at the top of his voice at the guards. Typical Dozie behaviour. Extremely entitled, extremely rude. But it seemed to work the charm, as we were promptly ushered into the big house.
Seated in the living room, waiting, the loud voice of a woman filled the room. Her voice and perfume entered the room way before she did. She looked to be in her mid-50s, and her blue silk kaftan screamed wealth. As a matter of fact, her entire body screamed wealth.
“Nne’m I’ll call you back!” she said, getting of the phone, when she sighted us. “Who on earth are you?!”
I rose to my feet. “I’m here to see Dozie. I’m er…I’m an old friend his.”
A knowing smile crossed her lips. “Oh. The one who he came all the way to see?” she asked, checking me out from head to toe. “Interesting.”
She didn’t say more after that, but the truth is that she didn’t need any words. Her tone and body language spoke volumes. As her eyes took in my tapestry of body art, I knew that I fit every definition of the street girl she’d heard I was.
In a matter of minutes, Dozie walked into room, and immediately came after me for a hug.
“Oh my God, Emma! I’m so pleased you came after all!” he exclaimed, pulling me into a bear hug.
I politely detached from his embrace. “Hi Dozie.” I answered curtly.
“This is my uncle’s wife, Aunty Regina.” he introduced. “Aunty, this is the love of my life, Emma.”
Aunty Regina gave me another scathing look, very clearly not impressed.
“Emma? Are you not an Igbo girl? Which one is Emma?” she retorted, prompting Anuli and I to exchange a bewildered look. “All you Nigerian girls that will forget where you come from, just to pretend you’re someone you’re not!”
Dozie coughed nervously. “Her Igbo name is actually Chidi…”
“Golibe.” I interjected. “That’s actually what I’m called now.” then looking at Dozie. “Nobody here calls me Emma.”
“Golibe! Odiegwu!” she chuckled. “Dozie, I’m going upstairs to join your Uncle.” she said, then looking hard at me. “Please don’t keep him too late. It’s already too late for a visit from decent girl.”
The shade of it all wasn’t lost on me, and Anuli and I exchanged another bemused look.
“My Uncle is upstairs…resting. That’s why he hasn’t come down to say hello.” Dozie said, sitting beside me on the sofa. Yeah right! Like he was going to come down to say hello to Dozie’s street girl. “You look a little tan, Emma. Didn’t you remember to come with any sunscreen?”
At this point, Anuli rolled her eyes. “Is there somewhere I can wait?” she asked. “I think you two kids need your privacy.”
Translation. She’d probably pull out all her hair if she heard another nasal word from Dozie.
He led her to the dining room connected, via a glass door, to the living room in which we sat. My eyes trailed her as she took her seat, and immediately reached for her phone and earphones. Lucky her, to be able to tune the whole thing out.
“Emma, you had me worried sick!” Dozie said, leaning forward and reaching for my hand. “Why on earth did you stop taking my calls?”
I looked at him, irritated. “You honestly don’t know?!”
He sighed deeply. “Babe, I know I messed up. I know I should have been more involved with this mission of yours.. I know I didn’t act the way you wanted in those early days…It’s just that I wasn’t quite sure about the wisdom of this trip. To be honest, I didn’t think it would lead to anything!”
I felt the anger suddenly beginning to well inside me. “And what about now? Is that what you still think?”
“Emma, I could say what you want to hear…or tell you the truth. Which would you prefer?” he asked.
“The truth.” was my sardonic answer.
“You’ve been here for almost 2 months, but with no proper leads yet!” he responded. “Frankly, it’s not looking very good. I think you should just forget about everything, and return to your life in London.”
I withdrew my hands from his. “Contrary to what you think, I’m actually closing in on her.” I lied. “I’ve had a few ‘proper’ leads, and in about a week from today, I should actually meet her!”
“You should have told me you were onto something, and I could have…” he began.
“Could have what, Dozie?!” I demanded. “Helped me the way you helped me when I first got to Ogwashi?!”
“I’ve already apologised, Emma!” he said, his impatience beginning to peep from the facade. “What more do you want from me?”
“Actually, nothing.” I answered, looking him in the eye. “I’m sorry, Dozie. This just isn’t working out.”
He stared at me, blank for a few minutes. “What isn’t working out? Us?? You and I?”
I nodded. “We’ve been struggling for a while, Dozie. If you’re honest, you’ll know that. I think it’s best we just go our separate ways.”
“You’re breaking up with me?!” he exclaimed. “You, Emma, are breaking up with me?”
By now, I’d started feeling a little sorry for him. “It’s for the best…”
“You ungrateful bitch!” he shouted. “I could have had anyone I wanted, but I chose you! Everyone thinks you’re not good enough for me, but I decided to stick things out anyway. And this is the thanks I get?!”
I chuckled and shook my head. “Ungrateful bitch?” I repeated. “Well, thanks so much for giving me the awesome gift of your time for all these years. I guess you should be well relieved now.”
“After all the sacrifices I made for you?!” he continued, still reeling in his disbelief. “After I stayed celibate for 7 years for you?!”
“Were you really, Dozie?” I retorted. “Were you really celibate? Or do you think I don’t know about the likes of Kristin, Kalisa, or even your so-called cousin Nnonye!”
He deflated, and I knew he’d been caught in a tight corner. He must have thought I was oblivious to his indiscretions.
Rising to my feet, he reached to grab me by the hand, but before he could say or do anything, we heard Anuli’s voice at the door. “If you don’t get your hands off, I’ll be only too glad to rearrange your face!”
Dozie dropped his hands from mine, but his face remained on me. “Is there someone else?” he asked, his voice broken.
I nodded. “Yes.” I replied, my voice barely a whisper.
He recoiled, his face registering surprise, frustration, resignation…and finally anger. “Well, I hope you deserve each other!”
With that, Anuli took me by the hand and led me out of the room, without even a goodbye
“My goodness, how did you survive with that guy for so many years?!” she exclaimed, as we journeyed to Ikedi’s house. “Such an annoying boy. And that voice of his? Aaaaargh! So, so very annoying!”
I nodded, even though I found myself feeling a little hollow inside. Having just ended a very long-term relationship with Dozie, and even though my heart had already moved on, it still felt sad to end things that way. It felt like the end of an era.
We got to Ikedi’s house at almost 10pm, and I was heart warmed by the wonderful reception from Anuli’s almost-50 year old brother. A comfortable bed was provided, warm meals were served, it was a great way to end a not-so-great day. At dinner, we brought him up to speed on my trip so far, and I found myself asking him questions to find out if he, perhaps, knew anything about my adoption.
“I’m so sorry, Golibe. But I left Ogwashi years ago. As far back as the late ’80s.” he answered regretfully. “By 1989/1990, it was really only Awele and Anuli left at home.”
Even though I hadn’t been expecting anything, it was still disappointing to realise it was yet another brick wall. It all the more confirmed to me the fact that my mission had failed.
The next day, I was surprised that Anuli didn’t leave the house at all. She also didn’t get on her phone once, save for browsing her Instagram feed.
“Do your sugar daddies know you’re in town?” I teased.
“I’ve decided to give all that up.” she answered. “Ejike is right. I’m way too old to be living my life that way!”
My heart soared. Hearing that was totally the next best thing to getting any news about my mother. “And school?” I exclaimed in glee.
“One at a time, abeg!” she chuckled. “I’m not sure I’m ready to return to carrying books and pens at this age! But we’ll see.”
“And James?” I asked, pushing my luck.
“I’m ready to talk to him now…” she said, taking me totally by surprise. “Could you please call Duke and ask him to let him know?”
I squealed, totally thrilled by what she was saying. “That is wonderful! What made you decide that?”
She shrugged. “There’s no point running and hiding anymore. I might as well hear what he has to say!”
Suddenly, a cold realisation made the smile freeze on my face. “I don’t have Duke’s number though.” I said. “Why don’t you just call James directly?”
She looked at me, amused. “You don’t have Duke’s number? With the puppy dog way you were staring at him the other day?”
“There’s just never been any reason to exchange numbers.” I muttered.
“Well, lucky you, I have his number.” she laughed, reaching her phone. “And no, I don’t have James’ number. I deleted it right after I blocked him from calling me.”
I shook my head at my dramatic cousin. “Then why don’t you call Duke yourself then? Why do you need me to call him for you?”
She looked at me like I’d grown a second head. “I should call Duke?! Me, Anuli, I should call Duke? Do you want me to speak with James or not?”
Knowing the crazy girl could very well abort that mission, I quickly took Duke’s number and dialled it. As the phone rang, I found my heart racing at top speed. Why on earth did he make me so nervous?
“Hello?” came his silky smooth voice.
“Hi.” I croaked, clearing my throat. “This is Golibe.”
“Hello Golibe.” he said, and I could actually hear the smile in his voice. “This is a very pleasant surprise. Are you back from Lagos?”
“No, we’re still here. We leave tomorrow afternoon.” I answered.
“How did it go with Dozie?”
“Well…at least I was able to give him ‘closure’.” I said sarcastically.
Duke laughed. “That bad?”
“Errm, about James.” I said, quickly cutting to the chase. “Anuli would like to see him.”
“That’s excellent. He’ll be very happy to see her.”
“How soon can you arrange it?”
“I’ll give him a call now, and find out how quickly he can get to Ogwashi. I’ll let you know by the time you arrive tomorrow. Can I call you on this number?”
I cleared my throat, my heart racing again at the mere thought of him calling me. “Errm yeah…sure.”
Terminating the call, I turned around to look at Anuli, who was smiling knowingly. “See how the guy is making you shake! After you’ll say there’s nothing between you two!”
I hissed, before proceeding to give her the feedback of the conversation with Duke, to which she registered no emotion.
“But you have to come with me.” was all she able to manage. “And tell Duke to come with him. Just in case it gets messy.”
I looked at my cousin, confused. Why on earth would she anticipate a discussion with a gentle soul like James could get messy?!
“Meanwhile, did you even tell Amobi about this your trip?” Anuli asked, changing the topic.
I shrugged. “I told him I had to see family in Lagos.”
“You didn’t tell him about Dozie?”
“I should have told my boyfriend that I was coming to see my ex-boyfriend?” I retorted.
“Yet you could tell Duke.” Anuli remarked. “Golibe, my darling girl. Be true to yourself oh!”
The next afternoon, sitting in the departure lounge of the airport, waiting for the flight to Asaba, Anuli’s words rang in my ears…about being true to myself. The honest truth was that I should have felt comfortable enough to have told Amobi the truth. What were we in a relationship for, if I could keep from him such important details as this? And why had it felt like the most natural thing in the world, talking about it with Duke?
I plugged in my earphones and subconsciously found myself searching for PM Dawn in my playlist. Pulling up I’d die without you, I closed my eyes and was teleported to the time, only a few short mornings ago, that I had listened to this song with Duke…or rather, watched him reminisce about his wife, whilst listening to the song.
Without even thinking, I cued the song on repeat, and found myself enveloped by the first verse of the song.
Is it my turn, to wish you were lying here?
I tend to dream you when I’m not sleeping
Is it my turn to fictionalize my world?
Or even imagine your emotions, tell myself anything, yeah
By the time our flight finally arrived, I had one thing as a companion…
The realisation that I was falling for Duke.
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
- Golibe 18: Ex-Wife
Catch up on our other series here: