I looked at Dozie, kneeling before me. I looked at my father, watching with bated breath. I looked at Georgie, looking on in concern.
And I knew I couldn’t do it.
“I’m sorry, Dozie.” I said, shaking my head. “We’re not right for each other. I don’t love you.”
He deflated, and I felt saddened by the pain I was causing him. God knows the last thing I wanted was to put anyone through what I’d gone through in the last year.
“Please, Emma…” he pleaded. “I love you enough for the two of us. Just give us a chance…”
“I’m really sorry.” I said quietly, before walking away.
As I ascended the stairs, I heard my dad apologetically bid Dozie farewell, and barely was the door closed before I heard Georgie’s angry voice, scolding him for such an ill-thought intervention. But I didn’t care to hear the details of what she was saying. All I longed for was the solitude of my room, where I could ponder what on earth had just happened.
Lying on my bed, I was saddened anew by my inability to just have agreed to Duke’s proposal. Why had I gone on to experience a deeper love with Duke? If Duke wasn’t to be my forever love, why had he come into my life in the first place? Life would have been so much easier if I’d just agreed to move on with Dozie. Getting married and proceeding to have a truckload of kids would surely have exorcised me of the obsession I had for Duke…surely.
Because that’s what it was…an obsession. Why else was he on my mind and in my heart every second of every minute of every hour of every day. It was soon going to be 8 months since my unfortunate attempt to win him back at the Canary Wharf station, and over a year since our breakup. So why couldn’t I just move on? Why couldn’t I just forget him?
The next morning, I knew I had to confront my father for his role in last night’s disaster.
“Why did you do that?” I asked, walking into the dining room as he had his breakfast.
He looked at me. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, Golibe.” he answered. “You two were together for such a long time…and when he got in touch with me a few months ago, pleading with me to help him get you back, I actually thought it would be good for you. You’ve been moping around for months over that Duke fellow…and I just thought Dozie would be the right person to help you move on.”
I realised that it had been love and concern that had prompted his actions, and knew I couldn’t stay angry with him. “You don’t have to worry about me, Dad. I’ll be fine.”
And it was like it went from my mouth to God’s ears…as later that same week, I met Minkah.
I was in the library, my favourite place, when he’d taken a seat on the table in front of mine. I was the only one on mine, and he was the only one on his, and at some point our eyes met…and we both smiled. I looked away immediately, shocked at my brazen behaviour. But over the course of the evening, I stole several glances his way, especially when he made his way to the book shelves to retrieve more books.
Tall and well built, he shared a lot of physical similarities with Duke…and for the first time in over a year, I found myself attracted to another man.
He caught me looking at him, and even though I immediately looked away, he walked up to my table anyway.
“Hi, Emma.” he said, smiling and revealing a set of pearly white teeth. “May I join you here?”
I smiled sheepishly. “Sure. How come you know my name?”
He laughed, the same kind of contagious belly-laugh Duke had. “You’re a hard one to miss, Miss Emma. Of course I know your name…as I’m sure most of the red-blooded men within a short distance of you would.”
He went on to introduce himself as Minkah, a 30 year old Ghanaian working towards a Ph.D in Politics & International Relations. We had very pleasant conversation, and when he asked for my phone number, I hadn’t hesitated. He’d called that very night, and we’d spoken for almost an hour. He was engaging, smart and had a great sense of humour. For the first time in a long while, I slept without thinking of Duke.
The next day, Minkah and I met for coffee, and that began our pattern of spending a lot of time together. Granted, he didn’t give me butterflies in my stomach, but I enjoyed his company…and I thought that was enough. But when he leaned in to kiss me one evening, I’d recoiled. My action had shocked me, as I thought I was ready to be with another man, but he had been very understanding.
“Forgive me, my love. I didn’t mean to rush you.” he apologised emphatically. “I promise to take things slow.”
Even though we’d hugged and cuddled, my reaction to him still bothered me. When I got home, I told Georgie about what happened, hoping to get reassurance from her that it was the same for her after she’d started dating again. But instead, she’d been concerned.
“You didn’t want him to kiss you?” she’d asked.
“Of course I wanted him to kiss me. I just…” my voice trailed off, with the realisation that I just simply hadn’t been able to see it through. “Was it that way for you after your first love?”
She shook her head. “No. Yes, I wasn’t able to give away my heart, but I didn’t have a problem kissing anyone I was attracted to. Are you sure you’re attracted to him?”
I’d nodded emphatically. Of course I was attracted to him. He was everything I found desirable. He was just like my Duke.
“Just give it time then.” Georgie said, smiling convincingly, even though I could see that even she wasn’t convinced.
I decided, then and there, not to put myself under any kind of pressure. What mattered was that I liked Minkah…very much. The chemistry would always evolve in time. And so we had continued our ‘relationship’. He seemed content to just hold my hands, hug and cuddle, and that was fine for me.
A week before Christmas, I got a visit fro the most unexpected person. Minkah and I were having a meal in the University’s Gallery Cafe, when a young lady walked up to our table.
“I’m so sorry to interrupt, but are you Golibe?” she asked.
I looked at her and, even though I’d never met her before, recognised her instantly.
“Amara!” I exclaimed.
She heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank God! I wasn’t sure I’d be able to identify you.”
“What are you doing here?” I asked, bewildered.
“I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for ages! Can you talk?” she said, casting a nervous glance at Minkah.
He got the message and smiled, rising to his feet, his cup of coffee in hand. “I’ll give you ladies some privacy.”
“So…it’s great to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.” I said, smiling at her after Minkah had left, desperately trying to conceal my nerves. Why on earth had she come to see me?! “Is your father okay?”
“He’s fine.” she answered. “I wish I’d known you were his girlfriend when I spoke with you on the phone last year. If I had, I would have come to see you for sure! I was just so happy to finally be in touch with him again, I foolishly didn’t bother about the person who’d made it all happen.”
I smiled sadly. “I wasn’t his girlfriend then. We’d already broken up.”
“It wasn’t until we spent summer together this year, that we had the time to really talk…and he told me all about you.” Amara said. “He said you were the love of his life. He told me all about falling in love with you back in Nigeria, and I just knew I had to see you.”
“Why?” I couldn’t help but ask, not daring to hope against hope that maybe…just maybe he was still longing for me.
“To tell you thank you, for one thing.” Amara giggled. “I felt bad about not being able to at least thank you for what you’d done for my family. And I was also curious about this person my father loved so much. But when I called the number I had for you, it had been reassigned to someone else. And the person had no idea who ‘Golibe’ was. It was when mom came home a few weeks ago, complaining about you snobbing her at the mall, I decided to hack into her Facebook account, to at least get your full name from your messages last year…because I know you contacted her on Facebook. I didn’t find any ‘Golibe’, but it was after going through every message one by one, that I finally found your thread…and realised your official name is actually Emma Isiguzo. That’s how I was able to trace you here.”
I smiled and nodded, impressed by her tenacity, but also puzzled about her intent. “I’m sorry about snobbing your mom. I just wasn’t in the right head space to have a conversation with her.”
She giggled. “It hurt her to her bone marrow. She was so angry! I guess it was more painful for her because she knows how deeply my dad feels about you.”
I scoffed. “She didn’t seem to feel that way last year. She told me I wasn’t the kind of girl he would go for!”
A slow smile formed on Amara’s face. “She said that? That means she must have known even then.”
I looked at her, confused, and she nodded.
“My mom is very calculating. She wouldn’t have said that to you if you were just some random girl with a message. She must have sensed you were special to my dad, and decided to say something to hurt you. It’s the way she is.”
I shut my eyes tight, remembering how hurt and diminished I’d been by her words. If that was her intention, she’d succeeded. “So, now you’ve seen me, Amara. Now what?”
Amara glanced across the room at Minkah, who was sipping his coffee on another table. “Is that your boyfriend?”
I squared my shoulders. “Something like that.”
“You clearly have a type.” she said, a mischievous smile on her face. “From a certain angle, he could almost pass for…”
“Does your dad even know you’re here, Amara?” I asked, fed up of the conversation. “Because he appears to be extremely happy and carefree there in Singapore…happy with his girlfriend, Temisan!”
A wide grin spread on her face. “Aha! You’re still paying attention. That has to count for something.” she beckoned for a waiter and signalled for a cup of coffee. “And Temisan isn’t his girlfriend. I’m surprised you’d even think so, knowing my dad.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but thought against it and decided to just keep quiet. There was no need arguing over what I’d seen with my own two eyes. Pictures didn’t lie, and I knew Duke well enough to know he liked the woman.
“Look, Golibe…my dad still loves you.” Amara said, going serious. “Yes, he talked about you in the past tense, but I could see it in his eyes that his heart is still with you. He loves you very much!”
“Amara…he told me himself that I’m the last person he needs. And just look what being away from me has done for him. He’s completely transformed now. He’s happy. He’s content. Or isn’t he?”
Amara nodded. “He is happy…”
“So, there you have it.” I answered, even though I felt my heart breaking anew. “He doesn’t need me.”
The eighteen year old clearly hadn’t thought things through, as she found herself lost for words. She cast another glance Minkah’s way, and looked at me. “I don’t think my dad is the only one still carrying a torch. You dating someone that could pass for his twin says more than you know.” she reached forward to hug me. “I’m glad to have finally met you, Golibe. You’ll be seeing more of me.”
As she sauntered off, Minkah made his way back to the table.
“Was that your ex-boyfriend’s daughter?” he asked, his brows furrowed. “What did she want?”
“She just wanted to say hello…” I answered, staring at him in amazement. “How did you know she’s his daughter?!”
Yes, I’d told him all about Duke, but for him to know what his daughter looked like meant only one thing…the dude had been cyber stalking Duke.
“I was just curious about this guy who still has a hold on your heart.” he answered, unable to look me in the eye.
I didn’t know whether to feel flattered or unnerved by his admission.
Getting home, I allowed myself the luxury of day dreaming of Duke for the first time in weeks. I allowed myself get lost in the fantasy of him still loving me, like Amara had said. But I knew it was only her own teenage, romanticised fantasy…interpreting whatever her father had told her to conjure a fairytale ending. As for Temisan, it was obvious she didn’t like her, and so couldn’t accept the fact that her father did.
But what if she was saying the truth?
Even if she was, there was nothing I could do about it. Duke was happy with his new life, and I wasn’t about to make a fool of myself again, trying to get him back. Besides, I had Minkah…
The next day, Minkah and I carried on like the previous day hadn’t happened, and I was finally able to allow him kiss me. It was nowhere near earth shattering. I’d felt even more passion with Amobi…and even Dozie. But I was determined to find the passion…the chemistry…somehow. This was a good man who clearly liked me a lot, and I was determined to try my best to make things work with him.
A week before Christmas, Minkah left for Accra to spend the holidays, and I found myself feeling somewhat relieved. As much as I wanted to grow and foster our relationship, I really wanted the holidays to just be alone and reflect. But it was not to be, as my dad informed me Anuli and her newborn daughter would be arriving on Christmas Eve, to stay with us for a few months. She’d had her baby in the States the month before, but as she’d had a few complications, needed to be checked out by another doctor they’d found in the U.K.
I wasn’t amused by the prospect at all. Spending Christmas with the now-toxic Anuli was not something on my wish list. But I was determined not to allow her mess with my head…not this time.
But when they arrived on Christmas Day, I took one look at her beautiful daughter, and melted to butter. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, and there was no way I could transfer my ill-feelings for her mother to her. So, as my dad and Georgie spent the day settling James and Anuli in our large guest room, I busied myself with the beautiful Amanda.
“Na wa oh, Golibe! I never knew you could keep malice like this!” she teased, walking into my room after putting Amanda to bed later that evening. “You couldn’t even call when I had the baby. Is that how we are now?”
“I sent you a text.” I mumbled, not looking up from the book I was reading.
She laughed. “Nne, that’s not the same thing, and you know it! Not even when I was almost dying in hospital afterwards did you call!”
I stole a look at her. “I didn’t know you were in hospital. What exactly was wrong?”
She shoved me playfully. “If you had called me, you would have known, ewu!”
But I wasn’t in the mood for her jokes.
“I had a bad infection…and it wasn’t very well managed in Dallas. It’s my fault, because from the beginning, James wanted me to have the baby with his family doctor here…but you know na. Na passport I dey find!” she chuckled, but went serious when I didn’t join in the laughter. “Thankfully, there was no real damage, but James wants the doctor to have a look at me, just to be sure. Besides, at my age, this is probably my last bus stop. Who wants to be carrying belle at almost 42?!”
I nodded, and returned my attention to the book, but was soon startled when she grabbed it from me.
“Golibe, whats your problem? Why so cold? That’s how you deleted me on Facebook! Na wa oh. We used to be close oh! Or have you forgotten?”
I looked at her, my face expressionless. “The same way you forgot when you gave me the cold shoulder…or have you forgotten? Remember how you refused to take my calls or even speak to me after the incident with Duke? Remember how you refused to even give me his number? Remember?”
She sighed deeply. “I admit, I was a bit harsh. But it was because of how hurt I was when you just left like that. But even more so by how you just destroyed Duke. Do you know how badly your actions hurt him? He was broken…”
“Oh please, Anuli! Sing another song. I’ve heard that so many times, it’s become boring!” I exclaimed. “I had just gotten the most shocking news of my life. Would you have reacted normally if you found out Ikedi was your father? Yes, I acted foolishly and childishly, but you should have given me a little more consideration. I’m sorry I hurt Duke…but trust me, the pain I’ve felt over the past year is way more than anything he could ever have felt. Having you and your husband toss me about just because I wanted a second chance with Duke, was almost as painful as the rejection I got from the man himself! And as if that wasn’t enough, you would be there commenting on his pictures all over Facebook, asking him about women. Why wouldn’t I delete you? You’re even lucky I didn’t block you!”
Anuli reached for my hand. “Golibe…biko, I’m sorry. I also acted badly, I admit. Yes, I was angry because of what Duke was suffering…but I should also have thought of what you yourself were going through. And I know now that refusing to give you his number was taking it too far…”
I pinched my nose, to try to stop tears from gushing from my face, but failed woefully as I soon crumbled in her arms, crying.
“I really failed you as a big sister.” she said, stroking my hair, her own voice quivering. “I should have been more patient with you. I should have been more patient with you.”
She held me as I cried myself hoarse, after which we lay on the bed, talking. I told her all about being rejected by Duke in April, and having to watch him live out his happy life on social media.
“I don’t blame you for blocking him. That must have been hard to watch.” she said, and in response to my question about Temisan, had simply shrugged. “My dear, I don’t know. I just commented on a few pictures, and didn’t even take it to mind. I have no idea whether she is his girlfriend, or even just a colleague. And he hasn’t even been active on Facebook for a while, so I really have no idea.”
“It’s okay. It doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve moved on now.” I said, willing myself to smile. “His name is Minkah, and he’s lovely. You’ll like him. He went home to Ghana for Christmas, but you’ll meet him when he returns in January.”
Anuli looked at me. “You’re smiling, but it’s not even getting to your eyes. Do you like this guy?”
“Of course I do. I wouldn’t be dating him if I didn’t, would I?” I insisted, making a show of smiling even brighter.
Amanda’s cries came through the baby monitor, making Anuli rise to her feet. “I know people say the best way to get over a man is to get under another one…but trust me when I say that couldn’t be further from the truth. It would only make you think of the person you’re trying to get over even more.”
“I’m not getting under any man…” I mumbled.
“I know you know what I mean, Virgin Golibe!” Anuli said, shoving my head playfully, reminiscent of the good old days in Ogwashi. “You are still young. You don’t have to rush into just any relationship. You don’t have to settle for less.”
“I’m not settling. I really, really like Minkah.”
“If you say so, my dear.” Anuli said, leaning in to kiss my cheek. “Let me go and attend to my third born.”
I smiled. “Your third born?”
“Yes ke. You are my first, and James is my second.” and with that, she winked and exited my room.
And for the first time in months, I went to bed happy.
Being reconciled with Anuli was the best Christmas gift ever. We had a lovely holiday as family, a lot better than anything I could have imagined. After her doctor gave her a clean bill of health, in the first week of the New Year, so bonded were we that she decided not to leave for Nigeria as agreed. Using Chuka and Georgie’s February wedding as an excuse, she convinced her husband that it was better for her to just stay back and wait for the wedding. As for what she would do with Amanda, because travelling with a baby to Turks and Caicos wasn’t an option, it was agreed that James’ mother, who lived in Birmingham, would help out when the time came.
Everything seemed sorted.
With the New Year upon us, plans were in overdrive for the wedding. Georgie was on the phone with her Wedding Planner practically 24 hours a day, and even I couldn’t escape the pressure. By the time Minkah returned on the 17th, I was more than happy to have him back as a distraction.
He came by our house the day after returning, and I’d been happy to introduce him to Anuli. I was even happier to see them chatting like old friends. Dad, for some reason, wasn’t excited by him, and I thought nothing of it, thinking he was still smarting over the Dozie fiasco. After seeing him off, I joined Georgie and Anuli in the kitchen, smiling broadly.
“Well? What do you think?” I asked.
“He’s a cool guy. Very intelligent and funny. I like him.” Anuli answered. “But your chemistry is zero!”
Georgie clasped her mouth with her hands. “Oh my God, I thought I was the only one who noticed.”
I stared at them like they were crazy. “What do you mean our chemistry is zero? We have more than enough chemistry, thank you very much!”
“Golibe, he was here for almost three hours, and the two of you didn’t touch once. Not even hold hands.” Anuli said, looking at me sadly. “And your body language…fire and ice!”
“I’m surprised at you two! Shouldn’t you be telling me how I’ll grow to love him? Must every relationship be about passion, passion, passion?! Doesn’t friendship and companionship count for anything? Or you’d rather I was moping and crying for Duke all day long?!” I exclaimed.
“Goli, nobody is asking you to mope around all day. We’re happy you’re moving on, but honey, it has to be with the right person. Yes, friendship is important…but so is the chemistry!” Georgie implored.
I brushed aside our discussion, and continued seeing Minkah, determined to prove them all wrong and make something out of our relationship. But on Valentine’s Day, it all came crashing down…
It was a little over a week before our trip for the wedding, and I had reluctantly agreed to accompany Minkah for a Couples Dinner organised by his class. Despite the weather, I’d taken the effort to dress up in a nice red jersey and lace outfit, and from the look of appreciation in his eyes, I could tell he approved.
“You look good enough to eat!” he said, desire written all over his eyes.
Getting to the dinner party, Minkah was literally all over me, more so than he’d ever been before. I don’t know if it was to impress his friends, or if he was simply fuelled by his desire, but I found his behaviour strange and off-putting. He was kissing my neck and grabbing me every opportunity he got. I kept a tight smile on my face, as I kept on shrugging him off. After a while, he stopped, but he also went lethally quiet.
As we walked to the train station, I punched him playfully. “Why so quiet?”
He stopped walking suddenly, and looked at me. “It’s never going to happen, is it? You’re never going to really desire me, are you? My touch is never going to stop making your skin crawl, will it?”
I looked at him, my mouth agape for a few moments, willing myself to tell him he was wrong…that I did desire him…that I did want him…but I couldn’t.
He smiled sadly, and kissed me on the forehead. “I love you, Emma. That’s why I’m going to let you go.”
Watching him walk away, I felt a deep sense of loss…but also profound relief. Even though I liked him a whole lot, my feelings for him were never going to grow past that…and we both knew it. It was time to just start over…and wait for the one with whom I would have passion and chemistry. The one who would help me forget the man that still held me captive.
On Sunday the 19th, Amanda’s grandmother came to take her, and on Tuesday the 21st, my dad, Georgie, Anuli, James and I set off for Turks and Caicos, through Antigua. We got to the beach side bay in the Providenciales area of the region, and I finally understood why Georgie had chosen it. Apart from the fact that the resort-styled hotel was simply beautiful, the white sands and clear blue waters just took my breath away.
It was the kind of place that made you dream of love.
Georgie’s family arrived late Wednesday, and the rest of their friends arrived the island on Thursday. All in, it was an intimate group of no more than 100 people, and I knew that the wedding was going to be simply beautiful.
Friday was the Rehearsal Dinner, and as their friends shared anecdotes of the couple, alongside lots of laughter were a lot of tears…happy tears. Especially when Georgie shared the story of my revelation as ‘their’ daughter. Through the laughter and applause, our eyes met, Georgie’s and mine, and I knew I couldn’t ask for a better mom.
Saturday soon came, and at exactly 6:17pm, under the beautiful Caribbean sunset, Chuka and Georgie were joined as man and wife.
“You better take it easy, or you’ll mess up your make up!” Anuli teased, as tears streamed down my face.
I laughed, but was unable to stop them from pouring. It was just so beautiful. Seeing Chuka…the man who had started out as my brother…but was now my father…so happy…and with a good woman…just made my heart want to burst with joy.
After the ceremony, we proceeded to an outdoor patio, gorgeously, but simply, decorated with white tulle and string lights. It was simply something out of a fairytale. And as the new couple danced to Ed Sheeran’s We Found Love, I had a silly happy smile watching them as they danced and mouthed the song to each other. I couldn’t believe I’d even questioned their choice of song for their first dance. Back in London, when I found out they only had plans to play new, contemporary music, I had been scandalized. What was a wedding without some good old classic love songs?! But watching them, I could finally understand.
As the wedding proceeded, I couldn’t help but be grateful over how beautifully it was going. Apart from the palpable romance in the air, everything was on point. The food was pure perfection, and the open bar had a limitless supply of the best cocktails ever. It was simply beautiful.
I was happily sipping a Strawberry Mango mocktail, singing along to Bruno Mars’ That’s What I Like…when I saw him…
He appeared like something out of a Greek mythology, beautiful and perfect in a fitted, navy blue suit that looked like it was created just for him. My heart caught in my throat at my first sight of him in almost a year. He was the most handsome I had ever seen him. I watched him as he made his way down the stairs leading to the beach, and as he shook hands with a few people who appeared to be mutual friends with the couple. As he laughed and talked with them, I couldn’t help but see how much better and confident he looked, and sadly realized that he was truly much better off without me.
And then our eyes met.
For a brief second, neither of us did or anything. I didn’t know whether to wave or to look away…and just sat there, immobile as a statue.
And then a slow smile formed on his face.
My heart started racing 1,000 miles an hour, as he made his way to my table. I glanced at Anuli and James, who appeared oblivious of his appearance, and wondered if he was coming to say hello to them…or me?
I was soon to get my answer.
“Hello stranger.” he said, taking the seat next to mine.
I cleared my throat nervously, clasping my hands to conceal the tremble. “Hello.”
“You look beautiful.” he said, still with the smile on his face.
I glanced at him, and was suddenly infuriated over how he could sit there, all sexy and confident, acting as if the last year hadn’t happened.
“How come you’re here?” I asked.
“A friend of mine was good enough to get me an invite.” he said, winking at Anuli, who winked back, before rising and leading her husband to another table.
Leaving just Duke and I alone at ours.
“Why?” I demanded.
He leaned in closer. “I’m trying to win back this beautiful girl I was foolish enough to let go.”
I looked away, my imagination playing with my head, not knowing if he meant me…or possibly someone else. Maybe Temisan was here and I’d missed her.
“You flew all the way to Turks and Caicos for that?! Well, you should go look for her then.” I retorted, glaring at him.
He leaned in so close, he was almost whispering in ear. “I already found her.”
I looked at him, and as our eyes met, for a brief moment, we were Golibe and Duke all over again. But I immediately looked away, not wanting to be sucked back into that hole of heartbreak and despair.
“And how do you intend to win her back.” I asked, trying to sound casual as I sipped my mocktail.
“I was hoping to jog her memory a little bit.” he said, before signaling to the DJ.
I gasped as Jodeci’s Come and Talk To Me started playing.
“This was the first song I listened to with her. I remember being so blown away that she even knew the song, considering it was released only a year after she was born. It’s funny, because she didn’t know that the lyrics of the songs were almost everything I’d been feeling until that point.” he said, smiling, before breaking into song.
I’ve been watching you
For so very long
Trying to get my nerve built up to be so strong
I really want to meet you
But I’m kind of scared
‘Cause you’re the kind of lady
With so much class
Get my thoughts together
For the very next day
But when I see you lady
I forget what to say
Your eyes and hair
Such a beautiful tone
The way you dress and walk
It really turns me on
Ooh, you really turn me on
Come on, come on, come on
I fought hard to contain my own smile, as I remembered that morning. It was the morning after Dozie’s surprise phone call announcing he was in Nigeria. I saw vividly the bearded Duke, leaning on his old car, cigarette in hand, and how that had been the day I started falling in love with him.
The song stopped abruptly, and New Edition’s If it isn’t love came on cue, and this time, I couldn’t stop the grin on my face.
“I hope she remembers this one. It was one of our favourites too.” he said. “For a millennial, she sure did know how to dance.”
I shook my head and smiled, remembering all the times we’d goofed along to this song, singing and dancing and even forgetting the lines a times.
‘Cause if it isn’t love
Why do I feel this way
Why does she stay on my mind
And if it isn’t love
Why does it hurt so bad
Make me feel so sad inside
If it isn’t love
He sang along, and I looked at him…and realized we both knew the lyrics were not random…but had meaning so explicit.
Pete Cetera’s Glory of Love came on cue next, and I had to laugh this time.
“You can’t be disrupting my dad’s wedding like this.” I remarked. “I know them very well, and this is not the kind of music they want for this wedding.”
“Don’t worry. I already have their permission.” Duke answered, smiling. “I hope she remembers this one. It was another favorite.
Tonight it’s very clear, as we’re both standing here,
there’s so many things I want to say
I will always love you, I will never leave you alone.
Sometimes I just forget, say things I might regret,
it breaks my heart to see you crying.
I don’t want to lose you,
I could never make it alone.
As he sang, I had a very vivid memory of us sitting in his car, on a rainy Saturday morning, singing along with it at the top of our lungs. And I could feel the sorrow of the loss of that magical time beginning to well in my chest.
R. Kelly’s Dream Girl was on cue next, and I smiled…remembering how he would serenade me with this song on occasion.
“She loved it when I sang this song to her.” he said. “It captured so much of how I felt.”
So amazing, unbelievable, miraculous women you are.
Incredible, unforgettable, you’re the worlds greatest by far.
Sensational, so lovable, my Cinderella you are.
So beautiful, ghetto fabulous, the reason I wish upon a star.
As I lay me down to sleep I, pray your heart I’ll always keep it.
Hope you feel the same.
So baby come and hop on board my life and,
just let love take us away…
“I’m not sure she liked the ghetto fabulous part.” I said, smiling.
He said nothing in response, but his smile was indicative of the fact that he was pleased I remembered, and he sang aloud…
…You are my dream, dream, dream, dream girl
Our eyes met, but I was quick to break our gaze, the memories too vivid for me.
Lauren Wood’s Fallen was cued next, and this time he didn’t have to say anything. Our eyes held as we both remembered the day we had slow-danced to this song in his bedroom.
I can’t believe it
You’re a dream coming true
I can’t believe how
I have fallen for you…
And I want to tell you
You control my rain
And you should know that
You are life in my vein
You are the one
Who’s led me to the sun
How could I know that
I was lost without you
This was a song from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, and I had felt even happier and more in love than Julia Roberts’ character could ever have. Oh how happy and in love we’d both been!
Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together was cued next, and I looked at him, puzzled, not remembering this as one of the songs we’d created memories with.
“No, she won’t remember this one. I used to sing this when I was alone…” then holding my gaze, “I still do.”
I’m… I’m so in love with you
Whatever you want to do
Is all right with me…
‘Cause you… make me feel so brand new…
And I… want to spend my life with you…
Let’s, let’s stay together…
Loving you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad
And the PM Dawn’s I’d die without you started playing…taking me right back to that evening, with me standing in front of the Canary Wharf station,with my CD player, playing it…but all for nothing.
“I hear you were quite the DJ with this song.” he joked, but I didn’t even crack a smile. “Golibe, if I’d heard you did that, I would have been on the first plane back to London. Kene only told me about this a few days ago.”
Awash with the memory of that day, and the subsequent display of his ensuing love life on social media, I was filled with an intense anger.
“So, is that why you’re here? Because you heard I made a fool of myself for you?” I snapped. “I don’t need your pity. I’m not that girl who’s still pining over you…so get over yourself!”
And with that, I stormed off, not caring that almost all eyes in the place were on us. So engrossed had I been with our trip down memory lane, that I hadn’t realized we had become the cynosure of all eyes.
I walked angrily down the beach, away from the party, but he soon caught up with me.
“You might not be pining over me….but I sure as heck am pining over you.” he said, grabbing my hand.
I spun around angrily. “What was it you said that day? That you aren’t ‘equipped for a love that strong’. You sure look equipped enough to love Temisan!”
He looked at me, surprised, before he started laughing. “Temisan? Are you serious? You think I’m dating Temisan?”
“Don’t try to play me for a fool! You two were practically rubbing it in everyone’s face with all your stupid pictures!” I snapped, immediately wishing I hadn’t.
“Oh, so that’s why you blocked me.” he remarked, annoying me further with his amused smile. “Golibe, Temisan is just a friend of mine.”
I hissed. “Friend indeed! Why weren’t all your friends running up and down Singapore with you, taking pictures?!”
“Temisan and I met while trying to help a mutual client raise funds, and we just clicked. Her fiancé, now husband, who’s a friend of mine by the way, lives all the way in Canada, and she needed company. If you hadn’t blocked me, you would have seen that she got married this past December. No romance there.”
I suddenly felt as foolish as I’m sure I sounded.
“What about the other things you said to me? That I was your cure…but also your curse?! That I wasn’t good for you?!”
“I didn’t mean any of those things.” he said, taking my hands in his. “A fool thinks himself to be wise…but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
I found myself melting at his reference to Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
“I was so afraid of the depth of my feelings for you…especially because of how I’d felt losing you…that I thought being away from you was best.” he answered.
“It looks like it was good for you…being away from me…”
“Being in Singapore was good for me. Having the chance to rediscover myself was good for me. Finally being able to see a Therapist and find out I was still suffering separation anxiety from my dad’s death, was good for me…” he shook his head. “But being away from you wasn’t. I have thought about you every single second of every single day. I love you, Golibe. I never stopped.”
“Well, they do not love that do not show their love!” I retorted, quoting some Shakespeare of my own. “You’ve been living your life without a care in the world. Happily enjoying the single life. Now you expect me to believe that it’s been me all along.”
He walked closer to me. “Doubt thou the stars are fire. Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar. But never doubt I love you.”
“Quoting Hamlet won’t help you…” I said, half meaning it, knowing he knew fully well that he was melting my resolve by so doing.
“I should have done this months ago. I should have come for you long ago. I was just scared of you no longer feeling the way you did before. Especially after you blocked me on your social media.” he said, taking my hand. “I wasted time…and now doth time waste me.”
I couldn’t help but smile at his quote from Shakespeare’s King Richard. “You’re on fire today.”
“I haven’t even gotten started.” he answered, smiling.
“Love sought is good…but given unsought is so much better.” I said, quoting a little Shakespeare of my own, from the Twelfth Night. “I couldn’t reach out to you again, Duke…not after that night at the tube station.”
“And I intend to spend the rest of my life making it up to you.” he said, tilting up my face.
“How do you know I’m even available? How do you know I’m not seeing anyone?” I asked, raising a brow.
“From what I heard from Amara and Anuli, you were with the poor man’s version of the real deal.” he smirked. “Why make do with a bicycle, when you’ve got the Bugatti right here?”
I threw my head back in a throaty laughter, and when I looked at him again, he smiled tenderly. “I have missed that laugh so much, you’ll never begin to imagine.”
In the not-too-far distance of the party, The Righteous Brothers Unchained Melody started playing.
“Dance with me.” he said, not taking his eyes off me.
“Let me guess. The song is a special request from you.” I said, smiling.
He nodded, taking me into his arms, and moving me to the music.
Oh, my love
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Yes, lonely rivers sigh, “Wait for me, wait for me
I’ll be coming home, wait for me”
Oh, my love
I’ve hungered, hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
“I love you, Golibe. My beautiful Golibe.” he said. “It seems our wheel has come full circle.”
I smiled at his King Lear quote, and closed my eyes in contentment, my head nestled on his chest, inhaling the beautiful scent of him, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
“But I don’t remember us making any memories to this song…” I pondered.
“We’re making one now.” he said.
And he kissed me…
And my world…my whole world…was complete.
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
- Golibe 19: Falling
- Golibe 20: Nervous Breakdown
- Golibe 21: Much ado about nothing
- Golibe 22: Blood Brother
- Golibe 23: Heart Smile
- Golibe 24: Sister Petra
- Golibe 25: Musical Staccato
- Golibe 26: A Girl Called Emma
- Golibe 27: Sparkle in your eyes
- Golibe 28: Unfinished Business
- Golibe 29: Father Dearest
- Golibe 30: Count for something
- Golibe 31: I’d die without you
- Golibe 32: Always Better Tomorrow
Catch up on our other series here: