During my lunch break the next day, off I went to see Obiora. Thankfully, I still had Voke’s car. He was genuinely surprised, and even almost shocked, to see me.
“Isio! Wow, I wasn’t expecting you. Is Voke okay? I just spoke with her a few minutes ago and she didn’t tell me you were coming.” he rambled.
I looked at him, trying not to allow my disgust rise to the fore. I don’t know what irritated me more; the fact he was flirting with a younger girl, or the fact that he was sitting in his mother’s living room on a week day afternoon, watching TV. A 30 year old man!
“What’s this rubbish I hear about you and one Ijeoma girl?!” I demanded, not wasting any time with pleasantries.
He sighed deeply. “I’ve told Voke it’s not what she thinks. There’s nothing going on with me and the girl. I met her when I went to run an errand for my mother a few months ago, and she’s been on my case ever since.”
“I read the messages you two have been exchanging. You weren’t exactly telling her to back off!”
“Look, she knows I have a girlfriend. I’m also trying not to be rude or anything. I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
“Oh, but you’d rather hurt Voke’s feelings, right?!” I snapped. “Look, Obiora! You better shut this down, and shut this down immediately! If I had nipped the Daisy thing in the bud, who knows how things would have ended up between Pere and I?!”
And there it was. The real reason I was so passionate about the issue between Voke and Obiora. It resurrected ghosts I thought were long gone. That was the same way Pere had flippantly brushed off Daisy’s flirtation…until it had cost us our relationship.
“This is nothing like Pere and Daisy, and you know it.” Obiora mumbled.
“Well, I’m not even going to let it get that far!” I stated firmly. “When is the next time you’re seeing her?”
He shrugged. “It’s her birthday on Friday, and she’s been on my case to take her out.”
I nodded. “Very good. You’re going to tell her that you will indeed take her out, and ask her to bring along her friends.”
Obiora looked at me like I’d gone crazy. “And who’s going to pay for all that?!”
“Compared to the hurt you’ve already inflicted on my sister, you better be happy this is all I’m asking of you!” I retorted.
I had just the plan to ensure the Ijeoma got the message loud and clear!
That Friday, as planned, Obiora sent a Car Hire Service to pick up Ijeoma and her friends. Girls being girls, they all couldn’t fit into one car, so he’d had to send another one. Even though he wasn’t happy about the extra spend, I was only too glad that we would have more of an audience. The girls got to Marquee, a lounge on the rooftop of Mega Plaza, before Obiora, and when Ijeoma called him on the phone, all happy and giggly, we made sure he put her on speaker.
“Where are you, Obi? My friends are all eager to meet you.” came her very irritating high pitched voice.
Voke and I, who were seated in Obiora’s car as well, exchanged an irritated glance. Eager indeed! They would soon know the meaning of eager!
“I’m almost there. I’ll see you soon.” he answered, his voice flat.
The tension in the car was palpable, as Voke had taken a lot of convincing to go along with my plan. But after dangling the similarity with the Pere/Daisy fiasco, she had seen reason. She had also allowed me give her a small make over, transforming her from the almost tomboyish, make-up free norm of hers…to something a bit more glamorous.
“You look really beautiful, Voks.” Obiora said, for the umpteenth time.
But my sister wasn’t having it. Her lips remained pursed for the entire ride, and she looked as if she was on the verge of killing someone.
When we got to Mega Plaza, I pulled her aside gently. “Babe, you have to relax. This won’t work if you’re frowning like that! Remember what I told you.”
She sighed heavily and forced a smile on her face. Interlinking her arm with Obiora’s, we all made our way to Marquee.
Even though I already knew what she looked like, thanks to prowling her social media platforms, it was easy to tell who Ijeoma was the minute we walked in. Her light skinned face went beetroot red at the sight of her Obiora, walking arm-in-arm with another woman.
“Hi Ijeoma! Happy birthday!” Obiora said smiling at her. “This is my girlfriend, Voke. I’ve already told you about her.”
Voke smiled an award-winning smile, before handing her a large, brightly gift wrapped box. “Happy birthday, Ijeoma. I’ve heard so much about you.”
I cast a satisfied glance at the table where Ijeoma’s friends sat, and saw they were all looking on, first of all shocked, then confused, and then amused. And as the evening wore on, and with Obiora and Voke’s PDA on high blast, I knew I’d achieved what I wanted. To give the Ijeoma the humiliation of her life, in front of both her friends and frenemies, because clearly, a large number of the girls there, from the way they were whispering and giggling, had only come for the show. And boy, had we given them one!
Ijeoma disappeared for a long time, and when she returned, from her swollen eyes, it was obvious she’d gone to the toilets to have a good cry. A part of me felt sorry for her, but another part of me revelled in her disgrace. It was me getting my own pound of flesh back for what Daisy did to me. And it felt great!
By the end of the evening, Voke was in a decidedly happier mood, and she and Obiora appeared to have mended their fences.
“Thanks so much, Isio!” she said, hugging me. “I don’t think that girl is going to be sending him any more messages after tonight.”
“If she does, just let me know. We’ll give her double the embarrassment next time!” I responded smugly. Yes! Mission well accomplished.
Voke went home with Obiora, and I got Abdul to pick me up. He laughed heartily when I told him what we’d done.
“Remind me never to get on your bad side!” he chuckled.
The following Wednesday, Abdul and I left for his friend’s wedding in Malaysia, arriving first of all in Kuala Lumpur before flying to the beautiful island of Langkawi. Victor’s bride was an outstanding Somalian beauty, and seeing her walk down that beach on their wedding day the following Saturday, I had a deep sadness in my heart. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would still be unmarried at 27! If Ejiro and I had married as planned, we would have been celebrating our 3rd anniversary. If Pere and I had stayed together, who knows? Maybe we also would have been married by then. It left me with a deep sense of loss…as well as a little regret.
“This is going to be me and you one day.” Abdul whispered in my ear, and it immediately made me feel tremendously better. Even though I didn’t love him the way I’d loved Pere, or even Ejiro, I still loved him nonetheless. Spending the rest of my life with him wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
Consoled, I was able to enjoy the rest of the celebration. It was a fantastic party, and we had the time of our lives. And on Sunday, Abdul and I decided to enjoy the island as a couple, enjoying the beautiful beaches with their pure white sands and sapphire blue ocean. It was so romantic, and by the time we returned to Nigeria the following Tuesday, my love for him had gone up several notches. Yes, I could most definitely get used to that!
Abdul turned 31 in August, and I pulled all the stops to give him a great day, surprising him with a platinum and diamond cufflink set, a large cake and lunch for his entire unit. Yes, I had bankrupted myself in the process, but I felt it was a small way to repay him for all he’d done for me. Later that evening, and for the first time since running into Pere in April, I went to Abdul’s office to pick him up for dinner. As the elevator made its way to his office on the 10th floor, it stopped on the 2nd, and I was face to face with my nemesis. Pere!
He smiled curtly, and walked into the elevator, while I stood, frozen, not knowing what to say.
“How are you doing, Isio? It’s been a while.” he said, a genuine smile on his face.
“Fine, thanks. You?” I answered, trying not to allow my voice convey my nervousness.
“Couldn’t be better.” he answered, still smiling. “It’s my last day here. I got a job with Total. I leave for Paris next week.”
I stared at him, shocked. “Oh, wow! That’s huge. Congratulations, Pere! I’m so happy for you.”
“Yeah, me too. I finally got the oil company job I’ve always dreamt of.” he said, just as the elevator opened on their floor. “And thanks for sending us such an awesome spread for lunch today. I’ve always known you to have great taste. Abdul is a lucky guy.”
I smiled and nodded, still stunned. “Thanks.”
“You take care, Isio.” he said, walking away, leaving me standing there like a statue.
Pere had gotten a job with Total?! Pere was off to Paris?! Pere had gotten my dream job?! Life truly wasn’t fair.
I was soon able to shake it off, and treated Abdul to a romantic dinner in a new Italian restaurant, after which we returned to his apartment. As we lay in his bed, I pushed all thoughts of Pere to the back of my mind. So what if he was off to Paris? I had a fantastic boyfriend, and that was all that mattered.
“You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, Isio!” Abdul whispered in my ear. “Marry me. Make me the happiest man in the world by agreeing to be my wife.”
I stared at him stunned…and overjoyed. Finally!
“I know I should wait until I have your ring, and I’ll still do this properly when I do, but please say yes. I want nothing more in this world than to spend the rest of my life with you.” he pleaded.
“Yes!” I squealed, overjoyed that God had finally heard my prayers.
We sat awake for the rest of the night, talking and planning our future. He said he would notify his parents in Benin by the weekend, and a date for the introduction would be fixed.
“My parents are going to love you…my mother especially. You look a lot like her, have I told you that before?” he said, his excitement brimming over.
“I can’t wait to meet her…them. My parents are going to be so thrilled!” I squealed. “So…are we going to have a Nikkhai? Or will your family mind a Church service?”
“Nikkhai?!” he chuckled. “You think I’m a Muslim?”
I looked at him, confused. He didn’t go to Church, and with his name being Abdul, I just assumed he was.
“My father is a Knight in the Catholic Church, Isio.” he laughed.
I sighed with relief, happy that was one less thing I had to convince my family about. “But how come you don’t go to Church?”
He shrugged. “I said they are Christians. I didn’t say I am. I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God.”
It felt like I’d been hit in the face with a resounding slap.
I sat up with a start. “A what?!”
He laughed. “Don’t look so shocked, babe. Religion is the biggest scam in the world. Why any intelligent person would believe there is some big guy up in the clouds, controlling everyone with some remote control, just boggles the mind. It’s so stupid. Science has already defined evolution as the means to how we came to be. And not some hocus pocus tale of some supernatural being moulding us out of dust. It’s so ludicrous, and I’m sure I’ll soon get you to see things from my point of view.”
I stared at him, my head spinning, his words hitting me like several frisbees, one after the other. An atheist? The man I loved, an aethesit?!
He looked at me in concern. “What’s wrong, babe? You look pale. Is it what I said?” realisation dawned on him. “Is it a deal breaker?”
I looked back at him, not even sure how to answer that question to myself.
Was it a deal breaker for me?
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
- Iya Beji 8: The Boss
Catch up on our other series here: