This week, Onome Akrah shares her story on love and dilemma. Are you a writer? Send your short fiction, poetry, opinion pieces and book reviews to [email protected] for a chance to be featured on the ZODML blog.
“You look so beautiful, soon to be Mrs. Chris” Amanda said smiling as she tied my gele. “You are about to be married to your prince charming at last” Kanmi chipped in. The very much anticipated day had finally arrived; people moved up and down trying to make sure everything was perfect for my wedding, I tried to stay as calm as possible but something did not feel right; I felt unsettled.
As a little girl, I always dreamt of meeting and falling in love with prince charming. The idea of being swept off your feet by a knight in shining armour and riding off into the sun set like in Cinderella stories got me so excited; I literally felt butterflies in my stomach every time I thought of meeting my own knight in shining armour. I told myself that my love story would be a happily-ever-after story and nothing more, meeting Chris was almost a confirmation. I had just turned 25 and was looking forward to a fun day, Amanda and Kanmi organized a small get -together with a few of our friends at a popular lounge in Ikeja. We got there by 6pm settled down and made our orders, we ate, drank, and played games, and it was indeed fun. I got up at 7:30 to ease myself, I headed to the ladies room and on my way back, I bumped into Chris. I didn’t know what it was about him that made my heart tingle, all I know is our love story started that day. We saw each other after work almost every day at the same lounge where we met; we would talk and laugh for hours without getting bored. I looked forward to free weekends so that I could spend it with Chris.
One year into our relationship, things became different. The calls reduced, the hanging out stopped and there was always an excuse not to visit or spend weekends together. I tried talking to him about it but his excuse was that he had been very busy with work and assured me that everything was fine. I spoke to my friends about the sudden change but they also tried to make me understand that he had a busy schedule. I tried as much as possible to make our relationship work; after all he was my prince charming. I did most of the calling and visited without notifying him but things remained the same. It was as though I was forcing myself on him.
One afternoon, I received a call from Chris at work, telling me he had been sent to port-Harcourt for a 6-month training course and he had to leave immediately. He apologized for not telling me in person but promised to visit as much as possible. I remember hanging up the phone and feeling like I had lost him for sure, we practically became strangers after he left. I still tried as much as possible to keep the communication going but it just wasn’t enough. 3 months after Chris left, I met Gerald. I had gone to the mall to get something’s for the house; I wheeled my cart to the counter and waited for my turn to pay for my items and right in front of me was this tall, handsome and exquisite looking man. He had a white t-shirt and a blue jeans on, his beards was carved like someone from a movie. No disrespect to Chris but I had never seen a guy as handsome as that before.
“Sir please do you have 50 naira so I can give you 100 naira change” the cashier said
“No I don’t have” he responded smiling, He had a very cute smile.
“Don’t worry about the change dear, you can keep it” he said as he wheeled his cart away. I stood there watching him as he strolled away, wishing I had said hi. I paid for my items and carried my shopping bags to the car. I put them at the back seat and just as I was about closing the door, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there he was; Mr. handsome standing in his awesomeness.
“Hello” he said. “Sorry to bother you, you caught my attention back at the mall and I just had to say hi, you are beautiful by the way” I smiled heavily exposing all 32 of my teeth. I did not know how to respond, I just stared at him.
“I am Gerald” he stretched out his hand
“Jessica” I said with a handshake. We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways, I remember driving and feeling like a teenage girl that had just spoken to her long time crush. It was a bitter-sweet feeling because Chris came to mind. I and Gerald became very close, we started hanging out and going places together. We connected instantly; it was as if we had known each other for a long time, he was pleasant and adventurous. I told him about Chris and how things were, he tried to be supportive, telling me everything would sort itself out, being with Gerald made everything feel safe.
Chris came back 3 months later and for some reason, I wasn’t excited. Maybe it was because of Gerald or simply because there was nothing to be excited about. I stopped seeing Gerald but we talked every day over the phone and sometimes through Skype, Gerald was the perfect definition of my prince charming. I wanted him and I knew He wanted me too but we could not talk about our feelings because I was in a relationship with Chris. I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to lose Gerald, even if we were going to remain just close friends. I and Chris continued our relationship but it wasn’t fantastic. One morning he came to my apartment and we had a long talk, He apologized for the change in our relationship and promised to treat me better, I knew he was being sincere but I wasn’t excited, I just smiled and gave him a hug. He led me outside and right in front of my gate was a red Range Rover Sport with red ribbons on it, I could not believe my eyes. He got on one knee and proposed and for some reason I said yes; I think it was because of the excitement of the car.
My phone rang; bringing me back to the present, it was Gerald. I smiled and picked up the call.
“Hello dear” he said at the other end of the line.
I tried to stop myself from crying as I did not want to ruin my makeup.
“Hey Gerald, how are you?”
“Well, I am okay I think. Congratulations once again on your wedding.”
“Thanks” I said almost in tears.
“If he ever does you wrong, I will be here to do you right dear” he chuckled.
He said that as a joke but I knew he meant it.
“It’s time!” my mum said as she walked into the room. “Your in-laws are waiting.”
“I have to go Gerald, talk to you later” I hung up the phone and got up from the bed, my mum covered me with a blue veil that matched my outfit and led me outside where the ceremony would take place. She took her seat beside my father and watched as I walked towards my in-laws. I knelt down to welcome them as tradition demands. they greeted me with warm smiles and sang praises. I got up and walked to the tent arranged for my family; I knelt down in front of my parents as a sign of respect. My mother held me and I began to cry. She smiled, wiped away my tears and told me not to cry that I was lucky to be marrying Chris. I guess she thought those tears were tears of joy. I walked slowly towards my soon-to be husband; he smiled when he saw me coming but I did not smile back, instead I cried more, like a child who had been disciplined. I cried because I finally realized what was making me unsettled, I cried because I knew I was marrying the wrong man and it was too late to turn back, I cried because I knew I was doomed for life.
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