nothing without sacrifice. Love is nothing without tolerance. Love is nothing
without trust and patience. All these virtues are summed up in one woman I
found ten years ago. She’s called chioma. I still have not forgotten how I met
her that rainy Thursday while I was a second year student at the University Of
Nnamdi azikiwe University. I was terribly hungry and dashed to the canteen for
a meal. As usual, students would cluster at the canteen at certain hours,
resulting in long queues. That was the situation that particular day.
long queue, moving slowly with me, struck at a location behind.
it had eased and suddenly it got to my turn to be served.
moi-moi and two meats”, I reeled off and swiftly the waitress assembled my
pocket for money and alas, two hundred naira I had in my pocket was no longer
there. I started fidgeting, touching my all my body as if the note was glued to
somewhere on me.
the waitress said. “Give me my money now!”
money on me…but”, I was stammering despite the fact that am a smooth-talker.
screamed at this point, and this waitress attracted the attention of everyone
on the queue. Students, being who they are were divided in their reaction to
the scenario. Some just burst out laughing. Some called me a cheat, a liar.
Some said I had the right to eat even if I did not have money.
stretched a hand and handed over one hundred and fifty naira to the waitress!
She had done it effortlessly as if she was performing her patriotic duty.
what happened to it”, I told her.
said, while I went to eat the meal in the corner of the canteen. Though I was
hungry the circumstances had somehow siphoned the appetite. I saw myself eating
like who swallowed a whole elephant.
there picking the food contemplating why fate would deal me such a blow, she
came to sit opposite me with her plate of food.
face buried in the plate of uninteresting rice.
bother you”, she said
have satisfied yourself, so let that settle everything.”
embarrassing situation sometimes. Should we kill ourselves for that? No!” she
said, gave me a nod approval and started eating her food.
eaten in prolonged silence, I decided I would ask for her name. When I did she
told me her name was chioma okeke.
chuks. Am studying mechanical engineering, two hundred levels”, I told her.
eaten, we left the canteen together and that I would say was the beginning of
our friendship. For one year, we were just platonic friends, sharing g advice,
exchanging visits to our respective hostels and coming to each other’s needs.
Most time we studied together and the level of closeness got to a point where
the whole school thought we were siblings.
and I were just friends.
something did happened which forced us to change our status. A certain guy, who
was in final year in her department, started coming around to alter the course
of things. At times, I would be studying in the classroom with chioma, and all
of sudden, this guy would appear from nowhere and take chioma away.
she would return with biscuits, cake and all these canned stuffs, which she
would toss at me. I would join in eating all those things, but inwardly, I was
deeply pained. But there was nothing I could do since she was just my friend.
action I took one day, really baffled her. The guy had as usual come to the
classroom, and chioma shortly followed him. When I waited for fifteen minutes
without the traces of her, I packaged my books and left for the hostel. Of
course, I left her books at the classroom, and did that to protest the fact
that she went out with that guy for longer than twenty minutes.
I made sure she did not reach me. I just blocked the entire channel which she
could have access to me. But the next night, she had ambushed me, demanding why
I left without her.
your hostel”, I told her.
But you are not my boyfriend” she said.
don’t think that I want to date him”, she replied.
coming to see me. Chuks, don’t tell me that you are jealous” chioma said.
Sometimes I have the feeling that I should only be the man around you. Each
time I see you with that guy, I feel like throwing up. Please promise me that
you will not see him again” I said.
bothering you at all? You know why I am wondering? Because you have never told
me you love me or you are interested in dating me!” she was almost screaming.
you! You know what? I want to date you and be the only man around you”, I
supercharged silence followed. Then, she breathed out, rather resignedly.
think about it”, she said impulsively.
hesitated, but I pulled a fast stunt by pulling her close to me and kissing her
deeply. She did not resist. She gave in with her soul; I knew the entire
process have been mutual. Both of us had been longing for each other, yet we
had been pretending to be cool with just sitting close to each other reading.
day, things changed. The status in fact, became more interesting, more so, with
the reality of that year Valentine’s Day, just four days away. Everything was
perfect. The stage was set. Love was in the air, and the pair seemed tailor
made for each other. At some point others students were just urging us to enter
and compete for the campus couple pageants, certain that we would win from the
level of closeness we were enjoying. In reality most campus romances just end
at the gates of the school but ours followed us even after we had graduated.
Chioma was quite lucky with employment. She got recruited in the oil servicing
industry, earning a huge salary, while I still battled with clients at an
automobile company. Of course, our incomes were at a disparity, with chioma,
making most four times what I was getting. While mine was irregular, hers were
religiously at the third week of every month.
affair, but chioma still stick to me like glue. In fact what even continues to
baffle me was the way she was carrying on with the affair, as if her life
depends on it. Other women would have judged their man on the basis of their
income, but chioma rather preferred to judge me based on what we have seen in
each other while in the university. On a number of occasions, she would bring her
income to me and ask me to take as much I needed. She just was doing things I
never knew was possible with educated women.
should last me a lifetime by making a marriage proposition which she accepted
in good faith, but her parents who had been equally supportive advised that we
should have a test!
pastor will wed you unless you produce details of compatibility in terms of
health”, chioma’s father had advised.
even liked the idea because the Hiv test I did when I was a youth corper confirmed
that I was negative, and I had sort of maintained a monogamous relationship, by
clinging to the woman of my life, chioma, exclusively. We of course, got the
rude shock from the pastor whom we usually visited for counseling at his
office. That very day, he started on a pessimistic note.
everything. Sometimes love is not enough to make a marriage work. Whatever God
avails to you, take it in good faith”, he had said and for almost thirty
minutes, the pastor did not leave of pessimism. I managed that God in his
infinite wisdom, also designed love to conquer all challenges. And it was at
this point that he opened to tell us the result of the test we had at the
church clinic. He said I was a partial carrier of sickle cell gene, just like
four kids you have will have a full blown sickle cell anemia. One out of every
four children will cause you pain”, he stressed
drop the dream of becoming man and wife.”
to do? You are saying we should destroy a life we spent ten years building”, I
you will realize it’s the best option tomorrow. The problem you avoid today,
may be your guiding light tomorrow”, he said.
That day, chioma and I wept bitterly of course,
I can’t life in the arm of another woman. Which woman will give me the kind of
attention I have enjoyed from this woman? Who will tolerate, trust and cherish
me like she has done? I am dying in bits, I can’t fathom why I can’t be with
the woman I have loved all my life?