… continued from Episode 6
The rest of the day went by in a blur. I hadn’t realized the extent of my exhaustion until I got home, took off my shoes and lay down. It was then that I wailed. I was grateful for my roommate’s absence. What was wrong with me? How could I feel this way about him? Why was I crying? I wiped at the tears that wouldn’t stop pouring down. I could hear Adele’s voice, the words of her song pierced my heart. I got up and put off the music. I was being dramatic, and I knew it. So what if he had moved on and decided to focus on someone else. It was his life. I got into the shower and lost track of time.
I wasn’t surprised to see a call coming in from Kelvin as I got ready to go to bed. He had kept good on his promise of checking on me every day and since he mostly worked late at night, his calls always came right before I went to bed. Sometimes I would already be asleep but the loud ring-tone of my small ‘China’ phone always woke me.
”Hello.” I wondered if he would say anything about what Abigail told me.
“How are you? Did I wake you? You sound tired.”
”No, you didn’t.”
”Ok.” He paused. “You should change your profile picture.”
”Why?” Confused, I was quickly getting irritated.
”Because you look too beautiful.”
That did it. He hadn’t said anything to throw me off balance or remind me of my feelings for him in two weeks, and now he did, on the same day he kissed Abigail.
“Abigail called.” I could not hide the disdain in my voice. I hoped he heard it.
”She told you,” he finally said.
‘”Of course she did. Look, you don’t owe me any explanation. You did what you had to do. I just hope you don’t break her heart too. I have to go now. I have an early day tomorrow so I need to rest. Goodnight.” I ended the call and went to bed.
By morning, my phone was filled with messages. All of them Kelvin. I couldn’t resist reading them all, even before saying my morning prayers: He was sorry. He was weak and Abigail just happened to be right in front of him. The emotions came and he didn’t think to try to fight them. He just acted. He was sorry. Again. He begged me not to run away this time. He thought he was doing the right thing, trying to move on. But in his attempt to lock his heart, he was stepping on mine. He was sorry. Again. Kaitlyn, he wrote my name over and over, you are my other self. Please don’t shut the door on me.
I read his messages over and over. The felt the ice of my anger thaw and vaporize with every word. Why couldn’t I stay angry with him for more than a day? I replied immediately. I wasn’t angry anymore, just hurt. It would take some time but we’d always be friends. I added that this time around, he could move on with whoever he wanted to. I didn’t mind being his friend but we wouldn’t be anything more.
A week passed and things slowly normalized. Neither of us brought up the incident with Abigail. Christmas drew closer and Daddy called to say that we wouldn’t be going to the village this year. “The economy is not smiling,” he had said. I understood what he meant, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Going to the village meant spending a lot of money. Daddy would have to stock up with enough foodstuff to last Grandpapa and Mama a long while. He would also need to have plenty cash at hand because of the cousins and relations that always came asking for money. It annoyed me sometimes that he always gave especially since most of his siblings never gave us any shishi. Sometimes when Daddy’s uncles visited, they would yell at us, “gbusa ikpere n’ana!” Obediently, we would kneel down, expectant for some crispy rewards in return for our show of respect. But we would only hear, “kunye.” Get up, as they continued on their way without dropping even money for chewing gum.
In spite of all of this, Christmas in the village was always interesting, after all the housework. The most exciting part was the masquerade festival, when Onyekulum, the most feared masquerade in my hometown showed itself, throwing clubs and heavy sticks for nothing more than an hour. It was rumored to be a spirit whose origin was unknown and sometimes there were two of them.
I also loved Christmas in Abuja – the bright lights, trees, over populated hangout spots, the smell of a variety of foods from every kitchen in the neighborhood, and of course the food we were giftedby neighbors. However, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it this year. Both Kelvin and Abigail were spending Christmas in Abuja. The thought of spending time with them while trying to push away the guilt of keeping my feelings for Kelvin hidden from Abigail, made me very uneasy.
And I soon saw why.
To be continued next week …
By Keren-Happuch Odinenu
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