Two days have gone past since we met. I am not one to fall in love. I am not in love but I think this is it, my final bus-stop. After all the searching and attempts made at finding a wife, I have no doubt in my heart that Kemi is the real thing. We met a wedding reception. As is my (bad) habit, I skipped the actual wedding and strolled into the reception with the rest of the guests. I really did not feel like going out. My mom had called that she was feeling a bit under the weather so I had to go to my parents’ after work on Friday and stay with her. It turned out she was just missing me. Either that or she miraculously received her healing as soon as I walked in.

The wedding was all the way in Festac. My car was overheating and most importantly, I was really in no mood to meet with the people I knew would be in attendance. But my friend, Ofo, would have none of my excuses. He had driven all the way from Magodo to pick me up from my parents’ in Oniru so there was no way I could say no.

You see, I had many reasons not to want to attend the wedding. The major one, however, was because I had dated the bride, Olabisi for 6 years. Yes, 6 years: all the way from my 300 level till two years ago. I had gotten over her but our relationship, though it did not end mutually, had not gone completely sour. However, to be seeing her getting married to another man, especially when I was still very much single was a bit more than I thought I could handle. So I decided not to go. Ofo dragged me there, citing maturity, Christian values as his reasons. As soon as we walked into the hall, I got glances from almost all the tables and those who had not previously stared did so after being whispered to by their table mates.

Everyone knew the Afolabi/Olabisi story. We had had a very public relationship and no one thought we could ever break up. I was already married to her in my mind. We were just waiting for the time to be right for us to do it right. It turned out that Olabisi was unhappy in our relationship. She was from a financially struggling family but had one of the best attitudes a woman could have. She was next to my mother. Hell, I even thought she was better than my mom sometimes.

She was very warm and friendly. She had impeccable manners and could cook well. She was born with a silver spoon which got snatched away when her dad died. She and her sisters had attended the best primary and secondary schools in Lagos. Her dad was killed in an autocrash when she was just in SS1 but despite how difficult things got, her mom made sure she completed her secondary education in Atlantic Hall, just as her sisters had before her. Things had gone from bad to worse but despite all the challenges the family faced, Olabisi had remained focused.

I had no idea how bad things were for them. She and her sisters always looked good. It was only after getting so close to her that she revealed things to me. I took it upon myself to be her provider. It turns out that was my greatest blunder. I have heard that men always try to fix things. I guess it’s true. I tried to fix their financial situation. I gave her a car because I was not comfortable that in my parents’ house were 6 cars just lying there whilst they had not even one. So I took one I knew my parents would not notice whether it was there or not and asked the driver to drive it behind me as I drove to their Ayobo home.

Well, it turned out that was a bad idea. She refused it blatantly and seemed almost insulted by the gesture. ‘Is it because I told you something in confidence that you are embarrassing my family this way?!’ I did not get her. I thought I was doing something good but that car had to go back home with me. I tried giving her money so many times but she always returned it with a smile. She hardly complained about not having money but one day when we at my house, she received a call from her mom about something, she went deathly cold as soon as she hung up and it was then I knew I had to look for a way of forcing the money on her.

I asked her to lend me a thousand naira one day and asked for her account number to pay it back into. When I was returning the money the next day, I paid in a hundred thousand naira. She received notification on her phone and then she called me. I was scared she was going to refuse it again but to my amazement, all she said was a solemn ‘Thank you’ and then she hung up. That was how I started paying for everything for her and even her mom. I was happy because I was helping her. I come from a wealthy home so there was no way I would sit and watch my girlfriend wallow in poverty. Six years down the line, she explained to me that because of all I did for her, even when she was upset and frustrated, she felt the need to keep mute as she was indebted to me.

As a sign of gratitude, she gave me the one thing she vowed to keep untouched for her husband. And slowly, gratitude was all she began to feel for me. We were no longer equals and friends. I became the guy through whose link her mom acquired business deals that helped her run her home. She told me that there were times her mom was upset with me because I had driven into their home really late to see her but she could not speak. She didn’t want a rescuer, she wanted a friend. She could not marry a saviour so she broke up with me.

As devastated as I was, my level of respect for her soared. All my friends were her friends. I knew it must have been hard letting go of obvious abundance which I represented. It was then I knew I had lost a treasure. Not many girls will do that, if any at all.

I watch her throw her bouquet in the air, giggling. I watch as the ladies scramble for the flowers. No matter who it is that catches those roses, they cannot match up to that bride, I think to myself. I’m happy for her husband. He is a lucky man. He is not wealthy but he is not struggling either. I hear they plan on starting a business together. That has always been Olabisi. She always wanted to contribute to the lives around her. I guess with mine, she supposed I was complete, needing nothing thereby making her useless. The only thing she knew she shouldn’t give, she gave. I raise a toast to the life I never had with the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

A lone tear slips down my right eye and thankfully no one notices.

***

It turns out someone did notice. That someone was Kemi. She managed to strike up a conversation and carefully avoided talking about the tear. Wise her.

It has only been two days but in a way I feel like I have reached my destination. I can see me loving Kemi but she will need to be strong for both of us because day and night, I will pine for the love I lost. Day and night, I will compare her to the love I lost-her carriage, her cooking, her dressing, her being. Day I night, I will long to dance to that unplayed symphony with my ex-soulmate. She will need to be patient with me because I will move on and she will turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. Eventually.

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