I saw a car behind mine as I turned into my street. Apparently, Damian had tried to catch up with me.
I parked my car in the compound and he parked his outside the gate. As I opened the doors to my house, I wondered how this conversation was going to play out. I would have preferred to have time to ruminate and make decisions but he was obviously the kind of person that dealt with issues as they come.
I went around my house, putting on the lights and tuning on the air-conditioning while he stood at a corner and watched me. I guess I was playing for time. I actually wanted to think about the situation.
Eventually I turned to him and looked at him. If it was a faceoff that he wanted, I was ready.
He started smiling. “Even after that horrible argument, I am not ready to hang it all up.”
It was fine for him to say that but I was thinking about the future when we had our own children to raise. Would we have different viewpoints and never agree on how to bring up our children? Even for ourselves, there were many things that Sisi’s parents allowed that I frowned up and it was evident that many of those things were already playing out in Sisi’s family. I needed time to sort everything out.
I looked at Damian, my face as unyielding as ever. “Damian, I do not think that this is the right time to have this discussion. I am very upset at the moment and I need time to think things over. I usually take time to process things. Can we do this tomorrow?”
The smile that he was spotting disappeared. He looked like he wanted to object but my expressions convinced him that the outcome would be bad if he pushed me at this point.
“Okay. Okay. As you want.” He turned to leave and then paused again, “Can I come over around oneish? I have a meeting earlier in the day.”
“That’s fine.” I said, looking at him. “I think it might be best if you held on to this.” I had removed the ring and put it in my pocket. I passed it on to him. His expression was unreadable as he collected the ring and walked away.
I was in bed trying to sleep but it had eluded me. Did I overreact? Did I do right by giving back the ring? The time was one am. My phone started beeping. I assumed that it would be Damian. He was the only one that called late and somehow I was wishing that it as him. I picked it up.
“Hello?” I said, disappointed when I realized that it was Sisi.
“Dupe, na wa for you. You should have just said that you didn’t want to marry him.” Sisi said in a hushed voice.
“What are you talking about?” I asked. I really did not want to discuss Damian with Sisi. She was protective of her brother as she should and I did not want this to come between us.
“He gave me the ring you returned. He told me to keep it. He was very upset and I had to persuade him to sleep over and not go to home at that time.”
“Sisi, please don’t make me feel guilty. I did what I thought was best for both of us.”
“Really? You think giving him the ring back was best? All in the span of a few hours, you accepted and ejected a marriage proposal.” Sisi told me. I could sense that she was trying to control her emotions.
“You don’t know what happened. I …”
Sisi interrupted me, “I know everything. Vincent gave me a replay and Damian told me what happened also.”
I was silent. Sisi and I were best of friends and I did not want this to hurt us in anyway.
“Sisi, look, I know that you love your brother. I really don’t want to discuss this with you. I don’t want it to destroy our friendship.” I told her.
She laughed. “Dupsy, I don’t know how you think that I would allow one day of confrontations destroy what we have built over the years. We have had lots of fights and we came out strong. The same goes for you and Damian. Just one drama and you have hung the towel. What do you think marriage is about? Compromises my dear. You always have to find a common ground.”
I sighed. The truth Sisi was hitting me with was heavy and I became afraid all of a sudden. “Look Sisi, I know that marriage involves a lot of give and take, compromises but you have to start from somewhere. Damian and I, it seems that our values are so different?…”
Sisi interrupted me again. “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Mrs. Values. I will still address the issue with Vincent but let us put that one in the parking lot. You and I are different but we’ve been co-existing for long. Felix and I are from way opposite background but we talk about it and find common ground. Even after all the counseling and discussions before we got marriage, these things come up but we deal with them. You just gave up on Damian one time, no looking back. You hurt my brother, Dupe. Maybe its all for the best but I don’t think that you have the right attitude towards marriage.”
I was silent. My heart felt heavy.
“And by the way.” Sisi continued, “Since we are talking truths. I thank that you are projecting all the wrongs in your own family unto us. I remember you saying things like your Dad not standing up for your mother at times and I remember that your mother left him when you all finished university because she had had enough. I am certain that the issues in your parent’s marriage go way deeper than they have told you. I think that you have to reevaluate and think deeply going forward.”
I was already crying. I could not speak anymore. Sisi had said things to me that I never imagined she would say.
“Are you going to be okay?” Sisi asked, concern in her voice.
“I will be fine. I am supposed to see Damian tomorrow, I will try to put this right.” I said.
“Erm…I am not sure how it would go. He was pretty upset and he gave the ring to me. He said stuff like he was not sure that you really love him and that you did not sound enthusiastic about the proposal but he had thought that you were never really an emotional person. He really thinks that you are not into him. If you are not, please do not hold on to him, he is a great guy that deserves all the love a woman can give. As for me, I am your friend forever, no matter what happens. I have to go now.”
I cried till day break. I loved Damian. I was not crazy in love. I had never done crazy in love. My spirit always felt at peace when I was with him though. I respected him a lot too. He was the kind of guy I always dreamt about. He was the very passionate sort and I was not but I did like his personality and everything about him. Sisi hit some home truths on the head and I felt so bad. I was holding out on him. I did not allow myself to fall madly in love because of my parents’ history. I prayed for God to help me. I hoped that I had not blown this chance.
One pm came and Damian had not shown up. My well of tears had dried up during the night but my heart dropped further into my stomach. I had to call Sisi.
“Sisi, he did not show up.” I said, panicking.
“Hmm. Let me call and see what is holding him up.” She said
“No! Don’t call him.” I said.
“You are still proud? Don’t you want to be my sister for real? What’s wrong with you? Are you alright?” Sisi shouted at me.
I laughed nervously. “Okay, what can you do for me? Maybe I should go look for him?”
Sisi asked for a few minutes and then called me back.
“Hmm. Dupe, this is critical o. He is at home in Epe.”
I decided to go over to his place. It was a long drive from Gbagada but what was a few miles compared to the rest of my life.
I got to Epe around four pm. I tried to locate his house. I had been there a couple of times but I never paid attention to the rode. I was also directionally-challenged; remembering places was not high up on my list of strengths.
Finally I was in front of his house at five pm and I pressed on the bell like a mad person. I did not like this area for anything but for once what I wanted was not my priority. I looked at the house and I realize it would be mine too if all went well. I made a mental prayer that God should give him money to build another house on the mainland.
“Who is that now?” Damian shouted from inside. I had obviously disturbed him with the bell.
I did not respond but I waited for him to get to the door.
“who is it?” he shouted again.
“Its me.” I said, in a very low voice. I was terrified of this moment.
I was not sure that he heard me but he finally opened the gate and door and was shocked to see me.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, looking around to see if I came with someone else.
“I was waiting up for you but when I did not see you, I decided to come over.” I said, looking into his face. He looked like he had worked all night and day. His chin was spotting beards; an indication that he had not shaved.
“Forgive my manners. Come in, please.” He said, paving a way for me to go into the living room.
Do you mind entertaining yourself for a few minutes? I want to take a quick shower.
“No problem .” I was so nervous I could not sit. i looked around. The interior décor was on zero level. I made a mental prayer that God should give me the opportunity to upgrade the house décor.
By the time he came back to the living room, my head was in my hands and I was seated on the rug.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern all over him. I decided to play on that.
“No I’m not. I’ve had a headache all day.” It was not a lie. My head had been pounding all day, it just wasn’t a priority for me. The nervousness made me feel so sick.
“Can I get you something to drink?” he asked.
“Water is fine.”
By the time we were both settled, silence ensued.
“Why are you here?” he broke the silence.
I swallowed and mustered some confidence. “we had a discussion pending. Since I did not see you I came over.”
“Okay. You go first.” He said.
I scratched the back of my neck. “Okay. First, I want to apologize. I acted a little rash last night.”
He nodded but he didn’t say anything.
“Can I have my ring back?” I asked hastily.
“Sure, here.” The ring was in the box and he tossed it over.
This was not going according to my plan. I placed the box in between us. The manner in which he tossed the box spoke volumes.
I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. I was not giving up.
“About last night, I could have handled things better; from the situation with the boys to this ring right here and I am here to rectify and make amends. That is, if it’s still possible to do that.”
He nodded again, listening attentively to me but he did not say a word. What kind of a man was this? Give me some hope, a thread of it and I would be fine. I pleaded silently.
“I know that we are different people, raised in different ways and our expectations are not the same but we can work this out.” I said, exasperated that he was still not saying anything.
Maybe I should leave, I thought to myself. Women shouldn’t be chasing after men, anyway. I got up to leave. I could see that he was wearing that unreadable expression again.
I walked to the door ready to leave but I could not go. I turned back to face him and I could see him struggling with himself but still he did not try to stop me or even say a word. Then I remembered some things that Sisi said last night about Damian not sure that I was into him.
I mustered some courage and walked to him again. I sat back down in front of him and held his hands.
“Damian, I have known you for a huge part of my life and I have always admired and liked you as a brother, friend and a person. I even had a huge crush on you for many years. I remember how you would protect us when we snuck out of the house for parties and when we tried to hang out with guys. You were always there for Sisi and I even at home. I know that you would be a great father because you have a lot of love inside of you. As a woman, I have come to love and respect the man that you are and I really do love you. I really want you to put that ring back on my finger because I want to be the wife that would experience life with you. I am ready to work with you to get the best of us both. I just wanted you to know this. If you decide that you still want me, I will be at my place waiting to hear from you. I have to go now. Your silence is killing me.”
I did not realize that tears were running down my face. I knew my words touched him deeply because he held my hands. I tried to remove my hands but he held on tightly.
“You can’t leave until I put that ring back on your finger. Wow! I’m speechless! Really! I was not sure that you really love me. That was why I did not show up at your house. I was actually afraid that you would walk away from us.”
He wiped my tears and pulled me into a hug.
“Your sitting room is so ugly. I forgot to tell you the last time I was here.” I told him and he laughed.
“I can live with some sprucing up. Let your sense of fashion show in my life.” He said.
“Right now, I am just glad that I have a good report for Sisi. Imagine if I were to go back to the mainland without my ring; she would have killed me.” I was happy. I knew that we had a lot to work on and hopefully we would get some counseling and read lots of books before we actually take the walk down the aisle. I could picture my dress already; it would probably be one of my fondest creations.
“So, I was feeding the baby when Damian came home. I just asked him to help feed the baby that I wanted to pick something from the room. I went on the bed and guess what? I dozed off. Damian was vexing for me the next morning. He went on lamenting how tired he had been and he had to rock Lizzy to sleep. I tried to be sympathetic.” I told my friends.
“Don’t mind them. They forget that it took two to tango in the first place.” Sisi said.
Ronke’s laughter was so loud. “See this woman who was accusing us of not having a life and talking babies and husbands every time. You have joined us in our boring ways.” All of them laughed and concurred.
“What can I say? I learnt from the best. I had time to practice. ”
“Please, leave my sister alone. Find someone else to harass.” Sisi came to my rescue.
“Speaking of tango, I have to sleep now to escape certain things. I am so exhausted. Saturdays should be scrapped or day care should run on Saturdays too.” Christy said and we all laughed.