G.D was an emotionally strong man. Open, but strong. He hardly cried except for very seldom occasions in his life; when he had failed JAMB, when his mother died, when he had to sleep with a man, and that evening, when Umi left him.
Their marriage wasn't up to a year. How could so much have happened in just a few months. He started to wonder where he had gotten things wrong. Things had happened so fast when he had met Umi. She had been the best thing he had going for him. She was like a gift from God for breaking away from homosexuality. He loved her so much, and everyday with her had been breathtaking. As absurd as it sounded, in all the two years and a few months they dated, he hadn't found one minute, to tell her about his ugly past.
The time he wanted to, just before he proposed, Kema had warned him not to. He had said she would leave him, without even thinking about it.
But indeed, the same thing would have happened. She would have packed her heart and love, and taken them away from him.
His ring tone jolted him from his deep thinking. He sighed and walked down to the multi-socket extension where he had plugged it to charge. The call was from Kema. G.D had been ignoring his calls, but then, his greatest fear had already materialized. Umi had found out, and walked out on him.
"Kema, yes? What do you want?" G.D said, not giving any care about what more could happen.
"I gave you an ultimatum. Look, you're making me seem like the bad guy here. G.D you've done this before. It was adventurous, and you can't tell me you didn't enjoy it even once." Kema said.
"You're a fool. A bastard. Go ahead and call Umi. Tell her everything. She knows already, and kudos to you, she left me. I hope you're happy. Because you're not laying your filthy fingers on me."
Kema was silent for a while.
"I...I'm sorry about that." He said.
"Look, I have to go. Never call this number again."
G.D ended the call, and headed out to clear his head from everything that surrounded him.
The alarm went off at 7 AM. Rolake was awake long before then. She had been deep in thought. The doctor had asked her to check back that day by 11 AM for the results of her test. She hadn't been able to catch any sleep. She kept having horrible nightmares about HIV. It seemed as though every single lesson she knew about being able to live with HIV escaped her memory. All that was in her head was that she was going to die.
Her life started to flash before her eyes, the way it is believed to happen, before a person passes on. She remembered when her mother had left her father to be with another man, and how her father had practically raised her alone. She had sworn that she would be very selective in choosing a life partner...someone she understood, someone she loved, someone who was her best friend. And only G.D fit that description.
She had loved him for a very long time, and even if she knew he was married, she couldn't deny the fact that she still had high hopes.
By 8.30 AM, she finally got off the bed and then she saw her bible. She grabbed it. She needed something to give her some faith. Something authoritative that would tell her she would walk into the Doctor's office, and no trace of HIV would be found in her system. She opened the Bible. One of the very few times she had, since she had bought it. She didn't find anything to hold on to. She was eager for scriptures of healing, but she didn't know where to look, and nothing came randomly. She shut her eyes and tried to breathe.
"God please, if I'm clean, I promise I'll never sin again." She said.
Her heart skipped two beats and her stomach churned in unison as she said that. Even her organs knew she had just told a lie.
"God I'll do whatever you want. Anything you want from me. Please just let me not have this. Please. I'm begging you, please. I won't chase after Ayiba. Just help me!" She prayed, but with fear overshadowing her heart.
She was walking into the bathroom when Jessy called her phone. Jessy had decided to travel back home to spend some time away so she could regain consciousness and get used to this new status of being HIV positive. Rolake had feared that her friend might do something unthinkable to herself, but she was for a part, glad that she had left. The more she saw Jessy, the more scared she became. She didn't want to be anything like her. Jessy cried everyday and looked miserable, and even Rolake couldn't comfort her because she feared she might have the same disease.
"Hi, Jess. How's home?" Rolake said.
"I'm good. How are you?" Jessy asked.
"I'm...I'm good too." Rolake lied. She was far from good.
"I wanted to tell you to be strong and positive about this." Jessy said.
Rolake shivered at her choice of words. Positive wasn't what she wanted to be.
"And trust God. That's one thing I've come to believe now, especially being in this situation. I just have to take God more seriously, for the remaining days I have left."
"Jessy, you're scaring me. Please." Rolake admitted.
"Rolake, I also wanted to apologize for everything I did to hurt you. I am truly sorry."
"That's not important now. I just want you to be okay." Rolake replied.
She took her bath, hoping each shower would wash away whatever traces there was in her system. She got dressed in a t-shirt and capri pants, then grabbed her car key, and then headed for the hospital.
G.D was sitting at the bar, still on his first bottle of beer. He had come out to drink and drown his thoughts away, but somehow, the thoughts ended up drowning the beer. He had thought of ways to bring Umi back. Quitting was not an option. If for any reason at all, it was that he wouldn't subject her to having to face Alhaji again with an I told you you'd be back.
"Hi, my love."
G.D turned around. He knew it wasn't Umi. The voice was masculine. Kema smiled, placing his hand on G.D's shoulder, then he sat on the opposite seat.
"Are you...are you following me?!" G.D asked, stunned and disgusted to see Kema.
"I had to make sure you were okay." Kema said.
"Can you hear yourself speak, Kema?" G.D said.
Kema ignored him.
"I have done a lot of thinking, and I think it's for the best that Umi left. Maybe fate wants us together. We can finally relocate abroad and be more comfortable being together..."
"You are deranged!"
"I'm not, G.D. Please just give me a chance."
G.D had had enough. He gulped what was left in his beer mug and stood up to leave. Kema held his hand but then he charged at him and pushed him to the ground. G.D wasn't satisfied. He punched his face. A crowd was forming already. Someone pulled G.D to restrain him from hitting Kema.
Kema struggled to get up, touching the part of his face that was sore. He looked at G.D and saw the anger in his eyes.
"You didn't need that. You just made this worse. G.D you'll regret this. I'm going public with your story. Starting first from the office! And clients. I'll destroy you!" Kema said, then he walked out.
G.D for a moment, thought he had seen a ghost. Maybe the ghost of his dead homosexual partner. It seemed like he was back into the situation he had run away from. Kema was a man of his words. If he said he would spread the story at work, he was definitely going to.
He had no one to turn to. He couldn't go home. It wasn't a home. It was just a house, void of love, filled with fear and tension. He decided to go to the only friend he had. Rolake.
He knew he had told her to get lost, but he had to talk to her. He couldn't take anymore of the blows that kept coming his way.
He sat in his car, and dialed her number several times. She didn't pick up. He decided he would go to her house.
Rolake burst into tears as she saw her test results. She was speechless. Words eroded her.
As she drove back home, she heard her phone ring continuously. She didn't bother to check who it was. All she wanted was to go home, as fast as possible. She stepped on the accelerator, and moved on full speed, nearly hitting someone as she drove.
She got to her gate, and she saw G.D's car parked there. He was leaning on the car, looking into space. She parked her car and walked up to him.
"What's the problem? Are you okay?" She asked him.
"Are you okay? You look..." G.D held her shoulders.
She hugged him, breaking down in tears again. Her emotions could not be contained. He held her and then they went inside the house.
"I got tested for HIV." She started. "Jessy is positive and she slept with Kola. So I had to get tested."
G.D was shocked. He couldn't take another hit from life. No, not Rolake! He stared at her eyes wide, finding the words to say.
"I got the results today." She continued.
"Okay? What was it? How was it?"
"It's negative, Ayiba! God answered my prayers! I can't express how overwhelmed I am!" She sobbed.
G.D sighed in relief, hugging her again.
"Yeah, God answers prayers!" He said.
He told her about everything that had happened. Rolake was shocked that Umi had walked out on her home. She was more shocked that Kema was resorting to threats now. G.D, her emotionally strong best friend, now looked as weak as a weakling, for lack of more descriptive words.
She hugged him this time, and he held her tighter. She began to get attracted to him again, and when she looked in his eyes, she saw that it was mutual. He looked empty, starved, and tired. He held her face and wanted to kiss her but she looked away immediately. First, she had entered into a contract with God. God had fulfilled his part by giving her HIV negative results. It was time for her to respect G.D's married status. Secondly, she also needed to respect her dignity. She knew the only reason he was coming on to her was because he felt alone and vulnerable. But she wasn't going to be the vulnerable one here.
She walked away, and then went to the kitchen to get him something to eat. Then she picked up her phone and dialed Umi.
Umi picked at her food. She wasn't a happy woman. She had left G.D because everything at that point made her unhappy. But she still hadn't found any happiness. She didn't want to be a single mother. She wanted her child to be born into the arms of his/her father, so he/she could be born into a feeling and atmosphere of love.
She held that last thought. It struck her that that was the same way God held her in his arms, since she had come to know him, surrounding her with love. His Love was unconditional. She had her very sinful days, but despite all, things still worked out for her better than other people. Sometimes she didn't understand why, but she knew one thing, and it was that she was Loved by God.
Love is patient
Love is kind...
It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
She knew she had a choice. A choice to either walk away finally from him, or a choice to go back home, and fix the mess. He had vowed to protect her always. There were times; In fact, very many times, that he had hurt her, but their relationship was cracked with thick thin lines, not broken. Maybe it was time she started protecting him. Maybe it was time to fix it. She was just a thin line away from either being married, or being single. It was her decision to make.
She saw Rolake's call.
"Hi." She said. Then she remembered that Rolake was expecting her test results.
"Have you gone for the test results?" Umi asked almost immediately.
"I'm negative!" Rolake said.
"Wow! That's really good news." Umi replied.
"Umi, I need to talk to you."
"What's the problem?"
"You need to come and get Ayiba. He's at my house." Rolake could almost hear Umi flinch.
"He needs you. He's alone and everything is upside down."
"I felt the same way too, when he was spending time with you." Umi said , voice flat.
"Look, if you're not going to be there for this man, I will be there for him a hundred percent. If you're not going to love Ayiba, I gladly will. He's here, having the dinner you should have made." Rolake said.
Umi was quiet.
"Hello?" Rolake said.
"I'm on my way. But do me this favour. Please stop calling him Ayiba." She said.
G.D woke up to see his wife beside him. He had thought he was dreaming. He remembered he'd had dinner and then fallen asleep at Rolake's house.
They were still at Rolake's house. He was more surprised seeing Umi, under Rolake's roof.
She saw that he had woken up, and then she went closer to him and hugged him. G.D held her, as though she could run away again. He kissed her and kept on apologizing and pleading with her to forgive him. And then she begged him to also forgive her for leaving.
They sat together on the rug, his head on her shoulder, and then he talked about everything. How he had gone to drink, how he had attacked Kema, how Kema had threatened him, and also, how he had almost kissed Rolake. She pretended not to mind, but G.D knew she was offended. He held her hands and looked into her eyes.
"Umi, I don't want to keep any secrets from you. I promise you that nothing is ever going to come between us again. Even Rolake. I'm really sorry."
"So about Kema, what are you going to do about it?" She asked.
He sighed, placing his hands on his head.
"Babe, I honestly don't know. I am confused right now. The ghost of that man is coming back to haunt me."
Umi got up, and then held his hands.
"Let's pray about this." She said.
Kema was jogging that saturday morning, trying to exercise his muscles. He still felt a bit sore from G.D pushing and hitting him. He reduced his pace to catch his breath, and in a split second, his breath caught him when he was napped by some really strong and hefty men. They threw a cloth over his head and bundled him into a car then drove off.
Kema recognized them, as soon as they took the cloth off his face. He looked up, first, fearful, but later, surprised and shocked. He looked around him. They were in a room, sparsely furnished. There were no pictures, nor decorations. It was just plain.
"What's this? Guys? What are you doing? I paid you everything we agreed on!" He yelled.
One of them laughed, and then, a few seconds after, a man in a well starched Jalamiya walked in. His perfume was silent, yet audacious. He had a large frame, and his beard was very well trimmed.
Kema didn't need any further introductions. That was Alhaji.
"I was told you needed to learn some lessons. I wasn't told what it is you did, or didn't do, but I hear you're troubling my daughter and the husband, eh..Good Destiny." Alhaji said, in his fine northern accent.
"I'm sorry sir. There's been a mix-up. I was only joking with him. He took me too seriously....I...Sir, please..." Kema lost his tongue.
"What is that your name again?" Alhaji asked, distracted by the important business call that was coming in on his phone.
"Kemauode Target Dickson Sir!" Kema said, stuttering.
"So, young man, you can see I don't have time. I have to be somewhere soon." Alhaji put his phone in his pocket, and picked another phone that was ringing from his other pocket.
"Do you get my message? Or do you prefer these guys pass the message across better?" He asked.
"I..I get the message sir!" Kema said.
Alhaji nodded and left, instructing the thugs to let him go, after a few rounds of beating.
G.D was very hesitant going to work the following morning. Umi had to practically dress him up. As he drove to the office, he kept praying in his heart for Kema not to make a mess of things.
He got to work, and all eyes were on him. Even staff who didn't talk to him usually, were looking at him. He walked to his office hurriedly, almost soiling his pants. As soon as he got in, he shut the door and dragged in some air.
His door was flung open and one of Kema's colleagues who was also his friend, walked in.
"G.D, wetin happen na?" The guy asked, searching for answers in G.D's face.
G.D was confused.
"Kema..." The guy was saying, when another staff walked in.
"Why did Kema resign now? He sent in his letter this morning and no one has been able to reach him. Rumour has it that maybe he stole money or something." The other one said.
G.D sighed again, this time, for relief. He dialed Umi's number, after the guys had left his office.
"Kema resigned!" G.D said, excited, but surprised.
"He did?" She said.
G.D knew that tone. Umi didn't sound surprised.
"Umi...did you have anything to do with this?" He asked.
"Well, let's just say you never mess with a rich kid." She said, this time not regretting flaunting her dad's wealth.
G.D laughed too, and then before he ended the call, she said;
"Yea?" He replied.
"If you mess with me again, what happened to Kema might happen to you."
She ended the call.
She had given birth to the cutest baby girl. She had been right. The baby was so beautiful. She inherited the northern pointed nose from her mother. G.D had never been in love this much. He had never felt the adrenaline to want to protect and shelter another person, apart from Umi. Now he understood why Umi's father had been harsh on him.
The naming ceremony was even bigger and grander than their wedding had been. Alhaji had invited so many people...It was a wedding all over again!
Rolake came too. Not alone, but with her new beau. He was a Lawyer. They had started seeing each other, and he had good intentions. He had already popped the question and Rolake had readily said yes!
Kema came. He had been invited. By G.D.
G.D spotted him from a distance and walked down to meet him up. He hugged his brotherly.
"How did the therapy session go today?" G.D asked, as they walked into the tent where the party was going on.
"Very good. I think I'm falling in love with my doctor." Kema replied. "She invited me to church."
The Doctor was a woman.
*Thank you so much for reading thus far. I hope you liked it.
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