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In Nigeria, July 4 is just a regular day. In America, it’s Independence Day. To me, it marks key points in my life; like the points you join together on a graph sheet to form a line in geometry.
July 4th, 2009
Obinna had asked me to be his girlfriend two weeks ago and I told him I wanted time to pray about it before giving him an answer.
I met him at my friend, Tola’s brother’s wedding. I noticed him because he was incredibly handsome and stood out in the crowd because of his height. We barely spoke to each other but I noticed he stared at me occasionally which I found really annoying. Tola told me some days later that her brother’s friend liked me and wanted my phone number. I said no at first but he kept disturbing her and I gave in. Ten months later, he wanted to take our friendship to another level. He said he had fallen in love with me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. According to him, I fit into the picture he had of his future. Over the past ten months, I had fallen in love with this loving, selfless and perfect gentleman who was passionate about God. I actually felt butterflies in my tummy each time we spoke or hung out. I prayed about it and felt at peace to go ahead.
He came to pick me up after my Community Development Service (CDS) that day. I was serving and he was working in a telecommunications company. As soon as I got into his car, I said “Yes, I’ll be your girlfriend but don’t ever break my heart and his reply was “I promise I won’t.”
July 4th, 2010
Our first anniversary.
I was very much in love with Obinna. We would talk on the phone for hours about everything. We prayed together, shared the scriptures together and encouraged one another. He didn’t just profess to be a Christian but he lived as one. God had helped us in the past year to remain pure; we made sure we met in public and had spiritual mentors we were accountable to. Even when we had disagreements, we settled it the very day. He wasn’t perfect and neither was I but we were perfect for each other.
July 4th, 2011
The past couple of months tested us. Our relationship had been stretched to its limit. Our parents, as if suddenly realising how serious we were brought up the issue of tribe.
“You can’t marry that omo Igbo! (Igbo child)…you want us to be travelling to the East whenever his people have functions, oti o (no way).” My mum said one Saturday morning as I got dressed for Obinna’s cousin’s wedding.
“Mum, seriously? Is tribe even an issue?” I asked.
“Yes, it is oh, my dear it is…those Igbo people and their love for money.”
“Obinna is a Christian and we both love each other, doesn’t that count?”
“It’s not enough dear, there are many decent Yoruba men out there. How about Tunde?” ( Tunde’s parents and mine attend the same church).
“Please forget about Tunde… and if it’s any consolation, Obi speaks Yoruba fluently.”
I remember my parents telling Tayo and I when we were younger to make sure we married Yoruba men. What I didn’t realise was that they were serious about it. Even my dad, who was more understanding and liberal than my mother was on her side. He called me to his room one day to ask how serious Obinna and I were.
“Dad, we plan to get married.” I said.
After a long pause, he said “Simisola, I don’t want you to marry that Igbo boy.”
“Why daddy?” I asked.
“It’s for your own good by dear…for your own good.”
Obinna’s family was also putting pressure on him to end our relationship because I wasn’t Igbo. My mum went to the extent of telling my uncles and aunty to talk me out of it. Obinna’s father even threatened not to give his blessings.
We both stood our ground. Like they say, love conquers all.
July 4th, 2012
“Simi, I wish I didn’t have to go…I don’t know how I’d cope for the next one year.”
“Me too Obi… I’m scared.”
He pulled me into a hug and held me for a while till my crying subsided.
“We’ll get married as soon as I get back I promise.” He said as he wiped tears off my face with his finger.
“Don’t let those UK girls take you away from me…okay? I’ll be here waiting for you.” I said looking into his eyes for assurance.
“No babe…nobody would take me away from you.” He kissed my forehead “One year would go by before we know it…thank God for Skype, BBM and What’s App.”
He placed my hand on his chest. “Simi…my heart belongs solely to you; no one else can take your place.”
That night, I drenched my pillow with my tears. Obinna was leaving for the UK the following day for his masters.
It is just 3:28, time seems to be dragging today coupled with not having much to do at work; allowing me to relive past memories. A text message comes in from Sunkanmi; He is not on bbm and prefers to either call or text. He also doesn’t like chatting.
“Simi, what’s the secret? You’ve been glowing lately.” Chinelo asked.
I just read the message from Sunkanmi asking me if I wanted to hang out this weekend. She must have seen the expression on my face as I typed Yes.
“Glowing ke? When I’m not pregnant” I reply, still typing my reply.
“Who says you have to be pregnant to glow? You look like someone in love… so who’s the lucky guy?”
Amebo. You think I’ll tell you so you can get your claws on him.
“I’m just happy that’s all.”
“Hmmmm this type of happiness is sha different…oya confess”
“Have you sent the report to Felicia?”
“Okay oh, if you like change the topic…I’ve sent it.” Thankfully she gets the message and returns to her work.
Chinelo and I sit right next to each other at work. We were initially just colleagues but it seemed she really liked me and made an effort for us to become friends. We hung out outside the office, visited each other, although we never quite gelled. I tried to win her to Christ- invited her to church, shared the scriptures with her and prayed for her.
She met Obinna at a colleague’s wedding we both went for. We sat at a table reserved for our office and I noticed she flirted with him. As Obinna drove me home after the wedding, he mentioned that she was flirting with him and warned me to be careful about her.
Shortly after that, I noticed she became withdrawn and her attitude towards me changed. She went from being very friendly to being snobbish; she barely spoke to me and stopped going for lunch with me. I tried to rekindle our friendship because I really didn’t hold her flirting with Obinna against her; I blamed it on her ignorance. She was ignorant that Obinna wasn’t like the other guys she had her way with.
Obinna called me one afternoon and asked why I gave Chinelo his number. He had gotten a few dirty text messages from a certain number and ignored them till the he got a call from the number and it was Chinelo. She told him she was in love with him and wanted to come visit him at home. He warned her never to call him again and ended the call. I was shocked; not because of her action but because she tried it with MY boyfriend. I knew she was skilled at hunting men but surprised she went after Obinna since according to her, “Christian guys were boring.”
The little fragments of our friendship I was still trying to put together crumbled that day. I never confronted her about it because there was no need to. My early promotion later that year fuelled the beef she had for me.
When she found out Obinna and I broke up some months after, it was as if her temporary amnesia was gone and she remembered we used to be friends. Of course, she never made her way back to my friends list.
I put my stuff together as soon as its 5pm. As I leave the office building, I see Yemi from the corner of my eyes talking to two guys and I silently pray he doesn’t notice me. I pick up my pace so I can get to my car quickly when I hear his voice behind me.
Oh shoot, not today.
“Haba Simi, where are you running to?”
I turn to face him “Hi Yemi…I’m in a hurry.”
I can feel his eyes going over the length of my body.
His pervy eyes
“When are you going to go a date with me? I’ve been BEGGING since I can remember.”
“Yemi, I’ve told you I’m not interested. Is it by force ni?” I continue walking.
“Simi pleaseeee now…I like you…a lot.”
I don’t say anything and he walks beside me in silence. This guy is persistent; I have to give him that. He has been asking me out since he learnt I became single. I’ve turned him down every single time because I’m not interested, I really don’t see both of us together. He’s not even a Christian-
“Alright Simi, I know one day, you’ll say yes.” He says and turns back.
I hear my Happy ringtone and reach for my phone in my bag. It’s an unknown number.
“Hello” I say
“Hi Simi” I recognise his voice. I’m too shocked to say a word.
“Hi Simi…are you there? It’s me Obinna, I’m back.”