CHAPTER ONE


  IMPERFECT PERFECTION best qualified the love duo Drake and Diana. Love lived with them. They inhaled and exhaled love, ingested and digested it, slept and woke with it and saw it in each other’s eyes.

  Fate crossed their paths on a day Diana left lecture for the loo because she was pressed, only to find out that one of the two departmental conveniences was in use and the other, misused. The thought of messing herself up if she waited a few more minutes for the person inside to be through sent her running behind the complex, into the nearby bush to get relieved. Without taking note of her environment, she unclad herself and squatted . Not until she was done did she notice him.

  He was sitting behind the complex all by himself. His face bore no familiarity but she recognized hurt, pain, grief and all their relatives in his countenance.

He must have seen me run into the bush. She thought.

  Ordinarily, she would have been too shy to walk up to him but at that moment, shyness was secondary to her wanting to find out what the problem was. Narrowing the distance between them, she noticed tears on his face. His eyes were bloodshot and held pain and regret. She moved closer and stood right in front of him.

‘’What could the prince of Persia be doing in the wilderness?’’She asked jokingly, trying to liven up the atmosphere.

  There was no response. He sat so still that she began wondering if he could hear her or even see someone in his presence. She sighed and sat beside him.

‘’I know this might really be a wrong time and you probably don’t want any disturbance but no matter what it is, what you are doing to yourself will proffer no solution. No problem gets solved by worrying. Instead of wallowing in pain, pity and worry, why don’t you use all that time to think of ways to solve the problem?”

He turned and shot her a look she couldn’t really define and said

‘’Would you mind leaving me alone please?’’

‘’Yes, I will but that will be after you leave yourself alone, I know this is none of my business but please, what you are doing to yourself will only cause you more harm. Crying won’t work anything out. Is it something you would like to talk about? I’m really concerned and believe me, I won’t be myself if you don’t let me help, at the very least, get you out of this mood.’’

‘I’m fine. I just want to be alone’’

‘’I’m sure you do. Maybe we should just sit and stare at each other then.’’

     He got up to leave and she did too. He wiped tears off his face with the back of his palm and took some steps. She followed them. At that point, anger was gradually replacing hurt and he screamed

‘’Will you leave me the hell alone?’’

‘’I wish I could, I know I’m intruding but please can you just talk to me? Okay, fine. I will leave you and pretend we never met if that’s what you want but that will be after you have a drink with me, just one’’

  She just read his mind. That had been his meal for the past two days and he still wanted more. He gave in after she pleaded some more and both of them left for a bar opposite the school gate. While drinking, emotions took over Drake and he could barely hold words within. He told her how he stumbled on his girlfriend making out with his friend two days ago, she felt terrible for him and tried to make him see reasons why they weren’t worth what he was doing to himself. That was the birth of their unflinching friendship.

  Though Diana was a novice, Drake had experienced a fair share of two failed relationships. He found a friend and confidant in her and their friendship waxed stronger with time. Love ties weren’t binding them yet but true friendship wasn’t so distant away from love, they practically kept no secrets and barely spent a day without seeing each other.

  Anyone who tried to woo Diana had to undergo Drake’s analysis and scrutiny before getting a reply from her and none ever got a pass mark. Diana on the other hand had a duty of checking out any girl Drake picked liking towards before he could talk to them and none was ever good enough, they laughed and jeered at people of the opposite sex who wanted intimacy with either of them.

  On a rainy night, the two friends left school for their homes after waiting for the rain to cease to no avail. It was a very cold night and Diana gnashed her teeth and complained immediately they stepped out of the classroom they had spent hours reading in. Drake noticed her shivering and without asking, took off his shirt and forced her to wear it. He wore no vest and was very cold too but would rather stay so than let her catch a cold. Her protest didn’t change his mind so she gave up. Her heart clinched a knot at that singular act but she remained quiet. They ran all the way to her house. He always made sure she was home and safe before leaving but that night had more in store. The downpour got heavier as they approached home. On arrival, she first made two cups of hot coffee then prepared a hot bath for them. Drake bathed last and wanted to leave but Diana vehemently objected to him going back into the rain, he had to spend the night with her for the first time. There was nothing to it, they were friends after all.

  The night was very short but eventful. From playing cards to monopoly, chess and finally talking for hours. It was during the talk session that Diana asked why he gave her his shirt despite how cold he obviously was. That question turned everything around. For the first time, he admitted loving her and not being able to stand seeing her with someone else and that was why he always dissuaded her from accepting to date any of her admirers. She was his friend but he had grown to love her beyond friendship. She admitted feeling same way for him and that moment begot the love of all seasons.

  They were inseparable, the envy of friends and strangers, they spent every spare moment together, and they played like kids and laughed like they had no worries in the world. The little misunderstandings waxed their love stronger after they were settled. Days gave way to months and years. They soon rounded up with school and got employed. They were lucky enough to get jobs within same state and life continued like it had always been.

  Eight years into their relationship and Drake asked the magic question, he couldn’t wait any longer, with joy and anticipation, the two love birds prepared for their big day. They did the introduction and slated the traditional marriage and wedding days back to back. The month of the event was the busiest one in their lives. They hired the services of an event manager but still had some run arounds to do. Drake made an order for his suit and Diana’s gown from Italy. It arrived four days to the wedding and he made a four hours drive from Makurdi to Abuja for pick up.













                      CHAPTER TWO

                  A TASTE OF GRIEF

   Diana was in a meeting with the event manager when she got the call.That call that burnt her emotions and killed whatever love she had in her. She picked it smiling because it was supposed to be from her husband to be.

‘’Hello, good day ma’’ A strange voice said from the other end.

‘’Hello, who is this please?’’ She asked when she couldn’t recognize the voice.

‘’I’m sergeant Tanko from Lafia area command. The owner of this phone was involved in an auto crash along Lafia-Akwanga road. Your number was the first on his call log so I’m calling to let you know that your attention or that of any close relative is needed. The accident victims have been taken to the Nassarawa state teaching hospital and…..   Hello, hello. Are you there?’’

 The caller noticed the long silence from the other side and dropped the call, Diana went into a trance, She lost grip of the phone and it hit the floor, breaking its guard, she screamed and took to her heels. Destiny, her younger sister ran out of the kitchen, asked the manager what was wrong then shouted at the gateman not to let Diana out. The call came in again and Destiny picked it this time. After dropping it, she went outside and tried to talk to her sister, telling her that the caller said her husband was fine. He only sustained minor injuries.

  Those words seemed a bit relieving but Diana was still worried. On arrival at the hospital, they located the policeman.He took them to the doctor who asked to speak to the man with them.

‘’Doctor, I’m Drake’s wife. You can tell me whatever it is.’’

‘’Ma, please sit down. You will have to excuse the young man and I for a few minutes.’’

‘’What’s wrong with you? I said I’m his wife, that’s my driver you want to talk to. Don’t tell me to sit or calm down. I want to see my husband.’’

‘’Give us a moment ma, your husband is fine. I just need to talk to your driver for a minute then I will take you to see him’’

‘’Sister, please just calm down, he said a minute so let’s just wait, that won’t last long.’’ Destiny chipped in as the doctor went out with the driver.

  They walked down the hallway, made a left turn into open space then entered another building. The man at the door opened it and they went inside the mortuary. The doctor needed the driver to confirm the man’s Identity before he could break the news to the ladies. Once confirmed, they went back into his office. Announcing deaths was his most dreaded moment but he had to do so once again. He traveled in circles but still arrived at his destination.

  Everything went blur, Diana could neither hear nor see anyone, her world was crashing before her, it had to be a dream. She needed someone to tap her, pinch her, wake her up and tell her it was a dream or Drake was probably playing pranks on her. She smiled, turned round and faced the door in silence, before reaching it, she collapsed.












  Years passed but it felt like yesterday, she didn’t want anyone else.She neither needed a spouse nor a wedding. Thoughts of either of them frightened her. loneliness became the order of her day. She wept during moments his memories came flooding her and visited his grave on occasions to talk to him and give him flowers.

  Five years after Drakes demise, she met Shawn. Though skeptical, she decided to give him a chance after much counsel. He proved to be a nice and honest person who loved her so she gave him a second thought, they dated for two weeks and she opted out. She couldn’t be with someone else. Those weeks were full of pretense and she couldn’t keep up.

  James later came along, then Silas, then Max but none could break the walls she lived in. She tried to love again but she couldn’t conquer her fears.

  On one of her lonely nights, she decided to check her social media pages to see if anything interesting could make her feel better. A stranger’s ‘Hi’ popped up in her messenger.She needed some distractions from her thoughts so she replied. They exchanged pleasantries and after chatting for a while, she found him quite interesting and decided to take a look at his timeline. Andy’s humorous updates made her laugh and the inspirational ones spoke volumes to her.

  She didn’t visit her messenger afterwards for a week only to hop in again and see countless messages from him. He was a very good writer and wrote some poems for her, she smiled at them, dropped an offline message and logged out. Later that evening, she breezed in again and they chatted for a while and exchanged contacts. She couldn’t really place what drew her to him. However, she noticed he wrote same way as Drake, had same sense of humor and choice of words.Weeks later, they met for dinner and got to know each other. She was able to relay her fears for the first time in five years. He shared his uncool relationship experiences with her too. Bit by bit, the fire got burning. They spent a lot of time on phone and walked distances she wouldn’t dream of walking alone, they counted stars and named the shapes they made while taking night walks. He seemed right but she was still scared of losing him same way she lost Drake. Scared because she still loved Drake and didn’t want him replaced .Most times when she was with Andy, Drake was the topic of discussion, she still loved him dearly, she saw him almost every night in her dreams, she missed him.

She was oblivious of the fact that Andy was also human, he had emotions too, though he didn’t say anything, he felt he wasn’t good enough, maybe not right or in love alone. Some nights, he laid and wished he knew exactly how to love her, he saved Drake’s picture in his phone and tried to talk to him same way he spoke to his lost loved ones. Asking him what he needed to do to make it right and make her happy, he cried secretly wishing things were right, he was hurting inside and dying in silence but couldn’t tell her because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

  Months later, he opened up to a friend who encouraged him to talk about it and that was his crime, she got over the edge and called it quits with her actions. He held on for some time and decided to give her some space, space which she took and never came back.Despite how hurt he was which she was blinded to, he still loved her and tried all he could to make it work but she couldn’t have them back. He resigned to his fate with a grateful heart that even if it didn’t work out, he made her try again and left her believing she could love again. He wished her well and took a bow.

  One day at the beach, Diana met Terry who extended a hand of friendship. It was easier for her to accept it this time, they got acquainted and later became very good friends, and he was gentle, God-fearing and kind. Those were the three attributes that got her attracted to a person, he was a great writer too. He made her heart skip a bit with his words. He finally won her over on his birthday when he took her to the orphanage to celebrate with the kids. He had a good heart and that was very important to her. Gradually, her fears eluded her.

   He proposed on her next birthday. She ran away from him when he did, leaving him confused and dumbfounded. The thought of a wedding scared her. That night, she cried herself to sleep. Drake awaited her in dream land, they spoke as they used to and she told him about Terry. He seemed happy for her, he smiled, held her hand, kissed it and bade her farewell.

  Diana woke up sweating profusely. At dawn, she made a trip to Drakes grave with flowers and amidst tears, and she said these words to him.

‘’Baby, my love, I used to think together forever was for you and I.Every moment with you was pleasurable and I cherish our memories.I died a million times when you left me all alone in this cruel place without thinking of what will become of me. You should have stayed back, you should have lived for us. Knowing you so well, I know you fought to live but death's grip was so strong it overpowered you. I miss you baby, I wish things were different, I wish I wasn’t ever going to say what I’m about to say now. Babe, I met Terry sometime ago. He is nice and I like him. He’s nothing like you,no one will ever be but he does his best to make me happy. It’s been five years since you left, please let me do this again; I realized that running away from my fears doesn’t change anything, I have to face them, I have to love again. When you were here, you always wanted to see me happy, I know that is still your priority, let me be happy again. I will marry him and live, Live like you always wanted me to. I love you so much but I have to let you rest, you will always be in my heart. Adieu my love’’

   She dropped the rose in her hand, wiped her face and walked away. A heavy load just got relieved from her heart .She took a deep breath as she entered her car and drove to Terry’s place. She found him in a pool of tears and alcohol. Kneeling beside him, she apologized for treating him bad and told him she will be his bride. He had mixed feelings of surprise and joy as he hugged her warmly, promising to be the best husband to her and to never let her go.




September 06, 2019 21:01

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