THE CALL OF THE SONGBIRD (Part 2)

February 14, 2006

“Amakohia-Akwakuma! Amakohia-Akwakuma!”

“Okigwe Road! I na-aga Okigwe Road?”

“Driver, dropuom ebe a!”

“Sister, bia zuonum ahia!”

“Leave me jaré! Onwe ihe n’eme gi n’ishi?!

“Ogbako-Irete! Ogbaaako!”

The main arena of Douglas, the area that stretched out between the main market on one side of the road and St. Paul’s Catholic Church on the other side was riven with a cacophony of sounds – voices raised, horns honking, engines revving and music blaring – interspersed with all other forms of unidentifiable sounds. It was a beehive of activity as people eddied about and vehicular traffic moved on along; a kind of orderly chaos that defined the environment under the blazing afternoon sun.

After paying his fare to the okada man who had dropped him before an array of makeshift CD shops adhered to the brick red wall of the church like a straggling number of leeches latched onto a skin, Adindu darted across the road to the other side, where the well-worn building of the shopping mall that blocked the view to the market area loomed.

“Fine boy, na jeans you wan buy?” a burly young man ghosted to his side and pulled lightly at his hand.

Adindu shrugged off the hand, shot the man a scowl and wordlessly continued on his way. He would have a serious problem with the next trader that would lay his hand on him, he thought wrathfully as he weaved his way past two women arguing loudly over a grilled meat stand.

Then he saw her. Chinwe Okoye. She was walking toward him and seemed about to make a turn to her left and disappear inside the maze of marketplace corridors. Adindu’s heart quickened as he looked at her. At twenty-three, Chinwe had grown into a strikingly good-looking young woman. Her light-complexioned skin had an attractive suppleness and he suddenly felt parched as he took in the way her dress hung over her slender figure with a glove-like caress.

“Chinwe…” The word scraped through his dry throat and came out as a hoarse whisper. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Chinwe!”

Her steps faltered and her face lit up when she saw him. She was already laughing as they came closer to each other. “Ah-boy!” she enthused as she embraced him.

He cringed inwardly. He’d stopped going by that childhood nickname a long time ago. But Chinwe wouldn’t know that; the girl was almost never around. She’d done her secondary school education at Queens College in Lagos, and thereafter, graduated on to UNN, while he continued his existence in Owerri, from Government College to IMSU. They never got to see much of each other; just sporadically during some holidays and the odd-Christmas period. Chinwe spent more of her time staying in Lagos with her sister, Rebecca. Rebecca had married the man with the bright red Toyota.

“Hmm, look at you,” he said when he stood back to give her the once-over. “You’re looking very fine.”

Her lashes fluttered down in abashment. “Abeg, don’t flatter me joor.”

“I’m not flattering you. It’s the truth.”

“What about you? You don’t look so bad yourself. Been gyming, have we?” She followed the comment with a light tap on the slight bulge of his pecs through his T-Shirt.

He chuckled. “Na small-small oh. How far nah? What are you doing here?”

“I came to shop for my NYSC camp stuff. My name came out in the list for the Batch A students going into camp in March.”

“Are you serious? Me too. As a matter of fact, that’s why I’m here too. My mum said Abuja is expensive and I should get everything I need here in Owerri first.”

Her eyes goggled and delight danced in their depths. “You were posted to Abuja?”

“Yes – why?”

“I was posted to Abuja too.”

“Really? Wow!” He suddenly felt giddy with pleasure. For the next one year of his life, he’d be in the same city with Chinwe. The thought gave him a great feeling. “By the way, Happy Valentine.”

She waved her hand dismissively. “Abeg, it’s not as though it’s a holiday to celebrate or something.”

“I take that to mean you don’t have a Valentine?” he asked. God, he hoped not.

She laughed gaily. “You presume correctly. But you know what?” She linked her hand with his. “You can always be my val.” His heart swelled with emotion and spilled out in the bright smile he gave her. As they started for the market stalls, she asked, “I’ve been meaning to ask you something for a very long time.”

“What is it?”

“Remember that evening–er…” – her eyes narrowed in thought, then relaxed – “about seventeen years ago–”

“Hah! That far back?” Adindu cut in with incredulity.

“Chill, you’ll remember this particular day. It was the day you took my biscuit from me and ate.” Her mouth twitched with amusement at the memory. “And I cried so hard that our mothers came rushing out…”

“Oh, that day…”

“And you remember what they said about my mum telling your mum something…”

He felt his face grow warm. “Yes?”

She gave a theatrical gasp. “Your mother told you, didn’t she? Mine wouldn’t. Then later, she said she’d forgotten. What was it – tell me, tell me…”

“Well, your mum told mine that the reason I bullied you so much was because I liked you deep down.” Her brow lifted at that. “And that when we grow up, if we’re not married to other people before the right time, we will marry each other.”

Chinwe was grinning just as widely as he was by the time he was done talking. “And what age will the right time be?”

“I don’t know – thirty, maybe?” he said offhandedly.

“Thirty, huh? Hmm…that’s like seven years from now.”

“What are you saying?”

“Well, you heard our mothers,” she joked. “If we’re not married by the time we’re thirty, we’ll marry each other.”

And they walked on, laughing at the joke and at Fate.

TO BE CONTINUEDboy-cute-flower-girl-holding-hands-favim-com-28089613

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7 Comments

  1. More o, well done

    Reply
  2. Some more, some more!!!!! Please. Lol

    Reply
  3. anderson

     /  February 14, 2013

    Well played! Nice.

    Reply
  4. Bel Ami

     /  February 14, 2013

    Well this confirms it…. That’s y girls like Jerks… Cos wen we were little wen u tell ur mom abt the lil boy @ d school pllay ground that keeps bullying u and collecting ur stuff…. She’ll say shit like “its cos he likes u….. Somewhere deep deep deeeeeeeeeeeep deeeeeeeeeeeeeeep down…..

    Reply
    • Hahahahahahahaa!!! You are truly priceless. And mosdef on point. The mother will never tell you that that bully is simply that. A bully. No. He has to like you deep deep down.

      Reply
  5. So nice! C’mon kiss d end back thr!( In d words of little Richard Wright)

    Reply

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