New Years Eve
® ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
By Enwereji Livingword
Uchechi was not happy at the way things were going in her home. She always grumbled and mumbled each time the issue of marriage was being brought up during dinner. Marriage is not the ultimate goal in life, she’d respond dismissively before hissing and leaving the dining table.
The last time wasn’t intentional. She needed to escape the peering glance she always received from her dad, so she stood up, leaving the ceramic plate filled with fried potatoes and mushroom sauce to waste. Before going to sleep each night, she would think about what transpired during dinner. And even if she tried to forget it, her brain would always give her a quick review of what happened and that was all it took to get her thinking about the whole thing again.
It was two weeks after the incident. She drove to Shoprite to pick up some groceries. Caught up in traffic, she could see children not older than Okwudiba, her younger sister’s son, who just clocked 8 few days ago, hawking different kinds of homemade snacks.
“Buy your sweet plantain cheese” they would chant continuously. Uchechi could not help but worry. If only these children attended schools they would know it’s actually chips and not cheese. Many of them were unclad, under the harmattan. It saddened her.
The traffic began to ease steadily. Uchechi looked out the window and beheld a guy, fair in complexion with full beards running down from the sides of his face and meeting at his jaw. He was inside a golden-colored Mercedes-Benz 4matic 450 (yes she was good with cars). Their eyes met and with a smirk he zoomed off.
Wow! she thought and shrugged.
At the mall, she forgot that customers were to drop off any bag they came with at the counter before being allowed to go in. she majestically clutched to her bag and walked past the security man who had his eyes elsewhere.
She turned to verify if she was the one being called.
“Please youre not allowed to take your bag along. You can drop it with that attendant there,” he said gesturing towards a female attendant behind a counter. She finished shopping and went to the cashier.
“That would be 3000 Naira ma,” the attendant said, his voice hoarse.
She was searching her red purse when she heard a voice behind her. “Let me pay for that,” he said.
Startled, she turned and saw the same guy at the traffic. He looked more handsome now as he stood very close to her. Hello, I’d love to pay for that if you don’t mind, he said, smiling.
“Oh, forgive my manners. I’m Chris, short for Christopher.”
She still stood dazed. He snapped his finger at her and she returned from her brief trance. She was indeed shy.
Yes. I’m Uchechi.” She said. Uchechi Dubis?”
“Daughter of Dubis, the owner of Dubis Communications?” He asked, slipping his hand into his pocket and then bringing out bundle of cash. She nodded.
“It’s a small word oh,” he said, showing his brilliant white teeth that gleamed.
“How do you mean?” She asked, avoiding his stare.
You mean you dont remember me. Christopher Ozuruonye. We attended the same secondary school I was a class above you.”
The name brought back memories of her secondary school days and of a guy she had a crush on. O.Z was the nickname he was called. He was that cool, intelligent senior who also was the labour prefect. She had hatred for labour prefects but he was different. He was handsome.
“O.Z! It’s a lie. You’ve grown so big, she exclaimed.
“Would you rather I remain small?” He replied, laughing sarcastically. “Let’s find a better place to sit and talk please.
“I don’t really know. Okay, but not today. I really have to be on my way home.”
“No problem, can I have your number so I can phone you?
“You can add me up on Facebook, she said dismissively, so as not to feel cheap. But deep within her, she wanted to give him her number so badly. In fact, if allowed she would ask for his instead.
He gave a boyish grin and mumbled an okay.
They talked about the children that hawked on the streets and if nothing could be done to salvage the situation. She was surprised at how he flowed in all subjects she brought up. And each time he spoke he smacked his lips. It gave her a feeling. It dampened in between her legs, made her imagine him licking a chocolate bar off her belly button.
When she got home, she was eager to see his request and was worried when after three days she hadn’t seen it yet. She would have given him her number, she thought, before dressing up for an appointment at the spa.
On the sixth day she saw his request. The joy of it sent thrills running down her spine. She accepted his request and her phone beeped twice, it was her message tune. She picked up her phone and stared into the screen, it was a message from him.
Hello, how are you? Will you be free tomorrow?
She wanted to reply him with yes but the same voice that kept advising her to play tough came again in her head.
Why do you ask? She replied.
I would love to spend some quality time with you, maybe get to know you better.
The same voice pushed in another reply and she wanted to ask herself whether this was the work of an evil spirit manipulating her.
Spend some quality time with me? You’ve not even asked me if I am married.
The last time we met at the mall I looked at your finger and I didn’t see a ring ma’am. He replied with a smile emoji.
Okay you got me. Let’s see at dukes and Donalds, I love their doughnuts.
They fixed the meeting at 12 noon and immediately Uchechi phoned her bestie Clara and told her everything. Clara was like her human diary, she always confided in her.
“Wow girl! Go have fun but be careful, we don’t sleep out on the first date, no fall my hand oh. Clara said.
The following morning, she woke up earlier than her normal 9am, phoned Chinyere to ask what time she opened the boutique. Chinyere said she did by past eight and Uchechi told her she would be coming late that day.
She brought her palm close to her mouth and exhaled, the smell from it was very disconcerting. A mixture of soured onion and meat. She had gotten herself Suya the day before. She moved to her dressing mirror and inspected her round well placed buttocks and smiled. You’re hot girl! You’re a killer! She picked up her phone and walked into the bathroom.
“Lord let this be the right man for me. I am not getting any younger. My mates have started laughing at me. She prayed silently as the water ran down her skin. Adigom 30yrs. My sister married at 20. Lord remove shame from my eyes. Lord give me this miracle so my parents can let me be. Amen. “
She picked up her skin success soap, smeared some on her sponge till it foamed and started scrubbing herself from her legs to her thighs, then armpit. She dropped the sponge and washed her face with her hand and then in between her legs, she Picked up the sponge again and scrubbed her back, rinsed herself used her white towel to dry up and stepped out. She enjoyed her own smell. She smelled of flowers.
She looked at the brown clock hanging over her bed and the time was already past 11. She was shocked. How long did she spend in the bathroom? She quickly opened her wardrobe and selected the best of her dresses. A red overflowing gown that showed her back, with its matching purse and a black high heeled pair of shoes. She used the Cologne her cousin sent her from us, it was her best.
She got to the place few minutes after 12 and there he was already. He had made reservations for two. On the table, was a vase with beautiful red roses. She shyly walked towards him and saw the happiness in his eyes.
“You’re looking ravishing, he said, standing and helping her with her seat.
“Thank you, I’m sorry I came late, the traffic, you just can’t beat it.
“I understand, he said, “what would you like?
“I told you I love their doughnuts silly,” she said tapping him on his hand.
His eyes kept running around her body like he was searching for something.
“If you keep looking at me that way, I’m going to have to leave, you’re making me really nervous.”
“I’m really sorry I cannot help but admire God’s perfect creation. “
She stared at the floor and started drawing circles with her right shoe.
“I lived in the US for 7years. I was supposed to be married but the woman I was supposed to be married to left me for another man. The annoying part is not that she left me for another man but that Im even more handsome than the idiot. But of course he is white.”
“That’s really bad, Uchechi said. “How have you been handling it since then?”
“Well I moved back to Nigeria to start afresh, staying there brings back memories.”
She didn’t know when she leaned towards him and rested on his shoulder. “Everything will be fine. Life continues. Don’t let what happened dictate how you live your life.”
“Yes I’m over it now, especially now you’re here, he said. She blushed.
“Here’s your doughnut ma, the waiter said, placing the tray on the table. Her phone rang, it was her mum.
“We’re going for a conference next week and Nene will be going with us. She took permission from her husband. We would have loved you to join us but I don’t want people to be asking that questions. You know the question abi?
“Yes mom I do, you don’t have to rub it in my face.” She hung up. “That was my mum. She keeps pestering me about marriage. I’ve been telling her that when the time is right God will give me my own husband. “
He loved the way she opened up to him. It was the type of woman he really wanted. Shirley, his ex, always kept things from him. Although, he didn’t mind for the sake of their relationship.
But sitting opposite him was the lady of his dreams. But how could it be? They just met each other few days ago.
He held her hands and said everything will be fine. She smiled and replied Okay. They stared into each other’s eyes. Then it happened, the connection, she felt it and she was certain he felt it too. Like their souls speaking to each other, I am yours and you’re mine. Their faces drew closer to each other, they kissed.
“Marry me, he said. “I know it’s a rush. I know we don’t even know each other. And I’m not asking you to marry me out of pity. You’re just the type of woman I want”. He knelt down and brought out a ring from his pocket. This is my ring but I’ll buy a better one and exchange it I promise.”
She had not even said yes and he’s already promising to buy another ring.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s so sudden. Yes, we kissed and it felt really good but marriage is really big. I need to think about it she said.”
A feeling of disappointment ran inside him as he watched her stand, pick up her bag and started towards the door. She hadn’t reached the door when she rushed back, took the ring from him and shouted “yes I will marry you”.
“Where have you been all these years? She said with tears in her eyes. She spent the night at his place. His mansion was just perfect, with a pool. In the living room there were several artworks hung on the wall. He loved art, and so did she. He showed her to the masters bedroom and slept in the guest room.
Before she slept she called Clara. Babe guess what, he proposed.”
Clara screamed! “Argh! How? When? Asides him being your childhood crush you guys just met like a week ago.”
“Yes oh, but I still said yes. I love him.
“How sure are you? Think about it oh, it’s not late to say no.”
“I’m at his house already.”
“Girl you broke our code? That’s two for today, she said with disappointment.
“Clara wish me well. Let’s leave how soon it came. It’s a miracle, plus he’s very responsible and respectful. He let me sleep in his room while he slept in the guest room.”
“Seriously? Wow he’s such a darling. Lucky you!”
“Yes oh. Make I sleep abeg. Goodnight Clara.”
In the morning she woke up to a tray of sandwich and tea. Breakfast in bed! How sweet.
“Good morning, he said kissing her forehead. She slowly ate her breakfast while he watched, telling her stories of America. He left the room so she could dress up. She came downstairs few minutes later all dressed up. He escorted her to the car, opened the door for her then leaned over and kissed her from the window.
“I’ll come and see your parents by weekend. Let’s start from there at least,” he said with a reassuring smile.
When she got home her parents were sitting in the veranda, discussing. “Mum good morning. Dad good morning, she said as she walked past them.
“Come back here young lady. Where are you coming from?”
“From his house, she said waving her finger with the ring on it. She could see their jaws drop.
“Happy new year,” she said sardonically and walked away.