He was standing ahead of Nneoma in the pathway, facing front, as she walked closer from behind. His identity was yet unknown. In a few minutes time, the gorgeously-looking damsel got to the point and passed by. Upon a burning quest to ascertain the nomenclature of the weird being, she turned to her left only to discover it was Obioha; everything about him, even from behind had obviously changed. He was the least person she imagined seeing, or wanted to behold.
Nneoma was jilted by Obioha five years back. He abruptly left her for another lady named Ego who he believed was the angel of the moment after about seven years of fruitless courtship.
But, at the moment, it seemed the 41-year-old dude had regretted that unannounced decision he took several years ago. The five-year-old marriage with Ego was yet to bear fruit. That was the least of all; the so-called wife enjoyed nagging to the core till date. Above all, there was no day she wouldn’t attempt to engage him in a physical combat. It was really terrible to assert the least. It suffices to say that the young man was apparently in hell, all in the name of matrimony.
“Obioha!” the 34-year-old Nneoma exclaimed in a low tone, stopped.
She was standing about two metres away from the dude who stood aloof along the ostensibly lonely pathway situated in Umundega, an ancient clan in old Anambra State, Nigeria (now Enugu State). They both hailed from, as well as resided in, the same town until immediately after his marriage with Ego when he disappeared into thin air, probably he relocated to a different locality owing to fear of the unknown. So, since five years back till date, this would be the first time Nneoma’s eyes would set on him. Incidentally, she was still unmarried.
He was mute over the call as he stood erectly, clad in an outdated grey native attire, making his slim or rather thin, dark-skinned and average height posture seemed not unlike one that was overused in the Nigerian civil war. On her part, she put on a pleasant casual pink gown alongside plaited hairs, and was light-skinned, tall and plump.
In spite of his archaic dress pattern coupled with the long years of out-of-sight, she was able to recognise his facial outlook, perhaps as a result of the fact that the ‘memorable’ time they spent together was a good reason to recall the face even in the dark.
His silence puzzled her, thus she moved towards him to ascertain if truly it was the runaway Obioha as she was engulfed by goose bumps. “Obioha!!” she reiterated, but in a lower tone.
“Nneoma.” He responded hesitantly.
She stepped a bit further, whilst he remained firm – maintaining his position – about eighty centimeters (80cm) apart from her. “What are you doing here?” She inquired, still gripped by fear.
He was wholly mute again, couldn’t even move any part of his body, thereby making her become more uneasy.
“Didn’t you hear me?” quoth Nneoma. “I said, what are you doing here?” she echoed, paused. “Have you come to take my shattered life, five years after?” she furiously added, remained perturbed.
The very road where they stood was the pathway that led to Nneoma’s ancestral home; they were about One kilometer (1km) away from her parental home. The dude’s clan of origin, Odoihe was about twelve kilometres (12km) away from hers.
“On the contrary,” replied Obioha eventually. “I have come in peace…” He managed to utter, paused. “In search of you.”
“For what?” the maiden queried, surprised. “To kill me..?”
“Not at all.” He cleared the air, attempted to step closer to her.
“Stop there!” she warned. “Don’t go any further.” She supplemented in a fierce mood.
Since she was yet to acknowledge his true mission in Umundega, she was still unsure that he had genuine intention, thus had every reason to accuse his person of harbouring an ulterior motive.
“Please…,” he tendered calmly. “Don’t whisk me away.” He said, paused. “I am for good.”
“You are for good?”
He nodded, still maintaining his initial position.
“Just listen to yourself.” quoth Nneoma. “You are for good.” She echoed, took a breath. “Which imbecile would agree that you are for good?”
“Nneoma, my dear.” quoth Obioha. “Things have not been at ease since we departed.”
“And how would I be of help?” she ranted. “Besides, who is your dear?”
Nneoma was well not unaware that Obioha’s marriage was in shambles. Ab initio, she kept receiving all sorts of news cum stories regarding the matrimony, particularly on how Ego had been acting like the captain of the ship. Each time she got the news, she laughed over it, though remained bitter that he was getting such unbearable attitudes from his supposed wife. She couldn’t deny the fact that she still bore a soft spot for the man whom she was meant to regard as ‘good-for-nothing’, perhaps due to the warmth moments they shared during the seven years of ‘wasted’ friendship. This was the singular reason she could not stop sharing the pains he was receiving from the marriage that could best be described as forsaken.
“You wouldn’t believe how much pains I have been into since we departed.”
As they communicate on the road, passersby – particularly Nneoma’s kinsmen – were seen in about every four minutes interval. Those who knew Obioha who was now looking pale, were marveled over what prompted the abrupt reunion, thus they began to gossip in their numbers as they headed for their respective destinations. No one who witnessed the scene that wouldn’t insinuate it was a scheduled meeting.
“So, how does that concern me?”
“Everything,” quoth Obioha calmly. “Everything about it concerns you…”
“By the way,” interrupted the maiden. “Is that why you are looking like a broken bottle?” She thought aloud.
He was speechless.
“The pains are really written all over you.” She mocked. “Even the blind could see it.”
“I know you can turn things around, Nneoma.” he asserted. “And you are the only one that can do it…”
“Please, please, please..” she interrupted. “Don’t link me to your problems.” She urged, paused. “I don’t know anything about your predicament.”
“I am not saying you do.” Obioma corrected. “Rather, I am the cause of my problem.” he confessed, paused. “But you can help me solve it.”
“Non…sense.” she ranted, attempted to step out. “I can see, you are not serious.” She added, frantically walked away.
At this time, it was 7:37pm, and she was headed home.
To be continued, please!
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