Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Desperate Dreamer

                                           (An excerpt)

 Nkili dozed off and woke up to find a tall, broad shouldered silhouette letting itself into the house. ‘It’s Osita,’ the silhouette reassured her. Osita was the husband she had never met. His family conducted marriage arrangements on his behalf; and now she had joined him in England.

Nkili wasn’t expecting a rapturous welcome, but wasn’t very impressed with his laid back tone, as if she was an everyday visitor. He switched on the lights. 'You’re welcome. When did you arrive?’
‘At seven –‘ Nkili broke off. She suddenly noticed it wasn’t Osita. ‘Who are you?’ She quizzed, brows squeezed. 
He stepped forward. ‘I’m Osita.’
Nkili was immediately on the alert. Her eyes darted to the door devising an escape route. ‘But – but’ Nkili grabbed her bag and fished out Osita’s photograph. She held it up to the man. ‘This is…’ Nkili paused. Drops of realisation began to seep through her mind permeating every part of it. He was Osita. But he was an old greying version. Her bag dropped to the floor.
Osita rushed forward to catch her as she keeled over. ‘What’s the matter?’
He examined the photograph with a frown on his face. The frown gradually melted into confusion. Why did Zeb, his elder brother, show her an old photograph? He was thirty then. Now he was forty eight. Suddenly everything made sense and he felt awfully embarrassed. How could he begin to explain himself? He had plainly told Zeb he wanted a woman in her thirties, but he went ahead and found him an eighteen-year-old bride. He had no regrets because the moment he saw Nkili’s picture he was smitten. And now he had seen her in the flesh he was blown away by her beauty. But he couldn’t stand his brother’s web of lies. It’s little wonder Zeb had given him the wrong date for Nkili’s arrival. He knew if he met her at the airport it would have been full blown embarrassment.
He tried to appease Nkili. ‘I’m truly sorry,’ he said.
Nkili suddenly remembered he existed. She clapped her eyes on him, registering his droopy eyelids, browning eyes, the deep line dividing his forehead, and sagging cheeks. A flicker of rage flared up in her belly and quickly spread to her whole body. She shook with rage. ‘What exactly are you sorry for?! Are you sorry for telling the most blatant lie humanly possible, or for dragging me thousands of miles away from my family, making me turn my back on the dreams –‘ Nkili bit her lower lip. Her fingers rummaged through her long braids. ‘What exactly are you sorry for? Tell me.’
Osita was afraid to speak. The girl standing in front of him had changed from a cherubic-faced beauty to a perilous-looking lion.
‘I’m sorry,’ he ventured in a wobbly voice.
‘If you say sorry one more time I’ll smash your head to smithereens, God is my witness!’ Nkili screeched. She slung her bag on to her shoulder. ‘You must be disappointed I’m not some naïve, village girl incapable of holding her own.’
 ‘It’s not like that – ‘
‘I may be eighteen, but I’m no fool. I might come from a poor background but that doesn’t mean I will settle for any old – old – bamboozle.’
Osita fell to his knees. ‘Nkili please, it’s not my fault. I didn’t know Zeb lied about my age.’
Nkili raised her eye brows exaggeratedly. ‘Oh yeah? Well you can tell that to the monkeys because I’m out of here.’ She clutched her suitcase and made for the door but Osita threw his arms round her waist and wouldn’t let go. ‘Nkili please, I’m begging you in the name of God. Please give me a chance to explain.’
‘Let go of me!
‘Nkili please’ Osita voice turned more and more desperate until he burst into a fit of tears. Nkili was taken aback. In her world grown men only cried at funerals. Osita howled disconsolately, nuzzling his head against her stomach. His copious tears doused the rage burning in her chest, reducing it to a flicker. ‘Get up.’ She said in a mellow voice. She walked back to the sofa and dropped on to it wearily. She didn’t know what to feel, think or say.  Her empty stomach seized the opportunity to growl and hiss.  Soon Osita’s shaky hands were placing a tray containing ground rice and okro soup before her. The food looked pleasing to the eye, but Nkili couldn’t taste a thing. In her eyes Osita could see a slideshow of pain, bitterness, fear and confusion. He enclosed her soft hands in his. ‘I take the blame for everything that’s happened, and I pray you will find it in your heart to forgive me, he said cupping her face with his hands. ‘We can’t change the past, but we must let go of past mistakes and learn to love one another’. Nkili’s mind flipped back to the past. She remembered the first time she had broken up with Emeka after a blazing row. The first week they managed to ignore each other at school. By the second week she was dying to get back with Emeka but pretended not to care. However she couldn’t keep up the acting for long. One afternoon Emeka cornered her in an empty classroom and cupped her face in his cinnamon-complexioned hands. He held her gaze with his glimmering eyes for what felt like eternity. An involuntary tear ran down Nkili’s cheek. ‘I love you,’ she said. She must have said it aloud because the memory faded into Osita’s stunned face. ‘I love you too’, he said, and without giving her a chance to explain, crushed his lips onto hers.

8 comments:

  1. Ah, a brilliant contrasting of the achievement/discovery focused emotions of the teenager and the desire for security/fearful emotions of middle age! Thanks FresherAngle for bringing both together in a unique manner. If not for your writing, I wouldn't have identified the common desire that both the teenager and middle aged person have not to be left out, though this is displayed in different ways.
    In this particular story, I cannot blame either Osita or Nkili for wanting something good and some progress. The frustrations of each can be shared. Most of all I loved the comedy of letting the writing end with an involuntary kiss based on a past relationship.
    Not being sure at this stage how the story is going to work out, I'll be anxiously awaiting it's next posting!

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    1. Thank you, Dlaw!

      Yes, they both have common desires for progress, but are those desires compatible? Please stay tuned to find out more. LOL.

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  2. I like that "young/old" man for taking responsibility for his brothers actions. I think it's Zeb's head that Nkili needs to smash.
    The girl sure has a good heart but I'm really sorry for her. She still has so much to get out of life and now, early marriage has cut it short. I love the end by the way, pretty romantic (I think).

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  3. Lol, Lanre. Thank you. I also feel sorry for Osita. He is a middle-aged man desperate to start a family & he has this young, hot-blooded girl 'foisted' on him. We'll see how it pans out.

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  4. This is a wonderful story... I read a lot, and I mean that literally. I look forward to the end of this. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  5. Thank you, Ochanya. I appreciate your comment. Thank you also for visiting Fresh Angle. We hope to see more of you. You'll get more of the story in coming weeks.

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  6. Have you published this novel as yet?

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  7. Not yet, Felix Obi. I'm still on the hunt for a literary agent to take me on. Welcome on board Fresh Angle. Nice to read your comment. Many thanks.

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