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“You miss him a lot, don’t you?” Funke asked. She found Amarachi staring at Bola’s picture on her phone with laser-sharp attention. “...

“You miss him a lot, don’t you?” Funke asked. She found Amarachi staring at Bola’s picture on her phone with laser-sharp attention. “I really do, Funke,” she answered. A thin wall of tears circled her eyes. “I feel bad that he feels the way he does about the whole situation with respect to my mom, but I have to admit that I still miss him.” “I am sure you do my dear friend. This is not the end. These are some of the nooks and crannies you have to negotiate on the journey to finding true, deep and meaningful love. I am sure Bola misses you too. At least, he knows that you are not ready to throw yourself at any man even when they violate what you firmly believe in. Hang in there and pull yourself together. After the storm, comes calm,” Funke admonished. “I am trying, but it is very hard. I really want to hear from him.” “You will Amyy. You don’t have to break your resolve now. He has to call you…well, that is what I think. If he truly values you, he should initiate something. He is human you know, doubts and all that must be plaguing his mind now, but with time, he will come to realize what he is missing. He will look beyond the immediate situation and make efforts to see you. I know him. He has a good heart, but even the strongest of men would wonder if this would come to haunt them in future. In the end, love and compassion will prevail. I wish I could make more sense Amyy, but I know this will come to pass.” “Thank you so much Funke. You are like a sister to me.” “And so are you.  I think we should go after Badmus you know. Let’s track him down sometime after checking in on your mother in the morning.”

Who are you? What are you up to? Bola sent a text to the anonymous number. I am only trying to help you. I don’t want to see you ruin your life!!! The number replied to him within minutes. He was torn apart. He jumped into his clothes, got in the car and began an unplanned trip to Kaduna for the weekend. He could no longer bear the stress. Chinonso joined him at his request. “Does Amarachi know you are coming?” Chinonso asked. “No. I want to surprise her.” “Are you sure that is a good idea? What if she does not want to see you?” “I think she will see me. I spoke to Funke and she said it would not be a bad idea if I travelled to Kaduna today.”

“Amarachi my daughter,” her mother said. She had just woken up after a long anesthetic-induced sleep. There was ‘a brightness’ to her eyes, something she had not seen in her mother’s eyes in years. Her father noticed it too. “Jonas my darling husband,” she added, running her hand across her husband’s face as though she had not seen her in years. “Ijeom my dear wife. Ije nke m (My Ije),” Jonas answered. “Come over here and give me a hug Amyy. And you too Ikenga. When did you fly into the country? Come over here too, Amanze.” Thoroughly surprised, yet delighted, they quickly walked over to her bedside and hugged her. “It is so happy to see you all. What happened? Is that not Funke…Yes, your friend that used to live on our street?” she asked Amarachi. “You are right mama. This is my best friend Funke,” Amarachi answered. “I am so glad to see you bright like this Mrs. Chieke,” Funke said. “Thank you my child. How are your parents?” “They are fine ma.” A doctor walked in interrupting them. He had an X-ray result in his hand. “I have to talk to you please Mr. Chieke,” he announced. “Please go ahead. My family would like to know what you have to tell us,” Amarachi’s father replied. “I am afraid; I would like to talk to you outside first.” A worrying look crept into Jonas’ face. He followed the doctor outside.

Within minutes he was back in the room. The doctor ambled behind him. “I…I think the doctor has news for us,” he announced. “The doctor cleared his throat and began. “Mrs. Chieke, your X-ray revealed something that no one noticed before. There was a dislodgment in your nervous system all this years, and comparing your current X-ray to your previous ones, it is obvious that the nerves in question have flipped back into position. As a result, we think your mental state will return to normal following the fall,” the doctor explained. He was careful to avoid too much medical jargon, so that they could understand him. “So my mother is fine now?” Amarachi asked, barely containing her joy. “Yes,” said the doctor. Tears drenched every pair of eyes in the room as the children and their father hugged Mrs. Chieke. “Thank you doctor,” Amarachi’s mother said through tears. “We did nothing really. God used a bad situation to fix your health,” the doctor answered with a smile.

Four hours later…
Amarachi and Funke pulled into Ramat Shopping Mall on Kano Road. They wanted to pick up a few things before dashing back home. Her parent’s house was quickly filling up with guests and friends and family gathered on receiving news of Mr. Chieke’s miraculous recovery. Funke saw them first. He had his hand on her shoulder while her hand was wrapped around his waist. Amarachi froze dead in her tracks on sighting them. Her face quickly contorted into a frown. She could feel a wave of rage sweeping through her like the South East Trade wind sweeping in from the Sahara Desert, bringing lip-cracking Harmattan with it. “Hi Amyy, long time,” Badmus greeted. “Amara I heard of your mom. How is she now?” Elochukwu added quickly. Amara was about to drop a lethal bullet on the two of them with her mouth, but a gentle tuck from behind by Funke restrained her. “Good to see you Badmus,” Funke said quickly in an effort to defuse the ticking time bomb. “Long time indeed, Badmus,” Amarachi said instead. “I am sorry about your mother,” Badmus said. “Thanks. She is fine now, actually.” “That is great! Send my regards to her please,” Badmus added. “I am wondering if I could have a chat with you, Badmus. It won’t take long. I need to share something with you,” Amarachi asked, managing a rein over her boiling emotions. “Sure,” he replied. As he peeled away from the firm and tenacious grip of Elochukwu, she said, “Don’t be long honey.” “I can assure you that he won’t be long Elochukwu. I have no intentions to take him to bed with me right here,” Amarachi said with a hint of unmasked sarcasm. “Well, it is just that we have a few places to go, you know,” Elochukwu defended herself.

“I have to ask you this Badmus. I know you are dating someone who works in the same office as me…a colleague. After you slept with one of my friends, leading to the end of our relationship, you probably thought I would never recover from the heartbreak. Well, I did and in an effort to crush me further, you have quickly picked up another friend, so to speak. That is not my issue right now. You have the right to date whoever you wish to. My grouse is that someone has been sending terrible and deceptive…dishonest text messages to my boyfriend. I have a feeling you have a hand in it. Do you?” “Amara, I would not descend that low. I don’t want to delve into our relationship or my present relationship, but what I can tell you is that I know nothing about what you are talking about. I don’t even know who your boyfriend is. I did not even know until you just mentioned it that you have a boyfriend. I am sorry if you are still mad at me, but please, I did not send such text. Things just happened between Elochukwu and I...It was not planned or designed to hurt you. Please, believe me.” “After everything that happened between us, I cannot believe you just like that, Badmus.”

“Then believe what you want. I have no interest in discussing this any further. I am not involved at all. What would I gain from that? I made a mistake in the past, and if I could, I would take you back. I…never meant to hurt you, and for that, I am sorry. Elochukwu is not an effort to hurt you either. I may still fancy you, but I cannot be dating your friend and work colleague and be plotting to win you back by sending fictitious text messages to your boyfriend. I am bigger than that.” Amarachi looked intently at him. She stared into those eyes, searching for anything that could indicate that he was not lying. She dated him for quite a number of years. She searched for any signs she could think of to help her determine whether to take his word for it or not.

“I am Funke by the way,” Funke introduced herself to Elochukwu who was chewing gum energetically like a wildebeest at work on the grassy plains of Ngorongoro National park, devouring succulent grass in the rainy season. “Pleased to meet you. I think I have heard Amarachi mention your name once or twice,” Elochukwu replied as she blew a massive bubble that nearly covered her entire face. “If you don’t mind my asking, don’t you think it is odd that you are dating someone that broke up rather acrimoniously with Amarachi - a colleague and friend?” “But they are no longer together. Do we all have to run away from Badmus simply because he dated Amarachi for some time?” “Not for some time Elochukwu. They dated for years. Dating him means he will be coming around the office and that will open the wounds all over again for Amarachi. Would you like that if you were in her shoes? Besides, it seems rather out of order to date your friend’s ex. You never even mentioned it to her?” “Do I need her permission to date anyone?” “I hope Badmus does not dump you like a piece of boxers soon,” Funke added in anger. “He loves me. That I am sure of.” “I wish you luck. I know that guy more than you do.” “Thanks for your advice,” Elochukwu answered impatiently. Funke and Amarachi headed home, while Elochukwu melted back into Badmus’ waiting arms as they walked towards his car.

“I think you should pick up now,” said Funke. “He had been calling you all day. I think he is here in Kaduna. You should talk to him now…at least hear him out.” “You think I am enjoying this?” Amarachi asked. “Everything in me wants to leap onto my phone and answer.” “Then go ahead and do it.” She picked up, eventually. “Hi Bola.” “Hello Amyy. Please can you we meet and talk briefly. I promise I won’t take too much of your time. I am in Kaduna. Please, let’s talk.” Amarachi could hear her heart smashing against the poor walls of her lungs with the force of a bulldozer. His voice sent her blood into a massive rush. She closed her eyes and thought of the inviting scent of his perfume – Burberry for men. “Okay, I can see you briefly.” She could not believe she slotted the word briefly on the end of that sentence. She wanted to be in his arms all night long. “Thanks honey. Thanks a lot. I will be on my way to your apartment,” Bola thanked her effusively. He too could hear the tunes that his heart was composing with ebullient energy. His hand shook a little as he moved the phone away from his ear and slotted it in in his pocket. “She has agreed to see me!” He announced excitedly to Chinonso. “That is great, my friend. Go see her right away. Make sure you apologize. Don’t go arguing with her. She really cares about you,” Chinonso advised him. “And I love her just as much if not more.” “Off you go then.” He rushed to the wardrobe of their hotel suite and grabbed his Burberry for men. He sprayed a squirt on himself and then sprayed more, and then a bit more like a man on a hunt after mosquitoes with insecticidal spray. He grabbed his key and headed outside while Chinonso feasted on the television with his eyes. “Good luck,” he shouted absentmindedly as Bola left. “Thanks,” he answered.   STORY CONTINUES...

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