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Breathtaking Nigerian Stories: Letter, Lagos, Ibadan, Manchester United, Nike, Sneakers, Village, The very first letter you wrote me is my favorite

It was Monday night. Johnson walked into the flat with a stash of envelopes. “I have something for you, Chieke and Njideka,” he announced. It had been over six months since Adure left. His children dashed into the living room excitedly. “Has Adure written us?” They echoed. He handed each of them an envelope. “Let’s read yours first,” he said to Njideka. She ripped the envelope open and began to read out loud. 

Dearest Njideka,
I am sorry for taking long time to write. Please don’t laugh my English. I am still learning. I go to school now…I am very happy. We have little food in our house, but I have my father, mother, brothers and sisters with me. They love me and I love them. I told them all about you and Chieke and your parents. I want to thank you for help me very much. I remember when rain beat me because my aunty send me out of house, and you and Chieke bring me in your house. I remember when I go with no food for many days and you and Chieke give me food. Many times she beat me and blood…so much blood come out of my body, it was you and Chieke that help me clean my wound. You play and laugh with me. You help me with my assignment when I go to school sometimes. I want to say big thank you to you, Njideka. You are one of my best friends. 

Every day when I wake up, I still want to play with you because when I was sad and afraid, you always play with me. Playing with you help me forget my fears. When I with you and Chieke, I forget my problems…I forget the pains in my heart. Now, I have no pains. Thank you for telling your father and mother to help me. I miss you too much. One day when I have money, I will come see you. I like you to come and see my village. My sister Ulumma remind me of you. She play with me all the time. She says she want to meet you. We can play together and laugh as if we had no problem when I see you again. 

My mother tell me that even though we are poor, God love us. So, before I got to bed, I pray for you because you help me very much. God will bless you. I want to be your best friend forever. I will write again when I have money to post letter to you. Please write me too. Tell me about everyone in your street. 
Your best friend,

Njideka held the letter to her chest. She half smiled and half cried. “I wish I could see her again,” she said. Daddy, can we go visit her?” “Maybe,” Johnson answered. “Please!” “I will talk to your mother about it.” “Thank you daddy.” “I have not said yes, yet.” “I know you will, daddy.” “Let’s hear what Adure has to say to Chieke now.” Chieke tore open the envelope. His hands shook as he accessed the enclosed letter.

My Dearest Chieke,
I don’t know how to start. I hope you understand my English. I still think of you and how you help me. I don’t miss living in the city because of what I go through there, but I miss you and your family. I really miss you. I don’t know when I will see you again, but I know one day I will see you, and when I do, I want to tell you something. For now, I want you to know that I think about you every day. My best friend in school here in my village is Linda. There is a boy in our class who say he like me and Linda call her my husband, but I tell Linda that I have husband in city. I know that for every one, God send one person to look after them. For me, that person is you. You are my angel. God send you to take care of me. If not for you, I die in the city…they carry my body to my village and tell my parents I die in accident. 

Because of you, I live. The night when my aunty press hot iron on my body, I was surprise that you come fight for me. You stand there and talk to her like a man. I was crying because of the iron she press on my body, but that moment, I rejoice because of you. You save me. You fight for me. You take care of me. You stop the blood from my body. I can never pay you back Chieke. I pray for you. I want you to be happy. I pray that you be healthy. I pray that you be strong and success. I will always pray for you. 

I miss you. I miss when you look me and say nothing. I know you think of me, even though you say it not. I miss when you put your hand on my hand. You just put it there and then you say to me, you are my best friend. Some nights I dream of that. I see you in my dream. You just look me, and then you touch my hand and say ‘you are my best friend’. Some nights in the city I cry because my aunty beat me too much, but I think of you, then I smile with tears in my eyes. You make my pain go away. I feel too much sadness and darkness in my heart in that woman house, but you bring me sunshine on dark days. You make sun shine in my life when rain beat me. Thank you Chieke. Thank you very much. I miss you very much.

I want to tell you now, you are my best friend. I will always be your best friend. I cannot wait to read your letter. I tell my friend Linda that you write me one day. God bless you my best friend.
Your best friend,

“I think we should go visit her,” Johnson said having seen the depth of friendship and love between his children and Adure. “When do we go?” Chieke asked. He was holding back tears. “I am not sure yet. I will discuss with your mother and let you know,” Johnson explained. Chieke returned to his room and placed the letter under his pillow. Then he lay down, placing his head on the pillow and then the tears began to pour. The next day he replied Adure’s letter and so did Njideka. He placed Adure’s letter in his box; the safest place in his life. He would remove it every few days and read it again. Sometimes, he would end up with a ravishing smile on his faces and at other times, it ended in tears because he missed her a lot. Soon, he had a stash of letters from her. He read each one carefully and tucked it away in his box. He made sure to reply her each time, telling her how much he missed her and how much he looked forward to seeing her again. His parents’ work schedule meant that they had to postpone the trip to Adure’s village each time they did schedule it. Then, his father was transferred from Enugu to Port Harcourt. He made sure to send their new address to Adure, who kept writing. 

Weeks rolled into months and months into years. By the time he was eighteen, Chieke decided to travel to Adure’s village in Enugu State to see her. He was set to go to University in a few months’ time. Adure had told him that she too was off to University that October. He was headed for University of Ibadan to read medicine, while she was off to University of Lagos to study Chemical Engineering. His heart pounded all the way from Port Harcourt to Enugu and then from Enugu to Adure’s Village in Ezeagu. When he got off the bus, he asked for the post office, which Adure had told him to find first. “From the post office, just ask anyone there for my father, Mr. John Chinwetalu,” she had told him. “Someone will surely bring you to our house. My father is well known in town,” she had explained. Chieke wore a pair of blue jeans, brown Nike sneakers and a red Manchester United Jersey. Afternoon breeze doused the effect of the angry sun that peered harshly down on mother earth. 

Just as Adure had said, the post master knew her father. He locked the post office and walked Chieke to Adure’s father’s compound. “Mazi John (Mr. John), there is someone here to see your daughter, Adure,” the post master announced. “Good afternoon my sir,” said Chieke. “Good afternoon my child. Who are you?” Adure’s father asked. “Chieke!!!!” Adure shouted. She had just sighted him from within the house. She ran outside, sprinted towards him and jumped into his arms. He hugged her like a suffocating man who finally found oxygen. She clung to him like fish to water. “So this is the Chieke that took care of my daughter?” Adure’s father asked. Adure had told stories of Chieke and his family and how they helped her to her family over and over again. “Yes, papa. This is Chieke!!” Adure answered excitedly. 

Chieke was warmly received by the entire family who showered thanks and food on him. After all that, he managed to find a quiet moment with Adure in her room. “I can’t believe your hand is sitting right on mine again,” she said as Chieke placed his right hand on hers. “I have craved this for years. I always knew you were beautiful, but quite frankly, you have grown into a real paragon of beauty,” he remarked. “And you have grown into a stunningly handsome young man,” she replied. He looked her in the eye for a moment. Neither of them uttered a word. “That moment of peace…sheer bliss and quiet; when you know that the other person loves you to bits. That is what that moment represents to me. Back in the day when were kids, I did not know what love was all about, but somehow, each time you looked at me like that, I knew I was in your heart,” Adure explained.  

“I don’t know why I did it. I guess I could not help myself. I really adored you. I have always adored you, Ada.” “I adore you even more,” she answered. He leaned closer, took her face in his palms, raised her face and kissed her. She reciprocated completely, breathing heavily out of excitement. “So, what was it you have been meaning to tell me?” He asked after they finally detached from their long passionate kiss. “What do you mean?” She asked, not sure what he meant. “In your very first letter to me, you said you had something you would like to tell me in person,” Chieke said, pulling out the letter from his wallet. “You still have it?” She asked. “I have them all. This one; the very first letter you wrote me is my favorite. I carry it with me everywhere I go. “I have all of yours too. I read them over and over again.” “So what was it you meant to tell me back then? You can tell me now.” 

She smiled and said, “I wanted to tell you then that I really liked you. I guess I can tell you now that I really love you.” He smiled and kissed her again. “I love you too. Somehow, I knew that was what you meant to tell me then. I guess I will be travelling between Ibadan and Lagos a lot,” Chieke observed. “Me too! This is the happiest day of my life; maybe, the second happiest. The happiest should be the day you stood up for me. Through searing pain after that woman had burned my skin with red-hot iron, nothing good could possibly come out of that day, but something did. When I heard your voice arguing with her with authority, fighting for me, I knew that even if I died that moment, I’d die a happy person knowing that you loved me from the core of your heart.”  “I did not even know what love was at that point,” Chieke replied. “That is the real love, my dear. You did not know what it was, but you felt it anyway and it propelled you to do the right now. That is pure undiluted love.” She wrapped her arms around him, resting her heart on his chest as they both lay back in absolute quiet, listening to the peace and joy that serenaded their happy hearts.


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Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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