RIPPLES - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - friends, the restaurant, eyes, table, guy, relationships I tried, HIV, the men, In the hospital, marry, got married to the woman, having unprotected sex, He surprised me with a marriage proposal.

In life, as I have learnt, one bad decision can leave a ripple effect of pains which might last you the better part of your life. One fight you fail to stand strong and give your best, might leave behind a domino effect of recurrent nightmares. This is life, and it is tough. If you don’t fight for what you want, others will tell you what they think you want in life. Sadly, I learnt this lesson the sad way. Go for what is right, go for what makes you happy. Go for what you won’t be ashamed of when this life is over and you stand before God in judgement. Be brave and fight for your fulfillment. My name is Linda Ogbe and I have a sad tale to tell.

Like other girls of my age, my head was full of dreams. I was sure I knew what I wanted in life, especially in the areas of love, relationship and marriage. I was sure I would find my dream man and live a happily-ever-after life. Well, I didn’t have the specific details of how my dream would come to pass, (wish I had known), but I knew it would come to pass. One certain day I was out with friends in the street, we had gone out to buy stuff at a fast food restaurant. I was happy to hang out in that environment with my friends. My family being poor, I did not often get the chance to go buy things at the restaurant. On that day, I didn’t join my friends while they picked what they came to buy. For some reason I was happy to sit and enjoy the air conditioned atmosphere in the restaurant. While I basked in the atmosphere, a guy walked into the restaurant; the moment he walked in, I felt a surreal connection to him. That experience was strange to me. I had never heard of it before. For reasons beyond me, I could not take my eyes off him.

He didn’t notice me. Obviously he had walked into the restaurant to grab something to bite and run off. While I gazed upon him, my heart raced very fast. I was motionless and frozen. While I pondered what that sort of feeling meant, he returned with a tray of rice and chicken, along with a bottle of Coke. He headed toward my direction and sat at a table close to mine. I was still gazing upon him. He wasn’t overly handsome. There was nothing unusual about him; he was just an everyday guy. He attacked his food with quite some pulse. Clearly he was hungry. While he ate, my eyes were still on him. He must have felt my eyes stabbing into him. He raised his head and looked my way. I quickly turned away and stood up to go join my friends. On my way to join up with my friends, I looked back and the guy was back to eating his food. When I met my friends, I noticed the two of them were buzzing around a guy who was possibly in search of a flirt. As though I was being pulled back to the guy, I left them to go sit at my table.

This time I had hardly sat down when the guy cleaned his mouth, turned my way and asked, “Hello, my name is Ben, can I share your table with you?” For reasons beyond me, I nodded. It must be something with being a woman that made me not to say no. He stood and came over to my table. A look at his table revealed an empty plate of rice, fleshless chicken bones and an empty can of Coke. He had devoured the food he bought. Brazenly, he raised his right hand and brought it to my face. I did not pull back. He stuck out his index finger and gently touched the skin on my forehead. “Christ! It is real! I had thought you crawled out of the Atlantic Ocean this morning. Your skin is unbelievably smooth. So what is your name? I am Ben,” he said. “My name is Linda,” I replied, with the sound of awe in my voice. I was hoping it won’t come out. Sadly, it did. “I work with an ICT firm in Victoria Island. What do you do?” he asked. “I am a student of Accountancy in University of Lagos,” I replied. “I am in 200 level,” I added with fear. I wanted that upfront; I wouldn’t want him to disdain me because of my level in school.

“That is okay,” he said with a smile which took my breath away. When my friends came for me and saw me with a guy, they made signs to me and left. Back then, we had sign languages which no one could decode. I knew they would be waiting for me to hear all about the guy. I hit the ground running with Ben. It was as though we had known each other for life. Just about twenty minutes into my chat with him, I was already laughing very loud and wiping tears from the corners of my eyes. Because I had not had much to eat that day, he must have seen it in the way I warned, he offered to buy me food. I was shocked when I heard myself asking him to open his mouth so I could feed him. I still cannot explain how you can meet a total strange and feel at home with him from the first eye contact.

By the time we left the restaurant, we were holding hands. I think we hugged like three times in the restaurant. For me it was not out of love or even attraction. At this stage, I was sure I felt nothing that could be defined as love for him.  The whole experience for me was as though I was with one of my brothers. God is my witness; I was not head-over heels about him. However, there was a deep connection I have felt for no one else till this day. When he dropped me off at my friend’s apartment, we had exchanged phone numbers, WhatsApp, Facebook, BBM and all forms of contacts. Our relationship moved at lightning speed. Everything was perfect. He didn’t have much money, but he was perfect and I was happy to be part of his life and watch him attain greater heights in life.

About a year later, Ben told me he was tired of being just a friend to me. He surprised me with a  marriage proposal. I was blown away. I accepted and we decided to talk to our parents about our relationship. When he mentioned to his parents that I was from the same state as him and gave them the name of my town, they went berserk and told him outrightly that they would not support him if he chose to marry me. Without even seeing whom I was, his parents and family members rejected me. On my family side, he was also rejected when I mentioned he was from my state. In fact, the name of his hometown left my parents cursing bitterly.

When we met again, both of us were broken. At this point in our relationship, the next stage for us was marriage, but we could not move into it because our parents would not give their support.  I tried to persuade my parents to let me marry Ben but they would not hear of it.  Ben tried to do the same but his parents and family members shut him up and did not even so much as gave him a minute to speak a word.  We tried to hang together for a while, but without the lasting pleasure and blessing that marriage brings, we fell apart. We had to agree to go separate ways and it broke the of us.

After we had gone separate ways, I tried my best to find love quickly and forget Ben. Sadly, most of the relationships I tried did not match up to what I had with Ben. I was left with moving from man to man. Ben wasn’t as unlucky as I was. After a while he hooked himself up with a woman who seemed like the real deal for him. In this period, I became very sick. I was so scared I was going to die, that I had to go the hospital for medical checkup. In the hospital, I was tested for lots of sicknesses and I tested positive to HIV. The test result multiplied my sorrows. Because I had no one to tell or run to, I turned to God and hid the test result from my parents. I gave myself to church activities, began to pray fervently for healing while adhering religiously to my drugs. At this stage, Ben got married to the woman he had found. He was moving on faster than I was. After a lengthy period of prayers, I believed God had healed me, because I did not come down with full blown HIV case.

In the process of time, I went into new relationships with men, and was sexually active in all of them; while keeping from the men in my life the knowledge that I was HIV positive. Just when I was thinking that my life was going to be all about sad tales, I met Max. He was in a class of his own and offered to me the kind of love which made up for my troubles. I was having unprotected sex with him and could not bring myself to tell him about my HIV status. The fact that he didn’t come down with HIV AIDS convinced me that God had really healed me. While I did my best to manage my hydra headed troubles, Ben was hit by a massive tragedy; his wife died during childbirth. Both the woman and the child were lost. I knew what we had was strong, so I had to commiserate with him from a distance. After he lost his wife, he got a job with an oil company in Port Harcourt and relocated to the Garden City. Max, my new found love turned out to be serious and took things to another level by proposing to me. I accepted his proposal and still did not tell him about my status. Don’t forget I was still in school, and being a brilliant student, I was leading my class.

The above true life story was written by Linda Ogbe (actual name withheld) and was edited by editorial team. Linda’s story made some of us to cry a river. You will find loads of lessons in her true life story.

Story Continues...          CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

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RIPPLES - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - friends, the restaurant, eyes, table, guy, relationships I tried, HIV, the men, In the hospital, marry, got married to the woman, having unprotected sex, He surprised me with a marriage proposal. An African Literary Blog
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