LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 1

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - a cool November evening, A storm of tears invaded the corridors of my eyes, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Ogui Road in Enugu, Continental Restaurant, ESUT –Enugu State University, Academic Complex to City Girls campus, studying Electrical Engineering, my Bob Marley braids.

                                             
I stood by the glass door and peered at them through teary eyes. A storm of tears invaded the corridors of my eyes, blurring my vision, so I raised my hand despondently and brushed it against my eyes, in an attempt to refocus my view. He smiled broadly at her as he reached over and touched her face gently. She smiled broadly, angling her neck as she stared into his eyes. As smiles journeyed across her face, violent pains stabbed ruthlessly at me. I swear; I nearly fainted. I could feel a cavalcade of pains goring mercilessly at my poor heart. It was a cool November evening, but torrid sweat walked angrily across my forehead. I felt sweat drip down my dress and walk down my frail broken body. “Lord, why…why me?” I asked rhetorically. I thought of walking into the restaurant and smashing a plate on Emeka’s head first and then another on Chidera’s.

Cool evening breeze wafted past me as I pondered my options. I stood there like a statue, watching them. The restaurant was one of those fancy restaurants at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Ogui Road in Enugu. This one was particularly popular with young people and it was called – Ragzy Continental Restaurant. I knew Ragzy very well. I had been there with him a number of times, in fact, that was where he had asked me out. Emeka and I had been dating for over seven years and Chidera and I had been friends for as long as I could remember. We grew up on the same street where her parents still lived. I wanted to tell myself that they were just hanging out; I needed something to ease the pain that was running riot deep within me. Some weeks earlier, another friend of mine, Agnes had told me that Emeka was sleeping with Chidera, but I brushed off her information as mere gossip. Emeka and I were like oil and salt.

Ours was the case of love at first site. I still remember the day I met him. It was my first year at ESUT –Enugu State University. This was when ESUT was still located at Independence Layout in Enugu. I was walking from the notorious Academic Complex – a gigantic, deplorable and poorly maintained building whose paint had been washed off by many years of rainfall – to Education Hall on City Girls Campus. City Girls campus was home to the Faculties of Education and Applied Natural Sciences. Heaps of dust invaded my shoes as was the case with anyone who ventured from Academic Complex to City Girls campus. “Hello!” a voice called to me from behind. When I turned, I saw a handsome guy waving at me. He walked faster so as to catch up with me.

“Do I know you?” I asked in a low tone, so as not to sound too harsh. Men, the guy was good looking. “I don’t think we have met,” he replied. His voice was music to my ears. His broad shoulders stared boldly at me. His well-polished hair glistened in the pounding sun. His shoes had received equal measure of dust coating though, but that did not matter; everyone got the same treatment along that route. “Can I help you?” I managed to say. I was awestruck by his looks. “I am Emeka Nnajiofor,” he said extending a hand for a handshake, which I gladly accepted. His hands were warm and welcoming. “I am Ifunanya Okoye,” I replied managing a smile. “Pleased to meet you. I am in Chemical Engineering; first year. I believe you are in Electrical Engineering, right?” he asked me. “You are right. You seem to know too much about me?”

“I have seen you around a number of times. You are pretty you know, so I could not help but notice you.” I smiled, tilting my head backwards as I brushed my Bob Marley braids off my face. My head grew momentarily bigger as I basked in his praise. You know, it is flattering to be complemented by a handsome guy. “Thanks.” “I had to ask around, so I found out you were in Electrical Engineering. You must have a lot in that beautiful head to be studying Electrical Engineering. You see, I greatly admire beautiful girls, but I adore brilliant ones. I am a fan.” I did not know what to say. I was sure that my heart was beating faster. “Thank you,” I said again. That was all I could mutter in my discombobulated state.

“So where are you going?” I managed to ask. “Wherever you are going,” he answered quickly. “I am going to a land where men are slaughtered by spirits,” I quipped with a smile. “Then, I am willing to either end that tradition or die fighting to walk in your beautiful path,” he replied confidently. “Then walk with me.” “I gladly accept the invitation…thank you.” We began to walk down the dusty hilly road. We chatted, slowly at first, by the time we neared City Girls Campus, we were chattering away as if we had known each other from birth. He was very easy to talk to…intelligent and well versed in many subjects too – from politics to sports, medicine, current affairs, geography and economics. I was swept off my feet already, but I remained calm, pretending that I was not impressed – maybe, I thought I did.

By the time we reached City Girls Campus, he pulled out a handkerchief – a white one for that matter, and began to wipe layers of dust off my shoes. “You don’t have to do that,” I protested pretentiously. I was relishing every second of it. “If I must walk on this path with you, I must make sure that you are well taken care of. You are too beautiful to have dust of this magnitude rest upon your shoes,” he answered as he continued to wipe the dust. He literally shined my shoes to perfection. “Thank you! I am grateful,” I said effusively. “The pleasure is all mine. I’d do it over and over again.” “I am really grateful. You did not have to do that.”

“You are welcome, Ifunanya. So, you have a class in a short while?”  “Yes.” “I would love to wait for you. Can I hang around until after your lecture? I am sure that we have not reached the land you described earlier to me, so I would love to continue on that journey with you,” he said with a big confident smile. “Yes, you can.” How was I supposed to let such a charming guy walk away just like that? Of course I was keen to know him more. I walked into Education Hall for my Physics lecture. I hardly paid attention to what the professor had to say. I would look through the window every now and again to see if he was still there. I could not see him, which left my heart beating faster as the professor upper and lower lips were beating just as fast as he dissected electromagnetic field. The only electromagnetic field that mattered to me at that instance was the one I felt for the charmer outside.

As soon as the lecture was over, I dashed out of the hall scanning the faces outside. I was relieved to see his handsome face smiling enchantingly under a mango tree. “Take me with you…I will go wherever you lead,” he said as I walked towards him. “I am heading back to Academic Complex. You want to come with me?” I asked as if I did not know what to expect. “Yes…I will come with you even to the ends of the earth.” I smiled as we began to chatter boisterously again. We exchanged numbers by the end of the day. The next day, we had lunch together. We walked all the way to City Girls Campus again and walked across the road outside the campus to a small eatery. It was Emeka’s idea and it did not disappoint. The meat and fish were excellent and so was the stew. We feasted ravenously on rice, beans and stew.

The day he asked me out officially was ‘romantically complete’. We had been hanging out for weeks. It was obvious we were in love with each other. He called me up on the phone and asked if I could give him some help. “What is it? Is everything alright?” “I asked “Yes, all is well. I need your help. I bought a number of things at a supermarket inside Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium. Do you mind coming over to help me bring them home?” “Of course I don’t mind,” I replied. I had not seen him in two days. Both of us had been busy preparing for a quiz, so I was keen to see him. I got dressed and took a taxi to Ogui Road. He was standing in front of Ragzy Continental Restaurant. “Where are your things?” I asked. “They are inside. I left them there waiting for you to arrive.” That did not make sense to me, but I thought perhaps he knew one of the staff. Ragzy was a Porsche restaurant, so I could not see how he would leave the things he had bought in there. Anyway, I followed him into the restaurant, hoping to pick up his items.

I was greeted by a streak of fancy lights across the interior of the restaurant and smiling staff that stood in a row waiting for me to arrive. The lights had been woven into a distinct pattern that read ‘I love you Ifunanya’. My knees began to wobble as soon as I saw what the lights had to say. “Emeka would like you to sit here, Ifunanya,” one of the restaurant stewards said to me. I was still trying to understand what was going on, while Emeka smiled from ear to ear. He stood aside as the restaurant staff directed me. I was ushered to a table at the center of the restaurant. On the table were red roses and glimmered vibrantly. There was a card on the table which was standing half-open. In the card was a poem, which Emeka had written for me. It read;

Ifunanya,
Your name means love, and from the very moment I set my eyes on you, your beauty and love overwhelmed my soul. Your smile has permeated my heart with iridescent glow that burns each day like fire that will never quench. Your voice is an angelic echo that drums up passion and joy in my head. Even in my sleep, I hear your sweet voice whispering beautifully and happily in my ear. Each time you place your hand on me, it feels like the touch of a silversmith who refines silver with every touch of his hardworking hands. I adore the air you breathe…the radiance of your face kindles a fire in me. It is a fire that guides my path as a lighthouse guides a ship at sea.

Will you please be my girlfriend? Stay in my life for good, guiding and loving me each day, so that together, you and I will walk strongly through whatever life throws at us!
Emeka.

Tears drenched my face, messing up my makeup as I read that card. I was shaking with indescribable joy and a deep sense of love after reading the card. I had never seen anyone write like that before. His passion shone through in the card. He slotted into the seat beside mine as the entire restaurant staff stood before us and sang my favorite song for me – Killing me softly by Roberta Flack. Indeed, Emeka was killing me softly…beautifully with indescribable love. “Please, would you be my girlfriend?” He asked gently after they had finished singing as if I could say no. I was crying like a baby – happily. He sang my life with his words and told my whole life with his wonderful plan. “Yes…yes my dear,” I said above a whisper, as I melted into his hands.

STORY CONTINUES... CLICK HERE TO READ EPISODE 2

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 1
LIGHTHOUSE - Episode 1
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - a cool November evening, A storm of tears invaded the corridors of my eyes, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Ogui Road in Enugu, Continental Restaurant, ESUT –Enugu State University, Academic Complex to City Girls campus, studying Electrical Engineering, my Bob Marley braids.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
http://www.moofyme.com/2016/11/lighthouse-episode-1.html
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