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My father stood there motionless. Looking like he had been slapped hard by a Mopol officer. I had to ask the question again.
“What happened between…”
Sandra cut me off
“He heard you”
“Then let him answer”
I snapped back as I stood up.
“Jide, it was a long time ago and I’m not proud of it but yes, it did happen.”
As my voice moved through the gears,
“Son, it was in the past and it’s not important”
He looked at me as if to convince me to forgive him instantly.
“You are a disgrace to this family in many ways and I’m embarrassed to be your son!”
I yelled back at him as I stormed out of the house. I wouldn’t speak to my father for another year after that. It just seemed like it was unfair. These men put us in the firing line. I always hoped that I would have one of those family names that I would carry with pride for the great things my father did. This ruined every bit of credibility or respect we had. I was crushed.
I drove to Arewa’s house to inform her of the things I had just found out. I needed to talk to someone I knew could look into my heart and could understand what I was going through.
I pulled up to Arewa’s house and walked in. Sitting in the first living room, I began telling her all I was told and everything my father said. I honestly have played the situation through my head many times but I still cannot understand how it came about that Arewa and I argued before I left her house; single.
The Arewa I knew when overwhelmed would shut down and or run away. It was very hard to take it all in at once and with all that we had gone through recently, she said,
“This is too much. I just need space… I need a break. I don’t want to do this anymore”
I was taken aback; confused and angry.
“What did she mean?!”
We were supposed to stick together. This was a trying time for both of us and she was going to cop out!
I didn’t know when I said
“Good riddance! You and your family can keep all your bullshit. If you’re going to take away my happiness, I don’t need you. Do whatever you want!”
I got up and stormed out!
I was fuming but I knew as those words left my mouth that I didn’t mean them and I was probably going to regret them.
A few months would pass by with Arewa and I on this ego-enforced break. We weren’t speaking to each other. Messages to prick at each other were posted on social media pages to make the other feel uncomfortable. One of the ones she had that really got to me was on a day she posted a status saying “New state of mind. God knows where my heart now is”. I felt like she had begun to move on from me and that struck me. My ego would not allow me to initiate contact though. I missed my Queen but I was too proud to beg for her.
. . . . . .
“Arewa my dear. I know it is difficult at the moment but ask yourself. Do you truly love him? Could you really see yourself with anyone else? Will you be able to wake up years from now not next to him? Even if it takes two full years for things to line out, that man loves you and wants no one but you. Arewa mi, don’t let fear, pressures of the world and hurt cloud your true feelings. He loves you and you obviously love him”
I read the conversation between her and her mom encouraging her to come back to me and let us work things out. We had been through a lot for over a six year span since we first met. I knew she was the love of my life. I knew I needed to put my antics in check and make some grown decisions.
I was sleeping after a long day of errands and basketball when I got a call from a mutual friend informing me that Arewa had confronted Suzie at a friend’s BBQ that they were both invited to. Arewa confronted her and told her to back off me and stop being shallow. Basically referencing the messages from Suzie that I had been showing her.
I let the person finish and then turned back into the bed and went to sleep. I wasn’t going to die fighting someone else’s battles. I appreciated Arewa wanting to protect what was hers but never air out our laundry in public; Never. I went about my business when I woke up from my nap and headed to the gym. I was running back from my workout when I noticed Arewa’s car parked on the street in front of my house. I deeply sighed as I halted in my tracks. I slowly began walking towards her car. The sun rays shinning down behind me and into her windshield, I opened the car door and sat down in the passenger seat.
“I see you’re working hard”
She started with trying to break the awkward silence. This was always how she was trying to play off an awkward situation and eventually failing and making it even more uncomfortable. My heart smiled. She was too cute.
“Just trying to make sure I keep my slim figure”
I responded with a smile on my face.
And in a complete turnaround from the Arewa I knew, she apologized.
“I’m sorry for overreacting and leaving. I know how much you hate that. I love you and I know we have things to work on but I love you and I want to be with you and no one else.”
I was taken aback and frankly shocked for a few seconds. I finally gathered the words and said,
“I’m sorry too and I’ve missed you.”
Truthfully by Brymo
We talked about things ranging from us to our fathers and even Suzie where she explained how she had lost her temper and gone off on Suzie at the BBQ. I wasn’t even going to address that. I told her it was okay and we just needed to move past it all. She agreed. I gave her a kiss on the lips and a long hug. Arewa was back but how much drama was she bringing with her.
I headed out of the car and opened up my gate as Arewa drove off. I stepped into the game and my phone buzzed. I pulled it out and gasped. Arewa had taken her stance and Suzie just dealt her hand, it was going to get bloody.
News within the Nigerian community travels fast something like an uncontrollable wildfire. It was not long before I was receiving texts asking if I was okay. I was horrified at the move that Suzie had taken. Suzie for refreshers was one of the beautiful but crazy and impulsive women. She was the type that her beauty clouded your vision and practically made you stay when you should have left. She had a horrible temper and I knew that the Instagram post she made was not entirely to ruin me, but was done in the heat of the moment and due to her anger. Women like that have continued to terrify me. I had to be able to trust your judgment and temperament when things get tough. I was shocked.
The whole world now knew about my father and Arewa’s father. That single Instagram post deleted a few minutes later was enough to set the ball rolling. All kinds of conclusions and angles were being drawn out. The fact that our fathers publicly hated each other made it harder for some to believe but for the majority of them, it was the main reason they believed it. In my mind, I kept thinking of how ruined I was.
There I was plotting what to do next with Arewa on Skype. We had to stick together through this one and fight through it together. There was silence over the call with the fire alarm dead battery beep the only thing that was interfering with the empty space between us. I told Arewa I was going to call Suzie. She asked if I was sure and I said I was. I picked up the phone and dialed her number.
It rang about 3 times before she picked up.
“What do you want?”
She asked in a rude tone like I was disturbing her.
Arewa heard it over the Skype call and cringed. She looked furious. I took a deep breath and said,
“Suzie, what was that? What were you trying to prove?”
“Nigga! Don’t come at me sideways. Go and talk to your girl. She was the one that came at me first and I responded. I ain’t no bitch! Someone come at me, I’ll hit them back right where it hurts. Fuck that shit!!”
She ranted on as I interrupted her, now highly irritated…
“Suzie, stop coming for me or my woman or I will bury you and your image in this town.”
“Huh? Nigga what? What the fuck you mean?”
She snapped back.
“I will just happen to lose my memory card and I cannot be held responsible for whatever happens to the pictures on there… Don’t fuck with me. I have enough to make sure you never get a day in the sun in this town again. Back off!”
Referring to the naked pictures she had sent me.
Click. She hung up. I looked at Arewa and smiled. She looked at me knowing that was handled. We were a team… Fuck whatever obstacles that might have hit us before. Now that we got back together we were impenetrable.
I ended the Skype call and got ready to head out to a meeting when my phone buzzed.
It was Arewa. Her message read
“When all this is over, I want you to delete all her pictures. Thanks”
I smiled and shook my head. Women sha.
. . . . . .
The Suzie fiasco had blown over a bit. She was no longer a problem. Breaking down one evening, she called Arewa expressing that what she had with me in the time Arewa and I were broken up felt special to her and how she’ hadn’t had someone care about her that much before. I was touched because she was generally a nice person when she wasn’t being a brat or causing trouble. She and I would eventually talk later months down the road where she apologized for the whole thing but it was a “friendly” reminder that men had to always stay woke. But I also always knew that Suzie was not one to take defeat lightly, I didn’t trust her.
My father had moved down to Arizona with his girlfriend. Away from all the drama and shame. Arewa’s father had resigned from his post and was now looking for new ways like most Nigerian men to make money. He was still actively against Arewa and I being together mentioning it whenever he got the opportunity to people close to us. He was out of the limelight; a complete loner of some sorts.
Arewa had completely cut off her father at this point and was not speaking to him at all.
The shame and reproach that he had brought on her and the rest of the family was too much to bear. In true Arewa fashion, he had to go and go he did.
It was through her yearly routine STI and HIV checkup that it was discovered that Arewa’s iron levels in her blood were dangerously low. It was a difficult thing to hear and with the many ways that it could be treated, the doctor asked that a blood transfusion be the most effective method to be adopted. It was scary but that was a simple prospect that could be handled fairly easily with a donor from her mother.
Arewa and I went over to her mother’s house a few days later to jointly ask her for the blood donation. We didn’t even go there together because it was a big deal. We just happened to have been running errands earlier in the day together. We sat next to each other as I explained the situation to her and let her know why we were there.
“So mummy, we really need your help and after the transfusion Arewa should be fine”
I said. Without responding, Arewa’s mother began to cry. Slowly tears streamed down her cheeks through her tiny tribal marks. She began to sob profusely without saying a word. Confused, Arewa ran to her side and placed her left hand around her.
Asking her what’s wrong.
“Mummy, e ba mi soro. Ki lo se le?”
Arewa gently asked her mother wanting to know more with a concerned look on her face.
For long minutes, she continued to cry without saying anything. I was now sitting on her left side asking her what was going on. It was clear she was hurting; hurting from deep inside. We wanted to help but to fix a problem we knew nothing about? Difficult.
About 12 minutes had passed and still no response. Out of nowhere she gathered herself. Sobbing in Arewa’s arms while sniffling to control her watery nose. She began…
“Arewa my daughter, I love with you all my heart and everything I am in this world but you cannot use my blood. You can’t.”
She began crying again. I wasn’t sure what to say now and I was worried it was going to be something big. Was she dying?
“Arewa omo mi, I am HIV positive.”
She gently said amidst tears as she dropped the bombshell on us. Arewa clutched her tighter and looked up at me in shock.
. . . . . .
“Mummy, what are you saying?”
Arewa asked as her voice shook. The tone had moved from concern to fear and sadness.
“How did this happen?”
“It’s your father”
“I discovered shortly before you were born and have nursed it for years. I am grateful to God for protecting me this whole while and preserving my life”
She sat up to continue explaining
“Your father and I’s marriage was planned by our parents without my consent. There had been some sort of agreement between my father and your dad’s family. I was married off to him right after my A-levels back then. It was after our wedding that I discovered that he was into men. I told my mother back then who told me that there were many cases like that but I should stay and just have kids and not embarrass the family name. I stayed and got pregnant with you. I thought it was God’s way of showing his mercies on me. Who was I to complain?
He has been with various men over time since we married. I discovered I was infected before you were born and I knew you were a blessed child and I named you Arewaoluwa (the beauty of the Lord). Specifically the beauties in the works of the Lord when the doctors told me you were born without the virus. I am sorry I never told you but I never wanted to expose your father and hurt you…”
Arewa and I sat there in shock as she concluded. This was big…Really big.
There was a sense of relief allied with concern when Arewa asked her mother
“So how have you been living the past years?”
“By God’s grace…”
Her mother responded. And that was truly why living that long and also with Arewa not carrying the virus was a miracle; one that we were both extremely grateful for.
That news brought comfort to Arewa’s mother because she was able to tell the truth to her best friend but I truly believe that the news only served to harden Arewa’s heart against her father.
I left that night heading back to my apartment as Arewa decided to spend the night with her mother and cheer her up. Sitting in my car, I thought about the last few months and just thought to myself What The Heck Man?
. . . . . .
A few months had passed and it was beginning to seem like things had balanced out. There had been many changes. Arewa had moved closer to me after getting a new job, my father and I were talking again and Arewa’s parents were in the middle of a divorce.
Arewa had a real hatred for her father now and it scared me because I wanted her to forgive him. Even for all the pain he had caused he was still family and love was still meant to be afforded to him.
Every time I brought him up, she would shut him down. One day I brought up him potentially walking her down the aisle. She snapped at me and stormed out. I was from then on, extremely nervous about bringing him up again.
In my humble opinion there are three times a man feels as nervous as I knew I would be soon. Standing outside the waiting room of a hospital while your wife is delivering, the moment when she’s walking down the aisle towards you at the wedding and the actual act of proposing. In every one of those situations, you know that you influenced the act or the situation but then all the control is transferred to her. She gets to decide whether to say yes or not, it’s all up to God and her if she comes out of that waiting room alive. You just stand powerless and hopeful that you get the outcome that you really want.
I was walking through the mall, swerving and avoiding people as I made my way towards the jewelry store. I pulled up in front of the Kay Jeweler’s store and took a deep breath. I was going to make this decision, like take the first step towards doing it. I was going to ask Arewa to spend the rest of her life with me.
“Good evening sir. What brings you in today?”
A beautiful young lady in the tightest clothing I had seen in a while. I was confused for a second, I thought the plan was to help people get married and not get tempted to wander because my eyes were currently searching down her cleavage with her open top button of her shirt.
I responded with a nervous smile on my face.
“Aww! The big one I see”
She responded with a smile and continued by leading me towards a show glass filled with different kinds of rings.
“What’s your range and do you have a specific type in mind?”
She asked politely.
“About $3,000 – $5,000”
I answered as she began pointing to the shining and heart pulsing cabinet of rings. I pointed to and checked out a few of them knowing fully well that l I was making the right decision but that little bit of nervousness continued to jump towards me.
About 3 hours later I was walking out of the store with no ring in hand. I didn’t choke, they were going to polish the diamond at my request and properly size it to fit. I wasn’t about to let her wear it and then drop it down the sink. Shit. You drop a $5000 ring into the sink; you better turn into a tiny person and jump after it into the sink. God punish devil.
All In ft. Manifest by Camp Mulla
About two weeks later Arewa and I were out by the shoreline in Monterey, CA. Our hotel by the waterfront, it was beautiful. Arewa had no idea why we were out there. I had lied and asked for a vacation citing that we needed a break from all the craziness which we did. Arewa bought it easily.
The second night of our stay there while we had returned from touring the traveling Smithsonian exhibit that was on display at the local museum, I got ready for dinner and left while Arewa slept in the bed.
I left a note next to her telling her where to meet me for dinner.
About two hours later, she joined me at the restaurant while I had caught the playoff game on TV at a local bar. She looked beautiful as she walked in. I was just captivated by her beauty and her smile. This was my woman. She sat across from me as I repeatedly tried to prevent my eyes from undressing her. Leaving dinner we headed out to the beach, it was now past midnight and it was no coincidence. I held her left hand while she held her shoes in her right hand as we walked the coastline together. Reminiscing about the times, the pain, the memories from Oge to Suzie, our fathers, her health scare; we covered it all. She actually said the words “we have been through so much together and we have resisted the trials”.
That was my cue, I stopped and looked at her. Getting down on my left knee, I looked up to her face which was filled with surprise and happiness. I began to speak…
“Walking on the edge of the levy
Hand in hand
Dreams in our hearts
We started this a while back
Time has flown by like the leaves during the spring shedding
We have grown so much together
But the love has stayed the same
You are a fire that burns in my soul
An able partner in this journey through life
And quest for happiness
Our imperfections together are
Perfections in progress
You are a true winner
A fighter determined to be the best
Your beauty is divine
Your smile captures my heart
Your body is a work of art Michelangelo would have been honored to see
I’m the lucky guy
That fate brought to an angel like you
I remember when you wrote our names in the sand
The water came and washed it away
Not our love
But it washed our love into a sea of peace and happiness
Where we can float together as one, 4 ever
To you I want to give my heart
With you I want to grow old
I don’t want the go another second in this world without knowing
That I belong to you and you to me
You have captivated my world
You are my Queen
Come and rule in my heart
And foster great generations with me
Arewa mi, will you make the happiest man in the world and share my plantains forever?
Arewa, will you marry me?
. . . . . .
Folake, Mary, Iyanu, Itunu, Tumininu, Oluwatoyin; I couldn’t set my mind a particular one but I knew I had to soon. I pushed the trolley through the supermarket both my hands on the handles, I looked down at my finger now decorated with my band and my soon to be one and a half year old prince; Olaoluwa (the only name both our fathers were able to agree on from different ends of the world). Arewa’s father had finally moved back to Nigeria and mine was still in Arizona.
Arewa joined me at the end of the aisle rubbing her protruding belly. We were expecting again. She had given me a family, a home, true love. I was thankful for her and our journey together. Through the sea of adversity, she helped me towards happiness, navigating through the strong currents of life’s adversities. Arewa was it for me. She was everything and I could only hope that my daughter would be just as amazing as she was.
We reached the counter and I pulled out my wallet to pay just as Suzie walked in. She stole a smile before Arewa noticed and I smiled back. Arewa looked up and frowned.
“Debit or credit?”
The cashier asked as I put my card back into my wallet.
I turned around and noticed Arewa with a confused and angry look on her face. I looked down at her hand. I had felt this feeling before. The one where it seemed like my entire world was about to crash. Sitting in her palm, she had a condom. I looked down and it and then back up to her face. She composed herself and asked
“Jide, what the heck….?”
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