“I STILL LOVE TONYE” (1) SHORT STORY
PROLOGUE TO THE SERIES
This short story series, “I STILL LOVE TONYE”, is a sequel to the one I wrote earlier this year titled, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”
That story is full of humour but it raises some intriguing questions about impulsive behaviour and being led by God. You can read the first episode by clicking on the link below, and that will take you to the remaining two episodes.
(Related: “Will You Marry Me?” (1) Short Story)
Many readers insisted that they wanted to know what happened to the love birds in that story. Did they recover from the blow visited on their fledgling engagement towards the end of the story or did they go their separate ways? Besides, the protagonist, Obinna, was saved to the bone, his fiancée, Tonye, was not. Did that throw a spanner in the works as expected? Did it make their union impossible?
These are the questions this sequel answers. The story has as many reflective moments as emotional outbursts. It weaves a tapestry of disappointment and grace. The title speaks of prevailing love, but is there a point when someone says, “Enough is enough” although they still love another?
Please join me in the discussion at the end of each episode and share the story widely across social media. You are richly blessed in Jesus’ name.
“I STILL LOVE TONYE” (1)
On Wednesday, four days after Boma’s visit and Tonye’s departure, Obinna woke up feeling despondent still. He was missing Tonye terribly and would have given anything to know where or how she was. He hadn’t shown up for work since Monday due to his shattered emotional state, but he decided he would try and shake the blues that day. It was wrong to neglect his duties for personal reasons, he felt. Besides, he believed that interacting with fellow staff and students would take his mind off Tonye for a while.
Although he had prayed and received some calming words from the Lord, he couldn’t overlook the fact that Tonye, who had just agreed to marry him, had left with another man and had not contacted him in anyway in all of ninety-six hours. On the occasions he had tried to call her, her line was either busy or switched off. He didn’t think that sending a text message was appropriate in the circumstances. And by right, the onus to reach him was on her because she was the one who had left.
To his utmost surprise, the dreaded teasing from his lodge mates didn’t come. Rather, they sympathised with him. Even Bimbo, who had suggested that witches possessed Obinna to destroy Tonye’s chance of getting married to a well established guy, had been bringing him food every night and forcing him to eat. It had turned into a contest of sorts for them. “A poor corper versus the arrogant rich man.” They were rooting for him like he and Boma were housemates on BBNaija*.
The self-appointed spokesperson and co-ordinator for the group was Chima.
“Come on, guys! He’s one of us, and so is Tonye. We can’t allow that ill-mannered, money-miss-road to snatch her from him.”
And so the guys had come on board, intermittently trying Tonye’s line and encouraging Obinna. He couldn’t count the number of fist bumps and ‘Stay strong, bro‘s he’d got. Funny that it had taken him getting himself into a mess to stop his colleagues’ jeering, he thought. Even the term, pastor, was used with respect when speaking to him or about him. For example, Don drew the attention of his colleagues to Obinna’s spiritual contribution to the fight thus:
“Una no see as Pastor dey kabash? No power from hell fit separate im and Tonye.”
While the guys believed Obinna could win Tonye back, the ladies were not so sure. They stressed that in Nigeria of today, most people are looking for financial security. As a result, it has become a top consideration for marriage, especially for women. One of them, Linda, insisted that it will be nothing short of insanity for Tonye to leave Boma for a jobless corps member, his temper notwithstanding.
So they were making bets on the matter to Chima. Nothing that Obinna said could dissuade them from the gambling. It was #TeamObinna versus #Boma. The Port Harcourt guy was outnumbered. Even his money couldn’t save him from eviction from Tonye’s life, the guys taunted the ladies. They even started raising funds to help Obinna buy a ring and to organise a small engagement party for the couple when the dust settled. The bets were snowballing by the day. Beyond the general one about who will win, groups of twos or threes were betting on the exact day Tonye will return, what will happen next in their relationship, stuff like that. They were really having fun.
But the issue was not entertainment as far as Obinna was concerned. It was his life, his future and his happiness. And whenever he thought about it, he felt that Boma was winning. The whole thing was driving him crazy. He had blamed himself for not challenging Boma more boldly or calling Tonye out to intervene in their exchange. On the other hand, he had wondered if that wouldn’t have worsened the case. It could have degenerated into fisticuffs and he wasn’t sure he would have trounced a guy that stocky. What am I even thinking? Since when does a Christian fight to settle a dispute?
He had even blamed himself for proposing to Tonye immediately without asking the status of her relationship with the guy in Port Harcourt whom she was using to keep guys at bay. But the urgency with which the urge to propose came did not allow that. Moreover, it all seemed like crying over spilt milk and thinking was not the way to resolve the matter. He needed answers, he needed to plot a way forward. But above all, he needed a way to get Tonye back. That was the only thing he was sure about in his rumination. It always came down to: I just can’t wait to see Tonye again. I can’t wait for us to pick up from where we stopped. Ultimately, he felt deep down in his heart that Tonye was the woman for him. He just wished they weren’t in the current sea of uncertainty they had been thrown into.
Wishing, thinking … not good enough. So he did what he should have done from the start. He prayed and fasted 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. He would also go out fasting on Wednesday. It wasn’t that he had entirely overlooked prayer all along, it was just that he hadn’t given it the kind of attention it needed. He basically asked God to intervene and bring Tonye back. He also added that his will in the matter be done, regardless of how he felt, and God spoke soothing words to him.
Still, Tonye did not show up.
Finally, on Saturday, exactly one week after his sudden proposal and Tonye’s acceptance, Obinna was ready to throw in the towel. Besides worrying about their relationship, he had been fretting over what Tonye’s fate would be if she was reported to their Zonal Inspector for absenteeism from work on campus and from their Community Development (CD) activity every Thursday. The Inspector was known to collect heavy bribes from erring corps members to enable them escape extension of their service (upon his recommendation) beyond the mandatory one year.
So, on Wednesday morning, he had casually texted Tonye, “Remember CD 2moro.” Her response had been, “I cnt blv u!”
What on earth does that mean? You can’t believe that I’m talking about CD at such a time or you can’t believe that I haven’t done more to show that I care? How am I supposed to know what to do? It’s not like you’ve given me any clue. You left, left with that guy, left without saying a word to me…..
Obinna stopped himself at that point. He was beginning to hate this thing called love. A week ago, he was a free man, with hardly a care. And there he was, bound to a woman with sturdy, invisible cords: a woman who didn’t seem to care how he felt, a woman whose moral gauge he hadn’t read. Yes, he had got to that point! He had no idea what was going on between Tonye and Boma. If what the ladies in the lodge were saying was anything to go by, Tonye must have settled for Boma. He obviously had the means to ensure it: diamond ring, expensive gifts and wads of cash from his last visit. It wouldn’t even surprise him if Tonye came back with a car.
Or if she was less scrupulous, Tonye might be thinking of stringing he and Boma along and taking her sweet time making a choice. Which would be worse! He had no intention of being part of a love triangle or becoming any lady’s plaything to be discarded at the end of the service year.
None of these thoughts lessened the intensity of his feelings for Tonye. If anything, he loved her more with each passing day.
“Lord, help me! How is it possible that I still love Tonye so?” he prayed.
But his head was telling him something else. He longed for his freedom. He longed for the time when his life was far from complicated, just a week back. And he decided for his peace of mind, to end the thing with Tonye, whatever it was. If this is what love or marriage involves, I’m not sure I want any part of it.
“Release me, Lord,” he prayed. “When I’m ready, find me someone else. Tonye obviously has what she wants at the moment.”
He was in no mood for further praying and fasting. He decided to go shopping for food items. He would cook some jollof rice with dried fish, something he learnt from his grandmother, and go for a worship event he had been invited to in a church in town. I no go die before my time. Dis kain love fit kill person. As for me, I will live to declare the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
He was unsettled in his decision but he assured himself: I’m not going to brood over her again, not for one minute!
-To be continued-
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2018
*BBNaija is a reality TV show, where the contestants live together in a house and continuously get evicted till the remaining one becomes the winner.
Hi, hi! Hope you enjoyed the story. Share your impressions with me, would you?
Do you think it’s time for Obinna to give Tonye up?
Where do you think Tonye is? Any guess about what she might be up to?
Have you ever gambled or do you do so habitually? How is it working out for you?
How do you cheer yourself up when you’re in the blues as Obinna was?
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