“I STILL LOVE TONYE” (2) SHORT STORY
A week after Tonye left with Boma, Obinna decides he has had enough heartache and prayer. What does he do instead? Surprises await him in this episode, some pleasant, some not so much. Don’t forget to read Episode 1 of this series to fully grasp what is happening in this instalment. You may also want to see the series preceding this one to understand the genesis of Tonye and Obinna’s relationship up to her departure.
“I STILL LOVE TONYE” (2)
Obinna decided it wasn’t necessary to go into the heart of town to shop. There was a mini market under some mango trees at a clearing about a kilometre away from the lodge. One could buy raw and cooked food there, condiments, toiletries and other household items. He went in the company of Enobong, a fellow corps member from their lodge. Enobong spoke Tiv, the local language, because her mum was from the state. It enabled her to bargain well and buy stuff unbelievably cheap. Everyone wanted to shop with her whenever possible.
As they strolled along the dirt road leading from the lodge to the tarred road, a tricycle taxi, popularly called keke pulled up just in front of them. Obinna couldn’t believe his eyes: Tonye was alighting from the keke! She hefted a travelling bag from the back, dumped it by the roadside and paid the driver. As Obinna stared at her, she came closer.
“Where are you guys off to?”
When they didn’t respond, she faced Enobong. “Well done, ma! You know that this guy is mine.”
“I don’t see any name tattooed on his body.”
“Oh, you don dey see im body? How many days I turn my face, you don begin plan to cook edikaikong* for am?” Perhaps the raffia basket Enobong was carrying made her guess they were going to buy food, Obinna thought.
“Run along, Calabar woman. Your winch no go touch this one!”
Obinna could not be more disappointed. This was not the reunion he hoped for when he eagerly anticipated Tonye’s return. He wanted to keep going with Enobong to teach her a lesson but reconsidered because of the travelling bag. It was quite big and he felt obliged to carry it for Tonye.
“Please, don’t be angry, Eno. Here’s my list.” He brought out his wallet and gave her some money to cover the expenses.
The two ladies glared at each other as Enobong marched off, after collecting the stuff from Obinna.
“Mtcheew!” Tonye went. That dried up the “Welcome” Obinna wanted to say to her. He was trying to recall if she was always this rude. She did address him dismissively on some of his spiritual views in the past, but the attack on Enobong was totally uncalled for. All the corps members knew that Enobong was their go-to girl when it came to shopping.
They were attracting curious glances from passersby and residents around, so he carried her bag and they walked back to the lodge. The silence was uncomfortable but Obinna made no effort to break it. He concentrated on dodging the rocks used to fill potholes on the road. Tonye glanced at him a few times but he ignored her. She got angry and walked faster. Obinna, however, maintained his pace. What nonsense is this? After giving me heartache, she returns to start unnecessary drama!
For good measure, he dropped the bag and decided to rest. If she had gone on to the lodge with the keke, I wouldn’t be carrying this heavy load and we wouldn’t be having this palaver* we’re having now. But no, she had to stop and accost us!
When Tonye got to the lodge, the guys were very excited but she snubbed them and went into her room. Don called Obinna.
“Pastor, where you dey? Tonye don show oh!”
“I know, I’m coming.”
By the time he got to the front of the lodge, Don and Chima were there. He dropped the bag for another rest.
“Is that her bag?” Don asked him.
“Wetin you do? E be like say she dey vex,” Chima confronted him.
Obinna gave him an incredulous look.
“See,” Don counselled. “Whatever happens, kiss her. If she shouts at you, kiss her; she beat you, kiss her. Even if she cries, kiss her. Do you hear me?” Obinna was still unbelieving. These guys were off their rockers!
“Oya go, no fall our hand oh!”* That was Chima, lifting the bag and handing it to him. Obinna was angry with Tonye for turning his life into a spectacle. He preferred to watch others, not be the centre of attention like this.
When he reached her door, it was closed. He knocked but heard no response. He wondered what Tonye was up to. After what transpired on the road, he didn’t know how he would be received if he entered her room without invitation. So he took her bag and went to his own room.
God, I don’t have the strength for this. Women and their moods! I don’t want to lose my cool and bring a reproach to your name.
It had just occurred to Obinna that his room was a mess. This is not good! And he started a rapid cleanup. Fifteen minutes later, he had attained a semblance of order in the room. Every unwanted item was stuffed into the bathroom but he decided to clean the toilet bowl which was in the same room just in case. He also mopped the floor of his room. It was remarkable, he noted, that he would go to such trouble just to impress Tonye while he couldn’t be bothered what the other ladies in the lodge thought. Later, as he was donning the shorts he sensed that Tonye liked when he wore it the previous Saturday, there was a rap on the door.
“Just a minute!”
He quicky pulled on a blue Enugu Rangers jersey top. When he opened the door and saw Tonye standing there, and looking adorable in a violet coloured playsuit, her hair falling around her shoulders, he smiled.
“Can I come in?”
She entered the room and looked at his table, looking so tidy, the bed freshly-made in a white bedsheet with blue akwete cloth covering the foot end, and she laughed. She guessed he wasn’t always this neat.
“Are you angry with me?” she asked.
“Not anymore, but I think Enobong might still be.”
“It’s not her that I’m worried about. I’m sorry.”
“You should really be apologising to her, not me.”
“Stop bringing her up. I feel bad that I was rushing back to you and I might have offended you with my jealous outburst.”
“Sweetheart,” (even Obinna was surprised at himself), “you don’t ever have to be jealous about me. I’m all yours. The question is: Are you all mine?”
Before she could answer, there was a knock on the door. It was Enobong. When she came in, she disregarded Tonye and took the stuff she bought for Obinna into the kitchen, daring the former to start her proprietorial “nonsense” again.
When she came out, Tonye said, “Eno, I’m sorry.”
“Stupid girl! You’re not sorry at all. You’re just saying it because of Pastor.”
“You see?” Tonye told Obinna.
Obinna lowered his hand a mite, a gesture that said, “Calm down.” Then he faced Enobong, “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome, Pastor. This isn’t over,” she threatened Tonye.
“Eno, journey mercies on your trip,” Obinna added. Enobomg had told him she was going to Lafia in nearby Nassarawa State to visit a friend.
“Thanks,” she replied and left.
Obinna asked Tonye to sit. She leaned against his table. Another knock interrupted. Na waa oh! Am I gonna get the answer to my question today, he wondered. This time, the caller was Don.
“Just checking up on you guys,” Don teased, after Obinna let him in.
“Why?” Tonye asked.
“I heard that Pastor is planning to cook rice and I want him to hurry up so I can eat before we go to watch match.”
“If I hear! Now will you get away!” Tonye rebuked, snapping her fingers. “Imagine ordering someone to cook immediately so you can eat and go out. Is he your wife?”
Don laughed and appealed to Obinna. “Pastor, tell am how far nah.”
“Come back in an hour,” Obinna told him, and he went away singing a high-life tune, “Ezigbo oyi m, i gadi oh!”*
Tonye was staring at Obinna in something close to awe. Why is this guy so nice? What did I ever do to deserve someone like him? She had no clue that they were about to have such a terrible fight that might imperil their budding relationship.
-To be continued-
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2018
*edikaikong is a special soup among the Efiks and Ibibios
*winch is a corruption of witch, witchcraft
*palaver is Pidgin English for trouble or quarrel
*“Oya go, no fall our hand oh!” can be translated to mean, “Now go and make sure you don’t let us down!”
*akwete cloth is a locally woven fabric with beautiful patterns
*“Ezigbo oyi m, i gadi oh!” means “My good friend, you will live” or “…, you will be preserved”.
Love to chat with you about this episode:
Has anybody you admire ever let you down? What was it that they did?
Are you the jealous type or do you have a jealous friend? How is it affecting your relationship?
Do you have the habit of apologising when you wrong people or do you think it’s not important?
What do you do when your apology is rejected? Do you offer fire for fire or do you seek more conciliatory measures? Can you offer examples of such measures?
Where do you think Obinna and Tonye’s relationship is heading?
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