Leaving Everything Behind

Jakob Owens (2)-4218a1d6

I’m dressed in my rose flowered wrap gown, Obim got for me for Valentine’s Day dinner three years ago, the table is already set on the terrace and I had poured myself a glass of wine, I looked at my watch it was 6:30 pm, Obim told me he would be back by six. He was late again, just like last year and the year before last, I really hope he would make it to dinner this time.

I woke up this morning and set the stereo to play Ed Sheeran’s, ‘Shape of You’, Obim played this song three years ago on this day. I remember swinging my slim heavily beaded waist to the beat and Obim watching me with a wide smile on his face with tired but happy eyes. It was our first Valentine’s Day together and as events later unfolded that day it was to be our last too.

“I’m in love with the shape of you hmm mm hmmm hmm. Obim come and join me”, I screamed against the sound of the running shower.

“Nope I’ll get in after you, my eyes are heavy”

“Last night you were in my room and my bedsheet smells of you…I am in love with your body”.

What can I say I was happier here with him, from a common Nsukka bookkeeper to the wife of Dr. Dim Obiagu, a resident doctor at Los Angeles General Hospital living in a condo owned by my husband. Not everyone is that lucky. I remember the day his parents came to ask for my hand in marriage, I was angry my parents had agreed and I did not even know what my husband-to-be looked like except for a black and white photo that was his Instagram profile photo that was such a small thumbnail, I could not make out his face. I still do not get why Instagram does not let users view profile photos. A person’s profile photo says a lot about them, if a person would pick a particular photo out of all the pictures in your gallery as their profile photo then it could tell a lot about them. We skyped for the first time after the engagement ceremony

“Hi, Omalicha”

“Who is your omalicha, you know I think you are dumb ass for letting your parents choose a wife for you”

“Oh you don’t look like a bad choice, stand up let me get a full view”

“If you want to see me fly back to Nigeria, biko I would not marry a ghost”, he laughed in a truly humored way. I liked him.

“I don’t intend to attend my wedding via Skype, I’ll be down next month”

We spoke every day till he arrived and when we spoke it was like we had known each other forever.

When I got out of the shower, Obim was fast asleep, I put off the song and got dressed, and went shopping. Obim was very introverted, if he was not at work he was home. We decided to do Valentine’s Day dinner at home instead of at a fancy restaurant where you need to make a reservation days before as it was always fully booked and crowded on special days like this.

I planned to prepare proper fried rice and casserole and then Blueberry pie for a special Valentine’s Day treat. On my way back from the market I passed a men’s boutique that was doing Valentine’s promo sales, I got him a two-in-one wristwatch set for half the price. I know Obim considered cooking dinner and blueberry pie my Valentine’s gift to him but I know somewhere in that house was something fancy and expensive, that he would present to me after dinner and I too should give him something other than than pie.

I started cooking by 3 pm, Obim was sitting on a kitchen stool reading Nicholas Sparks, ‘The wedding’, he stopped several times to see how I was doing and to give orders, “Put all the blueberries”, “more sugar please”, ” Knead it some more babe”…

“Obim biko stick to reading, that is the only thing you know how to do, let me cook in peace”

“That’s a lie, I know how to do many things, like applying what I read to proper use and I know to do this too”

He came around my back and tickled me, he nibbled my neck in a way I found pleasing, but that moment of bliss was interrupted by a call.

“Hello, yes you are speaking to Dr. Dim, is she alright? I will be there in ten minutes”

“Babe I need to run one of my patients, seems to be in a crisis, I’ll be back just in time”

“She should call 911, not you, babe if you miss dinner…”

“I won’t okay, I love you”, he dashed off and that was the last time I saw Obim. I laid the table and dressed in my rose flowered and waited but Obim did not return. I rang his line several times but it went to voice mail. By 8:30 pm, I poured myself a glass of wine and started pacing, I called the office but he was not there. Since then every year, I dance to ‘Shape of you, go out shopping, start cooking by three and imagine him sitting on the stool reading to me, I laid the table by six and change into the same dress even though it’s now a bit tight.

After a year of looking for him, his parents told everyone he died of a strange ailment and conducted a funeral ceremony with a coffin filled with Obim’s old clothes. By exactly 8: 30 pm I rang his phone again and like always it went to voicemail. I cleared the table, took off my gown, and put it in the fireplace to burn, I booked a flight back to Nigeria and started packing a box. I was moving on, leaving everything behind.

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