After looking into the side mirror on the driver’s side to ensure he had parked the car well, Henry dragged himself out of the car with the small bag of groceries he had managed to get after work. He wondered what he was thinking to have bought raw food items instead of getting a meal from an eatery because he could tell he was too tired to cook anything with the way he felt.
He had only inserted his key into its keyhole when he noticed a small paper tucked into the little space between the door and the door frame in a way that could not go unnoticed.
I have called you a million times. Your phone has been switched off. Azeezah is in town. I’m in trouble. Please call me as soon as you see this…
He felt a rush of adrenaline as he scampered to the car while pressing all his pockets frantically for his phone. “What?!”
He steered the wheels and zoomed off to Bankole’s house. On getting there, he discovered the lights were turned off. “Damn it! What was I thinking? He would be at the Martha’s Place” He took a moment to search for his phone again but still could not find it. “I hope you’re fine, Bankee!” He muttered to himself as he zoomed off. Martha’s Place was their all-time relaxation spot. It was a perfect place to meditate or clear one’s head.
“Guy! I’m sorry. I came as soon as I saw your note. I think I may have lost my phone.”
“Henry. I’m in trouble”
“I called you forever, stopped by at your house. Where did you go?”
“I’m sorry. I had to be on site. The chairman called to say that news got to him that the rain from yesterday evening affected the project. I left home as early as possible to ensure I supervised everything they did there today. Chill. What’s the thing you mentioned about Azeezah?”
“Henry. I thought I begged her. I thought we settled everything before I left Oyo after our NYSC.”
“Ehnn. So, what then has changed?”
“I got a call from a strange number this morning. It was Azeezah. She ended the call with a threat that I should not think I could get on with my life so easily.”
“Why would she come out of the blues to threaten you?”
“I think she had complications from the abortion that she thought would heal. Apparently, she has not got better even after three years.”
“Oh! It got that bad?”
“Henry, I only got Charis to say yes to me last week after 18 months of asking. Azeezah is threatening to ruin the relationship because she cannot afford to be the loser. How do I stop Azeezah from talking to Charis? She sounds really desperate. She meant business. Business? The girl meant death.”
“What do you want to do now?”
“That’s why I needed to talk to you. I don’t know”
“You know what? Tell Charis this yourself.”
Bankole raised his head to reveal his shock and red eyes “What?! Did you even hear yourself?”
“No, you don’t. Charis has asked about my past more times than I can remember. Yes, I mentioned Azeezah but I maintained that it was only a fling and nothing deep.”
“That’s why you have to go to her and repair your half truth”
“What if she does not forgive me? What if she leaves? What if she… Guy! It’s not that easy.” He could no longer hold the tears he had been fighting. “Charis is the only lady my mother has ever really liked and I love her like I’ve never loved anyone. I cannot afford to lose her. Things just started to get serious between us. She had delayed accepting my proposal because she had had two unpleasant experiences with men. She told me all her fears and I assured her all was going to be fine this time. She would be broken if I tell her there’s another woman in the picture.”
“Okay. Maybe we should allow Azeezah tell her”
“Ahhh. Guy, how far na. That would be worse.”
“Ah. I’m so dead”
“No. You’re alive. Tell the truth before you die.”
“Bankole! I trusted you. I did not hide my fears from you. Why did you have to lie to me?” was the only thing she said after silently staring into space for what seemed like months. She grabbed her bag and walked away.
There was a knock on the door. Bankole woke up with a start. He was seated on the floor with his head on the cane chair and must have cried himself to sleep. He staggered to the door and what he saw nearly drove him crazy.
Before him were standing Azeezah and Charis, both grinning from ear to ear.
“What? Wont you let us in?” came Azeezah’s voice like air in his face on a cold morning.
“Charis. I’m sorry” He managed to say without stuttering.
She moved forward and hugged him. “It’s okay. You’re the one who needs to know something.”
It turned out that Azeezah had been friends with Charis at the university but had been out of touch. They reconnected three months before and had discussed extensively. Azeezah’s reappearance was a stunt they had both pulled. Azeezah was fine and married with a child.