Ghost of My Errors

“Will you marry me, Somtoo?” she asked as she knelt before me.

What was this girl doing? Why was she embarrassing both herself and I? Now, everyone was looking at me, anticipating my reply. Why was she so impatient?

We were at her friend, Chioma’s engagement party and even though she and everyone had been expecting me to pop the question at her, I just wasn’t able to do it. Don’t ask me why. And now, she had taken the bull by the horns; she had done what her man couldn’t do. Wasn’t there a saying to that effect? What a man can do…

Anyway, I just could not allow her to kneel forever. She needed an answer everyone needed an answer, and somehow, even I needed the answer.

But what jumped out of my mouth was, “No. I can’t do it.” And then I left. The last time I saw Anita, she was looking very devastated, like someone who had a head-on collision with a speed train. The image would haunt me for a long time to come.

~~~~~~~~

That was eight years ago. Now, I’ve realized the folly of my actions and I’ve looked everywhere for Anita, but I couldn’t find her. My last resort was an address given to me by an old friend of hers. She had said that she (Anita) had lived there for the past two and half years; she wasn’t sure if Anita still resided there. But if it was better than nothing. I had to try.

My only consolation in the past years had been the fact that I was very successful. So, as I slowly edged towards her gate in my latest Mercedes car, I hoped that it would be enough to grant me an audience with her. Frankly speaking, if she threw me out at first glance, she would be within her rights, and I wouldn’t take it against her.

The gateman opened the gate when I honked; he inquired about my purpose of coming. I informed him and he proceeded to tell his madam.

The house told of the massive wealth of the occupants. The compound was roughly eight plots of land with a magnificent edifice standing at the center. The main house was a duplex of stupefying proportions. She and her husband must be extremely rich to have erected such a structure.

Immediately I saw Anita, the memories of that day assaulted me in fresh, painful waves. She was looking resplendent in her beige, satin gown. Her hair was braided and was packed with utmost elegance. She was light years away from the insecure girl I knew eight years ago. As if to further let me know that she was much changed, two bubbling children bustled out of house, one on the heels of the other. She had given birth to two handsome boys already! There was no hope for me again.

“Mummy! Tell Justin to give me my toy!” The younger of the two boys cried. Their mother, with amazing dexterity, managed to extricate the toy from Justin and at the same time, fished out another one from her cloth and placated him with it. She then dismissed them and turned to me.

As her eyes with such coldness as I have never seen before, searched my face, my mouth suddenly felt parched. It was foolish to have come here. But the truth was that I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I needed to ask for her forgiveness.

“What are you doing here, Somtoo?” she asked icily.

“I… I am… I came to see you,” I stammered. I could not even get out a straight sentence without being foolish.

“Why?”

“Because it has been so long since we last saw. It’s been eight years.”

“Eight years, two weeks, and five days,” she corrected.

“Exactly, I needed to see how you were doing.”


“I don’t think was necessary. I have nothing to discuss with you.” She turned to leave.

“Please Anita, hear me out. At least I know give me a chance to apolo—”

“Audu,” she called to the gateman, “Show this man out and make sure you don’t open the gate for him next time he comes.”

With that, she left me there staring after her like the fool I was.

~~~~~~

A week later, I was in a restaurant with Amanda (the friend of hers who gave me her address). After my botched reconciliation attempt, I had to find an alternative means to reach her. Even making Amanda come here was a tough job; it had seemed to her that she was betraying Anita.

When we were done ordering our meals, I recounted to her how I went to Anita’s domicile. She listened without uttering a word.

“You never told me that she was married with kids!” I accused.

“What were you expecting?” she asked, incensed at my accusing tone, “That she would be there waiting for the man who threw her away like a used rag?”

Seriously, I had something wrong with me. I hadn’t a chance to see Anita, at least not on my own. Now, I was annoying the only person who could help me out. Just perfect!

“I’m sorry, I spoke out of turn.”

She nodded her head in acceptance and went to the business of eating her onugbu soup and semolina. Shortly she said, “She was married.”

“Was?”

“Yeah. Her husband was an only son whose parents were millionaires. He died in the CalAir accident last year,” she informed me.

I remembered the incident clearly. “My younger sister had also been a victim of the carnage,” I replied.

“After his death, she became very rich woman. Her husband had made her his heir. She was ‘off men’ as she put it; she had said she would use the remaining years of her life to care for her children.”

“So, she’s currently single?”

“I wouldn’t bet on it. Four months ago, she met a man who she had started a relationship with. According to her, he made her forget her promise.”

That wasn’t a good news. I’d been very late again. I was halfway through my food, but I suddenly lost appetite. I told Amanda that I wanted to leave. She tidied up and was about to stand up when I looked towards the door and saw Anita come in with a very fine man in tow. This was Karma rubbing my actions to my face. I felt completely deflated. How do I leave when Anita was here with another man?

Amanda had also seen her and seemed to read my mind. She said, “It’s better if you leave. There’s no need creating a scene here.”
I heeded her advice and quietly left the restaurant.

~~~~~~

I had managed to get another opportunity to talk to Anita, thanks to Amanda.

“I am truly sorry for my immaturity Anita. Please forgive me,” I pleaded.

“Somtoo, I have realized that I rushed you and you did the best thing by refusing. It probably wouldn’t have worked out for us.”

“And now? Can it work out?”

“I’m a widow. There’s no—”

“I don’t care. I still love you.” I almost shouted.

“That’s very nice of you. But those eight years have killed all the feelings I had for you. There’s no way it can work out.”

“For… for real?”

“Yes; and besides, I’ll be getting married to Ejike in December.”

That hit me on the face. December was in two month’s time. How do I live with myself after all this? She promptly fished out an invitation, gave them to me and said,

“Somtoo, I’m sorry things turned out this way. Something tells me that it probably wouldn’t have worked out between us had you said yes to my proposal.”

“But you are not sure,” I said. I was on the verge of breaking down.

“Nevertheless, it can’t work out now. I’ve moved on. Promise me that you will be at the wedding.”

I sighed, “I’ll be there.”

~~~~~~

As I watched their car drive off towards the airport for their honeymoon, I sighed and went to my own car. As I slotted in the key to start the engine, I thought, what if I had said yes? Would I have died in a plane crash? Or would we have been happy now. Also, there was another one, would it have  really worked out?

I drove off. Inside me, I could feel the ghosts of my errors laughing at me. They would do that for the rest of my life.

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