Love and Romance StoriesNaija Stories

Just a Number?

Immediately the lecturer finished his three-hour lecturer, I was the third person to leave the classroom. I wanted to rush home and be on my way to the romantic weekend I’d been waiting for. I’d hardly even listened to the Philosophy lecturer as he prattled on and on about various Greek philosophers; my mind was on the person I wanted to meet—my sugar mummy.

I was at the door of our faculty building when Obinna, my roommate caught up with me. He knew that I had somewhere to go to, but he didn’t know where. I was not going to tell him either. Obinna was one of those sanctimonious people who believed that every single thing would lead him to sin, and he pointedly avoided many things. Not that I am the worst sinner, but there are lifestyles that I see as living in bondage, and he was the ambassador of such a lifestyle.

“Okey, why are you in such a hurry?” he asked, holding my hand. “Have you forgotten they we have a group reading by 2pm today?”

I made a show of looking at my watch; there was no way I could afford not to see her today. Not after missing her for two months. And I’d totally forgotten about the group reading till I was leaving the classroom.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, man. I can’t make it today. Remember I told you that I’ll be going home this weekend?”

He looked betrayed but managed to nod. He then wished me a safe journey and headed towards the boys’ hostel. That was another thing with Obinna—he had a way of making you feel guilty of almost everything you did. But I quickly removed him from my mind and jogged home.

Despite the fiery sun, I got home under three minutes, took the bag I’d packed in the morning and left. I called her once I was inside the bus and the sound of her soft, deep and silky voice sent my blood on fire; I instantly became hard and expertly used my bag to cover it, trying to think of other things—like how it all began with her.

She was my my mother’s best friend; they went to the same secondary school and later were roommates in the university. Later she had gone to South Africa for her Masters degree and had lived there for twenty four years. I’d seen her once or twice when I was in primary and secondary school, but she was mostly over there with her husband. It was during the wave of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians that she came back; she had lost her husband and barely escaped with her life.

Last December, she came and stayed with us for two weeks. On the night of the 27th of December, I’d been very hungry and crept to the kitchen to help myself to some of the food; my mother would have had my hide if she had seen me eating so late in the night, but I was hungry and sleep was somewhere else that wasn’t in my eyes.

As I was eating the food, and listening intently to the quietness of the house, Miss Nneoma came out of her room, which was adjacent to the dining room. She saw me eating and sat with me, wanting to know why I was awake and eating. The conversation led to other things—her life in South Africa, how things have been since, my life in the university and then future plans. After then, an uncomfortable silence ensued, one charged with the electrons of lust and desire. She wore a flimsy night dress, which displayed and accentuated her luscious curves. I tried so hard not to look at her magnificent breasts, but the bones in my neck turned on their own, fixing my eyes on the wonderfully shaped, pear-sized mounds of flesh.

“What are you looking at?” she’d asked, looking coyly at me.

“I–I’m sor–I’m sorry,” I managed to cough out.

In the next instant, she walked to me, sat on my laps and gave me a hot, wet and bone-melting kiss. I kissed her back with a hunger I didn’t know I had. She took my hand and led me to her room, to her warmth. The rest, as they say, is history.

The bus conductor tapped me, requesting for my money. I wanted to ignore him, but on a second thought, I gave him a thousand naira note. I had a lesser denomination, but I wanted to punish him for disturbing my reverie.

Where you dey go?” he queried.

“Akawo Estate.”

Na im you give me 1k? For somewhere wey be N100?

“Oga na the money wey I hold be that. Give me my change abeg,” I hissed.

He muttered something which I didn’t catch and took the fares of the rest of the people in the bus, before counting my change and handing it to me. I took it and within two minutes, I came down at the junction to the estate and walked down.

At her door, I rapped twice, then twice again, using the signal she’d given me. She opened the door, wearing a green polo and a faded tight jean skirt. I drank her in, made to kiss her, but she avoided my lips, instead telling me to come in. I was surprised at her cold attitude; she had never acted so, and I knew that I’d done nothing wrong. There was no way I could have done anything to hurt her, anyway. I’d found out that I was madly in love with her and I planned to let her know later today, after we must have made passionate love.

But my heart flew out of the window when I stepped into her living room and saw my mother sprawled on the sofa and looking in my direction. I stopped, and wished that the ground would open up and swallow me. Nneoma went past me and sat down, and they both stared at me as I stood rooted to the spot. Slowly, I moved and sat down opposite Nneoma, and sweating profusely despite the air conditioner.

I decided to go for an attack first. “Mum, what are you doing here?” That was certainly not what I planned to say; what kind of question was that?

She looked at me as if I’ve grown two heads. “What I’m doing here? I came to see my friend,” she answered sweetly. “What are you doing here?”

I felt hot, and my brain short-circuited. I knew that something was wrong, I felt it in my bones that my mum had found out about my relationship with her friend. But how? Did Nneoma tell her? Or was it from something I said or did the last time I went home?

As I was trying to rationalize the whole thing, I did not hear what Nneoma said till she called my name.

“Uhh… what?” I said, looking blankly at her.

“I said that I’ve told your mother about us, starting from the beginning. She knows about my love for you, and yours for me. That’s why she’s here,” Nneoma repeated.

“Uhh… okay. I still don’t understand why she’s here, or why you told her.”

My mother, ever the drama queen, jumped in. “I’m here because Nneoma has told me that she is having an affair with my eldest son. And it all started under my roof. Don’t you think it’s enough reason for me to be here?”

“Uzoma, please. He is in obvious discomfort,” Nneoma laughed. Laughed? She actually found it funny!

My mum ignored her friend, and faced me. “She has also told me something else, something more important. But I think she will have to say it herself.”

I looked at Nneoma, and was filled with love for her and fear of whatever she wanted to say. I didn’t know what to think and I nearly missed her first words.

“I’m pregnant for you, Okey,” Nneoma said, “and I want to marry you.”

I stared at her, mouth agape, brain frozen in shock and body trembling. I switched my eyes from her to my mother, wanting to know if it was a joke, but their expressions were the same—expectant. I wanted to speak, but words eluded me; what would I have said anyway? Yes, I loved her, but marriage? To someone who was my mother’s agemate? She was twenty-two years older than me, yet she looked as beautiful as ever. But was that enough? How was I even sure that what I felt was love and not some form of lust disguised as love?

“W–what!” I found myself exclaiming. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, I am. And I want an answer now. Will you marry me, Okey?”

What do I do, God? I prayed. This was not how I planned it to be. I couldn’t simply say no because I loved her, yet I couldn’t say yes either because she was my mother’s agemate; what are the chances of such a marriage being successful?

As I opened my mouth, I knew that I was not sure of what I wanted to say, but I had to say it. It was for the best. There were no two ways about it.

“Yes, Nneoma. Yes, I’ll marry you,” I replied, smiling at her. She beamed a glorious smile and rushed to me, and without minding my mother, planted her full lips on mine.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too.”

Age, my main problem with the marriage, is just a number. Right?

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