I had never considered myself a desperate for a serious relationship. I was more like a free thinker who believed in fate, I never forced things to happen because I believed that life always steered one in the direction one was meant to follow.
So when Efe, a guy I met and chatted with online decided to bring our online relationship into real life, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. He seemed like a normal guy, maybe not handsome like in romance novels but I wasn’t the superficial type. I believed in giving things a try and since we got along quite well online, so I decided to see things through.
I wasn’t anywhere close to being head over heels, but I believed in giving things time, maybe after getting to know each other in person sparks might begin to fly.
I had picked out a lovely form fitting dress for our dinner date that evening and been halfway through my makeup when my phone began to ring.
Checking the caller ID, I saw it was Efe and wondered briefly what this could be about as it was almost rendezvous time.
“Hey, I’m just about ready to leave, I …..,” I began when he stopped me.
“No, no Onome, I have to cancel… I’m sorry.”
“Oh, okay.” I said wondering why he had suddenly come down with a case of cold feet. It was surprising because we had chatted briefly that morning and he had seemed fine with it then.
“Yeah, I won’t be able to make it.” He said and I glanced up at the clock, it was just fifteen minutes to our appointed date time, maybe he could have told me before I had almost left the house? I was just a little bit pissed until he said,”I am at the hospital.”
“Hospital? Why..how..what happened?” My sudden concern swiftly shifting my irritation to the side.
“I can’t really talk much, but you could come see me here….?” He asked uncertainly as if it was some sort of sacrifice he didn’t think I would make.
“Sure, where..what hospital are you?” I asked and he told me.
Fifteen minutes later, I was at St. Agnes hospitals, asking directions to the ward where Efe had said he was.
He hadn’t told me what exactly had gotten him admitted in the hospital and so I had taken up the job of making up guesses. He had been perfectly healthy and fine when we had met that morning, so why the sudden hospital admission?
Food poisoning was one common way to land in the hospital these days. The symptoms proceeded quite quickly and one could even die if not medically attended to quickly.
Or it could be an accident? Maybe he had been sent on the way to the restaurant for our date when it had occurred.
I wasn’t one who panicked easily but if indeed he had gotten into an accident on the way to our date, could I have somehow been responsible? I had no answer to that.
Finally I was at the room and was quite surprised to see quite a number of people hanging around the room. Was this a public ward?
I stepped in to see it wasn’t a public ward. Efe was the lone occupant of the bed in the room, I recognised him from the pictures. A doctor was standing beside him, talking to him and so he didn’t notice my entrance.
I studied the other occupants of the room who were seated in a corner, their faces glum.
Looking through their faces, I could make out the faces of family members; an elderly woman, an elderly man who were his parents probably and a plump light skinned woman trying to control two kids hell bent on chasing each other.
I wondered if she could be his sister, but where Efe was dark skinned, this woman was really light skinned, like I was.
They all stared at me, a look of strange confusion mirroring across their faces.
“Good evening.” I greeted and they nodded in acquiescence except the light skinned woman who stared at me, perhaps trying to figure who I could be.
My voice drew Efe’s attention and he turned to me, the doctor did also. I noticed the doctor, forgetting about Efe for a bit.
If doctors looked this attractive then sign me up for medical school, I thought to myself. Even though I wasn’t the superficial type, I could definitely admire one of God’s awesome creations.
“Onome, you are here.” Efe said but he didn’t seem elated by it. His gaze darted from me, past the good looking doctor to the light skinned woman and then back to me. I had to follow his gaze to the woman also, who had taken her attention off the kids and was fully focused on me.
If looks could kill, her’s would have been a sniper shot at my forehead.
I was confused, what happened. I really didn’t like the stares I was getting just because I had come in to see an online friend and potential boyfriend candidate.
“What happened?” I asked him approaching the bed. I had seen his pictures so I wasn’t surprised by his looks. Efe wasn’t bad looking, maybe slightly too old to still be single but I wasn’t going to judge.
“Efe, who is this?” The light skinned woman asked, her eyes never leaving me.
The doctor and everyone else were also staring at me and for some strange reason, I began to feel like an intruder.
“She’s …errr…” Efe’s voice trailed and I frowned, this was definitely not going well if he couldn’t even introduce me.
“I’m a friend of Efe’s.” I spoke up looking directly at her and telling myself I wouldn’t let her intimidate me, who the hell did she think she was anyway.
“Oh?” What sort of friend?”
“Em… I think it would…” the doctor tried to butt in but the woman brushed him aside.
“What sort of friend, Efe?” Her voice was raised as she turned to Efe who was lying on the bed. “Is this the girl you have been going all over town with? The one my friends have been telling me about?”
“Calm down Beatrice.” The elderly man said, as both he and the older woman were trying to pacify the annoyed woman
“Madam,” I ventured “I am sorry but you must have me confused with someone else..”
“Confused indeed!” She spat with a disbelieving glare at me before turning back to him.
The good looking doctor looked like he wasn’t sure what to do but it seemed he was supposed to do something.
I wasn’t sure what to think, no one had introduced this woman to me. I wasn’t sure why she was so mad at me.
“Efe you better tell me the truth now or I will leave you forever o, and if you like take pills again and kill yourself or not, I won’t come back for anything. You better start talking, now!”
“Ehn?” I jumped as she barked ferociously.Efe had attempted suicide? I wasn’t sure I had heard right, or maybe I hadn’t understood what she had said. “He attempted suicide?”
“Efe Didn’t woman called again, ignoring my question. “Is she your girlfriend?”
The doctor finally made a move “Mrs. Agha, can you please calm down for a moment?” Threatening and shouting at your husband like this isn’t helping the issue.”
I looked from the doctor to the woman, she was Efe’s wife? He was married? “You are married?” I spat as my eyes took in the kids running around. “With kids?”
The light skinned woman laughed, a humourless sound. “Efe so you didn’t even tell your girlfriend you had kids and a wife?”
Efe was now turned to his side on the bed, ignoring everyone.
I shook my head at him unsure of what to say to him. I was just shocked and wasn’t even sure how to react myself. “ Madam, I am really sorry for all the confusion. I didn’t know he was married, and I am not his girlfriend….” I began when she cut me off.
“It’s a lie ooo.. You are his girlfriend, the one my friends say he has been moving all over town. I told him I was divorcing him, except he and his girlfriend come and beg me….. And that is why he told you to come, so you better kneel down and begin begging.”
“Beg?” I was tempted to laugh but Madam Beatrice wasn’t finding this funny.
So Efe had called me here to be his scapegoat? To take the fall, so he could mend fences between he and his wife? What a super jerk?
“Madam, I am sorry but I will not beg you for what I don’t know about, today is the first day I am setting eyes on your husband. Ask him to find the girlfriend he has been cruising town with because I am not the person.”
I turned and was about to leave when I was suddenly held back by my hand bag.
I turned to see Beatrice holding me back, how had she caught on to it so quickly?
“Where do you think you are going ehn? We are not done here, home wrecker, you think I will just allow you to walk out of here?”
The look of alarm was on every ones face as they began trying to pry her off my hand bag.
“Beatrice, Beatrice…” the old couple kept calling. The doctor still looked quite unsure of what to do while Efe kept mute and watched everything.
I wondered how I had chatted with him for several months without realising what an a’ss he really was.
“Efe, Efe…. Call your wife to order ooo, tell her the truth now.”
“Truth? Which truth? You liar! You think you can come and destroy my home for me, today, you will learn not to mess with a married man anymore.” She said glaring at me with so much anger in her eyes. Misplaced anger because I wasn’t the girlfriend she thought Efe was dating.
“Madam, I not Efe’s…..”
“Will you shut up?” She yelled at me. “Liar! You must kneel and beg before you go today…”
I might as well have been speaking to a wall, she wasn’t going to budge and I became quite frustrated. There was no way I was going to beg for something I knew nothing about that was sure but I needed to leave now and she held on tighter than a clamp.
I got quite pissed now. “Efe, what is all this now? Stop lying and tell her the truth…”
“Hey, if you call Efe again I will just pounce on you now… see as you be sef, like bonger fish, no fat anywhere.. You nor dey chop? Upon all the money Efe det spend on you…. You still thin dry like okporoko…”
My mouth dropped open then as the woman rained insults on my body stature, I was on the slim side and although I ate very well, I’d never been able to fatten up but did she have to resort to this low form of insults?
A woman and mother like her should know better. Besides, I would rather be thin than with folds all over like her, I thought to myself almost tempted to speak out.
“Madam, you don’t have to resort to this uncouth way of talking just because you are annoyed with your husband.”
“Me, uncouth? Uncouth?” She was just about ready to pounce on me, when three tall men in security uniforms walked in.
“Thank goodness,” the doctor called. “What took you so long, for heaven’s sake?”
The men came in between us and when Beatrice saw them, she stepped back and allowed her hands to be pried off my bag.
I visibly breathed a huge sigh of relief as I was finally free. Without further ado, I shuffled my feet to the exit, flanked by the security leaving that useless Efe to deal with his family issues.
I couldn’t wait to be out of that room and I all but hightailed it out of there,b it before I coild get too far,in the corridor, some one spoke behind me.
“Are you okay?”
I turned, it was the good looking young doctor.
‘Oh lord, why not just kill me now?’ I thought embarrassed that he had witnessed all that. He probably believed I was Efe’s mistress.
“I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. You okay?” He asked, his eyes going over me in concern.
I nodded. “Yes, I’m fine, thanks for calling security…” I said and then needing to explain things, I continued. “Honestly, I didn’t expect to walk into an ambush like that.. Efe and I have been chat friends for a while now and we’ve never even had so much as an immoral discussion for his wife to be accusing me of being his girlfriend.
I’d not even known he was married… gosh, some men.”
I paused my ranting as I saw the doctor’s face break into a smile. O amused him, really? There was nothing funny about the near beat down I’d almost gotten, and for something I was wrongly accused for.
“Why are you smiling?”
“I’m sorry, couldn’t help it. It’s just when I think back it’s actually quite humorous.”
I rolled my eyes, “try finding humour when you are the one being mauled by an angry spited wife.”
He was still smiling when he said, “ don’t think too much about it, Mr. Efe and his wife are regulars here for one ossu or the other. It’s just too bad that they roped you into it this time.”
He was trying to make me feel better and it was working. It felt good to know I wasn’t the id’iot here.
I smiled back, “what idiot would visit her married lover in the hospital when his family would most likely be there?”
“More importantly, what idiot would invite an innocent friend into his family issues and get her to take the fall for the stupid things he did.”
I nodded in agreement, “Yeah, a real idiot, isn’t he? I will be telling this story for a while trust me.”
“Yeah, me too.” He joked.
I smiled, he was really funny…and handsome. Wish we had met under different circumstances, he might have been fun to hang out with.
“Can we… can we tell it together? It could be the funny story of how we met…. A friend is having a picnic at the lake park next weekend … and ..err, I would like you to be there…”
The smile died on my face, did he just ask me out with his friends? First thought that came to mind was,did I look so desperate?
He hurriedly added, “You can come with a friend or friends if you like… although I’d prefer no male friends because I would … er..” an uncertain look crossed his features, “I don’t usually do this, but I’d like to know you better.”
I had to smile now, he looked so flustered and uncomfortable. I didn’t blame him, wed met under very weird and untraditional circumstances.
I decided to pity him a little, i smiled as I replied “I will be there…. Without male friends…but there’s just one problem.”
I smiled as his face fell, “what?”
“I don’t know your name yet.” I said and he laughed. A deep, rich sound. He’d probably thought I would say I had a boyfriend.
“I’m Odafe, You are…?” he asked stretching out a hand.
“ Onome.” I supplied accepting his out stretched hand in a handshake. It was a firm one.
“Good to meet you, Onome….. Can I have your number?”
“Sure.” I replied calling it out for him, while he saved it on his phone.
He looked up, smiling at me, the dimples in his cheeks deepening. “I’ll call you.”
“I’ll be expecting your call.” I replied, with a charming smile of my own and a flirty wave,before I turned and left, wondering if he was staring at me leave.
Unable to help myself, I turned and caught his eyes. Just as I thought, he’d been staring.
He waved again and I nodded.
As I walked out of the building, i began to wonder, maybe the day hadn’t been so bad after all.