By the time she alighted from the commercial vehicle, she felt like one who had lost some weight. Well for a lady in her trying time-her period. She had every right to feel that way. Hers was extraordinary stressful. She wished that men could go through such rigours while women do the shaving of the beards instead. The pain Anneh endured during such times makes her to wonder whether Owoicho will be able to cope with her in the near future. The reason she felt this way wasn’t that he wouldn’t take good care of her but because she knows she is as human as other ephemeral beings. She could be so erratic at times, especially when she falls ill. ‘Princess’ as Owoicho often called her, was glad that he understands. He knows how she feels and she loves him.
Life! It is surprising to Princess that every time she pays him a visit her monthly periods starts. She wondered. Well…God knows better, not after the strange dream a friend of hers had or should she call it an omen? According to this young lady, princess got pregnant that she couldn’t further her studies. Princess should have politely asked her friend who was responsible. But she rather shrugged her shoulders and murmured: “God forbid.”
The park was less populated; it was the year 1997 in Dutse town. The town was developing at a snail speed. The road, building and the environment remained the same. Princess wished that her fiancé had a luxurious apartment. The kind she could sit in the balcony, take a shower or bath in a tub, and afterwards relax in the living room to watch African TV on the cable. Then maybe move around the garden in the evening before she cuddles the pillows, and rest on the thick mattress inside the bedroom to rest. Of course…not alone!
She still had this thought on her mind when the reality of the situation hit her. She had to find Owoicho’s apartment. Yes! The new apartment he took her to during her last visit. She walked reluctantly, but anxiously, half wondering in her mind why women must pass through the rigors of menstruation. At such times she blames Eve for the misery she passed on to womanhood. Add the task of finding her fiancé and Princess trouble becomes double. ‘Is Owoicho even worth the trouble?’
She arrived at the apartment. She could not believe it. Her fiancé does not reside there! Instead two ladies appeared at the door. They scrutinized her with their eyes. One ought to have entered her mind to download its contents, but she refused to believe the dozens of thought that entered her mind. ‘He is a true believer of Christ.’ Beside that, as far as princess was concerned. ‘She was the one and only princess in his song.’
“Hello. Please does a guy by the name ‘Owoicho’ live here?” She asked. The duo exchanged meaningful glances meaning: ‘Her boy friend must have given her a wrong address.’ Princess stood in silence though not intimidated. The ladies inwardly sympathized with her. ‘Did she hear them right? She certainly was not a poor girl, so who were they welcoming to the world of hide and seek?’ Anyway she consoled herself. It was not their fault. One of the ladies informed her that no Guy or boy that bears that name has ever lived in that quarter. And to drive the message home she added. “I am the first and only occupant of this house.’’ She radically pointed out.
Princess thanked them and walked away. ‘At least I know where to find him.’ She told herself. ‘He is the workaholic. His New restaurant!’ She should have gone there in the first place but she desperately needed a cold shower after the twelve hours trip from Calabar. She nervously waved a commercial cyclist to stop.
* * *
Owoicho sat in company of one of his suppliers at 7:30 PM. They had been negotiating since 6:30 PM and no agreement and been reached.
“Listen Alhaji Sani. Deliver a basket of tomato at N1, 200 then I shall order for five baskets every week. That way you’ll be N6, 000 richer.” He bargained in Hausa dialect. The man in green Arabian caftan and red hat disagreed.
“No not this time around. Pay N1, 500 and I will have the tomatoes delivered tomorrow morning.”
“Haba Sani! I hope you vegetable sellers are not trying to exploit we food sellers. How can I buy a basket of tomatoes at N800 at the early days of the month? Then two weeks after, it shoots up to N1, 000 and four days after that N1, 500. That is not fair! I will rather settle for tin tomatoes.” He angrily protested. He did not like bargaining, especially when it was evidently clear that he must compromise his stand. He needed the tomatoes for the next day’s operation. Alhaji Sani was aware of that fact so he stood his ground. “Right now Oga Breaktime I have only two basket left in the market.” He announced.
“And so?” Anneh’s Fiancé asked. “Will you accept N1, 200?”
“No Oga try and pay N1, 500.”
“Money!” Owoicho exclaimed.
They became silent. He absent-mindedly flips through the pages of two magazines on his table: ‘Restaurants & Hotels’ and ‘Success Digest’ they were the current editions but he could not concentrate on any. He packed them aside. Suddenly, as if he had found a solution to his bargaining problem. From the restaurant window he watched the figure that moved towards his back door. He smiled as he rose from his seat.
“Alhaji Sani that is my woman.” He explained, and without concluding their transaction he left his supplier to meet his fiancée.