Her intuition made her to pause in front of the wooden door. Her eyes focused straight at it as he emerged from behind. He met her gaze and happily walked into her open arms. The tomato seller also came out of the back door. He watched speechlessly. He wished he had concluded the bargain earlier, for right then, he knew it was fruitless trying to interrupt the buyer and his woman. She was formally introduced to him. He welcomed her and as he was about to take his leave he submitted to the restaurateur that he would accept his offer of ‘One thousand Two Hundred Naira!’
“Because of your madam.” He clearly pointed out. Owoicho thanked him for his gesture. “I will send my supervisor with the money first thing in the morning.” He assured him.
After the vegetable seller had gone he hugged her for the second time.
“My princess, I missed you.” He whispered.
“I missed you too my dear.” She replied back.
He led her into the dining area of his eatery. She examined the interior.
“Sweet heart this is beautiful!” She complimented.
“Really?” He knew she wasn’t flattering him. “When I was choosing the colours I had you in mind.” He told her. Then he looked around her.
“Princess where is your luggage?” He demanded. She smiled and her dimples appeared on both cheeks. “I left it by the gate outside.” He made a move for the door just as his restaurant supervisor arrived with her travelling bag.
“Aunty Anneh, welcome.” The supervisor greeted. They exchanged pleasantries.
“Edache how did you know it was my bag?” She asked amusingly.
“I was by the other side of the road. I saw when the motorcyclist brought you.” He explained.
“Every one here appears to be well-fed. Especially you Edache.” Princess commended.
“Ma! This is the doing of the Lord.” Edache said.
“Plus the meal devoured at ‘Breaktime’.” Owoicho added.
“Sweet heart you have not changed a bit. Have you?”
“I have my love.” He buried her palms into his. He couldn’t resist the urge and he pulled her to himself.
“You’re more pretty than ever. What have you done do your self?”
“All for you my dear. You’re handsome too.”
“How was the journey and Calabar?”
“Long but you’re worth the trouble and here I am.”
“You must be very tired. I will prepare something tasty for you before we go home. Is that Okay?” She agreed. “Anything you say your highness.” She sat before one of the dining.
“By the way sweetheart. What happened to the house you showed me on my last visit? I went there and met two ladies.” Princess narrated her ordeal.
“The rent was too high when it was completed and I decided not to rent it. I am sorry for the embarrassment you went through.”
After Owoicho had prepared, ‘custard pap, potato chips and fried eggs’ and princess had eaten. He led her out of Breaktime and they boarded a commercial bus to ‘Takur housing estate.’
That night at home, she told him about the challenges she went through at the university. How she was very upset that he didn’t communicated regularly.
“Had my mother not persuaded me to come down, I would have stayed back at Calabar or gone to Abuja to spend the two weeks break.” She bitterly said, sounding serious.
“But my princess, I did mailed some letters…”
“Which I never received.” She snapped.
“Well you know how the postal service in this country operates.” He pointed out, feeling guilty.
“Sweet heart, you also promised to call…”
“ I-‘em- I did dialled your number but the line never got through.”
“Sweet heart!” She shook her well-plaited ebony hair.
“I swear I did.” He protested.
“Please don’t lie to me.”
He was stunned. “I am not lying to you.”
“Anyway that is bygone issue. But you know it and so do I. No matter what you say. You can’t justify the two months silence.” She confronted him. He didn’t argue. “I am really sorry about that. Heaven knows that I never forgot about you. You’ve always been on my mind.” He tried to assure her.
“I know and I do believe you. But you must understand that if this relationship must work you and I have to play our parts. I shouldn’t be the one sacrificing all the time.” She looked into his eyes.
“Please don’t sound that way.” He shook his head in disapproval. “Have you forgotten that I visited you at Abuja?” He reminded her.
“Abuja was for meeting my mother. But Calabar is where my friends are and they all long to meet you.”
“Alright my princess. I promise to visit you before your graduation.”
“I have heard that dozens of time. Not until I see you, I am not taking you seriously.” She bluntly told him. That statement hurt him but Anneh knew not.
“Now tell me about your business. What happened to you and Shemar’s Restaurant? Where did you get the money to start Breaktime?” She enquired changing the subject.
Owoicho had long known that Princess was not the kind of lady to be fascinated by ‘sudden success’ without knowing the fundamental details.
“It is a long story.” He began.
“I am here and I can stay awake to hear all the details.” He touched her hair. “When we get married, I pray that our children would take after your attitude.” He whispered.
It was five in the morning before they fell asleep.
They spent about five hours of the following afternoon doing visitation. They visited his pastor and his old working place. Back at home they talked about their future. The number of children they’ll raise. He proposed ‘four’. She suggested on ‘two’.
“I love children. What is wrong with having four wonderful children?” He romantically protested into her left ear.
“Alright my dear. If you want ‘ten’ I shall bore them for you.”
They called her mother on the phone and told her they were doing fine. Then they also dialled Owoicho’s sister, Suzzana.
“You two shouldn’t forget us while enjoying your love.” Suzzana’s voice echoed from the phone’s speaker.
“We will!” Owoicho answered sharply.
“No we wouldn’t. I will send something to you.” Princess diplomatically objected.
“I trust you Anneh. Your fiancé is selfish.”
“I beg your pardon, Suzzana, my sweetheart is not!” Princess defended
“Mmm. I see…I understand.” Suzzana laughed at the other end.
* * *
A year gradually passed after princess visited Owoicho yet he did not make out time to visit her. She was deeply hurt. His nonchalant attitude towards her feelings made her to cry at night. One thing was however clear to her. If the quality of ‘gifts’ he sent to her was to be used to measure his ‘feeling for her’ then he loved her. But she didn’t want his ‘present’ rather his ‘presence’. It was unfortunate that he couldn’t sacrifice one day for her. The more she thought about it the more she felt uncomfortable about their relationship.
It was few months to her graduation from the university when she painfully called him on the telephone one after noon and spoke her mind. He did not take her seriously. And for once since his workers knew him, he left his demanding ‘eatery business’ and travelled down south to Calabar town. ‘Was he going to lose his princess Anneh?’ He felt nervous.
Princess happily received him when he arrived. But she stood her ground. She had made up her mind concerning the relationship. “It was over!”
* * *
‘True love’ they say ‘never dies’. Princess and Owoicho became physically separated for two years but within that period they were emotionally tied to each other that neither of them could develop another serious relationship. He made the first move of asking about her from her cousins. She called Suzzana and accused her of not caring. Interestingly they resumed communication. In one of her letters to him she wrote:
‘…what will be, will be, no matter how long, it is just a matter of time.’
Then she sent him a card with the caption. “The Agony Of Missing You.”
Not long after that he visited her in Abuja where they decided to re-build the relationship back. To mark the birth of their reconciliation she designed a card with two old couple with their grand children. “This is how I want us to spend our old age.” She showed him
He adored it. It was one of the happiest moments of their lives together. They had buried their past and were heading for the ‘alter’. She suggested that they should keep their re-union a secret. He agreed. They intended to give their families and friends a pleasant surprise. Then they fixed June 16th, as their wedding date. But fate was lurking by the corner. Perhaps, theirs was ‘…the love that never worked?’ For whatever the reason was that brought princess back to him for reconciliation he now understood. He is the author of this true story and sadly he penned this poem down:
‘The princess in his song,
a long they nurtured for long,
such a beautiful thing,
how they’ll dance and sing,
when they are formally married,
she’ll be happily carried,
but this daughter of a king,
never wore his ring,
they did fixed a date,
mysteriously aborted by fate,
now the distance she hold,
where she’ll never grow old,
perhaps they’ll meet again,
where agape love reign,
but the agony of missing her,
caged him to love another.’
* * *
© All rights reserved. Johnson O.J.Arumona. 2004.
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