AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
Nkem didn’t want to travel back home after her graduation. She wanted to oversee her businesses on campus. She had three shops now and if she leaves, the shops would suffer. She needed to get a place to stay. Also, one of her lecturers wanted her to work with him on a project for which she will get paid. She was ready to stay back for it.
She called Esther and asked her about her residence. Esther told her she could stay there until her rent expires in November. She left her property for Nkem. She told her to take it with her when she was leaving as she didn’t have any need for them.
Nkem moved there while Esther went back to Sapele to be with her family.
Demian wasn’t comfortable with Nkem staying in Esther’s accommodation alone. He became more uncomfortable when she shared her daily activities with him. She worked with postgraduate students and as expected, many took a liking to her and asked her out.
Demian asked her if she wanted to go on dates with them. She confessed to him that she was tempted. She had never given room for any guy to woo her. This was an opportunity.
“But I wooed you now.”
“Yours is different. I see you more as a sibling and best friend than a lover.”
Demian was quiet. He couldn’t believe what he heard. Agreed, he had not been throwing the I love you card around but he believed she knew how he felt about her so why would she be interested in meeting other men? He was worried.
“Demian! Demian! Where did you go?”
“I’m right here.”
“Why were you quiet?” Nkem asked.
“I don’t know. I have to get back to work, ok?”
“Now? We didn’t speak for long. Not a problem, call me when you can.”
Demian was heartbroken. He refused to talk to Nkem for almost a week. She had called severally but he ignored her calls and messages. He felt he was wasting his time and because of the way he felt, he didn’t want to be devastated when she starts a relationship. He knew she would tell him all about her outings and he will never be himself again.
Nkem wondered why Demian had been ignoring her. She had called several times and sent several messages which had been unread. Initially, she wanted to ignore him but then she became worried. Did he fall ill? Did something happen to him? She needed to find answers to why he wasn’t responding to her. She thought about calling Patience but she changed her mind. It will just raise dust.
She found her way to his cousin’s house. Luckily, she met him at home that Sunday morning. His girlfriend was around too. He asked to speak privately with the cousin. The girlfriend was uncomfortable with it but she had no choice as her boyfriend took her to the guest room for them to talk.
“I’m sorry to barge in like this. I have been trying to reach Demian for days now. He has not responded to my calls or read my messages. I’m scared. I don’t know if he is ok. I just had to come to find out.”
“Interesting. Wait here let me get my phone and call him. I want to know what is going on. Don’t worry, if it was serious, I would have been informed. Just wait here, let me get my phone.”
He left to get his phone. While there, he called Demian on the phone. He picked after the third ring. “O’boy, what’s happening?”
Demian had just stepped out of the bathroom and he asked, “Like what? I don’t understand?”
“Your babe is here.”
“Nkem. She is here. She came here very worried about you. She has called you severally and even sent countless messages but you have ignored her. What happened?”
“I needed a break. Why did she come to you?”
“She was worried something happened to you. You should have told her to give you a break. She is broken right now. What do you want me to tell her?”
“I don’t know. I will call her. She will leave you soon. I’m sorry she came to see you.”
“Guy, this babe likes you. She was so apologetic for barging in but she was distressed. This stunt you pulled wasn’t nice. If there are issues, resolve them instead of ignoring her. Ask politely for space and take it.”
“Thanks, man. I will call her now. Can you get her a cab to take her home?”
Demian was surprised Nkem went to the extent of going to his cousin’s place. She must truly have been worried about him. It felt good. He wondered how he would talk to her and also explain his absence. Initially, he thought about lying but then he changed his mind. He decided to tell her the truth and ask for some space.
He called her. She was excited to hear from him. He told her his cousin will put her in a cab and they could talk on her way home as he didn’t want his cousin overhearing the conversation
She called him back when she left the house. He didn’t pick up until the eighth ring.
Demian said to her, “I have to apologise for my bad behaviour. I was ignoring you and trying to adjust my life without you in it.”
“What are talking about?” Esther asked, confused.
“I am being honest. You know I have feelings for you that you haven’t reciprocated. Telling me you want to date other guys was a slap to my face. Why would you want to go on dates with other guys when I am available?”
“Is that why you refused to speak with me for days? I don’t understand you.”
“The little things matter to me. I have given you time to get to know me and by now you should know that when it comes to you, I am a whole different person. I have shown you how I feel through my actions and I have not moved on you even though I felt like it many times. Only for you to want to be treated the same way by other guys. Babe, it makes no sense. I can’t bear to be worried each time you go out because I suspect you are out on a date with a dude.”
“I can’t believe what I am hearing. Demian, was it because of that conversation you stopped talking to me? Why didn’t you tell me you were not in support of it instead ending the conversation abruptly and then ignoring me? Do you know what I have been through these past days? I have been out of my mind worrying about you. I couldn’t sleep or eat for the last two days. I almost called Patience but I stopped myself because she is not aware we communicate. Your cousin’s girlfriend looked at me suspiciously. Why? Because I wanted to be sure you were fine and you were just ignoring me. Demian, keep up the energy. I want to go on dates with other guys to know how it feels. If I like any of them, I might consider dating him. Might is the word. You can’t be the only guy I have ever gone out with. It wasn’t a romantic dinner or lunch but as friends, we went out. I didn’t promise a relationship and as far as I know, I am single and ready to mingle.”
“What do you mean?” Demian asked, hurt.
“I mean you don’t need to be worried about who I go out with. I want you to keep ignoring me and adjust your life without me in it. All I want is to have fun.”
Demian was quiet. It didn’t go the way he had planned. He knew she was assertive but this was being outrightly stubborn. For her to agree showed she was upset. He was also very upset. He said to her, “Whatever you want to do, go ahead and do it. I won’t beg you not to and I will no longer be in your way. It will take some time but my heart will be mended. I am sorry I offended you.”
The fight wasn’t necessary. It hurt Nkem so much that he ignored her on purpose. He wasn’t mature at all. This side of him, she didn’t like. She knew she wouldn’t allow him to control her when they were not in a relationship. Even if they were, he had no right over her until he marries her. His family is aware of tradition. And since they haven’t done anything on her head, he had no right to treat her the way he did.
The quarrel dragged on for almost two months. They didn’t speak with each other. Nkem blocked him on all her social media handles including voice calls. It was a way of protesting against him. It was Demian’s turn to be worried. He was agitated and didn’t know what to do. To worsen the situation, he didn’t know where she lived.
Nkem went on dates. She enjoyed some of them and found some creepy. Some of the guys wanted to take her home after the meal. Most of them suggested it which she declined. The others who seemed better behaved were asking her to visit them after a week. She was sensible enough to decline. She honestly wasn’t attracted to any of them. She just wanted to have the experience and also teach Demian a lesson. She missed talking to him but she believed she needed to do this so he would know she can’t be taken for a ride.
Two weeks of not being able to reach out to Nkem was driving Demian crazy. His fear was she would do something to spite him. For her to be comfortable not talking to him made him realise he went too far. He had no choice but to talk to his cousin to help him check on her.
“Guy, tell me what is going on between the two of you. I want to know.”
“The baby wanted to date other guys and I stopped talking to her. Yeah yeah, I messed up, don’t rub it in.”
“I thought your relationship was defined when she stayed with you here. Is she your girl? If she is why would she want to date other guys?”
“You won’t understand. We are best friends, not lovers. She is taking her time to accept my advances towards her.”
“Why? She seems to like you. Naija girls don’t waste time to drop unless she doesn’t like you in that way. But you are a fine guy from abroad, normally she should have dropped.”
“She is not like that. I want her to feel what I feel for her before we become intimate.”
“While you are waiting, another sharp guy will be cruising her.”
“I will send you her number, please call her and then let me talk to her.”
“I will call her. My babe isn’t comfortable with the babe around me so I have to see her somewhere else.”
Chuks called Nkem. He asked to see her so they could have an important discussion. She gave him the address to her abode. She invited him into the room. They discussed the issue. He told her Demian wanted to talk to her and he is asking for her forgiveness. She refused to speak with him. She told him the friendship didn’t make sense if it was one-sided. She was open and free with him but he treated her badly.
Chuks wanted to know if they were in a relationship. Nkem explained they were close friends.
“Are you saying you are not aware he likes you beyond this friendship?”
“But I don’t want an intimate relationship with him. He treats me right and we are like siblings. I know he wants more but for now, I am focused on starting a career.”
“Can he wait? The guy has turned to a reverend father because of you. Why are you hoarding?”
Nkem laughed. She offered him a drink and went to get one from her shop. When she got back, he was lying on the bed talking on the phone. He placed a finger on his lips asking her not to speak. She set the drink for him and went outside to get something. When she came back, he was sitting up. He was through with the call and his drink. He patted the space beside him on the bed for her to sit down.
“Are you sure you don’t have feelings for Demian?”
“Not that kind of feeling.”
“Because I have feelings for you. I told my girlfriend about it and she freaked out. You are beautiful and hot. Can we give the relationship a try?”
“What happens to your girlfriend?”
“If it goes well, I will dump her.”
Nkem laughed as she stood up. She said, “Just tell me you want me murdered. I am not interested. I have a problem with Demian and I will like to resolve my issues with him when I am ready. For now, I am not.”
“Why? Are you playing hard to get? My cousin is naive so you should know I am more experienced. What do you say?”
Nkem was embarrassed for him. How could he be hitting on the girl his cousin likes? It showed disrespect. “I am not interested. If I wanted to get down with a guy just for the fun of it, it will be Demian. I am not doing that. Thanks for coming to see me. I do hope you don’t come here again.”
“I know you are pretending. Don’t you like what you see? Demian told me you heard Ijeoma and I when we were making it. Didn’t you enjoy it? I make women scream and make loud moans when I make love to them. They can’t help it. Your neighbours will come to your window to watch us. They would want to see what is making you moan so loud.”
Nkem couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She moved closer to the door and opened it. “I am not interested. Ijeoma is waiting for you at home to scream. Please can you excuse me?”
“Are asking me to leave?”
“Yes, thank you for coming.”
“Hmmm. You won’t want to miss out on this” and he touched his crotch. Nkem could see the bulge. She walked out of the room and waited by his car for him to come out. He came out laughing at her. He said to her, “This is between us. Don’t tell Demian. You wouldn’t like me if you do,” and he left.
Nkem was relieved when he drove off. She entered her room and locked the door. She couldn’t believe Demian’s cousin made a pass at her. He was even aroused. Was it his plan with Demian? Did he send him to tempt her? She decided to keep her distance from all of them.