As the rain came pelting down, I just stood there soaking it all up. I could feel people staring at me as they hurried pastto the safety of shelters. I could only imagine the thoughts going through their minds,
“Is this one mad?”
“Must be in the early stages, she still has clean clothes on and shoes too!”
“Where is her family? They had better come and pick her up before she degenerates”
“What a wicked world this is, such a beautiful lady”
And so on they must be thinking. But I cared less as I just stood there with outstretched arms, willing the rain to wash me clean. Why did I go there? I saw the signs, why didn’t I stop, but like the proverbial stubborn dog bound to get lost, I ignored the hunter’s whistle.
Yimika was the most handsome man I had ever set my eyes on; I still wonder how he noticed me. That wasn’t one of my best days, as I had hurried out of the house without making my face up. I didn’t want to miss the bus, but I did eventually and that’s how he came into my life. Why didn’t I leave the house early? Now as I look back I realize my tardiness brought him my way. I felt too lazy to wake up to the sound of my alarm, hence my getting to the bus stop late, and my meeting Yimika.
As I stood at the bus stop lamenting my fate, a light blue BMW 3 series pulled up to me. My first instinct was to step back, but as I did, the person in the car wound down the glass and I came face to face with the most charming smile on the most handsome face I had ever come across. All my resistance fell at that moment; my legs felt like jelly, and the only thing I remember after that was getting out of the car outside my office with his card in my hand and a promise to call him. I couldn’t recall giving him my number until I got a call from him later that evening. He asked if he could take me to see a movie – thankfully the cinema wasn’t far from both our offices. Warning signals started blaring, but I completely ignored them thinking to myself “what could possibly happen in a cinema full of other people?”
It was quite an enjoyable date; apart from the movie, which was very interesting, Yimika was great company. I didn’t even notice time fly past and like the gracious gentleman he seemed to be, he offered to drop me off at home, which further endeared him to me.
We met several times after that, and our lunch dates became a ritual we had to observe each day. On days when I couldn’t see him for lunch because he was too busy, I always felt uneasy, like a part of me was missing. I knew I was falling in love with a man I knew next to nothing about, but I loved it. He was gracious, nice to a fault and really good to look at. I allowed myself a free fall into love, and it seemed it was mutual so I didn’t give a second thought to it. Trouble started when I asked to know where he lived. He hesitated and then tried to change the subject. It was all strange to me but since he didn’t wear a wedding band I was sure he wasn’t married and he always talked about his mother, so I knew he still lived at home with her. I concluded his family must not like me but he’d assured me that wasn’t the case.
Since I had fallen hopelessly in love with him by now, I didn’t bother asking to be taken to his house again. I was content with him knowing my family and they loved him too. Each time my mum brought up the subject of his family, I always tactfully avoided giving her a straight answer.
On this day I got to work as usual, longing for lunch break and my Yimika to show up. I was especially excited since it was our first year anniversary and I couldn’t wait to celebrate it with him. He was my prince in every way, the defender of my virtue; never demanded for sex, so different from the other guys I had dated who didn’t understand my stranglehold on my virginity, or my decision to save sex for marriage. He was the yang to my yin, my knight in shining armour, my love, my life. The wait was killing me. My boss even noticed and decided to put me out of my misery by allowing me leave way before lunch, giving me the rest of the day off (she thought I was coming down with something). I almost ran to our usual meeting point. I had a surprise for Yimika, so I made sure I got there before him, instructed the waiters on how to present my surprise, then settled down with a drink to await my love’s arrival.
After about thirty minutes I got scared; he wasn’t picking my calls and he hadn’t shown up. The clock kept ticking and after I had waited for three hours, I paid off the waiters and decided to go look for him in his office before they closed for the day. However he wasn’t there! I was told he didn’t show up. I tried to get his address but nobody had it and I was confused and close to tears. The receptionist must have felt sorry for me, because she got a hold of his employee data form and gave me his address. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had to see my Yimika, even if his family would throw me out. A glimpse of his face and the knowledge that he’s okay will do. I got to his house located in a posh area of Ikeja, the massive gate was intimidating, but I pressed the bell continually, undaunted. If Yimika was behind them, then I had to go in. The gate man asked me to wait while he got clearance for me to enter. But immediately I saw him retreat, I followed closely. Then I saw an older female version of my Yimika and I knew immediately she was his mum. As I hurried up to her, I immediately went down on both knees in greeting and politely asked to see Yimika. She looked really sad, like she had been crying, before I could finish my question fresh tears came to her eyes, and my heart almost skipped a beat.
“What must have happened to my Yimika? On our first anniversary”
“Lord please, don’t let this be. Let me wake up from this bad dream”
“You must be Ruby?” she asked “Any time he opens his eyes he calls your name”
“Yes, I am Ruby. Please what is wrong with Yimika? He was fine when I saw him yesterday”
“He didn’t tell you” she asked
“Tell me what?”
“Come into the house”. As I followed her into the house, all sorts of thoughts flashed through my mind, “what could he be keeping from me?”
Then I looked up and saw my darling, even lovelier in sleep, he had lots of IV tubes poking in and out of his body, for what I couldn’t tell. Did he have typhoid? Or tuberculosis? What could it be? He looked very pale, yet so peaceful in his sleep. His mother’s voice, however, jolted me back to the present.
“He’s dying. He has leukaemia”
“No! He couldn’t be!! He loves me!!!” I screamed
“What is leukaemia? No! No! No! You are mistaken!”
She embraced me then, held unto me till all my tears subsided. I thought my heart would break. He looked so helpless, so frail; all I wanted to do was hold him in my arms till he woke up. His mother told me that he had battled with it for most of his life and maybe he didn’t tell me because he wanted to lead a normal life. He fought to be normal; “I love him Lord please don’t take him away now”. I stayed by his bed side till he stirred, and truly my name was the first thing on his lips.
“I am here”
“I am so sorry; I couldn’t bear for you to feel sorry for me”
“Hush baby, I understand and I love you” he went right back to sleep, I couldn’t let go of his hand. I disturbed the host of heaven with my prayers. I implored God with every breath in me, but those were my Yimika’s last days. He would not be taken to any hospital, he didn’t want that, said he will die anyway and he wanted to do it surrounded by the people he loved. I held him close to my heart when he breathed his last, and for a split second our hearts beat as one. Yimika my love, my life died in my arms.
Here I am in the rain without the love of my life. Will I be able to find this love again? Will I be able to love any man like I did my Yimika? People can stare, people can whisper but till I am done soaking up heavens tears for my Yimika I will not leave this place.