‘Abomination!’ Tortoise bellowed, ‘So much for eating faeces!
Wait until the rest of the village hears what you have done.’
(C.N. Adichie, Purple Hibiscus)
RMD––Richard Mofe Damijo wasn’t famous in 1985. Neither was Tuface; a mere schoolboy. Agbani Darego haunted no young men’s dreams. Don Jazzy, Terry G., DJ Jimmy Jatt, Keke and D1––their fame was yet to be established in Nigeria.
General Ibrahim M. Babangida was the President of Nigeria in 1985––he overthrew Major General M. Buhari’s government. That same year, Nigeria won the Under 17 Junior World Cup in Japan.
The best-seller among Nigerian novels was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (though it was actually first published in 1958).
The movies: The Village Headmaster, Taxi Driver, Mirror in the Sun, Aiye.
The music: Orlando Owoh, Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, I.K. Dairo, Majek Fashek, Sunny Okosun, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
It was a different time, a different world.
Nobody knew that a year later, Dele Giwa was going to be murdered by a letter bomb. No prophecy was made that in four years’ time, the great footballer, Samuel Okwaraji, was going to collapse and die on the field of play.
1985. It was the year when Ada Bright was still a beautiful lady of twenty-four.
She was happy, and she believed Samson would be delighted too.
Ada Bright crossed the busy double-lane of Alluta Express road. She was going to her fiancé’s house for the first time––he would really be surprised. She had come to suspect that he didn’t want her to know where he lived; they had been dating each other for almost a year and Ada hadn’t known where her beloved boy-friend resided. Every time she asked him, Samson had always given different unconvincing excuses for not telling her his residential location, and Ada had been left confused––trying everything she could to believe the bad liar, but she could not. At first, she had thought he had been cheating on her but she had overlooked such thought of probable infidelity when, to her amazement three months earlier; he had knelt before her with a ring and proposed marriage to her. She had noticed how he had looked into her eyes with pure innocence and unmasked admiration, and right there she knew Samson had really loved her deeply, this made her ashamed of herself for allowing the thought cross her mind that he was not being entirely faithful with her. She was one of those few ladies who, by instinct or the subconscious mind, knew the guys who really loved them and those who didn’t, in her own case; it had taken her the nuptial ring for the instinct to manifest.
Ada had seen the radiance of true happiness in her boyfriend’s face when she acquiesced to his proposal. Yet, she still felt he was hiding something important from her, something different from her initial suspicion. About two hours earlier, she had cunningly persuaded Obinna, her fiancé’s friend, tell her Samson’s residential address. She had to see her boyfriend today.
She boarded a public transport bus heading for Plateau Way. Jos, which even few of her inhabitants and descendants knew that it is actually bearing the hidden acronym ‘Jesus Our Saviour’, established by the missionaries, had suffered several violent religious clashes between its Muslim and Christian dwellers. It was reported that the original name of the popular city was Gwosh; which was a village situated at the site of her metropolis. The Hausa wrongly pronounced Gwosh as Jos and it had struck since then. Ada sat by the window and decided to pass the time with a book. Books were good companions; you could lose yourself in a book. But it was too much effort to focus on the prints; she found herself reading the same sentence for the third, fourth, fifth time––without the slightest degree of comprehension. Besides, she was bored with vicarious romance. Stories about dangerous love affairs were interesting to read when you yourself had a faulty love affinity with your paramour, but a woman needed more than Barbara Cartland’s gothic romance novels to understand the intricate conundrum surrounding love relationships. She closed the book and returned it into her hand bag. She had plowed through almost the entire oeuvre of Cartland anyway. She looked out the vehicle’s window at the traffic, the people moving on the sidewalks, the shop windows and the blueness of the sky. She watched without interest at a herd of big, fat cattle being driven by a small skinny Fulani boy.
The breeze that whooshed in as the bus gathered momentum felt good on Ada’s body, it was blowing her hair and she made no effort to stop it. Ada knew she was beautiful and she was proud of it. Many a time, she would spend almost an hour in front of the large mirror in her room and carefully check her face and other parts of her body to make sure there was no spot––or pimple to disfigure her perfect countenance. She knew she had a nice face, long black hair, and there was something massive for a man to grab hold of––she always laughed unashamedly at that thought. She had a heavy bosom for a woman of her size. The mirror was Ada Bright’s favourite work of art, and if she had been a bit androgynous she’d have married herself.
She saw him for the first time ten months ago when she was in a night club; he was staring at her. Other men in the club were also staring at her, most of their focus lied on her bristols, but Samson was looking straight into her eyes. Ada had always been brave to face any man staring at her because they never seemed to get their collective pupils off of her two titanic challenges. This particular man was looking straight into her eyes and she found herself feeling uncomfortable. Nobody had looked at her the way this strange man was. She tried to look back at him.
The man had a fine appearance. He was a fine figure of a man: tall, dark, quite heavy around the neck and shoulders, not a tad fat, and with long legs. He had a strong face, clear eyes; his face wasn’t so much as pretty as a celebrity’s, but he possessed that kind of face that appeals to a woman; his face had been so perfect and his eyes so kind that she briefly mistook him for Saint John the Devine, just that this one was dark-skinned. Except for the mouth––that was small and thin, he appeared close to perfect, and she could imagine how he was going to act in bed.
And yet at first he was not the kind of man a woman would look at twice. He had no moustache; his cheeks and chin were so smooth that they seemed never to have known a razor, and his hair was trimmed short–– a clipper probably went over his skull every week. It was as if he wanted to look like a nonentity. She knew that he was a very handsome man and would look sexier if he added more styles to his physique.
She wondered what he would look like undressed. He would have a flat stomach and hair on his nipples, and you would be able to see his ribs because he was slim. Ada found herself doing what men always say they do with sexy-appearing women; she had mentally undressed him.
The man approached her.
“Hi, I’m Samson Oliver. May I know your name?”
My God! He has a deep sweet masculine voice.
“A-D-A” she spelled. “That’s my name.”
“Will you dance with me?” he asked, his hand stretched towards her.
Exactly what I can’t wait to do, she thought.
“Then let’s dance.”
On the dance floor, Sam wasn’t the only male admiring her undulations because most of the men forgot who they were dancing with when they saw her––her appearance caused several pairs of eyes to sparkle with fornicatory intent. He was also a good dancer, and to have herself in his strong arms, feeling his chest against her own breasts, her hands on his heavy shoulders, his long legs touching hers, gave her a bang she thought she had gotten beyond feeling.
That was how the love story of Ada and Samson started.
Ada had envisaged their first love making occurring at the most expensive suites of Eko Hotels, with beautiful wall paper and a white linen-covered mattress, probably with a view of the sunlight and a beach. But instead, they made love in the backseat of a cosy Volkswagen Beetle and Ada had surprisingly loved it immensely more than any other she had experienced. She had decided that Samson was the man she would marry. She loved him so much that she wore only one kind of panties, an honour to her man. Every pair she owned bore this embroidered phrase on the silky crotch: SAM’S HAVEN. She had stitched the words on the panties herself, with the emblem of a triangle signifying the crocheted ‘Haven’.
Ada got off the bus and carefully checked the address she had written on a small piece of paper. She crossed the road to the other side and beckoned to a taxi driver––a very dark-skinned Hausa man; after haggling over the fare for some time, they struck a considerable bargain and she entered the taxi beside the driver.
Having driven through different junctions and streets, the taxi driver stopped in front of a small building. Samson’s house was a three bedroom semi-detached house in a street of exactly similar houses. This particular area had its houses in close proximity to each other. The tiny front gardens were all being used to grow vegetables. Samson’s apartment, which had its number boldly inscribed on the door, was of a very neat and trim appearance standing in the quiet street. The door was painted brown and the steps were particularly well-whitened, the brass of the knocker and handle gleamed in the afternoon sun.
Ada paid her fare, leaving a generous tip for the driver, and went to the door. She paused for a moment before knocking, and when she knocked, the door was opened almost immediately.
“Ada!” Samson said in an astonished tone, as if he had just met his next door neighbor in the middle of the Sahara Desert. “What are you doing here?”
“Hi sweet,” she greeted. “I wanted to surprise you.”
“How did you know this place? Who gave you this address?”
“Don’t you worry about that, I have more surprises for you. Let’s go inside.” She looked around her, “If I may say, you live in a grand house.”
“You can’t come in now, I’m sorry. You should have informed me before coming here, you know I don’t like surprises. You’ll have to go now; I’ll see you next week.”
Ada was perplexed. She saw it instantly; the change, it worried her. This man she was seeing was not the Samson she knew. “What is happening?”
“I can’t tell you now, I promise to tell you when we see next week, okay? I’m sorry.”
That moment, a little girl of about two years old came to the door from within the house and started tugging at Samson’s hand.
“Hapa––pood!” she slurred.
Ada stepped back. What’s going on here? She looked at the baby––she was a cute fair complexioned girl, and she possessed that familiar innocence of a little angel. She had a gap where two milk teeth had fallen out from below and new ones were yet to be replaced. Ada looked up questioningly at Samson.
Samson looked away, he could not answer. She realized with awe and disappointment that his solid refusal to talk was as good as a confession.
With trembling lips, Ada said softly, “She’s your daughter.”
“It’s not what you think, Ada.”
“Then what is it? Please tell me this girl’s not your child.”
The little girl could not understand why the adults were arguing, she was looking at the two, wondering when the strange woman would leave her daddy alone so that he could come and feed her.
“Answer me, please.” Ada’s voice was shaky now.
“Ada, you know I’ll never do anything to hurt you. I’ll explain everything to you.”
He came forward to hold her but she stepped away from him.
“What do you have to explain anyway?” she asked. “She called you ‘papa’, didn’t she? So, you’re a married man, Sam.” She held her hair firmly with both hands.
She was finding it really hard to believe what she was witnessing. The man she had loved with all her heart, the man she had cherished, adored, worshipped––was a family man. The feeling of disappointment overwhelmed her instantly, she could feel some emotional parts of her evaporating, and another part of her inner body was rendered numb. Disappointment!
Tears began streaming down her cheeks slowly, and then she looked into Samson’s face with anger and said:
“I despise you!” she said with so much vigour that the tendons of her neck stood out.
It’s hard to love, she thought as she walked away, when you know how much love could be taken for granted. Sam was a cheat; he’d cheated on her, he’d done to her what no sane human being should ever do to another. Taking the love another had for you and mocking it, trading the innermost secrets of the manipulated for lies from the manipulator.
She could remember, with sadness, the moments they had both shared––the sweet memories, the exhilarating experience, the love, the care, the laughter, the fun, and so much more. She was still confused, not believing that Sam could so much as betray her trust. But he did.
That was how the love story of Ada and Samson ended.
They never saw each other again.