It is one thing to be cheated and know it, but it is another thing to be cheated and not know it. Nene Alozie had been cheated of a husband and his name was Paul. It did not matter that they were just dating when they parted ways. She knew they were headed for the altar.
Nene and Paul had known each other for five years, with four of those years spent together in the same university, before Boluke came into the picture. Nene still could not believe that Boluke, her best friend, was the reason she and Paul were no longer together. Boluke the go-between, who Nene had sent as an emissary to Paul in Abuja to give him her letters, had stolen her man from her.
If Nene was going to be honest, she would acknowledge that things between her and Paul had been rocky for months before Boluke came fully into the picture.
Nene’s friendship with Boluke dated all the way back to their university days, even though they went to different schools: Nene went to the University of Lagos, while Boluke attended Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State. Boluke had met Paul on different occasions and was privy to all the details that best friends typically share with each other.
After graduation, Paul had moved to Ogun State for his youth service, while Nene stayed in Lagos. Boluke also served in Lagos. However, it was after their youth service that the strain on their relationship became obvious.
Almost immediately after completing his youth service, Paul had gotten a job working as an Auditor at KPMG in Abuja. If the National Youth Service had made their long-distance relationship seem like a temporary thing, this new job in Abuja made it indefinite. Nene did all she could to find a job in Abuja, to no avail. Even the job applications she sent to companies and organizations in Lagos and other parts of the country were rejected. It seemed like the whole universe had conspired to keep them apart, but Nene was determined to make things work with Paul.
She pressed on in spite of Paul’s nonchalance. He called less often and blamed it on work, and Nene, willing to believe anything took him at his word.
During that period, Boluke was offered a job with a marketing firm in Abuja, which required frequent travel from Lagos to Abuja. So, she was in Lagos every other week. Nene, who saw this as an opportunity to communicate with her passive boyfriend, began writing long letters to Paul.
She wrote almost every day, pouring out her heart to Paul, updating him on what was going on at home and telling him how much she missed him. How she was able to do this on several sheets of paper every single day, without boring herself was amazing. But with all the free time she had on her hands, coupled with the fact that she expressed herself better on paper, it was effortless.
So Nene wrote, and Boluke delivered these handwritten epistles to Paul whenever she was in Abuja. Sometimes Paul wrote back, and other times, he was ‘too busy’ to reply. But, he always managed to tell Boluke to say hello to Nene.
It was around this time that Boluke told Nene that she was seeing a guy called Eric. And that was all she told Nene. No amount of prodding and begging for more details could make Boluke part with more information on this mystery man.
“This guy sha … I will meet him one day.” That was what Nene always ended those sessions with whenever Eric’s name popped up.
The strangest thing was that she finally met him, a few days shy of the 6-month mark of Paul’s relocation to Abuja. During the Eid-el-Fitr holiday, when Paul finally got a few days off from work, he came to Lagos. Nene was of course, excited and had prepared in advance to see him. She had wanted to throw him a mini-party and cook for him, but he had coldly turned down her offer when she told him over the phone.
They had agreed to meet at Tantalizers for lunch, with Paul refusing every attempt of Nene to come and visit him at his house. She had actually tried to visit but he was not at home. Or at least, that was what the gateman told her.
Nene was the first to arrive at the restaurant, and she waited for almost an hour past the time they had agreed to meet. Paul eventually showed up and apologized for keeping her waiting. And then, without even sitting down, he gave her a one-sentence break-up speech.
“I’m not feeling this anymore and I think we should go our separate ways.”
Nene asked him over and over again for an explanation, wanting to know what was going on. The only response Paul gave her was “I met someone.” He left Nene standing there and went back to his car, supposedly to fetch the “someone.” He returned less than two minutes later, with Boluke on his arm.
Nene almost fainted. The rest was a blur, but she remembered Boluke saying she did not plan to hurt Nene, and Paul telling Boluke to stop being apologetic for their relationship. That was the last time she laid eyes on both of them.
Later, she received an invitation card from Boluke, asking for her presence at her wedding. Beforehand, she had sent a text message begging Nene to attend her bridal shower. The nerve of that girl!
Nene had ignored that text, just like she had ignored all of Boluke’s calls, texts, emails and other efforts at reconciliation. Now, it was the day before the bridal shower, and Nene was at home battling serious depression. As she slipped in and out of bouts of despair, she thought up different ways to pay Boluke back for her betrayal.
“I am sure there is a special place in hell for best friends who steal their friends’ boyfriends. You’ll go there soon enough,” Nene muttered to herself. Ironically, she did not extend the same ill wishes to Paul who was at the center of the whole affair.
Just then, someone knocked on the door, prematurely halting her vengeful thoughts. It was her father.
– to be continued –