I was shocked at the caliber of men and women that came for Mabel’s burial ceremony. Her father’s compound was full of people of different passions and professions. In addition to the innumerable bankers, there were lecturers, politicians, pastors and other clergymen and women. I wondered as I pondered where and how she knew all those men and women of substance. It amazed me but I quickly remembered the popular adage that it didn’t matter what you knew but who knew you. I remembered her saying that one of her greatest delights was that some renowned pastor had toasted her to the extent that he stooped so low to carry her handbag and called her “Miss” in a refined English accent on the first day of meeting. She laughed a lot about it but I could easily understand how so easily it happened. She was really a playgirl who stopped following men for what she could get in order to be my wife. I thought she wanted to be my wife only because of the pregnancy but I saw a deeper reason: she wanted to put an end to her loose way of living in order to build a family of her own. Even though my knowing her was for a short while, I really missed her. Death’s stealing her away was painful and no amount of money could bring her back; I could no longer feel her behind me, stealthily and gently walking and touching me. I couldn’t hear the crackles of her footsteps anymore; I couldn’t feel her gratifying presence as she walked from room to room with her eardrums blocked with earphones.
I had spent about four hours at her father’s compound before I sighted Angela, her eyes wet with tears. I was drinking beer with the men when she was sharing food with other ladies. The sight of the grains of rice was as white as her teeth and the stew appeared daintily spread on top, making hearts prepared the teeth for munching after the interment. When Angela saw me, she made a whistling hissing sound and everyone stared at her. I told myself, I must not respond. The hissing sound came again before she left the scene. Most of the men looked at her lusciously as she hurriedly walked into the makeshift kitchen, shaking her butts, almost falling off her wrapper.
I ate with a grace befitting the burial ceremony but I couldn’t stop thinking about Angela. I needed to speak to her and to make our relationship aright once again. I loved her. I had always loved her and I would be doing myself a disservice if I let her out of my heart and life. She was walking from one end of the compound to another, picking the used plates and spoons and I could read from her countenance that she was not herself. I shuddered to think that she was thinking of me; she must be occupied with thoughts of her deceased friend, Mabel. As I watched her, I was thinking of how to go about talking to her. Should I approach her directly or go through a middle person? I was thinking.
There was a rumbling and mumbling sound in the heavens. Rain clouds had darkened the sky, the booming sound of the thunder reverberated, preceded by the flash that came and disappeared with a click and a spark. The rain came and in no distant time escalated into a roaring torrent with balls of ice trumping and drumming with force on the ground. The trees in the compound were twisting and bending like a boat coated like a toad. We all rushed inside the large sitting room and sat on plastic chairs as it was raining. Fear was penetrating through my veins and muscles as I sat facing Angela in the parlour. In a queer manner, she was looking right and left, up and down. She stared steadily at the ceiling with wide open eyes. I couldn’t make a move as she was surrounded by ladies and the luster of her eyes was not inviting. I was drinking beer and at the same time wondering how on earth to approach her; I had called off the relationship and to ignite it again seemed but a uphill task, if not Sisyphean.
“Why don’t you sit properly, young man?” The fully bearded man seated next to me said with as much decisiveness as could be put into words. I was almost falling off the plastic chair when another man held me up. “That’s the problem with young men of today. They drink themselves to stupor and forget that they are seated with elders.” The man said. While the women were laughing at me, Angela looked at me speechlessly, not smiling at all.
“Oh, I’m so sorry everyone.” I dropped the bottle I was holding and turned round, surprised that I almost fell off the chair because my mind was saturated with thoughts about her. I settled back in the chair and raised the bottle high. The man next to me tried a few times to bring down the bottle but I held the bottle so tightly.
“Look my friend, could you behave yourself.” Angela, said out loud and everyone stared at her surprisingly.
“What!” I voiced out and could not speak further. I was happy that she spoke and I brought down the bottle and sat properly. There was a minute’s silence when I settled in the plastic chair. The rain had stopped and the men had started going out. I had no business to do but to greet Mabel’s parents and quietly take my leaf. The front door was open and as people greeted her parents and parents, they find their way out. As I set my feet outside after paying my condolences, I couldn’t walk to where my car was. I turned my head and my face met one of the ladies and she stopped dead at the doorway.
“Excuse me please.” I called her and she suddenly and dramatically raised her voice so the whole people could hear. I didn’t know what she had in mind and I retreated to my car. After about one hour in my car, I saw a calmer lady coming out to throw some dirt and I approached her.
“Excuse me gentle lady.” I was trying to be as polite as possible.
“What can I do to you Mr. Drunkard.” Her calling me Mr. Drunkard almost infuriated me but I needed her favour, so I remained calmed.
“Could you help me speak with somebody inside?” I asked and she stared at me up and down. She was literally fuming and I was enjoying her anger, thinking she would listen to me but before I realized what was happening, she came out pouring water at me. I quickly ran into the car and the water wet the body of my car.
I took a little time to think about what to do. Deep within the recesses of my heart, I wanted to get back Angela into my life. I had wandered away from her. As my mind wondered lazily about her, I saw her coming out of the gate of Mabel’s father’s house.