They called me fool. They said we weren’t even married yet, and I was wasting away, waiting. They said he was probably rotting under the ground and that I will wait till my breasts sag; till my skin shrinks into old age.
I watched them tell me these, but I chose to stick to hope. Hope that the promises he made to me those good times under the sunset had not been faux. I cherished the memories of his face, his eyes, his voice as smooth as silk, when he told me he loved me.
‘Ada’ he had said slightly above a whisper. My stomach knotted. ‘I will give everything it takes to come back to you.’
That night I made a promise too; to wait for him.
In the first few months, I would get the letters he managed to scribble, hold them close to my heart and cry. I would reply him too, telling him everything about everything, and asking him to be strong.
The month I stopped getting letters was the month they started talking.
I was match-made with many men, good-looking and wealthy, just waiting to take me down the aisle. I always declined, however. None of them was Kelechi, none of them could be. When the pressure mounted and became unbearable, I fled, and worked my socks off to survive on my own.
It was after two years of waiting that I saw the news: the surviving soldiers were returning home. I remember jumping for joy; I remember rolling on the floor too. He was coming, finally.
Today, I stare into nothingness as the fallen soldiers are being lowered into the ground. Tears fail me. My Kelechi will be with me, but only in my memories, for he returned without breathe in his lungs. I open his diary, the only remnant of him from the war, and read for the umpteenth time his last words to me:
I knew you would wait.