Guy , your cousin gave me an invite to her wedding on Saturday o … and she said I would be one of her ushers ….
What’s the dress code sef ?”
Matthew stopped in between sipping his coke and gave me a bewildered look .
“ why did she give you an invite without telling me ? “ he looked restless as he reached for his phone .
He then tried to snatch the folded paper on my hand and I held it firmly .
“ see … Matthew … Wetin Dey worry you ? Why is it paining you that she gave me IV ? “
I could feel the coldness in the next words that he spoke .
“ Why were you looking at her like that sef when she came ? Anyways I know you since university days , you cannot even chase girl “
It was natural for anyone to think that way ; I hardly would have had time for women naturally and Matthew must have wondered at some point if I was having an affair with a fellow man ! .
He gave out a smile and then picked up his IV and stared at it deeply .
“ if this girl wasn’t my cousin , I would have dated her a long time ago …She is so beautiful “ , he blurted out , perhaps knowing that we had kept different forms of secrets for the past 9 years and still counting .
I kept quiet and gazed at the IV again and then something caught my eye !
Something that was familiar yet elusive!
The name HENRY EKEH was a name I had seen or heard somewhere …..
“ This Henry ….the name is very famil…..“ , I turned to face a Matthew who had tears forming visibly on his eyes.
I had never seen him cry before .
“Matthew ..what is wrong ? “ I looked at him pityingly as he recounted a story of how Henry had locked him up for days because he failed to give proper account of their business transaction
“ I wish she married someone else ….” he looked at the IV again .
Now I remembered !
Henry was a business mogul that Matthew had been privileged to meet when he went to look for a job in a company. He was a dashing young man with a typical Arabian beard and huge frame that made him look like a fearsome but handsome beast . They had both connected on the premise of a business that Henry asked Matt to help him sell some contraband items that were evaded at the sea port .
Matthew had been jobless and broke and this was like a golden fish to catch; he accepted and worked hard to sell off the groundnut oil and bags of rice ; he took so much risk that he was almost shot by custom officers on patrol in the city .
He had sold everything and based on the agreement of a 25% commission on the proceed sales , he looked prepared to be swimming in cash .
Oh yes ! He had come to my little one room that day to share the good news and we had “ popped two bottles of coke and bread “ to celebrate .
How could I forget ?
Two weeks later , Henry had him arrested because he couldn’t account for 3000 naira properly .
He lost everything !
I had gone to see him that day in cell and he had kept on repeating “ Hendy “ in our conversation .
Oh ! It wasn’t really “ hendy “ , I guess he meant Henry . After all , with a mouth beaten out of shape and with his body filled with marks of torture , I was only interested in bailing him out that day !
Matthew would finally be released but by then , Henry shut him out of his life .
That was a long time ; 5 years back
I was beginning to wonder how Matilda had gotten to him when Matthew started again ,
“ she loves money and jewelries , im sure she married for the money … “ he wiped his eyes and sneezed
“ but wait o Matthew , how did this Henry know about your sister ?”
“ Jude , it’s a story that you will hear much later …. it’s a story that will shock you …. but for now , let’s forget the past and go and have fun on Saturday “
If there was one thing I loved my friend for , he never got unhappy for long . He had already snapped out of it .
“ that’s the spirit bro ! See you on Saturday “, I made to stand up and leave .
Matthew stood up and led me out . As he walked me to the end of his street , I could tell that we were both going to have a lovely time on Saturday at Matilda’s wedding.
I only prayed that the demon of the past would not drag him into something nasty that day .
NEXT EPISODE UP SOON