Tiwa came down from the taxi in front of the tall office building and smoothened her smart, ash coloured skirt suit.
This is it, she thought as she walked through the main entrance of the building and took the lift up to the fifth floor of the high rise.
This was the moment she had planned and been waiting for all this while.
‘Can’t afford to fail now,’ she thought.
The job interview was for 9am and she saw from her wristwatch that she was thirty minutes early.
After writing her name on a list provided by an assistant in the office, Tiwa sat down. To calm her nerves, she plugged in her ear phones to listen to some music on her phone.
She shut her eyes and allowed the cool music to wash over her, sweeping away all the stress and strains and pains of life…
Then a tap on her shoulder brought her down to earth.
“Tiwa Daniels? You’re next!” the assistant said crisply.
She took her folder and taking a deep breath, walked briskly towards the door, held open by the assistant.
There were four persons on the panel- three men and a lady but he stood out among them. Her eyes were instinctively drawn to him, to his face that had haunted her all these years and would not let her be…
‘Focus’ she rebuked herself as she greeted the members of the interview panel in a calm voice then sat down.
She gazed at them, her eyes moving to where he sat, staring at him briefly then swiftly looking away again. But not before she saw the look of surprise then recognition in his eyes. He was about to say something but the man sitting at the head of the table, cleared his throat and the interview began…
She was standing by the roadside waiting for a cab when a voice called out:
She recognised the voice and slowly turned round. He was striding quickly towards her with his long legs encased in a well-cut suit that fitted his slim frame well.
“At first I wasn’t sure. But now I’m quite certain. Tiwa, right? You used to stay at Yaba at Labake Street,” he said.
She stared coolly at him as if she did not know him, except as a member of the interview panel that just grilled her a short while ago.
Tiwa shook her head.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know you. We just met at the interview…” she began to say.
“No!” he shook his head. “Don’t you remember me? Martin? We were friends years ago when you just left secondary school and I was at U.I. I used to spend some of my vacation at my uncle’s place close to your street and we used to hang out there. We were close…”
She seemed to remember then, for she said:
“That Martin? Oh my! Quite an age!” said Tiwa smiling up at him.
“You’re right. It’s been ten, eleven years? How time flies! So, what’s been happening to you? Good things from looking at you. You look gorgeous!” he said, his eyes assessing her in an admiring way. “All grown up!”
“Well, I’ve been here and there. I was working at a company at Ikeja but left to start up my own business which didn’t work out. So, that’s why I’m here this morning for this job interview,” she explained.
“So glad you came. Look, I need to get back to the office. Let me have your number. We need to see one of these days so we can catch up on old times…”
Later, as she sat in the cab that was taking her home, Tiwa thought grimly to herself:
‘You’re quite right. We have a whole lot of catching up and payback to do!’
As you can see from the beginning of this tale, my name is Tiwa and I’m in my late twenties. You might be thinking my meeting with Martin at the job interview was a mere co-incidence.
No way! It was all planned.
Part of the game plan to pay him back for all the pain and misery he caused me, a young girl of 18, fresh and innocent about life and the ways of men…
That first day I set my eyes on Martin, I was returning from an errand for my mother. I was crossing the junction leading to my street when an ‘okada’ or commercial motorcyclist came from nowhere on full speed and knocked me down.
I fell down on the road, dazed and bruised. Then, I felt a strong hand lift me up from the road onto the pavement and a voice asked:
“Are you alright?” I was sitting on the ground and I looked up into the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. At first, I thought I had died and gone to heaven and I was looking at the face of an angel.
But seeing the other people around that had gathered and were staring at me with curiousity and some with concern, I knew I was still on this earth.
Miraculously, there were no bones broken but I had some bruises on my legs and hands. I stood up shakily, feeling a but dizzy.
With the help of the handsome stranger, I limped to a nearby chemist shop where my bruises were tended to.
His name was Martin. He was a 200 level student at the University and was on vacation and staying with an uncle who lived on a street nearby.
That day, he took me home and my parents were very impressed and grateful when I told them how much he helped me after the accident.
A few days later, he came to check on me to see how I was doing. He was to continue doing that till my injuries healed.
That was how our friendship started. Martin, who was about twenty two years old then was born to a Dutch father and a Nigerian mother.
He is what we call a ‘half-caste’ in this country. He had been brought up by his mother and her family as his father had returned to his country when he was still very young.
“I never knew my Dad,” he said one day. “He only reconnected with me about three years ago when he came on a visit to Nigeria.
Now, he wants to be more involved in my life. ‘You should come to Holland and continue with your education,’ he told me when we met.”
“So, will you go, Brother Martin?” I asked him.
“Don’t know. Perhaps, later, I might go over to do my Masters degree or something.”
By this time, I was a regular visitor at his home. A few times a week, I would go over and help with some errands around the house. His uncle, a bachelor was rarely home due to his job and Martin and I were often alone in the house.
He treated me like his kid sister and often called me ‘my little Tiwa’.
“I’m a big girl now o! Not a little kid, Brother Martin,” I said in a petulant voice.
He laughed at me.
“You might look all grown up but to me, you’re still a baby!” he said teasingly.
I did not want him to treat me like a child for by this time, I had a big crush on him which later developed into a consuming love that would have dire consequences for me.
I loved being with him, looking at him especially those wonderful eyes of his – hazel with a touch of green. Whenever he was close to me, I would feel my heart flutter like the wings of a butterfly.
Sometimes, I had this strong urge to hold him and kiss his red, luscious lips but I always restrained myself in the end.
Besides, I was a virgin and I wanted to wait a bit longer before giving myself to anyone. And not just anybody but someone like Brother Martin, I promised myself.
A stormy night
One day, I had gone over to his place as usual when a heavy storm began. It went on for hours and within a short time, the streets were flooded, making movement in the neighbourhood difficult.
“You might have to spend the night here,” Brother Martin said. He was looking through the window at the street outside, at the rain that was still pouring down in torrents.
His uncle had travelled and we were alone in the house.
I called my parents who gave me permission to stay till the following day. We stayed up late watching movies till nearly eleven o’clock when I began to feel sleepy.
Then he showed me to the guest room where I was to sleep and I went to bed. Later that night, the rain that had subsided a bit before we slept, began pouring heavily once more. This time it was followed by heavy thunder and lightening which woke me up.
I got frightened, being alone in the unfamiliar room and all. So, I went to Brother Martin’s room. He must have been awake for he sat up when I entered the room.
“Tiwa, are you alright?” he asked.
“Brother Martin, I’m scared. The thunder…”
“It’s ok. I’m here. Nothing’ll happen to you. You can stay here with me,” he offered, making room for me on the large bed.
I climbed into the bed, tucking myself under the blanket he gave me.
I tried going back to sleep but it was impossible. How could I sleep when the guy I was crazy about was lying so close to me, within my reach…
I turned on the bed and stretched out my hand tentatively. I touched his face, caressing his cheeks and mouth and…
“Tiwa!” he said as his hand held mine tightly to his lips.
Then he drew me to him and began to kiss me. Everything felt dreamlike, as if all my fantasies about him were coming true…
That was until I felt the sharp pain like a knife cut as he entered me, the first man to do so. I cried out, making him stop. But I bore the pain and urged him on and he began to move again…
Later, he apologised for hurting me, assuring me it would not be painful the next time, that I would grow to like it with time.
He was right. After that night of the storm, my relationship with Brother Martin entered a new phase, that of lovers.
Being with him, in his arms and loved by him was the most wonderful feeling in the world. Like a fool, I thought it would last forever, that one day, we would marry and have babies and live happily ever happy like happens in fairytales.
But this was no fairytale but real life and as every discerning person knows, things never turn out the way we plan in the real world…
To Be Continued…