Nnena in a swift unexpected move, thrust the door open and darted out of the room. Judith was alarmed.
“I see, no wonder you no be wan open the door. God don lefa you today” Judith went on.
“Judy abeg, you be my guy, calm down, help me think through this matter. Chei. Gen don die, diesel don finish, oga Emeka been say make I collect money go buy diesel, oga Mbadiwe don come back, diesel don finish and him been warn me say make I no put on gen for oga Emeka when him no dey house. Chei, my own don finish today” he lamented.
Arit was glad to join her husband finally in the city of Abu Dhabi. She had spent one year alone in Southlake city of Texas. Emeka had relocated to Abu Dhabi to join MASDAR institute /MIT renewable energy project. They had both moved from Austin to Southlake city when they found out that Arit was pregnant. They had always wanted to raise their children in a little town where they could enjoy some bit of communal life. They wanted to raise their children in a community where almost everybody knew everybody. So after months of research and search, they settled for Southlake city. Southlake city was one of the richest cities in the state of Texas.
Emeka worked in an oil sector in Houston. After his youth service in Cross River State, he got a job with Shell Petroleum and was based in Port Harcourt city, Nigeria. His one year mandatory NYSC had given him the initial baptism into the Nigerian system. When uncle Mbadiwe learnt that he was posted to Cross River State, he was on the phone line straight to Emeka’s dad in the US, telling him, we are going to lose Emeka.
“What is all this nonsense about losing Emeka about?” Nzeribe quizzed Mbadiwe.
“That has always been your problem. You just won’t listen to us who are back home, who know the script. You are too Americanized for my liking.”
“Mbadiwe but what exactly is the problem? Nze queried.
“Everybody knows about Calabar girls, everybody knows what it means. Most especially the young people. When once you enter their snare you are finished” Mbadiwe concluded.
“Oh don’t you worry about that, Mbads, Emeka can take care of himself” Nze argued.
“Well, that is the point with you guys from the so called America. You think you know it all” Mbadiwe carried on.
“Mbads, that is why we sent Emeka to Nigeria to come and experience the culture and feel the pulse of the place” Nze argued further.
“You know what, I am not going to waste my time with you anymore…” Mbadiwe gave up.
“So what should I call you apart from Miss Pretty?” Emeka asked.
“Arit?” Emeka exclaimed.
“Yes, Arit. Why you seem perplexed?”
“Don’t tell me you are from Calabar?” Emeka asked.
“Yes I am. Born and bred in Calabar”
“Wow!” Emeka was astonished.
There was nothing astonishing about meeting somebody from Calabar. It was the memories that flooded his mind that he could not handle. They were intense and they were a mixture – nostalgia, fun, happiness, sadness, all mixed together, yet distinct.
“Why are you so excited?” Arit asked.
“Because I spent one year in Calabar doing my NYSC and those are the most fun moments of my life in Nigeria”.
“Yes” Emeka carried on in excitement.
“Whereabouts in Calabar did you serve?” Arit quizzed him.
“Federal Government Girls College Calabar. I taught maths and physics for one year and men, I loved teaching those girls. They soaked in everything and wanted more.” Emeka recalled.
“Whoa, it seems like you hit a chord with those girls.”
“Yes, I did. Even with my colleagues. The readjustment was difficult initially, however as time went on, it became so real and needful and we had such a great time together. I miss those gals and my colleagues. I can see the entire one year in front of me right now.” Emeka went on.
That was the beginning of a friendship that led to the tying of nuptial knots.
Arit was working with Sabre Holdings in Houston. She held a first degree in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Master’s degree from The University of London in Business Administration and a PhD from the University of Texas in Austin. This was her first serious job apart from odd jobs here and there while studying. She was keen to make a career growth. Her first priority was to stabilize herself and build a home for herself. She had lived in about three countries in the last 10 years of her study and different cities.
She was born in Calabar, did her elementary school at Calabar, secondary school at Enugu, undergraduate degree at Ibadan, Industrial attachment – internship in Lagos. Her national service was in Borno state Nigeria and her Masters in London. From London she moved to America, where she lived in Austin Texas for 4 years and was oscillating between Texas and California, where she was collaborating with the UCLA on a research project on the impact of immigration on the American economy and where they immigrated from.
She was now ready to stabilize and build a life for herself. Relationship was not really a top most priority for her. However, she was aware of the fact that she needed to build a network of reliable friends outside the research and work community, that she could hang out with to relax. That was why when the opportunity seemed to present itself via Emeka she grabbed it.
Emeka was not the typical guy. He was down to earth and practical. He was not out to impress anybody. The talk with Arit moved from culinary delights in Calabar to the different culinary delights in Nigeria, the weather in the different parts of Nigeria, the geography, the cultures, lifestyles, life in London as a student compared with life in America and particularly Texas and Florida. With Emeka you never lacked a topic to talk about without getting personal. Emeka and Arit had been talking for about two hours without knowing each other’s names. Conversations flowed seamlessly and effortlessly from one topic to another. The dance was the most interesting as Emeka danced to the music of the Benin Highlife maestro in Efik style. He didn’t care what people thought. This stole Arit’s heart. The originality of Emeka. The creativity and ingenuity was what she appreciated the most.
Several months followed of, Arit and Emeka meeting up and talking and relaxing. They soon looked forward to those times. I guess what made their time special was that they never talked in depth about work. So, when they met each other, it was all about forgetting work and pressures and having just a lazy time.
The first time they went to play pool was outstanding. Arit has never held a cue stick in her life and the way Emeka broke the steps down for her was so easy. Emeka had a way of making complex task seem so easy.
Six months of seeing each other made them to realize that their hearts beat for each other too.
At the next gala night, in the middle of the dance floor, Emeka moved closer to Arit, held her arms and they spun around to the music of Lafayette. They got closer to each other, held on tighter and their heart beats pumped harder. Emeka stopped in the middle of the music, looked straight into her eyes.
“Would you consider being my friend?”
“Friend? Aren’t we friends already?”
“Yes we are, but I want heart friendship?”
“What have we been having?”
“Well you tell me?”
“I feel I have connected with your heart and I believe we have connected, if you do feel the same way, let’s entrust our hearts to each other”
Emeka has always been a very different person, but she never knew how to respond to this situation. What should she say? What did he mean?
“Emeka Please I don’t want to live under assumptions. What do you mean?”
“Exactly what I mean. I give you my heart and you give me yours?”
“Emeka there is no other person I would have dreamed of giving my heart to apart from you. My day is made anytime I think of you and see you and dream of you”.
“Thanks Arit”. With this he put his hand in his pocket and began to holler like a mad man that he has an important announcement to make and kept hollering till everything quietened down.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please I would like to announce to everyone present that Arit and I have just decided to start an important journey in our lives.
We have decided to commit our heart to ourselves and please join me in congratulating Arit and myself.”
It took a moment for the announcement to sink in and then like a snap, people awakened out of the dream and clapped. Echoes of congratulations filtered through the room and people shook their hands and the DJ spun Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’.
Time elapsed. Arit and Emeka sojourned on. Travelling with Emeka was such a paradigm shift for Arit. Emeka was a bundle of metaphors. He spoke like an African prince. Anytime he opened his mouth pearls of wisdom emanated forth.
“I am a traditional Nigerian man and I will have to go through the rite of passage he said. I have to see your parents, get their blessings and then we take it from there.
*Gen – generator
*Kaka- defecating or doing a poo.