It took four weeks of pushing, writing memos and internal politicking before mr Eugene finally agreed to let me go. I could not believe it, but the man actually held me in some esteem and considered me an asset.
Finally, my send forth day came and grudgingly, mr Eugene said a few words. I won’t repeat his words because if an employee heard those words daily, he would be the best in his field.
The man practically praised me to high heavens, and all the time I was with him, he never let slip any such words. A few other managers spoke and generally admonished me to be a good ambassador. I smiled, mr Iyaniwura (that’s the name of my Ondo state boss) couldn’t wait to have me in his office doing things the Lagos way.
After all the official partying and all, I went home to dryness. I had been moving my things; now, for the first time in my life, I was making a commitment and I didn’t know whether or not I was making the right decision.
Some days after the send forth party, I went to see my mum. I had been avoiding her since I got over the Imole issue. Mum had only one topic of discussion, and irrespective of the chatter that went before, she would find her way back and ask those glorious words.
‘Akin, when are you getting married?’ Then she would launch into scatching attacks telling me of all my contemporaries who had married and were doing well. It was for this reason that I avoided mum. But that day, I went to see her. She probably would be getting a daughter-in-law soon.
During the visit I told her I had been permanently transferred to Akure and that I would try my possible best to come see her once a month. She noticed the enthusiasm in my voice and raised her eyebrow. ‘There’s a girl there waiting for you?’
I shrugged. ‘I have just been transferred to Akure in what seems like a promotion and all you can think of is a girl? Mum, my wife will come along when it is written. Otherwise, let’s live life.’
She shrugged too. ‘Don’t answer me now ok. I’m sure you will be ringing my mobile phone with good news soon.’
Eventually I left mum’s place. I was still in my enthuastic mode and and nothing she said had affected me, that was a good thing.
I stayed in Lagos for another two weeks. I had contacted an estate agent who had gotten me a pricey apartment in Akure. My baggage I assigned to a company to move, it wasn’t much.
I held a send forth with the boys, it was a pensive going away party. I told all the stories. I did not withhold any detail and all the boys just kept staring at me.
Tolu look at me with renewed respect. ‘I always thought you had it in you to self-destruct, but this,’ he clapped his hands. That was all his reaction.
When we were done at the bar, I stood up, eyes still clear; I had barely drunk two glasses of alcohol. ‘It’s off to Akure guys, do drop by sometimes.’
Dare hugged me, his eyes misty. ‘I’m not too sure of visiting you in Akure. I don’t have any excuse see? Anyways, when are we seeing this girl you’re throwing your life away for?’
I hugged him tight and hit his back several times. The truth was I didn’t know where I stood with Kemi, I was taking a giant leap.
I left the group of boys, and went home. My house was now bare and the only thoughts I had of her were those of her strength. When she asked me to stay with her and continue on in Akure. There was also the hug before I left for Lagos.
I finally got the car on the road and released the gas to let the car surge forward. I drove past Berger and my mood went pensive. I drove in that state till I got to Akure. I checked the time, it was a little past four. She would still be at work I surmised and started sightseeing the state capital.
At five thirty p.m., I started driving to her house. I saw her car parked outside the gate and my spirit lifted. I walked into her house in my distraught state.
She saw me first, on her way to get some supplies, she later told me. Her face belied a smile and she quickly wiped it off. She stood still. Firm.
I walked up to her till there were just inches between us. ‘Remember the time when you asked me to stay with you, I didn’t have an answer, it was because I was not ready to stay with you. I told you I had to go to Lagos, my reality. It was that trip that opened up my eyes to see and now, I’m done running.’
She held my gaze all through the while, betraying no emotion. Then I kissed her, long, passionate hard. ‘You hugged me and gave me a peck as a parting gift, I want you to remember what you’ll have everyday.’
She cleaned her lips with the back of her hand. ‘How sure am I that you won’t get up and run once boredom sets in. That you will stay true to me, and stay with me?’
I stretched out my hands and showed her, then instinctively, I put my hand in my pocket and brought out my car key. I gave it to her and said, ‘I’m done running, won’t you make me a home?’
She didn’t respond, I was smothered with kisses I felt I would choke. She looked at me. ‘Just the way you are…’ And she proceeded to kiss me some more.
Er, now y’all are probably looking for closure. You wanna read about how I proposed, she agreed and all that? Or about how I harbored thoughts to kidnap the bride on our wedding day; before the minister could join us together, she was that gorgeous. And of course, there’s the part where Tolu got to give me away instead of my paternal uncles present, plenty tori dey dia. And on and on… Scratch. I’m not telling. What I’ll tell is that I’m a changed man, I am now responsible and have found God. Yes Jesus. I’m born again now and all those roving skills, are dead with the old man. I am a New Man.