EDITED BY VICTORIA OKON
Five days had passed since I returned from Ibadan and nothing was the same. On that day, I was dressed in a red satin dress, the one that complimented my skin colour so perfectly. I was bored from sitting on my bed, re-touching my makeup and torturously waiting for my phone to ring.
The weekend before, Cynthia’s wedding was ceremoniously held in Ibadan. I had intentionally fixed my annual leave around the same time so that I could be available to give her my wholehearted support, get some rest, and explore the sights and sounds of the city. It also turned out that she loved the dress designed by Tomi and then started crying when she heard that Zainab and I paid for the cost of her bridal shower and all the outfits worn. The wedding was a huge success.
Like most friends of the couple, I was lodged at a hotel close to the wedding venue in Bodija. It was quite decent and comfortable plus it came highly recommended. Most of the guests had returned to their respective states and countries in some cases, so I figured, why not officially begin my vacation since I actually needed it after all the wedding shenanigans.
By that time, I had heard a lot about the Agodi gardens and thought it would be a great place to sketch and clear my head, so I got a cab to take me there. I was sitting in a chair and working on a few of my designs when I heard someone call my name.
“Zora?” the unfamiliar voice called from behind me.
When I turned around, I saw the most striking man I had ever seen in my life. About six feet tall, his caramel skin and brown eyes complemented each other in a way that made me go numb. I didn’t recognize him, yet I felt like we had met before.
“Have we met?” I asked, losing myself in his eyes.
“Unofficially” he answered as he went on to describe the dress I wore at Cynthia’s wedding. “Victor Assam…” he said, stretching his hand out for a handshake. “Friend of the groom.” That smile. I shook his hand daintily.
“And no… I am not stalking you,” I laughed. He smiled.
That day, and for the rest of my stay, we chatted for long hours, laughing and bonding like childhood friends who just reunited. For a medical doctor, Victor was quite comical with his expressions and I loved it!
The night before I returned home, he told me that he would be in Lagos the following week on an official assignment, we planned to go out for dinner upon his arrival. Since then, we had spoken every single day and I anticipated his visit.
My daydreaming was abruptly interrupted by an SMS notification. I glanced at my wall clock. It was 4:45 pm, meaning that Victor would be arriving at any moment. He promised to pick me up at 5:00 pm, and he was never late to an appointment.
My heart skipped a beat as I picked up the phone hoping to see a message from Victor. The text was from an unknown number. It read: “Hi Zee…” I frowned.
Probably Victor, I thought.
I called the number back and heard a familiar voice on the other end. But it wasn’t Victor. I recognized that voice anywhere, even if I was beneath a rock. It was my cousin, Ziva.
“ZIVA! How are you? I don’t think I have this number saved.”
“Oh I’m fine Zee. I just got a new line. I’m ba-ack.” She singsonged. Ziva was my favourite cousin. She was a true sweetheart, who worked just as hard as she played, that’s why when she left the country to further her studies, it broke the hearts of everyone who knew her.
“That’s wonderful Ziva. We should definitely link up soon.” We talked some more and hung up.
The phone rang again. Quite certain, she forgot something, I smiled into the phone.
“What did you forget?”
“Definitely not you.” There was a pause. That silky baritone voice sounded like- “It’s Jide.” Jide Adebayo, my first and in fact only boyfriend. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t had flings since then, but I don’t think I had ever fallen in love the way I did with Jide. He had moved to Madrid with his family after our secondary school graduation and things were just never the same after that…
My heart drummed a certain familiar type of beat. Weird. Why was he calling me and why now?
“Zora? Are you there?” He sounded confused.
“Yes,” I responded. “Just a little taken aback… It’s good to hear from you”. It was a miracle I didn’t stutter.
“I know… I’m back in Nigeria. I ran into Favour at the mall and she gave me your number.” Everyone seemed to be ‘back’. Was I missing something?
“I’d love to meet up, Zora. How’s next weekend?” Straight to the point. Typical Jide.
“I’d have to check my schedule to see if I have anything planned”. I replied.
“No worries. I will check up on you later in the week. Honestly Zora, It feels great to hear from you again…”
After he hung up, I stared emptily at the wall, trying to calm the butterflies that were slowly rising in my stomach. Why was all of this happening so suddenly? This felt too much of a coincidence for me to ignore.
The doorbell rang at exactly 5.00pm. It was Victor.