Your Brief Bio:
Ayodeji is a student of English at Obafemi Awolowo University. He loves writing and speaking and appreciates art and creativity. He loves God too and lives for his Kingdom.
Tweet-Style Story Summary:
Waiting is a story of staying strong to love and holding on to our promises, staying firm and fighting till love triumphs. Adebola and Elizabeth takes us on their love journey in this short masterpiece.
Even though it was obvious that Adebola had changed so much, he never loosed his person; that son, brother, friend and lover of theirs that left for London five years earlier. When the children hugged him, his muscles restrained their embrace and his beards itched their foreheads, but they glued to him anyway. His voice had become deeper, his English accent had become musical and the words rolled out with a kind of ease that made it feel as if that was the only thing that changed about him. While his mother tried to fit herself into his hug, raising her hands to heaven to thank God, the little children surrounded the car and stayed with the driver as he unpacked the book. He prostrated before his father who in turn patted him at the back and shared schnapp with his friends. It was his own way of celebrating something good and this time he was celebrating his son who had not only gone to the white man’s land to take out of his degree, or an engineering degree for that matter,but can also speak like them.
“how is Liza” he asked, curiosity in his eyes
“she is fine my son, come in first”
“no mum, I’ll be right back”
He kissed his mother in the forehead and walked briskly out of the compound, anxious. Walking past the houses on the streets, he felt nostalgic and the memories of childhood came back, memories of him in his uniform coming from school, dirty, hungry, stealing mangoes from the Late Igbo man’s compound with his friend Akin-who was now in the city as a sailor-Memories of him and Elizabeth, her smooth skin the pigment of chocolate and the dimple that graced her face. As he approached her house, he felt heavy and hot at the same time, the memories kept flooding.
Elizabeth was there, with her watering can, in her mother’s orchard, the two big plaits on her hair resting behind her head. Her skirt blew with the wind and she allowed herself to be wet with the flowers.
Adebola called her in his own way, folding his hands in an uncontrollable ecstasy. Elizabeth’s heart skipped a beat as she watched him fight tears and laughter, a grin on his face, a familiar grin. She covered her mouth in amazement and chuckled till she laughed, running to him and like a baby, she flew into his open arms and cupped him in her own embrace. He knelt down before her and allowed her to caress his head. He knew she was still fighting the truth, if it was really him or not. Her nose itched and she dropped a tear. Her parents and sisters - Margaret and Esther- were standing by the door, amazed to see him too but more amazed that it didn’t take long before they rekindled their love again. As a matter of fact, the love never died.
That night, as the welcome party went on, Elizabeth admired him, the man he had become. While he chewed the cashew nut that was served, watching the children dance, she stared at his face, at his new beards, cleanly shaved and groomed like the men in her English textbooks she used to teach. He still that boyishness that she always loved, that pointed nose, that small rounded lips, the dance of his jaw as he chewed, his smile, his comments, his arm that once carried her when she climbed a tree and couldn’t come down. He caught her staring at him and she looked away, he smiled and whispered into her ears, his cologne overwhelming her sense of smell. Their mothers watched, from the gathering of the women and their fathers chattered at their own table. They had watched the two of them grow, from fetus to babies, to toddlers, kids, children, teenagers before that Sunday in July when the white man took Adebola along with the other boys. She was born two years after him, before her other sisters came, while he remained the only child of his parents. Their mothers had nursed their camaraderie and love and teased the duo with the promise of them marrying each other and even though they resented it at first, their hearts began to draw to each other and Adebola had vowed to love her till his death, though he didn’t know what it meant to love till death.
He turned his “apoti” and faced her, holding her hands in his, nothing had changed about her asides the expected womanhood.
“I missed you and I kept thinking about you, those letters meant a lot to me but they couldn’t take your place”
She laughed and threw her head backwards and it thrilled him, to see her laugh in that manner again. One thing he loved about her, she still maintained her set of sparkling white dentition.
“I did too, Ade.” She wanted to say more but couldn’t. Her feelings were beyond words.
While they looked into each other’s eyes, the drumming and cheering still going on, her sister, Margaret passed by, swinging her hips to the drums, taunting her.
“I will be going to London too, in the next three months”
His heart sank and he went blank.
“why? When? I’m back”
“I’m going for my degree in English Literature and history. I won a scholarship”
He held his head in his hands and blew air off his mouth. She swallowed in fear and uncertainty. She kept it a secret, to surprise him, to make him proud of her.
“Ade? Are you not happy?”
“no Liza, I am, I’m proud of you, so proud of you. To see you do your own thing and be what you want, just that I never thought I’d ever leave you again.”
“I know, but….”
He cupped her face in his hands and gave her an assuring smile and she rested her head on his chest. Five years ago, as he prepared to leave, she had hid in her room, crying. Her novels had stories of girls whose lovers went to fight in the world war and never returned, or returned dead, broken or deformed. He too had feared, that she would be married off, to a boy like him or an older man. But they held themselves and vowed to wait, to pray for each other, to keep their loves and that day, he kissed her for the first time before running into the bus, with the other teenagers.
“I’ll wait, Liza, I will” he said and kissed her hair, their noses almost touching. They stood up and danced. He jitterbugged to the konga. She laughed at him and danced the traditional way. The audience clapped and he covered his face in defeat and raised his head when his father whistled to him. They glanced at each other and smiled. He still knew his father’s non-verbal signs.
He drew Elizabeth to his side and said to her ears, in a pleading manner
“Liza, marry me”
She looked into his eyes, finding certainty.
“yes, I will. Let’s get married” she replied and he hugged her tight, he wanted to assure her of his love, using more than words. She held him tight and closed her eyes.
The church was filled four weeks later as they stood before the priest, exchanging vows. Her floral crown reminded everyone of Jesus’ crown of thorns, but hers graced her hair and held the long veil that reached a long distance. Her parents were proud as they gave her out to the one they’d known her with, the one their eyes had co-parented. Adebola looked so new in his black suit and bow tie. He kept staring at her and felt like her father. He wanted so badly to let the world know, how he loved her, how he will never stop loving her. Her mother and sisters cried with her as she waved them goodbye. Tears of joy, joy of losing their treasured girl to the man of her dreams. Later at night, as the guest still kept partying, the new couple wrapped themselves beneath the blanket, their intimate moment graced by the joy of newness, of entering into sexual matrimony. They were not ashamed of their nakedness and he helped her journey calmly into womanhood while she hankered for him. Afterwards, he thanked her for waiting indeed, for remaining a virgin till he returned, for accepting him. When she told him to add to his thanksgiving, her role in helping him become a man, he laughed and bit her ear, inhaling her sweet smell.
They spent the weeks she had left, flaunting their rings, growing her own garden, setting her bookshelf; Caribbean novels from African, British from American. They visited each parents and walked in their “and co”. They visited their childhood destinations, the river, the secondary school, the old church. They climbed trees, shared his London memories, laughing at his British lecturers, admiring the African that taught him constructive drawing. He taught her ballet and she discussed African contemporary plays with him. When the pictures from their wedding arrived, they hung some on the wall, and restricted some to the album. He made one of her singles into a frame and kept it in his study. He said he would keep looking every blessed day of his life.
Today has finally come , for Elizabeth to leave. While the bus is waiting to fetch her, she embraces him and sobs, looking elegant in her white platforms and lilac gown, promising him she’d return immediately she had her degree. He is sobbing too and promises to wait, like she did. He promises would have built a house in the city before she returns and they would have and nurture their children there. Their parents and her sisters came to bade them farewell.
Elizabeth would leave for London, her vows in her heart. Then , Adebola would move to the city to work as an engineer, pioneering the construction of the presidential road. He will build the house and keep looking at her picture in his study. Waiting for her. He will write letters and pray for her in his room or at the church, he will visit her parents and her sisters, walk the streets in the evenings, his hands in his pocket, thinking of her. At nights, he will dream of her and wake up, missing her badly. Later, after a year, he will meet Dorcas, the estranged poor teenager at the construction site. He will take care of her and rehabilitate her, teach her English and drawing. It is Dorcas who will sleep in his house one night, that will arouse him. He will take her into his room and promise to be gentle. Later, he will begin to regret his actions and cry till dawn. When Dorcas will come to tell him she had gotten pregnant, he will complain that she was too fertile. He will stop writing to Elizabeth for a while out of guilt and shame. After Dorcas will have the baby boy, she will nurse him for few months and leave to find her life back. Adebola will starve for days, to pray, to blame himself. He will begin to write the letters again and get no reply, for months. Later, he will take his son to his mother and go in search of his love. He will search the post offices and won’t find her letters. He will travel to London to look for her, to ask her to forgive him and she came home herself, he will go into exile. But, he will not find Elizabeth. No one has seen her, no one knows her, no African Woman came on scholarship to Cambridge to study literature that year. Then a new fear will engulf him and he’d almost go mad. He will return to Nigeria and pray and wait, for days, weeks, months, years, but she won’t come back, she won’t be found. His son will grow into a young volatile boy, taking after him. His friends will tell him to move on and in his dreams, he will see Elizabeth as a ghost or a mirage, or at a distance and he will run after her but will never catch up with her or she turns to Dorcas. Adebola will wait more years, in faith, still loving her, while his son keeps growing, into a handsome teenager.
Later, when Elizabeth will finally comes, looking far ahead of her age, broken, different, pained, he will stand still while she will stare at him. Then; days, weeks and months will pass by and she won’t talk to him, she won’t allow him in his room and won’t allow him see her unclad. He too will feel a dryness towards her, towards the new her. He will wish she never came back and she will wish she had died instead. But, he will pray to God to help him find his love for her again. Then, he will begin to nurse and nurture a new kind of love for her, he will absorb her filth and disgust, he will bear the pain of living with her and even though it will feel sour, he will wait till that day, when she will return to her senses, when they will finally stare at each other, a familiar stare. And kiss.
But now, at present,
This Monday in June, while their parents and her sisters watch them, while her boxes are still standing in front of the door, While the bus is waiting to pick Elizabeth, she is still stuck in his arms, still sobbing, still contemplating whether to go or not. Adebola too is firm round her, promising he will keep his love, promising he will wait…….