I hope you guys are doing great. I have thought about you everyday that I was gone. We've got so much to talk about but before we get there, I'd like to drop THAWED (Part 6) here for you. A lot of people reached out to me, asking for it and I'm sorry it took so long.
Just in case you're just hearing about Thawed, it's an amazing, unconventional Nigerian love story that you don't want to miss out on. I'll drop links to the previous episodes before posting the 6th part so that those who have some catching up to do can do just that.
Here we go:
THAWED (PT 1)
THAWED (PT 2)
THAWED (PT 3)
THAWED (PT 4)
THAWED (PT 5)
THAWED (PT 6):
“Edi where have you been? Aniekan and Edidiong have been trying to call you. Ehn? And why do you look so harassed?” my mother started as soon as I walked through the door. “Mummy good morning.” I mouthed barely audibly. “Are you okay?” he tone changed after she took a good look at me. “I am just really weak.” “Ewo! Nwa m, oya sit down” she moved the teddy bear Didi must have kept on the sofa unto another chair. I hit the seat with a moan. “Mummy where are the girls?” I asked, straining to hear their voices or the sound of the T.V. “Aniekan is rounding up her packing. Edidiong is helping her out. They probably got tired of waiting for you” “I’m sorry. Things took an unexpected turn and I just couldn’t get here any faster. The pang of hunger I felt seemed unfair to me given that I had had something to snack on not too long ago. Perhaps I’d feel better after a short nap.
After I had gotten back from the café, I had asked Nana to go get dressed while I waited for her. Unfortunately, I slept off and Nini who I was really bothered about did not deem it fit to wake me up cuz she got carried away by some movie. So I woke up really late and mad as hell. The kids got a major dose of scolds and of course, I blamed my mum too, for not waking me up. I still felt like shit so driving was the least of the available options. The house was as quiet as a graveyard with everyone staying out of my way. I tried to yell two drivers into making the trip but the ol’ sports just wouldn’t budge. With the hostel mistress calling me incessantly and getting ignored consistently, I knew I had one last call to make.
“I hoped this call would come sooner” he said smugly without bothering with greetings. “I got home, slept off and now, I’ve got to get her to school one way or another cuz there’s no way she’s missing exams tomorrow because her mum had a crappy weekend.” “That’s okay. I’ve got some time to spare. Is the coffee shop good for a meeting place?” I wonder why he sounds amused. Anyway, I wouldn’t indulge him seeing as there were more pressing matters on my mind. “Yes, that’s fine. My car.” I said placidly. He seemed not to mind my tone, said he’d see me in ten minutes and hung up. I quickly got Aniekan’s duffel bag into the car and made sure she was properly dressed. Didi cried, insisting that she’d come with us but at this time, I wanted to be careful about how much of me Amanze had access to and that includes my children. Why the hell can’t I even drive my daughter to school? I mean Ogun state is just around the corner. As soon as another bang went off it my head, I remembered why. There was no way I could drive considering how I felt. I bribed Didi with 5 granola bars and a bar of Toblerone and all was well in the kingdom.
I parked right outside the coffee shop twenty minutes later. I didn’t see his car, assuming the one I saw at the fuel station is his only car, and I kinda doubt that. So I told Nini to sit tight while I went in to check if Amanze was already waiting. He sat with ear phones plugged in, and a copy of some Japanese manga in his hands. This guy is just something, I thought as I walked towards him. He had his back to me and as soon as I stretched out to tap him, he turned and smiled. “I could smell you. That’s beautiful way to announce one’s presence.” “Whatever you say” I retorted as I turned towards the door. In a second, he was beside me, taking long strides towards the exit. “This is Aniekan right?” “Yes. Everybody calls her Nini.” “Hmmm…I like Aniekan or Annie” he said as he held the door open for me. “Do you ever stick to the books?” I asked dryly. I felt like crap and did not have enough in me for witty banters with Amanze. I walked to the front passenger’s seat and let him take the wheel. He got in, adjusted his seat to his comfort and then turned to Nini. “Hi Annie. I’m Amanze. I’ve heard so much about you.” “Good evening. My name is Nini. It’s nice to meet you” said Nini looking up from her Manga. I almost laughed. I knew Nini would insist on being introduced as Nini. “You read Mangas too?” he asked with genuine interest. “Yes. There really cool. I read the girly kind but my brothers like the ones filled with fights and blood. Boys are so weird.” “I know we are. So what class are you in?” “I am in JS 1” she replied proudly. She lets everyone know that she’s no longer in primary school. “Guys let’s get going. We don’t have time.” I said interrupting their conversation. This guy had a way of just making everybody get comfortable with him. “Yeah…let’s.” he started the car smiling to himself. Nini quickly went back to her manga. After a few minutes, I noticed him look at Nini through his rear mirror and smile to himself. I felt my stomach tug at me some, and then pushed all thoughts away from my mind as I faced the window.
The trip must have been interesting. I could sort of hear Aniekan and Amanze chatter away in my sleep. I was just too tired to register anything going on and although it wasn’t the most comfortable sleep, I was glad that I could close my eyes for a minute. Unlike I expected, he didn’t wake me up now and again to ask for directions. “Edima, we’re here.” I opened my eyes to find us at my daughter’s school. Nini was already trying to get down. “Hold up young woman.” I said still trying to boot. “Let’s pray” I said not mind whether or not our guest would be uncomfortable. I prayed over my daughter and got off to have a word with the matron. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Amanze helping her get out the duffel bag from the trunk of the car. This man is trouble I thought as I made my trip to the next block of buildings. On my return, I saw Amanze and Nini practicing some weird kind of handshake. Trust Aniekan to learn these things fast. “My friend come and get going” I said as I dragged her into a hug, partly to stop them from doing whatever it is they were doing. I kissed my daughter on the forehead and whispered blessings to her. As if on cue, I heard the click of a camera. “What was that for?” I asked a bit cross. This time he didn’t look amused or naughty. “Twenty years from now, you’ll treasure this picture more than almost everything. So you do not get to be mad.” Where did all this seriousness come from? I returned my attention to Nini as I let her go and watched as my baby walked towards what she’d call home for the next two months. The boys could not come to say hi. This wasn’t visiting hours and there was nothing I could do to change the minds of those in charge. I had given Nini a bunch of stuff for I got into the car and quickly wiped off a stray tear before Amanze would get into the car.
“Are you good?” he asked still looking at me with a healthy dose of seriousness. I was in no mood for this man’s intensity. “Allergies” I lied swiftly. “You should be driving” I added impatiently. No, I should calm down. I was directly and indirectly letting him see too much. I quickly willed myself to stop being emotional. “Thank you for doing this” I said with a small smile as calmly as I could manage. He just nodded and started the car as the engine purred to life. We were quiet for most of the journey apart from a few comments from me here and there. We just kept nodding or handing me half-baked smiles. The traffic jam as a result of people returning to Lagos for work, from redemption camp and Canaan land was building up rapidly and soon, we barely moved for seconds before stopping for minutes. I was still facing the window with my shades on. It was a few minutes passed six and although it wasn’t dark yet, it was definitely not the moment for wearing shades. I took a gulp of water and replaced the bottle in the holster. Just as I was about to return the hand to my lap where I picked it up from, Amanze took it. I tried to pull my hand away but instead he interlocked our fingers and smiled. “Edima relax. This won’t hurt. I hear holding hands helps with relaxation and that’s just what you need.” I stopped fighting and turned to the window as I drifted into sleep.
“We are here.” I woke up with my hands still in Amanze’s. It was dark already. How had he managed to drive with just one free hand? “What time is it?” I asked. “Time enough for you to grab a meal.” That was when I noticed where we were; right in front of Nri. “What are we doing here?” I asked genuinely surprised. “I don’t know where you live so I figured you could eat something so that you could be strong enough to drive yourself home.” I took my hands back and this time, he didn’t oppose. I popped a mint in my mouth and took a sip of water. “Fine. Thank you.” “Right. We should get going. They won’t serve the food here.”
I am back here, I thought as I sat trying to feign aloofness. This was my first time back at Nri after I swore to forget her and her amazing food, and of course, her owner as well. More than anything, I couldn’t wait to eat. The Lord knows I deserve a good meal after the kind of crappy weekend I’d just had. The place was still as beautiful as I remember. Nothing had really changed. The air was sweet and heavy with something floral. The light was subtle yet bright enough to cast beams on the brown shiny wooden surfaces here and there. And jazz flowed from the speakers… absolutely amazing. The place wasn’t packed with people; just about four couples, each pair looking dreamy as they spoke with each other between mouthfuls of whatever piece of heaven they had ordered. I sat alone, waiting for him. He came back with a bottle of wine and two glasses. We got a space for two at one of the cubicles so it was really secluded…private. There was a chair, more like a high sofa, for two and a table both facing the window. So we had to sit on the chair together. I was so tired that I sat leaning forward and resting my elbows on the table with my thumbs to my temples. “You can lean on me, you know?” he offered as he plopped down beside me. “I’ll be fine. I just need to go to bed.” “Here. You’ll feel better.” He said calmly handing me a glass of wine as though he didn’t hear me. “I can’t do any alcohol.” I said still retaining my position. “You should learn to trust some more.” I sat up and took a long gulp. “What are these made from? They taste so different.” I said barely audible as I leaned back on the sofa. “Cherries. You know, I’m beginning to get worried. Is this just fatigue or do you need to see a doctor? Is there anyone I can call to come drive you home?” “It’s just my mum and I don’t want her worrying about me. I’m sure the grubs will make me feel stronger.” I took more sips of the wine as we both sat silently, staring into the night.
“The weight you bear is beyond you Edima. You’re not fine anymore.” “What?” I asked half surprised, half trying to comprehend if he really just said that to me. “It’s been a long day my dear. You should be too tired to play pretend.” He said quietly as he took a sip from his glass. “I am okay.” “You’re not. I saw it the first time I saw you. I thought it was just passing through; that maybe some French wine would help some. I was wrong.” He continued. “I feel like I want to help you…but I don’t know if I can or if it’s in my place to do so.” I turned to face him this time. “You don’t know me Amanze. Nobody’s just an easy puzzle to unravel.” “I know Edima. You are not easy and I’m yet to decide on whether you should be unraveled.” Somehow, his words just did not sound like lines, if you know what I mean. He looked pretty serious, like he did when he took the picture of me and Nini. I stuttered a little and just shut my mouth. “Dinner’s here.” I said in the bid to clear the air. I had rice and some kind of curry sauce with little chunks of goat meat. It was so good and I really felt better. Amanze had a chicken salad and continued to sip on Cherry wine, all the while staring at me with an intensity that made my skin burn while I did my best to think of anything else but him. As soon as my meal was finished, I grabbed my phone and stood to leave. He stood up as well and led me to the elevator without any word. The ride down was short and the journey to the dark spot where my car was parked was even shorter. This all felt familiar; me walking to my car, trying to will myself to want to forget this same man. The difference was he was right here, walking with me and just being unintentionally unforgettable. “You don’t look like you want to see me anytime soon” he said as we came to a stop by the door of my car. How does he sense these things? “Thank you very much for today…with Nini and everything else.” “It’s okay. Thanks for letting me help.” He said as he held the door open for me. I started to get in when he grabbed my arm gently. “You could use some of this.” With that he pulled me into a bear hug. How could a person see everything but how he was part of the problem. I clung to him, his scent- he smelled like heaven. I held unto the possibility of what danced round my mind as misty as it may seem. And he hugged me right back. I disentangled myself from him and got into my car. He stood with an arm on the roof of the door looking at me like he always did. I fumbled with my keys a little and ignited the engine. He leaned in. “Will you be alright?” “I will be.” And our lips met. This time, the shock reverberated through my body. What business did I have doing this? My heart was thumping erratically, threatening to break out of its cage. Amidst all this chaos, it was a gentle kiss. I could taste the cherry wine on his tongue and the need that flowed through him too. His hand came up to my face, gently positioning fingers at the base of my neck. I made sure not to touch him. I knew I’d lose it if I did so I just gripped the steering wheel tightly as I let him literally take my breath away. Despite his gentleness, I could sense…taste an urgency, a demand and a kind of solemnness from him. Then he stopped without pulling away. “I really want to be sorry about this.” He whispered gruffly. He pecked me on my forehead and walked away, relaxingly, with both hands in his pockets. “Shit!”
I hope things are getting as interesting as you hoped they would. I would really really love to hear what you think. The romantics are probably in a good place while some other people might feel like hitting some sense into her. Yes? Hahaha... I'm sure people like Duru and Mang Okafor will have interesting opinions.
I'm really glad to be here again. :)