I felt more confident that my relationship with Uju would work out well after leaving aunt Nkiruka’s house. The yellow sun had receded into a dull orange and the blue clouds were giving way to the indigo ones. Evening was slowly taking over; it would only be a few minutes before I reached Ijerra. I would keep to my promise of taking Uju on a surprise date.
I didn’t need Nonso’s help this time around, in figuring out a nice to place to hang out. There was a hotel at the outskirts of Ijerra and it had a spectacular view. There were mountains and little hills. And there was a waterfall too. I wanted to make this date a special one for her, so I was hoping I could get to her house before nightfall. I wanted her to come with her camera, and take amazing pictures of the scenic beauty.
I loved her ambitious spirit. I would always encourage her to pursue all her dreams. I just hoped she would understand what I planned to tell her later tonight. I didn’t want any walls between us. I wanted her to understand me. And I wanted to get to know her better.
My phone beeped twice. I averted my eyes swiftly and checked it. Nonso had just sent me a message. He advised me to pick the woman from the four profiles. She was the most experienced, and she had just been dropped by a singer who couldn’t afford her salary.
I would talk to Nonso later, I had to focus on the road ahead.
The little town of Ijerra could never be a stranger to me. As I closed in on the entrance of the town; the aroma of Akara balls permeated the air, and the laughter of children playing in a nearby filled reechoed in my mind. A short memory of I and Emeka playing ball flashed through my brain. I quickly remembered that I had promised to give Emeka a call.
I planned to check on him as well. I would do that before climbing up to Uju’s room.
I drove into the familiar lane with the brick walls. I parked my car in front of the building with the wild bush. I had a feeling Uju was a poor gardener. I planned to tease her about the wild bush, later at night.
I grabbed my phone and quickly got down from the car and hurried towards Emeka’s apartment. As I got nearer, I noticed the door was open, and I could hear the sound of female laughter pouring out in generous quantity.
“Shit,” I muttered underneath my breath. That was Uju’s voice! She was in her brother’s flat, and her presence would ruin the surprise date I planned for her. I sighed and continued moving towards the parted door, the date would still come as a surprise.
I stepped into the flat without knocking, and the first scene before me was shocking. My heart skipped a beat, and a cold chill ran down my spine. Uju was sitting on another man’s lap and he was playing with her hair!
Okay, I have never been jealous of a woman. Women threw themselves over me, I did the picking. But seeing Uju being so relaxed with someone else made me feel somehow; I was jealous. I glared angrily at the man who seemed not to notice me. Actually, they didn’t sense my presence.
Was Uju seeing someone else? I thought she was single. I felt played and humiliated. At first, I wanted to walk out of the house and call Uju later. I had feelings for her. She was special to me. I couldn’t share.
I remembered this guy. This was Emeka’s flat-mate. I didn’t know his name, but I didn’t like him at the moment. Everything about him repulsed me. I felt like grabbing Uju from his grip, and punching him in the face.
I gritted my teeth and walked into the house. At the sight of me, Uju jumped from the man’s laps and rushed towards me with a smile on her face.
“You didn’t tell me you were coming!” Her eyes glowed in surprise. It seemed she was happy to see me. I had to control my anger. I couldn’t lash out at this idiot while she was there.
“I want us to go on a date. I have missed you…” I swallowed my indignation and faced her. I saw the man as a stranger. He wanted to take what was mine, but I had to put him in his place.
Uju’s face radiated excitement and eagerness.
“Where are we going?”
“To the Ijerra Hills” I returned calmly.
She was about saying something, when I pulled her closer to my arms and cupped her face. Gently, I rubbed my lips against hers and kissed her passionately. I was showing off now. I wanted him to know that Uju belonged to me, and I would fight anyone that wanted to tear us apart.
I noticed her reluctance at first, but she softened and let me kiss her. Why was she resisting me? Did she have feelings for him?
Just when she had started kissing me, I broke the kiss and whispered into her ears.
“Go get dressed darling. You can take your camera along. It’s a beautiful scene out there.”
“You’re right. I can’t wait!” Uju blew a kiss to me and scurried off like a happy child about to open a birthday package.
I was now left alone with the intruder. The room was at peace, but our eyes were at war. I pulled in a deep breath and moved towards him.
“Don’t you ever touch Uju like that? Don’t ever flirt with her.” I began. The sound of my own voice was strange. It was coarse. It was broken. It was jealous.
The man moved backwards, “Hey, I wasn’t just playing with her. Uju is like a sister to me.” He threw his hands into the air.
Out of the corner of my eyes, I spotted Emeka stepping out of the kitchen with some cans of soda. He paused and glared at us.
“What’s going on here?”
“I don’t know man, talk to him.” Emeka’s friend shrugged and quickly moved out of the house. I turned around and stared at him in anger. I hoped he wasn’t going to Uju’s apartment.
“What was that about?” Emeka walked closely towards me.
His voice wasn’t friendly, and he seemed unhappy to see me in his house. Well, I didn’t care about his cold reception; I would just tell him the truth.
“I like your sister Emeka. I like her a lot.”
His eyes were steely, cold and they cut deep into my soul, but I wasn’t afraid of them. Chinedum Ike feared no one. All I wanted was Uju’s commitment. But if I didn’t get that, there was no need chasing shadows.
“Chinedum…” Emeka sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. I could tell he had something important to share with me. I couldn’t wait for it.
“I don’t know what happened between you and my friend but I do not like it. I do not approve of your relationship with my sister. I know this may come as a surprise, but you and Uju aren’t meant for each other.
Uju is soft and straightforward. She deserves a guy who would treat her with utmost respect and love.”
I didn’t know why Emeka was speaking this way, and I didn’t understand his concern with Uju’s love life.
“Uju is an adult, Emeka…” I chipped in, but he quickly raised a hand.
“Let me finish. I know about your reckless love life with women. I know about all your celebrity girlfriends who are mostly models. You were in a love triangle years back with Teniola and Oge Sampson. My sister isn’t one of these women. She isn’t used to the sort of life you are exposing her to. I don’t want you to hurt my sister. That is something I can never forgive. Uju and I quarreled yesterday, and it’s because of you.
We have not had it easy in life; I don’t want you to add to her problems.”
He didn’t wait for my reply. He grabbed the cans of soda and strolled out of the house without another word to me. I had never been this unwelcomed in a place. I felt embarrassed and angry. There was no way I could put up with this. I loved Uju. But I couldn’t be in a relationship that her family didn’t sanction. I would break up with her later tonight.
I couldn’t believe that Emeka would speak to me that way. He addressed me like a total stranger. Even if I’d wanted to break a woman’s heart, there was no way I would do something like that to Uju. She was far too precious for that.
I pulled in a deep breath and tried to control myself from doing or saying something stupid to Emeka. I had to leave immediately, but that would really hurt Uju. This wasn’t her fault.
“You should learn how to talk to people. The fact that you have more money and fame, doesn’t make you a better person than I am. Uju can never be with a man like you.” Christian, Emeka’s friend walked up to me. I glared into his ugly face, and fought hard within me. I felt like smashing his face against the television.
I pulled in a deep breath, “What makes you think she’s going to choose a loser like you?” I scoffed. I had to control my feelings. I didn’t want to do something that I would regret later.
He shrugged, “You see, you think Uju likes you, but she’s just playing you. I know that I sad we had nothing going between us. I know that Uju likes me, and we would have been together, before you rushed into town and bought a stupid mansion. Just stay out of her life, like her brother has said. She is just a confused woman, who has been in many wrong relationships.”
I gritted my teeth and let him continue with his rubbish.
“Are you done?” I asked, when he noticed that I wasn’t listening to his trash. I didn’t have time for him.
“Yes I am. Just take my advice man.” He patted me on the shoulder.
“Get your stupid hands off me!” I pushed him roughly. He almost fell. When he’d regained his composure, I straightened my shirt and walked out of the house.
I was still going to take Uju for that dinner. But I would break up on her right after. I couldn’t be in pains alone. I wanted Emeka to observe if Uju was happier with me, or without me.
Shortly, Uju stepped outside, but she didn’t dress up this time. She was a little casual.
“Bye guys!” She waved at Emeka and Christian who stood like watch dogs outside the house.
“Are you ready?” I whispered.
Uju nodded and got into the car.
Little did she know that I was going to break up on her.
I had just started driving when she pulled out her phone from her purse. I noticed the look on her face. It wasn’t a good one.
“What is that?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Nothing,” she swallowed, but her lie was obvious. Something was wrong, and she didn’t want to tell me about it.
“Look, if we are going to be happy in this relationship, you need to be straight with me. Why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost?” I asked.
If she wasn’t careful, I would pull over and end things right away.
Uju ran a tongue over her lips. I noticed that her hands were shaking as well. She was clearly in trouble.
“I think Yomi is back in town. He is threatening to kill you…”
“Who is Yomi?” I asked.
“My crazy ex boyfriend.”
END OF PART ONE