I follow Moni to the village square early Saturday morning, glad to see her leave. The bus from neighbouring villages pass through before six o’clock, picking passengers along the route to Ile-Ife. Once you miss this bus, the alternative is to take the five kilometre trek to the expressway. Several vehicles move from Ile-Ife to Lagos so Moni is safe from there.
The rickety bus coughs a couple of times and spewing black smoke from the exhaust, pulls off.
I stand there for a few minutes watch it go. I will miss my sister, despite her silliness. I’d seen a part of her I never imagined existed. At home, she was just the sister, far closer to our mum than to me. Sure, she’d poked her nose in my business several times but never like this.
A strange loneliness weighs on my heart, and I return via the stream. I know it is dangerous, but I remember Bisi’s secret space at the stream, and I know she does some washing early on Saturday mornings.
Indeed, she’s at the stream. Alone. I move close enough and call her. She turns and exclaims. I move back into the thicker bush and she joins me within a minute. We hug and kiss tenderly. Goodness, she has such an effect on me.
She gasps. “What are you doing here?”
“I was missing you. And I know you’ll be here.”
“You have to go.” She pushes me back. “You have to go. I will see you in the evening.”
“No. Go. Ade comes to the stream anytime.”
“Don’t push me away. I don’t care about Ade.”
Her eyes widen. “You can’t say like that.”
“He’s a man and I’m a man.”
“But he’s a wicked man. He will kill you.”
“Someone has to stop him. Will he just kill like that and go?”
“Tisha, please. Abbey, Abbey you cannot stop Ade.”
I pace unable to contain my frustration. “How do you think I will marry you? How will we live together? Even now, I don’t like hiding in the bush with you. If not that I am a student teacher now. You think I will be hiding when I finish my attachment here?”
She sobs. “He will kill you.”
I grab her shoulders and make her look at me. “So we should stop our relationship because of him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Never. I will not leave you because of any man.” I pull her into a hug. “I will fight with my life. I will fight for our love.”
“I know wicked Ade. He has police in his pocket.” She continues to sob. “It will not hard him.”
“Then it is a challenge for me. Even if I have to bring police from Lagos.”
I know it’s not possible to do that. I am just one man, the son of a petty trader, fatherless student teacher. The odds are against me. But I am also a man in love. And like Romeo, I will do anything for love.
“We’ll be fine, I promise you.”
She looks up at me. “Do you have cloth to wash? I want to ask you yesterday.”
“I don’t. Moni washed for me yesterday. Thanks love.”
She shrugs. “Next week.”
I smile and press a kiss on her forehead. “Next week.”
“Let me finish my cloth.”
“I will wait here. Then we can meet up at the usual place.”
She steps back. “Don’t wait. Go. Give me one hour, I will come with food for you.”
I decide to go to the meeting place at once. One hour seems a long time but spending it alone in the bush is better than in my room. I’d planned to make our meeting place safer and cleaner so I decide to use this time.
I use my bare hands to make a clearing of the thorny branches enough space to lay down for two. Then I survey the surroundings. Mostly brush, I cut dangling branches and create a small space for running on grass.
By the time Bisi arrives with a bag of bean cakes and steaming pap, I am sweating with a few cuts on my hands and feet.
She washes the bruises with some of the water she brought, and we settle to eat.
“Well done, my husband.” She smiles. “You have work so hard.”
“And you my wife has prepared a very delicious meal.”
We both laugh and enjoy feeding each other.
Then we lay back on our clean and clear love nest and talk about the future, and nothing in particular.
I don’t return to my room till late in the evening, driven by pure hunger. During the hours with Bisi, I didn’t even notice time had passed. We both slept off, woke and finished the bean cakes left, kissed to a point of maddening desire, and talked on end. I find it amazing she’s so intelligent and could debate me on any topic. Even things she knew little of.
My heart is light, I feel on top of the world, nothing can move me. I dance and walk, a smile plastered to my face.
Until I reach the front of my quarters and find Moni seated on the door step!
Image of man courtesy of Photo stock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net