Roses N Chocolates

WEDNESDAY PREVIEW – #TRUEDREAM, DUMPED

DumpedONE

 

I watched him from a side view in the room, staring into space, his glass of wine mid-way to his lips, his ego deflated. As handsome and confident as he looked, wearing a nice grey shirt and black jeans with moccasins, I spotted unshed tears at the corner of his eye. Poor fellow. Everyone seemed to give him some space right after that brutal unleashing.

I had just arrived from the United States where I’d gone to study and my homies decided to throw a welcome party for me. I’d been away for ten years, and so glad to be back to join my father to run his hospital. Before I left Nigeria, I had studied Biochemistry. Then travelled to the States to study medicine and then done my residency, and then come back, but through all those years, I’d kept my many close friends close.

I stopped Ezinne, the chief hostess of the party, as she waltzed past with a plate of food. “Who’s he?”

Ezinne looked round. “Who?”

I nodded toward that general side of the hall. “Him.”

“Oh.” Ezinne chuckled and pulled me further away. “It’s a long story.”

“I can see that.”

The poor guy had been denied by an old flame right in the middle of the room, while everyone heard and saw.

“Ngo is now a big Lagos girl, and dating that rich fool over there.” Ezinne looked toward the area.

I looked too and saw the girl, Ngozi, chatting with a group of friends. The pot-bellied ‘rich fool’ laughed and talked in the middle of the group. Though Ngozi and I were never friends during our University days, she had always been around my clutter of friends.

“You know all these Alaba boys who just have stinking money but no decorum. Shior.” Ezinne turned to me. “Let me get this food over to Chidom.”

I looked back at the polished sweet thing Ngozi just washed right in front of all of us. He had walked in a few moments ago, and after greeting Ezinne, spotted Ngozi. I blame him for trying to talk to her in front of all of us, but he’d seemed discreet. His voice had been low. Though not enough.

“Hey, Ngozi. Hi,” he’d said.

Ngozi turned to him. “Oh hi.” Her voice was chilled enough to freeze the air.

“I’d been trying to call you, text, no response. You stopped picking my calls,” he said softly.

Ngozi snickered. “Of course, you were becoming a nuisance.”

He arched his nicely-shaped eyebrow. At that time, he should have stepped back, smiled and turned to someone else. Instead, he replied her. “In what way? We have a relationship. An agreement. How did I…?”

“Excuse me, what agreement did I have with you? What relationship? Abeg abeg.”

The ‘rich fool’ had stepped forward. “Who is this?”

Ngozi waved her hand. “Search me o. I don’t know.”

“Is he trying to friend you, where I am?”

By now, all eyes were on them. I knew it was rude to eavesdrop but none of the parties involved seemed to care.

Ngozi laughed. “Can he?”

He must be stubborn or stupid to continue, but he did. “Before you went for your two-month trip to China, didn’t we have a relationship?”

Rich fool picked his nose. “What kind of relationship?”

“I don’t know, darling. Please excuse me.”

“Excuse you? Ngozi, what’s going on? Why are you behaving like we’re strangers?”

“Excuse me! Who is this for goodness’ sake? Do I know you?”

“Me? Ngozi, you don’t know me.”

“Well, beside meeting you once or twice some months back.” Ngozi shrugged. “Please don’t spoil this party for me.”

Ngozi brushed past him and came on to hug Ezinne and me. She smiled, and laughed at her own joke, and introduced ‘rich fool’ and then went to get food from the buffet table.

And I stood there and wondered what a creep Ngozi was.

Ezinne passed by again, and I grabbed her arm. “Introduce us.”

My friend from secondary school, Ezinne and I had gone on to study Biochemistry together in the University though she now ran a management consulting outfit. She knew me like the back of her hand. She pulled me aside, and shook her head.

“I don’t think so.”

“Why? I like him.”

“Amara, no. He’s not your type. He’s…” She shrugged. “I don’t know how to say this.”

“What? He’s cool. And I like what I see.”

“He works in insurance.”

I shrugged. “So?”

“He doesn’t have money.”

TWO

I took a moment to digest that. I knew what Ezinne meant because as an only child, I would eventually own everything my parents had. I could start with Mum, which was far less than Dad’s.

My mum had humble beginnings. She came from a poor family of traders, and grew her own business. She started with fish and palm oil. When her business became big enough, she went into exports. Mum owned half of the export business of palm oil, fish, gari and native spices to Europe, the Americas and Asia. At home, she owned properties in Abuja, Lagos, our native Anambra, Enugu, and Portharcourt. Mum’s property business alone could send me to any school I wanted in the world.

My Dad was the intellectual. As a medical doctor, the Igbo trader in him led him to start his health care conglomerate. He had a pharmaceutical company, four hospitals, and a range of health equipments manufacturing and assembling. Dad’s hospital in Lagos was rated one of the best in Nigeria, and perhaps, one of the most expensive. I was coming on as an Executive Director, to be groomed to take over from Dad when he retired in five years.

I knew my parents wanted a son-in-law who would play the role of the son they never had. This had led me into many relationships. The last I had was so psychologically abusive, Dad agreed to give me a 50% free-hand to choose. After all, this was my life. And much as they wanted an ambitious son-in-law, they were weary of him being too ambitious. They didn’t want a man who would marry me just for my money. It was really tricky, as things stood.

“Hmm, I get your point.”

“We all believe Ngozi treated him like this because he doesn’t have money.” Ezinne shrugged. “He’s a bit laid back, if you ask me.”

“Do you know much about him?”

Ezinne sighed. “Well, you know when Ngozi has something, she poses a lot with it. When she started dating him last year, she was all talk about his two brothers abroad, and how successful they were, though I think his parents are just normal though. I think retired teachers or so.” Ezinne chuckled. “You’ll never hear that from Ngozi.”

“What’s his name?”

Ezinne laughed. “You’re serious about him?”

“Of course, I am.” I was. I liked the guy.

“Okechukwu Okafor. To tell you how boring he is, everyone calls him Okechukwu, like he was still on some farm somewhere.”

“Introduce us, Ezinne. I know my background may be intimidating…”

“No, Amarachi. Your background may not be, it is. Someone like Okechukwu will see you like a rich, spoilt girl, and not want to fit into the shoes of being heir to your parents’ throne.”

“How do you know?”

“Because he’s the epitome of laid back. He’ll never think you were doing him a favour by falling in love with him. He’ll want to withdraw.”

“A phleg.” I like. I like a lot.

I looked at Okechukwu. He’d gone to stand with Ezinne’s husband, Nonso, and two of the other husbands. Out of our circle of friends, only I and a couple others were not married. I was tired. At thirty, my clock was ticking fast. I needed a home-run, and my parents were increasingly worried.

Ezinne laughed. “Don’t even think it.”

“Think what?”

“Going to talk to him on your own.”

“Hahaha. You still read me.” I sighed. “But if he’s so laid back like you say how come he’s here?”

We were all ‘rich kids.’ Ezinne’s mother was in the senate forever, and Nonso was heir to an airline business and the rest of us were from elite Igbo families. Except Ngozi who was a hanger-on.

Back in school, her parents once visited and she told us they were her housekeeper and gardener. When we later discovered they were her parents, I told Ezinne I didn’t want us to have anything to do with her anymore. Well, as though that could happen.

“He heard about this party, I don’t know how. But he called me to ask if Ngozi would attend. I told him, I guess. So he asked if he could come too. And I said, why not?”

I squeezed my nose. “Was he really in a relationship with Ngozi?”

Ezinne laughed. “He’s too polished for her. But yes, they were together till Ngozi went to China. And like you heard, she just switched him off.”

“I think the rich fool must have given Ngozi what she really needs in her life. Plenty of money.”

Ezinne laughed again. “You know, come to think of it, Ngozi must have been frustrated in that relationship because our guy doesn’t know money. He’s just a regular blue-collar-job guy.” She grabbed my hand. “Maybe just what you need.”

THREE

My stomach sank. What if Ezinne was right and the guy got put off? Once my name got mentioned, it was bound to ring a bell.

Many men had tried to court that name. I’d had guys who courted my father instead of me. It was frustrating to be a rich man’s child and once they heard I was the only one, it just changed the game. My parents had had a son, but he died before he was five, and then I was born, and no other came after me.

“Hey, guys,” Ezinne said. The four men in the group turned to us. “Okechukwu, I want you to meet Amarachi Obi-Okeke.”

Just like that. Ezinne could be a brat sometimes. She didn’t even chat a little. Next thing, she pulled Nonso off, mumbling an excuse. Ada and Chichi’s husbands, the other two guys mumbled and left as if these guys knew what was on. I felt alone, and yet excited.

I had never hit on a man in my life.

 

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