Alex gave Ajifa the look a child would to his Nigerian mother, when he didn’t take the first position in his class, while showing her his school report card. She poked him, “Relax, i’m teasing you”, she said. Alex sighed with relief, “So am i forgiven?” he asked. “Hmm, you’re on probation” she smiled. He missed that. Her smile and when it was at him. “You did great. I’m sorry you had to go through that with Biodun”, she said. “It’s aii. Just a face dive in a bowl of amala that’s all”, He joked. She laughed out, loud enough that Dorcas and Nala heard it from the staircase where they stood to peep. “That’s mean though. I’m glad you had someone help you escape”, she said. “Yeah, Akpan. Funny guy. After my report and the court case, he was given a lesser sentence than the rest of the gang”.
“So what’s the plan? Going back to the states?”, Ajifa asked, hoping he’d say otherwise. “D’you want me to stay?” Alex asked, hoping she’d say yes. “Uhm”, she uttered. “Say yes”, he urged. “I mean, it’s your choice”, she continued. “No… say yes”, he said again, as he brought out a deep blue, mini suede box from his pocket. He went down on his left knee and his eyes glistened. There was a competition between the shining piece of diamond and the look in his eyes. Ajifa had a blank look on her face. She wasn’t expecting this, at least not now. Nala squealed in the corner and whispered loudly “Yes!”.
Ajifa was unsure. If this had happened a few weeks ago, she would totally have said yes. “Alex, you hid things from me, i’m not sure i…”, she said. “Every thing i told you about me was true. I only hid the Cop part. I didn’t want to but i had to because of the nature of that particular mission. I love you Ajifa and i want to share my life with you, if you will have me”, he said. Her heart sped like a horse in a race competition, as she heard the sincerity of his proposal. “I know you do Alex but i just need some time. I don’t want to say yes out of obligation. I love you too but, right now this doesn’t feel right”, she said.
Alex’s head dropped. He looked at the ring in his hand. “I mean i… i understand”, he said and got up. If it’s time and space you need, i’ll give you that. But i won’t give up, that i promise you”, he said reassuringly. As Alex was making his way to leave, Dorcas, Ajifa’s mum came down the staircase. “My son, are you leaving?”, she asked. “Yes ma’am. I’m gonna get ready to go report at my base in the states, but i’ll be back hopefully. soon”, he said as he looked at Ajifa. She knew that meant his coming back depended on her response. “Alright dear. Journey mercies ehn. Take care.”
After Alex had gone, her mum turned to her. “Please mum, don’t” Ajifa said. “Okayyy, so you know you have done something wrong abi?” she said. “Please let me talk to her mum”, Nala said. “You better do”, Dorcas said, eyeballed Ajifa and went upstairs. “She just wants me to get married and leave her house” Ajifa said. “No Ajis, she wants you to get married to THAT guy. She can tell he’s different”, Nala said. Ajifa scoffed, “Please. From their first meeting?” Ajifa exclaimed. “Hmm, what the elder sees sitting down…”, Nala said. “Even if a child climbs an iroko tree, she can never see it”, Ajifa completed the proverb. “I love him, i do. I just need to be sure i want to spend the rest of my life with him, especially with the nature of his job. Police man work for America no be like here oh”, Ajifa said with concern.
“True, it’s a crucial decision. Just decide before he leaves and probably never comes back to town. One sharp Americana go just grab am”, Nala said with an expression of grabbing an invisible object in a distance. The reality of it hit Ajifa. Alex could leave and never return. He could find someone else and forget about his feelings for her. The thought of him in someone else’s arms made her uneasy. Made her sad. She could lose this great love. She could… She swiftly got up, ran up the stairs, making Nala confused. “Aunty, are you okay?”, she yelled with concern. Ajifa got to her room, grabbed her car keys and hurried out the front door. “Not today Satan”, she said while leaving. “Yassss, you go and get your man!” Nala shouted in agreement.
To be continued.