Hunted – The diary of the corper across the Benue River | Episode 11

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This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Hunted

Bashir has finally grown courage to ask Khadija out for a date which didn’t surprise her, as she had been observing his move…

THE SPELL

March, 22.

“If you love somebody, walk up to her and tell her you love her oh…”

I met Khadija today. It was the song of African China that gave me the strength to come face to face with her. I realized that her answer wouldn’t be more than a simple no or yes. And if she answers in the affirmative, good but if she answers in the negative, it wouldn’t change anything between us. I will still see her as the respectful woman I have come to adore and nothing more. But I couldn’t forget the lovely time we spend when on phone and the longing desire to come face to face with each other.

When I sent her the text message about our meeting, I did so in few words because I was not certain I would leave plea out of it.

“I can’t stand another moment without professing my love to your face any more than I had endured.”

That was the message I sent to her. It was the first thing I did once I woke up yesterday. It was only when I reread the message once again did I realized that I didn’t said anything about our rendezvous or time. I waited in anticipation, measuring her patience. She must have been measuring up, I conceived, because she didn’t call or text to ask for any of it and it was only when I was sitting across her in the staff room that I texted the place and time to her. I observed her when she reached for her phone at its peep, announcing a text message, watched her read it and saw when a smile escaped her lips. She dropped the phone on the table and sat gazing dreamily into the distance. I felt envious of myself that it was my thought that was running across her mind.  She turned without warning and caught me staring at her. I was certain she caught sight of the admiration that was filled in my eyes.

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I chose Ostrich Bakery because it’s a place that could offer us the silence and serenity I needed to converse with Khadija. I arrived thirty minutes before time and booked a table in the VIP that was designed for lovers and even the music that was playing from the stereo was one that could drive lovers to stare at each other without uttering words. It could only accommodate five couples. There was a couple who sat embracing their selves at a change of music; I wanted Khadija and me to do that too and let the music do the talking we would ever need.

I saw her when she began approaching the door of the bakery through the show glass door. I rushed over to a waiter and gave him specific orders to shepherd her to my table. I waited with my breaths in pants as it was taking her too long a time to get to me.

My back was turned towards the door but I knew the moment she stepped into the room. The room was engulfed in serenity at her arrival. I sprang to my feet and pulled a chair out to her saying, “Please, seat.”

If she was surprise, she didn’t show.

To the waiter, I gave specific orders on the choice of ice cream and shawarma we would eat. Mine, was banana flavouring while that of Khadija was vanilla and strawberry. While her shawarma was beef, mine was chicken.

“Why am I not surprise?” she said after the waiter left to get our first course.

“I wish I have an answer to the question you have voiced and even those you are yet to.”

“How do you know I still have other questions lined up?” she asked with a smile I have come to adulate.

“I do not need to be asked. Ever since I began to think of you in more ways than one, I’d seen past your facial appearance into your inner beauty. Your inquisitive eyes that sets my heart on the edge of confusion is one thing that makes me label you as an attractive individual. Khadija, you have no idea of what you do to me anytime I look in your direction.”

“My love for vanilla and strawberry flavouring food makes me a confuse individual as well… I guess you must have known that as one thing we share in common now,” she said with a sly smile when the waiter placed the ice cream before us. I knew what she was trying to do… or maybe not. All I can say is that I didn’t understand a thing she meant, but I pretended to.

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“I’ve studied you and listened to your conversations with the female staff to know you pass the kind of food that is appealing to you. When I set my feet in Benue state and was placed across the Benue River, I had no idea I could muster the will to stand a single day away from home but I did that when I set my eyes on you Khadija. You made me became aware of a will I never thought I have in me; resilience. You gave me the strength to wake up each day and go to work; you Khadija without your knowing redefined my life style.”

“Bashir,” she began.

“Please let me finish,” I said discouraging her, scared she would tell me to stop and I wasn’t ready to.

“I do not know what follows after today; we have less than two weeks to go separate ways and I just want you to know before that happens. I will never forgive myself if I take these feelings back to Kano with me.”

She wasn’t looking at me; her face was bent low watching as her ice cream melted away.

“Dammed modesty!” she said in a loud voice that had faces turned towards our direction. “Who told you my feelings are contrary to yours? Do you have any idea of what that text message you sent to me six months ago did to me?”

I looked blankly at her not certain of the direction she was headed. True, it is a different thing for a text message to have an effect on someone and a different thing when you come face to face with the person. I’ve heard stories of people falling in love over the social media and then falling out once they come face to face with the person.

“You brought a part of me to life Bashir…”

“But…” I stammered, too stunned to believe my ears.

“Nobody had done that to me before… nobody had been able to make me so vulnerable. Yes, it was a text message but it was one that succeeded in taking my breath away more than I hate to admit… you gave me sleepless nights. It got to a stage that I felt so angry at myself and hated myself that I should go all flustered just because of a mere message that wasn’t more than twelve words but those words I agree were strong words no doubt. You made me so, so defenceless,” she emphasized. “You succeeded in capturing my heart; like a thief you stole your way into my heart…” she let the words evaporated in the air and far away into my conscience.

“I just thought you wouldn’t feel the same way when you find out that I am the same guy that sits opposite you in the staff room.”

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“You really think I didn’t know all along?” she asked with a mock smile.

“You do? I mean you did?”

“You might have used a different number to call but the mistake you made was not to have used a different voice,” she looked at me and held my gaze. “Your voice is like no other that I have ever heard before, ever since you walked up to me those first few months and introduced yourself to me in the staff room, the sound of your voice had remained rooted in my memory. And that was the moment I knew you have interest in me. I waited for you to make a move Bashir, just a single move. I gave you every clue you needed to summon the courage to walk up to me but it seemed to take forever until that text message arrived and I knew it was you. I don’t know how but I just knew it was you. I note you when you steal glances at me across your table when you think I am not looking.”

I listened to her with rapt attention, realizing what a wimp I had been. While I was busy playing the hunter, I was unconscious of the fact that I could in another way be the hunted. Here was I at last, with every dream of mine becoming a reality… capturing a heart I didn’t know was already ensnared.

“You gave me no clue you knew who I am over the phone when we talked …”

“I am a woman, Bashir,” she snapped. “I have my pride to guard.”

“Sorry it took this long a time to come face to face with you.” She smiled.

When the shawarma arrived, we ate silently. The only thing we did to acknowledge another’s presence was to look at another from time to time. It felt so natural.

When the meal was over, I reached out my hand and placed it on hers. She didn’t withdraw.

“You are not a stranger to me Bashir, maybe you have never been. I do not know how sincere or far we might go but I want to be held under your spell until I tire you.”

“Do not ever doubt my sincerity and I am not planning undoing any spell any time soon… I might take it with me to the grave.”

We fumbled with our hands over the table while looking deep into each other’s eyes. I knew then that two weeks from now when I pack my things to leave the shores of the Benue River, I would not be returning home the same way I came; I would be returning from my service with a different conception of the people across the Benue River and a woman that would be my companion for life no doubt.

THE END!

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Gwa Doohemba

Doohemba Gwa is a young writer. He writes mostly novels and short stories and once in a while dives into poetry. His work has been published in 'Telling our Stories', an anthology of new Nigerian short stories published by ANA Kano. He was also published in Daily Stream newspaper as poet of the week on Friday, November 20, 2015 issue.

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