Nonso was waiting for her; the love of her life. At least so she thought. She hurried downstairs from her hostel and flung herself into his arms. A cab was already waiting for them at the gate of her hostel to take them to wherever the romantic destination was that Nonso had planned. He held her hand and led her to the cab; her fair skin and dark weave almost matching the black and yellow hue of the taxi. They were soon in the vehicle, arms around each other. Nonso was careful to select a cab with air conditioning and Gift reveled in it. The cab cruised around the streets of Enugu; the street lights were dreamier than usual as they did their best to give the couple the ambience they so desired.

They got to their destination- the National Museum Bush House. The air was cool; Gift felt like a walking flagpole with the breeze rippling through her clothes as they got out of the cab and walked towards the tables. They chose a spot close to the stage but not too near the speakers, sat and ordered what they could. They were so intrigued with each other, whisper upon whisper into each other’s ears: they were carried away. She was surprised, however, when Nonso asked to be excused. According to him there was something very important he wanted to attend to. She watched him as he made his way through the tables then disappeared backstage and she was left alone with her phone to keep her company. For the first time since she got there, she took in the full view of the scenery. Palm trees, green bottles and the smell of pepper soup. The green, yellow and purple lights that shone on the tables were coming from the floodlights on stage and they reminded her of Christmas lights in their full effect, without the habitual twinkling. The waitresses were surprisingly well dressed and she could spot two or three pretty ones amongst them. She was soon torn in between praying for their order to arrive and praying for Nonso to return from whatever it was he went to do.

It seemed that her prayers were answered, at least one half of it; in no time the waitress was at their table presenting her with a steaming plate of goat meat pepper soup and a chilled bottle of Smirnoff Ice. She also set down Nonso’s order and left with her tray. The wisps of steam from her plate made her increasingly impatient and she focused all her attention on assessing the Heineken bottle that was on Nonso’s end of the table. Home training demands that you don’t start eating before your host is around; the same home training demanded her abstinence from beer and the likes of other strong alcoholic drinks, so she kept her gaze on the sweating beer bottle wondering what the contents would taste like. She snapped out of it and looked towards the stage. Her date was still nowhere to be found and it was beginning to get a little chilly. She wanted to impress him so she chose a brown velvet dress with thin straps; it accentuated her figure, showed just the right amount of flesh to mesmerize her date while the red flowers that embroidered the dress complimented her lipstick.

 She was startled when she felt hands wrap her from behind after which she recognized Nonso’s scent. It was the Myk Class perfume she got him for his birthday last month; he kissed her cheek causing a smile to blossom on her lips, stretching them as far as they could go. He took his seat and held her hand, his smile three times the breadth of hers. He leaned in and whispered sweet nothings into her ears and her insides melted like wax. He uncovered her plate and uncorked her drink and they began to eat. She was about to ask what the important business was that he went to attend to when the live band began playing:

 “My people, my people”, came the baritone voice of the lead singer, in all its highlife swagger.

“This one is dedicated to Gift Adaugo Nnaji, Nwata makari ogbo 1 of Imo state. Ehen, Ehen”

She looked at Nonso with her eyes wide open, he in turn squeezed some notes into her hands and led her towards the stage. The whole gathering cheered them on; they were delighted that Gift was as pretty as the musician’s title had bestowed on her. The band continued their performance heralding Gift and her date:

“Golibe, Golibe. Your mama born you well.

Golibe oh, nwata golibe

Adaugo golibe, na mama gi musili ike

Golibe oh, Gifty sinachi

Baby get something nekene nu na nwata nwelu something

Anwuta atabeghi ya…”

At this point gift was heavily blushing, she tried to cover her face but Nonso held on to her hands and placed them around his neck.

“Baby na sweet pawpaw”.

On and on the live band went. Nonso and Gift were in a world of their own. Her arms around his neck and his hands rested firmly at the edge of her waist; he sang along with the live band, whispering the lyrics into her ears. It was like the happiest day of her life.  Soon the performance was over and they made their way back to their seats amidst cheers, clapping and some vulgar individuals screaming obscenities. Nonso stood to receive handshakes from some of his admirers before he took his seat, his eyes still on Gift. After fidgeting, she mouthed a thank you and continued with the soup which was now relatively cold. Nonso noticed and ordered a fresh plate of soup; they feasted, shared laughs, entertained provocative comments from Nonso and they were soon on their way. They got another cab just in front of the museum gate and headed to their next destination; a hotel where they were supposed to spend the night.

Alighting from the second taxi of the night, Gift read the inscription; Free World Hotel. What sort of name was that? She thought to herself. They entered into the compound and into the lobby and she was impressed with what she saw. Judging from the name of the hostel, she wasn’t expecting half of the excellence that awaited her inside. Nonso spoke to the receptionist and obtained the room keys with a swipe of his ATM card. They were directed to their room and amidst giggles; they stumbled through the hallways towards the Room 207. The room was decent and the white sheets beckoned to Gift’s already sleepy eyes. She staggered towards the bed and sat on it. She removed her jewelry and unbuckled her sandals and crawled under the sheets. She was already cold from the cold breeze at the bush house and she shivered at the thought of water touching her again. Nonso got out of his clothes and headed straight to the bathroom in his under wear. The last thing Gift saw was the clock- 11:44pm, before the warmth of the sheets enveloped her and the coolness of the Air Conditioning pulled her to sleep.

Gift’s subconscious self could feel a chill and she shivered. She soon jerked awake at the feeling of cold hands roaming all over her body.  Nonso was too close for comfort; his legs wrapped around her and his hands struggling to get beneath her gown. She struggled to get free and he held her down. She called his name several times but it was as if the love of her life had transformed into someone else; something else. She rolled over and faced him and the look in his eyes scared the oxygen out of her lungs. With all the strength she could muster, she leapt out of the bed and demanded an explanation for what she was subjected to.

Nonso gave her a detailed narration of every date, every gift and the performance of the night. He could not understand what more he had to do to get her to “co-operate” with him.

So she let the cat out of the bag; she was keeping herself for when they got married.

He couldn’t believe his ears; Alright then he would marry her. He promised, he begged, he swore on his mother’s grave.

But Gift didn’t trust him; She trusted Nonso but not this person that knelt disheveled on the bed. With the look in his eyes, he could have sworn on the destiny of his unborn children that he was the Holy Spirit; anything to get her where he wanted. 

Her refusal was like petrol to an incinerator. He should have known, he said, he should have known better than to waste all his time and resources on a self righteous prude like her. He lunged at her but she was fast enough to get to the bathroom and lock the door behind her.

She slowly slid to the cold wet floor.

Sobbing led to crying; a mixture of disbelief and pain. Disbelief that the man she loved with all of her heart turned out to be just like the rest. She had high hopes for him, for them. He used to be a decent man; whatever happened to him? What was wrong with him? Or rather what was wrong with her? What was so wrong with her that she deserved to have her heart broken into a thousand pieces over and over and over again; talk about déjà vu. Was she delusional? What if she was destined not to get married? What if she died before she got married? Would it have been for nothing? It was home training; good old home training, that kept her from unlocking the toilet door and giving herself to the beast that lay in wait outside. All the thoughts swam around in her heard causing ripples upon ripples of emotions; doubt, anxiety, grief, restraint. It was a surprise that amidst the frenzy, she was able to drift off to sleep.  

Morning came; like food at the end of dry fasting. A loud bang on the door woke Gift from the most uncomfortable sleep she had in all her 21 years of existence. She hesitated and listened for signs of sanity in the room. She unlocked the door to find that Nonso was already dressed. He was putting on his wrist watch; not even a good morning from Gift drew his attention. He put on his shoes and headed straight for the door. Gift picked up her bag quickly, grabbed her jewelry, buckled her sandals and went out the door after him. She almost bumped into Nonso standing by the door, waiting to lock the room behind them. He stepped aside at lightning speed avoiding her like she had leprosy. He locked the door and went straight to the stairs without as much as a glance towards her. On getting to the reception, he signed out, handed the receptionist her keys and out the door he went. Gift wondered what the funny glare of the receptionist was about until she caught a glimpse of her reflection on the mirrored slide doors. She looked like hell; her hair was pointing to all the cardinal points of the earth.  She salvaged what she could with her hands and bundled them up with the beaded bracelet on her wrist. She went out and met Nonso bargaining with a keke driver. He got in and she joined him knowing that he was ready to leave her behind.   The ride back to school was eerie; the silence threatened to puncture their eardrums. She hoped and prayed for the school gate to be in sight.

It was 7am in the morning and being a Saturday they were no shuttles to carry them into school. She trudged behind Nonso who walked in swift strides as if he had somewhere to be or rather someone to get away from. The grass was glistening and the yellow flowered shrubs by the road side were slowly waking from slumber. The flowers were silken yellow and in spite of how dead she felt inside they called out to her. She reached out and plucked one; it wasn’t a struggle, it easily went with her fingers like a baby sways towards his mother’s open arms. The flower was very soft, almost powdery. Forgetting herself, she held the flower up to her nose and sniffed it. And for the first time in her life; Gift had in her hands a scented flower! She reveled in the scent as life returned to her face, to her heart. To her, it was the ultimate sign of re-assurance. Assuring her that irrespective of all that happened at night, her scent had not faded. Her flower was still in bloom; bright and scented like the one she held in her hands. She looked up at Nonso still striding away from her, it was all so clear now. She crossed over to the other side of the road and began walking, stride by stride matching up with Nonso and overtaking him. Still sniffing her flowery cheer leader, there was a renewed bounce to her step. Like the flowers, her confidence was re-awakened, blossom after blossom.

Author’s note: Hello Everyone! Thanks for reading! You all are the reason my fingers are always sore from writing but I’ll won’t have it any other way. You all are worth it. In other news: Countdown to the ST’ART series!!! The first ST’ART will be premiering two weeks from now on the 3rd of July. I look forward to starting this new journey with you guys and I must say, I am giddy with excitement! See you all next week.

Love, Rosie (xoxo)


4 thoughts on “BLOSSOM

  1. May the universe keep men like Nonso away from us. This was a good story. Loved how the title slowly eased into the story.

    And Goodluck with the anthology. Literally can’t wait for you to start ST’ART 🙂


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