So sorry this episode is coming now. Had a lot on my table. We meet Raymond in this episode. Happy reading!
It was cloudy when Nimi left her place of work on Tuesday evening. She looked up and saw that it would rain soon. She groaned in frustration. She had left her umbrella in the house that morning while she made a mad dash to the bus stop. Her hand went to her hair. How would she cover her hair? It had taken three hours to braid her hair. Hours that would have been used to tidy up her work now that the ED wanted to get reports for all their accounts in details. It would be a disaster if the rain poured down and caught her on the road. She groaned as the sky rumbled. She followed her groaning with a silent plea to heaven that the sky not to open up until she got home. Getting home would be after her meeting with Raymond.
Raymond, hmm… she sighed. What would be the end of it all? Where had she gotten it wrong? What did she miss? All was in place at least that was what she thought. These thoughts drifted in and out of her mind as she stood at the bus-stop. Images of her times with Raymond filled her head like motion pictures. Her heart felt hollow where feelings for Ray should have warmed. Deep in her heart, she wanted to be free from the nightmare that had become their relationship in the past months, but she couldn’t shake off the lonely feeling that thought brought. How would she start all over if Raymond truly called it quit? What about the time she had invested in the relationship?
“Comot for road.” Someone bellowed at her.
She jumped just in time to step off the way of a man pushing a water truck. He sent her an angry look as he passed her. He murmured words Nimi didn’t hear but was sure were abusive. She shook her head. Nimi, think positive thoughts, she admonished herself. Your negative vibe is inviting negativity from people around too. She looked at the man pushing the truck again. He was several feet away from her. His back was bent. That image filled her with sadness. Everyone had problems. They just handled it differently. While she was lost in thought, lightning flashed across the sky, followed by a crashing sound. People took to their heels. Mothers grabbed their children and ran for shelter. Some others came out their houses to call children out in the streets. Those at the bus-stop became impatient, flagging down tricycle riders. Some walked briskly away.
Nimi joined those walking away. She was sure she wouldn’t get a tricycle; not with the way, people struggled for the empty ones. Raymond’s house was not too far. She could get there in fifteen minutes if she walked fast. Her only prayer was that the rain would hold its peace.
She picked up her pace. Shop owners packed their wares quickly. Some roadside traders positioned their umbrellas properly. Some others filled empty cartons arranged on wheelbarrows with their goods. Nimi branched off at a bend. She would take a shortcut to Raymond’s house. She maneuvered her way through the potholes filled with water, evidence of the rainfall on Sunday night. Children jumped excitedly in front of their houses, expecting the rain. Buckets, water drums were placed under the roof to get rainwater.
Despite her fear of the coming rain and her anxiety over her impending meeting with Raymond, the atmosphere made her feel good. Her face brightened as she stole glances of the happy children. She could pretend to be like them for a while – carefree, innocent and without secrets. This feeling stayed with her until Raymond’s house came into view.
Her heartbeat changed its rhythm. No longer did she feel the relaxed beat of her heart against her ribcage. In its place was a fast rhythm normally used for an ominous scene in movies. Her steps faltered as she drew close to the house. The brown-coloured two-storey building stood out amongst other buildings. It was flanked by two unpainted bungalows. The squared-shaped compound was surrounded by a low fence, and its entrance was marked by a black gate.
Nimi drew closer to the house. Her eyes roamed the first floor of the building and settled on the second flat at the back wing of the compound. It was Ray’s flat. She knew every inch of the house like she knew her own house. The opened window she could see was the second window in Ray’s bedroom. Her eyes stayed on it for a while. Happy thoughts floated in her head like clouds on a bright skyline. She had been certain of the love they had for each other. Raymond had promised her his heart for eternity. It wasn’t even looking like a couple of months together. She gave a sad shake of her head and moved towards the gate. She pushed opened the small gate and walked in. She walked straight to the flats at the back wing and stood in front of the door that would lead her to Ray’s flat. Before she could stop herself, she did a sign of the cross. I am ready for whatever, she told herself. She repeated this mantra a couple of times before she knocked at the door.
She stood there shifting from one foot to another when Ray came to the door.
She looked up at him. “Good evening, Ray.” She said in a breathless tone.
The smile he gave her didn’t reach his eyes. “Welcome, Nimi. I was just about calling you.” He said, raising the phone in his hands. “I was worried about the weather.” He added.
“It’s okay. I’m here now. We can have our talk.” Nimi said in a bland tone. There was no need beating around the bush. They both knew this talk would either make them or break them.
Raymond looked like he wanted to say something, but changed his mind. He invited her in. She walked past him to the stairs, moving as far away from him as possible. She would keep everything as impersonal as possible. She would just take it as a civil meeting between two people planning a better future for themselves.
When they got to his apartment, he invited her to sit down. She took her seat in one of the black-leathered sofas in the living room and placed her bag on a side stool beside her. Power was out due to the weather, and although it was still early evening, Ray had an electric torch on, placed on the glass table in the middle of the room. The dim light hid the shadows in her eyes and she liked it. She waited now for Ray to speak.
“What would you like?” Raymond asked, standing in front of the refrigerator beside the dining table.
“Nothing,” Nimi answered in a stone cold voice.
“Okay.” He shrugged, then he came to sit with her. “I called you here so we could talk about us.” He told her.
Nimi rolled her eyes. Was it not obvious? She wondered. “Well, guess we should start talking.” She fixed her eyes on his picture frame on the wall. She would stare at anything but his face; even though her picture with him was no longer on the wall where it was the last time she visited him.
Tears prickled in her eyes. He didn’t even wait to officially break up with her before erasing her memory from his life: memories they spent two years building. Anger welled up in her as she waited for him to speak.
He placed his right leg on the couch so he could look straight at her. He took her hand. “Nimi, being with you these past years has been wonderful. Honestly, you made me a better man. I bless the day I met you that day in the bank. You are a charming lady, and I really wish to spend the rest of my life with you…” He scratched his head with his free hand, struggling with the right words.
Nimi regarded him calmly. “But…” She said.
He looked confused. “But what?”
She smiled without humour. “Everything you’re telling me, Ray, will end with a condition. All the accolades will not stop the unpalatable news you want to give me.” She challenged him.
He got up from the couch. “Why do you think it’s unpalatable?” He asked.
Nimi lost her patience. “Please cut the crap, Ray. We both know where this is leading to. Even if I don’t want to admit it, it’s obvious we’re finished.” She snapped at him, anger clouding her face.
He pivoted. “Why would you..?” he started talking, but she raised her hand to cut him short.
“A blind man can see the big hole in this farce that has become our relationship. For crying out loud you took my pictures of the wall.” She pointed out. Unbidden tears rolled down her cheeks. She pressed her lips together to stop them.
Raymond’s eyes went to the wall. Guilt covered his face. He had no explanation to give. He just thought it was better not to be reminded of anything related to her to make the breakup easy for him. He wanted her, but he couldn’t go against his mother. He looked at her now and felt as if a knife was twisted in his gut. His heart broke when he saw the tears she was struggling to hold back. Better to get on with everything so they could move on with their lives.
He cleared his throat, drawing her attention to him. “I’m really sorry, Nimi. I didn’t mean for things to end like this, but I have to obey my mother.” She raised questioning eyes to him. He rushed to explain. “My mother found out that your elder sister ran away from her husband’s house and married his best friend. She went to see a prophet in her church about you and your sister’s character. The prophet told her that it’s in your family’s nature not to stay with one man. She got worried and told me to end it with you.” He finished. He exhaled. Sweet relief, he thought, he had finally said it.
Nimi stood up slowly, her eyes filled with shock. She opened and closed her mouth and no words came out. She placed her hands on her waist and took a deep breath. “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, Ray. To think that I’ve been killing myself these past months, wondering what I have done, and you’ve been holding this against me.”
Laughter bubbled within her and she laughed. For a few minutes, she kept laughing. Raymond looked at her with concern. When she didn’t stop, he came forward to touch her, but she pushed him away. “I know you told your mother about my sister because I told you about it.” She said in an accusatory tone. Shame and guilt washed over Ray’s face confirming what she suspected. She picked her bag from the chair. “You’re not a man, Raymond. You are a boy. Go and marry your mother.” She told him in a tone as cool as ice. She went right past him. She placed her hand on the handle of the door, and faced him “Screw you, Raymond, for wasting my time. Screw everything you represent.” She fired at him, then she walked right out of the door, banging it loudly.
Thanks for reading! I promise to post episode 4 right on time. Question from this episode: What should be the rate of Parents’ involvement in their children’s relationship?
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