I met Sadiq on a Monday. I remember what day it was because my staff meeting had gone badly and I just wanted a smoke. I slid out of the back door on the ground floor and brought out a cigarette from my bag. I had just taken my first puff when I noticed him next to me. I was startled. ‘Where did you come from?’.
He laughed. ‘Nigerian girls ask too many questions’, he said in a faux British accent. The accent that told me that he just moved back to Nigeria from ‘overseas’. Immediately, my guard went up. Guys like that were usually too arrogant for my Nigerian tastes. ‘Can you spare a smoke’? I rolled my eyes. ‘Spare a smoke’, I muttered under my breath as I pulled one out and gave it to him.
‘Lighter?’. I handed him that as well. We spent the next few minutes in silence. I finished my cigarette, now a little less relaxed than I wanted to be and went back into the office.
I saw him again on a Friday. Dress down day. I didn’t realise until I saw him in well cut jeans and a blue t-shirt that he was wearing a suit the first time we met. I had come out to smoke again. This time, he handed me a lit cigarette, ‘my turn’, he said before he leaned against the wall and we smoked in silence.
It happened a few more times. I didn’t notice how we moved from silent smokes to funny conversations and then dinner. He made me feel so comfortable. Our relationship was easy.
After our first time, he sang softly to me as I fell asleep. It was by far the corniest thing anyone had ever done for me. And in that moment when I smiled instead of planning my escape, I knew that he was the one I wanted to be with forever.
He proposed on a Sunday. I always found it funny how we would drink alcohol on a Saturday night, explore each others bodies on a Sunday morning and then go to church. He was the only other person that found it funny. My friends looked at me like there was a hotter part of hell waiting for me when I made jokes about my hypocritical behaviour.
He did it after church, in that time where everyone was doing a meet and greet and showing off their outfits. I can’t remember the exact details. I was too busy floating, literally floating in my happiness.
‘Gambo, I know you love my son very much.’ After the family dealt with his conversion from Islam, there’s no way we could have handled an inter- tribal marriage. So we thank God that you are one of us’. I nodded and smiled. ‘But as much as I want grandchildren, I don’t want sick ones.’ She paused and took a noisy sip of her herbal tea. ‘My son said you don’t know your genotype.’
‘Yes ma’, I answered in the meekest voice I had.
‘I have arranged an appointment with our doctor- Abdullahi Ramal. He’s expecting you tomorrow.’ Inside I screamed at the arrogance of it. I cursed Sadiq for having to attend a last minute meeting, leaving me alone to lunch with his mother.
‘Yes ma’, I said smiling, pouring myself some more tea.
‘AS’. Of course it’s AS I thought, staring angrily at the doctor as if it was his fault. ‘I’ll just make a quick call to your mother-in-law’. His face showed that he realised his mistake, ‘Madam Abdullahi’ he said correcting himself. ‘She’s expecting my call’. Of course she is, I thought.
‘Yes madam’, he said finishing his call and turning to me. ‘She said her driver will come and get you’. I gritted my teeth; I had already taken the morning off work for this. I didn’t tell Sadiq because he would have defended his mother’s actions and that would have made me resent him.
I waited in the reception for the car. I wondered about the genotype fuss. Of course, I had heard stories, but I had never thought about it. I hadn’t needed to. Before Sadiq, there had never been anyone remotely serious in my life.
‘Madam, your driver is here’, the nurse/receptionist that had been picking her nose was talking to me.
‘Thank you’, I said, walking outside to the shiny Mercedes waiting for me.
‘I bring other driver, so he take your car’
‘Thank you Adamu’, I said throwing him my keys. In moments like these, I didn’t completely hate Mrs Abdullahi.
‘You know what you have to do.’
I was looking at her blankly. She was telling me to leave Sadiq. Before that moment, separation from Sadiq had never crossed my mind. The few nights we didn’t spend together felt dramatic enough. Missing him was physical as much as it was emotional.
‘This is the 21st century. Surely there are ways to protect our children’. The fact that we were talking about children made me feel like I was in a parallel universe. I hadn’t even picked my wedding dress!
‘You will leave my son, or he will leave you. There will be no more discussion’.
My poor Sadiq. He fought for me. He really did. But in the end, blood came first and his mother’s fears gradually became his. Our relationship ended before we booked a venue.
The last time I saw him was on a weekday. I don’t remember which exactly. My daughter, Adaora was throwing a tantrum in a Sweet Sensation parking lot and my friend Maryam and I were trying to bribe her with some kind of sugary treat.
‘Gambo!’. I looked up with a readily plastered fake smile on my face to hide my distress.
‘Sadiq!’, I said in genuine surprise.
‘You look very good. Wow, it’s been what? Three years?’
‘Almost four.’ I answered, replacing my fake smile with a genuine one. ‘You don’t look bad yourself. He was looking at Adaora. I pulled her forward. ‘This is my daughter, Adaora and my friend Maryam’, I added as an afterthought.
It was a double rainbow moment. Adaora wasn’t crying anymore. She gave him one of her beautiful smiles. It was as if God felt like I deserved a momentary gift.
‘Aaaw she looks just like you, only prettier’. I smiled at the blatant lie; Ada looked exactly like her father. ‘You know now’ I replied jokingly.
‘Good to see you Gambo.’
‘You too Sadiq’.
A faint hint of nostalgia washed over me as I watched him drive off in his car.
‘Ah you know Sadiq Abdullahi. His wife just left him.’ I had only met Maryam a year ago and had never told her about my relationship with Sadiq.
‘Really?’ I said feigning interest while I strapped Ada in the backseat. Gossip was not a hobby for me.
‘Ehn now, it was all over City People. The poor guy was sterile and his wife already had a son…turns out…’ I tuned her out and focused on those words. ‘sterile’.
Photo Credit: www.newsone.com