She was so taken aback by surprise at her discovery that she sat down suddenly on Kayode’s bed. The grogginess she had felt moments before was gone and in its stead, was an all-consuming desire to know what was written in this book which bore her name.
Then began the internal battle between principle and curiosity: should she open this journal and read its contents or pretend like she never saw it, consoled with the thought that she was a principled person and it was wrong to violate another person’s privacy?
It took her less than thirty seconds to make up her mind. In the end, curiosity won.
With trembling hands and her heart thumping so loud she was sure the neighbors could hear it, she opened the journal and began to read it. It took her a full hour to completely digest its contents, and in that time, she went through a whole gamut of emotions, some of which she did not know she was capable of experiencing.
She cried, she laughed, she screamed, she even danced at some point. What she read was far better than a Nollywood movie script. And she discovered that Kayode was also an artist.
The journal was a compendium of thoughts by Kayode, expressing how he felt about Remi, in words that he had found necessary to put down in writing. Each section was prefaced by a little poem and a sketch of Remi, with different facial expressions.
Remi recognized the sketches immediately. They were reproductions of her personal pictures, which she had sent to Kayode during the months when they were dating in Nigeria. Kayode talked about the depth of his love for Remi and how he knew she was meant for him.
It also contained, to Remi’s surprise, Kayode’s insecurities and his uncertainties about being able to show Remi how much he cared about her. It seemed that the Kayode who wrote these words was not the same man who she had openly and inwardly criticized for his nonchalance and coldness towards her.
But perhaps, the most shocking part of Kayode’s confessions were his thoughts on marriage. He started out by writing that he was determined not to make the same mistake his parents had made. He knew his parents loved each other, and he had no gripe with that.
What annoyed him, however, was the fact that his father was guilty of showing too much affection for his mother. His mother who was extremely manipulative, used her husband’s love for her as a weapon against him at every opportunity she had. She knew that she was his ultimate weakness.
Kayode who had observed this dynamic in his parents’ relationship, had vowed in heart, even before he left for Germany, that he would not follow in their footsteps. So, when Remi came into the picture, he executed the plan he had harbored in his heart for years: he held back showing affection for Remi and instead chose to show his devotion by acts of kindness.
This was the revelation Remi had waited for, but now that she knew these things, it was a bitter-sweet. You see, now there was another man in the picture – Olisa – and she did not need to go and rummage in any drawers to find out how Olisa felt about her. He plainly told her so and showed it by his actions.
Remi was now in a quandary and she asked herself bitterly over and over again, why it had taken so long to make this discovery. All along, she had thought that Olisa was the single added complication in her life, but now it was clear that both Kayode and Olisa were wrinkles she had to iron out. Remi was troubled.
“Why is it that once a woman is off the market, all these highly attractive, highly desirable, uber sexy men start taking a keen interest in her?” Remi asked herself, referring of course, to Olisa. The irony!
“Where was Olisa when I was single and searching? And why did Kayode not explain his struggle to me from day one? I would have understood why he–”
And that was when she remembered. That look, that struggle she had seen in Kayode’s eyes during their argument. Now, she firmly understood it. What would she do with this new piece of information?
Assailed by an army of questions which refused to let her be, Remi returned the journal to its habitat, and resumed her search for the medicine. She found it in the medicine cabinet behind the mirror in Kayode’s bathroom. Then, she ate, took a shower, took a few pills to quieten her thoughts and managed to go back to sleep.
When Kayode returned from work, he apologized for leaving the medicine in his room. If he noticed that someone had been fiddling with his journal, he certainly did not show it. And he did not mention it to Remi.
The following day was a Friday, and it was the day Olisa was leaving for Nigeria. By then, Remi knew what her answer would be. If she chose to go back to Nigeria to continue her relationship with Olisa, she knew she could use the ticket she had on hand.
You see, she had purchased a round trip ticket on her way to Berlin, instead of a one-way ticket. But she would not be using her ticket that day. As much as she struggled with this decision, Remi decided against calling Olisa to tell him her decision. She simply sent him a text message with the following words: I am staying in Berlin. Olisa did not reply.
Remi had assumed that he would at least let her know he got her message, but Olisa was silent. In fact, his silence lasted for two weeks. In the meantime, life continued as normal for Remi and Kayode, and they continued with their wedding plans.
Slowly but surely, thoughts of Olisa began to fade from Remi’s mind. At least, she convinced herself that she would forget him. She decided that it was wise to move on with her life, and she devoted all her energy to doing just that.
But one day, out of the blues, Olisa sent Remi an e-mail. It was exactly two weeks after he left Berlin. Remi was on her way back home after class when she checked her e-mail messages on her phone, a routine daily habit. She was about to delete an e-mail with the subject line “It’s not over,” when she saw the name of the sender: Olisa K. Adigwe.
Remi nervously opened the message and read it almost breathlessly. It was a very long letter, and she sat down on a park bench to read it. She read the letter three times, and each time she asked herself if she was dreaming. Was this man serious?
It had taken Olisa several days to collect his thoughts together before he sat down to compose that e-mail. He had never stopped thinking about Remi since he left Berlin. The silence on his part was self-enforced by all the strength he could muster because Olisa did not believe in forcing a person to change her mind. He believed that where emotions and logic collided, logic usually prevailed in the heart of a wise person.
Olisa considered Remi to be wise and took her one-line response to be evidence that she had made a logical decision. He had returned to Nigeria with every intention of moving on with his life, but as the days dragged on, there was something that became increasingly clear to him: he could not stand to be away from Remi. In fact, being away from her actually increased his fondness for her.
Countless times he had picked up his phone to dial her number or send her a text. But Olisa was a creature of habit. He had a bad habit of giving problems just “one-shot.” The every-effort doctrine was not part of his personal mantra. That day on the beach with Remi, he had made his case and given his relationship with her the “one-shot.”
Something strange happened to him when he got back to Nigeria. He began to re-think his decision to leave Remi alone, to respect her wishes. The “one-shot” rule began to look more like a sign of weakness than a wise principle. The thought that kept recurring to him was that he had to fight for what he wanted, and that fighting meant giving more than one shot.
Finally, on a Saturday morning, after a long drawn-out battle with himself, he decided to put this new principle into practice. He felt that Remi would be reluctant to answer her phone or reply his texts, so he resorted to a less direct method to communicate his thoughts to her: e-mail. She had told him several times before that the only e-mails she ever deleted were those unsolicited marketing ones. She pretty much kept everything else. With this in mind, Olisa carefully composed his first letter to Remi.
He started out explaining to her why he never called or texted or communicated with her after receiving notice of her decision. He went on to assure her that he had no intention of hurting her and that he desired her total happiness. Love, true love, he said, was something most people never experienced in their lifetimes. Life was too short to play games and he certainly did not want to start at this stage. His feelings for her were genuine, and he had never felt this way about anyone else, not even Amaka.
As far as he was concerned, he told Remi, she was his soul-mate and that if she searched her heart, she would come to the same conclusion about him.
Remi received Olisa’s letter with mixed feelings. She was thrilled to hear from him, but she was also alarmed at the fact that she was so ready to forgive him and welcome him back into her life. Had she not made a firm decision to go all the way with Kayode? What did this double-mindedness say about her ability to commit to a relationship with anybody?
Remi convinced herself that Olisa was not just anybody; he was a true friend. An irreplaceable friend. As long as Remi put the “friend tag” on Olisa, she felt less guilty about carrying on this friendship with him without Kayode’s knowledge.
Furthermore, she reasoned, she was sure that Kayode had female friends, maybe even ex-girlfriends whom he kept in touch with, even though she still had no positive proofs of this. What she was doing with Olisa was just keeping in touch with a friend, nothing more. Remi told herself this over and over again, that she actually believed it.
So, she sent an overjoyed Olisa a reply expressing her happiness at receiving his e-mail and indicating her interest in remaining friends with him. Olisa did not care what label Remi put on their relationship. As long as he was communicating with her, he felt he still had a chance at winning her heart and claiming her as his prize. That was how they both began to write to each other every single day for the next five weeks.
– to be continued –