We met at a re-union after 30 years.
But let me back track a bit to give you context.
We finished secondary school in 1988 and after that I went to the UK to continue my studies. When I finished, I saw that being in the medical field was more profitable and ensured a job and stay, so I went for further studies in nursing and expanded my skills in that field.
I met a guy whom I thought because he was a Nigerian, was the ideal person for me plus the fact that when you are in a foreign land, as a black woman, you have limited choices. The whites would date you out of curiosity but you see the darker your skin, the more difficult it is to get a date; as for me, I am black like coal.
Ok, I am not saying it is the sole reason I never got dates.I love my jet black skin like mad, if any man can’t handle it, he is the one who has a problem, not me but I’m aware this may also have accounted for why most guys did not date me.
Let me tell you a small story; I was in the lift of the hospital I worked at one day when a little girl and her parents came in, as soon as that child sighted me, she let out a frightened scream and began to cry. I was probably the darkest person she had ever seen up until that point more so, I worked outside London where dark skinned people were in a vast minority.
The rest of us five or six adults in the lift knew she was frightened by me; true story o. So the mother picked her up and soothed her while I just smiled and looked straight on. When I got to my floor, I hurried out not knowing if I should curse the girl or myself.
What I am trying to say is this, maybe I suffered a bit of low self-esteem when I married the guy I married at that time; I wasn’t getting the dates I wanted; I was doing fine and yet…well, I married this guy, who though was a Nigerian like me was more British than Nigerian. He was born and raised in the UK and we had clearly different views about life in general.
Our marriage, of course, did not last. He was not a go getter, he took things for granted.
For example, he was not ambitious so even when he was qualified for a position, he never applied for it, if I pushed him to, he saw me as being forceful, whereas I had to work my fingers to the bone to remain on my job.
We were together for four years and had a little boy in between, then one day, he was out of our lives…just like that.
This made me more determined to succeed at all cost; especially with a child in tow.
Now, when I left Nigeria, I was out of touch with most of my classmates, any re-union with anyone in the succeeding years after secondary school, work and a marriage breakdown would have been impossible because I wasn’t going home regularly, I only visited Nigeria twice, I think, in almost twenty years.
I was home the second time when I met a classmate and that’s how I got reconnected to all the rest. That’s how come I heard there would be a re-union the following year.
I was eager to go. I was added to our classmates’ WhatsApp group. That was where I began to hear about him, Kingsley our brilliant classmate back in school. Kingsley I heard was still brilliant but had somehow become stagnated.
Back then, Kingsley always swept away all the awards in our set back; he was the best student in Math, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics…all the science subjects and a few arts, he was the undisputed champion. To hear it being said on the platform that he was unable to continue his education after our secondary school several years after we his mates were done at the universities, was disheartening. Even after a few of our classmates contributed money to send him to a technical college, more than 10years after secondary school, he finished and was unemployed. Years later, with help still from a few others, he was just getting by teaching in some government school.
So, when the reunion was being planned, it was decided that Kinsley should be sought and added to the platform and his transport and accommodation paid for by a group of us for the reunion.
Now, Kingsley and I were very good friends back in school. He was smart while I wasn’t so book smart. He was who you could call my crush but we were kids and were afraid we would be punished if we were ever found together.
When I travelled abroad for summer, I always brought something back for him when we resumed school; Kingsley lived with his parents in the village in the east; I was a city girl from the western part of Nigeria.
I offered to pick up the bill for Kingsley and got his contact.
Immediately we started chatting, it was as if we had never been apart. I filled him up on all that had happened to me in the past 30 years and he did same; we were like school kids again. I always looked forward to our night calls, our chats, our jokes…I looked forward to the re-union like nothing I have ever looked forward to.
I also supported him as often as I could though he never asked for it
A few days before the re-union date, I flew into Nigeria and met with Kingsley. We decided we were meant to be together and that’s how we started…naturally we kept it to ourselves.
A few months after the reunion, I flew in again and we went to the registry to seal our relationship as husband and wife; Kingsley would join me, months after.
It’s been six years now; Kingsley is another man; he is like one driven by the devil itself. He is very secretive; I found out he has built his parents a house without my knowledge. Is he working? Yes he is, but why the secrecy?
He is a man of over 50 and to the best of my knowledge without a child, yet, I have a deep feeling there might be a woman and a child some where back in Nigeria. The type that speaks his language.
I am also a woman in my 50s, we are age mates, I have a son from my previous marriage and I am acutely aware I will never bear Kingsley a child. Is this the reason for all the whisperings in his language, secret phone calls, house building?
Why am I feeling cheated?
He didn’t build that house on his sweat alone; mine was the foundation and the reason it stands. I am not angry he built his parents a house, I am just upset this is the foundation for all kinds of wrongs. Does he have a child? Woman perhaps? I really don’t mind the child, it’s the woman that gives me worries…what if there is no woman, what if this is a guy simply trying to make up for lost time? If so, why the secrecy?
Maybe marriage isn’t for the likes of me, who knows?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)