Previously on Almost a bride.
The Red cab was already outside her apartment; the driver offered to help her with her travel bags into the trunk as she struggled with her luggage.
“Thank you.” She replied.
Luckily, she got to the Muritala Muhammed International Airport thirty minutes before her flight with Virgin Airways, after the bout of the heavy traffic she went through, she went through yet another with the necessary and unnecessary protocol at the airport. At last, she was seated at the exact spot she loved, beside the window. She would relax and fantasize looking out the window, however, today, the moment she was seated in the plane, she plugged her ears and played Maxwell’s Embrya album on repeat.
Ihuoma arrived on Sunday afternoon, the one-week public health conference was going be a break for her from all the hurt, and help her focus on herself and her forth-coming examination.
The flight was very long and tiring, she staying at the inn at the Greenmarket Square at the heart of Cape Town where she could see the Table Mountain. The surrounding was quiet and beautiful, different especially with their architecture and the buildings were not close to the road as most Nigerian houses were. Ihuoma jumped into her bed and zoomed off far away into “Sleep Land” never to return until very early the next morning.
The conference itself was a pleasant avenue to exchange ideas with other professionals. The conference revolved around the use of mobile phone to promote maternal and child health since almost everyone owned one, even in developing countries. Ihuoma made a few friends from the other countries.
The food was an interesting part of the visit. Being a lover of good food, she could relate very well whenever she travelled. The food at Food Lovers Market in St. Georges Mall was exceptionally beautiful; Ihuoma liked their croissants and coffee. She also tried the sushi at Beluga restaurant and it turned out nice as Dona had described.
Ihuoma decided to go to The Backyard Grill and Lounge Friday evening, and she ordered mixed braai platter, salad, corn and potatoes with a glass of wine. The customer service was perfect unlike the one back in Lagos where they treated customers as if they were doing them a favor.
Ihuoma was on her way back to her table after refilling her glass when she bumped into a young man. The red wine was all over his sparkling white shirt!
“Shit! I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you coming”
“It’s okay,” he replied.
She ran to one of the waiters to ask for help with cleaning the young man’s shirt. Surprisingly, they were ready to help. Ihuoma tried apologizing to the young man while they waited for the laundry, she was feeling horrible already; more issues to make her upset.
“I’m terribly sorry about this”
“It’s okay, it happens. I’m not in a hurry. I am Eniola Cole by the way; can I please know your name?”
Ihuoma’s heart was racing, not after the trauma from the previous month. She felt irritated and annoyed already, but remembering what had just happened between them, she replied smiling, “I am Ihuoma, Ihuoma Nwabuogaranya.”
“That’s a lovely name, I guess you’re Nigerian,” he said as he looked at Ihuoma’s face, searching for some sort of confirmation.
Ihuoma was looking down at her phone, an apology was all she offered this man, and he had better not overstep the boundary. Persistent being that he was, he went on, “are you shy?”
“Yes I am Nigerian and no, I’m not shy, I just don’t like the fact that your shirt is taking forever to dry”
“Guess you’re not enjoying my company”
“No, I am. I’m just not happy that I’m delaying you” she offered.
“Hey, I’m not complaining okay. At least it affords me the opportunity to know you. Can I meet Ihuoma?”
She had to play along, but could not wait to get off his face, plus, she felt indebted to the poor man. “Not after you tell me who you are”
“Alright, I am Cole like I said earlier and I’m a pilot. I’m on leave and that’s why I’m here in SA.”
“I’m a doctor, I’m here for a conference,” Ihuoma said as the waiter came with his shirt.
“Finally, he’s here” Ihuoma said with a deep sigh and announced that she was about to leave the lounge. “I’m sorry I have to go now, I want to meet up with a friend.”
Cole was about to ask for her contact when she dashed out of the lounge.
Back at the inn, the network in her room had been unstable and it made it difficult for her to make calls. She hadn’t called her friends since she landed in South Africa and it would be the beginning of the third world war if she went back home without doing so. She dialed Anini’s number and when she heard the beep at the end of the line, she heaved a sigh of relief.
“Oma is that you, you just forgot us abi? You have found new friends abi? It is well sha!”
“I’m sorry; I just needed to clear my head. How is everyone doing and how is the wedding preparation?” Anini was getting married very soon to her boyfriend of five solid years, five good years without marriage was not one thing Ihuoma would take, but with the way things were going, she would do anything to keep a man beside her for that long… so much for clearing her head.
“Very well dear, we thank God. Do and come back so you can help out.”
“I will be with you soon, don’t worry. Regards to everyone, tell them I called.” And the line dropped.
Saturday was the last and only free day she had to herself in SA, Ihuoma decided to go to the mall. The queue at the cashier’s was long. Ihuoma took her spot on the line and mentally did a rain check of the things she needed to buy; this was the last opportunity she had to shop before going back to Nigeria. The chocolates available at the mall were white chocolates and she had to make do with them. Dark chocolates became Lala’s favorite ever since she watched a TV advert about how healthy they were. The ODLR something blue perfumes and Ruby Woo lipsticks would make the girls happy. Of all the gifts she bought, the Victoria’s Secret provocative panty and unlined bra would make a perfect wedding gift for Anini. It was her turn at the counter, she checked in her goods and she was off to the inn.
Ihuoma really felt relieved and refreshed returning to Nigeria, she definitely missed her friends and was sure they missed her too. She arrived Muritala Muhammed International airport, Ikeja, Lagos, some minutes before 6 p.m. giving her enough time to rest and recover from jet lag. Her cab driver was waiting for her. He put her boxes in the car and they were off to her house. She got to her apartment and sent a voice message to her friends informing them she was back.
The sound of the doorbell woke Ihuoma from sleep and she sluggishly went to open the door. They all hugged her and had a long chat about her trip and the conference. Ihuoma was not really interested in all the stories and it was obvious in her countenance.
“What’s wrong dear, you know you can talk to us,” Lala asked as she made her way towards Ihuoma’s seat.
“Are you still angry about the guy…?” Dona said as Ihuoma cut in.
“Please nobody should talk about any man here, I have myself to love and my primaries to prepare for and that’s all that matters to me now. It’s a new year and i certainly do not need these distractions. It’s because of all this unnecessary pressure I get myself in stupid dramas all the time. Must something be wrong because I’m twenty eight and single?”
Ihuoma bounced to the kitchen leaving the speechless girls. The girls knew they sure had to help their friend.
To be continued…
PS: Watch this space people, expect the unexpected for the holiday. 😉