Dinner with James was more delightful then I expected. Of course, I got teased about the burnt rice.
“Is this how you would be burning your husband’s meal?”
“If my husband likes burnt meals, yes.”
James had just gotten admission for a second Masters degree in a university in the Caribbeans. It was supposed to be for a year but he planned on staying one more year with his uncle over there.
“I’ll miss you James.”
Yes, I was going to miss my bestfriend; easy to talk with, understanding, caring and thoughtful. He was not from a particularly rich family but they were comfortable.
“Jumoke, let’s get married.”
Did he just say that?
“James… We are not even… Dating.”
“I know. I mean, we could get married. Then, we can start dating after that.”
That was funny but this was no laughing time. I turned to face him, looking for that twinkle in his left eye that gave him away when joking. It was not there. He was really being serious.
“James, I thought you knew…”
“That you can’t marry me, right? I know, I was joking.”
He stood up to leave.
“Sit down. James, I said sit! You can’t leave. I have known you since I was 12years, I know when you are being serious.”
He sat down. I could see the hurt in his eyes. God, how long had he felt this way? I did not know. How could I not have known? He is my bestfriend, how could he have kept quiet all the while?
“Jumoke, I don’t know how it happened or when. You became more than a friend to me. I listen to you talk about other guys like Daniel and Kunle. I rehearsed many ways of telling you. But…”
“But what, James?”
“Knowing that I am just a friend to you and nothing more. I have resigned to this and I have become content with my place as your bestfriend. But, promise me… Promise me you won’t end up with the wrong guy. It would kill me, that’s probably after I kill the guy.”
He was smiling again, genuinely. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I was speechless. I made no effort to ebb the flow as he drew me near and hugged me.
My next appointment with Kunle was a Saturday morning at an eatery close to his office. His choice of date and venue were unusual but I did no questioning. If he wanted to meet on the roof of Cocoa house, I did not mind. It was the last editing session and I just wanted it over.
“You look amazing. Good afternoon Jumoke, can I call you that for today?”
“That’s alright. Thank you.”
He ordered for drinks and was soon talking about the book and the finishing touches he wanted me to work on. All business. I was grateful.
“So, my work with you on this book is done. I would still be glad to work with you on subsequent books. It’s been a great pleasure.”
I smiled. This was a happy ending.
“Kunle, thank you so much. You have been of tremendous help with the book.”
We talked about many other things afterward including the increasing rate at which people were opening one-man businesses. Nobody wants to be a slave to anybody especially not to someone who doesn’t value one’s services. It was 4:30pm and I was ready to go home.
“Jumoke, Daniel asked me to give you this.”
It was a white scented envelope. I wanted to be alone when checking its contents. I turned to leave…
“Uhm, I think you should open it now. And have a seat.”
I sat down and opened the envelope. A wedding invitation. Daniel Onanuga was getting married. Married.
My, my, my! Interesting things do happen on Saturdays.
“You knew this all along? Even at our last meeting?”
Kunle was nodding and smiling.
“Then why was he… Why was he still…”
I seemed to be running out of words lately.
“Why was he still flirting with you? Daniel does not want to get married. He is a playboy and you know it. This marriage is more of a business deal between the two families. Nothing about love and all about money. Daniel already has his divorce plans ready.”
“He wasn’t going to marry you either.”
“Kunle, I got that already. Thank you.
I was waiting for him to state his mission, seeing as he was enjoying this dissemination of information. At the moment, I was not even sure who I was angry at. I just was angry.
“Why are you angry? You knew Daniel all along. He loves enjoying himself, being free. To him, marriage is a cage for tamed birds and he is a very wild one. Jumoke, you should know this; I really admire you and I have become fond of you. I cannot say I am in love yet. But, I know I won’t mind being with you forever. You know me, I am not ready for marriage. Yet. But, if you feel the same, we can start the journey towards it. We can get to know each other better, let our likes get stronger, stand in love and God willing, get married when the time is right.”
My anger had taken a walk.
The unmarried are those Daniels around us. They do not see why people should get married and they would stay unmarried as long as it is in their power to do so. They want their lives, independent and free. They can be in like or even love. They can be caring and otherwise sweet. They can be the sun in peoples lives. But, they won’t commit and they won’t get married. Give them sex, money, friends and their unmarried state and they are good to go.
Problem only comes in when an unsuspecting individual starts imagining a happily ever after with them… Marriage. They are unaware of the unrepentant stance of the unmarried to remain so till kingdom come. No, they are not eunuchs. And they are not castrated, hopefully. They just do not regard marriage as an institution they want to enrol in.
Therefore, be wise, ladies and gentlemen. If he/she is an unmarried, take a walk. Away.
That’s if you aren’t one too.