I opened my eyes and took in my surroundings; I was in a hospital and my head hurt tremendously. I tried to move it, but the pain only intensified, then I touched it and felt the bandage, and then it all came back to me slowly; Oti had proposed and I had tried to get out of the hammock, I must have fallen and hit my head.
Suddenly I remembered: my head wasn’t going to be the only part of my body hurting when Pat, her parents, & even my parents found out what I’d been up to. How did I get myself into this mess? How could I have had an affair with my friend’s grandfather?
It all began about two weeks after I first met Oti. My uncle Ekanem wanted me to attend an ‘Economic Summit’ with him, “I could use an intelligent, young lady’s point of view.” he said. I did have, still have an interest in such things, gets my blood pumping and my brain spinning. Plus, my favorite uncle was asking and Pat was out of town. Actually, she was out of the country, so I went with him. After the event, I was speaking with one of the guest speakers and I was really going on and on and voicing my opinion and he seemed impressed, but so was Oti, who had been standing behind me and listening for quite some time. The speaker made to introduce us, but Oti told him we had already met. We all stood talking for a while, and then the guest speaker asked to be excused and left us both alone. We made small talk for a while and then he said: “We should get together sometime; you should come by the house”.
Again, there was that look in those eyes. I just couldn’t figure out what it was all about but anyway I said, “I will sir, if I can find my way”.
“James will come pick you up; just let me know when you want to come”
A few days later, I was coming out of a library when I ran into him.
“Ah, Bassie, how are you?”
“I’m fine sir”, I said with a smile. “I didn’t know you used this Library Sir, I come here often but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you.”
“Well, I was looking for a book which, I just discovered that I don’t have in my library so I came to check this one since it’s the closest to my house”
“So did you find it?”
“Yes I did”. He held up a copy of ‘Taming the Shrew’
We continued talking for a while, about books, and then I said, “I would love to see your library someday sir.”
“Oh, you’re welcome anytime, matter of fact, why don’t you come with me now? I would love to show you my collection.”
Since I had nothing to do immediately, I went with him. And that was how it began. The first few times I told myself I was only visiting for his library, and then when I found that we really talked often, I told myself it was merely our mutual love for books, arts and world politics that gave us so much to talk about. Still somehow, and I promise I don’t know how and I certainly didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did. Somehow, I fell in love.
When I discovered the depth of my feelings for him, I stood back and asked myself how it came to that, but what did I expect? I spent so much time with him, and he was kind, compassionate, a good listener, a great teacher and all that. I reminded myself that this was my friend’s grandfather, and so I stayed away. At least I tried, but he wouldn’t let me go. He kept calling and even came to my house a couple of times (Heaven only knows how he got my address; thank God my parents were out of town). I finally decided the best thing to do was to talk about it.
So, one day in his living room, I finally told him why I’d been avoiding him. I told him everything, told him the way I felt about him, dreading his reaction while at the same time hoping it would somehow bring me to my senses. I sat far away from him and I prayed he wouldn’t come near me. I guess he knew I was confused and nervous, and I needed to unburden myself, so he didn’t come near me – yet.
I had a feeling he fancied me, (or how do you explain someone who just won’t stop calling or visiting), but still I hoped he would say something like: “Come on, Bassie! You’re like my granddaughter! You’re Pat’s friend for goodness sakes!” Or something remotely related, but no, he had to tell me he felt the very same way.
Walking towards me and sitting himself beside me, he said: “In fact, since the day I first saw you, I’ve never really been able to get you off my mind”. *sigh* So much for hoping for a voice of reason. We talked at length, and by talk I mean I went on ranting about all the reasons why this was terrible, and he told me, “Please, please don’t try to run away from me, or what you feel. Don’t try to figure it out, l let’s just take this one day at a time and I promise you everything will be ok”.
“But how can you promise that?”
“Everything will be ok, don’t you worry”, he said with a reassuring smile.
I believed him, I trusted him, so I ignored that little nagging feeling at the back of my mind, and I decided to forgo all forms of rational reason. I decided not to think beyond the present and I snuggled closer into his embrace. Besides, what Pat didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
I cried myself to sleep – again, and when I opened my eyes, I saw the nurse appointed to me. She smiled at me and said: “Oh, you’re up. Your Dad was here a while ago, he needed to get something, but he said he’d be right back.”
“Uhm, is he about six feet tall, golden brown eyes with dimples and gray hair by the sides of his head?”
“Yeah, could I be talking about any other?”
My parents were out of the country so I knew it couldn’t be my father. They had been begging me to come over for a while, and I would have gone shortly after Pat did, but Oti happened. Besides, the nurse grinned extra when I was giving the description so I knew exactly who she was talking about.
Sure enough, he showed up just a few minutes later, just as the nurse was walking out of the room. “Welcome back sir, I was just telling your daughter that you were here earlier; you’re such a good father, and she’s lucky to have you”. He just smiled and said thanks. I couldn’t even laugh; father, that was manageable, try grandfather.
When I left the hospital, we talked, and he had it all figured out, told me it was going to work out, but I knew Pat would never forgive me, and my parents, well, let’s just say family gatherings would be forever awkward, if we ever got invited at all. I thought long and hard and decided what to do; it wasn’t going to be easy, but I had to do it.
He tried to stop me, tried to tell me we could find another way, but I wouldn’t listen, I needed to leave. My parents were surprised but happy that I decided to change my mind and stay with them. I cried heart-wrenching tears as I packed my bags. He knew I was leaving the next day, and I figured it would be cruel not to say goodbye, so that night he stayed at my place. I wept all night in his arms, and I cried all the way to the airport, I even cried for most of the trip.
It’s been three years now, but I still think about him, every day. How could I not, when I stare into those same golden brown eyes, see that same disarming smile, everyday in my little Jamie? Someday he’ll wonder who his father is, someday he’ll ask. Someday we’ll have to see him again…someday…