The Nigerian Students’ Association was the only social gathering that Chinwe allowed herself participate in, the clamour for independence was at an all-time high and she was swept by the fervour of the agitation. She met Nnamdi at one of their gatherings, he was accompanied by her good friend Anthony and he was easily the most handsome man in the room.
She had noticed him the minute they entered the hall, even though Anthony had an imposing presence and an aura that attracted attention by both sexes, it was the chocolate skinned, well-built and slightly tall young man that held her gaze and commanded her attention.
“Introduce me to your friend” she said when she finally got to talk to Anthony.
She was one of the organisers of the Nigeriana night and Anthony was the star of the evening. He was the first person to move the motion for self-governance of Nigeria and even though that motion had ultimately failed, the new motion moved by Barr Remi Femi-Kayode and the previous one moved by Barr Samuel Akintola were all based on his 1953 motion.
“How remiss of me” he tapped his forehead and furrowed his brow. “Both of you are even Igbo and might know each other from the village”.
“Do you think Igbo land is as small as your hamlet Uromi?” his voice was even beautiful too.
“My name is Nnamdi Asoluka, I am a lawyer and you are Chinwe Ogunna, a final year medical student at the University College Hospital”.
She smiled and he thought that the room brightened. “You already know a lot about me, I’m sure you know what I had for breakfast too.” They all laughed and went as a unit to mingle with other guests.
Many people wanted their attention that night, Chinwe because she was one of the most beautiful and accomplished women in the room and Nnamdi because he was a hotshot lawyer who was on his way to becoming Queen’s Counsel. However no one could seperate them that night, they went the rounds together and by the time they had spent an hour together, they were holding hands and whispering secrets and funny observations about other guests.
Anthony Enahoro would later say that he had never believed in love at first sight until the day he watched Nnamdi and Chinwe fall in love.
They soon became the couple that everyone wanted to be like, they were even physically matched and were often confused for siblings. It often bothered Chinwe that they seemed so perfect, they didn’t ever argue or exchange even one cross word. He came to see her every evening and they would walk round her campus and talk about the mundane and the extraordinary, it never felt like routine because each evening was steeped in magic and felt like walking in a field of rainbows and plucking stars along the way.
Her parents had approved of him because he was Igbo unlike the handsome and sweet young man who she had begun to like and consider for a relationship until she had told her mother about him in a letter. Her mother’s letter still brought a sad smile to her face, she had even memorised snatches of the letter.
Chinwe nwam, I have asked all the elders if Omotosho is a name that can be borne by ndi igbo and all of them said they have never heard of such a name. Chibu’tutu tells me that the name is borne by ndi Yoruba, biko nwam tell me it is not true. My ancestors forbid that my last daughter and the one who will make me Mama Doctor like that Appolonia who goes about raising her short legs because her son trained in ordinary Ibadan, will marry onye Yoruba. It will not happen, even if I have to come to England to stop it by myself. I will not tell your father of your foolishness but don’t continue to think stupid thoughts like that again.
It was when he started making noises about marriage and a family that alarm prickled her heart even though she tried to suppress it. She told him about Maduforo and how he had abandoned her when he got to school, she didn’t trust love she told him but he’d only tell her to trust in his own love because it was true love. She tried to believe him and sometimes she really did but at other times it was hard.
She would wake up drenched in cold sweat, with a searing pain forming a band around her heart, her anxieties wriggled endlessly and translated into nightmares. Sometimes she’d dream of a woman in Yoruba attire trying to steal him away from her or she’d dream of seeing his body floating in the Thames and his body was buried in the Westminster Abbey as the first Nigerian who’d drowned in the river. When she told him about her dreams and fears, he lovingly dismissed them and told her not to project events from her relationship with Madu to the new one with him or he’d tell her that she had a vivid imagination and should consider writing books like Agatha Christy.
She stopped telling him her fears and increased the intensity of her prayers for their relationship and for her final exams. Her exams came and went with little fanfare, she knew she would pass easily but she didn’t just want to pass, she wanted to be the best student in the history of the college. She had spent most of her time holed up in the library and Nnamdi complained about how much time she spent away from him.
Her results were released after a month of grueling uncertainty for her, she was ecstatic when she saw that she had gotten the merit prizes she had hoped for including the best clinical student of all time. They were released on a Sunday afternoon and she decided to visit Nnamdi at his flat to tell him the good news, she had never visited him before because she had been so focused on her studies.
His house was located in a borough just outside London, the streets were large and uncluttered and the houses were old and stately. You could tell that the inhabitants of the street had to be financially comfortable to live there. She was giggling as she walked down the street looking for number 27, her jaw dropped open when she saw the house. It was probably the biggest residential home she had ever seen, the front garden was rivaled any of the royal gardens in splendour, there was a side garden too and in that garden she saw a tricycle that would a fit a two year old child. She also saw an assortment of toys in that garden and her legs felt like wood. She was trembling when she opened the latch gate, and walked the path from the gate to the door.