They shouldn’t have met at all, it probably wasn’t written in the stars for them. She had missed the bus that was to convey her for her friend’s wedding, the transport service from Nsukka to Enugu town was erratic and she bitterly regretted not travelling to Enugu the previous night. The bus had pulled out minutes before she got to the park and after thirty gruelling and expensive minutes, she gave up the chase for the bus and paid the taxi driver the same amount that would have taken her to Jos from Enugu.
He had smiled at her from across the bus aisle, the bus that was taking her back to Nsukka where she was studying literature. His lush moustache framed thin lips and saved them from being too feminine and his eyes were huge balls that promised laughter and fun. She was shocked to find that her lips were curving in reply, her eyes danced in rhythm with his and when the seat beside her became empty, he literally raced to sit beside her and they were giggling conspiratorially a minute later.
As she tossed the glass shards and fragments into the waste bin in the kitchen, she felt like she was tossing the pieces of her broken heart. Shaking her head to clear the painful memories that threatened to suffocate her, she woodenly made her way to the bedroom and looked at the frame and set it down. Her daughter’s words were ringing in her head, it wasn’t the first time she had accused her of burying herself away but this time it really got to her.
His name had been Chetachi- the second most beautiful name in the world after her own, he said with a smile that she was sure many women drooled over and dreamt about night after night.
“You and I are destined to be lovers and to live happily ever after” he said with a cheeky smile when she had told him she was not involved with anyone at the moment.
“And you know this because?”
“You’ll see, Amara. You’ll see”.
After he died, she changed her name to Fechi and forbade anyone from calling her Amara, not even her parents called her that anymore. His death had shrunken her soul, she wouldn’t have survived his death- she wasn’t living anymore just surviving. If she hadn’t discovered that the night they had made love under the stars, the only time their fleshes joined, created something that was blooming inside her. She wouldn’t even have survived.
“I’m sorry mum” Nneka said when her mother picked up the call that disrupted the flow of her memories.
“I went too far this morning, I know I didn’t have malicious intent but you were hurt nonetheless and for that I apologise” she continued when Fechi did not speak.
“Say something Mommy, anything”
“I am not angry, at least not with you. It is death that I have issues with, the death that took Cheta away from me too soon.”
Silence opened its arms and enfolded them in an embrace that made words seem sacrilegious, the only sounds were the chiming of the clock and of Nneka’s breaths coming in sharp gasps.
“Who are you talking with?” a male voice shattered the gossamer fabric silence had woven.
“My mom” Nneka’s rusty voice made her mother smile.
“Let me talk to her” the male voice commanded and Fechi smiled at the imperiousness of his tone
“Good morning Ma, this is Nneka’s boss and I want to report her to you”
“Oh!” Fechi managed to squawk, her throat felt like it was on fire.
“She’s a good worker but can be very naughty. Did you know that she has refused to stop wearing her rock group t-shirts on Fridays, those shirts are frightening”.
Fechi closed her eyes and allowed the tears that were too heavy for her eyes, stain her cheeks and curve down her cheeks.
The last time she had heard that voice was on a terrible night thirty-two years ago, the night Cheta’s blood stained the Nsukka soil a deeper hue of red.
If she’d opened her eyes, she’d seen a seven swirling lights dancing above the frame on her bedside table. But she felt the warmth in her heart and for the first time in a long time, she threw her head back and laughed.