How are you doing? I trust that things are going on well with you. I should ask also about your new workplace, how you are settling into the job, and how it differs from mine but I know that a future correspondence will contain volumes on our present job experiences.
I got your letter on the evening of September 20, and reading off the light of a dying candlelight I quickly saw that my letter had hit on some very strategic nerves. It was replete with intense and uncut vexation, so intense that I had to stop reading at a point, and finish it up with the first rays of the next morning’s sunrise. Yes, I have a low threshold for nagging, and though you did not nag, I squirm at the slightest suspicion of it.
Nevertheless, my dearest Ewatomi, I must applaud your unusual frankness, childish and naïve it would seem at first impression but such blunt sincerity is an invaluable virtue that our world with its emotional complications can do with more often. In that regard and in sharp repentance, I would in the course of this letter admit to and confess the various salient and tiny details which I, for cunny intents, omitted or at best diluted or embellished in the first letter.
First you admitted, with flowery descriptions, the beautiful first week we shared. You agreed to more than what I said that there was love in the air. However. In your words, it was only in the air and had not settled as dust in Harmattan. And how wrong it was for me to have begun counting my chicks while my mother hen was yet laying her eggs. Your dusty love, you said, was ready to settle but I hadn’t done enough to deserve it. Then, you rebuked what you called my ‘sense of entitlement’, how I expected you, with little endearment and persuasion, to follow me around the camp. Amidst the love in the air, you said, was a competing sense of ‘who needed who more?’ It seemed you had become my first conquest as I continued to ‘conquer’ in the inter-platoon competitions. You wanted me to show that I needed you as much as you appeared to need me. It was in this emotional wreck that Sergeant Tameh showed up. At first you would treat his advances with contempt though he had a fantastic reason for his admiration of you; as you said, that he had seen lots of beautiful girls, lots of timid beautiful girls, but rarely had he seen aggressive beautiful girls. ‘Aggressive’ was it for him, and you combined that value with remarkable beauty that specially appealed to him. One long week of careful study of you had convinced him to make a move. Yes I had seen you sink your head like a repentant prodigal at the parade ground while he spoke, but deep down things were not immediately as it seemed because you were laughing off ‘that dreamer’. But dreams do come true, and Tameh’s did with time. With his persistence tugging at your mind, his words soon began to tug at your heart. Also, you were soon beginning to think that this was the chance you needed, rather the chance I needed to prove that I needed you. You wanted to see me fight for you, you wanted to see me compete, like I had done for the platoon, but this time for you, and you hoped to see me win. What a victory it would be for me, rather for us, no; for our love-that I competed for and won against a soldier. But while you waited for me, I waited for you. You waited for me to compete, to call you more often, to tell you beautiful things and to follow you around the camp market in public glare, I waited for you to tell Tameh off, to prove that our one week was not too weak, to come back to me, to where you left me. But alone, while I thought you disappointed me, you too thought I disappointed you.
Giving Tameh a chance was not your earlier intention, it so happened that you grew into it. And seeing me moody, obviously at the thought of the new reality was an extra motivation for you to carry on. You had carried on gleefully, enjoying the various benefits of being the apple of a soldier’s eye, well protected and cared for against the tiresome drills and regimentations. You had carried on much like the first lady in a military caste whose jilted former lover was now only a labourer in the palace courtyard. Your joy had known few bounds until I began to take on a new comeliness. It bothered you that I was now happy without you, who could be making my smiles that broad and my heart that merry? ‘Chioma of all people’, was your first impression, and of that I am in accord. Chioma of all people; how could I have gotten along with a self-made pariah? How did I manage to get the famous snub talking and smiling, now not only to me but to others? How did I ‘manipulate’ her to a front row seat to cheer my onstage performances? Chioma had made me happy without you, life, for you, would never remain the same. Funny how you had thought you had the keys to the kingdom, only to see that the king had changed his padlock.