EPISODE 5

Dari continued browsing the woman’s Instagram page to see if Yomba was tagged in any of their photos together, but there was none. The only option he had left was to send the woman a direct message. He contemplated about it for two days till he finally decided to. First, he created a new account with a different name and sent the woman a “hi ”.  He felt nervous as he waited impatiently for a response. A response came after two days while he was at work. Dari sent her a message, telling her how he loved her pictures and how he would like to become friends with her.

 He was amazed at how she readily agreed. She was an Arabian and Dari thought it would have been difficult convincing her. Dari made it a habit of texting her every two days and each time, the woman opened up more about herself and Dari hoped she would one day mention something about her boyfriend. He eventually got to know that she was a businesswoman who owned a cosmetic line and even had business partners in Ghana.

“ So do you mind if I become your business partner? Cosmetics is something I have thought of venturing into. I hear there is a lot of money in there, hahaha.” Dari texted.

“ Sure! I would love that! Actually, I’m facing challenges with my partner in Ghana. This is a perfect timing.” Sally replied.

“ That’s great. Just let me know how and when we will begin.”

“ Sure! In fact, I will let you contact my boyfriend. He happens to be a Ghanaian. I’m sure you will understand the entire process better if he explains it to you.”

Dari stared at her last reply in awe. It was exactly what he had been waiting for and when Sally sent him Yomba’s number, he contemplated whether to call him immediately or not. Dari dialed the number a week later, with a different number and as soon as it got connected, he felt a sudden heat which was non-existence a few seconds before. The call was answered and a voice came through.

“ Hello”, Yomba’s voice was husky as though he had just woken up from a deep sleep. Dari remained silent. All that he had intended to say and had rehearsed, all disappeared. Speaking to his brother, at last, felt surreal. At some point, he was forced to believe he was dead. And even though Dari was outraged by what Yomba did, hearing his voice made him nostalgic. Dari realized with all the drama that was going on, he still missed his brother.

“ Hello, who is on the line?” Yomba asked again, but this time, with a pang of irritation.

“ Yomba…” Dari paused after mentioning his name. He suddenly felt a lump in his throat and swallowed hard. Yomba was silent and the only thing Dari could hear was his breath.

“  Are you there?”, Dari asked and the line went dead with a beep. He detached the phone from his ear and stared blankly at the screen. He dialed the number again but it didn’t go through.

Dari decided to send him a message. Maybe that was what he should have done earlier. He was able to express himself more in writing than verbally. He poured out his anger and frustration and at the end of the text, demanded that Yomba return immediately, or else he was going to inform their parents who would definitely track him down if they wanted to. He read the message all over again before hitting the send button. He heaved a sigh of relief and hoped that Yomba would respond to his message.

“ Yomba, we need to talk!” Allila stormed the bedroom with her arms folded across her chest. She looked angry, not the kind of anger which was always hilarious to Dari. But this time, she looked extremely angry, the kind of anger which made Dari’s mother, throw any footwear within her reach at him, anytime he did something wrong as a child.

“ What is it?”, Dari asked lazily.

“ Yomba, it’s been over three weeks since we got married, and you’ve never made any attempt to touch me. Instead, you keep avoiding me like a plaque. What have I done to warrant this treatment?”

“ You haven’t done anything. I have just been busy with work and it makes me exhausted. You know how it is.”

“ This is not an excuse at all. Have you been seeing someone else? Are you cheating on me?”, Allila blurted.

“ I am not. Why would you even think that?”

“ What else do you want me to think? You have been acting strange ever since your brother went missing. You seem like a different person. I feel I do not know you anymore.” Allila lamented. Her last words made Dari tense. The last thing he needed was Allila to find out the truth and he knew he had to find a lie, to divert Allila’s attention from sex till Yomba got back. He was in no way going to take advantage of her ignorance. Dari would never even forgive himself if anything of that sort happened. After a moment of silence and Allila sobbing, Dari began, “There’s something I have been meaning to tell you, but I just couldn’t find the courage to voice it out earlier because I was scared you would call off the wedding.” Dari said with a hand on Allila’s shoulder. She became attentive with a skeptical expression.

“ Did something happen?” She inquired and Dari was amazed at how her voice swiftly switched from an angry tone to a more concerned one.

“ A month before our wedding, I underwent a series of tests, and it came out that I have a low testosterone level which is the reason for my low libido. I’m afraid it might even affect my fertility. So, I’m currently on medication and I have been advised not to indulge in any sexual activity until I’m done. So please bear with me.” Dari said and Allila stared at him, unblinking with both hands on her lips.

“ You should have told me. I can’t believe you carried this burden all alone. I’m so sorry for pressuring you in the beginning.” Dari was surprised at her reaction. He expected more aggression and denial from her. He didn’t anticipate it would have been so easy convincing her. He felt guilty and hence, promised to make time for her. Allila wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned her head against his chest, an action which was abrupt and rendered him speechless. His heart beat faster as he caught a whiff of her Victoria’s Secret Tease. He lifted his hands to return the hug but stopped mid-air, clutched his fists, and dropped his hands at his sides. After a few minutes, Allila detached herself from him and left to prepare lunch. But before she exited the room, she informed Dari about Muna’s visit.

“ She’s worried about Dari. No matter how many times I try to assure her, he will be back soon, she just keeps getting more concerned. In fact, she even visited because she wanted to speak with you. You should find time and see her. Maybe you could calm her down. It’s evident she’s still in love with your brother. I wonder why they even broke up in the first place. Muna isn’t ready to tell me”, Allila lamented and Dari nodded all that while she spoke. Muna was the last person he ever wanted to see. She was a skeptical being and always too suspicious. Dari was scared she would discover who he truly was. She was his ex-girlfriend after all. Also, he vowed never to tell Allila or anyone else why they broke up. All he knew was, Muna wasn’t someone he ever wanted to share a future with.

In the subsequent days to come, Dari came home much earlier than he used to. He ate supper with Allila and they watched TV shows together. And on weekends, they went to the tennis club together and Allila would sit and watch him play. And on Sundays, when they weren’t reading together, they raced with motorbikes, a competition Allila always won. She was a great companion, an attentive listener, and laughed at the silliest things. Dari gradually became comfortable around her, something he never was with any other girl. Allila was prone to having nightmares almost every night. It was something Dari didn’t know until he began making time for her. After every episode, Dari will hold her in his arms with her body slippery with sweat. In those times, he would imagine how adorable she was and how cute she felt in his arms. Even when Allila sprained her foot after she fell down the stairs, Dari took a week off from work to look after her. Contacting  Yomba became less vigorous as the days went by. At first, he would leave Yomba a message every single day but he began sending him messages every two days, two days became three days and three days eventually became once a week. Yomba never responded to any of them. Even Sally, Yomba’s girlfriend had suddenly disappeared into thin air. He could no longer find her name on Instagram, nor her pictures. Yomba might have cooked up some lies that influenced her sudden disappearance. Neither way, Dari was gradually forgetting about him. He had found happiness and he was going to live his life, with or without Yomba. The only concern Dari had was his parents. They were still worried about his disappearance and had even lost hope of finding him again. His mother had even suggested they organize a funeral for him, as he may be dead. It took Dari’s timely intervention to convince her out of the idea and assured her of the return of the purported “ Dari” whom only he knew was actually Yomba.

Dari got a call from his father one afternoon, informing him Kasha, Dari’s younger sister, was returning to the United States, as the holidays were almost over and a new semester was beginning. Dari felt a pang of disappointment because he was always the first to know when Kasha made up her mind to return to school. He couldn’t blame her. Ever since he got married, he barely had time for her. Plus, just like everyone, Kasha thought he was Yomba.

“ So when is she leaving?”, Dari quizzed his father.

“ Today. She’s been sent to the airport already.”

“ Already? But why didn’t she tell me? I’m going there right away.”  Dari said and hung up while his father was still speaking. He headed to the airport immediately and after calling her five times without a response, she finally answered.

“ What is it?”, Kasha asked bluntly.

“ Where are you?”, Dari inquired and she gave him her exact location. Dari saw her in a red hoody and her hands tucked in its pockets, with headphones around her neck and a brown haversack shrugged on one of her shoulders. She looked more like a teenager than her two decades of age.

“ Kasha, why did you try leaving without telling me? Besides, you know I always drive you to the airport.” Dari complained and Kasha stared at him with furrowed eyebrows which made him look over his shoulders to see if she was looking at someone else.

“No. You’ve never, driven me to the airport. Dari did and now he’s not here. Stop acting like you care.” Kasha snapped and Dari fell dump. He had forgotten he was portraying Yomba and Kasha couldn’t possibly see the Dari in him. He cleared his throat and said, “ Look, baby sis, I do care and I’m really sorry for not showing you enough affection”

“ Yomba, you’ve never cared. You barely even call me when I’m away. And between us, there’s nothing to even talk about. We’re like strangers. We’ve always been strangers. So don’t try to take Dari’s place just because he’s gone missing. You can never replace him. Kasha blurted and then a voice emerged, calling all passengers traveling to the United States to check-in.

Kasha walked away briskly and after she was done checking in, she stared at Dari with contempt before turning away. Dari stared at her retreating back and for the first time in a long while, he wanted to go back to who he truly was. He had no idea his current identity would ruin his relationship with his sister. And he realized he wouldn’t be able to visit her at Harvard University like he always did. She wouldn’t want to set eyes on him even if he tried. He returned home dejected and stayed in bed till the next day.

It was two days to Allila’s birthday and Dari thought hard about what to get her. She had began singing about her birthday five days prior, and Dari knew he would be in hot waters if he got her nothing.

He walked into a jewelry shop, toured the whole place, and found nothing attractive, meanwhile, the shop was ranked one of the best, with outrageous price tags. Just as he was about to leave, a man called out to him and blocked his way.

“ Didn’t you get what you want?”, the man, whom Dari presumed was the manager, asked. Dari nodded and he asked him to follow him. They entered an inner room that was sparkling with gold and diamond jewelry. The man removed a couple of them from the display case and showed them to Dari. Dari liked none. The man finally brought out a rose-shaped diamond necklace. After staring at it for some time, Dari said, “ I like this one”

“ I knew you would like it. Your girlfriend is really lucky.”, the man said as he packaged the necklace.

“ Actually, it’s for my wife,” Dari said and immediately, became surprised at himself. He never thought of Allila as his wife. But today, the word “ wife” effortlessly escaped his lips. Maybe she was his wife after all. They exchanged vows at the altar and they shared the same bed, what difference did it make from what real married couples did?

“ My wife”, he repeated it again under his breath and smiled wistfully, without realizing the curious stare of the manager.

Allila screamed in excitement when Dari presented her with the necklace on her birthday. She hugged and curled her legs around him. Dari was enthused to see her excited that he didn’t tell her he was choking. After a while, she let down her legs and softened her grip around him. They remained standing in silence and then, Allila began detaching herself from him but stopped when the sides of their faces touched. Their lips grazed and when they were about to kiss, they heard a honk in the yard. Dari hurriedly went downstairs while thanking God for the interruption.

The next day at his office, Dari dialed Yomba’s number consistently, fortunately, it went through. Dari was nervous. He hadn’t felt this anxious for a while until the day before. He thought he had everything under control, but with what almost happened between him and Allila, he felt otherwise and made up his mind to make Yomba return to Ghana at all costs. The phone beeped and asked Dari to leave a message after there was no response.

“ Yomba, this is my last warning to you, you better return to Ghana or I tell Mom and Dad everything. You know how ugly Dad’s wrath can be. I’m done doing this, I can’t continue anymore, I want my life back and I’m getting it at all cost. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Dari heaved a sigh of relief, hoping his message would get Yomba to call him. He looked out of his window for a while and when he turned, his eyes met Muna’s. The phone slipped from his hand and he froze. Muna on the other hand, had her mouth gaped and her eyes flung wide in shock. Dari wondered when she came in and what she might have probably heard.

 

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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