Neighborhood Romance (1) - Tessy Mordi



The phone made beeping sounds and vibrated twice on the table. Vivian picked up her Sony Xperia and looked at the top of the screen. The messages where from whatsapp.

"Who is this again now? I don't need disturbance. I have so much to do." She grumbled. But still, her fingers moved to unlock the screen of her phone. She opened the app and saw that the messages were from Victor Ayem, her good friend of over ten years.

"Babe, how are you this afternoon? Are you still coming over?" The messages read.

Vivian sighed. She had been so consumed in her work at the restaurant, she completely forgot that she promised to pay Victor a visit. The last time she visited was during his sister's marriage ceremony. Three months had past and all they did was talk on phone or communicate on whatsapp. Several times over chats, he had invited her for lunch or one get together after the other. But Vivian was either too busy or just wasn't interested. Although Victor was her good friend, in fact, their families were friends, she wasn't too comfortable chatting with or talking with him because he always made statements that made her uncomfortable. She liked him a lot, as a friend. But as more, she didn't want to consider it. Not because it wasn't possible, he was a fine looking man and a nice guy, but because there was someone else in her life.

Vivian believed in sticking to one partner, not more than one. That aside, Victor had become so much like a brother, she wondered if it would be possible to see him differently. Oh scrap that. She knew it would be possible. Vivian had a very active imagination. When she set her thoughts on something, she always accomplished it. She knew if she set her thoughts on Victor as a boyfriend, she would see him as such.

Jide was the man she was dating. Jide Ademola. She had fallen in love with his voice and the ease with which he understood her. Their discussions over the phone and chats via whatsapp revealed how well they flowed together. Then their was the issue of wanting to take things further. He always made it clear he wanted her for keeps. He wanted to marry her.

Vivian drooled over his pictures. She adored him, for he was like an answer to her prayers. But, there was the issue of distance. Vivian met Jide through some weird coincidence on twitter. And although she didn't give him a second thought at first, he managed to eventually get her attention.

Jide was a Yoruba man based in Jos, while Vivian was an Igbo lady based in Asaba. They were really far apart.

Several times, Jide pleaded that since she had more time in her hands, she should pick a date and come over to Jos. Vivian chuckled at the suggestion.

"Its not going to happen, Jide." She replied jovially. But she was serious. "You need to come over first. You need to come see me at home and meet my people. Especially since we are talking marriage."

She would have loved to go to him and even spend several weekends at his place. But she wanted to be sure they would really end up together. Besides, there was the issue of fraudulent people luring unsuspecting victims to their hideouts, all in the name of online relationship. Her security was important.

So unfortunately, since their one year meeting on twitter, they had not met. Jide had promised to come visiting but one issue after the other kept coming up. So no, she hadn't seen him and neither had he seen her, except through pictures exchanged via whatsapp or video calls via imo. All the same, she thought it best to be loyal to him. If only victor Ayem had shown interest in her earlier, maybe, just maybe, she would have given him a thought.

"But he hasn't even come to see you." Victor reasoned once, while trying to persuade her to give up the idea of an online relationship where both partners had not met.

"But he will come eventually." Vivian replied.

"Have you considered he is Yoruba and you're Igbo?" Victor reminded her. "Even if your parents are willing to accept him, his people may not accept you."

"We have discussed all that." Vivian defended. "The important thing is that we accept each other."

"Stop building castles in the air my darling."

"Oh just stop it, Victor. Respect my relationship, just like I have always respected yours."

Victor sighed. She was really doing everything to frustrate his efforts. But no, she won't succeed. Not so easily. "I'm not going to give up trying, you know?" He told her.

"Then I'm going to have to limit my visits." She smiled at him.

"Are you scared that more contact with me will make you fall in love?" He smiled back, mischievously.

Vivian chuckled and shook her head. She waved off his assertions with one hand. He was right though. Contact of any kind; seeing each other, shaking hands, hugging, even just a simple hangout, had a way of affecting her. Contact and attention were her major love languages. If she was going to be faithful to Jide, she was going to have to be careful to not reveal such an important secret to Victor, that is, if she hadn't already done so. It was too much of a coincidence for Victor to have asked that kind of question.

After that day, Victor had called her up everyday and talked for over an hour. He had given her no space or reason to put him out of her mind or forget him. And since they lived in the same neighborhood, he came visiting whenever he was free, while she did everything possible to avoid him even if she was free. But all the same, a run in was inevitable.

She had made up her mind to not be too close to him and was succeeding  when one evening, he called her. His voice sounded low and she wondered what was wrong.

"What's wrong Victor." She asked.

"I lost my job today." The reply came.

"Oh dear." She was speechless.

Victor used to work at Zenith bank. But since a fraudulent transaction happened in his unit, even though he was not found guilty of the crime, he was accused of carelessness and a sack letter followed.

"What will you do now?" She asked, feeling sad over his unfortunate situation.

"I have a million and one things to do." He replied calmly. "I guess I'll just take them one at a time."

"You sound really composed for a guy who just lost his job."

"Yes. I can't roll on the floor and cry now. I saved up real good and had started working on a business before this."

"Nice! It seems you have a good back up plan then. But you know you'll need a job to sustain you financially while you build."

"Frankly, I don't need anybody's job anymore. I've had enough. I just want to grow my own." He said, feeling weary.

"Lovely decision. Its not going to be easy though, but its worth the efforts.  I am a business owner too so I know."

"Yes. So will you visit me tomorrow?" He changed the topic.

"Oh, no, I can't. I have a lot to do. I'm the caterer in charge of two weddings and a birthday party happening on Friday and Saturday this week. I have so much to do and very little time. But I'll owe you a visit, please. When I'm free, I'll come over. I promise."

"OK then." He sighed "So its going to be till next week?"

"Something like that. I promise I'll make it."

"Ok. Thanks babe. Well, I've heard your voice. Have I told you it always sounds lovely?"

"You have." She chuckled. "But don't get your hopes up."

"I won't put it down either." He laughed lightly. "Have a sweet night babe."

"You too. And Victor?" She called

"Yes dear."

"I'm glad you're taking things well."

"I have  you to keep me going. So yeah, I can take anything."

"Good night."

"Good night dear. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

And that was it. The weekend was long over and it was almost weekend again. Thursday, precisely. She had promised to pay Victor a visit in the afternoon, but her restaurant had a work spell. Whenever she stepped into it, there was always so much work to be done. She'd get consumed in work and forget every other thing. At first she thought it was because she had a large customer base but few employed hands to work. She then went on to employ more people, but the business only grew, and so did the work.

Well, she can't complain. Success was what she craved for and worked towards. Success was what she got.

Now there she was, staring at her phone screen. She would have cancelled the visit so she could face her work. But she had cancelled since the beginning of the week and she just didn't have the heart to stand him up again. Vivian tapped the writing space on the phone screen and the keyboard popped up.

"I'm sorry I forgot. I'll be on my way now. What will you cook?" She replied Victor's messages.

"I'll cook anything you want me to cook." He replied

"Fantastic! Remember that chicken sauce you prepared once? I'll like that with rice." She replied, grinning to her screen.

"Settled then. I'll get to work. See you soon sweets." He went offline.

"Sweets." The words rolled off her tongue. She was going to have to find a way to make him quit his pursuit. She was sure there was someone else out there for him.
Vivian sighed and took her mind off the issue. Her eyes rested on the pile of paper work on her table.

"All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl." She whispered to no one in particular. It was time to play, after long weeks of hard work. Victor knew how to spoil her with great dishes and endless movies, games or story telling. Surely she was in for a fun-filled afternoon, especially as she knew he wouldn't let her leave early.
She quickly put her things together and got to her feet, ready to dish out last instructions to her assistant concerning the running of the restaurant for the rest of the day, when her phone rang. It was Jide. She had been expecting his calls since morning, as they were supposed to make arrangements for his visit. He was finally to come over during the weekend and she was to find him a hotel to book upon arrival.

"Hello dear." She answered the call. "I've been expecting your call. Good afternoon."

"Good afternoon baby. How is your day coming?"

"Good. Although hectic. How's yours?"

"Cool" he sounded reluctant.

"So? Are things still working out as planned?" She asked because of the reluctance she heard in his voice.

Surprisingly, he was reluctant again, before managing an almost inaudible "I'm so sorry, darling." He sighed. "My visit won't be possible. Not this weekend. I'm so tired of disappointing you and disappointing myself."

"Ok." She bit her lips, feeling really disappointed. "What happened? Why won't you make it?"

"I didn't get permission from work as expected. My request was denied. I'm so sorry sweet heart."

"What if you come over on Saturday? You don't work on Saturdays."

"Unfortunately, there is a company event. I have to be present."

"Ok. Its ok." She managed, not able to hide her disappointment. "Can we talk later? I just don't want to dwell on this news right now."

"I understand baby. Please forgive me. Please."

Its ok. Let's talk later." She cut the call.

Over one year of online dating, and here it was, another disappointment. She sighed, and then picked up her hand bag to go find her assistant. After giving her instructions, Vivian got into her car and drove off, Victor's place her destination.


To be continued.......

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