We left Garuba's office and drove straight to his fiance's parents' house. It was against the custom for him to enter the house of his parents in-law-to-be so when we arrived Garuba went up to the gate and spoke to the mai guard who having sent the message inside the house, came back to the car to inform Garuba that she was on her way. It was not long before the side gate opened and a lady swept out from compound and swished towards us as we sat in the car. The area was brightly lit and I got a clear view of her. She was very beautiful indeed, all soft, plump and womanly, with the smile of a princess. And when she said words of greeting to Garuba in that manner of the prolonged greeting of northern Nigeria, I could tell that she had the voice of an angel too. Garuba introduced me as a friend and she beamed at me. Her name was Jumai. Garuba and Jumai chatted for a while speaking Hausa, she giggling a lot. I just sat quietly and tried to smile, trying to keep up with the mood. It would have been no longer than 15 minutes when Garuba rounded up the chat with her and we waved her goodbye.
That wasn't too bad, I thought. But as we drove away I was aware that Garuba was keenly gauging my reaction to this first meeting with Jumai. In truth I knew that together Garuba and I had something that was really special, and I knew that our relationship had developed despite his betrothal to Jumai. He had been open about this relationship with her from the outset and so although I knew that she would ultimately become a significant part of his life, I felt safe and secure. If getting married to her was expected of him, I could not oppose it. Indeed, it would please me to know that he was happy and I would be there for him always, whenever he needed me. Besides, we had known each other for barely a week and I wasn't keen to do or say anything to upset him. So rather than wait for him to ask what I thought of her, I surprised him by blurting out that I thought she was really beautiful and that they looked good together, both of them.
Garuba pulled the car to a stop at the side of the road. It was a quiet road. The houses in this area were large, set well back from the road with large gardens and grounds such that on both sides of the road what was visible were the expansive grounds and not much else. And now it was my turn to be surprised, because Garuba reached for my hand and when I looked at him I could see that he appeared to be more affected by what I'd just said to him than I realised. I reached for him and stroked his face wondering why he seemed so struck. I explained that I truly meant what I'd said about him and Jumai. And then Garuba started to speak. He told me of a previous relationship he had during his one year of national youth service in Imo State in south eastern Nigeria. In a quiet voice and while still holding my hand he revealed to me a part of his past he had said nothing about until then. He had met someone there in Owerri, Imo State while he was on his national youth service, a fellow youth corper with whom he had developed a love relationship. That person whose name he said was Lucien, had hurt him. He discovered that Lucien betrayed his trust by being unfaithful and that although Garuba had been nothing but sincere, kind and gentle towards him, (which for me wasn't hard to imagine), Lucien had been tyrannical, mean and harsh, constantly making unreasonable demands of Garuba. He had even become violent towards Garuba on occasion. Garuba said he was touched by my attitude towards his relationship with Jumai. He said that Lucien had forbidden him from any relationships with the opposite sex. As he spoke I was looking into his face. "Please don't leave me Anengiyefa.." he whispered to me, looking into my eyes. Well, apart from my tears that I recall welled up at this point, my recollection of what happened next is hazy. I know for sure that as we sat side by side in the front of the car we pulled ourselves together in a tight hug, as tight as the confines of the car interior would allow. Then after much caressing and touching and whispering of words of endearment for about half an hour, we managed to compose ourselves sufficiently and drove home. And as we did so I felt even closer to this man than I'd felt before, and it was starkly obvious the forefront position that I occupied in his mind.
Back at home we sat down to supper both of us alone in his room. The air beween us was different, more intense. Garuba was at his most protective, carrying on almost as if I was a child in need of supervision and protection, attending to my every need. I seriously wondered how he or I would cope when the time came for me to relocate to my own place. We agreed that the next day being Saturday, we would drive around town looking for a place for me. Garuba knew people he could talk to. He was concerned about security, he said. He didn't want me living in the centre of town. It was very passionate between the two of us that night. I went to sleep in Garuba's arms thinking how wonderful it would be if I never had to leave this room and move somewhere else. Garuba too held me tightly, as if this would be the last night of our undistured enjoyment of this secret love that we shared...