ROBERT

 


Photo by Eliseu Dias in Unsplash

I met Robert when I was in my year three in the university; he was a final year student about to round up his Engineering course while I was studying mass communication by then. He was a handsome, slightly tall and a well built young man. Robert’s smile was something else; it made me feel at home. To me, he was a rare personality.

 

Our first year together was quite memorable. Just as other couples in the university would; we hung out, went to the movies together, swam together, of course we smooched and gave each other tight and long hugs. But one thing about Robert, made me know that he was really into me and that he wanted me in his future. He wasn’t just after my body like other guys; he was also after my wellbeing, my happiness and peace of mind. Sometimes when we had some misunderstandings, he would be the first to apologize, even though he was right. Then he would encourage the both of us to move on and forget about such argument, that it was a thing of the past.

 

The first day I went to his apartment, I was treated like a queen.

 

“Opor! Racheal dey go see man o!!”  Jessica mocked me as I cleaned my fancy pair of sandals  while I prepared to leave the hostel. 

“Did you cook anything this morning?” I asked her; I was feeling a bit hungry.

 

“Don’t touch that food in my pot o! Tell your man to feed you” she said mockingly. Jessica could be crazy sometimes. I gave her a side eye 

“You’re a big fish” I said and we both laughed.

Well she was right; I was going to eat to my fill at his place.

 

The moment he opened the door; we stood still for a while staring at each other. It was my first time coming over and I regretted not knowing what to do next. A crazy thought came into my head  which was to bow down and greet him.

While I was still battling with my being naive he pulled me to his chest and gave me a hug.

 

It was a sweet moment, he smelt of a rich flavor, and for a moment I wished it never ended.

“I’m so glad to see you” he said in a low tone. Of course I was too. 

 

His apartment was a little heaven on earth. It was a One-bedroom apartment, where he went to school from. The tiled floor was well swept, the two sofas in the sitting room were also placed at strategic positions. Around the blue painted walls, were stickers and posters; evidences that he was a die-hard fan of a celebrity; Cristiano Ronaldo a popular soccer star. 

 

One of the days, during my stay, his friends from school had come to visit him, three of them sat on a sofa facing us, while the other lay on the floor; all eyes glued to the Flat screen Television which hung on the wall. I’d sat close to him as they all watched their soccer star on TV, playing on the pitch. And then the star scored a goal; maybe it was an important goal because Robert and his noisy friends shouted at the top of their voices and acted like they were going crazy.

“Goalll!!!!” I watched in shock as he grabbed me tightly and pulled me to his chest shouting;

“He’s the real goat! I said he’s the real goat!”

“Goat? you mean he is an animal?” 

He laughed and laughed, then he spoke.

“It means…Greatest Of All Time”

Well, I still wondered why guys could be so extra whenever it came to football matches.

 

For the next few days I and Robert played like kids, we did everything anyone could think of. I found my self liking everything about him. The way he laughed, walked, spoke and the way he sang, though Robert had a terrible crooked voice; to me, it was so nice and soul soothing. 

 

One day, while we made out on his sofa, smooching and enjoying the moment, my phone rang. It was Jessica calling. I ignored and went back to my business. Robert stopped kissing me and said he was okay with me picking up the phone call.

 

“Madam, If you get pregnant, your parents will curse you o!” She shouted at the other end. I felt embarrassed because I’d put the phone on speaker and Robert had heard everything she said as I sat on his laps.

He laughed; we both laughed and then he assured me that nothing was going to happen.

Well, I had nothing to miss in school, it was a lecture free week for the both of us.

—————————————————————————-

The day Robert graduated from the University and told me that he would be going to Canada to further his studies, I entered into a state of bitterness. He was someone I never wished to stay far away from. It was a day of mixed feelings. I was happy that he was finally done with school; sad that I wouldn’t be seeing him anytime soon. I was in my final year by then.

 

“Babe, It’s just to get my Masters degree” he said to me, raising up my sullen face to meet his. He looked me straight into the eyes. All he could see was sadness; all I could see was his determination, optimism and an EVERYTHING-WILL-FINE expression.

He promised to marry me as soon as he was back and then he pulled me to his chest. It was another beautiful and painful moment. He pecked me on my cheeks and then finally kissed me. He tasted so nice that more tears rolled down my cheeks as I imagined that I wouldn’t see him for the next two years. 

 

That night at his apartment, I hugged him tightly and wept. I wouldn’t let go; I didn’t want to let him go. I sobbed quietly on his chest; I could feel his heart beat; it was rhythmic. He raised my face up and kissed me. He ran his hands through my long curly hair and down my back. I didn’t know what I wanted exactly.

“Thank you for coming into my life” I whispered.

All these while, Robert was silent. I had no idea that he was weeping too. Not until I looked him in the face and then he tried to conceal it.

I restrained him by holding his hands;

“Let them flow” I whispered. 

We finally cried together.

—————————————————————————

 

During my Convocation (graduation) from the university, Robert Video called me from Canada were he was. The program had finished, and I was sitting under a tree with my family members and Jessica my roommate when he called. I held back the tears that were building up in my eyes so as not to spoil the moment. We both laughed and discussed happily. He seemed more happy than I was, for myself and also opted to speak with my parents and my younger brother CJ”

Robert sent me Two hundred thousand Naira that day as my convocation present. He also sent my parents Three hundred thousand Naira for themselves and CJ. I couldn’t help but shedding tears of joy. 

 

“Please don’t make me to cry over the phone” he said to me laughing. For a while I stared at him; at the one who had made me happy; at the one who had given me peace of mind. He was growing more handsome, and Robert was also growing beards now. My stomach tinged with excitement, I’d be so proud to be seen around a bearded man; it was one of the things I’d silently wished for.

 

“Babe, I’m rounding my Masters Program soon and I’ll be back in a few months time” he said to me as he sat over a cup of ice-cream.

I was about to say something when Jessica snatched the phone for me.

“Oga o, you sent Rachel some money, don’t you know that I’m graduating too?” She asked in a funny way. Everyone laughed and laughed. I wasn’t surprised, Jessica was an outspoken person right from the time I knew her.

Robert apologized for not doing the needful and sent her twenty thousand naira. I watched as she jumped up and started to dance. Robert requested to see her dancing and I helped him do so. It was so hilarious, we all laughed and laughed. 

 

—————————————————————————

When Robert told me that he had been diagnosed of stage four Cancer, I didn’t believe him. It was two months before our wedding. 

He had been experiencing some kind of illnesses for some time and then decided to go for a check up. It all looked like a film being played to me.

 

He had come back to Nigeria few months back, and we had already gone far with the marriage plans and all. 

The previous month, he had come to see my parents with his whole family. 

Everything seemed to be falling in place. I’d also finished up with my NYSC and had gotten a job in a radio station. 

 

Robert was the only man I’d known in my life. He was my first and only Lover.

As he held my hands over the table where we sat in the restaurant, he bowed his head and remained silent. I could see pain, remorse and disappointment as he raised his face to look at me.

“I know we can’t continue, and I’m sorry for keeping you waiting all these years.” He said as tears rolled down his eyes. 

Here was the man who had assured me that everything would be alright. Here was the man who had always made me happy, whom I was about to me married to; in two months time.

Here he was; weeping and apologizing to me.

 

I watched in shock as he stood and walked out of the restaurant after placing some currencies beside me for my T-fare back home.

Reality was beginning to set in. I didn’t know if I should stand or sit. I was so weak and paranoid. 

I went after him without thinking twice.

 

I met him just in time before he entered a cab. I knew that he saw me, but then he tried covering his face and acted like he didn’t know.

I could tell he was weighed down by guilt and pains. I understood his own point of view which was based on the fact that the marriage wouldn’t last long because the disease would take his life sooner.

 

I ran after the car shouting on the driver to stop. I cared less on whether people looked at me or not. The driver who wasn’t on a high speed came to a halt some minutes later.

“I’ll marry you” I said, as he opened the door to meet me.

He looked at me with surprise and shook his head. He smiled a bit, trying to lighten up his mood, but I could see pain deep down inside him.


I knew he shook his head for many reasons; to him I didn’t understand the decision I was about to take.

 

“I don’t care about the diseases, I’ll marry you Robert”

“Racheal, I’m not going to live long, can’t you understand?” he found it hard to let those words leave his mouth. And then he spoke again;

“I don’t want to spoil your lifetime happiness, the right person for you will surely come one day” he said as he entered the cab and told the driver to move on.

 

“I’ll be glad if you die, being with me” 

These where the words that left my mouth and then he came out of the vehicle and stood, looking at me. I could tell that he marveled at my

Stubbornness. Amidst the crowd that had gathered; some recording the emotional moment with their phones; some weeping even though they didn’t understand what was happening, I ran and hugged him.

“Robert, Please marry me” I whispered to his ears and then I placed my head on his chest and wept.

—————————————————————————

My parents and family members tried as much as they could, to talk me out of marrying him.

“You’re going to be a widow, and I don’t want that” my mum told me one night while we discussed about the issue at hand. Well, I had made up my mind and no one was going to change it. I was prepared to accept my fate.

 

It was not an easy decision making up my mind that I’d lose him one day. Well, I believed it was best if we would enjoy the moments we had, together.

I tried as much as possible to make him smile and be happy. We engaged in a lot of activities just like we’d done when we were still lovers. 

 

Robert had been the one making me happy all these years; I believed it was my turn to.

I tried to bury every thought that I’d lose him and watched with delight as he laughed and tried to to be happy too.

 

When my parents learnt that I was happy with my married life, they let me be.

Mum always came around to see I and Robert. 

Some time later we relocated to Canada where Robert secured a permanent job as a director of an Engineering firm. Life was so nice, beautiful and interesting. We went for vacations, picnics and had lots of fun. 

————————————————————————

Robert died with a smile on his face. I wondered how depressed and disorganized he would have been if he didn’t marry me anymore.

 Beside him was a paper; on it, he had scribbled down some words to me.

“Don’t let anyone spoil your happiness, you’re a good person, keep being the good person you are” 

I smiled to myself; at least I’d helped him live a happy life.

 


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