~ BEYOND PARDON ~
You want a love story? Perhaps, a Bonnie to your Clyde or a Romeo so you can be Juliet? If you answered yes to any of that, might I remind you of how tragic they all ended.
Well, this story I’m about to tell you has something in common, the ending is tragic. That begs the question: do all love stories end tragically?
The afternoon smelled like lemon left in the fridge for too long and was completely covered with green mould. The sun in the sky shined gracefully in yellow, the heat burning up between her cotton shirt and her skin told a different story.
Shiloh’s highlight couldn’t fail to sing appraisals to the goddess of sun, she beamed as though she descended from the sun herself.
Shiloh had heard tales of Lagos traffic but watching her clock as two hours went by and they were still on the same spot was a different tale entirely.
Mr Boye, the driver who Shiloh was starting to pity seemed excited to be in traffic. He told her stories about his childhood in Egba, how he met his wife and how he regrettably had to flog his youngest son for constantly using foul words at his older sister.
‘Aunty Shiloh I dey come.’ Mr Boye said as he got out of the car to stretch his legs and see if he could determine the exact cause of the traffic despite his previously failed attempts.
I stared at the white plateware on the table, carefully designed with blue baby ducks on the edges. I had the table set since 1pm, expecting Shiloh to be punctual but to my dismay, it was almost 4pm. Her cell wasn’t reachable and I was starting to fear the worse.
I initially wanted to be the one to visit Shiloh but she refused and insisted she had to come.
I got up and walked over to the living room as I paced back and forth, my mind explored the worse case scenarios: Armed robbers? Accident? Kidnap? What if bokoharam finally got strings in the south?
I turned on the news and started flashing through local channels hoping if anything bad had happened the news would cover it.
I could remember the last time I felt such disarray. It was about 11 months back, after the events that occurred during my best friend, Sulieman’s bachelor party in Calabar.
At the club after having a couple of glasses of Moet Chandon, I couldn’t help but notice her. She had red curly hair reaching her collar bone, with a black strapless dress and a beautifully detailed gold necklace. She was by herself as she watched everyone dance and drink.
The blue and green lights dazzled all over. I recollected she came with Suleiman’s sister and we were introduced earlier in the day. I went over to her side, she smiled at me and I couldn’t help but feel she was expecting me.
‘Bernice, that means the one who brings victory in Hebrew.’ I said as I sat beside her.
‘Well, yes.’ She replied as she simultaneously nodded and continued ‘Ibrahim, what do you do for a living?’.
Questions followed one another and the conversation didn’t stop till we got back to the hotel where I insisted on walking Bernice to her room.
We stood by the door, her back turned against it as she stood facing me. We endeavored to wrap up our argument about which series was better: How to get away with murder or Scandal?What happened in the next few seconds could have been anticipated but my memory doesn’t serve me right for I can’t tell who kissed who first.
The next morning I woke up to the red-haired lady and I wondered how Shiloh had been convinced to try a different color except her usual brown. The name ‘Shiloh’ rang in my senses like a bell as the event of the night before flashed with the utmost speed in my head. I closed my eyes for a minute hoping this was a dream and I didn’t betray Shiloh’s trust, not after the promises and renouncing my old ways. It can’t be that easy for me to lose control, or can it?
A minute passed and nothing changed. I got up as quick as I could and dressed up with the speed of light. It was time for my walk of shame as I tip-toed towards the door trying not to wake Bernice.
‘Is this the point you tell me it was a mistake?’ Bernice asked as she sat up on the bed.
‘I’m sorry but there is someone I love and I have to go.’ I said shamefully as I headed for the door.
‘No problem, I wasn’t looking for love. I’m not sure to say if she’s lucky or unlucky.’ Bernice said as I left the room.
What came after was no better, Shiloh sent me a video with a message saying ‘DONE’. I didn’t understand what was happening, I had left Bernice’s room only a few minutes ago. I opened the video and I realized someone recorded Bernice and I kissing and smooching passionately at the hallway and getting ourselves into the room and shutting the door behind us.
The rest of what happened in Calabar was vague because I couldn’t wait for the wedding to be over so I could return to Lagos.
In lagos, Shiloh refused to see me. After a month, she agreed. I pleaded but she barely said anything. I promised her on my mother’s life that such would never happen again. I knew I had to try harder for my demons were sometimes uncontrollable.
If Shiloh didn’t know better, she would have said Mr Boye performed some sort of magic. Few minutes after he returned the standstill began to move.
She knew Ibrahim would be worried and there’s no telling of the thoughts that must have been breaking through his mind.
She remembered the day she finally decided to sit down and listen to what he had to say after his dalliance with that girl in Calabar.
Shiloh likes to think the moment she sent the video and the message, she broke things up between them. It’s hard to tell if that’s how she truly felt or if it eased her of the guilt of spending the night with Clarence within 3weeks of supposedly ending things with Ibrahim.
She remembered the look on Ibrahim’s face when she told him what happened. She sat across the table for over 30minutes as one ballad played after the other, saying nothing but nodding as he explained and apologized. When She told him, he was furious as anger turned his face into a palette.
He kept saying ‘how dare you, how dare you….’ Continuously in different tones.
‘You don’t own me or determine what I decide to do with myself.’ Shiloh answered.
‘Was that payback? I hope you are satisfied.’ He said angrily as he walked out on me.
‘This has always been my problem with some men, they are ready to offer you poison on a silver platter but when the table is turned around, you become the villain. He expects to be forgiven and wouldn’t entertain such, although we were not together during that time. He got over it minutes after and came back to me.’ Shiloh was dragged out of her thoughts by Mr Boye who was hornking like he was been chased by thieves.
Ibrahim and Shiloh have come a long way and here they are 2 months to their Introduction ceremony. He makes her happy and that’s all that matters but sometimes she fears the devil in his soul.
The relief in his eyes was tremendous, as he lifted her 5’6 self off the ground without any discomfort and carried her into the house.
Late lunch was delicious, Ibrahim is equal to a master chef as his cooking skills are unmatchable.
‘I don’t know why you exhaust yourself about how long it’s going to take for the new season of Game Of Thrones to be released.’ Ibrahim said as Shiloh helped him with the dishes.
‘It’s going to take too long and it’s quite frustrating.” Shiloh complained.
‘Well, what’s the point of watching a show where anyone can die?’ Ibrahim questioned as he made a poker face quietly waiting to see how she was going to outsmart that.
‘That’s the point, it’s just as unpredictable as life itself.’ Shiloh smiled as she dried her hands and threw the towel at Ibrahim playful, he grabbed the towel and threw it beside the sink as he wanted to reach for her.
‘Catch me if you can.’ Shiloh said as she started running and didn’t stop till she got the bedroom.
‘So what now?’ Ibrahim asked as he closed the door behind him, he wrapped his hands around her waist and placed his lips on hers.
The sun couldn’t penetrate through the thick green curtains but Shiloh’s glow was enough to mimic the sun herself, with her thick dark perfectly carved brows.
‘Stop staring!’ Shiloh said as she smiled but kept her eyes closed.
‘Was I even staring at you?’ Ibrahim asked as he moved towards Shiloh and planted a kiss on her forehead.
‘I have eyes on my forehead, my third eye works perfectly unlike yours which is calcified.’ Shiloh replied as she opened her eyes.
Ibrahim rolled out of bed, Shiloh also got up and headed straight for Ibrahim’s closet where she picked an oversize grey shirt with dropped shoulders to wear. She headed to the bathroom.
In the room, Wizkid’s Nowo was playing, followed by Zayn Malik’s Pillow Talk, They danced happily with toothbrushes hanging in their mouths.
In life, it is very easy for us to be distracted by the enormous information we are exposed to and forget to enjoy the little moments with the ones we love, Shiloh played around the kitchen while I made breakfast.
She pretends to be helping while finding different reasons to spank me. I finished frying the eggs and dishing them, as Shiloh helped to set the table, placing the salad, bread, milk, butter, jam, yoghurt, juice, eggs and tea all in a perfectly structured manner, aesthetically pleasing enough for the gram.
After breakfast, Shiloh went to shower and got dressed and ready to leave for Ibadan. I wished we had more time to spend together for I wouldn’t be seeing her till our introduction day, I have a business trip next week and that would take about 6 weeks in Canada.
Shiloh’s presence was easily missed, no one to run around or laugh as loud as possible or spin crazy conspiracy theories about how the earth is oval or how the country was controlled by some secret Cabal.
As I boarded the Emirate’s plane to Lagos, Nigeria. I realized the weeks went by fast and I can proudly say I was a perfect gentleman.
I’m not sure about what I detest about flying, the food? Or the fact that I don’t want to die in a plane crash, It’s too messy. I will rather die in my sleep, that’s peaceful.
I found my seat and placed my hand luggage carefully in the over head bin and sat in comfortably.
Few minutes later, I could hear the air hostess trying to resolve an on-going fight between a middle aged woman and an older man. The man placed his hand luggage where the woman’s seat number was written and he refused to move his luggage. Rather, he insisted that anyone could place luggages anywhere they wanted and suggested the woman should find another place to put her luggage and from there everything spiraled into loud noises and insults.
Ten minutes later, the fight was resolved, I didn’t pay enough attention to know how the hostess sorted it out but everything was calm. I noticed the seat near mine was still empty. I buried myself into my sport magazine.
Somewhere around reports about the premier league, I heard a familiar voice. I thought my memory was playing a trick on me but it wasn’t. I turned around an there she was; my greatest nemesis-Bernice.
‘Ibrahim, oh my it’s so good to see you.’ Bernice said in her British accent as she came in for a hug, Damn she gorgeous!!
‘Bernice it is nice to see you too.’ I helped with her hand luggage.
After I placed the hand luggage, I was about to sit as Bernice brushed up on me.
Oh Bernice, she had a wine weave on but a long straight one this time. She smelled like lavender with roses and memories of her soft lips filled my head causing an instant commotion between my dark horse and my white horse. I tried to think about Shiloh but there was something about Bernice that kept dragging me back.
Could it be that I’m in love with two women? Is that possible?
Bernice lead the conversation, she told me about her experience with Canadian guys and how she tried to learn French and had to quit when she couldn’t cope with the pronunciations.
About two hours into the flight, Bernice and I were still talking and flirting.
‘I think you’ll like to see this.’ Bernice said as she stood up and bent beside me and put something blue in my Chest pocket and walked away.
I reached into my pocket and pulled it out, it was her panty. I wasn’t shocked, that was cliche and I wasn’t supposed to feel anything but I did. I looked up at her as she entered the aircraft lavatory.
‘Stay put!!’ My angels begged me but the devil already won for my legs were already moving and I joined the Miles High Club.
Bernice and I came back to our seats and I wanted to feel guilty, I searched endlessly for something that indicated remorse but it was to no avail.
We landed in Nigeria and I decided to go home with Bernice.
If I didn’t know better I would have said she was using some sort of juju but she wasn’t.
Is this the real me? The thrill was amazing, I didn’t think twice about the consequences. I passed by my place and dropped my suit case.
At Bernice’s place, the warm blue color of the living room was very welcoming. We ordered dinner, ate and as we watched ‘What happened to Monday’, a typical Netflix and chill.
The chill part came earlier than I expected but I couldn’t keep my hands off Bernice, her satin night dress did her body accurate justice.
I was taking her places I didn’t want to journey to, yet I was there. Ecstasy was too small a word for I was buried deep in the bosom of her soul.
It took a minute to notice she wasn’t screaming anymore, her facial expression illustrated pain.
‘Bernice Bernice’! I called out as I moved aside.
‘My head is really hurting, Oh my, I don’t feel good at all, my leg.’ She said in a trembling tone as all of a sudden her legs were jerking and extending, she was having a seizure.
I didn’t know what to do. I tried holding her but to no avail. I dressed up quickly in hope that I might be able to get her to the hospital.
The minute I bent to carry her, She stopped moving, is she okay?
‘Bernice, Bernice, can you hear me?’
I bent down to check her but she wasn’t breathing, cold shivers crawled all over my skin, my hands trembled, I tried to feel her pulse but nothing.
What do I do?
Do I still take her to the hospital?
I think she’s dead.
My entire brain was scrambled.
Suddenly, I was in a real life situation of how to get away with murder. I got her dressed up and sat for about 30 minutes, hoping she would wake up but she didn’t. Tears clouded my eyes, did I kill her?
I checked my watch and it was around 11pm, I called Uber to the next house address, erase any evidence there was a second person in the house. I cleaned the glass I used to drink, pack the plates we used to eat and put them in the bin. I picked up everything else we used and put it in the bin.
I looked out through the key hole to see if anyone was outside, I stepped out, carrying the bin with me and made it for the Stairs as fast as I could. I walked over to the next house and took the Uber home.
My mind was in turbulence, I couldn’t process anything. I shouldn’t have gone home with her, I should have kept my word.
What if I get arrested? What am I going to say? Did I just kill someone?
My mind couldn’t stop, from blame to fear to regret.
I couldn’t sleep that night and for days after, every time I closed my eyes, I saw her, I heard her voice everywhere I went. My soul was devastated.
My introduction day arrived in no time, I couldn’t bring myself to confess my sins to Shiloh. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have saved Bernice.
‘Ibrahim do you want to sleep in the car.’ Suleiman asked as everyone waited beside the gate at Shiloh’s family house.
‘Ibrahim did you hear that Bernice is dead.’ Suleiman asked.
‘No, oh my, that’s sad, what happened to her?’ I asked as I tried to look as surprised and sad as I could.
‘Apparently, she died of brain haemorrhage or something like that.’ Suleiman answered as he helped Ibrahim adjust his hat.
Here I am, stepping into a new chapter of my life, with a woman that loves me. Yet she doesn’t know me, I’m walking with blood on my hands with a stain in my soul and a darkened heart.
Images of Bernice was flashing through my mind as I suddenly started to feel dizzy.
Bernice is now a chapter of my conscience that I can never rid myself of.
I know the angels in me died with Bernice, I let my demons win and voluntarily gave my soul to the devil.
Everything around me began to spin with loud ringing in my ears, I hit the floor before I finally realized I am indeed beyond pardon.
DID YOU ENJOY THE STORY? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS TO LET ME KNOW AND DON’T FORGET TO SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS.
DO SUBSCRIBE, SO YOU CAN BE THE FIRST TO KNOW WHEN A NEW POST IS OUT.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
WRITTEN BY: MARIAM ALAYANDE
PHOTO BY: A.K