January is always a good place to begin a new chapter. With the New Year excitement in the air and unrealistic resolutions flying about, it seemed like the best time to hope anew. So Dupe prayed for a miracle for that year. She wanted an angel to wipe away all her tears of yesteryears, assure of the wonderful tomorrow she’d always dreamed of and take care of her today. And almost as if God heard her prayer, she met this man that same January.
“May I pay for that?”
Dupe looked up at him. He was huge and very ordinary looking. He must have thought she was less fortunate to have walked into a supermarket and picked something that she didn’t have money to pay for. Or worse still, that she was hopeless enough to hope for any stranger to pay for her shopping. He had a little girl with him. He looked old enough to her father and Dupe too had her younger sister. It didn’t seem like a good condition to be picking up a potential date.
“No, thank you”, she said and moved along.
It seemed like a good day to do nothing but spend the little pocket money she had managed to save and enjoy the outdoors. Dupe hardly enjoyed doing that. So she went across the supermarket and sat at a coffee shop with her sister. Soon later, the huge looking man showed up again with the little girl asking nicely to join them. Dupe refused to let it turn into some fancy chase so she let him sit across her sister and herself with the little girl. She was adorable to look upon anyway but that was all Dupe let herself admire – to look and not get familiar. But before she knew it, he was beginning to talk, casually, of the things she had thought in her private moments. Speaking as though he had heard her prayers, seen her dreams and knew her pain and although her sister couldn’t understand it, Dupe instantly connected with this stranger. There was nothing familiar about him but he spoke so familiar. So before it dawned on her that it was their first meeting, Dupe had promised to see him again.
Subsequently, they met. He continued to tell her things that she had wished or hoped for in her life and she continued to feel more and more drawn to him, despite her heart’s conviction toward him. However, there was something about him that made her believe that he was God’s answers to her prayers. And before long, she was letting him do things for her while he was getting comfortable to, unknowingly to her, slowly destroy every other genuine relationship in her life. She had boldly told her father she wanted to marry him even when she knew inside her that it wasn’t the next or best thing for her at the time.
And so she wore his ring, without a proper engagement or ceremony. He had succeeded in tying her down, he thought. He had her where he wanted her but she had nothing to give to him except her humility, her innocence and intelligence. Despite the fact that she knew he had two children from the same woman whom he never got round to marrying because he was careless to sleep with her sister, Dupe was still blinded by what it was that was blinding her.
Slowly but surely, Dupe began to lose herself. Her confidence and her smile went away with being with him. For he had estranged her from her closest friends and her family barely saw her. They were convinced she was in love after all and was going to leave them to be married to this ‘wonderful’ man soon. Then there was this girl, a friend or was she an acquaintance, whom Dupe made at her final year in university. She must have had some sort of business with Dupe that made her invite her at her ‘fiancé’s’ house. And then when he saw her, he automatically knew she was the best friend that Dupe needed. Dupe wasn’t convinced. She had nothing in common with Jumoke. But for some weird reason, from that day when Dapo met Jumoke with Dupe, a lot of things changed. Jumoke began to behave like she had some sort of attraction for Dupe. Dupe thought nothing of it, in fact she didn’t notice it until Dapo mentioned it. Meanwhile, Dapo continued to speak highly of Jumoke until she decided by herself that she would remove herself from the center of them – Dapo and Jumoke.
But Dapo was insistent that Jumoke should be mentioned in their privacy. When she realized the oddness of the attraction, she decided to let it unfold before her eyes so that she would understand it.
So when Dapo said, “I think Jumoke likes you”, Dupe feigned, “Really?”
“Of course, haven’t you seen the way that she looks at you?”
“I haven’t noticed but I have not been very comfortable with her closeness recently”
“You should give her a call and we can all hang out together in my house”
Dupe thought for a nanosecond then said, “Of course”
Immediately, she picked up her phone and called Jumoke.
“Hi, how are you doing?”
“Wow, it’s so nice to hear from you. I’ve been trying to catch you for a while now”.
“I apologize. I’ve been busy. Are you free on Saturday?”
“Yes, what’s happening on Saturday?”
“Nothing. I was thinking we could hang out at Dapo’s place later in the evening. He speaks very highly of you. I think he likes you”.
“Really? Did he tell you that?”
“Yes, we talk about everything”
“You seem surprised”.
“It’s just that you guys are so modern. Your fiancé told you he likes me and you’re cool with it?”
Dupe hesitated very briefly before she said, “Why not?”
“Cool then. I’ll be there on Saturday”.
When Dupe hung up, she had a clear idea what Jumoke inferred and what Dapo had meant by ‘let’s all hang out’ but she refused to believe her dirty mind. So for every passing day drawing closer to Saturday, she could notice Dapo was happier while she got more confused, retracting further and further into herself but Dapo was too excited about their hang out to notice Dupe’s disturbing silence.
When Saturday came, Dapo went to the drug store in the evening to get a bottle of liquor and a few packs of condoms. Dupe stayed back to entertain their guest. Jumoke had showed up early.
While Dapo was out, Jumoke started again. “So what did Dapo tell you he liked about me?
Dupe knew where that question was leading. “Well, he says you’re brilliant and beautiful”.
“Really? I still can’t believe you guys”.
“What’s there to doubt?”
“So I suppose he told you he wants to be with me as well”.
Unexpressive as Dupe’s face was, she swallowed hard, not sure what response to give to Jumoke. “Yes, he did”, she lied.
“Ah! Thank God”, she heaved a sigh of relief. “Because I’ve been wondering how to break this to you so I had our conversation recorded. Shall I play it to you?”
Dupe listened carefully to the recorded phone conversation between her fiancé and her friend. They had both discussed how naive Dupe is. They had both cunningly professed love for each other and in the end, Jumoke had feigned concern for me in all of their feelings for one another.
“Dapo likes to play like that sometimes”, Dupe laughed it off in the end. “Come and sit while I pour you a drink. Dapo should be back by now. I’ll just check and be right with you”. It was a difficult time to be calm but Dupe remained calm effortlessly.
True to her suspicion, Dapo was back, drinking away and getting ready for the threesome that was about to go down that cold night.
“She’s ready”, Dupe announced when she entered into his room and she left him there.
He joined them in the living room and just as he began to speak to Jumoke, Dupe left them.
“Dupe. Dupe! Dupe!!” Dapo called after her but she didn’t turn to him.
She went into his room and lay in bed. He came in a minute after her.
“Why would you ignore me like that in the presence of your friend?” He yelled at her. It was the very first time he would address her in that manner and she was convinced it would be the last one she would have to experience with him. But just before she got the chance to ignore him again, he pulled her out of bed by her hair and slapped her repeatedly because she had disrespected him in the presence of her friend. Frightened as she was, bruised too from his heavy hits, she remembered her father. No one had ever beaten her that much in her life. Her father had shown her love and pampering all her life and this brutality wasn’t in her dreams for herself. True to her conviction, she knew she wouldn’t live another day as his fiancé.
When the morning came and Jumoke and he were out of the house, she got her things together, left his engagement ring on his coffee table and got into her car. She ignited her engine and drove straight home. It was the end of a bad chapter in her life and she wanted to be as far away from it as possible. And that’s how her January story came to an end by the end of June.