The tears poured down her cheeks as she listened to Lionel Richie’s “Tender heart” and thought over her life with Suleiman. Kemi was not sure of anything any longer; was their relationship heading towards something positive? What was the chance of them being together, especially with her condition? How many people will support their union if there was ever going to be one? All these and so many other questions raced through her mind. It seemed to her she was in a relationship with a ghost! She was at least sure he loved her so much and honestly cared for her. Everyone around her knew about him including her parents. When she was on her own, she thought if he ever talked about her to any of his friends or anybody at all! They had met 4 years ago under very unpleasant circumstances.
Kemi was once married for 5 years to her high-school sweetheart; she had never known any man before him and loved him with all her might. Her parents were against Dele when she told them of her intention to marry him towards her final year in school. Being from a wealthy family and the only child of Alhaji and Hajia Abdulganiu, she was sent abroad to study chemical engineering. She was a very modest person and no one would ever tell her background if she didn’t mention it. Dele was from an average family, extremely good-looking, intelligent and a born charmer. Right from secondary school he knew he could always have his way with any lady he wanted. Although Dele and Kemi were in two different worlds during school sessions, Kemi always made sure they kept in touch; she would call him twice daily sometimes for long hours, she would send him messages during her free periods checking on him and encouraging him on in his studies. She would send him gifts; money, designer labels and high-street fashion that he definitely would not afford with the life-style he lived. If only she knew the life style he lived!
Dele was the play-boy of the faculty of engineering, in fact, of the entire campus. One can’t mention Dele Usaini aka Dudu (for his ebony colour), and not be pointed straight to him. He was well known even among the JAMBITES. He changed girlfriends or better still, bed mates, every two weeks. He lavished any money got from both his parents and Kemi on wining and dining of women and sometimes abortions which he was forced to pay for by some “smart” women that were not going to be used and dumped that easily. He would pay; after all, he did have unprotected sex! Dele was really sweet and pretended to be the good boy Kemi thought he was being. His intelligence always enabled him pass all his exams and graduate successfully. Due to the Nigerian system, Kemi graduated before Dele and was able to do her service. Towards the end of her service, he had graduated and was preparing for his service. Kemi bothered him with talks of being serious because her parents were waiting for a grandchild from her and she wanted to have all of them with him. He finally budged since he always told her that they were meant to be together, when in actual sense he just wanted to settle down with her so as not to have to go through the hard-knock-life people were complaining of even though they were still pretty young. He had worked out her parents would secure a high place for him at their oil firm and he wouldn't have to toil very hard. He could still live the way he was used to, Kemi and her parents didn’t have to know so long as he was serious at work and showed her care and attention then everything was alright for him.
Two years after marriage, Kemi sat at the door step of their bungalow, which was a wedding gift from her parents, holding a medical test report, all her work belongings scattered around her, shedding tears, staring unseeingly at the test report she was holding. Was that the reason Dele never bothered if she got pregnant or not? Did he know she was infected with HIV from him? Did he know he had HIV? She knew she couldn’t have gotten it from any other means except through sex and that was only with him! She had never been transfused, never shared needles in fact she was the most health conscious person most of her friends had known. It was only Dele plus she found out of his play boy attitude very late; after their marriage. Kemi never told her parents of what had befallen her due to her unwavering love for him. She knew they would treat him very bad. So she read on HIV and found out one could live a very healthy life with it, have kids and be as normal people so long as they continue to take their drugs as it should be. She vowed to take care of them both, to go for treatment and they could live normally. No one had to know! Dele totally refused to listen to anything she had to say. He accused her of infidelity and being promiscuous what was worse, he refused to go for any treatment said he was healthy as a horse and from that day they lived as strangers in their own home. Kemi went for the treatments alone. Dele’s work was reducing with years, the disease was beginning to take a toll on him, his health status deteriorated and eventually her parents found out and like she knew, he was asked to officially divorce her and handover all his belongings. Time was not on his side, he died. He had acquired the full blown AIDS.
Dr. Suleiman Waziri was the first doctor she saw when she began her treatments. He remembered clearly when she first stepped into his office looking so much older than her real age, exhausted and sleep deprived. Despite all that, she still had so much confidence in her gait and her speech was definitely the most royal sound he had ever heard. Dr. Waziri was taken in by her! Even though he was very well capable and handled such cases, he had recommended her to his consultant to start and continue her therapy with him. It would them no good for him to get attached to her. Despite that, he followed her progress closely, would call her often on the pretence of asking of her well being and with time, he would ask to see her outside the hospital environs; she was very much obliged to be in his company. He was really everything Dele refused to be before his death. Gradually, she found herself wanting to hear from him daily, to see him and just be in his company. He would occasionally remind her of Dele and see the tears well in her eyes; tears of regret, tears of sorrow, tears of self pity, Suleiman never allowed himself to ask. Three years was a long time to love a person that needed to be shown love, silently.
Five months after Dele’s death, Kemi got the courage to tell Suleiman of her feelings for him. In her words, she wasn’t really sure if she loved him for being there for her when she needed someone or because she had finally realized in him the type of man her parents had always wanted for her! One year later and they had gotten even closer, she knew nearly as much of him as he knew about her. She had introduced him to her parents and they had taken a liking to him. She met his twin brother who was a surgeon and their sister who was a paediatrician…she called them the “Family Doctors”. Suleiman made her feel all the love in the world would never be enough for her; he cherished her, made her feel healthy and normal. Made her feel everything would be alright sooner than she ever expected. Kemi wanted him in her life for as long as she would live. She wanted to wake up to his warmness, kisses and embraces. She wanted to be his and wanted him to be hers.
One fine day, Suleiman surprised her with the most unexpected news and took her to his home. On getting there, he ushered her into the garden where a lady in a wheel chair was facing them. “Kemi, I want you to meet my wife, Bilqis. She was involved in an RTA eleven years ago and became fully paralysed despite all the surgeries and trips abroad. She has been asking to meet you!” Kemi immediately got on her knees and began to shed tears. She hugged her so tight and apologized several times over! Suleiman got the message his wife was passing across and said “Kemi, she says there’s no need for you to be sorry, Suleiman has been really happy since he met you and it has made me really truly happy. I have been asking him to go out and get a lovely lady that would complete his life since I cannot do it. He has refused but finally, The Lord has answered my prayers and he has made the right choice. I asked to meet you so he can know I am at peace with whatever the both of you have decided to do. I pray for the best.”