“You call this a gift? To think I thought you sensitive and thoughtful!” Afiba gathers her strapless mermaid-like red and white gown from the floor to get it away from her red stiletto heels in readiness to leave Ato’s room and probably his life. Ato holds on to her, locks his door, takes out the key and throws it under the bed.
“What do you think you are doing? Kidnapping me?” Afiba cries out in disgust.
“No, I just want to know exactly what is causing this confusion. It is Valentine’s Day for crying out loud Afi! A rose with these expensive well packaged chocolates I ordered from our own Cocoa Processing Company Limited and customised in your name should move you at least.”
Afiba pouts her lips, stands akimbo and looks again at the parcelled gifts on the well laid bed. She thinks of the conversation she had with Yaa, Araba, Ayoko and Alima. She was expecting a Kia Picanto from Ato in the least. She knows he can afford it and has been hinting at it for a long time even before this Valentine’s Day. She has been in a relationship with him for four years so was hoping for that and an engagement ring. Yet here she is, saddled with customised chocolates and a rose when she had bought him his dream Suzuki Motorbike and customised his name on it.
“Well, I don’t know what you mean by being moved, I guess I am different from other people, I am not in the least moved. If you would excuse me, please get the key from under that bed, open that door and let me leave.”
Afiba thinks through last year. How Ekow bought a brand new Toyota Camry for Araba and customised it in her name and how she bragged about it to all of them. She thinks of how Yaa paraded her engagement ring given to her by Owusu in front of them after being taken on a cruise in Europe. She thinks of how Alima had been surprised with a plush and well furnished restaurant in her name, land, structure and all by Alhaji Issah, her boyfriend now husband. She thinks of how Ayoko was asked to move in with Lantey with a paid trip to Paris and how all she had to show was a rose and a bottle of champagne. She feels she can’t continue this way.
“Remember all the great things your friends gave to their girlfriends last year? On Valentine’s Day?”
Ato is taken aback. “You mean Owusu, Lantey, Ekow and Alhaji Issah?”
Afiba nods as tears freely flow from her beautiful well lined eyelids. “What did they give them? I remember Alhaji Issah gifting Alima a restaurant, that was because she had worked so hard in graduating her catering school and deserved it, also, he was getting married to her in three months. Besides that, I don’t remember any special thing the others did for your friends Afi.
“Well, you might not know but Ekow gave Araba a Toyota Camry and customised her name on it, Yaa was proposed to and sent to Europe on a paid trip, Lantey also took Ayoko to Paris…”
Ato laughs loudly, sits on the bed, gets up, looks at Afiba and chuckles. “Afi, stop this child’s play. You know none of those things happened. Ayoko forced herself to move in with Lantey and now their relationship is on the brink of a break up. Those others, they did not get as much as a flower to think of a box of chocolate. I was privy to the quarrels between all of them. Trust me, those ladies went over the bar gifting paid trips and whatnots. But the biys nevee reciprocated.”
Afi’s knees shiver as though it would break even in its beautiful heels. She feels what she is hearing is not something she even dreamt possible, let alone true. If what Ato is saying is true, then she has seriously been misled. But it seems she is being lied to by Ato, but lies aren’t part of his traits. He has always proven true to his feelings and information he divulges. She is confused and bites her red lipsticked lips. Afiba forces herself to sit on the bed and thinks deeply about the whole brouhaha. Ato has always been gentle with her. He is kind, gives her all she desires, not in excess but she does not lack in anything she needs. He is unlike any man she has dated. “I need to find a way to salvage the situation before I make a mess of my relationship. Afiba thinks to herself.
“I don’t know what to say Ato.”
“Don’t say anything Afi. I know you. You have never been a greedy lady. You have been true to your feelings and always lived real. I can understand your needs, trust me, because I love you. Always look to me, trust me to do you right and let’s cherish our relationship. I will never betray you, you know that.”
Afiba starts crying loudly without shame. Ato takes her into his arms, cuddles her until she calms down.
“I am sorry Ato. I really didn’t mean to be ungrateful. Sometimes my friends get to me with their taunts but I promise to be careful from today onwards”
Ato struggles for the key, opens the door and goes out. After few minutes, he comes in, takes off her heels, replaces them on her feet with flip flops and leads her gently to the dining table. Afiba is shocked to the bone. The table is laid like one in a five star hotel with assorted meals, lasagne in assorted meat sauce, grilled chicken, her favourite and spiced salad with sparkled water, natural pineapple juice on the rock and rice cooked to perfection. Standing in a small bucket of ice is her favourite champagne. She saw no one around when she walked in. Now she looks around and finds no one.
“Did you do all these yourself?”
Ato nods. “I have been learning for months. I just wanted to surprise you so you will look on me favourably the years ahead.”
Afiba, now ashamed to a fault, digs into the meal served on her plate. The meal is more palatable than any she has tasted in life and the attention given her by Ato, wiping of her mouth, filling her glasses, and playing her favourite tunes makes it more than a fantasy. She does not believe she nearly passed this for a tearful night in loneliness in her quiet apartment.
Ato’s phone rings after the meal while they are watching the new Romantic Comedy from Sparrows Production directed by Shirley Frimpong Manso. He puts it on loud speaker after seeing the look on Afiba’s face. It is a conference call with the boys. Lantey is the first to speak. “I’ve finally succeeded in sacking Araba from my house. Aaaba! This is the best Valentine’s gift ever. The girl wanted to stick on me like glue.” Alhaji speaks in disgust. “Lantey, you don’t have to be this insensitive. That girl has given you more than four years of her life. We are humans and must be empathetic. Imagine her as your little sister.” Ekow disagreed with Alhaji “Empathy has nothing to do with love, Alhaji. The girl should have sensed from the start that he wasn’t into her. In this relationship of five, we all know only two were going to work even before it started. Ato’s and yours. We all made our investigations and realized the others were in relationships with sugar daddies and are still in those relationships even as we speak. They play us, we tag along”.
There is silence. Alhaji speaks out. “Well, knowing that, you should’ve let them go long ago. This mockery of a relationship, leading them on is uncalled for.”
Owusu comes in, “ I will marry Yaa, immediately I see her being serious about her job. I hope she stops flirting with her boss. I have never played her, she plays me but I know she is making an attempt. For close to two years now, she has been faithful so I am still watching her keenly. As for the rest, Alhaji, leave their matter. You can decide to put them in your four to one slot. You know ours is just a one on one?” Afiba covers her mouth with her palms to stop herself from crying out. Ato speaks for the first time. “But you bought her a promissory ring last year?” Owusu quickly answers “What do you mean? Will I buy her a ring without informing you? Where did you get that from Ato?”
Afiba gets up and runs to the bedroom to cry out. She has been stupid, very stupid. Ato joins her and all she does is apologize, hugs her gifts and weeps.
Work is stressful at the hospital when day breaks. There are many sick patients and three die while being attended to. She reaches home stressed after working as the best nurse she is and meets all her friends relaxing in her hall. She asks them how they spent their Valentine’s Day.
Araba in an over exaggerated excited tone speaks: “I have been given an all expense paid trip to Dubai. I leave tomorrow “ She actually has the ticket to show for it. Afiba blinks her disgust but takes control of her emotions in order not to let it show.
“I moved out of Lantey’s house. I think it has ended for us but he bought me a brand new car” Ayoko said blandly. Afiba nearly shouts at her but restrains herself.
“I was given a box of chocolate. I can’t continue lying. I was not given any ring last year. In fact, nothing was given to me at all. I am jealous of all of you. I am sorry I lied but I too wanted to be seen as being loved but I guess all is for nothing. I have nothing to show for it.”
Afiba pulls Yaa up in a tight embrace and tells her she is a real person and that she has a man who will definitely marry her if she pulls herself together. The other two look on as if they have been slapped but ask her what she was given.
She hands them her parcel bag and they start digging into her chocolates. Araba is the first to exclaim. “Afiba! There is a ring in this chocolate.” She pulls it out of her mouth and it is a very beautiful silver ring with a beautiful pearls fixed on the top most parts. Afiba immediately puts it on her middle finger. It fits perfectly.
“This is beautiful! They all exclaim in turns. Afiba calls Ato and continuously repeats “I will! I definitely will! I love you!”
Alima starts eating the rest and exclaims “Ah! There is a big thing in this chocolate. Can’t even fit into my mouth.” She pulls it out and it is a key to a car. They all breathe in jealousy. Afiba collapses for a minute and wakes only to cry. She looks into the pack and sees a note, rushes to her garage only to see her Kia Picanto. She laughs through her tears, ashamed but happy and thankful to God for Ato. She definitely has learnt her lesson and by Jove will listen to her friends with a pinch of salt from hereon.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © Feb. 14, 2018
Edited by Alhassan Nantomah
Photo Credit: Google Pics