EPISODE 15 – THE FINALE
“It’s been two months since I last heard the name Craig, in fact, the last thing I heard of him was ‘Craig loves you’ and those were the utterances of my father. When I heard those words, immeasurable joy filled my heart and for the first time I saw my father smile back at me, and with some pride in him. It was as though he had achieved a feat. Actually, he had. His daughter had fallen in love. He hugged me after that and said, ‘Good luck to you, Aisha. Go and find your love.’ A lot has changed since the last two months. I have stopped searching for Craig and apparently he didn’t love me as much as my father had said, but the love I felt then is exactly how I feel now, and probably much stronger. Nothing has changed for me. You see, Love doesn’t make you a weakling. Love is not a sign that you are weak. It is a sign of strength, I know that now. I never used to think that it had any correlation with strength until I have seen its input in me. Moira claims that Craig might be back someday, but I don’t know when or even if he would ever be, but that is the hope that I have been clinging on to for the last two months. What else can a girl do?
Hakeem? Oh well, he is a friend now. We are closer than we ever were and now more like business partners. You can’t force love. I must confess that I had tried to care a little more about Hakeem when I didn’t hear anything from Craig after two weeks when my father had told me that he loved me, but, it just couldn’t happen. We went out on two dates and then I knew that was it, I was not trying any further. (Laughs) Now, this is not about the Kaftan or his horrid dress sense. Ever since he started “hanging-out” with me, he has learnt to dress to my taste. My taste. Please note, I have nothing against the men who love to wear their traditional attires but it’s just my taste here. One important thing here is that I bought him more neck ties, so, this has imposed on him an improvement to my desire. Also, Hakeem took interest in my feelings for Craig and even offered to help me look for him, but when he knew that I was ready to let it go, he stopped the search for Craig. Dad wasn’t also too happy to back down on searching for Craig, but then Father said he couldn’t beg a man to love his daughter a second time.
(Pauses) Err…Okay, where were we? Yeah…Craig! Okay, no…it wasn’t Craig. My job! I still work with my Dad and even though I have been off the grid in the past months, I am still responsible for the money that comes into the conglomerate. (Wide Smile). Now Back to Craig. You don’t choose who you love, right? How I fell in love with Craig is something I’d never understand and really there are no reasons that explain love, so right now or even after, I don’t think I want to understand. You might see me as a scorned woman who is holding on to a love that she might never have, but, I haven’t lost hope yet and I would encourage you never to give up on the one you love. Well, maybe eventually I might realise if we are meant to be or not, but for now, I won’t choose logic over love. My heart rages like an inferno as I hope and pray that one day Craig and I can live by love like larks live by leeks. (Chuckles) Did I just say that? (Covers face) God, what am I turning into? This is so not me! (Pauses) But then it is me. (Smiles) I am just a woman in love.”
The door creaked open as Moira walked in. She stared at Aisha and hissed. “You are serious about this thing, right?”
Aisha stared at the camera. “That is the Moira. She is not so important in this tale.”
“I am the story itself!” Moira shouted as she joined Aisha by her table. Aisha saved her recording and turned off her laptop. “But I wanted to see it.”
Aisha nodded. “I know. That is typical of you, but, you won’t see anything until I decide that you should see it.”
Moira smiled. “What if I bribe you?”
“Money is never enough.” Aisha replied as she picked up her phone. “So, what do you have for me?”
Moira shrugged. “The usual. Except that Alhaji is directly involved in this one.”
Aisha hissed. “I have told him to stay away from my business. I will handle it.”
“He got us this contract. He says it is mega and that he wants a whopping fifty percent of the proceeds.”
“Fifty percent??? There is no way I am surrendering fifty percent of my bargaining power to him.” Aisha replied as she grabbed the car keys. “Who is the client?”
Moira handed a card to her. “Arab oil rich men.”
“Now I see.” Aisha replied as she flicked the card. “We would renegotiate with Dad…but that’s only after we have sealed this deal.”
Moira nodded, “That’s fine by me.”
“I should call Hakeem that we won’t be able to meet him for lunch-”
Moira cut in immediately. “-We won’t have to worry about Hakeem. He told me that he was with Alhaji when I called him earlier.”
Aisha smiled with some relief. She didn’t want to have to explain abandoning lunch for business to Hakeem. Hakeem had good interest in business but not at the expense of meals, so it was good news to Aisha when Moira announced that Hakeem was with Alhaji.
“Aisha, what do you think about sunglasses?” Moira asked as she dangled them before Aisha.
“Why?” Aisha asked.
Moira shrugged. “You know the press haven’t actually gotten off our backs regarding your wedding. We didn’t officially cancel it and quite some time has passed, I think we should do something about that soon.”
“We will.” Aisha replied. “However, sunglasses can’t keep you safe from the press. They’ll take our pictures anyway.” Aisha replied as Moira handed her one of the sunglasses.
Moira smiled. “At least, we are taking a form of precaution.”
“It never helped anyone. Why do you think it will help us?” Aisha asked as she approached the door. “Come on.” Aisha said as she walked out with Moira following quickly.
A lot of things had changed for Craig. Exactly two months ago, he had stared hard at Aisha’s gate as he contemplated seeing her. In the end, he had chosen not to bare his feelings to her. He walked away and it was a decision that looking back now, he’d say he didn’t regret. He also hadn’t heard a word from Daniel, although Bolu did tell him that Daniel decided to leave town for to the East of the country. Vicky had started picking up her pieces from what he heard from Bolu. Craig wasn’t too proud of himself that he could not reciprocate Vicky’s love, especially because of the uncertainty between himself and Aisha. He, however, took solace in the fact that he knew what he felt for Aisha and he was happy that he cared about her, even if he had to do it from a distance.
For two months, Craig purchased every business magazine in the country to see if there was anything about Aisha in them but it seemed as though she had gone low key. Her father’s company was still being mentioned, but now Alhaji’s name was everywhere. It wasn’t Aisha’s. The past two months had gifted him with the opportunity of planning his return to Aisha, and now the moment seemed to be fast approaching. Craig pulled up his sleeve as he checked his wristwatch for the time.
Craig relaxed in his seat as he allowed his thoughts stream.
Bolu opened the door. “We have to go now.” He announced.
“Is it time yet?” Craig asked.
“You gave him your word, remember?” Bolu said.
Craig smiled. “I am not going back on my word, but I just need to be ready.”
“Craig, you have been getting ready for two months now. Look at you, you even have a job now.”
Craig stared at his office. He had gotten a job in a software company and even though he was fresh in the institution, his value there had been immeasurable to the institute. Bolu got himself a job too in the firm by Craig’s influence and together they had started building something better than the life that they once had. Craig had come to learn the dignity in labour through his new job.
“What if she doesn’t want me?” Craig asked.
Bolu pulled Craig out. “She is on her way and that’s all that matters.”
“Has he picked up the call?” Aisha asked as she stared at Moira.
Moira looked worried. “No, I can’t reach Alhaji.” She replied.
Aisha was more worried. “These Arabian guys won’t keep to time, would they? I think we should go back.”
“No. Give me a minute. I would walk down to the park and try to call him again, perhaps the network there is much better. Stay here in case they show up.”
Aisha nodded in agreement. “Seems like a good plan.” She replied as she took a seat. Moira hurried away immediately.
Craig kept his gaze on Aisha as she stared at her wristwatch. He had slipped in through the back door as soon as Moira gave him the go ahead. He counted one to seven in his heart as he prayed for a perfect moment. He then took the boldest strides of his life as he walked up to Aisha. “Hi.” He said.
Aisha felt as though she had seen a ghost. Her heart raced faster than ever at that moment. This was Craig standing right before her. Her Craig. She took a deep breath so as to allow her heart be still. Her eyes were soon wet as a smile danced round her face. The smile was as though her face was soon to crack. It was as though all her dreams and wishes had come true at once. But then Craig’s face wasn’t greeting her with a smile, she smiled again. This time she was more welcoming than the initial grin she had on.
Craig took a deep breath in victory. He didn’t have any more thing to do. He smiled back and took his seat. “Can I sit?” He said.
Aisha knew Moira wasn’t coming back now, neither was any Arabian man. She blessed Moira in heart. You know those friends that are always in the wings and in your face ready to help you? They are the real legends. It was about her and Craig now. “I never told you to take a seat.” She replied.
He shrugged. “Your smile told me to do so, and contrary to the lady that the media paints, I think you smile beautifully.”
Aisha smiled again. “Do you want an autograph? Big Fan?”
He nodded. “Big Fan.”
“The only pen I have with me is to sign a contract with some Arab men.” Aisha replied as she bit her lip. “I can’t help you, young man.”
Craig pulled out a paper. “Well, we could talk about the terms and conditions of your contract much later.”
“How can I be certain that anything is real about this moment?” Aisha asked.
Craig took a deep breath. “All I have to offer you is my heart. But then, it is not my choice to offer you my heart, Aisha. You own it. I just…I…I just want a space in yours.”
“A space?” Aisha asked.
Craig nodded. “Just a space.”
“I am sorry I can’t give you that space.” She replied as she blinked. “I don’t even own any part of my heart, so, you might as well create the space you want in it.” She added.
Craig cleared his throat. “Since we have broken the ice…I guess we can introduce ourselves.”
“Shouldn’t we have done that earlier?” she asked with a smile. “But then you already know me from the papers, right?”
He nodded and stared at Aisha. “Aisha, my name is Craig and I love you.” He said as he drew closer to her.
She smiled as she stroked his beards. “I would have said that I love you too, but then, I guess you already knew that.” She replied. “But then, I love you, Craig.”
“Can we have that kiss now?” he asked as he planted his lips against hers.
Craig took her hand as they walked out and walked down the road.
There were no words left to be said. There were no questions left to be answered. There were no issues to address. There was nothing left but two people in love and living by love. She didn’t care how far they were going. He didn’t mind if he ran out of words with her. She wasn’t bothered about the depth of their love because she sure couldn’t feel the boundaries. It was all love and more love for her. This was life in its best definition.
Craig stopped abruptly and stared at Aisha. “Where are we going?”
Aisha shrugged. “There is no leader or follower. It is a team walk. We would do this, Craig. I know we would.”
Craig nodded as he got down on one knee. “The world already thinks we are engaged, but then, I am proposing to you officially. I want and need you to be my lover, best friend, walking partner, sister, mother and wife. Would you marry me, Aisha Bello?” he asked as he lifted a ring before her. This was his most priceless moment. He hoped in his heart that it could be theirs.
Aisha let her most beautiful tears flow freely. She was certain that he was her world and that she was his world. “Yes.” She said as she nodded. “I’ll marry you.”
Craig smiled as he slipped the ring into her finger.
Aisha closed her eyes as she lifted her head to the heavens with a smile.
….but then, it’s all fun and games till we fall in love…