By Nora Vasconcelos
— — —
In a matter of minutes day turned into night. Darkness covered Abakaliki, and most of the provinces in the southeast of Nigeria.
People all around went out of their houses to watch how the Moon covered the light coming from the Sun, with its spherical presence. Then, a funny feeling accompanied the whispers of the observers who lower their voices, more and more, as the light disappeared from the sky.
“Nothing bad should happen”, many said. Some others prayed.
Slowly, the effect was completed. Then, nothing could be seen, neither on earth nor in the skies. The power company had agreed on a petition signed by the local people who wanted to go through the whole eclipse without any lights that could distract their attention from the Moon and the Sun’s encounter. Only the critical areas were working, such as the police stations and the airport.
Looking up, Leye started thinking about his wife. Were they really fighting over the colour of the wall? That sounded really foolish, he accepted, but he also knew that their fight wasn’t just about that.
He resented that Yewande had stopped paying attention to him and all what he wanted and needed since she had taken over the work needed to fix and mantain the building. Or at least he felt it that way. Was he jealous of a building? He wondered. Then, he noticed that Yewande wasn’t around.
They weren’t in speaking terms, but may be it could be a good idea if they shared this moment. Should he look for her? After all, they didn’t even need to talk. They could just hold their hands.
But he didn’t dare to break the silence that surrounded the neighborhood. All around was darkness and calling her was not an option. He didn’t even have a flashlight. They would make it up when the Sun started shining again, he decided.
Almost an hour later things in the city came back to normal. As soon as the sky recovered its blue colour and the Moon let the Sun shine again, people returned to their regular activities.
Noises seemed to explode after such a prolonged silence. That brought Leye back to reality. Why should he apologise if she had been the one who painted the building without consulting with him first?
“She doesn’t even know that I don’t like cream or white colours!” He said aloud while getting up from the chair that had served him as a base during the eclipse.
If she doesn’t care enough, what’s the point of this marriage? He thought.
Life had come back to normal, he realised that now. But the sounds coming from the back of his building weren’t usual.
He forgot about his disappointment and went to investigate.
One minute later he was shocked. The cream-white wall that had been the cause of their fight, the same that he had painted over with a blue coat, was now painted in green and cream stripes! He couldn’ believe his eyes!
“Cousin!” A young man said from a scaffolding.
“Manolo?” Leye asked, calling his friend’s name.
Although they hadn’t seen each other for some years, their friendship remained as strong as the day when their suitcases were mixed up in Beijing. At that time, five years ago, Manolo and Leye were attending an international conference sponsored by the Chinese engineering company they both worked for.
The incident made them laugh, as they had to wear each other clothes for a complete week until they were able to coincide at a lecture to exchange suitcases.
The following day, each one started to wear their own clothes, but by then, people noticed the exchange and they kept on asking the new friends why they shared their wardrobe, so Manolo and Leye came up with the idea of telling people that they were cousins.
After that, they visited each other frequently, either in Mexico and Nigeria, but some time later they were promoted and time wasn’t enough for long trips, so they stopped the visits and took the best advantage of technology, chatting over the internet and emailing e-cards for the important days.
That’s why Leye’s surprise was so immense when he saw his cousin there …and painting his building!
Manolo gave some instructions to the men who were working with him, and then he went down of the scaffolding to give his friend a big hug. “Cousin!” He said, with a warm tone.
Leye still couldn’t believe what was happening. “How is it that you’re here? Why are you painting my building?” He asked in a serious way.
“Oh! That? It was Yewande’s idea. She called me last week and told me all about your quarrel. She knew I was visiting our offices in Africa and I offered her to come here to see if I could do something to help you both to solve your differences. Then she said that the only thing that would make you happy it’d be if the building was painted in green and cream stripes, so I told her I’d do it, and here I am!”
Leye hated the way the wall looked. In fact, he hated all what had happened these pass weeks. Offended, he asked Manolo: “And where’s my wife?”
“Aw, she told me she would be traveling this weekend. I met her this morning at the airport. She gave me the keys to the apartment. Then, she left, right before the eclipse. You didn’t know?” Manolo asked, feeling worried and confused.
Of course Leye didn’t know. As much as he hated cream or white colours, he hated more not knowing where his wife was. As for the green and cream stripes, what it could be worse than a green and cream building! He wondered
Oh, yes… A cream-white one, he answered himself.
“All this is a complete mess,” he told Manolo. “I have no idea where Yewande is and I don’t understand why she told you everything would be okay if you painted the building in green and cream stripes.”
“Aw, man! You really have a terrible memory!” Manolo said, padding his friend on the back. “Don’t you remember? Those were the colours you both wore on your wedding day! Your traditional gown had more green than cream and hers was the opposite!”
Leye was speechless. How could he have forgotten that! He had agreed to wear a green wedding gown with some cream colour on it because he knew how much Yewande liked those colours, and she had consented to a traditional Nigerian wedding because she knew how important it was for Leye’s family. That had been a sign of their commitment to each other.
Now, everything was clear! It had been a way for her to commemorate their anniversary, and he had been so stupid thinking she had done it just to bother him! How could she possible forgive him? He had to look for her, right away!
“Manolo, please, forget about the painting. Help me find her! Please!” Leye said checking the time on his watch. If Yewande was where he thought she would be, there wasn’t a lot of time left.
The two friends hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take them to the airport. Once there, Leye asked a clerk where he could get a charter flight that could take him to Obudu Mountain Ranch, it was the resort where they had spent their honeymoon, and the place where she wanted to travel before they started fighting over the colours of the building.
As soon as he made all the arrangements, Leye boarded the small jet and Manolo promised him to take care of everything at home. Wishing him good luck, he waved his friend goodbye.
Sometime later, right after the sun had set, Leye found Yewande enjoying the view from the pool. “If I was going to spend time here by myself I thought I’d better make the best of it,” she said when her husband approached her.
“I’ve been a complete fool,” he told her, touching her head softly. “My judgment was as blocked as the Sun during the eclipse. I was so focused on myself that I didn’t even take the time to see through you and understand your reasons. I don’t know how you’ll ever be able to forgive me…”
Yewande didn’t say a word. She continued with her eyes fixed on the horizon. Had she listened to Leye’s explanation? He wasn’t sure, and he didn’t know what to do or what to say.
Some minutes passed, and the first starts appeared in the sky. It was only then, when the night had covered their faces, that Yewande took her husband’s hand. “I can’t believe we actually had our worst fight ever due to the colours of the house! Let’s forget all about it.” She said, bringing him closer to her.
[You can read the first part of this story on Obinna’s Blog]
*This is the final story installment for the Crossover Mexico-Nigeria Project.
* * *
* This story is part of The Crossover Mexico-Nigeria Project
Read all other Crossover Mexico-Nigeria stories in this blog or visit Obinna’s blog