“Yes its me” Atusaye said as he rushed to hug me.
Tears had filled my eyes but I tried hard to fight them back.
“Where have you been?” Atusaye asked with a shaky voice, I could tell he was about to cry.
At this point I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore and my face was now wet.
“Can we sit somewhere and talk?” he said
We walked to the business park hand in hand before settling down to talk.
“Can I get you anything?” He asked me.
“Just water” I responded.
“You look so beautiful, I can’t believe how life has turned out for you” he said.
I looked at his finger to spot a ring but there was nothing and not even a sign to show that he has one.
“Mwansa I am not mad at you but I just want to know what was going through your mind when you left me like that. How could you?” he asked.
I could sense the pain in his eyes as he questioned me and I knew how much I had hurt him. My heart crushed hearing him say those words and tears flowed even more.
“Mwansa are you married, engaged or seeing someone? I really don’t want to keep you here against your wish” he said.
“How’s Mrs. Martin’s? Hasn’t she been mad at me?” I asked.
“No, on the contrary she was so relieved that you did not die in the fire. The zesco pole behind your apartment caught fire which led to the burning of your house. She thinks you were afraid of being blamed and that’s why you ran away.”
“I met her with your sisters and I was so relieved to know that she was OK. But I hid away from her” I said.
“Clara is now married and she too has never stopped asking about you” he said.
I immediately connected with the time I met them shopping.
“Where is Claudine?” I asked him as tears rolled down even more.
“She is married now… To Mr. Martins friend. She really did it to hurt me..” he said.
“To hurt you?” I asked asked him as I took in a deep sigh of relief and stretched my hands across the table, Atusaye held on to my hands and looked into my eyes.
“Who was the lucky man who stole your heart?” He asked.
I was quite uncomfortable and I think he noticed.
“Its fine just talk to me, I am ready to hear everything” he said.
“A wonderful woman took me in…” I started.
“Go ahead dear and tell me everything…” He encouraged me.
My heart was heavy but he had to know the truth, so slowly but surely I narrated everything without leaving out any detail.
Atusaye listened attentively without showing any form of emotion, I didn’t know what was going through his mind.
“Mwansa this is your life we are talking about. He has done a lot for you and I just can’t come and snatch you away from him. I can’t.. He has been everything you needed” Atusaye said.
I cried bitterly as I put my head on the table.
“Please calm down Mwansa, I believe everything happens for a reason. I wish you never went away but then again I cant forget to appreciate what this guy has done for you… Perhaps you may never have been what you are today if you stayed with me. I was in a lot of confusion and I know that’s not what you needed ” Atusaye said.
“I was afraid I didn’t know what to do..”
“I know Mwansa and I can’t hold that against you.. It had to be fate” he said.
“I waited for you.. I prayed for you. Claudine left because I couldn’t hide it anymore.. My heart needed you. My sisters knew and though they were shocked at first, they eventually accepted.” He said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“Am a man, I shouldn’t cry. I love you Mwansa and I still do. Everyday and every night I think of you. The only thing I managed to rescue from your house was the perfume bottom I gave you on your birthday and it’s been with me” he said
“I use that perfume to date. It reminds me of you” I replied.
“I’m sorry but I can’t just let go of you Atusaye. I want to be with you…” I said.
“No dear. Listen to me, that man has sacrificed everything for you. Maybe my role was just to bring you closer to where you are today. We can’t fight destiny at least I know that it will be a curse upon my life if I take you away from him. You will be ok, just try to love him it wont be hard.”
“Are you sure you loved me? if you did then you will fight for me.” I said.
“No Mwansa its different, he has done so much for you. You can’t give up on that. At least now I know and I can have closure. If it makes you feel any better then please replay my dedication to you again. Do you remember it?” He asked me.
“Yes I do..” I responded reluctantly.
Atusaye was talking about EXiles track “hold on”.
I was crushed and torn but he was right. I didn’t want to accept it but he was very right.
Atusaye and I hugged before walking back to the car park.
“Can I at least have your number so I can be in touch” I whispered as we hugged.
Atusaye and I exchanged numbers before we said our goodbyes.
I drove back to the hotel without even getting what I needed in town.
Shane had arranged a special dinner for us and I showered before going out to join him.
I was very sad inside but I had to put up a brave face as I remembered Atusaye’s words. He wanted me to be happy so I had no choice but to be. Nothing hurts more than being away from your true love.
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