The next day Tony sat in the car watching Ada’s house. Everything looked the same. The old lady was still on the veranda, frying yam. The young men were gathered in the front yard, playing cards and ogling a group of teenage girls who walked past. The little shop that sold soft drinks was open and a few customers milled around in front.
Tony sat in the car until evening, hoping he would see Ada, but she never came. He was relieved when he saw her roommate return, though. He waited for her to greet the old woman and let herself into the house and then he approached. Everyone looked up.
He bent his head and greeted the old woman in Yoruba.
“E kurule Ma. Good evening, Mama.”
“Good evening,” The old woman nodded. “Ko sin bi. She isn’t here.”
He understood enough Yoruba to register what she was saying, and nodded.
He walked down the corridor and knocked on her door. It opened and Liz stuck her head out.
“Gini? What do you want?”
He tried to smile. “Don’t be like that Liz. At least hear me out…”
She stared at him. “If you came to see her you are at least a day late.”
“What do you mean? Is she ok?”
“She is fine. Well, as fine as she could be in the circumstances after the way you and your family treated her.”
“That’s what I wanted to see her about. I don’t understand what is going on, but surely she should know that I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.”
Liz shrugged. “Una do well eh …you and your family. But I’m the wrong person to talk to.”“
“I’ve been in the hospital with my father. It was serious – in fact still is. It was difficult to get away. I’ve been texting Ada all night and there has been no response. Her phone has been switched off.”
“So?” Liz folded her hands over her chest.
“So what is going on?”
“As you can see she isn’t here.”
“Liz – I’m tired and have had a horrible few days. Where is she?”
“Right now. Probably in the East somewhere.”
His brows knitted together. “What do you mean in the East somewhere? Don’t you have a forwarding address for her?”
“No – and if even if I had it, I would not give it to you.”
He sighed. “Look Liz I can understand your feelings for your friend but if you really care about her you would want us to sort things out. I have really deep feelings for Ada. I realise now that I’ve messed up big time and all I want to do is to see her and apologise.”
“I’m telling you the truth – when Ada left here she was absolutely heartbroken. She went back home to see her Father and would be there for a week or so before she decided what she is going to do next.”
“What do you mean – what she is going to do next? Isn’t she coming back to Lagos for her final year?
“No. She is going to take her credits to another Uni. She told me she has spoken to someone and it can be done.”
She watched his face fall as she said this. To give him credit he did not look himself. He had not shaved and was dressed in rough jeans and a shirt that had not seen an iron. He also looked as if he had lost a lot of weight.
Serve him right. Like most men he did not know a good thing until it was taken from him.
“She did leave something for you though …she said you might turn up soon.” She went back into the room and came out with a couple of books which she handed over to him.
“What is this?”
“The books you lent her.”
Tony scratched his head as he stared at the copies of Persuasion and No Longer at Ease. “Liz…in the name of God give me any information you have on where she can be reached. I love her.”
She looked at him and saw the tears in his eyes. Chei! – Only Ada could make a big man cry like this. Na wa o. She shook her head. “Sorry. I cannot help you. Goodbye.” She put her hand on the door handle.
Tony walked down the corridor, like a man in a trance.
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