There is nothing quite like being with the right person, at the right time, for the right reasons – Anonymous.
This was a quote that I found in an edition of Readers Digest, which was published the same year I was born (it was a gift from my dad), and it is the best quote I could find to highlight the story of these love birds, which I’m about to relate.
Several decades ago, two young people, Toyin and Dele, who were new to Lagos, met at Bar Beach. It was the first time both of them were seeing the sea, even though they had grown up in the southern part of the country. I guess they could both smell the newness in each other, something of a mutual Johnny Just Come (JJC) recognition.
Nothing serious came out of that meeting, except for the fact that they spent the day together, talking about their different experiences from their different states of origin. They found out how, if they had not met in Lagos, there was noway their people would have allowed them to talk to each other. They joked about how they were breaking traditional barriers just like that.
Their conversation flow was easy and spontaneous. There were no awkward pauses that come with speaking with a stranger. At the end of the day, they went their separate ways, but at the backs of their minds, they each hoped that they would be able to see each other again.
Their wishes were granted. And it happened, less than a week after that time. Their relatives, whom they were staying with in Lagos, were neighbours. Talk about major coincidence. The only reason they had not met before was because one stayed indoors mostly, and the other was job hunting. But that Tuesday afternoon, everything worked together for their good.
They both found reasons to be on the balcony on their respective flats, and when they happened to look sideways, who did they find? Their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, as their brains worked out the only reason why the person they’d met on the beach would now be standing on a balcony, a few feet away.
Wordlessly, the guy signalled that they should go downstairs, and few moments later, they met downstairs, and at once, they both burst into questions, that they both knew the answers to. That was the day the guy told her he would like to marry her some day.
She had taken it with a pinch of salt, as she had one beau back home and hopefully, he would come to Lagos soon, but this lanky guy had not left her thoughts since the day she met him on the beach. But still, she did not want to give it much thought.
Whatever be the case, they became friends. They danced, when he eventually got a job, and when she got a civil service job too, it was with wild jubilation. A job with a pension, hmm, that was the life then. They continued to talk, about every and anything. It was during one of their discussions that she found out she was a year and a half older than he was. It became a joke between them, that he ought to call her Aunty. He did call her that, in jest, but it never changed his intentions.
As the years passed by, and they grew in their lives and careers, things changed but their feelings for each other didn’t. Dele was there to comfort her, when her beau in her hometown married her then best friend. She had helped Dele move and decorate his new apartment, when he got one. They both tried to date other people, but it just never worked out.
One Sunday afternoon, Toyin’s relatives found themselves hosting their neighbours, as Dele had come with his family to ask for Toyin’s hand in marriage. Toyin was surprised, as she never expected it, even though, it was welcome. That was the official start of their relationship, and in less than three months, they were married.
All the noise about their people not marrying were brushed aside, and they became a couple. Some people told Toyin that whatever her husband did, or did not do, in their marriage was her business, and she should not come home to complain about it. Toyin was more than glad to have it that way.
Toyin’s second daughter, Ronke, is my colleague and a close friend. She said of her parents, “They never fought. They were the only old couple I know who had no problem about public display of affection. He was always calling her “my wife”, as though he couldn’t get over the fact that he had married her, even after 37 years together.” She said, while dabbing at the tears spilling out of her eyes. Her parents had just died, within a week of each other.
My take is, they both died of broken hearts.
“My parents enjoyed each other’s company. They did things together. They worked at different ends of town, yet they managed to get back home at the same time. My dad ensured he left his office early to go and pick up my mom from her office. When they had a driver, the driver was mostly at Mom’s convenience; he would pick Mom, and then go for Dad. I often remember that they always disembarked from the car, both with smiles on their faces, and an on-going conversation on their lips.
You know, sometimes, I used to think that they regretted having kids, because it seems we were distracting them from paying all their attention to each other. They were that close.
A few weeks before my Dad died, he had a heart attack. It was not a serious one, at least, he was able to get himself up, and my Mom called the doctor. Upon his examination by the doctor, it was discovered it was not a something to worry about, and he was immediately hospitalised and observed for 24 hours. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke, which left him paralysed on one side of his body. Mom was in the hospital with him all the while.
But one afternoon, Dad just woke up from sleep, and told her he wanted his favourite soup with pounded yam, and that she should bring his Bible. Mom was happy at being given something to do, so she and the driver went off to the market, where she bought the things, she needed for the soup and headed home.
It was around the same time that I got the call that my Dad had passed on. My first thought was, “How is Mom going to cope?” I was devastated at losing my Dad, but I was at a juncture, where I might lose both of them. And that was exactly what happened.
I broke the news to her as she got to the hospital, two hours later, loaded down with coolers and drinks, as though for an army. We headed into the room that had been prepared for her, not Dad’s, and she kept asking, “Oko mi daa? Woo, Baba, lo ran mi lounje, jeki fun lounje na, a maa ma soro to baya.” Meaning “Where is my husband? Your Dad asked me to make this food, let me feed him first and we will talk.”
When, I told her, it was though a switch went off. The light in her eyes were extinguished. Her gaze became blank. I couldn’t reach her again. My brother, her favourite, merely got a stare and got called my Dad’s name.
Exactly a week after our Dad died, we lost our Mom. Somehow, my premonition came to pass. Theirs was a love that survived death. My Dad’s will stated, he wanted to be buried side-by-side his wife, and he had actually made provisions to sleep beside the love of his life, which is exactly what will happen.”
Need I say more? This is the love story that gives hope that true love still exists, and a great example of how to love your partner.
Being in love with your partner is the bestest feeling there is in the world.
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.