Ocholi also came over to see Laibe after about four months of settling in Ofabo. By that time, her once flat tummy was shooting out and she felt very disappointed in herself, facing her one time crush with heavy pregnancy for none other than his elder brother.
The good thing though is that no one seem to be stigmatising her for it. Omachoko’s mother has taken her in as her own daughter ever since. Staying in Omachoko’s family house was the most reasonable thing to do, even though she gave him a lot of stress before yielding to his suggestion.
She is heavily pregnant, and being her first time, going to live alone in Baba’s empty compound wasn’t ideal after all. She could get scared, feel haunted or even harm herself when alone.
Laibe enjoyed Ocholi’s visit. He stayed two nights and Omachoko was around at that time, so it was all fun and games for the three of them. Ocholi brought her new sets of drawing materials and even when she wasn’t interested, he insisted she redrew the last painting she did – the painting in the white paper. Laibe couldn’t believe Ocholi preserved the paper until that time, but he did. According to him, he knew that wasn’t just a painting but some way of expressing deep inexpressible thoughts, so he was hoping that one day, Laibe would come around and let him in on all of it; on all of those things that terrified her silently and made light scare her. All of those things that made her attempt such a deep painting. That’s, of course, till everything turned messy. Ocholi was already getting to the middle of his first year in the master’s program then but he knew he needed to come back home after all Aunty Udale explained to him over the phone… or so he said. Laibe was more important than the very demanding course work he left behind.
To Laibe, Ocholi’s coming brought some sort of healing to her, at least he didn’t sound like he was utterly disappointed in her.
Omachoko startled her.
Laibe formed a little frown on her face. Omachoko would never stop doing same thing, especially after you let him know that thing is upsetting you. Typical of him.
She had warned him not to call her ‘woman’ uncountable times but he wouldn’t bulge. She got used to it anyway; after these long months.
“You scared me!” Laibe got up and hit him hard on his chest till he screamed out in fake pain.
“Someone missed me too much she couldn’t eat her food, so I heard!” Omachoko said, touching her soft cheeks lovingly. Laibe has added a recognisable amount of weight, maybe due to the pregnancy and also due to too much enjoyment.
“Ahhh! Was that what Mama told you?”
Omachoko laughed, seeing the innocence Laibe was trying hard to portray. He drew closer to her, till the space between them would barely be enough for air to pass through, except that her protruded stomach gave a natural barrier. He could feel Laibe’s heart beating fast as he looked on at her.
“OK! Yes! I missed you.” Laibe said quickly, waving him off with her hand before turning her back. Omachoko laughed even harder. He knows Laibe has always been allergic to stares, especially when it’s deep and leering like the one some moments ago. He wrapped his hands around her waist as her back leaned against his chest.
“You still didn’t switch on your phone?” He said into her ears like a whisper.
Laibe shrugged. “Not again! You were at least contacting me through Mama, weren’t you?”
“I may not be the only one that want to call you, you know? Your friends may want to say Hi to you, Ocholi may want to talk to you too, it’s been over five months since he left here. Your aunty, your…”
“Enough!” she screamed, snapping herself off his hands.
Omachoko stepped back as he watched her flare up in anger. Laibe’s anger is interesting, because she would barely say anything before tears come pouring down. Her tears are golden, and Omachoko never want to see them.
“I bought you corn beef. The exact type you like.” He took another method to pacify her and like a baby, the almost crying Laibe started smiling through her tears.
Now, they were there.
“Why do you do all these for me, ‘Choko?” she drew nearer to the wooden bench and sat down. Due to her condition, she can barely stand for long before getting exhausted these days.
Omachoko came over to where she sat, and took his seat as well. He clamped his hand and this time avoided eye contact.
“I must have probably told you this enough times but there is no harm in repeating it, right? Especially when the big woman says to.”
Laibe eyeballed him coldly and he smiled.
“The day I told Baba that I was going to Ankpa, he asked me a question I would never forget in a hurry. He asked me to tell him whether that decision was made because of you or that I really wanted to go to Ankpa. Deep down, I knew my going to Ankpa was to combat with the distance created between you and I.”
“But I never saw you. Not even once.” Laibe cut in.
He nodded in the affirmative. “You don’t ask for the heart of an ambitious girl with an empty hand.”
Laibe scoffed. “So you take me to be money-seeking, is that?”
Omachoko could feel the provocation in her tone and knew he needed to thread with caution now.
“It’s not safe for my ego as a man! You are smart enough as it were and that’s intimidating enough. Coming to ask you out again without anything to show for it feels like abusing a goddess.”
Laibe blushed carelessly.
“All of those doesn’t explain why you are doing all these for me, ‘Choko.”
“Yeah. I know!” He took her hand and placed it on the left side of his chest. “You remember this?”
He has done this enough times for her to narrate a video of it.
“You are here in my heart, now, always and forever.” He said, pulling her up.
She reluctantly followed him up till he drew her into his arms for a long hug. Omachoko then withdrew from the hug and sat down.
“Come and sit.” He pointed her to his laps.
Laibe’s shocked eyes begged him to stop ‘rough play’.
He stretched forth his hand and dragged her till she fell on his laps.
“Choko, what are you doing?” Her shaky voice came out loud.
Everyone wonders why everything scares Laibe, especially the slightest show of emotions.
“I wanna show you something.” She wanted to respond but he shush her quickly. “Just close your eyes.”
“No, I can’t. Just show me.” Laibe protested.
“You are the one keeping us now o. Don’t think you are weightless on my legs o. I’m carrying two persons.” Omachoko winked at her and she smiled.
He can be funny in a ridiculous way. She weighed her possible options and decided to try closing her eyes, even when, she felt like a gun was pointing her head while doing that.
“Yeah! It’s two minutes now, open your eyes…” Omachoko whispered in her ears.
Laibe could not believe her eyes. She has only seen sapphire twice, in a movie, and the day she decided to search it out on Google. Here she is seeing it life and direct. The rays from the early morning sun made it even glitter the more on her face, lighting everywhere up with colourful sparkles. Omachoko dug his hand into the box containing the ring. He had searched everywhere for this particular ring and when he got it during this trip, he knew it’s about time.
“Please, marry me Laibe.” He popped out the statement that came like a question. Like a question because his searching eyes demanded an answer as it looked on like a hungry puppy.
Laibe covered her mouth with her hands as tears rolled down freely now. It felt as though she was dreaming and wouldn’t want anyone to wake her up. She looked down at her stomach and saw it’s still protruded.
Did Omachoko just ask her to marry him?
Who engages a pregnant girl?
She couldn’t help the thoughts, and as though someone hit her lower back with a dagger, she screamed out.
She tried to steady herself but the pain came again, sharper than the initial one. Omachoko didn’t understand what was going on. First the scream came like an over joyous and excited one, but now, it’s coming like pain… severe pangs. He looked on helplessly at Laibe, as the girl seem to be having unbearable pain on her lower back.
What to do?
He looked down to see water-like liquid flowing down her legs.