The Stranger Beside Me

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HER IMAGE STUCK with me the whole night.

She said her name was Precious, and pointed out, “It is not my real name though.”

I laughed.

“Why then used it?” I said.

“I have to, you know,” Precious said, in that soft voice that I was getting used to, “I always tell people I’m Precious.”

I did not probe on for more reasons, since this world is becoming dangerous and a girl would have to protect her image and herself.

The pictures she had sent me were four in number. And gosh she was that beautiful, and I told her that.

“Thank you.”

I could not believe that. She was being moderate in her responses, and though I would
have been happier if she would talk about herself and the good heart she had, she simply waited in her own world, and answered my questions as I put them to her.

After all, she was Ganta, Nimba County, and I was in Monrovia. We had been fortunate to get to each other through the magic of technology, and thanks to the internet, I loved it.

I realized that there was something she was not telling me, and I could not understand why.

In these days of internet scam, and reports of abuses against women, I could understand her hesitation.

“I see you’re holding something back,” I said, my cell clutched to my left ear, “and so you are unwilling to open up right now.”

From space I heard her deep breath, and her voice came so close to me as if she were with me in Monrovia, “I never show anyone my true name, just my nick name.”

I could understand that also, and told her about it.

“I’m presently far away now, and there is no way, and I believe you have no reason to believe that I have any intention to harm or do anything bad to you, do you?”

“No,” she said.

It became apparent to me that she wanted to know something about me, and I went on in full blast and went into some details and climaxed it.

“Life was difficult for me in Yekepa,” I said after some hesitation, “and after a year there I left for personal reasons to Monrovia.”

“Okay.”

“You would have thought since there were difficulties there, I should have stayed away,” I said, “but for obvious reasons I did not, and while there I decided to move away and finally came to Monrovia.”

Precious’s response was calm, and cordial. After some exchanges, she began to tell me about herself.

“My father died long time ago,” she said,” and my mother is a trader, and is presently in some part of Africa.”

“Who do you live with?”

“My younger sister and I live together.”

Afterwards I posed the same question to her.

“I am twenty and eight,” she said. That got me thinking a little bit. The pictures she had sent me looked younger, than the age she had called, but she provided an answer to why she looked so young.

“I take good care of myself.”

It was interesting, really, and I went on the net to have a look at the pictures. In the first picture she had a wide smile on her face. I did not ask her what was the issue, but it seemed she knew what she was doing.

The smile was all radiant and the second picture, though in the same dress, showed her full size and some seriousness on her face. Her hair dangled on the side of her face, there was a specially cloth that kept her tits hidden, from
prying eyes and in their proper place. Her mid-section was bare and I could see, though I did not ask her, a ring at her navel.

Her stately legs held on her one hundred and thirty pounds in weight and the sun blared at the background.

“Are you married or in a relationship?”

She said, “I am not married but I was hurt in a relationship and I decided to wait for my time and not be bothered with men around here.”

“Are you not being harsh on other men?”

“It may appear to be so.”

“If I am hurt by a certain woman,” I argued, “will it be honest to condemn all women?”

“Not really.”

“So you…”

“Well that’s why I am involved in internet dating.”

“But,” I said, “what is your opinion on a long distance relationship? Are you prepared to wait and how long can you wait?”

In answering to the last question, she explained that she had a classmate whose fiancée came for her, and they were presently in Monrovia.

“I know one day,” she said, “I will meet my prince charming.”

I laughed at that one.

At one point she hinted on honesty, truth and faithfulness, as her yardsticks in a relationship.

“I can wait as long as you want me,” she said, “if only you will be truthful, honest and faithful to me.” That answer fell on me like a rock, and I could sense her uneasiness and unwillingness to go through another drama in a
relationship. She had seen enough and sacrificed enough and had been disappointed in her innocence, and she was taking her steps slowly. I did not want to probe on for the real story but I knew that one day I would want to know.

Meanwhile I was elated for what she said since I was convinced that she was looking for Mr. Right, a man with an incredible sense of responsibility. From our discussions, I realized she deserved more than she had gotten in the past. I could identify with her experience, and therefore I was prepared to enter into her life and work to bring happiness that I knew she deserved. And I could only thank heaven for finding her.

IT HAD BEEN several hours now since I communicated with Precious, and here I decided to use the name she had chosen to be known due to the dangers involved in exposing her identity. I did not ask her but I reasoned that she
was being rather careful so that no man would imagine taking her sense of friendship for a ride.

I was not sure, but I believed that she had gained some interest in me. I said that because in her last email she had asked me to send her my cell-phone number so that she could call me sometimes. It was a thing of joy as I read her request. What it appeared now was that she had missed the number that I wrote it to her, during the period we were chatting and I did not find it burdensome to do her request.

I must confess that I was falling head over heels for her, and I just needed to communicate that to her. I did not think it would be a difficult assignment at all to tell her, since it was clear by her own statements that she was seeking a friend, and from there anything like a relationship could develop. I could deal with that aspect of our friendship. But then there were some questions that came to my mind, and I was prepared to share them with her.

For example, what was the guarantee that she would remain faithful in the relationship, considering the fact that she was so beautiful and there could evidently be some period that some nice guys would pester her to change her mind about me. What guarantee also could she have to believe that since I was in Monrovia, I would keep my promise to her? They were two-fold questions and therefore I realized I could simply not brush aside the part that concerned me, and raise in what concerned her.

Few minutes ago I had a look at her pictures and her smile in the first picture brought good memories to my mind. She was an angelic beauty that as far as I was concerned, needed some positive character to create the necessary image for her. Then I realized that if anything at all, I had to act, and act very fast. How long would I remain in Monrovia when such a beauty remained in sunny Ganta? I was sure I could easily find an answer for that but I was determined not to let this wonderful opportunity pass me by.

Though I had only a glimpse at her pictures, there was something in my heart that was demanding for more of her. Meanwhile the sun streaked through my window as it overlooked the eastern part of the house. New Kru Town was so calm that I could hear the steps of people across the main street.

I folded my hands together and said a silent prayer.

It was a prayer for Precious, since I needed God to preserve her and take care of her. At the end of the prayer, I lifted my head to the heavens, and there appeared someone there watching over me. My heart began to beat faster, and my mind went on Precious again.

It was not that I was going crazy about her, but truly speaking there was something in my heart that was demanding something else. But what was it? I did not know the answer. However, I planned to throw the question at Precious, and begged her to help me know what was happening to me. Perhaps it was what the romanticists called the wonders of love. It was not that I did not know the source of all these connections in my heart. Of course, I had the young woman’s pictures and they had made significant impressions on my mind.

Love, I realized, was gradually taking over my mind and my whole being.

I was then wondering what was happening to Precious, at this day and time of my personal agony. It was then that the cries of birds and of course I could describe them whatever I wanted, whether they were melodious songs or otherwise, sang into my ears. It was like dew in the rainy season and I felt a sense of peace in my mind. My mind settled on her, and her smile came over me. It was like a movie reel, and I could see her clearly.

I powered my computer to life, and after some clicking, my yahoo-messenger came to life. My heart did not like what I saw because Precious was absent and then I had to call it a day, praying that I would call her later that day. My eyes went dizzy, and unable to understand myself, I lifted my two hands and placed them behind my head and allowed by body to rest on the large sofa chair.

Sleep then came to my rescue, with Precious completely in my dreams and she was like a stranger beside me.

And in a dream I saw her.

She was standing near a cross road. My car had broken down and I was frantic to get it going again. Then the sounds of high-heel shoes sounded towards me, and lifting myself up, my eyes fell on her.

A smile creased at the corner of her mouth and her eyes shone directly at me. I could not believe it when I called her name.

“Precious,” I shouted, and made an attempt to run and to embrace her. By now my heart was beating rapidly and I did not know what to do.

I was almost near her, when my eyes opened and I stared at the distance.

The emptiness that came to me did not help me, but I immediately turned my attention on her, and I smiled.

The speed at which events were happening to me was so remarkable that I could not determine what was behind it, or whether I believed that something like a spirit or power was behind it. I only urged myself to remain calm and work towards attaining the primary objective of our relationship. I counted myself lucky and after some self-examination, I was able to return to bed and with a smile on my lips.

The next morning when I told Precious in a telephone conversation the morning, she could only, at times, remain silent, and expressed surprise. Her surprise was because she had been fighting an urge that was taking control over her feelings. She said she did not know but events were moving so fast that she had to confess to me how her heart yearned for me always.

“You make me feel myself like the real woman I am,” she said, “I have no doubt that we are doing the right thing.” I was honored when she told me such declaration of affection.

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