It would be many years later on a sunny afternoon spent haggling the prices of clothes with traders in Aswani market that Simi would realize that maybe Ahmed was a good man. But today, she sits on the floor of her apartment in Abuja, a copy of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood opened in front of her. Ahmed’s name still fresh on her lips, she sighs the sigh of one who has done so much yet so little.
Soon, her and Ahmed’s friends will arrive. They will talk to her with an almost rehearsed precision, the question of why she had decided to let go of a man she had been with for eleven years hanging on the tip of their tongues. A picture of Ahmed in a blue babariga still hangs on the wall. The other day, her housekeeper and friend asked if she should take it down, but she said she would do it herself. But she knew that she never would just like she would never get over the almost strange silence of the flat without Ahmed in it.
From her place on the floor, she wondered what Ahmed would be doing now. Maybe he would be sitting cross legged on the couch at Umi’s house, his Fez cap placed on the side table and a jug of kunu tsamiya beside it. This morning, as Simi made a cup of tea, the phone rang, and she immediately knew it was Umi. She braced herself for the same outpouring of blames that her own mother had dished to her, but once she heard Umi’s lively voice she knew it would never come.
She slowly lifts her head up and away from the pages of the book she was pretending to read. She stares at the calendar on the wall and see’s that it has been only four days without Ahmed. Ijeoma still includes him in their daily meals. It appears that Ijeoma has more hope than Simi that he would appear at the front door, his black Lexus packed by the blackthorn bush in front of the building and a loaf of bread from Next in his hands.
In the next couple of years, Simi’s life would become a nest of secrets. She would never tell her new friends in Lagos that her name was not Simisola but Jaiyesimi because it reminded her of Ahmed. She would not tell anyone when her father dies, instead, she would bury the grief of a man she never knew beneath many work files. She would never tell anyone that Ahmed was the one that walked out on her. She would never tell anyone that Zara, her six year old daughter that loved to sing and play dress up, was Ahmed’s parting gift.