Dear Zara (3)

by Jennifer Nwanede

Getting Zara to date him was more difficult than Tobe had anticipated. Each time he brought up the topic of a relationship, Zara immediately withdrew back to her shell. But the more Zara rejected him, the more Tobe tried harder. Initially, the drive to win Zara over was born out of her rejection because all his life, Tobe had never been rejected by a woman; in fact, he had so many women clamoring for his attention that he was nicknamed ‘King of Girls’ by his friends. So when Zara turned him down, he felt his pride had been hurt and he vowed to get her at all cost.

But what turned out to be a game to him, ended up being a hopeless love story for Tobe as he ended up falling head over heels in love with Zara. With the time and a lot of patience and attention Tobe showered on Zara however, she started to habour the thought of giving love another try. Tobe could not believe his luck when Zara eventually agreed to be his girlfriend; it was a dream coming true and he was glad he had persisted to the end.

“I was raped by my best friend on my twenty-first birthday,” Zara told Tobe as they were relaxing in his sitting room after a nice dinner one day.  

Even though she was scared of the outcome, she had wanted to finally open up to someone after all these years. The secret was a heavy load on her shoulder and had wanted to take it off or at least shared with someone. She braced herself for his reaction, but what she wasn’t expecting was the warm hug Tobe gave her and the depth of the love she saw in his eyes when she looked up. She let the tears flow freely, as she couldn’t hold them back.

“Please don’t cry,” Tobe told her wiping the tears off her face. Now he understood why she was so hesitant to accept his proposal all this while. The bastard, if only he could lay his hands on him, he would snuff life out of him with his bare hands, Tobe thought, as he tried to control the rage welling up inside of him.

“They are tears of joy,” Zara assured him as she hugged him tightly.

“Were you thinking that I would leave you after you told me?” Tobe asked her, hugging her again. “The fact that you trusted me enough to tell me your secret even though it hurts, shows how much you love me and respect our relationship. And I respect you a lot for that. I love you so much and nothing will ever change that,” he assured her.

At that moment, Zara knew she was finally home. As the months rolled by, Tobe’s love for Zara gradually continued to grow stronger. So much he began to let go of the other women in his life and focus only on Zara, to the surprise of his friends who had predicted that he would eventually get tired of her like he did his other women. It was clear to everyone that Tobe had found his missing rib.

“Marry me,” Tobe suddenly blurted out on a particular sunny day in her apartment while eating, stretching out his hand to show Zara a beautiful diamond ring.

Zara paused, suspending the fork filled with pasta midair. She carefully returned her shaky hand back to the plate for fear that she might splatter the food all over the floor. She opened her mouth to say something, but her eyes came in contact with that of Tobe and all she could see in them was raw, undiluted love and she closed her mouth. She wondered what she had done right in her life to deserve such a loving and caring man like Tobe. Agreeing to date him was the best decision she had ever made in her life and Tobe had never given her any reason to regret giving it.

Zara desperately wanted to say yes but a part of her, definitely the part that never got over the rape experience, was skeptical. Marriage was a life time commitment, how was she sure that in a few years’ time, she would still feel the same way she felt about Tobe now, that part of her tried to convince her. Eventually, Zara decided to follow her heart.

“Yes, I’ll marry you,” she told Tobe, stretching out her hand so he could slip the ring into her engagement finger with a huge smile on her face.

Tobe heaved a sigh of relief and returned the smile. For a moment, he had thought Zara would turn down his proposal when she had taken a long time to reply. It would have broken him.

Everything started happening so fast to Zara. One minute, she was accepting Tobe’s proposal and the next minute, she was being introduced to Tobe’s family, and before she could say jack, a date had been fixed for their wedding. Zara’s parents were over the moon when she informed them about her impending marriage. The huge grin on their faces, especially on her father’s face, was all Zara needed to be convinced that she had made the right decision. She was glad that despite all she had been through and all the mistakes she had made, life had given her another opportunity at happiness and she intended to enjoy it to the fullest.

On the beautiful Saturday morning, the sun was shining brightly, with its beautiful ray adding beautiful colours as it shone on the canopies mounted outside Mazi Udensi’s compound. Mazi Udensi could be seen in one of the canopies praying for the newlywed couple with a huge grin of contentment on his face. While the prayer was on going, Tobe couldn’t take his eyes off Zara; she was the most beautiful bride he had ever seen. He suddenly heard echoes of laughter in the background, jolting back to reality as it dawned on him that Zara’s father had been asking him a question without response from him because he had been lost in his own thoughts.

“Relax my son, she is already yours and very soon everything will be over so you can have all the time you need to yourself,” Mazi Udensi told Tobe jokingly as he continued with the marital rites. Tobe laughed heartily as he tried his best to concentrate on the marital rites. Mazi Udensi was right – Zara was all his and he couldn’t wait for the whole marriage thing to be over so he could whisk her off to their own haven.

To Zara, Tobe turned out to be the best husband ever. He was very caring and made sure Zara was always happy. But after six years of not having a child, including four miscarriages, Zara knew her perfect marriage without a child was turning to a mirage.

“Congratulations Zara, you are two months pregnant,” Tunde, their family doctor, told her with a smile on his face. Zara looked at Tobe to see his reaction and to her amazement, he gave her a beautiful smile filled with love and happiness. It was obvious that he also was excited like the doctor and she wondered why.  Zara was skeptical about being pregnant again. 

“Come on dear,” Doctor Tunde addressed Zara. He was not just their family doctor but also Tunde’s best friend, so he understood Zara’s fear as he knew their history. “We’ll pull through this one this time, I promise,” he assured her. “I will do everything within my power to ensure that this baby survives and by the grace of God, all will be well.”

“We’ll do everything right and I promise to stand by you every step of the way. In the end, we’ll have a healthy baby,” Tobe also assured Zara, drawing her into a warm embrace. Zara hugged Tobe back, feeling relieved and reassured. She smiled at the thought of carrying their little child in her arms, as she prayed fervently for a miracle.

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