Abuja. November 27, 2009. 5pm
Kevwe stood at the window in Ofure’s office shifting looks between the view outside, and his brother making notes on the records of his patients. Half an hour earlier, an airport taxi had dropped him off following the flight from Lagos. Ofure had tried to dissuade him from coming, but he’d insisted. Now, nerves and impatience crawled over his skin like ants. He pushed open the blinds and blinked. The glare of the sun drew his attention to the massive pylons of the shadow roof over the Julius Berger head office building in the distance. He studied the sprawling Utako Market wondering if Efe was already on her way. Whatever happened, he was determined to speak with her today.
Kevwe dropped the blinds and joined his brother at the wide table strewn with papers. Ofure’s gaze was fixed on the screen of the computer placed near the end of the table, and his right hand pushed and clicked at the mouse. Leaning back into his chair, Kevwe sighed and closed his eyes. If he weren’t so exhausted, he would still be watching for when Efe arrived. He wanted to see her before she entered the office. Feeling Ofure’s gaze on him, he looked up to see that his brother had vacated his seat and stood by the window.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Ofure asked.
“Yes and thanks, I got tired.” His right leg throbbed, and he bent to massage it at the knee. He couldn’t wait for Efe to arrive. After a while, his brother’s silence prompted Kevwe to sit up. Now facing inside, Ofure stared through the glass wall overlooking the lobby. Kevwe followed his gaze and felt a jolt when he recognized Efe standing in front of the receptionist’s desk. His first impulse was to rush out, but he forced himself to remain seated.
When the knock came to announce her arrival, Kevwe was propelled into action. Standing, he walked over the desk and leaned against it. He wanted to be the first person Efe saw when she entered the office. He glanced over his shoulder, and realized that with Ofure would be out of view from the door if he remained by the window. He wondered if his brother had done that deliberately, and then the door opened again and Efe stepped in, driving all thought away. If it was possible, she looked exactly as he remembered her.
“Good evening, Doctor,” she said, coming further into the room.
“Good day, Ms. Sagay,” Ofure stepped away from the window.
Kevwe noted the moment Efe realized there were two of them. She stopped walking, and her mouth sagged. Her eyes closed and opened again as if she’d seen a ghost.
As she looked from one brother to the other, she took a step backward. “No...”
Kevwe was shocked when she slumped. Close enough to catch her, he could do nothing as she slid to the floor. Not only had his knee frozen up, the last thing he wanted was physical contact.
Ofure strode to Efe’s side, picked her with ease and sat her on the sofa. Kevwe watched as he pushed her head between her knees.
“Don’t just stand there,” Ofure commanded. “Get a nurse.”
Kevwe felt lightheaded as he left the support of the desk, and only his slamming heart kept him on his feet. Seeing her after these years left him weak. She’d been his world for a time, a time when he’d planned a future that included visiting this same city with her.