Read Prequel here…
Eventually, it turned out not to be her, and the girl in question was utterly rude to him. He apologized profusely and left. He began to give up hope; as a result, he tried to take interest in a girl he knew at school in Jos. They went out together a few times. While he was at it, he knew the feeling was not really there, but he persisted, knowing that he would have to move on as he may never find Amaka again. He and Judith dated for a year, albeit it a tepid relationship. Udodi had grown into a passionate and exuberant young man, but much as he tried, he never quite felt as connected to Judith as he was to Amaka.
One afternoon while he was visiting his parents in Enugu, he joined his mom on a hospital visitation with her church group. They visited patients in various wards of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital; went from unit to unit. In the emergency ward, he sighted someone being helped to a wheelchair. She looked very familiar. He went closer, and the girl happened to look in his direction. It was as if time stopped. Udodi was certain his heart stopped beating for a moment. They both looked intently at each other. He had no doubt it was her; she recognized him immediately. He walked slowly towards her and took a closer look. “Amaka Uzonna!” He yelled. “Udodi Ibekwe!” She replied with a loud scream. The nurses and other patients stared at them. Impulsively, he bent over and wrapped his arms around her, and she reciprocated passionately. They both closed their eyes and held each other for a good ten minutes. They would release each other for a few seconds, look at each other’s face and fall back into each other’s arms.
“I can’t believe I found you. I have been searching for you all these years.”
“Me too,” she replied. “I have been to where you used to live here in Enugu and they said your family moved somewhere else years back. For some reason, I could never find anyone who could take me to where you live.”
“You went to where we used to live? I wish I knew. Some people there know where we live now.”
“So I was told, but each time I was there, the ones who do know where you live were never there.”
“It does not matter any more. I found you. We found each other.” Udodi said.
Udodi’s mother was surprised. She had never seen her son hold any woman like that. She was a little bit uncomfortable being a devout born-again Christian. She felt the contact between them was far too close, so she left her group to stay behind to unravel the mystery herself.
“What happened to your left leg?” Udodi asked. Amaka’s left leg was heavily bandaged.
“I was in an accident. You know, with the Christmas rush, the driver of the bus I boarded from Enugu to Awka was flying down the road in an effort to drop us off and pick another load of passengers. Eventually, he collided with an oncoming vehicle.”
“I am sorry to hear that.”
“I am thankful to God no one died. The doctors say I need to be on a wheelchair for a few weeks to help with the healing process. I should be back on my feet in 3 to 4 months, so that is not too bad.”
“I thank God for sparing your life.” He was still holding her. Amaka’s parents walked into the ward. They had come to take her home. They were surprised to see her wrapped up in a man’s arms.
“Daddy, mummy, do you remember Udodi, my friend from Primary school?” Amaka asked her parents.
Amaka’s mother had forgotten Udodi, but not her father. He remembered him very well. “You have grown into a full man,” he said. “Amaka wanted to kill me when we had to move to Awka. How can I forget you,” he continued. “What do you do now?”
“I study mechanical engineering at the University of Jos. This is my mother by the way. Mom, do you remember Amaka? We were best friends in primary school.” She shook her head to indicate she could not remember. After introductions, the Uzonnas were ready to leave for Awka. “I will come to Awka on December 26th,” Udodi promised.
He had taken their address and house phone number. It felt like a part of him which had been missing had just been found. He smiled expansively all evening as he returned home with his mother.
“So, who is that girl to you Udo?” His mother asked on the bus ride home.
“Mom, she is someone special to me. I like her. Since they left Enugu for Awka, I have been searching for her. I will never let anyone take her away from me again!”
“That is a very serious commitment you are making my son. Maybe you want to take it easy and get to know her first. It has been many years since you last saw her.”
“You are right mom, but I love her far too much. If it turns out bad, then so be it, but for sure, she means a lot to me.”
“I will be praying for you my child. Make sure you stay away from anything that will affect your relationship with Christ in your dealings with her.”
“Don’t worry mom. I will.”
“Good, my child.”
On December 26th, Udodi woke up excited. He had talked a lot about Amaka over the Christmas holiday, telling his younger brother Chijindu about his pains those years he was searching for her. “It is wonderful that she was looking for me all those years I searched for her.”
“I know very little about love, Udo, but I know it is a good thing when both people involved are equally committed to each other. I remember her vaguely. I recall she used to come around when we were little. I hope she makes you happy,” Chijindu replied. His wisdom transcended his age. He and Udodi talked about almost everything.
“I hope I make her happy,” Udodi replied.
When he reached their house in Awka, she had been sitting on the terrace waiting for him. You could almost hear the resonant excitement that thundered in their hearts. As soon as he saw her straddling the wheelchair, he ran towards her. He held her in his arms, and like rain dampening the heat of a sunny day, every touch of her hand soothed him, and his soothed hers.
“I am so happy to see you!” She exclaimed. Unquenchable tears of excitement and joy descended down the stairs of her cheeks like an infantry of soldiers marauding an enemy target. “I wanted to see you all those years. I thought I would never see you again.”
“Me too. I was dying to see you again; to hold you and laugh with you. To look into those immaculately beautiful eyes and see you smile again. You are the best Christmas gift ever; one straight from God to me a few days before December 25th. I will cherish the day I found you again for the rest of my life.”
She smiled through teary eyes. “I will cherish the very first day I found you. The day when you stood by yourself by the field, walking up and down. I did not know it was love then, but something drew me to you. I remember it very vividly. I have thought of you, and dreamt of you every day for years. I cannot believe it is you for real,” she replied elaborately.
After having lunch, they stayed around family members for most of the day. By night, they sat outside under the pear tree in front of the house and gazed at stars, and at each other. A full moon illuminated her face, and his. “Your face shines with the brightness of the galaxies. In my darkest days, when I searched for you, I realized what love is. I realized that a piece of me was missing. I have never known such joy. It is like the days when I used to play in our backyard with you. When you smile, the peace in my heart glows brighter. When you laugh, everything in me leaps for joy. For some people, they are not sure if it is love. For me, I knew it was love years ago when your family left. I could not be surer.”
“You still say the best things, Udo. I remember when we were kids; you used to tell me I was the most beautiful girl in the world”
“You remember that?” Udodi asked.
“I remember everything. Everything,” she replied emphatically.
“And I meant it then, and now, because it is true. You truly are the most elegant girl I have ever known.”
“Thanks my wonderful man. So, have you dated anyone in those years?” She asked.
“Yes, but it was not serious. When I thought I would never find you again, I took a shot at dating, but it was so empty and devoid of passion and connection, so I called it off. How about you?”
“Yes, I did briefly too. It was with some guy in Business Administration. I could not be surer that I did not love him, so he and I went our separate ways,” Amaka replied. At the time, she was a final year Law student at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. “So, what do you intend to do after graduation?” she asked him.
“Now that I have found you, I just want to be as close to you as I can. To know you more, and make up for all the years I missed being cut off from you by fate.”
The bond between them grew stronger by the day. After graduation, Amaka got attached to a law firm in Awka, while Udodi worked for Amaka’s father, who at the time ran a construction company of his own. Two years later, Amaka’s father wanted to retire and Udodi, bought the company from him with the help of a bank loan. He continued to grow the company, while he and Amaka tied the nuptial knot. They had a simple, quiet wedding in Awka. They had agreed to write their own wedding vows. When it was time for Udodi to read his, he poured his heart without restraint. His wedding vow reads as follows:
Many have tried to define and explain love. Many have journeyed across the face of the earth in search of it. Many work tirelessly through a whole lifetime to experience it deep within. As a toddler, I found love. Maybe I should say, love found me. I was hungry and love fed me. I was dejected and alone, and love engulfed me with companionship and meaning; with friendship and laughter. When the sun pounded hard on me, love put a shed over my head. I was a nobody left on the sidelines, but love erased my dejection and filled me with hope and joy. I know it is love because when she was away from me, the whole essence of my life evaporated like smoke. I tried to find a replacement for her, but there was none. And then, God restored her back to me. That love is you, Amaka. Today, I promise to be your friend, your provider, your lover and your soldier. I will walk through fire and storm to protect you with everything in me. When you become weak, I will be there to carry you. When you cry, I will cry with you. Most of all, I will wipe your tears. Today, what God began many years ago when he sent you to the sidelines to rescue me from my pains is signed into a tangible union between us. I will love and cherish you until my dying day.
Amaka took some time to douse the tears that had left her eyes drenched after listening to Udodi’s vow. “I can’t stop crying, out of joy,” she said. Everyone in the audience laughed.
“Take your time,” the pastor urged. Her chief bride’s maid helped to wipe her eyes, so she could read her own vow, which was as follows:
To imagine my life without you, Udodi, is like imagining fish without water. Once, I was plucked away from you by the circumstances of life. Those years without you were like a furnace burning life out of me. With each passing day, it felt like I was losing sight of who I was meant to be. My breath shortened, and my laughter shrivelled. My hope shrank, and joy eluded me. Through that ordeal, I held stubbornly to the belief that somehow, God would bring back my shining star, and He did not fail. When I saw your smile again, like on that fateful day when you and I became inseparable childhood friends, I knew I had a place on earth. I was put here for a purpose, and to actualize that purpose, I needed you by my side. Knowing that you are in my life empowers me each day to live. It empowers me to love without limits. It encourages me to live to the fullest. Most of all, it strengthens my resolve to make you a happy man. To stand by you through the vagaries of life. To listen to you. To ease your pains wherever I can. You will never walk alone! I will love and adore you completely and unreservedly till death do us part.