Remember me (V)- Short story

The story of fate and destiny

Chapter 5

 Beautiful beginnings

Tara’s fondest memories of meeting Levi was at a sip and paint event at a posh boutique hotel lobby in Ikoyi, where more than two dozen canvasses, set on wooden stands told the story of colors and rising hope.

The event was organized by the Blaze Foundation to raise funds for Internally displaced persons camped on the outskirts of Jos, the capital city of Plateau state. The constant skirmishes and raids by Bandits had overwhelmed the security forces in the region leaving hundreds of vulnerable women and children without food, clothing, and shelter. All the major news network were awash with news and gory scenes of the pitiable plight of these indigenes, and it therefore wasn’t a surprise that the event was well attended.

Scores of participants took turn to paint on the blank canvas mirroring imperfect duplicate of the moving sea, beached fishing boats and the image of the blue sky with little puffed clouds, brilliant white in the sunshine, while others watched with a cocktail glass in hand.

The beauty of the paintwork paled in comparison to the gorgeous dresses that adorned the beautiful ladies in the lobby that afternoon. At every turn, a bevy of stunning ladies, dressed in all shades of brilliant colors mixed match with a good view of skin displayed from long slits, open bustline and from the back, watched the “amateur artists” as they fumbled with the airbrushes, pallet knives creating a perfect mess with the watercolors as they painted a semblance of the image.

Tara in a dress that afternoon looked like a blossomed flower warmed in the bright African sun. She was the cynosure of all eyes and the envy of the ladies. No one knew she was just recovering from yet another failed relationship- her fifth. She thought her terribly bad luck with men was because she had a strong family background, that revolved around her Military father.

She let the “tings” of pain and the stings that lingered pour out into her painting. When her hand moved over the canvass, it was almost like her mind was directing her hand instinctively. She was creating her fantasy world, a reflection of her own mind, and the images yielded in fine color too.

She had done this so many times and had dusty versions of similar seascape locked up in her closet back at home. She grew up learning everything extra-curricular from painting, playing several musical instruments, to horse riding, swimming, learning Spanish, French and German and cooking.

Her father was a high ranking military officer who had devoted his time and energy to seeing that his only child grew up armed with all the skills she needed to navigate the life ahead of her. She never had the time to frolic with boys and her interaction with them was far between. Despite all the skills she had learned, nothing prepared her for the heartbreaks that the men she professed love to served her.

Her mum passed when she was only six and as they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” She had the company of her aunts and uncles who tended to her every need while her father served in the army. They didn’t dare flout her father’s instructions.

Then there was rapturous laughter that spread through the lobby and a sudden movement towards one of the “amateur painters”. And then another round of laughter that had a derisive edge to it. Tara didn’t like that the distraction the raucous laughter created had her locked out of the fantasy world she was bringing to live.

But the noise continued.

“Perhaps something was amiss?”

Tara joined the small throng.

“What could be so funny?”

That was when she first saw him.

The awful and poor depiction of the image on the canvas resembled a cow with half a dozen calves suckling on its udder.

“How on earth does this resemble a skyline with boats for God’s sake?” Tara murmured in resignation.

It was indeed a funny image and as many more people peered through the surging crowd to see the cause of the ruckus, the ensuing laughter reverberated through the lobby intermittently.

No doubt the man at the center of the attention deserved all he got, everyone had a go at him and there he was entertaining anyone who cared to listen that he wasn’t done yet and that they should wait to see his image crystalize. He was a funny chap and took the unfair criticism lightly.

“This image is only just about to come to life, my dear audience. Wait and see.”

Certainly, he revelled at the attention from everyone. Tara thought.

The comments were politely disapproving.

“He has had too much cocktail to drink already.”

“Isn’t it obvious that all he sees is a cow and its calves and not the blue sky.”

“I simply don’t understand how anyone can paint a cow out of this.”

“Are you serious right now? Perhaps you are looking at another image.”

“Is it possible that if he turned the canvas upside down it would resemble the skyline and the beach boats?”

More laughter and then everyone started to disperse.

Tara joined the lot until she heard his voice.

“May I see your painting too.”

Then she turned.

“Perhaps I could find one much worse than mine.” he offered.

Caught slightly off guard, Tara paused with eyes searching for answers around the lobby.

“How did you know I was painting already?”

“I can see paint smear on your fingers.” There was the most innocent kind of mischief when he smiled until it smothered into a shy smile that came from deep inside to light his eyes.

He had the kind of handsome that got into Tara’s bones.

“ I hope I didn’t unsettle you; I am Levi and I think you are the most gorgeous woman at this event.” He lost himself for a moment and quite forgot that he had paint all over his hands when he thrust it towards her.

They shook hands, bonding the drying paint together as he held her hand gingerly and a little longer.

Tara loved the way his voice quickened when he introduced himself and she felt easily at ease in his company.

The attraction was instant. There was something about Levi that excited and calmed her all at once. He had a happy disposition and spoke like a true gentleman with unusual politeness.

Tara willingly gave him her heart and kept his in the same safe place she had offered the other men from her previous relationships.

The rest, they say, is history.

******

One problem Tara had with Levi was that he was so darn loveable and anyone could have fallen for his charms just as fast. It felt like swatting flies with her eyes whenever they were out in public, when ladies swooned over him like she wasn’t even there.

How could she not love him? He was everything that mattered, and her life revolved around him. She cooked for him and watched him eat during the weekends while he watched football on her couch. She sang for him, did his laundry, got him gifts, and gave her body up to his every sexual fantasy.

Like everyone else in most relationships, he had his baggage, and they came labeled as his exes. His previous relationship had strings that still hurt him and Tara feared that they were lurking behind their first big fight, waiting for a crack to sneak back into his welcoming heart.

Tara held on tight to him, she was the reacher and she had to keep him no matter what. Levi was the finest of gentlemen she ever dated.

Until they got into that one big fight on the eighth month. It wasn’t like the others they had before. As the pressure on Levi’s job in the marketing firm went up a notch, they found it increasingly difficult to spend time together and Tara started to lose her mind every time he wasn’t at her place for the weekend. This left her mind wandering as she conjured thoughts in her head about his fidelity.

Her life had no purpose and meaning when he wasn’t around and that was difficult for Tara to grasp. The weekends she spent alone left her questioning her mind and it was only a matter of time before her performance at work suffered, while her social behavior flipped between the extremes as a downright recluse and a social butterfly.

They argued frequently on phone so much that when they got to see, Tara let out her frustration hitting him twice on the face after she read messages from another woman on his mobile handset, an action she regrets till date.

The same woman Levi had engaged only a few weeks earlier.

He walked out of her house without saying a word.

Follow the story here.

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10 thoughts on “Remember me (V)- Short story”

  1. Pingback: Remember me (IV)- Short story – Akin Akingbogun

  2. Awww… I really feel for Tara. Never an easy one for a lady when a man is a ladies’ man. Love the transition from the painting scene to the handshake, Good job!

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