I had a plastered smile on my face; whether I was walking to take the bus home, sitting out with friends, working on my computer or just chilling at home.
Smiling had become the norm in my life ever since I met Roy and everyone around me could tell.
Roy was the kind of guy any lady would want to have in her life. At 30, he had so much going for him – he was working in a reputable oil company with a very good pay, he had his own place and had just bought himself a second car. I enjoyed sitting in that car while he drove us around town. Apart from his financially success, he showered me with so much love and attention, more than any man had ever done.
I was happy. Regardless of his constant travels out of town, we still kept a good communication over the phone and I always looked forward to when he would be in town again and I would get to spend time with him.
It had been six months since we started seeing each other and he already met my family. We travelled down to my home town in Enugu twice and my parents loved him, I knew they would because Roy was one of those guys who commanded an audience. He was so mesmerizing and such a good talker.
When I spoke to my mum the other day and told her of Roy’s plans to bring his people to come see us, she was ecstatic! And I? I was over the moon. Now my mum would finally stop asking me about when I was bringing someone home and constantly reminding me that I was not getting any younger.
Roy was my ticket to having my happy ending after several failed relationships, he was my chance to happiness, a home, kids.. I wanted it all with him.
All that now seemed like a blur as I watched Roy stammering to answer my question… I had been pestering him to take me to his place of work, I just wanted to visit but he wouldn’t let me. He had visited my office several times so I couldn’t understand why he still won’t take us to his. To top that, I discovered some romantic messages between him and several European women on his WhatsApp and he still couldn’t give me an explanation.
“Why did you even go through my phone” he accused.
“That is not the point Roy!” I fired back at him.
Not that I didn’t trust him, but I needed to be sure I was his only one. I had been almost sure I wouldn’t find anything…. “are you cheating on me”?
“How did you even find my password?” he ignored the question to my fury.
“I had been watching you and finally mesmerized it yesterday evening while we were in bed, but Roy..! ” I was beginning to raise my voice at this point, “that is not the point, stop avoiding the question, who are those white old looking women you have been chatting with?!”
He dragged his hands down his face, breathed exasperatingly into his palms then reached out his hand to me.
“Ify” he calmly said, taking my hand, “you need to sit down to hear this”
He led me to the couch, we sat down, I was still pissed, “Those were love chats Roy” I said almost in a whisper, “what is going on?”
I was praying he would tell me something, anything other than he was cheating on me and worst still, with women old enough to be his mother, and white. How did he even meet those white women?
I tried to be patient as I watched Roy bury his face down into his hands, breathing heavily.
Why was this so difficult for him? His anxiety was beginning to turn my anger into nervousness..
He stood to his feet and began pacing the floor of the sitting room, back and forth he went. He appeared restless and I knew then that whatever it was that he was struggling to come clean with must be hard for him to reveal.
He exhaled heavily and finally took his seat besides me. He took my hands into his, looked me straight in the eyes. Just as it seemed like he was about to spill it all out, there came knocks at the door.
We exchanged puzzled glances, he obviously was not expecting anyone.
Further knocks hit the door, then it was pushed open, and in walked some uniform men, I was more puzzled at this point, staring on with lips agape.
They walked straight up to our sofa, “Are you Roy Obi?” one of them addressed him.
“Y-Y-Yes I am” Roy stuttered looking from one man to another.
“We are the EFCC and you are under arrest for fraud, you are advised to remain silent as whatever you say can and would be used against you in the Court of Law”
They lifted him to his feet and roughly escorted him out of the building.
Silence fell around me
I sank back into the sofa, buried my face in my palms and sobbed.
I woke up abruptly at about 2.am, I had cried myself to sleep. I supported my head with my hands to ease the ache I felt in my head as memories of the incidence of that evening came rushing back to me.
I rose to my feet, made my way into Roy’s kitchen, heated some water, made some tea, walked back to the sitting room and curled in the sofa. As I sipped the hot tea, so many questions came to my mind, I weighed his conversations on WhatsApp, his constant travels out of town, his office of which I still hadn’t visited, and the police and their words… Fraud, 419..my Roy?
I began to feel guilty, how could I not have known? I wondered to myself, but then again, how could I??
I stared at the walls with my warm mug held in my hands.
I would go visit Roy the next day, I decided.
Roy looked unkept, he did not look like he had any sleep at all, and maybe he didn’t.
His head was dropped down, unable to look me in the face. He kept staring at his hands and the empty space beneath.
We sat there, none of us saying anything.
Soon, he would be returned back to the cell, I had to speak up, I had to say something.
“Did you do it?” I cooed.
It hit me then, “Is that what the chats with the white ladies was about?”
“Was there even an oil company job? Did you work there at all?”
He shook his head and spoke this time “No, that was just a camouflage…” then raised his gaze to my face “I press Ify, it is where all that money comes from. I meet these white women online, make them fall in love with me and that’s how it goes”
Tears stung my eyes at this disappointing confession, I let them flow freely. Just at that moment, the wardens came out and escorted him back into his cell.
I couldn’t go back to see him, I spent the next two weeks being a shadow of myself, lost in my own thoughts, confused, hurt, disappointed, feeling stupid too.
I got him a Lawyer. He was been arraigned before the Court and a prima facie case was established against him. He was denied bail and trial was set to begin. The amount of evidence against him was so much his lawyer told me, but promised to do all that he could.
My parents got wind of the news and kept calling me, but I wouldn’t pick nor return their calls. I wasn’t ready to speak to them about it yet.
“Ify” Barrister Sam spoke at the other end of the phone, “We have a Court date for Tuesday next week, you should come, trial has begun”
“Yeah” I muttered, “I will”
On Tuesday, I couldn’t get my eyes off Roy in the Court as the Prosecution stated their case against him and called their first witness, a white lady, she had travelled down to Nigeria to testify against my Roy.
Her evidence was heard and Barrister Sam picked a date for her cross examination.
Before the next Court date, I went back to visit Roy in the Cell. He had lost a considerable amount of weight, I felt sorry for him but then again, I felt sorry for myself too.
“I’m sorry Ify…” he said.
“What are we going to do Roy? What am I going to do? How could you? What do you want me to do now?” I stared him in the face.
He simply shrugged and looked away
“You know if we lose this case, you are going away for a very long time right? ”
He said nothing.
Time passed as we sat there in silence. Roy and I who never lacked words to speak suddenly were at a loss for words, it felt so weird.
“I’ve been ill” I finally broke the silence, ” I went to see the doctor and he ran some tests… ”
“What did the results say?” he asked.
“I’m pregnant Roy”
Shock swept over his face. He gazed at me as if absorbing the news, then, buried his face in his hands and dragged his hands down in distress.
“I’m keeping the baby” I continued.
“Ify” he made to hold my hands, I abruptly took them off the table, suddenly becoming angry . I snatched my purse off the floor and walked out of the station.
I attended the rest of his trials which went on for four months.
The Court found him guilty and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment. I knew we did not stand a chance with the amount of evidence and witnesses there was against him and I knew that even when he made it out, I was not going to stay with him, I couldn’t. He had scammed people off their hard earned money, robbed them and deceived them, that to me was like killing them, and I was not going to be a part of that, but still it hurt and I cried for days on end.
I had let myself get pregnant even before the traditional rites and as much as my room mate advised me to go for an abortion, I decided to keep the baby. I didn’t know what I would tell the child when he or she grew up or how I would handle being a single mother, but I knew I would take each day as it came.
Roy was gone now, he would spend seven years of his life behind bars paying for the crimes he had committed when he could have been with me, raising our child, children, walking free on the streets and having the life we both dreamed of, so much for my happy ending.