A different kind of Valentine
He was already done with his cup of coffee and ready to leave for work when she came out from the kitchen.
She looked at her husband of nine years, he looked exceptionally handsome today in his navy blue suit, boardroom blue shirt and matching tie.
. A little smile played around the corners of her lips as she came out of the kitchen all the while staring at him.
“What’s making you smile ?” He asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Nothing really, you look nice” I said
“Thank you. Bye sweetheart” He said, knocking the breath out of me. Before I could reply, he was out of the living room shutting the door gently behind him. I stood behind the door completely speechless.
What just happened was unbelievable and sadly, I’m the only witness. A strange but good feeling washed over me. Did my husband really address me as sweetheart? In the 12 years since I’ve known him; two years in courtship and nine in marriage, he has never used such endearing word. Romance was not his thing but he is a good man, an adorable father and a dependable husband.
Adebayo and one of my primary school teachers are the only two people I know who still call me Rebecca. The only time I use my full is when I’m filling an official form. All my friends, old and new including my grandma call me Becky.
My dear Adebayo won’t hear of it. Rebecca is a good name he says all the time and Rebecca in the bible after whom I am named, was a great woman in scriptures. And for these reasons I’ve been his Rebecca for 12 years. But today, he called me sweetheart. I feel the butterflies fluttering in my stomach. But what could have sparked this change in behaviour? He even helped with dishes after dinner last night.
When I first met Adebayo, I didn’t know I would end up falling in love with him. I was the least interested in him. Everybody had one word to describe him, a “good” man. Yes, he is a good man, but, I wanted more.
A little romance won’t hurt. But he just didn’t know how to show it. I recall my first birthday after we started dating, despite the notification by Facebook to all its users, the day passed without a word from him.
Yet on that memorable April Fool’s Day, as early as 5am, my phone had started buzzing with calls and text messages from friends and family, but the call I expected the most did not come. I made up my mind to call off the relationship. For two days , I ignored his text messages, calls and even email. Two days after, he shows up at my doorstep worried sick for my well being.
“Why didn’t you pick my calls? He blurted out as soon as I opened the door. “Is everything okay?”
“How can everything be fine?” I retorted.
“I guessed you were not feeling fine. Here, I got you some things” He said handing me a bag of goodies. The good man in him came alive. My anger melted immediately. I knew I can’t be angry with him for too long. But I must let him know I can’t accept him not remembering my birthday as well.
“So why didn’t you remember my birthday? Everybody called except you”.
“Is that what this is all about?”
“Yes, it is” I replied anger welling inside of me.
“I’m sorry Rebecca. I’m not used to celebrating birthdays”.
That evening, he told me the story of his life. Growing up was a struggle. Losing his father early didn’t help matters. His mother, a petty trader had sold all kinds of things to send him and his siblings to school. There was barely enough and in that setting, celebrating birthdays was the last thing on their minds. It never came up and he had grown used to not expecting or giving on birthdays. What they had was enough love to look out for one another. By the time, he finished, I had tears in my eyes. Then he said the most amazing thing.
“I’m sorry if my action hurt you. I hope it’s not too late to learn. Will you teach me?
By this time, I was overwhelmed with emotions. The tears which had gathered in my eyes poured down freely. I moved closer and hugged him tightly.
“It’s not too late Ade. I’ll teach you”.
Over dinner, we talked about the importance of remembering our loved ones during birthdays and stretched it to other celebrations like Christmas, wedding anniversaries and even Valentines Day. By the time we were married, Ade my dear “good” man had picked up the habit of buying me gifts. Valentine was his favourite. He never forgot. The street style every year was enough to remind him. Although he may not wake me up with a kiss, serve me breakfast in bed or take me out to a romantic dinner, he always returned from work with a lovely gift for me, usually a dress or a pair of shoes, a wristwatch, a bottle of nice perfume or a combination of two of these.
I’m sure this year would not be an exception. But I wish he would do something different.
The beep of her phone brought her back from her deep reverie.
She slowly reached for the phone still lying on the dinning table. She recognized the special ring tone she had assigned her husband. Stunned by the message, she read it out loud to herself. “Happy Valentine’s day sweetheart. See you later”
When did all these start? she wondered allowed. Too excited, she broke into a song, waltzing from the dinning to the kitchen. She felt like a woman who had just hit the jack pot. She decided to celebrate with a cup of coffee and some toast. Life is good she thought to herself as dropped a cube of sugar into the coffee. Just then the door bell rang. She placed the cup of coffee and toast on a tray and carried her creation to the dining table. A second ringing followed.
“I’m coming” she called out as she hastened her steps towards the door. She yanked the door open to find a delivery man smiling at her with a bouquet of fresh red roses.
“Mrs Rebecca Coker?” He asked
“Yes, Please” I said surprised written all over me.
“These are for you madam. Please sign here” he said, thrusting a little note pad into my already sweating palms.
“Thank you” I said taking the bouquet of flowers from him. Who could have sent me flowers I wondered as I returned to the dinning table. Lifting the little card attached, my jaw dropped as I saw the familiar signature and the short note which read:
” Happy Valentine’s Day Sweetheart. I can’t wait to be with you. See you in the evening”
I was totally smitten by this. My husband has come full circle.
This complete turn around is simple nothing short if a miracle. This change of attitude must have been as a result of the Men’s conference which took place over the weekend.
I learnt from a reliable source, that the message was hard on the men and the speaker had charged all the men to go home and love their wives as Christ loved the church. This must be it I believe. I hugged the bouquet of flowers and sniffed the fragrance it emitted. I can’t thank the Lord enough for my good fortunes.
This is just how I love my Adebayo to love me. What a Valentine’s Day with a difference!
Suddenly, from a very far distance, I heard the voice of my husband calling me.
“Rebecca!” The voice called again.
This time I felt a gentle hand pat my face. Then I heard the familiar voice of my husband.
“Wake up Rebecca. You’re running late for work. It’s 5.30 am already”.
My eyes flipped open, taking in the familiar environment of my bedroom. Standing over me and holding out my towel to me was Adebayo.
There was no bouquet of red roses, no card with romantic love notes. He didn’t call me sweetheart. Reality hit me hard. It was all a dream!
Happy Valentine’s Day in advance. May all your dreams come true!
By Jemi Ekunkunbor