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“Hey Ego! You are at MIT, do you know this guy?” Chris asked. “What’s his name?” I asked, turning to her. “Eziafakaego Igwe” she said with an obvious lump in her throat. “That’s quite some mouthful.” Johan concluded. It was Al who was quick to add, “About the only thing he shares with Ego is the last part. Ego is an Igwe too.” She swirled around ever so casually and asked, “Really? You’re Ibo? That’s quite some surprise!” “Why?” “Why? For one you don’t look it and you don’t speak it” “Speak it?” “Yeah…like in you don’t sound Ibo.” “You don’t sound Ibo yourself and I can tell you’re Ibo” “Well, that’s the difference, you can tell, I can’t” “Well, I didn’t mean tell by physical looks but by the fact you could identify the name as Ibo” “Come on, any Nigerian would know Igwe is Ibo. I’m sure you wouldn’t be saying I don’t look Nigerian.” “But of course you don’t” “If I told you my name you’d know I was, so, how come they call you Ego instead of A-Go?” “I just gave up on teaching people the correct pronunciation. All I get in return is; how come it isn’t spelt right?” “Well, I make sure people pronounce my name correctly. It’s part of me and my essence” “Not if you had to publish a book on Igbo semantics you won’t!” “If that would help, why not?” “Ok, ok…Ego doesn’t know this guy but I’m sure he could help you track him down” “And why would I want to do that?” I asked Chris. “Because the lady is in serious distress”, he said. “No I’m not. Just grappling with fond memories”, she said as she collapsed into that slump that half killed me. “No, seriously, if you want I could help you find him” “You would! Actually, the curiosity is killing me, I’ll really like to know how he’s doing, that’s all” “You mean like in if he’s married and stuff like that” I pursued. “Yeah…that too” “What else?” You are not going to get off that easy, I thought to myself. “Well, you know, what he looks like, if he ate right, grew right… generally, if he’s doing ok” I couldn’t help the grin. “Ok… I’ll see what I can find”The game was crashing in all around her now and I felt like I walked her into a very unfair disadvantage. I could tell she simply wanted to get it over with. “I think all this talk has gone and ruined the game for us. I’ll rather we called it a draw and reschedule.” I offered, but she was going to have none of it and as for the guys, they couldn’t care less, each man had his own thoughts going. Ginger, the lady of the house, asked, “So, how come you’re not married yet? You’re really very pretty” “Thanks…Still searching, I guess” was her curt reply. “Do women ever search? I thought it was the men that always did the knocking and kneeling?” We all giggled, and more, when she said “Alright, alright… I’m still waiting on the right man to come knocking and kneeling” It was getting hot, real hot, behind my collar and I figured I’d make some dramatic move and bring our focus back to the game, I’ll really wanted to drive the attention away from her personal life. And that was how the game turned; I lost my queen for her rook and bishop. I was full of admiration for her; here she was, being grilled about her personal life but still maintaining the composure to pull out that deft move. In the end, it wasn’t my dramatic play that brought attention back to the game but her spectacular sacrifices. From there on down, all she had to do was walk me into mate.It was a week later when I called her. “Hey Ego!” “I don’t have to teach you how to pronounce A-go too, do I?” “No you don’t, I’m sorry. What’s up, want a rematch?” “Not really. Was calling to tell you I found your guy” “You did! How is he? Married and happy, I bet” I let the anticipation hang. “Where are you?” I asked. “Home” “Home where?” “School” “Oh… ok” “Well… ” “Well what?” “Is he married?” “Not the last time I checked. Am I going to lose you to this guy? That would be real hard to bear considering I found him for you” “You have not said a thing to me yet. You volunteered to go find him and after the fact that I even hinted at liking you. But no matter what, I’ll still have to make up my mind on you both” “Well, that’s some fighting chance at least. I’ll settle for that.” “I wasn’t making any promises A-go” “I know so too, so, how’s your weekend? Free?” “Could be…” “Well, when you decide if it will be, let me know and I’ll set up a meet. He’s eager to see you too” “He is! I’m sure you’re making that up. How would you know?” “Why don’t you find out for yourself this weekend?” “Ok… weekend then. I hope he still recognizes me?” “See you weekend, Sunshine” “Sunshine? Did he tell you that’s what he calls me?” “Who?” “Eziafa.” “What do you think?” “Oh my God! He still remembers”They all came that weekend; all my guys and they chipped in to make sure we had our favorite hangout all to ourselves. They took up all the tables in pairs and groups and pretended to be on their own. Some she recognized, most of them she didn’t. I sat near my favorite window and watched as she drove up. I watched her float, then glide, check herself and return to floating again. I watched her all the way to the entrance and as she paused to suck in air and compose herself. It was clear to see she was all nerves. She walked in on a puff of cloud, divine almost. Glancing around she spotted Chris and co, then Allen and a few others and after a few pecks and hugs, approached my table. “Hey!” “Hey!” “Is he here yet? Where is he? I can’t wait to get a good look at him” “Keep looking Sweets, I believe it’s the same thing with him. He really needs to know if you can recognize him” “That’s not fair, how come he told you, already, all the names he used to call me!” “So you’d know how much he missed you I guess and that he never forgot” “I can see you like him already too. You two are so much alike. Full of so much confidence and talk-style.” “You think?” “Sure I do. I can tell these things. So, where IS he?” “Look around you Sunshine, he needs for you to find him and come to him I guess” I leaned back as she scanned the room; I could see her ticking off faces in her mind’s eye. “I don’t think there’s anyone here that’ll do. The very closest to him in this room would be you actually. There is nobody here that vaguely looks like him. He must have changed quite some.” “Why do you say that?” “Because he used to be quite athletic and tall. I was dying to compare him with you. I had thought both of you would have made quite a stunning pair.” “You flatter me, I’m sure” “Don’t be silly A-go, I’m sure you’ve heard that said quite some already. Where is HE?” “Who?” “What do you mean who? Eziafa!” “I thought that was what you always called me” “Called who? What? Called you how? Pleeease! Don’t tell me your name is Eziafa too!” I just sat there grinning and nodding and then it all sank in for her. “YOU! … YOU!! …EZIAFAKAEGO!!!” she screamed as she came running into my arms, where she’s stayed ever since.Postscript:The party kept till early dawn. Everybody was working the phones, some telling our story the best they could, others inviting more friends over. Total strangers, hugging me and slapping my back. Darlene, proprietor/owner and hostess, would just not stop. Free drinks, cake and the biggest bottle of champagne, I ever did see, to send us on our way. I proposed in front of all my friends and she wouldn’t let me kneel. My very mischievous friend, Chris, kept yelling on top of his voice “It’s customary, he’s just got to kneel! Get on your knees Ego, NOW!” but she still wouldn’t let me. She still beats me at chess, sometimes, but I always tell her it’s because I’ve never stopped staring. We both adore chess for the love we found… and for each other, same too for the kids.
Chess and the Union (part 1)
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