Forums Stories (drama) A BOUQUET OF PROMISES

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    There was one thing that annoyed
    Motunrayo more than anything else:
    people forgetting her birthday. And
    by “people,” she meant Folarin.
    In their three years of dating, he
    never remembered her birthday.
    Not once.
    The day always slipped by quietly
    without any special celebration. For
    days after, she would give him the
    silent treatment. Eventually, she
    would forgive him and move on.
    Until the next birthday.
    Even her roommate, Cynthia weighed
    in on the matter.
    “It’s like this your Folarin is a serious
    miser o! Or he’s just an unserious
    guy. Na wetin? No calls, no texts, not
    even ordinary Coke or Malt to say
    ‘Happy Birthday.’ And he calls himself
    your boyfriend! I no want dat kain
    boyfriend o.”
    Motunrayo chuckled bitterly.
    Cynthia’s words stung like nettles
    especially because they were true. All
    she managed to say was,
    “Some guys are just like that. But
    he’s not all that bad sha.”
    “He’s not all that bad?” Cynthia
    sneered. “So you’re waiting for him
    to get worse, abi?”
    “It’s not that serious, come on,
    Cynthia,” said Motunrayo. “It’s just a
    “Is that what you tell yourself?
    Downplay it for his sake when it
    means so much to you? I’m your
    roomie. Every year it’s the same
    thing. On your birthday, you’re
    morose. You spend the whole day
    frantically checking your phone to
    see if he remembered. It doesn’t
    matter if anyone else wishes you a
    Happy Birthday. It doesn’t mean
    anything unless it comes from him.
    And it never does. Don’t even get me
    started on the sadness. It’s like a
    dark cloud that follows you around–”
    “Cynthia, abeg, abeg! E don do,” said
    Motunrayo. “Stop carrying my matter
    on your head.”
    “Na your own you dey talk,” Cynthia
    What Motunrayo did not want to tell
    Cynthia was that she had discussed
    this issue with Folarin countless
    times. He always promised to make it
    a priority, but he never did.
    In spite of everything, Motunrayo
    believed that even if the Folarins of
    this world had flaws, they also had
    their good points. No man was a
    living, breathing, massive flaw.
    Her Folarin was a polite, punctual,
    well-mannered man, who didn’t care
    for birthdays. Not even his own.
    They met at the campus car park and
    had to share a taxi going off-
    campus. She remembered distinctly
    telling him that her birthday was May
    24, exactly three days before
    Children’s Day. He had nodded, told
    her his own – October 13 – but only
    one of them had walked away
    remembering the other person’s
    And it certainly wasn’t Folarin.
    But that was not why they broke up.
    The break-up was triggered by one
    What is my best asset?
    Motunrayo had asked Folarin this
    question when he came to visit her
    in her room one evening. She was
    standing with her back to the
    window, leaning against a table, and
    he sat close by, on her bed.
    “Just drop the ‘et’ in ‘asset’ and that’s
    your answer,” said Folarin grinning.
    And just in case she didn’t get it, he
    smacked her hard on the derriere.
    Motunrayo was stunned. “So you
    skipped my brain, even my eyes?
    Kpata-kpata you could have said my
    lips. Instead, you picked my
    “You want me to lie to you?” Folarin
    “I want more than you’re willing to
    give. It’s over.”
    It was Folarin’s turn to be stunned.
    “Call me when you’re in a better
    mood,” he said, before leaving.
    She never did.
    Five months passed. Then, another
    door opened for Motunrayo. A dream
    on two legs, with strong shoulders
    and full lips, walked into her life.
    His name was Nnamdi.
    One look at him and one wondered:
    Which Folarin? Who … What is a
    Folarin? Mschew!
    It might be unfair to compare one’s
    current relationship with the past
    one. But Motunrayo couldn’t help
    herself. When she stacked Nnamdi
    up against the person of Folarin, now
    her ex-boyfriend, Nnamdi stood
    much, much taller.
    Was a comparison even fair?
    It was hard not to, especially when
    she had met both men on the same
    university campus. But meeting
    Nnamdi was fate. Or destiny as her
    father called it.
    On a Monday morning, her 9:00 a.m.
    lecture was canceled. Motunrayo
    went to the library to snooze for a bit
    until hunger woke her up. It was the
    same hunger that sent her on a
    journey to the cafeteria, an hour
    before she usually did. She was
    standing in line, in front of a certain
    gentleman, when she heard him tell
    the food seller:
    “Madam, I’ll pay for her.”
    Motunrayo turned around to look
    into the face of her mysterious
    benefactor. In her haste, she slapped
    his face with her long, ponytail. As a
    frantic stream of apologies
    consisting of “I’m so sorry” and “Are
    you okay?” came gushing out of her
    mouth, Mr. Free Lunch did not
    “I need to do my hair like yours so I
    can drive away mosquitoes and
    miscreants just like that …” he said,
    flicking his imaginary ponytail with
    Motunrayo laughed. Who wouldn’t?
    And she laughed in such a loud voice
    that Mr. Free Lunch said:
    “I need that type of laughter in my
    life, Miss–”
    And in that pause, she gave him her
    “It’s Motunrayo. And please drop the
    ‘Miss.’ Haba! I’m not a teacher. You
    can call me ‘Tunrayo.”
    “Why would I do that?” said Mr. Free
    Lunch. “Your name is beautiful, just
    like you.”
    Of course, Motunrayo blushed. Who
    He introduced himself as Nnamdi, a
    Master’s of Architecture student at
    the University of Lagos. She never
    forgot what he did when she told
    him her birthday.
    He pulled out a small pocket diary
    and wrote down the date.
    May 24: Motunrayo Ajibade’s
    “You wrote down my birthday?
    Why?” she asked.
    “Because you should always write
    down what is important to you,” he
    replied with a smile. “And when you
    meet a lady whose name means ‘I
    have found joy again,’ it’s important.”
    Motunrayo stared and stared at
    Nnamdi, a look of wonder on her
    face. What planet did this guy fall
    from? Were there others like him
    there? Or was this just a charade, an
    elaborate play to get into her pants?
    Because men these days can be so
    conniving …
    Instead of asking the questions that
    crossed her mind, Motunrayo found
    herself telling Nnamdi,
    “Oh, that’s just not fair, you know.”
    “What isn’t fair?” he asked.
    “You know the meaning of my name,
    but I have no clue what yours
    means,” said Motunrayo.
    He smiled a smile that reminded one
    of a fact of life:
    The sun rises in the East, and sets in
    the West.
    Nnamdi’s smile started from the
    corners of his mouth, slowly
    spreading to his cheeks and then, his
    eyes until his whole face was a
    gorgeous, radiant burst of sunshine,
    beautiful to behold, warm and
    “All you had to do was ask,” he said.
    “It means ‘My father is alive’ or ‘My
    God is alive.’ ”
    “For some reason, I thought it was
    the same as Babatunde,” said
    “Do you know what Babatunde
    means?” said Nnamdi.
    Motunrayo nodded. Although she
    had no proof, she believed that at
    least one Tunde lived on any given
    street in Lagos. The name was that
    “Of course,” she replied. “It means
    ‘Father has returned’ or ‘Father has
    come back,’ because of Yorubas and
    their belief in reincarnation.”
    “That is correct, Professor
    Motunrayo,” he said, leaning back.
    By now, they were both sitting at a
    table in the noisy cafeteria. The food
    they had purchased sat in front of
    them, untouched and the rest of the
    cafeteria just faded away. They were
    so wrapped up in their conversation
    that the surrounding noise did not
    Motunrayo’s face must have betrayed
    her astonishment.
    Who takes time to explain such
    “You’re uh … interesting, you know,”
    was all she managed to say.
    “Just because I told you the meaning
    of my name?” Nnamdi asked
    incredulously. “It’s easy when you’re
    sitting across from a fine girl. I fit
    give you my bank account number
    “Ta! Gerraway jo!” said Motunrayo,
    Motunrayo felt her cheeks burning as
    her face slowly underwent the
    transformation Nnamdi’s own had
    She was smiling. And blushing. A
    few weeks later, their relationship
    was official.
    The next year whirled past like a
    dream. Motunrayo entered her final
    year as an English student and the
    day for her Project Defense drew
    closer. In that time, Nnamdi finished
    his Master’s degree program and
    continued working full-time at the
    architecture firm of Olusola &
    Okadigbo. Although he was no
    longer a student, he gave Motunrayo
    all the moral support she needed to
    complete her final year.
    Finally, the day of her Project Defense
    arrived. She had written her thesis
    on “Alluring Alliterations and the
    Evolution of English Language.” That
    morning, she received the most
    extraordinary text message from
    Today we celebrate the latest
    graduate and the best girlfriend in
    the world.
    Motunrayo laughed. “How can he be
    calling me a graduate when I haven’t
    even defended my project? What if I
    have a carry-over and have to stay
    back for one more year?” she said to
    But she didn’t share any of these
    fears with Nnamdi. Instead, her
    response was:
    You mean “future graduate,” right?
    And how are we celebrating?
    He replied:
    Dear Graduate, it’s a surprise!
    The last few times Nnamdi surprised
    Motunrayo, his calls and text
    messages did nothing to alert her
    that anything unusual was afoot. In
    fact, this was the first time he had
    actually used the word “surprise.”
    What was this man up to?
    But Motunrayo didn’t have time to
    worry about that. Rather, she
    dressed up in her interpretation of
    business casual: a formal-looking lilac
    blouse tucked into a black pencil
    skirt. On her feet, she wore flat
    leather sandals. Her black leather
    pumps, which her mother called
    “court shoes,” were hurriedly shoved
    into a nylon bag. She could not walk
    all the way from her room to the
    lecture hall in those heels, but they
    would make an appearance when it
    was Showtime.
    She dressed up quickly and went to
    the hall where her Project Defense
    would hold. After undergoing severe
    grilling by panel members, she
    successfully completed her defense.
    As soon as she stepped out of the
    lecture hall, she saw Nnamdi
    standing outside. He wore a wide
    grin and a look of anticipation on his
    face. In his hand, he held a single red
    “Sweetie, Congratulations! I knew
    you’d ace it,” he said, scooping her
    up in his arms. Motunrayo wrapped
    her arms around his neck and closed
    her eyes as she inhaled the musky
    scent of French cologne. She felt his
    taut muscles under his shirt before
    she pulled away.
    When she was back on her feet, he
    still held her close. So close that their
    lips could touch if she simply leaned
    closer …
    Was he going to kiss her? Nnamdi
    read the question in her eyes, but all
    she got was a light peck on the
    How disappointing!
    “What’s the ribbon for?” she asked.
    “Oh, this? It’s part of the surprise na,”
    he said, stuffing the ribbon into his
    trousers pocket. “But that’s later.
    Right now, you’re going to change
    and I’ll take you out for a special
    “All this hush-hush. Did you buy me a
    car or a house in Lekki?” Motunrayo
    teased, patting his breast pocket for
    a hidden key of some sort.
    Nnamdi chuckled. “You are worth so
    much more than that. Just wait and
    And with Motunrayo’s curiosity still
    unsatisfied, the pair went to Madam
    Tinubu Hall a.k.a. MTH, the hostel
    where Motunrayo lived. Nnamdi
    waited downstairs in his car.
    Meanwhile, upstairs in her room,
    Motunrayo slipped into the little black
    dress she had received as a
    Valentine’s Day gift from Nnamdi that
    But the dress was not the best part.
    Along with the dress, as with all the
    special dates he marked, was an even
    more special gift: a paper flower. A
    From the day they started dating,
    Nnamdi had given her gifts
    accompanied by paper flowers,
    handcrafted by none other than
    Nnamdi himself.
    But these were not ordinary flowers.
    What truly elevated them from works
    of art to keepsakes, was that each
    paper flower was covered in
    promises, words written in Nnamdi’s
    cursive, dreamy handwriting.
    On days when she wanted to re-live
    the experience of receiving these
    promises, she would spray each
    flower with the sweet, floral perfume
    that Nnamdi had gifted her on
    Valentine’s Day.
    Valentine’s Day was the day she
    received the first flower and the first
    promise. It was an exquisite red
    rose. The outer petals were covered
    with Nnamdi’s words in black ink:
    I promise to love and cherish you,
    now and always …
    Motunrayo who had never received
    something so beautiful, made just for
    her, was speechless.
    “Won’t you say something?” Nnamdi
    asked, a worried expression on his
    “Do you … Did you do this for your
    ex-girlfriends?” she finally managed
    to say, as if from a dream.
    Nnamdi chuckled. “You’re the only
    woman who has compelled me to
    explore that side, my artistic side.
    You, Motunrayo.”
    The Val’s Day gift bag also contained
    a box of chocolates, a teddy bear,
    and perfume. But who can forget a
    paper flower with such sweet
    Those paper flowers always came
    with all Nnamdi’s gifts.
    In March, on Mother’s Day, Nnamdi
    came bearing gifts … and Flower
    Number 2. This one was fuschia
    pink, a delicate rose.
    “But I’m not a mother yet,”
    Motunrayo protested. “Abi you want
    to make me your Baby Mama ni?”
    Nnamdi chuckled. “That would make
    me your Baby Dada, but I want to be
    so much more than that. You are
    mine, the future mother of our
    “Whoa! Whoa! Slow your roll,
    Nnamdi,” said Motunrayo in a
    panicked voice. “I haven’t even
    graduated and you’re skipping so-o-
    o many steps–”
    “No. I’m sharing my plans with you.
    Plans for our future,” said Nnamdi.
    Motunrayo calmed down on hearing
    those words.
    “I believe honesty is the best policy.
    I’m just speaking from my heart,”
    said Nnamdi. The fuschia rose bore
    these words:
    I promise to support you as the
    sweet mother to our lovely kids.
    “You mean children, right? Only baby
    goats are kids,” said Motunrayo.
    They both laughed.
    The third flower arrived in April,
    on Administrative Professionals Day.
    Nnamdi gave her a cobalt blue
    flower, filled with these words:
    I promise to support your dreams,
    your career, your ambitions, however
    many and varied they are. Your
    vision for the world is a precious gift
    that should be shared.
    The fourth flower came on her
    birthday: May 24. It was a lovely mint
    green rose. Motunrayo noted that
    the color would make a nice, chiffon
    blouse. He wrote:
    I promise to celebrate the wonder
    that you are, this beautiful gift God
    gave to me.
    Three days later, on Children’s Day, he
    gave her a lilac rose. This was Flower
    Number 5 and on it, another promise
    was scribbled in black ink:
    I can’t promise children. It is God
    who gives children. But I promise to
    provide for our children and to love
    them as fiercely and passionately as I
    love their mother.
    I promise to protect, instruct and
    correct them, and treat them like the
    precious gifts they are.
    On Father’s Day in June, he gave her
    the sixth paper flower: a yellow rose.
    The petals bore these words:
    I promise to be a loving father, a
    responsible leader and role model for
    our children.
    On July 31, the International Day of
    Friendship, he gave her the seventh
    paper flower: a purple rose. On the
    petals, Nnamdi had penned these
    I promise to be your best friend, to
    hold your hand and walk with you
    through life’s many seasons. We will
    weather every storm together, and
    emerge victorious, side by side.
    Motunrayo kept all these roses in an
    old shoe box under her bed. But the
    promises were stored in her heart,
    the place where the most precious
    things are kept.
    As she was about to leave, Nnamdi
    sent a final text message.
    Bring all the flowers with you.
    She did.
    They drove to a restaurant tucked
    away in a quiet corner of Lagos.
    There was a live band playing jazz as
    they walked in, hand-in-hand.
    As soon as they sat down, and
    ordered drinks, Nnamdi pulled out
    the ribbon and before her eyes, tied
    all the flowers together into a lovely
    colorful bouquet.
    Taking her hand in his own, he said:
    “This ribbon is red, the red of love.
    It’s been an amazing year, and I can’t
    wait to spend the rest of my life
    keeping all these promises to you.”
    And then, he got down on one knee,
    pulled out a blue velvet box and
    “Will you marry me?”
    With tears in her eyes, Motunrayo
    gave the answer that had been in her
    heart since she received the first
    Then, he kissed her.

    Please we need your comments to encourage our writers. We now have 95% ghost readers.

    #1338952 Reply
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    #1338953 Reply
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    this one is truly heaven sent

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