Last Updated on March 31, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1329
One day after Ifemelu creates a new blog, called The Small Redemptions of Lagos, and a week after she resigns from her job at Zoe, Dike comes to visit her in Lagos. A week later, her blog has gained a good following. She writes a piece about young Nigerian women who “define their lives by men they can never truly have,” and it angers Ranyinudo, who accuses Ifemelu of doing the same with the “rich white guy in America” who found her a job that gave her US citizenship.
Dike asks Ifemelu about his father, The General. She takes him to Dolphin Estate and is “astounded by how much it had declined.” When Dike tells her how much he likes Lagos, she feels tempted to tell him that he can live with her and go to school there, but she doesn’t, and he gets on a plane to go back to the United States.
Entering her bank, Ifemelu sees Obinze standing at the customer service desk. When the man turns, it’s not him, and “her head was filled with ghosts.” Finally, she decides to call him. When he answers, he immediately asks when he can see her, and she suggests now. Half an hour later, they reunite in front of a bookshop.
For a moment, “neither of them knew what to do”; she is awkward and flustered, and he is calm. They go inside the bookshop to talk. Obinze asks about Dike and Aunty Uju and what surprises Ifemelu most about being back. She says that she finds relationships to be transactional, and Obinze qualifies “some relationships.” They smile at each other “in the strangeness of their intimacy.”
Ifemelu calls Obinze a “big man” with money, and he talks about the ways that wealthy people are treated differently: “suddenly you’re getting all of this sucking-up from people.” As they speak and flirt, they continue to update one another on their lives since they last spoke.
Obinze compliments Ifemelu’s blog and says he has fallen out of love with America, because he realized he could buy it “and it lost its shine.” When he reveals that he has visited America, Ifemelu feels “a pang.”
Soon, Obinze has to go, but he asks Ifemelu to lunch the following day. When he arrives to pick her up, he tells her that he spent the morning reading her blog. He hints that he would be willing to invest in it, but she rejects his offer of money. To Ifemelu, Obinze “felt familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.” Standing next to the bookshelf, they begin to kiss.
Then Obinze asks why Ifemelu cut off contact with him. She tells him about what she did with the sports coach, saying, “It’s so strange now to actually talk about it. It seems a stupid reason to throw away what we had.” He responds that he wishes she had told him what happened, and “she heard his words like a melody.” They sit together in silence, holding hands.
Obinze takes Ifemelu to a private club he belongs to. She invites him to write a post for her blog on “the perils of being young and good-looking and rich.” Ifemelu wants to interview Tunde Razaq, a music producer, and Obinze becomes jealous when he hears this news.
They continue to see each other every day, having meals together and enjoying being in one another’s company. Every time Obinze drops her off at home, he kisses her on the cheek, until one day she tells him that she bought condoms....
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She’s angry with herself, because she knows Obinze has a wife and child, and she’s “frightened of becoming used to him.” Obinze says that what they’re doing doesn’t feel like cheating to him. They have sex and are both happy afterwards, falling asleep in the same bed.
When Ifemelu wakes, her phone is ringing: it’s Obinze, asking to come back to see her.
The days continue to pass and Ifemelu feels as if she’s a teenager falling in love all over again. Obinze tells her, “You are the great love of my life”—yet his marriage and child hover in the periphery, unspoken.
One day, Obinze tells Ifemelu that he can’t cook at home, because Kosi has very traditional ideas about gender roles. Ifemelu feels a “flare of a new resentment” at this intrusion of a third person in their relationship, and in retaliation she tells Obinze that she’s going to have lunch with Tunde Razaq. She asks Obinze to go, but he refuses. “I love you, Ifem. We love each other,” he tells her.
As he prepares to leave, Obinze tells Ifemelu that he’s going to Abuja on Friday and he wants her to come with him. She agrees. After he leaves, she looks up Kosi on Facebook.
Later, Obinze texts Ifemelu and says it’s not a good idea for her to come on his trip. She tells him that he’s a coward. He’s waiting for her at her flat and tries to explain the sense of responsibility he feels towards his marriage. She tells him to “go to hell,” the final words they exchange before he leaves.
On his business trip, Obinze thinks everything has “lost its luster” without Ifemelu and sells a parcel of land for less money than it’s worth.
Back in Lagos, Obinze and Kosi take Nigel and his girlfriend, Ulrike, out to dinner for Nigel’s birthday. Obinze is rude at dinner. That night, Kosi offers herself for sex, but he is not interested. Obinze has told Kosi that Ifemelu is back in Nigeria, and he wonders how his wife has not noticed how much he has changed.
The next morning, after making breakfast and playing with his daughter, Obinze tells Kosi that he wants a divorce because he’s in love with somebody else. Rather than get upset that Obinze has been unfaithful, Kosi begs for him to stay in their marriage and not “destroy this family because your old girlfriend came into town.” Obinze hates Kosi for knowing and not saying anything.
The next day, Kosi continues to act as though their marriage isn’t over. Obinze worries that Buchi might “[grow] up to resent him.” When he tells a friend that he wants to marry Ifemelu, the friend warns,
Many of us didn’t marry the woman we truly loved. We married the woman that was around when we were ready to marry. . . . To get up and say you have no problem with your wife but you are leaving for another woman? We don’t behave like that.
Memories of Obinze follow Ifemelu in everything she does. She avoids going places where she may run into him. She works hard on her blog, and despite the pain of losing Obinze, she is “at peace: to be home, to be writing her blog, to have discovered Lagos again. She had, finally, spun herself fully into being.”
She calls Blaine to tell him that he was too good for her, and she calls Curt to ask if he was the anonymous wealthy donor for her first blog, which he denies. She goes out with Fred, an acquaintance from the Nigerpolitan club, and after they have sex she wishes “she could feel what she wanted to feel.”
Seven months after she last saw Obinze, he shows up at her door. He tells her that he wants to be part of Buchi’s life but that he has left Kosi and just moved out of their house that day. He says, “I’m chasing you. I’m going to chase you until you give this a chance.” Ifemelu takes her time understanding what he’s saying. Then, she says, “Ceiling, come in.”