“My answer is No.”
I gaped at James.
“You can’t just give me a No without a reason. Am I not good enough for you?”
“I’m in a relationship. That’s all I can say.”
James shook his head. “Before I made my proposal, I asked if you were engaged, You said No. What happened between the day I proposed and now. Did another guy more satisfying than I am suddenly showed up out of the blues?” James said, loudly.
“You are shouting.” I said, looking around.
James barked louder. “So all those evenings that I took you out. The pizza I got you every weekend. The pop corn-“
“Do you want me to return them?” I said sharply. “When we became friends, I defined our friendship. I told you never to try to get me anything if it’s going to be from an ulterior motive. Come to think of it. You are not even ashamed of yourself. Pizza and pop corn is what you are crying about. So the guys who gave me perfumes and designer wristwatches should hit their heads on the wall because Funmi refused to say Yes to their proposals. You irritate me.” I stood up and walked out of the restaurant.
I was still angry when I entered Shade’s Catering Home. Chuks was waiting for me at the corridor and as I led him into Shade’s office, I narrated my experience with James. Chuks remained silent as he picked up my laptop and began to make the installations.
“What are you doing here?”
I raised my head to find my sister standing akimbo at the entrance. I didn’t respond.
“What are you doing in my office?”
“Shade, I’m not in the best of moods right now. Just go away.”
Shade rushed in and closed my laptop hard. Chuks looked at her, shocked.
“Are you out of your mind?” I said, fuming.
“Didn’t I tell you not to come here again?” Shade said. “Get out of my office.”
I grabbed my laptop from the table. “Is it my fault that Jide left you? For goodness sake, Are you the first person to get pregnant out of wedlock?”
Shade marched towards me. She raised her hand.
“Go ahead. Slap me.”
She returned her hand to her side. “Get out and never come back here.
For the next three months, Shade didnt talk to me even though we shared the same room. She wouldn’t allow me touch David and my ‘good morning’ was always met with silence. We-I and mum- pleaded severally but Shade didn’t bulge. I became depressed coupled with with the fact that I was getting uncomfortable in my relationship with Lanre. The recent discoveries scared the hell out of me. I was faced with a proud and stubborn African man who had no feelings whatever. There were nights when I would cry my eyes out as I remembered his sneers when what I craved for were his encouraging words. I remembered his words, those words that bit me like a scorpion would do its victim.
“You are stupid and useless” Lanre said to me one morning as we drove out of his friend’s apartment. Ken had invited him for lunch and had specifically requested I came along. It was a wonderful time. I had been engaged in a fine debate with three of Lanre’s friends over what a wife’s responsibility in the home should be. We have gone back and forth, sharing ideas, disagreeing, agreeing, and laughing at stories, jokes, But as I took a brief glance at Lanre, I saw his face was blank and immediately I knew I was in trouble.
“How could you allow your mouth roll anyhow in the midst of men? Don’t you have the courtesy to be quiet?”
“Because i’ve never been intimidated in the presence of men. Wait a minute, the intelligent discussion that I had with your friends upsets you? “
“Didn’t you see Tobi’s wife or Ken’s fiancee? Can’t you see how properly they behaved?” He hit his hand on the steering. “See, If you marry me, you must do everything I say. You will add ‘sir’ to every statement you make and you will kneel to greet me every morning. I am not going to enter the kitchen to help with your chores. And you will wash my clothes, with your hands. So all that rubbish you were saying there, they have no place in our home.Nonsense.”
I sat there, my eyes glistening with tears.
He muttered as he drove into Farida shopping mall.”All these ladies that think they can take over from men. Look, I will clip your wings. I will show you that I am the true son of a Yoruba man.”
He parked. “I want to pick up some things for my mother. Think about all I have said and have sense again. Because now, your brain is dead.”
I didn’t take my eyes away from him until he stepped into the mall. Why was I still clinging to him? Was love worth sacrificing my happiness? Would I be able to endure his insults the day I become his wife? I redirected my thoughts to the times he would wrap his hands round my waist and speak softly to my ears. The evenings when we talked and laughed and my heart swelled with love.
A phone vibrated. It was Lanre’s phone. I picked it up and looked at the number. I battled between swiping to the green or the red.
A lady’s voice. A nut flew out of my head.
“Hello.” I whispered, trying so hard to feign Lanre’s voice.
“Hope we are still meeting at the hotel tomorrow.”
I stopped. The voice was familiar. My heart beat thumped.
“Who is this please” I whispered again.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t save my number. Why are you whispering? Is my sister there?
” Shade.” I called softly.
“Yes, it’s me.”
I’m at a meeting now.” I said between clenched teeth
“Don’t forget the condoms.” She giggled. “Tomorrow night, I’m going to give it to you hotter than the last time.”
Lanre opened the door and entered the car. Quietly, I handed over the phone to him and stepped out of the car without uttering a word.
To be continued.
Photo Credit: Internet.