Click here to read Episode 3
Tola groaned and rolled off the bed. She landed on the floor with a loud thump.
‘Tola, wake up!’
Her eyes flew opened. She jumped to her feet and staggered towards the door. Midway, she bumped into the wardrobe and grabbed the handle of the wardrobe to steady herself.
‘Thank you Jesus.’ Tola muttered, panting heavily.
Tola settled on the edge of the bed. ‘I had an attack. An old woman chased me. I fell while running. She grabbed my neck and tried to strangle me.’ she paused. ‘I tried to fight her off but she was so strong. Then her face changed to Wale’s sister. She released me and kicked me in my buttocks. I fell and roll away from her.’
‘Tola! Why are you doing this to yourself? Leave Wale for God’s sake.’
Tola grabbed the blanket, pulled it around her shoulders and curled into a shivering ball. She was shaking terribly. I sat beside her, wondering what to do.
‘Let’s pray.’ I said, finally.
We went on our knees. I’d gone for several deliverance sessions with Kunle and I felt capable of handling spiritual matters like this. I’d seen a mad woman charge at Kunle and immediately he gave a word of command, she fell, slithering like a snake. Once I had followed Kunle to a shrine where the priest blew white powder on his face, muttering words of incantations in a loud baritone voice. The priest had been shocked to see my ex standing there, untouched. He had accepted Christ that day.
‘Oh Lord my God,’ I started. ‘Every incantation and padlock used by witches to keep Tola in captivity, expire by fire in Jesus name.’
‘Amen!’ Tola responded.
‘Any power calling Tola’s destiny into destruction, die in the name of Jesus!’
‘All the evil altars, all the demonic dogs, all the satanic police officers assigned to ruin Tola’s life, let the fire of the Holy Ghost consume them right now!’
‘Your word says, for every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. Let blood roll right now in the camp of the wicked people in the name of Jesus!’
Tola didn’t say Amen.
‘I ask, oh Lord-’
In a flash, I saw myself on the bed with Ranti. The words I planned to say disappeared.
If you don’t shut up your mouth, legions of demons will enter into your body and destroy you.
My heart fainted. I sighed.
‘Thank you Father because you have answered. In Jesus name we pray.’
Tola thanked me and left for the living room. I sat on my bed, shaken by the thoughts that had jarred my mind.
I am not going to sleep with Ranti anymore, I vowed. I will wait until our wedding night.
‘Oh God, forgive me. Please don’t allow demons into my body. I promise, I’ll keep myself until when I get married.’ I prayed aloud.
From the bedroom, I heard Tola’s voice on the phone. Few minutes later, I slept off.
The next morning, Wale, Patrick and Mercy came to the house. I stood by the entrance to the bedroom, listening to their discussion. Wale was furious as he paced the living room.
He stood and turned to the others. ‘I can’t take this anymore. What exactly do they want from me? For goodness sake I have told my father I am not interested in their fraternity! What else do they want?’
Patrick stood beside his friend. ‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Wale, we don’t fight spiritual battles with physical weapons.’
I almost hissed. What is wrong with these brothers. Any small thing, Bible. What is their problem gan?
Wale sighed. ‘I’m just tired.’
‘We can’t give up now.’ Mercy said. ‘Sincerely, we’ve been taking this matter with levity for years now. I think it’s time to get into serious prayers. We have to make some crazy declarations and remind ourselves of our position in Christ.’ She stood up. ‘Wait a second, why does it seem like the devil has an upper hand in this situation. Didn’t Jesus destroy the power of the devil on the cross? We need to stop cowering in fear. Enough of the devil messing with our minds. We pick our shield of faith and destroy all the wiles of the devil.’
Tola stood up from where she sat and stepped in front of her fiancé who was already close to tears.
‘Sweetheart, when I told you I was led to marry you, I meant every word and I still do. We will fight this together. Yesterday, while I was asking God questions after the incident, God comforted me with Romans 8 verse 33. You know how I love the new living translation.’
He maintained a steady gaze on Tola as she locked hands with his. ‘Wale, if God be for us, who can ever be against us. Who dare accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one! For God himself has given us a right standing with himself. Who will dare condemn us? No one. For Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.’
Mercy clapped her hand. ‘Glory! He has translated us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of his dear Son!’
Patrick switched to tongues. ‘Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly triumphing over them in it.’
Tola fell to her knees. ‘Yes, we are going to pray from a place of victory. The power of the enemy has already been destroyed on the cross. We’ll exercise the authority Christ has given to us.’
Wale joined her in the center of the room. They held her hands as they prayed. Mercy and Patrick moved from one spot to the other, praying in tongues.
‘No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Every tongue that has risen against us, we condemn this moment. This is our heritage oh Lord!’
‘In the name of Jesus, we bring to naught the devices of the enemy. We are the redeemed of the Lord. Who dare stands against God’s elect.’
‘We overcame by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony. We bear the mark of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes! We claim our victory in Christ. We are the sons of God. We have overcome!’
‘Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. Concerning Wale and Tola, every mountain be rolled away in the name of Jesus. At the name of Jesus, every knee must bow!’
I felt left out. For reasons I couldn’t exactly figure out, I just didn’t fit in and I wasn’t comfortable staying in the room either. I dressed up and left quietly.
My phone peeped as I stepped out of gate. Credit Alert. 150k. I smiled and scrolled down my call history for Ranti’s number. He picked on the second ring.
‘Hello sweetheart.’ His voice still made me quake.
‘I saw what you sent. Thank you. Where are you?’
‘I’m at the hotel room waiting for you.’
I stopped. ‘I thought you said we were going to see another apartment this morning.’
‘Can’t I have some time with my baby first? I’ve already told the agent to expect us this afternoon. Please hurry. I’m dying to see you.’
I swallowed hard. Why was it so hard to stick to a decision? I wanted Ranti badly. The thoughts of being in his arms again made me quiver.
In the taxi that took me to the hotel, I thought of so many things at once. I was going to tell Ranti how I felt about the relationship. I needed to know his plans for us. Even though he had not officially proposed, it was clear what we wanted for our lives but I wanted to hear those words from Ranti’s lips. I wanted him to say, ‘Tinuke, will you marry me?’ It was time we got serious about making plans for our future.
I rushed ahead to the future. Wedding dress. Our apartment. Our kids. Trips to Dubai and France. Everything looked perfect. Right in the taxi, I wrote out a list of the things I’d need for my wedding. I was excited already.
Ranti opened the door even before I knocked.
‘Oh my baby! I have missed you.’ He pulled me into the room and towards the bed. I stopped him. He stared at me, puzzled.
‘We have to talk.’
Ranti frowned. ‘Can’t it wait? Babe please.’
I shook my head. ‘It can’t wait.’ He uttered a curse word. I walked passed him and sat on the bed.
‘What is it?’ Ranti was clearly upset.
‘Let’s talk about us. Where’s this relationship leading to?’
‘What the hell are you talking about?’
‘What we have together, is it a joke or it is for real?’
Ranti sat down beside me and held my hands. ‘Baby, I love you and that’s what matters.’
‘You have not answered my question. I know you love me but I want to know what plans you have for us.’
‘Yes, marriage. A woman at 31 should be in her husband’s house. Why are we wasting precious time? You don’t even have to propose. I get that you love me and want to spend the rest of your life with me. Just go ahead and put a ring to my finger.’
He let go of my hands. ‘Aren’t we are moving too fast?’
I sighed. ‘Ranti, what are we waiting for? You have a good job, you are comfortable, we’ve been together for over a year now. We love each other.’
He pulled me to my feet. ‘Can we talk about this later.’
I stared at him, annoyed. When he tried to kiss me, I pushed him away. He exhaled and left my side. He returned with my favourite chocolates.
‘If you want some more money, just tell me, I’ll send it.’
I pushed the chocolates away. ‘Not everything is about money. Ranti, I want to settle down. I can’t keep living like this.’
‘But I said we will talk about it later. My ex is still seething over the fact that I walked away from her. I just need a little time Tinuke.’
He pulled me closer, his hands sliding from my shoulder to my back. I jerked free and grabbed my bag. What is wrong with men? Couldn’t he see that I was not interested in having sex?
‘If you don’t want me to touch you, fine. Let’s go see the real estate agent. She sent me pictures of the apartment. You will love it.’ Ranti smiled.
I stared at him. I was talking about getting married and Ranti still had the guts to raise the issue of getting my own apartment. If he really wanted to marry me, we should be talking about our apartment. I wondered why he always had an excuse when I asked to see where he lived. Why does he always insist on meeting me at the hotel instead of taking me to his house in VI?
‘I want to be alone.’ I walked out of the room.
‘Tinuke!’ he called out. I didn’t respond.
I went to the hotel’s swimming pool, a place I’d been several times and sat on one of the chairs in the pool’s deck. I stared at the shimmering water, trying to get my thoughts together amidst the sight of a couple laid out on inflatable mattresses and some ladies sitting on the deck with their feet in the water. I was confused and worried. I loved Ranti so much but his actions were making me doubt his love for me.
Should I leave him now? That would be risky. He was working on a juicy offer for me. I needed another job badly. I couldn’t afford to go broke especially now that Betty was still owing us three months salary. How do I survive? I’d wait until I land a new job and move to my apartment and then dump him. I chuckled at my thoughts. Can I ever break free from Ranti? Two months away from Ranti had almost driven me insane. Maybe when my career is in full gear, I’d plead with him to take marriage seriously even if it meant wearing him out daily with my pleas.
My phone rang. It was my younger sister Yetunde. She was now in Akure, helping mum with the factory. I didn’t want to pick at first but I welcomed the distraction.
‘Tinuke, there is something I want to tell you.’
I waited. When she didn’t say anything, I immediately became worried. Had something happened to mum? I knew she had gone to the hospital several times for check-up especially when the excruciating pain on her leg began.
‘Yetunde, what’s going on? Is mum okay?’
She sighed. ‘Yes, she is. Tinuke, I’m going to look for Dad.’
‘Oro radarada wo loun so. I don’t understand you.’
‘Don’t you miss dad?’
‘You mean the man that walked out of our lives when we needed him? No I don’t.’
‘I miss him Tinuke.’
‘For God’s sake, you were five when he left. How can you miss someone you barely know. Please kick those thoughts aside and let’s talk about something reasonable. How’s the factory?’
‘The factory is going on well. Thanks for that cash. We finally got a new truck. Tinuke, the more I pray, the stronger I feel the urge to search for dad. I think God wants me to reconnect with him.’
‘How do you even want to go about it? That man never for once called mummy since he walked out on us. Obviously, he doesn’t care one bit. Anyway, I wish you luck on your wild goose chase. When you finally meet him, tell him I hate him for making our lives horrible.’
Yetunde sighed. ‘But can’t you see God’s faithfulness in our lives? You have a very good job. Mum’s factory is doing pretty well. We can boast of our own family house. I was the best graduating student in my faculty. You came out with an outstanding result.’
I shook my head. ‘How could you quickly forget the days we hawked plantain in the hot sun on the streets of Akure. Remember those days when we had nothing to eat. We went into farms to steal vegetables. Have you forgotten how Baba Aduke threw us out of that one room apartment when mum couldn’t pay up the rent? Mum cried. We had to sleep in church for several months. Yetunde, I don’t forget things easily and it is one reason I don’t want to ever go back to that life. I really pray you find Dad so I can prove to him that what he left us for, I now have in abundance.’
‘The life of a man does not consist of the abundance of the things he possesses.’
‘Mo fi olorun be e, don’t quote scriptures to me. Where was God when Dad left and we had to suffer? Aburo, I’ll talk to you later. I have to go to work soon.’
I got to the boutique that afternoon to find three of my colleagues standing outside, their faces drawn. One of them was crying.
I stopped in front of them. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Madam fired us.’
I stood back. ‘Why?’
‘She said there is no money to pay us. Imagine that, and she didn’t even pay us the money she owed us. What kind of wickedness is that.’
The lady who had been crying wiped the tears from her eyes. ‘I don’t know where to start from. I am running a course in Unilag. How do I pay my school fees?’
I didn’t know the right words to say to comfort them. ‘You’ll find another job. Be hopeful.’
For the umpteenth time, I was glad I had a back-up. Ranti. With him, I didn’t have to worry about money.
More sales girls walked out of the boutique angrily and I was wondering if Betty had decided to shut down the boutique. I hurried in to find out what was wrong and bumped into Chioma, the head of sales. She pulled me behind a section of clothes.
‘Betty has fired all the sales and marketing girls. Just two of us are left.’
I looked at her puzzled. ‘What?’
She nodded. ‘According to her, we are to handle the sales and marketing for now. She promised to pay our arrears by the end of the month.’
I was angry. ‘How are we supposed to handle sales and marketing. We’ll sell clothes, handle the ads, take deliveries. For heavens sake, how’s that possible?’
Chioma shrugged. ‘We will survive. Let’s get to work.’ She pointed to a customer who’d just entered. ‘Go attend to that customer and let me see to the online deliveries.’
I was fagged out before the end of the working day. This was enough sign that it was time to leave. I’d have to call Ranti and plead with him to get me another job as quickly as possible.
The following week, I returned to the boutique from delivering some dresses to a customer and found about five young girls in the lunch room. I discovered they’d been newly employed. We had a quick staff meeting that morning and when we finished, I went to look for Chioma. She was talking to the new employees and assigning responsibilities to them. Later, she joined me in the store room where I was taking an inventory of the new supplies.
‘How much do you think Betty agreed to pay those girls?’ I asked as soon as Chioma entered the store.
‘20k. That’s the info I got from the HR. Alice showed me their employment letters on Saturday.’
I opened my mouth. ‘20 what? From 50k. That’s crazy.’
‘I’m telling you. You know most of the ladies here were B.Sc holders but she instructed Alice to select only OND holders. Yesterday when you followed Betty to Ikeja, about fifty of them showed up at the boutique. We picked just five.’
Betty appeared behind us. ‘I don’t expect any of my employees to be gossiping during work hours. There is work to do. That’s why I pay you!’
I was irritated and I made no effort to hide it. I turned my eyes away and continued with my work.
‘I’m very sorry ma’am.’ Chioma said and walked out. Betty entered the store.
I raised my head but didn’t stand up. She folded her hands as she stood in front of me.
‘For the next two weeks, at the end of your shift, you are going to spend one hour with the new staff, training them on how things are done here. I’ve designed the training module. I’ll mail it to you before the end of today.’
I waited to hear the extra pay I’d earn for the training but my madam cat-walked out of the store. I called Ranti.
‘I take it you are no longer mad at me.’
I hesitated. ‘No I’m not.’
‘Thank you. I love you Tinuke.’
‘Ranti how far that job. Anything yet?’
‘Very soon. I’ve spoken to someone and she promised to give me feedback by the end of the week.’
I sighed. ‘Thank you.’
‘By the way I have a surprise for you.’
My eyes lightened up. ‘Really, what is it?’
‘It’ll no longer be a surprise if I tell you. I’m at Abuja right now for a meeting. I should be back by Saturday. You’ll see it after church on Sunday.’
‘I can’t wait!’ I screamed excitedly. I raised my head to find Betty standing by the entrance glaring at me. ‘Ranti, I have to go.’
Betty rolled her eyes at me and left. I smiled. There was no way Betty could fire me. I’d brought in more money than she’d ever made since she set up the boutique. Most of Ranti’s friends and colleagues had brought their side chicks to the boutique.
A ghastly motor accident had occurred on the road leading to Lekki. It had caused serious traffic and by the time I got into the house, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep.
At first when I got into the compound, I was surprised to see Tola’s car parked in front of the house. It was just 5:30 and very unusual to find her home that early and then I remembered she was on leave.
I opened the door and right there in the living room was my ex, Kunle, sipping a drink and chewing cookies.
I stood there shocked. He put down the can of malt he was holding on a tray and stood up. Tola came out of the kitchen grinning.
‘I’ve been trying your line for almost an hour now. I wanted to tell you about Kunle’s arrival.’ Tola said, after she hugged me.
‘Hello Tinuke.’ Kunle said.
I moved away from the door and stood behind the sofa by the refrigerator. Kunle wasn’t looking bad at all. He wore a white shirt which looked fitted on him and his trousers weren’t as big as I knew them to be. He looked really good even though his jaw was still tense and his eyes serious.
‘Hello Bro Kunle.’
‘I think I should leave you guys to talk. Let go and see how my moi-moi is doing.’ Tola said and left the living room.
I came around to sit on the sofa, still stunned for words. TV.
‘Tinuke, you have changed.’
‘How did you know I stay here?’ I asked, curious.
‘Let’s say your mum was willing to help me save whatever pieces of our relationship was left. She gave me your friend’s number and here I am.’
I turned to Kunle. ‘What exactly do you want?’
Kunle chuckled, his eyes fixed on the phone I was holding. ‘You now use an iphone. Hmm..you are a big girl now. But Tinuke, you have changed. Look at what you have on your head. Is it a wig or you fixed it to your hair? You now use make-up and shave your eyebrows. You paint your nails too? Where are those long skirts that covered your legs? Where is the holiness we started with when I first met you.’
I let out two quick breath. ‘Did you come all the way from Akure to say this?’
His countenance deepened. I could see he was trying to stay calm. ‘I thought I’d be able to talk you into coming back to Akure to continue what we started. I was ready to pay your bride price without any delay but I can see that there is nothing left of my Tinuke. She is already on her way to hell.’
My heart darkened as he spoke. Hell. I was on my way to hell? God was going to throw me into hell.
Kunle stood up. ‘I’m going back to Akure to tell them what I have seen. I charge you to repent and turn from your evil ways. When Lot’s wife turned back, she became a pillar of salt. A word is enough for the wise.’
I sat there long after he walked out of the house. For several minutes, I just sat there staring blankly into space. Tola came out with a tray of hot moi-moi.
‘Food is ready.’ She stopped when she saw the empty space where Kunle had been.
‘What happened? Where is he?’
‘He has gone.’ I left for the bedroom. Restless, I packed my toiletries and some dresses and informed Tola I’d be lodging in a hotel. I told her I had some thinking to do. As I left that evening, I felt like a hole had been carved out of my heart with a hot iron rod. I felt empty.
Settled in the hotel room, I ordered for wine. I wanted something that’d pushed down my sorrow. The only time I had taken alcohol were the few sips with Ranti.
There is nothing wrong with Alcohol, Ranti would say. What the bible kicks against is drunkenness.
Kunle’s words came back. I was doomed for hell. A place I’d cry and weep forever. I’d always known that God hated me. It was clear now that I’ll always be on his bad side.
I woke up to find myself on the bathroom floor, holding an half-filled bottle of wine. I staggered towards the sink and splashed water on my face. The feeling of void returned. I lay on the bed and reached for my phone. There was a message from Patrick.
Tinuke, I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now but I sense in my heart to tell you that God loves you more than you can imagine. He is missing you and wants a real relationship with you.
I hissed and reached for the bottle and gulped down the remaining content. I called in sick and stayed on the bed the rest of the day. I wished Ranti was here to make me feel better. Sunday was just too far away.
Sunday finally came. Ranti had called me the night before from the airport. He couldn’t wait to see me. I was excited not just because of the surprise he had for me but because I’d missed the times we spent together. I missed sharing my heart with him. Ranti was a great listener. Even when I displayed tantrums, he remained calm. He’d taught me so many things about life and business. He was intelligent and smart. He was just the man I needed in my life.
Mercy slept over at the house and followed us to church that Sunday morning. It was her first time after two years of leaving for another assembly. She’d spent most of her teenage years in our church and knew everything that went on even though she now attended another assembly.
‘Bro Ranti must be a proud father. I saw the picture of Monica’s beautiful baby. He looks like the father. ’ Mercy said, as Tola sped out of the house.
I sat up when I heard Ranti’s name. Which Ranti were they talking about?
Tola hissed. ‘I don’t know why Monica had to end up with a man like that. She deserves someone better than that player. I still believe he married her for her money.’
Mercy shook her head. ‘The last time she called me, she was crying on the phone. I was close to tears myself. US is so faraway for my arms to reach her.’
Tola sighed. ‘We warned her. I showed her pictures of some of the ladies he’d slept with. She didn’t believe me.’
Mercy shrugged. ‘I’m happy for her. I believe the arrival of her new baby will distract her from all the plenty wahala. But I miss her.’
I couldn’t hold back my curiosity. ‘Please which Bro Ranti are you talking about?’
‘You may not know him. He drives a white Mitsubishi Pajero. He keeps an afro. He is tall with a very calm face.’
‘Calm koh, calm ni.’
My heart pounded. ‘What’s his surname?’
My heart stopped and then it started beating very fast. ‘You are saying he is married?’
‘Yes.’ Tola answered. ‘He married our friend. They’ve been married six years.’
I was ready to explode. Ranti was married? He has been playing me all along?
Tears stung my eyes. My body was hot with rage. Everything became clear. Now I understood why he had been pushing away the subject of marriage. I understood why he didn’t want me to see his apartment. While his wife was pregnant in the US, Ranti was frolicking with a side chick. Me. When I thought I’d finally met my man.
Ranti deceived me!
From where I sat in the church, I could see him sitting with his bible opened on his laps. He gave me a quick glance. I stared at him, my eyes fixed on his back.
You Monster, You messed with the wrong girl.
Episode 5 comes up next
Read: To love and to hold
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