Click here to read Episode 7
Mimi was attending to a customer when I entered the shop and went straight to her office. I turned on her laptop and began to work on a market survey collation for different baby products.
‘Are you okay?’ Mimi sat on the armrest of the sofa, her palm gently rubbing my back. I nodded but didn’t look up.
I could hear cries of babies coming from a distance. Mimi left the office when one of the sales girls called her.
She was back an hour later while I tapped hard on the keyboard looking for more work to do even though there was nothing else to do.
Mimi moved the laptop away from the table but I stared at the place where the laptop had been.
‘Whenever you work like a force is driving you, I know something is wrong. Spill.’
‘I met my father today.’
‘Mimi gasped. ‘Oh, that’s interesting. How did that happen?’
‘Remember Shade, the lady I said fired me because Monica wanted me out of that company?’
‘Yes I remember. She came to the house asking that you take up the job again.’
I nodded. ‘Today, I discovered that my estranged father is the owner of the company. Shade is my step-sister.’
Mimi eyes widened. ‘This is incredible! So you’ve been working for your father?’
‘Mimi, that’s not even what is driving me nuts. It is the fact that I gave my body to a man who got a job for me in a company that I would rightly have been part of without his help. I am angry at myself for the way things turned out. If I had stayed back at the boutique, Yetunde would have found dad and I’d have just left the boutique honorably for my father’s company. The things I chased would have come without going through those horrible experiences.’
‘Tinuke, you cannot change the past.’
‘But it doesn’t change the fact that I was stupid. I am just a disgusting and useless-’
‘Stop talking that way! What is wrong with you. Who doesn’t have a past?’
Tears tickled down my face. ‘Mimi, you don’t understand. Ranti dealt mercilessly with me. There was a day he threw a chair at me and it went straight to my chest. I thought I would die that day. I went to work with bruises on my face. Monica embarrassed me in front of the big mouthed Cynthia. Obviously, everybody in that office knows that I was Ranti’s chic. I lost my dignity, my reputation, everything. Yet all the while, my father had access to all the things I so badly wanted.’
‘You have to forgive yourself. Leave the past where it belongs Tinuke. You’ve been handed a new slate.’
I wiped the tears with the back of my hand. ‘I have to go back to Akure. Coming to Lagos was a mistake. Please can I get paracetamol?’
Mimi left the office and returned with a bottle of water and a sachet of paracetamol. I popped open two tablets from the sachet and swallowed them.
When I was done, I placed my head on the table. Memories of my childhood returned. My father putting me to sleep. Me sneaking to the door of my parent’s room as they argued fiercely. My mother crying after my father walked out of the house nights after their arguments, Dad telling me stories of princes in big houses while Yetunde slept on his laps.
Why does life have to be so difficult?
We rode home in silence after work. As we got close to the house, a text message from Patrick entered my phone.
I thought I’d wait to say this until I see you but I can’t just hold this anymore. I love you Tinuke. When I think about you and the times we spent together, my heart wells up with joy.
I stared at the message. Patrick loves me? How was I supposed to respond to that? I love you too? Patrick was my best friend, but couldn’t we just stay that way? Love was complicated. Men are quick to say words they don’t mean. You give them your heart and their real nature shows up.
‘I think the girls are around.’ Mimi said as she drove into the compound. Tola’s car was parked in the compound. Funmi’s car stood beside hers. I exhaled. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Why did they have to come today of all days?
When we entered, the living room was empty but I heard voices coming out of my room. Mimi opened the door to my room and right there on my bed sat Tola, Funmi and Mercy giggling like little kids. There was a wedding gown spread out on one side of the bed.
We hugged. I tried to push aside my depressing thoughts and join in the flow.
Mimi clapped and held up the gown. ‘Our beautiful wedding gown has arrived. This is so beautiful.’
Tola laughed. ‘Thank you ma. I can’t believe I’m getting married!’
‘Yes o! Finally!’ Funmi exclaimed.
‘Mimi, can I wear it for you to see. Wale insist I show the gown to you.’
Mimi smiled. ‘I love it already. But you can wear it.’
Tola looked radiant in that gown and a pang of jealousy hit my chest. She deserves it, I concluded. While she stayed chaste, I was busy spreading my legs for a man who made me his sex slave. I don’t deserve a good man. I imagined Patrick proposing to Mercy. They’ll do well together, I thought.
‘Tinuke, you are not saying anything.’ Mercy said.
‘Oh.’ I brought my thoughts back. Tola was standing in front of the mirror. I stood behind her.
‘You are beautiful. Wale is so fortunate to have a beautiful damsel like you.’ I whispered into my friend’s ears.
‘Thank you.’ Tola smiled.
When I retired to bed that night. I read Patrick’s message again and replied.
Patrick, please can we stay away from each other for a while. Thanks
He called immediately but I allowed it ring, unable to bring myself to speak with him. He called the next day. I ignored his calls.
A week later, I woke up with a strong desire to talk to Patrick. I was missing him badly.
I had a conversation with myself as I paced the room that morning.
‘Tinuke, what is wrong with you. Where is this feeling for Patrick coming from? Haven’t you learnt your lesson? Affliction shall not rise a third time! Receive sense please.’
But the feelings wouldn’t go away. As I washed the dishes later that evening, Mimi dropped a dirty tray on the sink.
‘How are you feeling today?’
‘I’m not fine! I’m still trying to get over reconnecting with dad and now I’m having feelings for Patrick. Mimi, can you see that something is wrong with me?’
Mimi laughed. ‘Patrick.’
I stared at her. ‘Mimi. I’m saying something serious here and you are laughing. It’s not fair.’
She placed her hand on my shoulders.
‘While I was praying for you this morning, the Lord gave me a word for you.’
I stopped washing and fixed my gaze on Mimi. I wanted so badly to have someone be God’s mouthpiece.
‘For all who have entered into God’s rest have ceased from his own works even as God did from his. Enter into God’s rest Tinuke. You are stressing yourself out. Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. My dear sister, stop fighting whatever God is doing. Surrender.’
I stood there, pondering over Mimi’s words.
Lord, please teach me how to rest. Help me please.
Patrick came to Mimi’s house that weekend. We had just finished our morning devotion and bro Femi was narrating how his visit to his father had gone and how stubborn he was by rejecting Christ. The knock took us by surprise. What could anyone be looking for so early on a Saturday morning.
‘Patrick, who chased you down here? It’s not even 8a.m yet. Is everything alright?’ Bro Femi said, as he let Patrick in. My heart pounded in my chest. Patrick wore a serious expression on his face. I turned my eyes away when he glanced my way.
‘Good morning sir. I’m sorry to show up unannounced. I came to see Tinuke.’
I avoided Patrick’s eyes and fixed my attention on Mimi’s husband. He looked at Patrick and then at me.
‘Why are you staring at me. Patrick came to see you and you are looking at me as if you’ve never seen me before.’ Bro Femi said.
When I still would not look at Patrick, he stood up. ‘Two of you, just go and settle your issues. I’m going to my room.’
Mimi tapped me after her husband disappeared into the room. ‘Go and get dressed.’
I went in to take my bath. I must confess, seeing Patrick made my heart jump for joy. It was as if something leaped out of my stomach at the sight of him.
Patrick didn’t say anything as we left the house but when we got into the car, he pinched me and I couldn’t hold back the laughter. He kept pinching me even when I told him to stop. After I pinched him hard and threatened to bite him, he stopped and made a face at me. We hugged. He pinched me again before starting the car. He was upset that I’d not picked his call since he sent that message and I was uncomfortable with his declaration of love but at that moment, all we thought of was how much we’ve missed each other.
‘Tinuke, I’m sorry I sent such a heavy message via text.’ Patrick said as we settled on one of the slabs in Tara Gardens.
‘Everything I said in that message is true. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’
‘But Patrick, why? You know my history, you know everything about me. Why will you choose me?’
‘Because I love you.’
‘I still don’t understand.’
‘Do you have feelings for me? I mean, do you feel the same way I feel for you?’
I sighed. ‘Patrick, I-’
‘No explanations. Just answer my question.’
‘Yes. I do. But I’m afraid.’
‘You are afraid of me?’
‘Patrick please can we talk about something else.’
‘No, we talk about this now. If we are going to have a beautiful family, we must learn never to sweep any issue under the carpet. Communication is how we’ll roll in this relationship.’
I rolled my eyes. ‘I’ve not accepted your proposal, have I?’
‘Tinuke, why are you afraid?’
‘I’m scared you will change to something horrible. I know you are a good person. I just don’t know how to process a beautiful future with a man. I feel like men will shed love and affection for cruelty once they get what they want.’
‘Ranti has really messed with your mind.’
‘Patrick, I’m sorry.’
He reached for my hand across the table.
‘Talk to God about my proposal. He is your father. I’ll respect whatever response you give to me. if you want me to give you breathing space to figure this out, I’ll be glad to do so.’
‘Thank you Patrick. You are so different. We are still friends right?’
He smiled. ‘Definitely.’
We left the restaurant early in the evening. Patrick had set his alarm for 6p.m. The last thing we wanted was a repeat of the last incident when we got reprimanded for returning late.
As we drove out of the restaurant, I narrated the meeting I had with my father. I told him how I felt and all the thoughts running through my head. It was so easy pouring my heart to Patrick. When we pulled in front of Mimi’s house, he faced me.
‘Tinuke, you are a beautiful and strong woman. You don’t look any bit what you’ve been through. You have to believe that now that you are following Jesus, he is guiding you every step of the way. If you don’t believe, you won’t see any healing in your emotions. As the Holy Spirit sheds his love abroad in your heart, receive it and give it room to explore. When that happens, forgiveness will be easy. Right now, you need to forgive yourself and forgive dad.’
My heart cut at those words.
‘Patrick pray with me, please pray with me.’
Patrick held my hands. He asked God to place in me such love that goes beyond knowledge. He prayed for the grace to forgive. He asked God to heal my emotions and set my feet on solid ground.
‘Amen.’ I responded.
As we walked into the house, Patrick talked about his students and the little group that met at his house for bible study but I wasn’t listening. I just kept staring at him convinced he was the most handsome man on the earth. I wanted to say, ‘yes, I’ll marry you.’ but somewhere in my heart, fear roared.
Wale was in the living room with his brother when we entered. Tola came out of the kitchen holding a food warmer. Mimi followed with a tray. When Tola dropped the warmer on the dinning table, she came around to hug me.
‘Where have you been since morning?’ Tola said.
I chuckled. ‘I’ve been out with Patrick.’
‘Ehn…this our friendship. It is well o. Let it not be that I will just see wedding card, Tinuke weds Patrick. It will not be funny.’
I covered her mouth. ‘Keep quiet joor.’ When I glanced at Patrick, he smiled. It was obvious he heard. He turned to greet Mimi who was now walking towards the men.
‘You are staying for dinner.’ Mimi announced to Patrick.
Patrick laughed. ‘I’d be glad to stay for dinner ma’am. What bachelor will not grab free food.’
Even though Patrick had moved to Ibadan, he still had about four months left before his rent expired.
I followed Tola into the kitchen. The aroma made my stomach churn. Tola dished out the edikaikong soup while I served fried goat meat.
The discussion over dinner wasn’t what I expected. It left me flushed a little.
‘I remember how Mojisola and I almost had sex before our wedding night.’ Bro Femi started. I noticed our beloved brothers, Wale and Patrick, sat up. I smiled and chewed the meat in my mouth.
‘Is Mimi also Mojisola?’ I whispered to Tola.
Tola nodded. ‘Mimi is like the nickname we call her.’
‘Moji was already getting frustrated because my dad refused consenting to our union.’ Bro Femi continued. ‘He was angry because I followed Christ instead of joining their fraternity. When Moji didn’t pick my calls, I was so scared of losing her. I went to her house. She was crying and I had to hold her. Her head fell to my shoulder and my body did gbim! gbim!’
Wale coughed. Tola and I sighed. Patrick was listening with rapt attention. I wanted to hit Patrick on his back and say, ‘Kilode, you too like gist.’
‘So what happened?’ Patrick asked.
The couple looked at each other and smiled.
Bro Femi winked at his wife who continued from where Bro Femi stopped.
‘I knew if I raised my head from his shoulder, we were going to kiss and that could lead us to something we didn’t plan for. We were so vulnerable at that point. So I let my head stay on his shoulder.’
Bro Femi shook his head. ‘Mehn, Emotions are strong. I actually lifted her head from my shoulder and if not for the child that screamed from the next room, I’m not sure we’d have had the strength to keep our hands off each other.’
Mimi fed her husband a piece of dry fish. I imagine doing same to Patrick.
‘Because I live in a face-me-i-face-you house, my chair, bed and everything were in one room.’ Mimi said.
Wale laughed. ‘Ah! see temptation.’
Patrick glanced at me before returning his attention to Bro Femi. That look said, ‘are you listening? We have to be very careful.’
‘The second time we were close to having sex, we were in Femi’s place.’ Mimi said. ‘I felt since he had a living room, we would be more conscious. But Femi likes to play ehn. Forget the stern look he carries around, my husband can play. But on this day, we just ended up playing and tickling each other and an alarm rang in my head when I felt his hand opening the button of my shirt. We were right on Femi’s rug in the living room.’
Bro Femi shook his head. ‘I was so angry with myself that day. That was not the first time Moji would come to my house. I’d been able to control myself. Why now?’
Mimi smiled. ‘That day we decided we were going to only meet in public places. If I had to be in his house, there must be a third party.’
None of us said anything for a long time. It was as if silence was part of the conversation.
Femi turned to Wale. ‘Now is the time to be more careful. There is a possibility for you to think you can handle sexual temptation because your wedding is close. The devil never rests. Be at alert.’ Bro Femi turned the other way where Patrick and I sat.
‘If you discover that every time you are alone together, it’s so difficult to keep your hands away off each other, avoid places where you can easily be tempted. Don’t wait until emotions are on fire before making deliberate decisions. That fall into sexual immorality did not start the moment your clothes went off.’
‘A word is enough for the wise.’ Mimi added.‘ Let’s finish our meal.’
Bro Femi talked about other things while I concentrated on my meal. When I raised my head, Patrick was staring at me. I rolled my eyes at him and chewed the meat in my mouth slowly. He smiled and turned his gaze away from me.
I called Yetunde that night after I showered. We had not spoken since I walked out of Shade’s house.
‘I thought you were never going to talk to me again.’ Yetunde said.
‘Why shouldn’t I? I just needed time to process the news.’
‘I’ll be travelling to Akure tomorrow.’
‘You mean you’ve been in Lagos all this while?’
‘Yes. Tinuke, mum’s in the hospital. The doctor is saying they’ll have to amputate her leg.’
I sat down, shocked. ‘But they operated on that leg after the accident. What happened again?’
‘We don’t understand. Dad has booked an appointment with a doctor here in Lagos. An ambulance will be going to Akure to pick mummy tomorrow. But I’ll be going in a separate car with Dad’s driver. Can we go together?’
I hesitated. ‘Sure. But why didn’t mum tell me this when I called her last week?’
Yetunde ignored my question. ‘Tinuke. I really wish you could get to know Dad, he’s a wonderful man.’
‘Does Mum know about this?’
We left for Akure early the following morning. Yetunde and I sat at the back seat of a white Mercedes-Benz while the ambulance sped in front of us. It’d be my first time back in Akure since I came into Lagos. The thought of going back to Akure left me with mixed feelings.
At the hospital, mum was wheeled out and carried into the ambulance. Before the paramedics shut the van, she smiled at me and said, ‘Thank you for taking care of me, Tinuke.’
Mum obviously thought I paid for the treatment. When I looked at Yetunde, she just shrugged.
‘I’m going with mum.’ Gbenga announced.
He dipped his hand into my bag and pulled out my purse before I could protest. He got out four one thousand naira notes from my purse and jumped into the ambulance.
‘I’ll be staying back in Akure for some days.’ I said, after the ambulance disappeared out of sight.
Yetunde moved towards the Mercedes-benz. ‘I’ll have to leave now. I need to be with mum at the hospital.’
I nodded. ‘I understand.’
The house was empty when I walked in later that day. The old chairs were still where they were when I left there. But the dining chairs had been replaced. There was also a Nexus deep freezer close to the entrance of the kitchen.
My room was sparkling clean. The bed was made. Clothes neatly arranged in the wardrobe. Books piled up on the table. Yetunde was still the neat freak I’ve always known her to be.
I placed my knapsack on the bed and brought out my laptop. I played music, listened to sermons and prayed. I read scriptures, jotted down the things God was saying to me. It was interesting being away from the buzz of Lagos.
I stayed on the bed for a long time and by the time I stood up from the bed, it was almost midnight.
I was hungry and went into the kitchen to look for what to eat. There was nothing to eat. I opened the freezer. Nothing interested me. I shut it close and returned to the room. I had brought some chocolates and cans of malt. I settled for those while I listened to another sermon. It wasn’t until 3a.m that I was able to catch some sleep.
I saw Kunle the following evening on my way to the factory. I was about crossing the road when someone called my name. I turned and saw Kunle standing with a woman whose round stomach was slightly showing behind her long gown.
This must be his wife, I thought. I had seen her from the wedding picture Yetunde showed me.
‘Brother Kunle.’ I said, kneeling slightly. I knew how Kunle liked it when I greeted him that way.
He grinned and quickly pulled his wife closer to him, their faces touching. Why he did that, I can’t say. But I was not moved.
‘I didn’t know you are around.’ Kunle said.
‘I came in yesterday. This is your wife?’
He nodded and pecked the woman. ‘Yes this is my beautiful wife.’
I was sincerely happy for him. ‘Nice.’
The woman stood there like a robot. She didn’t say, ‘Hello Tinuke.’ or ‘Good afternoon.’ I wasn’t surprised anyway. Back at school, she had always been very introverted, and you’d rarely notice her at the fellowship.
Kunle leaned close to his wife. ‘Go inside the church and wait for me.’
She smiled and left. Kunle thrust his hand into his pocket.
‘Look at what you missed, Tinuke. This is suppose to be your life.’ He pointed at the building behind him. It was an uncompleted two storey building but the ground floor had been plastered and in front of the building was written, FIRE FOR FIRE DELIVERANCE AND MIRACLE CHURCH.’
‘My church is growing. We are almost done completing the building. I wish you listened to me, Tinuke. We would have done wonders for the Lord together.’
‘Bro Kunle, I’m happy for you. This is what you always wanted.’
‘When are you getting married?’
We were now walking towards my house. I’d changed my mind about going to the factory and was returning home. Right there, I realized that I couldn’t stay in Akure. This was not where God wanted me to be.
I miss Lagos. I miss sitting in a board meeting and pulling out ideas. I miss sitting with clients, talking about their issues and proffering solutions. I suddenly felt nostalgic about returning to Lagos.
‘Who’s the brother?’ He asked. The very thought of Patrick made me smile.
‘He is a lecturer at the University of Ibadan and he is passionate about God.’
The smile disappeared from Kunle’s face. When we got to the house, I stood in front of him.
‘Kunle, you are the first man I ever loved. Thank you for your sacrifices.’
‘I still love you Tinuke. You are the only woman who makes my heart beat so fast.’
I laughed. ‘Brother Kunle, so you can say the word, love. This is interesting.’
He grinned. ‘That was the first thing my wife complained about. But why are women so weak? What does the word “I love you” add to your life? I’ve told her she won’t hear that word from my mouth again. I can’t stand weak women. It’s the reason I miss you. You can endure under any pressure. We were made for each other Tinuke.’
I smiled. ‘Life happens Bro Kunle. I’m glad you are pursing God’s call. I wish you all the best.’
He stood there staring at me. I didn’t know what else to say. I could see pain in his eyes. But I knew even if I wasn’t in love with Patrick, I still would not settle with Kunle.
Our thinking pattern, ideologies, outlook to life, dreams, goals differ greatly. We were like parallel lines, like oil and water.
Kunle turned away without saying goodbye. I watched him go, his shoulders slumped. He turned to look at me before continuing down the street. I knew right there that it would be a long time before we met again.
I got a message from dad that night.
Tinuke, I want to take you out on a date. Tomorrow. Yellow Spice Restaurant. 6p.m.
I pondered whether or not to accept the invite and finally decided to see Dad. Mum’s operation had been successful but the doctor had said she’d have to stay back in the hospital for a while.
Dad was in the restaurant when I got there. He looked so cute in a black jacket and jeans. After we ordered, Dad leaned forward, his eyes boring into mine.
‘I miss my daughter.’
The anger I felt for him abandoning us had disappeared. I was upset that I wasn’t angry anymore. Why couldn’t I rant like the way I did when I first saw him. Why can’t I just walk out and show dad how angry I was? Why should I just forgive him?
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
I sighed, pushing my fork around my salad.
‘Why did you leave us?’
He hesitated. ‘I was in love with Funke long before I met your mum.’
‘Who’s Funke? Shade’s mum?’
He nodded. ‘We went to different schools but we found a way to see each other even though her father didn’t approve of our relationship. When I graduated from secondary school, I took up apprenticeship with an electrician because there was no money to proceed to the university. Funke was in SS2 then and we still met every afternoon.
‘When she left secondary school, she got admission into the university of Ibadan and her parents moved to the north. I proceeded to the Federal Polytechnic, ile oluji.’
‘Was that where you met mum?’
‘Yes. Your mum lived in the same compound with me. She always brought food to my room. She liked me a lot but Funke was all I thought of. Twice every month, I travelled to see Funke in school. Until one day, her father walked into her apartment and right there I was, on her bed in boxers. They got police to arrest me. I was flogged so badly. I returned to the school and decided It was over with Funke. That was how your mother and I got intimate. She moved into my room that semester.’
‘But mum never got to finish HND.’
‘Yes, she had to stop schooling because there was no money. The little money I got from repairs went to food and my school fees. Things became difficult when I began my HND and your mum was pregnant with you. By the time I rounded up school, Yetunde had arrived. I went berserk when she announced she was pregnant with our third child some years later. Shortly after Gbenga was born, Funke returned to Akure for her father’s burial. That was when I discovered she had been pregnant.’
‘So, you didn’t know she was pregnant before Gbenga was born.’
He shook his head. ‘No I didn’t. I had completely cut off from her. She brought my daughter to the funeral and said she loved me and wanted me to come to Abuja where her father had some properties. She knew I loved business and for me it was an opportunity to pursue my dreams. Some weeks after she returned to Abuja, I told your mum I had a job to do for a client in Lagos. I never came back. I sent a letter to your mum telling her I wasn’t coming back.’
I stared hard at my dad. ‘That was really cruel of you to do. We were not important to you. Why do you want us back?’
‘I’m sorry. It was a mistake.’
‘We suffered dad. We went through hell.’
‘Tinuke, after I married Funke, I wanted to get back into your lives, but your mother refused. She wouldn’t even allow me talk to you.’
Tears stung my throat. ‘Why would she, after the way you ran off like that.’
‘I know. I don’t deserve your forgiveness or that of your mother. I was selfish to disappear like that. For years while I lived with your mother, I consumed lots and lots of old business magazines. I had these business ideas that I played with in my mind and when Funke presented that opportunity, I jumped at it. I take the blame for whatever has happened. Forgive me please.’
I sighed. ‘I forgive you but you have to get mum’s forgiveness too. You also have a son who needs you.’
‘Gbenga was at my place yesterday. We had a long talk.’
‘That leaves mum then.’
‘I’m hoping I’ll be able to talk to her. I messed up.’
The waitress cleared the table and returned with dessert. The ice-cream was thickly covered with nuts and milk chocolate. I scooped a spoonful of ice-cream to my mouth and relished the way it melted on my tongue. When I grinded the nuts with the cream, I was taken to another realm. It tasted heavenly.
‘For goodness sake, what did they put in this ice-cream.’
My father watched me, smiling.
‘Shade told you I was fired right?’ I asked, when I had emptied the cup of ice-cream.
He nodded. ‘When she did, I was not happy at all. I didn’t even know you were my daughter but the report I got on the deals you landed was astounding. I told her if Monica decides to pull out, so be it. We can’t be puppets to anyone. I wanted her to find you and bring you back to head the finance department.
‘Then one day, I was going through a file and I saw your name, which I already knew but the surname was one I was familiar with. I’m not sure if your mum told you, but she had insisted you bear her father’s name until I pay the bride price. That day, I asked myself, could this be my daughter? I asked Shade to send me your picture and other details. I shouted when I saw your picture. You are a younger version of your mother. You took my fire though.’
I chuckled. ‘That knack for business. It had to be from you.’
‘Tinuke, please come back to your company.’
My company. That sounds sweet. ‘I need some time to think through this.’
The hospital where mum had been admitted was somewhere in Ikoyi. At first I was confused if I was in a wrong address. It looked more like a hotel than a hospital until I saw some nurses at the reception. I asked directions to mum’s ward. A pretty nurse led me down a narrow hallway and into a room.
The room looked nothing like the hospital rooms I’d seen. It was cozy. There was a flat screen, a fridge, and the bed was big. My mum looked like a queen lying on that bed.
Yetunde was sitting on the bed, while my brother sat beside her. Their faces were drawn. Mum’s face was smeared with tears. I panicked.
‘What’s going on here?’
‘She knows dad paid for her treatment. She is mad at us.’ Gbenga said.
I sat on the edge of the bed. ‘Mum, you have to forgive dad. Please let it go. Please.’
Mum sat up and I quickly placed a pillow against her back.
‘After everything I did for you. Where was your father when we slept out in the cold. Where was he when I had to go hungry for days so you could eat? Where was he three months after Gbenga was born and I was left to take care of all of you. I can’t believe you did this to me. How could you accept a man who left us for another woman.’ She lay back on the bed and faced the wall.
We surrounded her. I placed my hand on her shoulder while Yetunde kept planting kisses on her palms. My brother Gbenga drew lines with the finger on her bandaged leg.
‘Mum, we love you and we will never forget the sacrifices you made for us. But we can’t deny we have a father.’ I said in low tones.
Mum turned sharply, eyes moist. She stared at me a long time and faced the wall again.
‘Dad is here. He wants to see you.’ I announced.
Gbenga’s eyes lit up. He broke into a smile but the smile quickly disappeared when he saw my mother’s eyes fixed on him.
‘I don’t want to ever set my eyes on him! I want to go back to Akure.’
Yetunde touched my mum’s ears. ‘Please, just hear dad out.’
‘I said No. Can someone just get me out of this place.’
‘The doctor said, you can’t leave until next week.’
‘I don’t want to see him.’ My mother repeated. ‘Yetunde, return the 2 million naira. Tell him he can’t buy me with his money.’
I stood up and went out to meet my father who was sitting at the reception.
I shook my head. ‘She doesn’t want to see you. She is already mad at us for contacting you.’
‘I understand. Please can I pay a sum into your account monthly for her upkeep. I just don’t know how to make things right.’
‘What’s your wife’s reaction to all these?’ I asked as we stepped out of the reception.
‘She is concerned too. I keep her informed with every progress.’
Dad reached into the car and pulled out an envelope from a folder.
‘Can you give this to your mother. I poured out my heart into the letter.’ I took it from him. ‘Tinuke, let me know if you need anything.’
‘Can I hug you?’
I nodded. He pulled me into his arms. Tears welled up in my eyes.
‘I love you. Thank you for giving me another chance.’
I waited till the jeep pulled out of the compound. When I returned to the room, my siblings were singing for my mother. I joined in and we began to tell stories from our childhood. Mum was still facing the wall, but she was smiling. That made me happy. No matter what, our mother’s sacrifices will always remain in a safe place in our hearts.
The police officer who had kept me up to date on Adunni’s case called me on my way back to Mimi’s house. Judgement would be delivered the following morning. He didn’t think Adunni would get away with the murder of her husband. She had pleaded guilty to poisoning her husband.
I stayed up all night and prayed. During the devotion, my mentor raised a prayer on her behalf. We asked God to intervene and make this easy for her.
I went alone to court that morning. My heart cried when Adunni was brought into the court room, handcuffed.
Memories of the night in the cell room returned. Her emotional abuse by her husband, the mockeries by her mother-in-law when she couldn’t conceive, her conversion.
Our eyes met as she was led to the dock. She smiled and there were tears in her eyes. My eyes were filled with tears too.
Lord, please show her mercy.
Final episode comes up next week.
Read: For better or Worse