Click here to read Episode 1
‘Hey, what are you thinking about?’
Femi raised his head to find his sister standing at the door. He glanced at the clock on the wall. It was noon already? Had he been sitting there for so long?
He rubbed his hand over his face and stretched out his legs on the stool in front of him.
God, please I want to stop thinking about Tomi. I can’t continue like this.
His sister left her handbag on the center table and settled into the sofa opposite him. She crossed her legs and leaned her elbow on the armrest.
‘You’ve not answered my question. Since you came back from work two days ago, you’ve been like this. What bothering you?’
Femi shrugged. ‘Nothing.’ His eyes stopped at her mini gown that barely covered her thighs. ‘Bukola, where are you coming from?’
She stood up. ‘I’ve told you to stop mothering me.’
‘You didn’t sleep at home last night.’
Bukola grabbed her bag to go into her room but Femi quickly blocked her path.
‘I’m begging you to stop sleeping with men for money. God has been faithful to us. He’ll take care of us.’
Bukola tucked back a strand of her braid behind her ear. ‘I’m an adult okay? I had enough of this from mum. Please don’t take over from her.’
‘You can get something else to do.’
She folded her hands. ‘Like what? I don’t have a degree. Who will employ me? See, I need the money. How do we get by with the stipend you receive from your job.’
‘If you’ll just live within your means and stop buying expensive clothes and makeups, we’ll be fine.’
Bukola tipped her chin slightly. ‘What I do with my life is not your business. I’m no good to anyone after all. I have a spillover of courses that I can’t just pass. There is nothing that I put my hands to do that prospers. Abeg Femi, just leave me alone.’
Femi sighed and stepped aside. When Bukola got to the door of her room, she turned to her brother who was now back on the sofa.
‘Why didn’t you go to work today?’
‘My boss and his wife flew out of the country yesterday. They’ll be away for a month or so. Besides, mum will be buried in a couple of weeks. There’s enough time to plan the burial arrangement and see that she is laid to rest properly.’
Bukola hissed. ‘I don’t feel like going to that village. I hate mummy’s family. When she was alive, they didn’t even care about us especially when dad left. Now she is dead they all show up wanting a befitting burial. Crazy lot.’
Femi glanced at her. ‘We should be grateful they are helping us with the expenses for the burial. Imagine that we had to raise that kind of amount.’
‘Whatever.’ Bukola said and entered her room.
Few minutes later, Bukola came out of the room in a blue tank top and jean knicker.
‘I’m hungry. I want to prepare rice and stew.’ Bukola announced without looking at her brother.When she didn’t wait for his response before entering the kitchen, Femi wondered if he had pushed too hard. He had been frustrated that she was following his mother’s step and didn’t want that to happen.
His mother’s last words were still fresh in his mind. She had fixed her gaze on Bukola, her hands immobile by her side.
‘Bukky, please don’t walk in my footsteps. I am already mad at myself for creating a replica of me in you.’ His mother said, in a voice barely above a whisper.
‘You’ll come to hate yourself for allowing men use your body to satisfy their lusts. I was a bitter woman, determined to take marriages down. I was jealous when I saw marriages soaring while mine was in shambles. I hated to see anyone around me happy. It drove in me a passion to destroy them. The people who loved me dearly will only remember me for evil. Be like your brother. Turn your hurts to Jesus. I wish I did this long ago.’ She stopped and coughed. Her breathing slowed. She closed her eyes and faced the wall. Then she was gone.
Femi wiped the tears already gathering in his eyes. This was not a time to cry. There’d be enough time to shed tears at the village. He tapped his phone to check his mailbox.
His heart dampened. None of the jobs he had applied for had called him for an interview. Was there something he was not doing well? He opened his notebook and wrote out the list of videos to watch on Youtube.
How to write a powerful CV that gets noticed by employers.
7 ways to hit a well-paying job
10 things to do when you are unemployed.
Reasons no one is hiring me.
Why can’t I get a-
The knock on the door stooped him. He covered the notebook and went to answer it. When he opened the door. Rotimi, his best friend was standing there, grinning.
‘Hello buddy.’ Rotimi said, as he entered the house.
Femi slapped him on his back. ‘Good to see you again. It’s been like three weeks.’
Rotimi sat down. ‘Don’t mind me jare. I’ve had so much gigs in the last couple of weeks. Developed a website, did some programming work for a company. Just plenty stuff like that.’ He leaned forward. ‘Omo, I had to run down here when I saw your message last night.’
Femi sat beside his friend. ‘Yes o. Tomi is back. I was shocked when she walked into my boss’ house two days ago.’
Rotimi reclined on the sofa. ‘I wish I could meet this Tomi. Since I’ve known you, no other lady has fascinated you. This Tomi lady must really mean something.’
Femi exhaled. ‘I don’t even know if waiting for her is stupid. She might be in a relationship. What if she is not even interested in me?’
‘Now is the time to find out. It’s getting too long Femi. She’s been hanging around your mind for how many years? Now that she is back, I think you should make a move. At least know where you stand.’
Femi clasped his hands. ‘I’m scared. I’m scared of hearing a No. It’ll break my heart if she slips away from me. I’m not sure I can survive seeing her in another man’s arms.’
Rotimi pointed a finger at him. ‘Now, you are indulging the flesh. Love does not demand its own way. If she marries another man, who says God can’t lead you to someone else?’
‘But I heard God. Rotimi, I’m sure of my convictions.’
Bukola peeked out of the kitchen and smiled when she saw Rotimi. She waved at him. He waved back. She returned to the kitchen and Rotimi turned his attention back to his friend.
‘I’m not doubting your convictions. I’m saying it takes two to get into a marriage covenant. If for whatever reason she goes on to be with another person, then it’s her choice. When I told Esther about the way I felt and she said no, I respected her decision and went back to God. Chidera is in my life now and I’m so grateful to God for bringing a woman like her my way. Femi, our trust in God is the only constant equation.’
Femi laughed dryly. ‘Love can make someone crazy.’
‘So when are you going to pop the question?’
Femi chuckled. ‘She just got back. I should give her sometime and then we’ll see how it goes from there.’
‘I strongly believe her return is God’s mercy to bring an answer to the longing of your heart. It’s time for you to move forward.’
Femi nodded his head. ‘I believe so too. Thank you Rotimi.’
Bukola came out of the kitchen with a tray of rice and stew. She placed the tray on the center table. The men stared at the meal without touching it.
Rotimi smiled. ‘Bukola, I’m not hungry. Thank you.’
Femi shook his head. ‘Maybe later.’
Angry, she took the tray and walked back briskly into the kitchen. Rotimi went after her with Femi following behind. Bukola dropped the tray on the sink and spun around to face them.
‘You guys have no right to judge me. I know what you think. I prepared this food with tainted money. Just take your holier than thou attitude and get out of my sight! I am a prostitute, yes! You are better than me. I accept it. If the money had come from Femi’s pocket, I’m sure you’d have accepted the food.’ Tears filled her eyes.
Rotimi held her hands. ‘This has nothing to do with you. Femi and I are spending the evening praying. We can’t eat anything until we are done.’
Femi just stood at the kitchen door watching as Rotimi pulled his sister into his arms. Chidera was blessed to have a husband like him. He smiled remembering the day Joshua was born. Watching his friend hold his son had left a deep longing in his heart.
Lord, I’m going to have a beautiful family with Tomi. Hasten to fulfil your word, Oh Lord.
Tomi walked down her street, holding a bible in one hand and with the other hand held a phone to her ear.
‘Tomi, you mean you moved all your things to Ado-Ekiti without telling me?’
Tomi hesitated. Daniel had every reason to be upset. But if she’d told him before leaving, he’d have talked her out of it.
‘I still have some of my belongings in Lagos.’
‘Can I ever understand you? How could you take a decision without involving me? Besides what are you doing there? Can’t you even think before making a rash decision? I’ve always told you, smart women use their brain not their emotions. When we get married, are you now going to move your things back to Lagos?’
Tomi fought back her tears. Why does Daniel always talk to her like a child whenever he wasn’t comfortable with a decision she made.
‘Daniel, I just need some time to think. Lagos is choking the hell out of me.’
‘I agree with you. We all need breathing spaces in our lives. That’s why companies have retreats. Taking a few days off your business is perfectly fine but closing your work studio and moving out of a place like Lagos seem foolish to me.’
Daniel’s words cut through Tomi’s heart. Her heart has been at rest since returning home. Had she really acted foolishly?
God, you asked me to come home. Did I make a mistake? What exactly is your plan for me here.
‘Daniel, I’m really sorry.’
‘Have you told your parents about our plans for the wedding introduction.’
Tomi sighed. ‘Not yet. Can we wait for another couple of months? I just need some time to pray and think about the future.’
‘Time, Tomi. Time. You are really asking me to give you time. I’ll call you back. I have to take this important call.’
The line went dead.
When Tomi entered the house, the sitting room was packed full of women. Her mother was one of the cell leaders under the women’s department. Tomi had completely forgotten that they held their meetings every Wednesday evening. She walked quietly to her room, overhearing her mother preach on love and forgiveness.
Daniel came into Ado that weekend.
‘You didn’t tell me you were coming.’ Tomi said.
‘Just like you didn’t inform me you were moving to Ado. I’m somewhere around old garage. Meet me at the eatery opposite Tobas filling station.’
When he ended the call, Tomi stood for a while in the center of her room, holding a mopstick.
Had Daniel missed her so much that he had to travel down from Lagos to see her? She smiled and placed the mop stick into a bucket before dragging it aside. She rushed into the bathroom, showered and began to rummage her wardrobe for a dress to wear.
Her sister entered the room with a broom in her hand. Beads of sweat covered her forehead.
‘Where are you going to?’
Tomi jumped excitedly. ‘You won’t believe it. Daniel is around. I’m so excited to see him. I just realized how much I’ve missed him.’
Ayo left the broom at the entrance ‘See someone that said she cannot marry Daniel.’
‘Don’t mind me jare. Sometimes when I wear my emotions on my sleeve, I just spill rubbish out of my mouth.’
‘I’m happy you guys are getting back together.’
Tomi pulled out some dresses from the hanger. ‘We are still fighting but I’m sure we’ll get that settled today. For Daniel to come all the way down to Ado to see me, that’s something. He really wants to make this work.’ She held up two dresses. ‘Which should I wear?’
‘The navy blue. Let me wash my hands. I’ll arrange your hair and get you ready for your date. When Daniel sees you, all the anger will evaporate.’
Ayo got to work. She rubbed oil on her sister’s weavon and combed it slowly. When she finished, she took the foundation and slowly smeared it on Tomi’s face.
The door was slightly opened. Tomi’s mother pushed it backwards and stepped in.
‘What’s going on here?’
‘Your daughter has a date.’ Ayo stepped back to admire her work. ‘Mum, Is she not beautiful?’
‘Even without all the mud you are plastering on her face, she is a beautiful princess. Which date are you talking about?’
Ayo reached into the wardrobe for a bottle of perfume. She sprayed it behind Tomi’s ears, the back of her neck and on her wrists.
‘Daniel is around. Wait sef, why am I the one talking.’ She pushed her sister gently. ‘Speak for yourself jare.’
Tomi held her lips firmly to allow the pink gloss spread evenly across her lips. She released her lips and turned to her mother.
‘Daniel is in Ado. The guy don miss me die.’ Tomi laughed and rose to her feet. Ayo dropped a pair of black heels in front of her sister’s feet.
Tomi shook her head. ‘It’s too high abeg. Give me something lower. I prefer flat sandal.’
‘You and who is wearing flat.’ Ayo reached for a silver shoe. Tomi slid her feet into the shoes.
‘But why isn’t he coming to see us?’ Tomi’s mother asked, her eyes staring admiringly at her daughter.
Tomi smiled. ‘You’ll meet him soon. I might even convince him to come over after our date.’
‘He had better show up here o. He cannot just land in Ado and disappear like that. Let him come and try our pounded yam and correct efo soup. Convince him.’
‘Mummy relax. You will meet your future son-in-law.’
Tomi stood in front of the mirror. She loved what she saw. She was going to blow Daniel’s mind away.
‘I have to go. Bye.’ Tomi said, and hurried out of the room.
When she got into the eatery, Daniel’s head was bent over a book. Tomi was slightly upset that he wasn’t even looking out for her arrival. She walked over to the table and drew back the empty seat in front of him.
She sat down. ‘I’m sorry it took a while to get here. I was attending to some chores when your call came in.’
Daniel didn’t smile. He closed the book he was reading and sat straight.
‘You want something?’ He asked.
Had she upset him so much that he couldn’t even smile at her? If he gave her a long lecture here, she’d comfortably enjoy it. She’d do anything to make him happy.
‘Daniel, I’m sorry I-’
Daniel raised his hand. ‘Let’s eat something. I’m having a pie and a drink. You?’
Daniel stood up. Tomi’s eyes followed him as he walked to the counter. She was again swoon at the sight of him. She noticed how the jeans firmly hugged his thighs. His back was strong, his shoulders broad and strong muscles popped under his t-shirt. He walked with grace and confidence. This was a man who was sure of what he wanted to do with his life.
How can she lose a man like this?
‘Tomi, you are very stupid.’ Tomi muttered under her breath. ‘When will you stop acting like a child? You are going to be 26 in November. Grow up girl!’
How could she have made such a terrible decision. For goodness sake, she had clients who paid her good money for the clothes she made them. Just last month, Daniel had introduced her to a business consultant who wanted to take her brand to another level.
‘I’m going back to Lagos.’ Tomi said. She would convince Daniel to see her parents concerning the wedding introduction and promise him she’d be back in Lagos in a couple of days.
Daniel returned with two trays. Her heart leaped when his eyes met hers.
Smile, Daniel, please.
‘Ado hasn’t changed much.’ Daniel said, opening the bottle of coke.
Tomi chuckled, relief flooding her face. ‘You never told me you’ve been to Ado.’
A faint smile appeared on his lips. ‘It was a long time ago.’
‘Thank you for coming Daniel. I’m sorry I moved away from Lagos without informing you.’
Daniel gave her his full attention. His gaze filled her with warmth.
She continued. ‘Obviously, Leaving Lagos was a wrong move. I didn’t even think of how you’d feel. I’m sorry. I’ll just spend a few more days here and return to Lagos.’
Daniel didn’t say anything. He chewed his pie quietly. His silence unsettled her. She was familiar with him taking over every conversation. She wanted to know what he was thinking.
She reached for his free hand on the table. ‘I’ve miss you so much. I didn’t realize that until now.’
Tomi’s eyes were teary. ‘Daniel, please say something.’
He put the remaining pie back on the tray and pointed to her meal. ‘You’ve not eaten anything.’
Tomi shook her head and pressed her palm into his fingers. ‘How are you Daniel?’
Daniel chuckled. ‘How am I? That’s one interesting question. Were you expecting me not to be fine?’
Hurt, Tomi recoiled, feeling the familiar biting edge of his tongue. ‘I was just looking for something to make you talk. Of course I know you are fine. I’m happy about the deals you landed and I-’
‘Tomi, I travelled down here to break up with you.’
Tomi’s heart pounded. What did Daniel just say?
‘It’s clear we are not on the same page. You nag a lot even before you came down to Ekiti, and when I was still wondering how I was going to cope with that bad habit of yours, you took a very important decision without my knowledge.’
Tears ran down Tomi’s face. ‘But I apologized.’
Daniel continued. ‘Before you left Lagos, you said you were going to tell your parents about our wedding introduction and suddenly, you turn around to say, you are not ready and I should wait another couple of months. I can’t marry a woman who is unstable emotionally. There is a lot coming in my future and I need a strong woman who can bear the weight of my vision. If at this point, you are neither here nor there, what will happen when we are faced with tough situations after marriage.’
Tomi cleared her throat, fighting back tears. ‘Are you saying I am weak. That I am emotionally unstable?’
‘I am saying, you need to work on yourself. There is a lot you must learn.’
Tomi flared up. ‘Look at you sitting there thinking you are perfect. You don’t listen when I talk. You like to control every decision. My opinion does not matter to you. As long as you’ve made up your mind about something, you’ll convince me out of what I think is right.’
He smiled. ‘You see what I’m saying. You are doing it again. How can I marry a nag. Listen, let’s move on okay.’ He looked at his watch. ‘I have to return to Lagos.’
‘Just get out of here!’ Tomi shouted. Her voice attracted the attention of some of the customers in the eatery.
Daniel stood up, calmly. ‘Just look at the way you are suddenly throwing up a tantrum. Trust me, you are not ready for marriage.’
‘You know what? I’m happy about this. You are the most cruel and unemotional man I have ever met. Any woman who marries you will be your slave and I’m glad that person won’t be me. Just go!’
He uttered a foul word under his breath and walked out of the eatery. Tomi placed her head on the table and wept.
The moment Femi entered the family house in his mother’s village, he suddenly sensed thick darkness hovering over the place. Everything seemed normal. Women sat at a far end of the compound, shredding vegetables. Some men roasted a cow at the back of the building. Beside the gate, heaps of yam were offloaded from a truck.
Aunty Morenike, the immediate sister to Femi’s late mother, met the trio at the door. She began to fuss over them, talking about how much their mother was missed. She shook Rotimi’s hand, asking what he thought about their small village. Rotimi smiled and said, it was a beautiful town.
‘Kadiri, take their bags to one of the empty rooms.’ Aunty Morenike ordered a boy who had come in with two bags of pure water. He obeyed immediately.
She turned to Bukola. ‘You will stay with my daughters in their room.’
Aunty Morenike addressed her sister’s children. ‘Welcome again. I’ve been telling your mum to bring you to the village but she always refused. I hope you’ll be staying for a while after the burial. There are wonderful things to see in Gbekuba.’
Femi prostrated. ‘Thank you for your support ma.’
Aunty Morenike touched his head. ‘Go and shower. Amala and gbegiri is on the fire. I’ll send someone to call you when the food is ready.
They followed Kadiri to their room while Bukola went with one of her cousins to another room.
The room was sparkling clean when Femi and his friend entered. When Kadiri left, Rotimi stood in the center of the room, his hands akimbo.
‘I sense strong demonic presence in this house.’
Femi sat on the bed. ‘I thought I was the only one feeling this way. When I came here last week to see how things were going, It wasn’t this bad.’
‘We have nothing to be afraid of. Remember whose kingdom we belong to. We were in Christ when he spoilt principalities and powers and triumphed over them.’
‘I’m worried for Bukola.’
Rotimi placed his hands on Femi’s shoulders. ‘She’ll be fine.’
That night at about 1a.m, the door to the room where Femi and his friend slept opened. A light skinned beautiful woman in a long purple gown entered and shut the door behind her quietly. She stood at the foot of the bed, watching Femi and Rotimi fast asleep on the bed. She went over to Femi’s side and tapped him.
‘Femi.’ The woman whispered, careful enough not to wake Rotimi. Femi stirred but didn’t open his eyes. She tapped him again.
Click to read Episode 3