CLICK TO READ EPISODE 6
‘Sweetheart, you’ve not spoken to me in a week.’
‘I have told you to stop using pet names for me when we are alone in the room. Paul, My name is Folake.’
Tomi’s father sighed. His patience was fast sipping away. How long would his wife continue to treat him this way. ‘I’m sorry. Folake, what is it? Why the silent treatment?’
Folake didn’t respond immediately. She pulled out the bed sheet and replaced it with a clean one.
‘Please talk to me.’ Paul pleaded.
‘Why should I talk to you?’ Folake yelled. ‘What were you thinking when you slept with Bimbo. I was not enough for you, was I? Just look at the way your sins are catching up with you. Your daughter returns home from Lagos and says it is that whore’s son she wants to marry. Thank God Segun arrived in time to put some sense into her head.’
Paul stared at his wife, his eyes full of tears. When would she stop punishing him for his sins.‘Folake-’
Folake raised her hand. ‘I’ve told you never to interrupt me when I’m talking.’ She paused. ‘Did you see what happened on Sunday? Did you see the embarrassment your evil deed brought me? That stupid and useless daughter of the prostitute you slept with had the guts to confront me. Paul, this is not how I planned my marriage to go o. You destroyed all my hopes, my plans, everything! Of all the women in Garden Assembly, why would you even think of picking a public toilet.’
Paul moved away from the bed and settled in the cream leather sofa. He turned on the TV and went to the sports channel. Folake was still sitting on the bed, fuming.
‘This is what you always do. Run away whenever I confront you with your sins. But I will not stop speaking my mind until you get it. You are just too stubborn.’ Folake hissed and left the room.
Paul turned off the TV and sat quietly, a wave of sadness hitting his chest.
Tomi reached for a box of cereal on the dining table and poured some into the small bowl in front of her. As she ate, she scrolled through the pictures on her phone. She stopped at a picture where Femi stood beside her, gazing into her eyes as she looked straight into the camera. She recollected the morning before they went to the studio to take the pictures. Femi had held her hand and said,
‘Tomi, no matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.’
Tomi smiled sadly. How easy it was to make promises at the height of emotions. What good was his promise now.
Ayo glided into the dining room in a black suit and a pair of high-heeled shoes. She moved to the other side of the dining room with a tray of bread and fried eggs. She fell silent, keeping her gaze down at her meal.
Tomi pushed the tray away from her sister. Ayo raised her head, frowning.
Tomi rolled her eyes. ‘Smile joor. Why are you frowning?’
Ayo was not in the mood to play. ‘I’m going to work Tomi. Please let me eat.’ She took the tray and continued with her meal.
As Tomi reached for the plate again, Ayo pushed her sister’s hand away. ‘Tomi, stop!’
‘Later you will be complaining o. I’m playing with you now and you are pushing me off.’
Ayo forced a smile. ‘Not this morning abeg. I have a matter in court and I have to get to the office first.’
Tomi pretended to be annoyed. ‘Okay. God knows I’m trying my best.’
Ayo looked at her and shook her head. She wanted to say something but stopped when Folake joined them in the dining room.
‘Mum, what will you like to eat?’ Tomi asked as soon as her mother was settled beside her.
‘Dedun and I are on a three day fast.’ Folake answered without looking at her daughter. She turned her attention to Ayo. ‘I hope your father has something to eat.’
Ayo pointed at the fridge beside the ironing board. ‘There is bread.’
Folake looked at the fried eggs in front of Ayo. ‘Hope you didn’t prepare that for him. Your father and I have stopped eating fried foods.’
‘No I didn’t.’ Ayo responded, gulping down the remaining coffee. She set the empty cup down and belched.
Since the incident that took place in church the previous week, Folake had been withdrawn and it had bothered Tomi.
‘Mum, I’m sorry about what happened on Sunday.’ Tomi said.
Her mother looked at her, smiling. ‘It’s okay. I’m just glad you can now finally see the reason why I insist you stay away from Bimbo’s children. All they bring is trouble. Segun is just the right person for you. When you stay under the right covering, things will go well.’
Ayo cleared her throat and turned to her sister. ‘Ehn, So you and Segun started something and I’m not aware about it?’
Tomi shook her head. ‘Don’t mind mummy. There is nothing.’
‘There is nothing yet.’ Folake said, her face determined. ‘We will see to it that something comes out of this.’
Tomi sighed. ‘Mum, no matter what, I can’t just make a choice like that. I’ll have to pray and talk to God about it.’
Folake touched her daughter’s shoulder. ‘Dedun and I have been praying. In fact the reason for our prayer meeting this week is for God to confirm his word. We are convinced about this. But I understand. Pray about it with an open mind.’
As her mother stood up, Tomi decided to ask the question that had been eating at her heart.
‘Mum, what Bukola said about the abortion. Did you have anything to do with it?’
Folake looked as though her daughter had struck a blow on her face. Ayo gathered her dishes and hurried to the kitchen.
Tomi grabbed her handbag and stood up to leave. ‘Mum, I’m sorry. Forget that I asked.’
Later that evening when Segun came to pick her up from the fashion studio, Tomi sat beside him in the car, wondering why her mother had not given her a straightforward answer. Was she hiding something? Or was her mother just annoyed that her daughter could entertain thoughts of her carrying out such an act?
‘Something is bothering you.’ Segun asked as he pulled away from Tomi’s fashion studio.
Tomi was silent for a long time. ‘I want to travel to Ibadan. I need to see Stella.’
Segun glanced at her. ‘Tomi, do you really want to pursue this?’
Tomi nodded. ‘I just want to hear the truth from her lips. I feel like if I don’t get to the end of this, I won’t be at rest. Bukola’s voice still rings in my head. I want to know if it’s true that Femi’s mother was falsely accused and if my mother had been involved in it.’
Segun pulled over and gave Tomi his full attention. ‘The truth may hurt you. Maybe you should just accept what your mother said.’
‘Mum didn’t answer my question. She just got angry that I asked.’ Tomi looked away from him. ‘I feel strongly that God wants me to do this. Yesterday, I got Stella’s number from a friend who lectures in her department.’
Segun started the car. ‘I can see that you are really determined. Let me know when you are ready. I’ll drive you to Ibadan.’
Tomi shook her head. ‘No Segun, I don’t want to get you entangled in this. I’ll go by myself. I know the university well. I can find my way around.’
‘Please let me take you there. I promise I won’t interfere. I was actually planning to make findings about their doctorate program. So while I’m at it, you can carry on with your investigations.’
Tomi smiled and rested her hand on Segun’s shoulders. ‘Thank you so much.’
Segun looked at her, his eyes full of warmth ‘You are welcome.’
Tomi turned her face away but not before she caught the look in his eyes. Was Segun in love with her? He had said he didn’t have feelings for her and was in love with someone else. Why that look? Was she just assuming things?
‘I found this very nice eatery.’ Segun said, grinning. ‘Their ice-cream make sense. Want to grab a cup of ice-cream?’
Tomi remembered she wanted to see someone before heading home. But she didn’t want Segun to know about her plans. ‘I’m sorry Segun. I need to see someone before I go home.’ She pointed to a filling station a few miles ahead. ‘You can drop me off at that filling station.’
Tomi tried to find a way to answer the question without telling a lie. ‘Not really. A friend’s sister.’
When she thanked him and got down from the car, Segun remained in the car, staring at her. He watched her flag down a motorcycle that took her into the busy street. Segun placed his head on the car rest and tried to calm his racing pulse.
God, take this feelings away. Take this affection for Tomi. Please help me.
The motorcycle stopped in front of a black gate. Tomi paid the fare and stood in front of the gate for several minutes.
Was this a good decision? Would she be welcomed? Now was the time to turn back and go home.
Tomi let out a deep breath and pushed the gate. She stepped into the compound.
There were four flats in the compound. In the flat directly facing the gate, a woman sat on a mat playing with an infant. Tomi greeted her and walked to the next flat. She knocked on the door and waited.
The door opened. Bukola appeared at the door. She frowned when she saw Tomi. ‘What do you want?’
‘Why should I even be listening to you?’ Bukola barked. The woman from the other flat settled her child firmly on her laps and was watching them.
‘Just go away. Your mother arranged Stella’s abortion and still had the guts to slap me. I’m not done with you guys. I’ll be back, you all will pay for what you did to my mum. Go back and tell that idiot you call your mother that Bukola is coming for her.’
‘How did you know my mother did it?’ Tola asked. ‘I really want to know.’
Bukola pointed a finger at her. ‘You are very stupid for asking me that question. You and your mother are the same. Useless religious bigots. Get out of my house! fool! Get out.’
Tomi remained standing, too stunned to move.
‘I said Go! Stupid people. You are a big fool for coming here to ask me that question. Your mother sent you abi? She wants to cover her tracks that’s why she is desperate to know who gave me the information. Go and tell her that your mission failed. Idiot!’
Bukola slammed the door in her face. Tomi bit her lips. She had never felt more embarrassed in her life. She stepped away from the veranda and walked quickly out of the house.
Tomi was almost exploding in anger when she got home. Peju was in the living room watching a movie with Ayo. She stood up immediately Tomi walked in through the door.
‘I have been trying to reach you.’ Peju said.
Tomi didn’t answer her. She marched up the stairs to her room. Peju followed behind. As they entered the room, Tomi faced her, her eyes full of tears.
‘I’m done. Peju I have reached my limit. I don’t want to ever have anything to do with Femi or his sister or their family. They should all get out of my sight!’
Peju held her friend’s shoulder. ‘Calm down, please.’
Tomi sat on the bed, tears running down her cheeks. ‘I have never been more embarrassed like I was today. I went to Bukola to assure her that I was going to see that her mother was vindicated if truly she’d been falsely accused. I wanted her to know that because I cared so much about her brother, I was willing to dig this up even if it meant hurting my family.
I wanted to get the truth out. But instead, she insults me and calls me a fool.’ She pointed at her chest. ‘Me, Tomi. Bukola called me a fool and an idiot. She shut the door in my face.’
Peju pulled her friend into her arms. Tomi wept.
The presentation went better than Femi had expected. Every member of the management team loved the ideas he had proposed.
When his boss, Yemi, had first informed him about the Lagos refuse management project, he had doubted if he’d be able to come up with good strategies. He’d been distracted with thoughts of Tomi. On the eve of the presentation, while preparing his power slides, the ache and longing to talk to her had consumed his mind.
‘Hey Femi. See me in my office.’ Yemi said, as he came out of the board room. Femi nodded and followed his boss into a small but cozy office.
Yemi stretched out his hand. Femi shook it. ‘That was a great presentation. What’s your plan for the weekend? We could go clubbing, you know. Let’s go have some fun.’
‘I don’t club sir.’
The MD looked at him, surprised. He pulled out two bottles of beer from the fridge. He gave one to Femi.
Femi shook his head. ‘I don’t drink too.’
Yemi hissed and shook his head. He sat on the edge of the table. ‘You are just like my wife.’
‘Your wife is a Christian?’ Femi asked.
Yemi opened his drink. ‘A crazy one, I swear.’
He sat back in his chair and gulped down the drink. ‘My wife spent her annual leave reading bible and walking around our room talking like somebody that’s drunk. I still don’t get it. Is it that your God does not understand English.’
Femi smiled, understanding that his boss’ wife prayed in tongues.
Yemi went on. ‘She wasn’t always like this. I married a trouble maker. Correct Lagos razz girl. I mean, if you try nonsense, she will scatter everywhere for you. That fire was what drove me to marry her. After she gave birth to my first son, she just changed. The fire died and was replaced with another kind of fire. Babe said she met Jesus.
But I like this new version I swear. There is no decision I take without telling her. That woman has saved me from serious financial bankruptcy. I can’t trade her for anything.’
‘You can be a part of the life she is experiencing. You can accept Christ too.’
Yemi laughed dryly. ‘My wife says she is praying for me. What’s that her prayer point again.’ he stopped talking and tapped his chin as he tried to remember. ‘Yes, she says that my eyes will be opened to the knowledge of Christ. Radarada prayer.’
‘Amen.’ Femi whispered, enough for Yemi to hear.
Femi liked his boss very much. When he arrived Lagos, Caleb had presented him with two job offers. One was in a big firm on the island and the other a small one in Ikeja. He had wanted to jump quickly for the one on the island, but he’d felt a restraint in his spirit and had settled for the other one.
Even though the pay was lower, he enjoyed the freedom and peace it brought. At least he got a company car. Caleb had helped him with the accommodation.
Yemi pulled a document from a file on his table. He gave it to Femi. ‘Go through it and let’s talk about it next week.’
As Femi returned to his office, his cellphone rang. He reached into his pocket and pulled it up. It was his sister, Bukola.
‘I don’t know how you can reach Tomi. But please tell her never to come to my house again. If she tries it, I will pour hot water on her body.’
Femi entered his office and sat down. He crossed his legs. ‘Tomi came to the house?’
‘Yes. Please warn her. I don’t want to see her face here ever!’
Femi felt his heart leap for joy. Tomi’s heart must have ached for him as his heart did for her. But why would she go to his house knowing he had moved to Lagos or did she think he didn’t take the job offer from Caleb?’
‘Wait, why was she at the house? She came to look for me?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t want her back here, that’s all.’
Femi felt hope rise in his heart. ‘That’s fine. I’ll tell her. How are you doing?’
‘I’m okay but I’ve missed you. You just left for Lagos and forgot about me.’
Femi played with a pen. ‘I’ve been so busy here. Easter is in a few weeks away. I should be home for the break. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call me.’
Femi laughed. ‘Who is your daddy? Bukky, I have to go now. I’ll call you later.’
When Femi ended the call, he sat back, slowly taking in the information he had just received. Tomi had gone to his house? Does she still love him?
His heart raced. It hadn’t taken a week before he realized the foolishness of breaking up with her. She was not her mother. Whatever decisions her mother had taken did not include her. He regretted his actions but was too scared to call and apologize. He was certain she’d never listen to him.
Femi smiled, excited for another opportunity to make things right. He’d explain why he had broken up with her. He’d ask for her forgiveness and beg for another chance. How he wanted her back in his life. He had not been the same since they broke up.
He scrolled down his contact list for her number and dialed it. His heart pounded as the phone rang. When he heard her voice, his body shook with emotions. How he had missed hearing that voice.
Oh God, what have I done?
‘Femi Good afternoon. What can I do for you?’
Femi stopped and exhaled slowly. The tone Tomi was using with him was not comforting at all. Where would he start from?
‘Bukola called to inform me you were at the house recently.’
‘Look, I didn’t go there to get you back into my life.’
Femi sat up, confused. ‘Tomi I-’
‘Let me finish. Going to your house was a big mistake and I promise I’ll never bother you or your sister anymore. I have moved on with my life. Please don’t call me again.’
She hung up. Femi looked at the phone, shocked. He dropped his phone on the table and leaned back on his chair. Letting out a soft sigh, he took his laptop bag and left the office.
He opened his car and dropped the bag in the back seat before settling into the driver’s seat. He placed his head on the steering and prayed.
God, I want my woman back, please. I know I was wrong. I allowed my emotions to get in the way. I’m sorry Lord. I want Tomi back. Please Jesus.
There was only one person Femi could talk to about this. He reached for his phone and dialed a number.
Episode 8. Monday evening.