Click to read Episode 7
Becky’s phone rang. She stared at the caller ID and quickly tapped Peju on her shoulder. Peju was sitting on the bed beside her, legs crossed, typing furiously on a laptop in front of her. She leaned towards Becky and squinted at the phone screen Becky was holding up to her.
‘I have a feeling Femi has finally come to his senses.’ Peju said and returned her attention to the laptop. Becky answered the phone and waited for Femi to speak.
‘Becky, good afternoon.’
Becky noticed his voice lacked the usual excitement it carried. ‘Femi!’ she started, sounding excited. ‘It’s been a while o. Just yesterday, mum was talking about you over dinner. You just forgot about us here.’
‘Becky, I can’t forget your family. It’s just been hectic here. You know how Lagos can be. I’m really sorry about the silence. I should be home soon.’
‘We’ll be happy to have you around.’
Becky already sensed what was coming. Peju looked up from her laptop and turned her attention to her friend. Becky pinched Peju gently as she waited for Femi to continue with the conversation.
‘Becky, I made a mistake breaking up with Tomi. I’m wondering if it’s possible to get a second chance.’
Becky jumped down from the bed and began to dance in a funny way. She moved her body sideways, kicking her legs into the air. Peju caught the message. She grinned.
Becky wanted to drill him. She needed to know if he was serious this time. ‘How sure am I that if she agrees again, you will not repeat the same mistake.’
Femi didn’t say anything for a moment. ‘It won’t happen again. Becky, Mum left a diary behind. She was not involved in the abortion that got her excommunicated. It was Mama Folake and Stella’s mother that set her up. When I read that, I just lost it. I was angry that my own mother with teary eyes pleaded with me to believe she had no hand in that abortion and I didn’t believe her. It was just so difficult to get over Mama Folake’s involvement. But I love Tomi. I really do. I shouldn’t have done that. If I-’ Femi stopped and let out a deep breath.
Becky was filled with compassion for him. ‘Femi, I’ll talk to her. I’ll see what I can do.’
‘Thank you so much Becky. I really appreciate this.’
When he hung up, Becky looked at Peju, her mouth wide opened. She couldn’t believe what Femi had just told her.
‘Why are you looking at me like that? What did he say?’ Peju said, impatiently.
‘Femi said his mother didn’t have anything to do with the abortion. It was Tomi’s mother who did it. That information came out of a diary they found after her death.
Peju’s eyes widened. Her hand flew to her mouth. ‘Oh my God!’
Becky stared at her, confused. ‘What?’
Peju pushed the laptop aside and reached for a pillow. ‘Few weeks ago, Bukola stormed into the church while the Pastor was preaching. She grabbed Mama Folake’s buba and was shouting at the top of her voice.’
Becky folded her hands. ‘Are you serious?’
‘Tomi didn’t tell you?’
Becky shook her head. ‘We’ve not seen in a while though. I’ve been busy with work. But wait, what if it’s true? What if Femi’s mother didn’t do it.’
‘We can’t erase that possibility Becky. I remember eavesdropping on a conversation between my mum and one of those amebo children workers. The woman was telling my mum that she didn’t really see Mama Bimbo sleep with Elder David. She was on her way home from work when she saw Femi’s mother enter the Elder’s car. She concluded they must be having sex. Quickly, she placed a call to the elder’s wife.’
Becky frowned. ‘Is it not the same Elder David that made advances to me when I was still an undergraduate?’
Peju nodded her head. ‘It’s the same man. I feel his wife was just looking for someone to put the blame of her husband’s infidelity on. Mama Bimbo just happened to be the perfect scapegoat. Unfortunately, it was barely a year after the scandal with Tomi’s family.’
‘That’s why I was grateful when dad said he was leaving that church.’ Becky said. ‘The things that go on in that place. Who knows, there might be other cases that she’d been falsely accused of.’
Becky stopped talking when she heard footsteps. She listened. ‘I think Tomi is here. I can hear her voice.’
The door opened and Tomi entered the room, dressed in a blue jean and blue short-sleeved shirt. She was beaming with smiles as she hug her friends.
‘Babe! It’s been a while. I have missed you.’ Tomi said, pulling away from the hug enough to peer at Becky’s face. They hugged again before Tomi wrapped her hands around Peju’s neck and planted a kiss on her cheeks. Her smile disappeared when she saw documents scattered on the bed.
‘What are you girls up to?’
Peju pushed the papers aside to make space for her legs. She yawned. ‘Remember I told you on Sunday about the Columbia internship I’m pursuing. The one with UNICEF.
Tomi nodded her head, remembering their discussion. ‘Yeah, that’s true.’ She turned to Becky. ‘Are you applying too?’
Becky chuckled. ‘Me keh. I don’t have any business with NGOs. I’m applying for another master program.’ She clicked her fingers. ‘Canada, here I come.’
‘Ehn.. so you both want to leave me here in Ado abi?’
Becky smiled. This was a comfortable opportunity to bring up the subject of Femi. ‘We’d love to take you along but Femi won’t allow us take you away.’
Tomi looked at her friend, puzzled. ‘How did Femi get into this discussion for goodness sake.’
Becky closed her laptop. She wondered if she should tell Tomi about Femi’s call. ‘I strongly feel Femi is missing you.’
Tomi hissed and lay on her back, her eyes on the ceiling. ‘I’ve moved on.’
‘You can’t just make a decision like that.’ Peju said.
Tomi turned her head in Peju’s direction. ‘See, I’m tired of all these wahala. I’m not even interested in any relationship for now. Let me just face my God and my career.’
‘You think I haven’t noticed you’ve been spending so much time with Segun.’ Peju said, rolling her eyes.
Becky clapped her hand. ‘Ehn, No wonder Tomi doesn’t call me often anymore. Segun and I that were paddies before he left for Kaduna, he has only called me once since he returned.’
Tomi didn’t know what to say to her friends. She turned away from them and faced the wall.
Becky pushed her shoulder gently. ‘Face us, my friend! We are discussing a critical matter here.’
Tomi shrugged. ‘Leave me joor.’
Peju went on. ‘Every time I go to her shop, I’m always seeing Segun.’
Tomi sat up quickly. ‘I don’t understand you people. There is nothing between us. We are just friends.’
Becky wanted to salvage what was left of the relationship between her friend and Femi. If it was true Segun had step into the picture, she’d have to redirect Tomi’s heart before he stole her heart away.
‘Tomi, I think you should still pray about Femi. Find out God’s mind concerning this situation. You told me yourself that even after he broke up with you, you still felt drawn towards him.’
Tomi didn’t like the path the discussion was treading. ‘Becky, I was drawn to him because I was still emotionally attached to him and not because God wanted us together. I’m done with Femi abeg. You guys should stop pushing this matter.’
‘I think you should still pray with an open heart, Tomi.’ Peju pressed.
Tomi was getting pissed. The more she sat there listening to her friends, the angrier she became. What was their problem? She was done with Femi, why couldn’t they just understand.
A man broke up with her without any concrete reason. He never called her until he heard she visited his sister. How many nights had she stayed up, praying he’d call to say the break-up was a mistake and pleading to get back with her. She had stared at his pictures for weeks, pained by the memories that left her high and dry. The last thing she wanted was hope. Hope that a relationship with Femi would work.
Tomi stood up, clearly upset. ‘I have work to do. I’ll see you later.’ She walked out of the room and slammed the door behind her.
‘Which of you will go with me to the market this morning?’ Folake asked, as she sat on the edge of the bed in her daughters’ room. Ayo opened her eyes and closed them.
‘Mummy, Saturday morning is for sleeping. I will wake up 6a.m from Monday to Friday and still wake up early on Saturday again? I want to sleep.’ Ayo faced the wall.
‘I just asked a simple question. Don’t I deserve sleep on a Saturday morning? Why do I have grown up ladies in the house? Mama like this will now be running around alone in the market.’
‘Nobody is saying you should do anything. We will go to the market when normal human beings go. I don’t even know what you like about this 7 o’clock market sef.’ Ayo responded.
‘It’s okay.’ Tomi said and pushed her blanket aside. ‘I will go with mum.’
Ayo turned slightly. ‘Good girl. What are firstborns for?’
Folake pulled her daughter’s legs playfully. ‘Lazy girl. Wake up. Is this what you’ll be doing when you get married. I didn’t raise a lazy child.’
Ayo laughed. ‘Mummy, if it is that one, forget it. 12 noon on Saturday, hubby and I will still be on the bed. There will be plenty of work to do right on that sweet bed.’
Folake hissed. ‘Before we return, make sure you boil the fish. I’ve removed them from the freezer.
‘Oh mummy!’ Ayo said, grumbling. ‘I’m not doing anything. I want to sleep.’
After Tomi changed into a simple blue gown, she hurried to join her mother who had already started the car. Tomi stopped when she saw her father standing at the top of the staircase. His face looked drawn and the wrinkles on his forehead seemed to have deepened.
‘Dad, are you okay?’ Tomi said, wrapping her hand around her father’s waist.
Paul smiled sadly and glanced down at his daughter ‘No.’
Tomi pulled away, her gaze never leaving her father. ‘What’s wrong?’
Her father held her hands. ‘I want you to do something for me.’
‘Dad, Just say it. It’s done.’
‘Find out if your mother had something to do with the abortion. I want to know if Bimbo was falsely accused.’ He paused. ‘Will you pursue that case for me?’
Tomi sighed. She had decided to drop Stella’s case after what happened at Bukola’s house. Her father was asking her to pick it up again? One long glance at her father and she knew it meant so much to him.
‘Okay dad. I’ll do my best.’ She hugged him again and rushed downstairs. When she looked back at her father, her heart broke for him. Where were the eyes that sparkled with joy? What was eating her father up?
Folake was already pulling out of the compound when Tomi got outside. She rushed and jumped in beside her mother. Folake drove off.
At the market, women lay their wares on the floor and on wooden tables in front of locked up shops. The market was crowded. Tomi followed her mother to a group of women squatting with trays of fresh green vegetables in front of them. While her mother bargained with the vegetable seller, she glanced at the list of items they had to purchase and informed her mother she was going to get yams, fresh fish and snails.
After an hour, Tomi looked around for her mother but couldn’t find her. She walked to the car park, holding two bacco bags and panting heavily. She allowed the bags to lean on the car and waited for her mother. It was another twenty minutes before Folake showed up. Tomi opened the trunk of the car and dumped the items in before closing it.
They’d barely left the car park when Tomi phone rang. Tomi frowned. Why would Segun be calling her early in the morning. Sometimes, she didn’t understand him. One minute, he’d be reassuring her they were just friends and the next minute, he’d been acting really intimate with her.
‘Pick your call.’ Her mother glanced briefly at her.
Tomi dropped her phone into her purse. ‘I’ll call him later. I’m really tired right now.’
‘Make sure you return Segun’s call and you must wait after the worker’s meeting this evening to talk to him. Don’t disappear like you always do.’
Tomi glanced at her mother. ‘Who told you the call was from Segun?’
Folake winked at her daughter and returned her attention to the road. Tomi stared out the window. She’d have to talk to Segun after the workers meeting. She was going to be blunt this time. She was not interested in a relationship and certainly wouldn’t go into one with him. He needed to know that, even if it was at the risk of severing their friendship.
‘The Pastor wants to see you in his office.’ The head of the protocol unit said to Tomi after the workers meeting. Tomi looked at him puzzled, wondering what it was about.
When she got to the office and saw Segun sitting in front of the Pastor, her eyes narrowed in anger. Segun had finally gone to tell the Pastor he wanted to marry her. Was he thinking the Pastor would be able to convince her? Why had he deceived her that he wanted them to just be friends? Why hadn’t he come clear with her.
‘Sit down.’ The Pastor said, pointing at an empty chair beside Segun.
Pastor Akintola leaned back in his chair and stared at his members sitting like they had been caught in the abominable sin of fornication. He pulled off his spectacles and rubbed his eyes before putting them back on. He leaned his huge body forward, his eyes darting from Tomi to Segun.
‘I’m not happy that I had to hear the good news from your parents.’ Pastor Akintola started. ‘If both of you have decided to start a relationship, I should be the first person to know. I’d be more than glad to join you together in holy wedlock.
Tomi shot Segun an angry glance. He didn’t look her way. His gaze stayed focused on the Pastor.
The Pastor leaned back again, smiling. ‘You are surprised right?’ He laughed. ‘I’m happy about this anyway. It is my joy when I hear that the children raised in my church desire to continue with the legacy of this church. When you marry within this local assembly, our labour over your lives are preserved.’ He looked at his wristwatch. ‘I have to prepare for a vigil in a couple of hours. I’ve been away from home since morning and I need to take some rest. Make sure you see me after the service on Sunday. As your Pastor, I have to be carried along on the details of your courtship and the plans for the wedding.
Wedding? Tomi was ready to explode.
‘The Lord bless your union in Jesus name.’ The Pastor prayed.
‘Amen.’ Segun responded. Tomi looked at him again and shook her head.
Immediately they got out of the church secretariat building and rounded the corner that led to the church auditorium, Tomi spun around and faced him.
‘Segun, what just happened in there?’
‘I’m as shocked as you are.’
‘Really? How am I supposed to believe that? When the Pastor said, the Lord bless your union, you answered ‘Amen’ and you are standing here telling me, you know nothing about this?’
‘Tomi, I was stunned beyond words. I didn’t even know when I said amen because I’d stopped listening to him from the point he mentioned our parents’ involvement. I just heard in Jesus name and I said Amen.’
Tomi glared at him in disbelief. ‘Segun, I don’t like this at all! I have made it clear to you that we are just friends and nothing more!’
Segun was getting angry. ‘I know okay? The last thing I’ll ever do is try to force you against your will. I’m saying I had nothing to with this!’
Tomi let out a soft gasp. ‘But why would my mum do this?’
Segun was still seething with anger. ‘If I want a girl, I go after her. I don’t do this manipulation shit. I hate it. I have told my mum to let this go. What kind of marriage is birthed when one of the partners isn’t in love with the other. This is rubbish!’
Tomi reached for his hand. ‘Calm down, Segun.’
Segun hissed and gently pushed her hand away. ‘This nonsense has to stop!’
Tomi stood there, watching as Segun walked to his car. She had never seen Segun flare up like that before. A tingling sensation snaked across her heart making her want to run after him to hold him until he was calm.
She folded her hands, her eyes following Segun’s car as it left the church compound. She sucked in a breath, wondering at the sudden stirring in her heart towards Segun. It wasn’t the usual feelings of friendship. This had some hint of hunger and desire in it.
Folake undressed and changed into a pyjamas. She glanced at her husband who was sitting on the bed, a newspaper opened on his laps. For some days now, he’d been withdrawn and silent. She would do anything to know what was going on in his mind.
She stood up and went to the mirror. Few strands of grey hair appeared on her edges. Tears stung her eyes as memories of her youthful days returned. Paul once adored her. He’d tell her how much she meant to him. She loved to sit beside him while he caressed her fingers and laughed softly into her neck. But that fire was gone. Bimbo took her man away.
She looked his way again, pain hitting her chest.
Just say you love me, Paul. Tell me Bimbo didn’t mean anything to you. I want to see the fire in your eyes again. Let’s get back to the way we were before that slut stole your heart.
Folake blinked back tears and pulled off her earrings before placing them in her jewelry box.
‘What do you want for dinner?’ Folake asked as she moved away from the mirror.
‘I’m not hungry.’ Paul responded, without looking at her.
Anger burst through Folake. Paul should be rolling on the floor pleading with her for defiling their union. She should have left him long ago. But she stayed because she loved him. It was his fault their marriage was going down the drain. Why couldn’t he be responsible like other godly men?
‘Call me a fool if I ever ask you this question again! You don’t deserve the love I shower on you. No woman will put up with you, not after the mess you created.’
Paul didn’t flinch. He fixed his gaze on a section of the newspaper. It hurt Folake to be ignored. She stared a moment at her husband before slipping her feet into her pam slippers. She was about stepping out of the room when she heard a knock. She opened to find Tomi at the entrance.
‘Mummy, what in the world is wrong with you?’ Tomi said as she entered her parents room. Paul turned his attention from the newspaper and was looking at his wife and daughter.
‘Excuse me? How dare you talk to your mother like that!’ Folake barked.
Tomi relaxed. ‘I’m sorry I used that tone on you. But mummy why? Why will you tell the Pastor that Segun and I are in a relationship?’
Folake shrugged. ‘Are you not? Today, you are out with him. The next time, he is visiting you in your shop. Both of you should stop deceiving yourselves. His mother and I had to go to the Pastor so that two of you will stop wasting time.’
Tomi shook her head and walked out of the room. Her mother followed her out. She stopped at the entrance of her room and turned to her mother.
‘Mummy, even if we love each other, what you are doing will push us apart. Just stop please.’
Folake began to walk away as she talked. ‘God knows I want the best for you.’
Tomi called Segun that night before she went to bed. Why was she missing him so much?
‘I’m sorry about my reaction earlier.’ Tomi started. ‘I thought you had gone to the Pastor to try to make him convince me about getting into a relationship with you.’
‘I understand. In fact, I just finished giving my mum a piece of my mind.’
Tomi smiled. ‘I hope you didn’t speak to her harshly.’
‘I didn’t but I was firm.’ He paused. ‘Tomi, you are my friend and I don’t want to lose this precious gift of friendship for any reason.’
Tomi closed her eyes. She was falling in love with Segun. What she thought would never happen was happening and she could do nothing to stop the rush of emotions.
‘Segun, I understand. I don’t want to lose this too.’
‘I love you so much.’ Segun said in a low tone. ‘Wait, don’t get me wrong. As much as I would love to spend the rest of my life with you, I understand your heart is somewhere else but I value our friendship so much. Please don’t ever think I’ll try to compel you out to settle for me..I love our friendship.’
Desire and warmth filled Tomi’s heart. She wished she could see Segun now. If it wasn’t late, she’d have asked to see him even if it meant pleading with him.
‘I love you too Segun. I mean it. You are a blessing to my life.’
Segun was silent for a minute. ‘When am I going to see you again?’
Can we see now? I just want to be with you, Tomi wanted to say. ‘Tomorrow evening is fine.’
‘I look forward to tomorrow evening.’
‘Segun, I spoke with my friend at the University of Ibadan. I’m thinking of going to see Stella next week.’
‘I thought you wanted to drop the case.’ Segun said.
‘I changed my mind. I’m going with the initial plan. What’s your schedule for next week Thursday?’
Segun hesitated. ‘I have a class that day but I’ll move it to Wednesday so we can set out early on Thursday.’
‘Thank you so much Segun. I’m really happy you are going with me.’
‘I’ve finally moved to my apartment.’
‘You have?’ Tomi asked, excitedly. ‘How’s it like?’
‘Three bedroom flat. Well furnished. Beautiful décor. I’ll take you around after we get back from Ibadan.’
‘I can’t wait.’ Tomi said. She imagined stepping into Segun’s house as his wife. Everything would be so perfect. God was definitely in this.
‘Tomi, I have to go. I’m still at my parent’s house. I’ll call you when I get home.’
Tomi ended the call and lay back on the bed.
This was too good to be true. Getting married to him would be a smooth ride. His parents were friends with her family. The Pastor approved of their relationship. They attended the same church. He was a lecturer and would have enough time for his family. He was nice and caring. He loved God. The wedding plans would be without stress.
Everything had turned out for her good. Segun already said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. This was the green light she needed. She laughed as she thought of their praying mothers who wouldn’t give up on their case. God had finally answered their prayers.
She tapped on her instagram app and scrolled down in search of wedding picture samples. She stopped at the picture of a beautiful bride dressed in a purple lace and heavily stoned gele.
Purple would be perfect for her engagement, Tomi thought.
She screenshot the picture along with some other bridal wears. She wished her sister was around. She’d know the right colour of gele to go with the purple lace but Ayo was spending the night with a friend.
It was almost midnight before Tomi finally put down her phone.
As she knelt by her bed to pray, a scripture dropped in her heart. She reached her bible and rushed to Galatians 4 verse 23.
The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfilment of his promise.
She read the verse again. When she read it the third time, she held her head.
‘God, what are you saying?’ she muttered underneath her breath.
No audible voice. But she knew. She knew exactly what the scripture meant.
How could God ask her to get back with Femi. A man who didn’t value her. A man who could stay away for months without calling her. She had deleted his number and every picture they took together. Why wouldn’t God allow Segun to be the right alternative. He was perfect for her.
‘God, please I want to move on.’
…born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfilment of God’s promise.
The words hit her again. God had promised she would get married, but was she trying to do this by her own effort? Was she trying to birth Ishmael instead of waiting for her Isaac? Was she going against the will of God by struggling with the decision to get back with Femi?
‘I’m confused.’ Tomi sat down on the floor.
Rest in me and wait patiently for me.
Femi filled her thoughts. Her conversation with Segun interrupted her thoughts of Femi. The two men floated in her mind.
‘Oh God!’ Tomi cried softly.
Episode 9 comes up next. Monday Evening.