Monthly Archives: June 2016

Second Chances – Episode 4

It is a Saturday afternoon in Ibadan. A centre rug with a mix of brown and black colours adorns Ola’s sparse living room. Soft music plays from a home theatre in the living room. Kunbi and Ola are seated on the centre rug playing a game of cards when Kunbi’s mobile phone rings.

“Hi, Sola. What’s going on?”

“Today is our first date together. I want to impress her. What do you think?”

“You don’t have to. Don’t build your relationship on deceit. Just be yourself and let her accept you for who you are”.

“Okay, thanks. My regards to your boyfriend”.

“Cool. I’ll let him know. Bye”. She says as she places her phone on the floor.

“Who was that?” Ola asks frowning.

“A friend”. She responds as she drops a card. “He’s trying to ask a babe out and does not know how to go about it. Your turn”. She says looking up at him.

“So, how is that supposed to be your business? Are you his lecturer?” He asks in anger.

“What do you mean by that?

Ola suddenly drops the cards he is holding on the floor and grabs her by the arm.

“Better be careful. What kind of guy calls you over the weekend in your boyfriend’s house?”

She is too shocked to speak. She drops her cards on the floor as well and struggles under his grip.

“You’re hurting me, Ola. What’s all this?”

2nd Chances 4

“And I’ll hurt you the more if you don’t tell whoever that guy is to stay away from you”. He says as he drops her arm.

“My goodness. I can’t believe this. First, you think my cousin will attempt to sleep with me and now this. I don’t understand you any longer, Ola. I thought you trusted me. What happened to you after I moved to Lagos?” She asks in alarm massaging her arm.

“Tell him to stay away from you”. He says through clenched teeth.

She stands up and picks up her hand bag.

“I won’t listen to any of this. I’m going home”.

He gets very upset and pulls her by the arm flinging her towards the settee.

“Don’t walk out on me. Don’t you ever do that?”

As Kunbi falls on the settee, she burst into tears. Ola looks at her and immediately feels remorseful. He begins to pace round the room. He stops and kneels down beside her.

“Kunbi, I’m sorry. I did not mean to hurt you. Please forgive me”.

“How could you, Ola? Am I not allowed to have male friends any longer? Do you trust me at all?” She asks in between tears.

“I’m sorry. I don’t……I just……I don’t know”. He stammers rubbing the back of his neck.

“You are just what, Ola? When did you suddenly become so insecure? We have been dating for four years and you still don’t trust me?”

“I do. I just can’t stand the thought of losing you”.

“Is it because I got a job in Lagos? Would you rather I stayed back in Ibadan jobless?”

Ola shakes his head. “No, no. I just don’t want any one hurting you. That’s all”.

“I can take care of myself, Ola. I’m not a baby”.

He stands up and pulls her up into a hug.

“I am sorry. Please forgive me”. He says as he kisses her.

She initially tries to resist his kisses but eventually gives in to him.

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Kunbi sits alone in her apartment Sunday evening. The TV is off as she has no pleasure in it. She is unhappy and lost in her own world.

What has come over Ola of recent? Have I given him a reason not to trust me? How come he has become insecure all of a sudden or have the signs always been there and I refused to see them? Is there any harm in what I am doing? I am so confused right now.

“Kunbi, Kunbi……..”

She is jolted out of her reverie by Wale’s voice.

“Oh Wales, I did not realize you had come in”.

“What’s wrong?” He asks with concern.

“Nothing”.

“That’s not true. I came in and had been standing here for a while and you did not even realize I was here”.

“Really?” She asks in surprise.

“What is wrong? Is mummy okay?”

Kunbi sighs. “Mum is fine. Wales, I don’t understand Ola any longer”.

Wale sits down beside her. “What do you mean?”

“Sola called me on my phone yesterday while I was with Ola and you won’t believe what happened. Ola was so mad at me that he manhandled me. I could not believe it. I never knew he was so jealous”.

Wale keeps quiet and just stares at her.

“Wales, did you hear what I just said?”

“I heard you. What exactly do you want me to say? If I said I told you so, you’ll get angry and say I want to spite you”.

“I know but……”

“There’s really nothing for me to say. My only advice for you is be careful with him”. He says as he stands up and walks towards his room.

Kunbi watches him as he walks away. She puts her head in her palms and shakes her head. She is more confused than she was before she spoke to her cousin.

2nd Chances 4b
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Sola is waiting in his car outside Kunbi’s office. He looks at his wrist watch and wonders what is taking her so long. Two minutes later, she rushes out of her office building and apologizes profusely to Sola as she enters into the car.

“You sure, we would still have lunch today?” He asks faking annoyance.

“Hey c’mon, I said I am sorry. Let’s do somewhere very close. Maybe snacks”.

He nods as he drives off.

In a few minutes, they are seated in an eatery close by with snacks and drinks in front of them.

“Tolu always has this standoffish attitude towards me in the office but she never ceases to call me every night just to say good night”.

Kunbi smiles. “Maybe she is not comfortable with the attention you are giving her in the office, but I guess you have the green light already”.

“Are you sure?” He asks in anxiety.

“Yep! You see each other at work, she poses a standoffish attitude but once she is out of the office, she becomes true to herself”.

“True to herself?”

Kunbi nods and she sips out of her drink. “She calls you every night? It is because she cares about you and probably needs your voice to give her sweet dreams”. She says laughing.

“Wow! That just made my day”. He says smiling. “I thought she wasn’t interested in me all along”.

“Which is not true?” She says shrugging her shoulders. “Are you ready to be committed to her?”

“I hope so”.

“You hope? You are still not sure about this?”

“I think I would take it one step at a time”.

“Okay”. Kunbi says as she dabs at her lips with a napkin.

“Thanks. I owe you one”.

“And I’ll make sure I get it”. She replies laughing.

————

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Second Chances – Episode 3

It is 6pm. Wale picks Kunbi from work as usual. She is reading a novel on her tablet while Wale drives.

“I can see you and Sola are getting real close. What are you guys up to?” He asks teasing.

“How do you mean?”

“Are you calling it quits with Ola?”

“No. I am not. Sola and I are just friends. No strings attached”. She responds trying to concentrate on her novel.

He casts her a quick glance. “But you go for lunch breaks together every day and….

“Wales, I said we are just friends”. She cuts him short.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind if both of you became serious with your friendship”.

“Meaning?”

“You know, a relationship?” He shrugs.

She drops her tablet on her laps and looks at him in annoyance. “Wales, drop the idea because it is not happening”.

“Noted. But I’m dead serious about what I just said. You know if you guys….

“Wale, can you please drop this issue. I really do not want to argue with you today. Don’t you get it?” She says irritated.

Could he read her mind? She always looked forward to her lunch dates with Sola. Every time she saw him, she felt butterflies in her stomach. His smile always made her melt and feel weak in the knees. But she was angry that he was out of her reach. If only, she could turn back the hands of time.

Wale looks at her with surprise. “Kunbi, are you upset already? You call me “Wale” only when you are mad at me…..

She gives him an angry stare.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t bring this up again. I know how much you love your boyfriend”. He rolls his eyes as he says it. “Apology accepted?

“You ain’t sober about it”. She says frowning.

“Fine”. He says in absolute surrender.  “I’m sorry”. He takes one of her hands in his.

“Apology accepted”.

“Then give me a smile”. He smiles at her.

“Leave me alone, Wales”. She says faking a smile.

“Yeah, that’s better. Why should my favourite cousin be upset with me?”

She picks up her tablet to continue reading while Wale slots in a music CD and begins humming a familiar song.

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It is another lunch break and Sola and Kunbi are having lunch at a restaurant. They chat and laugh oblivious to others around them. They have eyes only for each other and could actually be considered a couple.

“What do women want in a man? Sola asks suddenly serious.

“Women have different needs from time to time. But what every woman wants is a man who is not selfish; a loving, caring and attentive man. Most importantly, a man who is committed”.

“Every woman?”

“Yes. Every woman demands attention. She wants to be assured that she’s loved and needs a man who is committed to her”.

“Really?”

“Yeah. C’mon, spit it out. Who’s she?” She hits him playfully.

“It’s a secret”. He says as he grins from ear to ear.

“What do you mean? I can’t be told secrets or what?” She says with a frown on her face.

“No, no. that’s not what I mean. Okay, I’ll tell you”.

“Better”. She answers; her frown turning into a victorious smile.

“I have a colleague at work. We just say “hello” and “good morning” to each other. I like her a lot but haven’t had the guts to say anything beyond our “hellos”.

“Go a step further when next you talk to her”.

“How?”

“Start a conversation”.

“Okay”. He says as he puts his hand under his chin.

“You were able to talk to me. So why are you finding it difficult starting a conversation with her?”

“Your case is quite different. With you, I guess I just knew what I wanted and it is to go beyond being “friends without benefits”, but you have put me in a box”. He sighs.

2nd Chances 3b

“We are discussing about your colleague”.

“I know, Kunbi”. He takes a deep breath. “I gave my word and I don’t break my promises”.

“I am glad you don’t”. She says looking away. If only she could be the other lady. She could no longer deny her feelings for him but she had given her heart to Ola and she was not going to let him down. He did not deserve it”.

“Kunbi….Kunbi” He says breaking into her thoughts.

“Yes”. She smiles and throws every thought out the window.

“What’s on your mind?” He asks.

“Are you in love with her?” She asks unsure of what his answer would be as she holds her breath waiting for his response.

“Well, I….em….actually. I can’t really say. Anytime I see her, my heart skips a beat”.

She laughs. “That is what we call L-O-V-E, love”.

“But how do I tell her that I’m in love with her when we haven’t even had a proper conversation. There has been no opportunity to sit down and talk at length the way you and I do”.

“Make out time. Probably a weekend away from the prying eyes of your colleagues. Then show your love through your actions”.

“Actions?”

“Yeah. Actions speak louder than words. Ever heard of that?” She says laughing. “C’mon Sola, don’t tell me you have not played this game before. Tall, good looking guy like you? No way”.

He shrugs. “Unfortunately, I can’t say I have had any serious relationship in the past. I keep being close friends with all the ladies but they end up getting married to someone else”.

“Why?” Kunbi asks concern written on her face.

“Sincerely, I think I’m at fault. I haven’t been able to commit to anyone. I just get scared and develop cold feet when I think of the commitment a relationship demands”.

“You are scared of commitment? Wow!” She was getting to know him better and was shocked to hear that.

Why would he be so good-looking with perfect dentition and have all the boxes checked to sweep her off her feet and be scared of commitment?

She sighs. “Okay. Let’s play it this way. One, start by giving her attention. Be interested not just in her well-being but in everything that concerns her. Since you work in the same organization, show concern about her job. Help out if you are in a position to. The bottom line is to show concern”.

“Should I get a lecture note?”

“You don’t talk in my class” She answers smiling.

He laughs. “My apologies ma’am”.

“Two, shower her with gifts. Start with little gifts that don’t mean any harm. A lunch date is a perfect example, a simple gift on her birthday or something like that”.

“Hmm…..Okay? Is that all?” He asks nodding.

“Three, send her cards, flowers, you know, be romantic.

He gasps. “Romantic?

“Yeah…..She stresses. “Romantic with a big R”.

“Hmmm….this lecture is sure interesting”.

“That way, you can be sure to win her love”. She says conclusively.

“So when do I proclaim my love for her?”

“Relax, lover boy. With all I have mentioned, she’ll already know what you are up to and then, you can do your proclaiming”. She responds with a smile.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course”. She laughs. “The three steps you took ahead would have wet the ground for you to step on”.

“Thanks a lot, Kunbi. I appreciate this”. He says as he stretches his hands across the table to hold her hands.

She is unable to look at him as she tries to stop herself from shaking.

“Oh, c’mon. What are we friends for if we can’t help ourselves? I wish you good luck and success”. She says as she removes her hands from his and refuses to make eye contact.

“You’ll be the first to know the outcome”.

“I’ll appreciate that”. She isn’t sure if she means that but all the same, she wants to be unselfish. She looks at her wristwatch. “My goodness, my lunch break is gone already”.

Sola looks at his wrist watch as well. “Let’s get going”.

———-

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Second Chances – Episode 2

Kunbi arrives Lagos Sunday evening. She is tired from her trip and saunters into the apartment she and Wale share. She drops her weekend bag and slumps into a settee. Wale who is watching a football match in the living room looks up and smiles. “How was your trip?”

“Hectic”. She yawns.

“Mumsie and your boyfriend?” He asks as he pauses the match with a remote.

“They are both fine”.

“I suppose he has warned you stay away from me”. He says giving her a mischievous look”.

Kunbi eyes him but refuses to respond.

“What? He asks, pretending to be surprised. “I only made a statement. It is an assumption which means no harm”. He chuckles.

“Wales, please, I am not…..

The doorbell rings and Kunbi points to him. “Saved by the bell. I’ll get it”.

She opens the door and meets Sola, who is looking casual in a blue polo Tee-shirt and faded jeans. He just got his beard shaved and he is looking younger and very handsome. Kunbi suddenly feels like a shy school girl in his presence. He smiles at her and she notices his perfect dentition again. She is embarrassed at her attraction to him and wonders why she is so jittery in his presence.

“Hi, when did you arrive?” He says breaking into her thoughts.

“Hi…I arrived some minutes ago”. She steps aside. “Please come in”.

“So, how’s your mum and boyfriend?”

Kunbi turns to look at him with surprise and gives Wale a quick glance.

“Did I say something wrong?”

“No. I’m just surprised that I have been a topic of discussion at a round table conference”.

Sola laughs. “Guilty as charged”.

“Sola, just ignore her. Please sit down”. Wale says laughing.

“Actually, I came to see Kunbi”.

Kunbi is shocked. “Me?”

“Of course. I want to take you out”.

“I…em…you know I just came back. I’m really….” She stammers with embarrassment.

“Please don’t say no. Pleaseeee”. He stresses.

“But you know….”

“Just a drink. Cross my heart”. He smiles as he puts his right hand on his chest.

Kunbi is confused and she looks at Wale who nods signifying his answer.

“Oh well! Okay. Let me change into something else”. She shrugs.

As she walks towards her room, Sola rubs his palms together and grins at Wale. “Thanks, man”.

“Be careful and don’t forget what I said”.

“I promise, I would never hurt her. You have my word”.

 

She has a quick shower and wonders what to wear. A simple dress should do just fine. There is no reason to go overboard with my appearance. She was unsure of Sola’s intentions but the earlier she drew boundaries for them, the better for her. She smiled as she sat in front of her dressing mirror and applied light make-up. He is handsome, no doubt. Get him off your mind. She shook her head to dispel her attraction to him. She was committed to Ola and he meant the world to her. His behaviour of recent was however a source of concern. She sighed as she stood up and looked at herself in the mirror. I am sure I am just being apprehensive over nothing.

2nd Chances 2

“I’m ready”. She says as she walks into the living room where the men are engrossed in the football match paused earlier on.

Sola is speechless as she looks at her.

“Are we ready?” She asks when she notices he is just staring at her.

“You are beautiful”.

“Thank you. Wales does not like me getting home too late”. She says trying to steer the conversation away from her looks.

“Take your time”. Wale smiles.

“Thanks man”. Sola stands up as he stretches his hand to Wale for a handshake.

 

As they get into Sola’s car, Kunbi tries to start a little conversation to quell her anxiety. “Wale says you were course mates in school”.

“Yes, he was one of the brilliant ones. First class in Architecture is no mean feat”.

She smiles. “Wales has always been a book worm. I remember him coaching me on science subjects when I was about to write my final exams in Secondary school”.

“He is very fond of you”.

She shrugs.

They arrive at a bar in less than fifteen minutes. As they walk into the bar, Sola acknowledges the greeting of the doorman with a smile. He takes note of a table for two at a corner and walks towards it leading Kunbi.

Kunbi orders a glass of chapman and Sola decides to do same just to give her a sense of safety on the drive back home.

“I guess you are wondering what this outing is all about.” Sola asks.

“Of course. I am”.

“I know you are hooked”. He smiles. “I just want to….”

She raises her brow and he starts laughing.

“What?” She asks surprised.

“You need to see the expression on your face”.

She relaxes and smiles. “Really?”

“Yeah. You had this look of disbelief as if you thought I was going to tell a lie”.

“I did not intend to be rude”. She apologizes. “I wanted to be sure you meant what you were about to say”.

“I know about Ola. I don’t think it should stop us from being in the friend zone”.

“Friend zone or Friends without benefits?”

“Friends without benefits. I stand by my word”. He says smiling.

They talk for about an hour on various issues relating to work, politics and family and are relaxed as they laugh.

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Sola begins to pick up Kunbi every day during lunch hour. They vary their lunch venues from time to time depending on Kunbi’s choice. Sola is insistent on paying for their lunch each time even though Kunbi kicks against it. She decides to start getting him groceries in return, dropping them in his car during their lunch dates and he is appreciative of her kind gesture. Even though he had stated right from the start that he would remain a friend without benefits, he sometimes wished they could take it a step further. He had given his word and he was not going to break his promise. Many nights, alone on his bed, he wondered if Ola was truly worthy of her love. It was evident she was committed to him. She spent her weekends with him in Ibadan and he felt a tinge of jealousy. He loved her but realized quickly that it was not mutual or was it?

His parents had died in a car accident when he was just four and it was a miracle that he had survived. The car seat in which he was strapped had been his saving grace. His cries had alerted rescuers who got him out of the mangled car and took him to the hospital after informing the police.

Weeks after he was discharged, he was handed over to his aunt, his mum’s younger sister. She was a single mother with a son she doted on. She had been physically abused in her marriage and recently left her husband to save her life and retain her sanity. He had grown up with his cousin and his aunt only as she refused to remarry. She was scared and felt marriage was not worth trying again. She had shown him much love and he had never lacked. His aunt’s idea about marriage and relationships however rubbed off on him. Memories of his parents’ marriage was a distant past and he had no idea if marriage was worth anything to them. He therefore steered clear of serious relationships preferring to remain a friend. He was scared of commitment. Quite a number of ladies he liked in the past noticed his aversion for commitment and eventually got into serious relationships with other men and got married. He was such a cool guy and many could not understand his fear of commitment. At forty, he was still single. He found it difficult to rise above his fear of marriage. Could it be different with Kunbi if he was given a chance? Was marriage truly worth it? He thought.

2nd Chances 2b

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Second Chances – Episode 1

Kunbi walks into the office complex of Wales Construction Company. The reception is beautifully furnished with artworks displayed strategically all around the office. The receptionist raises her head from her laptop and smiles. “Good afternoon, ma”.

“Good afternoon, dear. How are you today?” Kunbi responds with a smile in return.

“Fine, thank you, ma and you?”

“I’m good, thank you”. She says as she heads straight to the Managing Director’s office.

The Managing Director’s personal assistant is adjusting her blazer when Kunbi walks in. “Welcome, ma. M.D has been waiting for you”.

“Thank you”. Kunbi says. She opens the door to the M.D’s office without knocking.

“Hello cuz”. She says, her smile reaching her eyes. “Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t told you had a visitor. I’ll wait….

A dark, tall and handsome guy stands up immediately and stretches his hand to her for a handshake.

“You don’t have to. I’m not really a visitor. I’m Sola and I presume you are Kunbi”. He smiles.

She notices his structured dentition. He probably wore braces when he was younger.

“Yes, I’m Kunbi, Wale’s cousin”. She says returning the handshake.

2nd chances 1

“It’s a pleasure meeting you. I’ve heard so much about how you have been taking good care of my friend”. He says laughing.

Kunbi is flustered and smiles sheepishly as she gives Wale a cursory glance. “Seriously? Is that what you’ve been telling your friend, Wales?”

Wale shrugs his shoulders.

“Please ignore him. The pleasure is all mine. She smiles as she drops her hand bag on Wale’s desk. “I won’t take your time”.

“Yes dear, how may I help you?” Wale asks.

“I need to get to the market before going home. So don’t bother picking me up this evening”.

“Okay, but you could have said that on phone instead of coming down here”.

“Actually, I’m on break and wanted to get to the eatery down the road, so I decided to stop by”.

“Okay. We’ll see in the evening, then. Don’t stay out too late”.

“I won’t”. She picks up her handbag.

“Let me drop you at the eatery”. Sola offers as he picks up his car keys from the desk.

“Oh no, you don’t have to bother”.

“Please, let me. Besides, my office is just adjacent the eatery”.

“Well, thanks. I really appreciate your kind gesture”.

“It’s my pleasure anytime”. He says smiling.

“So could you guys please leave so I can get back to work?” Wale says shooing them out of his office as the others laugh.

**********

Later that evening, Kunbi is cooking in the kitchen, while Wale is busy reading the day’s newspaper in the living room.

“Wales, who’s that guy?”

“Which guy?” Wale asks without looking up from the newspaper.

“Sola, the guy I met in your office”.

“Oh Sola”. He says as he drops the newspaper and walks towards the kitchen. “He was my course mate in school. Can you imagine that we have worked on the same street for over a year now and our paths just crossed about a month ago?”

“Really? So where did you meet again?”

“The same eatery you went to earlier in the day” He laughs.

“Hmmm….that’s nice. Must have been a happy reunion”.

“You bet, it was. Are you travelling this weekend?”

“Of course, you know I have to see mummy. Besides, I have really missed Ola as well”.

Wale hisses. “You saw him last weekend, didn’t you? I reckon you have to see mumsie but that guy…” He shakes his head as he leaves the kitchen and walks towards the dining table.

Kunbi dishes their food, arranges the plates in a tray and walks into the living room without saying a word.

As she sets the plates on the table, she looks up at Wale who is already seated.

“Wales, what do you have against him? I wonder why you just can’t stand him”.

“Please don’t start”. Wale says raising his hands in surrender.

“Give me a reason why I shouldn’t? I have asked you several times if he has ever offended you but you have adamantly refused to answer.

“The guy is arrogant, proud and self-centered. He’s just not your type and above all he is so insecure”.

“Wales!” Kunbi yells. “He’s not as bad as you’re portraying him”.

“Well, I won’t marry you. In my opinion, Ola is not the man for you. But it is your choice to decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with. I only want the best for you and do not want you making a mistake that you will later regret”.

“Thanks cuz. That’s why you are my big brother”. She smiles and nudges him as they begin to eat.

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A week later, Sola walks into Wale’s office after being ushered in by his assistant. They shake hands and Sola sits on the couch in the office.

“My guy, you did not tell me you had a goddess of beauty for a cousin. Mehn, she’s what I call pretty”.

“Don’t even think about it. She’s hooked already”.

“Why? How can such a beautiful babe be hooked so soon?”

“What do you mean by so soon? Wale laughed. “She’s been dating the guy since she was in school”.

“Really?” Sola asked concern written on his face.

“Yeah. Even though, I hate his guts, she really loves him or I think she does. The guy is in Ibadan. He works in an architectural firm there”.

“So, does she still see him?”

“Oh yes. In fact she travels to Ibadan every weekend to see him. She however uses her mum as a cover-up”.

“Anyway, I like her and would love to be her friend”.

“You should be talking to her, not me. But don’t hurt her. She’s very dear to me”. He said pointing a warning finger at his friend.

“Yes sir”. Sola responded as he saluted with a wide grin.

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Kunbi slots a key into the door of an apartment and smiles as she walks in. The living room is sparse and simple in furnishing. She drops her weekend bag on the floor and heads straight to the bedroom.

“Hello, sleepy head”.

“Would I get a better good morning?” Ola smiles as he stretches.

She moves towards him and he gives her a long kiss.

She tries to tear herself from him. “I need to get breakfast done”.

“You can do that later. I am not hungry”.

“No, sir. I am hungry if you ain’t”. She smacks his hands off her.

“Kunbi, it is Saturday. You have been gone for a whole week”.

“Get up boyfriend”. She smiles as she walks out of the room.

 

After breakfast, they decide to watch a sitcom with a bowl of popcorn wedged between them. The commercials run and Ola faces Kunbi.

“Don’t you think I should get you an apartment now?

“I don’t see a reason why you should. I am perfectly fine with Wale”.

“But I am not comfortable with you living in his apartment”.

“Why? What’s on your mind?”

“I just don’t like the fact that you are living with another man”.

“Who happens to be my cousin?” She smirks.

“He is another man, regardless. You are not safe in the hands of another man”.

“Seriously? Do you think my cousin will attempt to sleep with me or what?” She says looking at him with concern.

“There is nothing new under the sun”. He says matter-of-factly.

Kunbi is shocked. “What? You are unbelievable”.

“That, my dear, is your opinion. I have made my point clear. If he dare lay a hand on you, I swear, you’ll bring his dead body back to Ibadan”.

The commercials are over and the sitcom continues but Kunbi sees only the moving images. Different thoughts run through her mind.

She had recently gotten a job in Lagos barely six weeks ago. All her life prior to her job had been in Ibadan. As a newcomer in Lagos, her mum had been skeptical about her getting an apartment of her own. Since her first cousin lived in Lagos, it had made perfect sense to move in with him. Even better; was that the organization she worked for had its office on the same street with Wale’s construction company. Everything was like an answer to her prayers. Wale took her to work and picked her up every day.

Ola had never acted like one given to jealousy. They had dated for two years in the university and currently counting four years into their relationship. She was however surprised that her move to Lagos triggered jealous feelings in him. She looked at him as he laughed at the programme on TV.

2nd Chances 1b

Was he insecure as Wale had said? Was this how he felt about Wale? He was her cousin for Christ’s sake. He was probably just being over-protective just like Wale”. She concluded.

———

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Discipline versus Child Abuse

“Pim pim”. The horn of a car sounded.

He went to the garage and asked the boys “Who touched the horn of the car?”

The boys looked at each other confused. They had been playing hide and seek round the car that had just been bought for their mum.

“We did not touch the horn”. They chorused.

“One of you touched the horn of the car”. He insisted.

“We did not press the horn, daddy”.

“Get me my belt”. He called out to the maid.

The maid ran quickly to get the belt before she fell on the wrong side as well.

He wrapped the belt round his hand and asked the same question again but their responses remained the same.

He whipped the elder of the two with the belt and asked “Why are you lying?”

“I am not lying, daddy. I did not press the horn”. He cried.

He got whipped continuously as he cried and insisted that he did not press the horn of the car.

Discipline_Child Abuse

His tears and pleading fell on deaf ears. His father continued whipping him as the belt tore into his skin.

Three people stood afar with tears in their eyes. The maid, his younger brother and his elder sister. They knew until he accepted that he committed the deed, he wasn’t going to be let alone.

His mum tried to stop the beating but who was she to stop her husband from disciplining his son. The look on his face told her better and she stepped back.

“It is okay”. She said when she could not bear it any more.

The lashing continued all the same.

The boy cried so much he started coughing. “I pressed the horn, daddy. I pressed the horn”.

The beating stopped immediately.

He would later confess to his siblings and the maid that he did not press the horn but he had to lie that he did.

The maid applied a salve to his wounds. The belt had cut his skin in so many places.

The house was situated on a cul-de-sac and all cars made a U-turn right in front of the house. The honk heard could have been from any car passing on the street.

Did the ten year old boy lie about touching the horn of the newly acquired car? Did a car passing by their house honk at that particular time? No one knows till date.

Could there have been a better way to discipline the boy? Was the thrashing justifiable? Was the boy’s loss of self-confidence worth the value of the car?

Where exactly do you draw the line between discipline and child abuse?

I leave the judgement to you.

———-

“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.”

  • Haim Ginott, Child psychologist

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.”

  • Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States

———
Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 20

The call-up letters arrived and while some final year students were thrilled that they were posted to states that weren’t too remote, some did not have the same story to tell. The graduation ceremony had taken place a week earlier and Chinedu’s mum and Fadeke had been the only guests for Chinedu. He had taken pictures with them both and intended to take the pictures with him to his place of primary assignment. He graduated with a second class upper degree; Kunle also doing same. It was a joyous day for all the graduating students. Tochukwu had come to congratulate both Chinedu and Kunle and Ms. Ugo had noticed that there seemed to be a little friction in their attitude towards her. She made a mental note to ask her son who the young lady was.

“Congrats man”. Chinedu said shaking his buddy’s hands and giving him a hug.

“Yeah, we deserve it”.

“So where did you get posted to?”

He laughed. “Bayelsa state”.

“You serious?”

“Couldn’t be more serious. And you?”

“Abuja”.

“Wo-hoo. You got the best, man. Soon, you would be frolicking with the powers that be”.`

To Love & to Hold 31

They both shared a laugh.

“So, what happens to Fadeke?” Kunle asked getting serious.

“What happens?”

“Yeah. You are going to be away for a whole year. Do you intend to go along with the relationship?”

He nudged his friend. “You should know me better. Of course, we are sticking like glue”.

“There would be a lot of pretty girls in camp. My man, cut a few shows. Variety is the spice of life, you know?” He winked.

Chinedu laughed as he tapped him on the shoulder. “You never change”.

He shrugged. “Someone’s got to tell you the truth”.

It was such an irony that as best buddies, they had different ideals but still got along together. The decision to stick to Fadeke was one he had made long ago and no one; not his mother or his best friend was going to change that.

******************************************************************************************

“Am I free to come over to your place anytime?”

“Of course, baby. You don’t need to ask, do you?” Chinedu smiled.

“Just checking”.

He put his arms round her waist. “You are free to crash into my place anytime, any day”.

She put her arms round him as well and rested her head on his chest.

The school session was over and students started trooping home as usual. In a week, the graduates would leave for their places of primary assignment spending three weeks in the youth camp. She would have loved to stay back in school where she would have unhindered access to Chinedu, but her parents would wonder what she was doing in school knowing fully well that they were already on vacation.

As they stood in her room in each other’s embrace, they were satisfied with the silence between them. Nothing else seemed to matter. The love between them was compared to none.

To Love & to Hold 31b

“I wish we did not have to be apart”. She said her head still on his chest.

“I wish the same too, my love”. He raised her head and cupped it in his hands. “It’s only for three weeks”.

“Which looks like forever already”?

He smiled as he put his hands behind his neck to remove the chain he had on. He put it round her neck and clipped it behind. “Let this always be a reminder that we could be apart bodily, but you would always be right here”. He said taking her right palm and placing it on his heart.

Fadeke felt her heart flutter as butterflies danced in her tummy. Was this how it felt like to be loved absolutely? Right from the first day she met him, he had always had the chain on. Right here, right now, in the confines of her room, he had removed it and put it on her as a seal on their relationship. For a split second, she remembered what her mother told her “You are just 17 and too young to recognize true love”. How wrong she was. “What we have discussed this night remains between the two of us because all hell would be let loose if your father finds out”. She looked up at Chinedu and smiled. Not even her father was going to stop her at this point.

She had never been a rebel and she hoped her parents would change their stance and not compel her to become one. She still had her right palm on his heart and she used the left to cradle his face. He closed his eyes savouring the feel of her soft palm. She traced the outline of his lips with her thumb and he kissed it. She was so much in love. She pulled him closer, her hand cradled behind his head and kissed him with a passion that reached deep into her soul.

When they came apart, he smiled.

“Why are you smiling?” She had acted on impulse and blushed.

“Nothing”.

“You are still smiling”.

“Because I love it when you loosen up”.

“Now you are making me shy”.

He tickled her. “Shy? Why should my baby be shy around me?”

As she giggled, she pleaded with him to stop.

He continued to tickle her. “No, I ain’t stopping”.

“Please, please”. She laughed hard.

“Now, I can stop. I needed to hear you laugh”. He confessed.

She nudged him as she wiped her eyes of the tears that had gathered during her bout of laughter.

He looked at her and smiled. In a week, he was leaving for Abuja and every moment they had shared together was going to be a treasured memory.

**********************

Kunle dropped his travel bag on the bed. He was exhausted and famished. Three weeks in Bayelsa state had been more than he had bargained for. The military drills had been second to none. The camp commandants had woken them up every day at 4.30am. They had been subjected to morning drills, march parades, long treks and all sorts of obstacle courses. His body ached badly and he longed for good food and a bed. Knowing that by the time he arrived home, he would be too tired to cook; he had stopped by at an eatery and gotten himself a good meal. Every food he had been given at the camp had tasted like wood to him. At first, he had abandoned the students’ kitchen and bought food every day at the mammy market. By the time he had spent a week and half, he realized he had used up most of his cash on food. He was then forced to go back to eating the food disregarding the bland taste.

He sat down on his bed and brought out the Styrofoam bowl and cup from the paper bag containing the meal he had bought. The aroma of the food wafted through his nostrils and he smiled. Who said good food did not make you happy? He took the plastic fork attached to the bowl and with a few mouthfuls of salad, he was done in a jiffy.

“This is what I call food”. He said to no one in particular.

He opened the paper bag once more and brought out another Styrofoam bowl. He set the bowl on his bed and squashed the paper bag; shooting it into the waste bin. His basketball skills hadn’t gone rusty; he acknowledged. He was about to settle down with the bowl of coconut rice when his mobile phone vibrated in his pocket. He took out the phone and smiled. “Hey dawg”.

“What’s up?” Chinedu asked.

“I’m good. And you?”

“Cool”.

“You just arrived town?”

“Yeah, like an hour ago. I just left the bus park”.

“Got home a few minutes ago as well, tired and famished”.

“Guess we are in the same shoes, man. I really need good sleep”.

“Couldn’t need it better than I. How was camp?”

“It was okay”.

“The drills?”

Chinedu shrugged “Wasn’t out of the ordinary”.

“You did not see anything wrong with waking up at 4.30am every day?”

To Love & to Hold 32

He laughed. “Kunle, you have always been a butterscotch, you know”.

“Man, those drills weren’t a hit for me but the girls sure made my stay at the camp worthwhile”.

“You did not enjoy the drills but you enjoyed sowing wild oats around camp”.

He chuckled. “I needed to relieve the stress I was getting from the commandants”.

“And the girls were available”.

“Of course. I had a couple of them”.

“You are so unrepentant”.

They both laughed. They later talked about the places they were posted to. While Kunle was posted to a secondary school to teach, Chinedu was posted to an auditing firm. Kunle teased Chinedu that Fadeke could be the reason why he was having everything go smoothly. He smiled at the thought. He had called her as soon as he arrived at the park. The call to his mother had come second before he called Kunle. He had missed her so much and she had been overjoyed to hear from him. She had promised to come over to his place immediately.

Chinedu arrived home an hour later. His mother had prepared his favourite meal and had been waiting patiently for him. After his meal, she asked about his stay in the camp and complained about the mosquito bites she noticed on his arms. As he filled her in on the events in the camp, he yawned incessantly. She knew he needed to rest and advised him to turn in for the day. Fadeke was yet to arrive and he told her to wake him up once she did. With that, he went to his room to nap.

 

An hour and forty-five minutes passed before Fadeke got to Chinedu’s place. As she walked into the compound, Ibrahim greeted her familiarly. She was no longer a stranger to the Ugo’s home and she tapped confidently on the door. She had missed Chinedu so much and the previous three weeks had felt like forever.

She was lying in bed at 12 noon when she received his call. She had woken up earlier, had breakfast and went back to lie on her bed as she flipped the TV channels absent-mindedly. She had been so excited with his call that she got up immediately and went to take a shower. She hadn’t been going out the previous weeks as she really wasn’t interested in visiting anyone. Her mum had noticed and had asked but she had waved it aside. Her excuse was that she wanted to stay home and rest. Her decision to go out had therefore, surprised her mum a little.

*****************************************************************************************

Mrs. Ugo opened the door on the third tap and smiled; her smile reaching her eyes.

“Good afternoon ma”. Fadeke curtsied.

She stepped aside “How are you, darling? Please come in”.

“Thank you, ma”.

“He’s asleep in his room”.

“Okay”. She hesitated wondering if the statement meant she was given a go-ahead to his room.

Mrs. Ugo smiled “Go on. You are not a stranger in here, are you?”

Fadeke simply nodded.

As she opened the door to Chinedu’s room, she saw him sprawled on his bed. Even though asleep, he had a smile on his lips. She wondered if he was dreaming about her. He was so handsome. She smiled as if returning his and whispered; “Hi love”.

He tossed and slightly opened his eyes; the smile still on his lips. “Hey baby”. He said groggily.

She moved closer and sat down on the bed. “You were smiling in your sleep”.

“That’s because I was dreaming about you”.

“Really?”

“I missed you bad. Come here….” He said as he pulled her down gently and planted a full kiss on her lips.

She kissed him back holding on to him as if her life depended on it. If only they could stay like this forever. She did not ever want to be apart from him.

To Love & to Hold 32b

When they eased back, he rubbed his thumb on her cheek. “My sweet puff puff cheeks. What would I ever do without you?”

He rose up and sat on the bed gently pulling her close to him as she turned her back to rest on him.

“How was camp?”

“It was okay. Quite rigorous but very interesting”.

They talked for close to two hours before Chinedu decided it was best she left before it got dark. His mum had left earlier for her store. He walked her back to the car she had come in and nodded a greeting to the driver.

“So you are back in Abuja in a week?”

“Yeah”.

“I guess this is the difficult part”.

He held her hand and squeezed it gently. “I promise to try making it a little easier”.

She eased into the back seat still holding on to him and promised to visit him once more before he left.

As the car sped away from his house, Chinedu prayed in his heart that he would be able to keep the promise he just made.

End of Volume 1.

———
Photo credit: http://www.shutterstock.com
http://www.wikihow.com

 

To Love and to Hold – Episode 19

The holidays were soon over and the second semester started with a flurry of activities. Final year students milled around the campus with their projects; trying to put finishing touches to them. It was going to be a busy semester and Fadeke knew she would be seeing less of Chinedu. She, however was not bothered. He had proved time and time again that she meant a lot to him and the few times they spent together were always worth the wait. She hadn’t heard from Tochukwu throughout the holiday and she wondered if her relationship with Chinedu or Kunle’s attraction to her was still the bone of contention. She hadn’t thought about Kunle as well or asked after him from Chinedu. She did not need the distraction anyway. As far as she was concerned, both of them were distractions to her love life.

Fadeke walked into the room and saw Tochukwu’s travel box filled with all her clothes. She noticed her wardrobe was empty and she wondered what was wrong. “Is everything okay, Tochukwu?”

She responded without looking up from the box she was arranging. “Yep”.

To Love & to Hold 30

“So, where are you going with all your clothes stuffed in your travel box?”

“My new apartment”.

Fadeke looked astonished. “Your new apartment?”

“Yes, Fadeke. My new apartment”. Tochukwu replied rising up and standing akimbo.

Different thoughts filtered through Fadeke’s mind. Tochukwu was changing rooms either because she couldn’t stand her relationship with Chinedu or because she had refused to tell him about Kunle’s attraction to her. There was definitely more to this than she knew. Whatever, it was, she was going to find out.

“Do you have anything to say to that?” Tochukwu asked spoiling for a fight.

“No, not at all. I enjoyed the short period we spent together”.

Tochukwu was shocked at the statement. She wasn’t expecting to hear that. She couldn’t bear the midnight calls Fadeke and Chinedu shared together any longer. Even though, Fadeke always faced the wall and spoke in a whisper, she often strained to hear what they were discussing. She pretended to be asleep and Fadeke never knew she eavesdropped on their conversation. Since she had decided to let Chinedu go for now, she thought it best to also let go of anything that reminded her of him. Fadeke was definitely a constant reminder of her failure and she did not need that.

Sensing that Fadeke wasn’t interested in a fight, she replied; “Thanks. I really need to change rooms. I need to be alone”.

“So, you are taking one of the mini flats in the annex, I guess”.

“Yes. There are vacant rooms there so I spoke with the landlord and he agreed”.

“No qualms. I hope you would still keep in touch”.

“Of course, I would. We are still on the same campus, aren’t we?”

As Tochukwu was about taking out what was left of her things in the room, Fadeke asked; “Tochukwu, who is the guy that broke up with you last session? It just occurred to me that you never mentioned his name”.

Tochukwu froze at the question. She had never mentioned Kunle because she did not want Fadeke linking her to Chinedu. Kunle was Chinedu’s best friend and if she ever mentioned him to Fadeke, she knew one way or the other; her well kept secrets would be in the open.

“Just some silly guy. That’s history now”.

“I was just asking. I hope it’s no offence”.

She laughed sardonically. “Offence?” She waved her hands away as if flicking off a fly.

“Take care of yourself”.

“I would”. She said as she closed the door behind her.

Tochukwu lay on her bed in her newly acquired apartment. The mini flat had the same amenities like her previous room; but now, she had a living room, a kitchen, a toilet and a bathroom to herself. She was angry at how the day had played out. She had been spoiling for a fight and Fadeke had been so calm. Why did Fadeke still have to be so nice to her? She had expected her to say the wrong word and she would have gone all out to give her a piece of her tongue. Unfortunately, that hadn’t happened and now, she was angry. She wondered what prompted the question about Kunle. She had had to think fast. Make the topic a non-issue. She was glad that her cover was not blown. Chinedu would be graduating this semester and she needed to be better prepared for her next line of action. Time was what she needed and this was a step towards her next set of plans.

******************************************************************************************

Fadeke had prepared noodles for Chinedu just the way he loved it; spicy. She had come back early from lectures and since there was really nothing for her to do in her room, she decided to go hang out in Chinedu’s for a while. Not having a roommate any longer, she got bored easily. Sometimes, she watched the television or listened to music in her room while at other times; she got busy by cooking for Chinedu and awaited his return.

After the last incident with Kunle, she had learnt to lock herself inside. She did not want a repeat of the incident; besides, it could be someone else next time. She was tired and hungry and considered eating but on second thoughts, she decided to wait till Chinedu returned. She opened her bag to take out some biscuits and was about settling down on the bed when she heard three taps on the door. Chinedu had arrived as that was his signature. She had once laughed over it and he had told her that apart from recognizing that he was the one at the door, it could also serve for security reasons.

She stood up to unlock the door.

“Hi baby”. He said kissing her full on the lips.

“Hey, at this rate, you are going to make me elope with you”. She laughed.

“I’d be the happiest man on earth”.

She nudged him. “My parents will kill me”.

“That is if you are found; because I would have taken you so far away that no one would have the slightest hint of where we are”.

“Hmm….maybe I could consider that option”. She said smiling.

“I can smell noodles”. He sniffed and tickled her at the same time.

She laughed and tried to get his hands off her. “I’m hungry. I was actually waiting for you so we could eat together”.

“How nice”.

She got out two plates and started to dish out the food. “Chinedu, there’s something I have been intending to ask you”.

“Okay”. He said as he collected one of the plates from her.

“Do you know the guy that dumped Tochukwu last session?”

He wasn’t sure where the question and what his answer could lead to; at the same time, he did not want to lie to her. “I do”.

She looked up from her plate. “Really?”

“Yes. Why do you ask?”

“Tochukwu never mentioned his name. I asked her the other day, she was moving her things out but she simply said he was history”.

She did not want her roommate finding out about Kunle. He thought. That could only mean one thing; she did not want Fadeke linking Kunle to him. Considering what she had done in the past, he wasn’t surprised.

“Chinedu…..”

He suddenly heard her voice. “Did you say something?”

To Love & to Hold 30b

“Are you okay?”

He forced a smile. “Of course”.

“I was saying that in school today, I had…..” She continued talking as they ate and even though Chinedu sat right there beside her, he did not hear a single word of what she was saying. He smiled intermittently trying to make her feel like she was been heard. All his thoughts were on Tochukwu. What was she up to this time? Only time will tell.

******************

The semester moved faster than they had envisaged and in a few weeks, the students were getting ready to write their exams. The flurry of activities took over; Chinedu and Fadeke barely seeing each other. Even the midnight calls had been reduced to once during the weekdays but they tried to catch up on gists during the weekends. Chinedu paid visits to Fadeke’s room; now that Tochukwu was out and most of his weekends were spent there. They watched the television, listened to music, cooked and ate together. On one of such weekends together, they both lay on the bed talking.

“In a few weeks, I would be through with my exams. I don’t know where I would be posted to do my youth service”.

She rose up resting her weight on her elbows. “I have thought about it as well and sincerely, anytime I think about it, I feel jitters down my spine”.

“I hope I am not posted to a place where I would have to take a boat to get to civilization”. He laughed.

“That would be real fun. Don’t you think?”

“Hey……” He nudged her. “That would mean no quick visits to see you”.

She thought about what he had said and shook her head vigorously. “No, I hope that does not happen”. She rested her head on his chest and sighed.

He knew that sigh meant a lot. “What are you thinking about, my love?”

“Just wondering”.

“What about?”

“We are going to be apart for a whole year. My dad knows a few people who can assist in getting you the state you desire but….”.

“Your father is a no-no”.

She sighed again.

“Don’t get yourself worked up. I pray I don’t get posted somewhere too far. You can be rest assured I would pay you visits in school, but the frequency of the visits would depend on the distance”.

She looked up at him and smiled. “I really do love you”.

“And I love you too puff puff cheeks”. He said rubbing his thumb on her cheeks.

———-

Photo Credit: http://www.gettyimages.com
http://www.shutterstock.com

Greed, Exorcism and Boarding schools

The rain beat harder. It looked like it was never going to stop.

The girls moved around groggily carrying their buckets filled with water. The wake up bell had rung persistently some minutes ago. The hostel proprietress acknowledged that it took more than a single ring to get the girls up. As they lined up their buckets in front of the bathroom waiting their turns, some decided to brush their teeth while those who felt their turn was a distance from the bathroom; went back to bed.

In the midst of all these, a girl lay in bed, oblivious to the sound of banging buckets and shuffling feet. A roommate came in and tapped her. “Wake up”. The girl ignored her and continued sleeping. Her roommate tapped her again but the girl still refused to get up. Her roommate decided to leave her alone. It is her business if she gets to school late and is flogged.

 Boarding house

Weeks later, the truth about that fateful morning will be revealed. The sleeping girl had been playing with her friends under the banana tree just behind their room. The rain had prevented her from coming back into her body. So her soul stayed put.

She had previously offered her roommates homemade food prepared by her step mother during the visiting day. Her step mother had urged her to do so; she needed to initiate more people. The greedy among her friends had gladly eaten. Their parents had also brought food for them from home, as the norm was during visiting days. But greed was a cloak they wore.

A roommate who slept next to her bed had always noticed she placed her feet on the wall when she slept but had never attached any importance to it. She never imagined it was her way of connecting with the other world. She confessed that to the consternation of her roommate.

The whole issue would have remained unknown but for two girls who attended a congregation which believed in seeing visions and identifying supernatural forces. It was a weekend and they had strangely started a prayer session. They were so emphatic about the girl belonging to the other world and had started a process of exorcism practiced in their congregation.

The process had been scary and the evening left an indelible mark on the minds of the girls. The bright weekend ended in gloom. They were all aged between nine and twelve.

———–
Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 18

“Hey dawg, what have you been up to?” Kunle asked.

“Well, the usual”. Chinedu said as he locked the door to the house; his phone cradled between his shoulder and his right ear. “And you?”

“Just lazing around. Everything seems calm for now”.

“Meaning?”

“Tochukwu has decided to give you a wide distance for now”.

Chinedu laughed. “And what did you tell her to achieve that feat?”

“Sincerely, nothing. She asked to see me. We spoke and she said she was letting you go for now”.

“For now?”

“Yes, she asked that I talk to you to give her an opportunity to prove that she loves you; should you and Fadeke decide to call it quits”.

“Well, we aren’t calling it quits. I’m on my way to see her as we speak”.

“Good for you. I’d talk to you later, lover boy”.

“Hey, get off my phone”. Chinedu said as he quit the call laughing.

 

Kunle walked around his living room absentminded. Since Tochukwu’s threat, his obsession with Fadeke’s body had died a natural death. He breathed deeply. It was a good sign that he was over her. He was glad that Chinedu did not in any way find out about his obsession and considering Tochukwu’s new stance, he knew there was no way he was ever going to find out. As he said a silent thanks to God, he hoped Tochukwu’s new attitude would last for a long time to come.

*****************************************************************************************

Fadeke spotted Chinedu immediately she walked into the café. He sat positioned at a corner a little secluded. They must have been thinking alike as the corner was not a place where he could easily be seen. He wanted some privacy with her and that spot had provided just what he wanted. She wore a bright orange top on deep blue jeans and had her hair swept backwards and held behind. She put on dark shades to conceal her eyes as she did not want to attract attention. She had simply told her mum that she wanted to see a friend down the road. The dark shades had been a good cover as her mum had not noticed the redness of her eyes. For the moment, she forgot all her worries and smiled. She hugged him on getting to him and wished she could go beyond that.

“Hey baby”. Chinedu said as he pulled her closer to himself. He did not want her sitting across. “You don’t know how much I have missed you”.

She hit him on the chest playfully. “I was at your house yesterday, remember?”

His smile reached his eyes. “Well, I haven’t been able to think about anything since then. You have practically seized my thoughts”.

He tried to take her shades off but she resisted. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I just don’t want to take it off”.

He held her hand. “Fadeke, talk to me. Did anything happen yesterday after you left my place?”

She refused to say a word and started fidgeting with her hands. Chinedu noticed and instantly knew there was something amiss. She did that only when she was anxious about something. He tipped her chin upwards and looked at her through the shades. “Do you know how much I love you?”

To Love & to Hold 29

The statement was the ice breaker as tears started dropping down her cheeks like an open tap. He removed the shades from her face and was shocked to see the bags under her eyes. He pulled her close and was thankful that they sat at a secluded corner. She laid her head on his chest and for a few minutes, she sobbed without making a sound. Chinedu, lost in thought, stroke her back. What could have gone wrong between his house yesterday and this morning when he called her? Could she have been scolded for visiting him at home? He sincerely hoped it wasn’t what he thought.

To Love & to Hold 29b

When she stilled from the sobs, he lifted her head gently from his chest and kissed her slowly and passionately. She kissed him back with as much passion cradling and holding him tight as if her life depended on it.

“I’m sorry I broke down”. She said smiling.

He wiped the tears on her cheeks. “Why did you stain my sweet poff poff cheeks with so many tears?”

She blushed and sighed. “I don’t know how to say this”.

“Say it anyhow you deem fit”.

“My mum is against our relationship, or should I say she voiced out my dad’s stance”.

Chinedu looked at her for a while and said nothing. When he refused to say anything, she looked up at him. “You are not saying anything”.

He sighed. “Is it because of my tribe?”

She was stunned that he was being so direct about it.

“You shouldn’t be surprised. My mum also had her misgivings before I brought you home”.

“Really?”

“Yes, she did. But she eventually accepted you, right?”

“Yeah. So what are you saying?”

“That they could change their minds later”.

“Don’t tell me you want me to take you to my parents”.

“Not if you do not want to”.

“I would love to but…..”

He caught her mid-sentence and cupped her face in his hands. “You are scared that I would not be accepted?”

She simply nodded. “My mum was so emphatic about it. She said my dad had vowed that none of his children, me especially, would get married to anyone from your tribe. She refused to see reasons with me. I had to make her promise to keep our discussion a secret. She went as far as saying all hell would be let loose if my dad found out”.

“That bad?”

“Yes. I’m so confused, Chinedu. I don’t know what to make of the issue”.

He pulled her closer and kissed her. “We’d take it one step at a time. For now, let’s leave out visiting your parents”. They sat cuddled in each other’s arms for another two hours talking about different issues. What mattered for now was the love they had for each other. Their families, notwithstanding, they were determined to stick together.

———–

Photo credit: http://www.wikihow.com

To Love and to Hold – Episode 17

“Calm down”. Chinedu said for the umpteenth time.

“Okay!”

He held her hands and smiled. “Do you realize how many times you have said the word “okay”?”

Chinedu had gone to the café to pick her as promised. On getting home, his mother had dropped a message with Ibrahim that she needed to get to her shop and would be back in a few minutes. Fadeke had voiced out her anxiety, fidgeting endlessly.

“I’m just not sure of what to expect”.

He touched her cheeks. “My mum isn’t going to eat you, my sweet “poff poff” cheeks?

She smiled and tried to relax. She hoped her first meeting with Chinedu’s mother would be pleasant.

“I’m sorry, Chinedu. I had to dash down to the shop”. His mother said apologizing as she walked into the house.

Still flustered, Fadeke quickly untwined her hands from Chinedu’s.

“It’s okay, mum”. He said standing up; holding Fadeke as he did. “This is Fadeke; Fadeke, my mum.”

“Good afternoon ma”. She said going down on her knees.

“My goodness”. She moved quickly to raise her up. “I can see why my son is so in love. You are beautiful”.

To Love & to Hold 28

Fadeke looked down shyly. “Thank you ma”.

“Have you been offered anything in my absence?”

She looked unsure of what her answer would portray and decided to play safe. “I’m okay, ma”.

“Please feel free. Let me get you something to drink”. She said ignoring her earlier response.

As his mum walked out of the living room, Chinedu tugged her by the arm. “You okay?”

“I think so”. She said as she clasped her hands.

He sat down on the couch and tapped his side. “Come and sit”.

She was still fidgeting and continued to clasp and squeeze her hands.

“If you continue fidgeting and refuse to relax, I promise I’m going to give you a full kiss right here”. He warned.

“Oh no, Chinedu, please”. She begged. “I’m relaxing”. She said as she willed herself to be still.

********

Two hours later, Fadeke and Chinedu walked out of the house hand in hand. “I like your mum. She’s so funny and I love her attitude to issues of life”. She smiled.

“Well, she sees only the bright side of life. She is my driving force. She gives me a reason to push and make the best of all situations”.

She stood to look at him. “I am glad I met her. Thanks, you made my day”.

“You also made mine, love”. He looked lovingly into her eyes.

********

“So, mum, what do you think?” Chinedu asked as he sat beside his mum on the couch.

“Honestly?”

“Yes mum, honestly”.

“She’s well bred.  She’s beautiful. She’s intelligent”.

“And?” He asked expectant.

“She’d make a good wife”.

“You sure about that?”

“Were you expecting me to say otherwise?” She asked nudging him.

“Considering that I have fallen madly in love with her, I don’t think otherwise would have made a difference”.

“Then go ahead and do the right thing”.

“I will mum, I will”.

As he lay on his bed that night, sleep eluded him. His mum had asked him to do the right thing and he needed to do it sooner than later. He thought about how his mum had gladly accepted Fadeke. He did not think he would get anything other than an acceptance from Fadeke’s parents. Her parents were learned and according to her, accepted all tribes. Tomorrow, he would discuss with her. For now, he was going to go to bed dreaming about her for she had become his love and his life.

******************************************************************************************

“Mum, can I talk to you for a moment?” Fadeke asked.

Her mother looked up from the fashion magazine she was reading and readjusted her glasses. “Yes, my dear. Come sit with me”. She was sitting in the den outside her room and had a glass of strawberry tea beside her on a stool.

“I need you to keep this a secret for now”.

“Okay”. She said as she sat upright. Whatever her daughter had to say needed her utmost attention.

“I’m dating someone”. Fadeke said and waited for a reaction from her mum. Seeing none, she continued, “And I love him very much. I went to visit his mum today”.

“You did what?”

She looked backwards to be sure they hadn’t stirred up anyone. “Mum, keep your voice down. It’s late”.

“What did you just say you did?” She whispered.

“I went to see his mum. It was just an ordinary visit”.

“Fadeke, you haven’t brought him home yet. You can’t go around visiting mothers of people you are dating”.

“Mum, I went to visit Chinedu’s mother not mothers of people I am dating. Chinedu is the only one I am dating and I did not see any harm in what I did”.

“You are dating an Ibo boy?” (Eastern part of Nigeria)

“Yes, I am. Anything wrong with that?”

“Everything is wrong. Your dad must not hear this. He has vowed that none of his children will marry from that tribe especially you, his daughter”.

“But mum, the tribe does not make the person. Chinedu is really sweet and he loves me very much”.

“Hush” She said shutting her up. “You are just 17 and too young to recognize true love”.

To Love & to Hold 28b

“I’m no longer a child, mum. I know true love when I see it and that’s what Chinedu has shown me”.

“Go to bed, Fadekemi. I have had enough for the night”.

“Mum….”

“I said go to bed. What we have discussed this night remains between the two of us because all hell would be let loose if your father finds out”.

Fadeke sighed. “Goodnight mum”.

“Goodnight. I hope you sleep over what I have just told you and change your mind”.

After two hours on the bed, Fadeke still tossed and turned. What could her father possibly have against the Ibo tribe? Why would her mum want to jettison her happiness over an excuse as flimsy as a tribal issue? Were they not all Nigerians? She hadn’t even accepted that she was old enough to be in a relationship. So many questions without answers. A tear slid down her cheek as she thought about how much she loved Chinedu. Was this going to be the launch of the end of their relationship? A relationship they had both nurtured with so much love? She broke into sobs and dug her face into her pillow. She was torn between her parents and Chinedu and it was breaking her heart. She hugged her pillow and sobbed until she fell asleep.

To Love & to Hold 28c

Fadeke’s mobile phone kept on ringing persistently. She had placed it on the little side drawer by her bed and whoever was calling had decided to keep calling until she picked up. Today was a day she wanted to speak with no one. She had cried herself to sleep and had a very bad headache. She put a pillow over her head so she wouldn’t hear the phone. For a moment, the phone stopped ringing and she was glad that she could go back to sleep. She was going to stay in bed for as long as she could. She pulled the duvet cover closer and buried herself under them. Just as she was beginning to drift back to sleep, the phone started ringing again.

“Oh, what is it again?” She hissed.

She turned to her side and winced. She needed to take pain relievers. She picked up the phone and yelled. “What?”

“Are you okay, my love?”

She heard his whisper and regretted immediately that she hadn’t looked at the caller ID. She tried to sit up but with the persistent headache decided it was best she lay down.

“I’m sorry. I should have looked at the caller ID”.

“Had someone else been harassing you?”

“No, not at all. Ouch”. She winced as the headache got worse.

“What’s wrong, Fadeke?” He asked getting uneasy.

“Nothing darling. I just have this bad headache”.

“Did you sleep late?”

She thought about her discussion with her mum the previous night. There was no future with Chinedu.

“Hello, hello…”

She suddenly realized that she had drifted away. “I’m still here. What did you say?”

“Please talk to me, baby. You don’t sound okay. Do you want me to come over or would you meet me some place so we can talk?”

She thought about the idea of going out. Even though, she really did not want to get out of bed, what she did need right now was to be with Chinedu. “Meet me at the Posh café in about 2 hours. I’d go have my bath and take some pain killers. We need to talk”.

“Ok then. I’ll be waiting”.

Chinedu held onto the phone and was lost in thought. Fadeke was in high spirits yesterday, so he couldn’t fathom what could have caused the sudden change of attitude. Whatever it was, he was determined to get to the root. He looked at his wrist watch and decided to get dressed. He wanted to get to the café early enough as he did not want to keep her waiting.

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