Ajoke walked to her room; her kids following right behind her. They sat down on her bed and looked at her expectantly. Ajoke dropped her bag on her bed and noticed the look on her children’s faces.
“Why do you both have that look on your faces?” Ajoke asked.
“We want to know how your date went.” Adegbenro said.
Ajoke looked at her son. “What did you discuss with Enitan?”
“He didn’t tell you?” Adegbenro asked.
Ajoke eyed her son. “If he did, I won’t be asking you. He said men stuff. What does that even mean?”
Adegbenro shrugged. “Well, it was men stuff. I was trying to protect my family.”
Ajoke let out her breath as she tried to sit on the bed. Adegbenro and Adebola created a space in between them and she sat down. She pulled her arms around them and looked at each of them.
“I love you both. You know that, don’t you?” She asked them.
“And I want you to be happy.”
“We are happy, mum. But you are not.” Adebola said.
Ajoke smiled sadly as thoughts of Kokumo filtered into her mind. Her kids had been so fond of him and his sudden disappearance had taken them by surprise. They had asked day after day about him but she had refused to provide an answer. She guessed they must have figured out what the issue was.
Adegbenro turned to look at her. “Mum, we want you to be happy. We want you to find love again.”
Ajoke looked at her kids and was surprised. Where was all these coming from? How had her kids grown so fast before her eyes? She smiled as she kissed each one on the cheek.
“We love you too mum.” Adebola said; voicing out their mother’s unspoken thoughts.
They hugged her and laid their heads on her shoulders.
Hours later, Ajoke lay on her bed unable to sleep. She tossed and turned as she thought about Kokumo’s last statement to her.
“It would be unfair to you and to those we love if we keep our lives at a standstill. Please don’t do this to us.” Was it time to move on?
Enitan opened the door of his apartment and let himself in. The décor in the living room was simple but tasteful in appearance. He picked up a remote from the glass table in the centre of the room and switched on the TV with a button. A newscaster was reading the evening news. He sat down on the sofa directly in front of the TV and watched. His mind was however far away as he only watched the moving images. How long will he have to wait before voicing out his feelings to Ajoke? He had noticed her in their second year. It had not been love at first sight but he had been fascinated by her dogged attitude to her studies. While most ladies in their class were bothered about taking selfies, social media and hanging out with the wanna-bes, she had caught the attention of most of the lecturers with her excellent grades.
Gradually, he began to like her and said “hello” to her anytime she passed by him. He noticed she only came to school when she had lectures and was out immediately after she was through for the day. She did not mix freely like the others and he had wondered why.
He exhaled as he rested his head on the couch. Seeing her family with two grown kids had caught him unawares but it had only strengthened the love he had for her. He had to tell her how he felt, even if it meant she would never talk to him again. He could not hide it forever. Right there in his living room, Enitan made up his mind about Ajoke.
A week later, Ajoke was at her shop attending to her customers when she received a phone call from Adebola that she was needed at home.
“What’s the problem?” Ajoke asked.
“Erm….mummy, you need to come home now.”
“Why? Can’t it wait?”
“No mum.” Adebola said.
Ajoke gave instructions to her girls and walked the short distance from her shop to her house. As she approached her house, she wondered what the problem could be. Her kids hardly pulled her away from work. She just hoped it was not something serious.
As she opened the door to her house, she was startled by shouts of “Happy birthday”. She looked at her kids, surprise clearly written on her face. Adebola and Adegbenro were grinning from ear to ear and they encroached on her space smothering her with hugs and kisses. Ajoke was overwhelmed by the love and a tear slid down her cheek. She looked at the wooden table in the middle of her living room and saw a massive birthday cake and a wrapped box. Her jaw dropped as she looked at her kids.
“How did you do this?” She asked.
Adegbenro smiled. “We got a little help.”
Ajoke’s brows shot up. “From who?”
All of a sudden, Enitan walked in from a corner of the living room. “From me.” He said giving her that smile that always made her heart melt.
Ajoke was at a loss of what to say. “How did you know about my birthday?” She asked him.
“We are in the same class. Have you forgotten?” He said as he closed the space between them stretching out his hands to her. Ajoke took a deep breath as she went into his embrace. She closed her eyes as tears streamed down her cheeks. Was she falling in love with him?
Adegbenro quietly carried the cake from the living room and nodded to his sister as they both left the lovers to discover themselves.
Enitan raised Ajoke’s head up and looked straight into her soul. “I love you Ajoke. I can’t hide it anymore.” He said as he wiped a tear from her cheek.
Ajoke lowered her head.
“Please give me a chance to love you.”
“I’ve got a lot of baggage.” Ajoke sniffed.
“I know.” Enitan said smiling. “It has only strengthened my resolve to take care of you.”
Ajoke looked up and saw love in his eyes. Could he handle her heart which had been splintered into various pieces by Adejoro and Kokumo? What was left of it that she had to give to him?
Enitan held Ajoke’s hand as he walked towards the door.
“Where are we going?”
“We are going for lunch.”
“I haven’t told them.…..” She was saying before Enitan interrupted her.
He beamed a smile at her. “Your son gave me a go ahead.”
Ajoke gave Enitan a puzzled look as she shook her head wondering how much information had passed between Adegbenro and Enitan.
Enitan had parked his car a few metres after Ajoke’s house so she hadn’t noticed it when she arrived home earlier. When she saw the spot it was parked, she smiled. He opened the door and she eased into the car quietly. Enitan drove to one of the newly established restaurants on the outskirts of the village.
As they took their seats and waited to be served, Enitan held Ajoke’s hands on the table. “Let me tell you a little story.” He said.
Ajoke nodded and listened.
“There was a young woman who lived in the town of Ilesa. She was given out in marriage to her husband at the age of eighteen. Nine months after her marriage, she had a son who was named Olaitan. The family of three lived happily. She was a petty trader while her husband was a bricklayer. He built houses for the rich and famous. This made him very popular in Ilesa. Two years after; when Olaitan was weaned off his mother’s breasts, she attempted to have another child. One year led to two years, then three years but Mama Olaitan was unable to conceive again. She tried all she could. She visited the herbal doctors and churches but pregnancy eluded her.”
Ajoke shook her head in pity.
“She gave up after some years and decided to face her business and her small family. However, when Olaitan was nineteen, his mother fell ill. Her husband made some herbs for her to drink and some were applied on her body. Her sickness however refused to abate. She fell in and out of sickness for about six months. One day, Olaitan’s friend who was an auxiliary nurse in one of the health centres visited him at home. They had finished from the secondary school together and she had secured a job in the health centre while Olaitan intended to go to the University. She had looked at Mama Olaitan with concern and asked her if she had been to the health centre. The answer was negative. She asked Olaitan to bring his mother to the health centre the next morning.”
The waiter brought their food and Enitan began to eat. He signaled to Ajoke to eat when he noticed she was waiting for him to continue.
“The next morning….” Enitan said as he continued his story. “Olaitan and his mother arrived the health centre early so as to avoid the long queue. Olaitan’s mother was checked by the doctor and it was confirmed that she was six months pregnant. She found it hard to believe what she had heard. Even Olaitan was lost for words. He was going to have a baby brother. Baba Olaitan was overjoyed when he heard the news. However, the joy of the family was cut short when Mama Olaitan died a few minutes after giving birth. Her labour had been prolonged and it was a miracle that the baby survived as both mother and child were in distress.”
“Wow.” Ajoke said as she shook her head.
“That’s not the end of the story.” Enitan said smiling.
“Okay?” Ajoke said. She had finished her food and she pushed the plate away from her.
“Eight days after, the child was named Eni-itan, because his father said he had a story to his birth.”
Ajoke smiled. “This is your story?”
“Yes, that is my story.”
“So your brother took care of you from birth, I assume.”
Enitan took a deep breath. “He gained admission into the University and I had to be left alone with my father. My father got a wet nurse who took care of me till I was a year old. I was seven when we lost our father. He fell from one of the high-rise buildings he was working on. He broke his neck and died on the spot.
Ajoke gasped as her hands flew to her mouth. She stretched out her hands to hold Enitan’s. “I’m so sorry.”
Enitan smiled. “Olaitan had to take me out of the village. He brought me to Lagos to stay with my maternal uncle and his wife. They took care of me till Olaitan graduated and could stand on his feet. The house I live in belonged to Olaitan. He relocated to the United States with his family some years ago. He left his business in my care and we have an agreement on profit-sharing.”
So, Law is your second degree, I presume.”
“Yes, it is.” Enitan smiled. “I have a degree in Business Administration. When I took over my brother’s business, I decided to come back to school and get educated on business law.”
“Wow.” Ajoke said. “This is a whole lot of information in one night.”
“I’m glad I shared it with you. No one in class knows about me.”
“So why did you decide to let me into your life?”
“Because I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Enitan replied.
Ajoke shook her head. “I can’t do this to you, Enitan. You deserve someone better.”
“Shhh……” Enitan said as he put his forefinger on her lips. “I want you and not someone better.”
Ajoke exhaled. If Enitan found out about her past, would he sing a different tune? She had not totally let Kokumo out of her heart. She still loved him even though he was beyond her reach. Sometimes, her nights were so lonely that she reminisced on the time they spent together exploring each other’s bodies with Kokumo making her scream in ecstasy. On such nights, she cried herself to sleep as she longed for the man who had been her first love and had set her body on fire with his touch.
Memories of Adejoro had become a distant past and she had no feelings left in her heart for him. As far as she was concerned, he was only the father of her children. Would she be able to push thoughts of Kokumo behind and look forward to Enitan’s love? So many questions begged for answers in her life and she knew the ball was in her court to play it as she wished.
The story continues…
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