Tag Archives: friendship

Stages of Life

Lara saw her best friend on TV and smiled. Yemi was anchoring a game show and she was good at it. Lara remembered how close they were in secondary school. They had been best friends and other students had envied their relationship. A few friends had even tried to come in-between them by telling tales but they had seen beyond the envy and jealousy and stuck together.

Lara went on to study Chemistry at the University of Lagos while Yemi had studied Mass Communication in a University in South Africa. They had tried to keep up their friendship through phone calls and text messages but after a while, Yemi became unreachable. All efforts made by Lara ended fruitlessly and she concluded that Yemi must have changed her number. She had also tried to search for Yemi through Facebook but that had also been unsuccessful.

 

*****

Ten years after graduation from secondary school, Lara watched her friend on TV and was proud of her. Watching her now, she realized the reason why she hadn’t been able to find her on Facebook. Yemi had dropped her first name and was now identified by her second name, Joyce. She did a quick search on Facebook with the new name and found her. She immediately sent her a friend request.

 

A week passed and Lara was yet to get an acceptance from her friend. She decided to send her a message. She was however shocked when she got a rejection to her friend request and a response to her message. The message read; “I have moved on from teenage friendships. Get a life.”

Lara must have read the message a thousand times. She wondered what could have come over her friend. Had she written something that resulted in such a response? She went back to read her message to Yemi again. She had congratulated her friend on the TV programme and told her she was doing a good job. She had also mentioned how she had searched for her for so long; not realizing she had dropped her first name. She had asked her to keep in touch.

As Lara deleted the message, she made a mental note to move on and forget she ever had a friend named Yemi.

—–

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One Last Chance

Lekan took one last look round his room. The room had one window opening. A tattered wrapper which was torn in so many places was used as a cover from the prying eyes of neighbours. A kerosene stove stood on the left side of the room but it was obvious that it had not been in use for a long time. A pair of trousers, four shirts and two ties hung on the wall above a flat mattress which looked more like a pieces of foam cut together. He should have returned the ties to Wale by now; he thought. He was sure Wale would come get it later; that is if he decided to. He shrugged.

A brown bucket with a broken handle was placed beside the door. A bar soap lay inside a native sponge in the bucket. The green soap was both a bathing and a washing soap.

He sighed as he looked at the small ziploc bag for medication in his hands. Ten white tablets sat in it, waiting to be consumed. He had borrowed some money from his neighbour and told him he would return it at the end of the month. With the look his neighbour gave him, he knew the man did not believe him; but he did not care because he knew everything was ending today.

 

He had told the man at the chemist that he could not sleep well. He avoided the pharmacy. They would ask too many questions. The chemist gave him the ten tablets and told him to take one every day for the next two weeks.  He opened the medical bag and poured all the  ten tablets into his hand. If only the man knew his intention, he thought as he took a deep breath.

He took out the sachet of whiskey he had kept under his mattress and looked at it. He had never taken alcohol before and he wondered how this would taste. He used his teeth to tear it open, threw all the tablets into his mouth and poured the drink down his throat. He grimaced as he swallowed. He downed a cup of water to help push the contents down.

Now, he only needed to lie down and wait.

******

Wale had this sudden urge to open Lekan’s email account. Lekan had opened it at a business centre after their graduation from the university seven years ago. He used it to send his resume to various organizations but none had called him for a test or an interview. Lekan had given him the email and password to help him check his emails from time to time in case a job offer came up. He had told him he could not afford to waste money that could be used for food at a business centre.

Wale wondered why Lekan was so unlucky. He was one of the best graduating students in the Business Administration department but life had been unfair to him. He was an orphan without siblings. He had lost his mother at birth. An aunt who had decided to take care of him after the loss of his father at the age of twelve had treated him like a slave. He had to hawk everyday to be able to eat. His aunt refused to send him to school; so he used the proceeds from his hawking to get a secondary education.

He secured admission into the University and the struggle continued. Most times, he worked through the nights at various times as a security guard, a bartender and a washman just to get a University education. He had hoped to get a good job immediately after graduation with his good grades but that eluded him as well. He had to continue doing odd jobs just to keep body and soul together. He had asked to borrow a tie from Wale whenever he wanted to write bank tests or attend interviews but Wale had decided to give him two.

Wale felt pity for him. He wasn’t one of the best in the department and he remembered meeting Lekan on so many occasions for tutorials. He had however secured a job with one of the top banks in the country immediately after they completed their National Youth Service. He had also assisted in submitting Lekan’s resume to the bank but he never got called for a test.

He knew his bank was in need of customer service agents and tellers from time to time and he had discussed the opportunity with his boss numerous times. His boss had however, refused to give Lekan a chance. He told Wale that he needed experienced hands. He felt unhappy because he knew his friend was already tending towards depression. He had paid him a visit last weekend and he could see dejection written boldly on his face.

 

He logged into Lekan’s yahoo account and the first email that stared at him was an invitation from a recruitment company asking him to visit Wale’s bank to sign a letter for a contract job as a teller. His monthly package was also stated and he was given a month to either accept or reject the offer. Wale could not believe his eyes. He did not even know that the customer service and teller jobs in his bank had been contracted out. He was so happy that he immediately put a call to Lekan. The phone rang out a number of times without response. He wondered why Lekan wasn’t picking up his calls. He looked at his wrist watch. It read 4:30p.m. In thirty minutes, he should be done for the day.

At 5:15p.m, Wale walked out of the bank. He contemplated whether to go home and change before going to Lekan’s house. He was famished and he needed to rest. He had prepared some jollof rice for himself last night and he was already dreaming about eating it with a cold bottle of coke. He put a call to Lekan again and the phone kept ringing. He eased into his blue Toyota Corolla and drove out of his office. In an hour, he was seated in front of his TV with a plate of jollof rice, chicken and a bottle of coke. He called Lekan’s phone again without success.

At 8:30p.m, Wale woke up with a start. He hadn’t realized that he had dozed off after the meal. He picked up the remote beside him and switched off the TV. He remembered he had been trying to reach Lekan and he put a call to him again. Lekan’s phone was switched off. He hissed as he thought about going to bed. He was about to go to his room when he had a strange feeling. He stopped suddenly in his tracks. He picked up his wallet and car keys, locked his door in a hurry and ran out of the house. He drove for the next forty-five minutes like a mad man as other drivers spewed expletives at him. “Oh God, oh God, let it not be what I am thinking.” He prayed as he drove.

******

Lekan had seen the first call from Wale. He wondered why Wale was calling him and he had ignored the call. When the calls became persistent, he tried to pick it up but he was already dizzy. He decided to let it ring. He didn’t need anyone’s pity right now. He wanted to go peacefully.

 

Wale burst into Lekan’s room at 9:20p.m. Lekan had not made an attempt to lock the door. Wale saw his friend lying on the mattress with a satchet of whiskey beside him. He instantly knew there was trouble as he was aware that Lekan never drank.

“Lekan, Lekan, Lekan.” He shouted shaking his friend. Lekan was still and Wale began to panic. He put his thumb under his friend’s nostrils to check if he was still breathing. He felt a faint wisp of air. He ran out of the room to seek help and bumped into the man that Lekan had borrowed money from.

“Oga, take it easy nau, haba!” The man said.

“Please help me, please.” Wale pleaded.

“Wetin?” The man sneered.

“Help me carry my friend to the car.”

“Your friend? Who be your friend? Wetin do am wey he no fit waka by himself?”

“Please just help me.” Wale begged.

“Abeg comot.” The man said pushing Wale away.

“Oh God, oh God, Lekan, please don’t die.” Wale said almost at the point of tears.

The man turned back and looked at Wale. “That jobless Lekan nah your friend? He borrow money from my hand. I go make sure say I collect my money at the end of the month.”

“He is about to die, please help me.”

“Die ke? Abeg, I need my money oh. Make e no die yet. Where he dey?”

Wale pointed towards Lekan’s room and the man rushed towards the room with Wale at his heels. The man helped Wale drag Lekan into the car. Wale sped to the nearest hospital with prayers on his lips.

******

The doctor came out of Lekan’s room an hour later with a grim face. Wale rushed towards the doctor as he asked about his friend.

“Doctor, how is he? What is wrong?”

The doctor took a deep breath. “The blood sample taken shows a high dose of a sleeping drug. There was also alcohol in his blood which is a deadly combination.”

“What does that mean doctor? Will he be fine?”

“Let’s take it one day at a time.” The doctor replied.

“I don’t understand, doctor. He is alive, right?”

“For now, but he is in a coma. Let us hope he survives it.”

Wale put his hands on his head in lamentation. “Oh God, why didn’t I get there earlier?”

“Don’t punish yourself unnecessarily.” The doctor said as he patted Wale on the back.

“Ah doctor, you won’t understand.”

The doctor gave Wale a sad smile as he walked to his office.

******

Wale kept going to the hospital every day after work. About eight days later, Lekan came out of the coma. He was a bit disoriented and had no idea of where he was or what happened to him. The doctor ran some more tests on him and referred him to see a psychologist.

“Your friend is fine and can go home now.” The doctor told Wale some days later. “He is definitely lucky. Some cases like this don’t end well. Please ensure he sees the psychologist.”

Wale nodded his answer.

 

As Wale drove Lekan to his apartment, he said a silent thanks to God for keeping his friend alive. He was going to keep an eye on him going forward. He had prepared the guest room in his apartment for his friend. Life had given both of them a second chance and he was going to try his best to make sure he did not fail this time.

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.shuttershock.com

The Hospital Visit

Tosin looked at his wristwatch. It read 9.45pm. He stood up and stretched. “Good night.” He said to his colleague sitting in the cubicle next to him.

“Good night.” Bayo replied.

 

As Tosin drove home, he touched the right side of his head. He had a pounding headache. He knew he needed to go to the hospital as the headache had been persistent for the past three days.

I will go tomorrow; he thought.

He got to his estate in about thirty minutes and honked for the security guard to open the gate.

He hardly acknowledged the greeting of the security guard. It was his usual way.

He took out his keys and opened the door to his flat. He dropped his laptop bag on the centre table and slumped into the couch.

He put on the TV and watched the moving images; his mind shutting down slowly.

 

********

Bayo resumed at his desk at 8.00am the next morning. Tosin was not at his desk and he wondered why as he always came in very early. Maybe he was running late; he thought.

By 11.00am, Tosin hadn’t arrived in the office but Bayo was so engrossed in his job that he hardly noticed. Their Head of department was on vacation and apart from Bayo, no one noticed Tosin’s absence.

At 10.00pm, Bayo looked at his wrist watch and noticed Tosin’s desk was empty. He realized he hadn’t put a call to Tosin all day to find out why he wasn’t at work. He picked up his phone to call Tosin, but the number was switched off. Hmmm….strange; he thought as he packed up his laptop and prepared to go home.

 

The next morning, Bayo resumed at work and met Tosin’s desk empty again. Something is wrong; he thought. He tried to call Tosin’s number  again but it was still switched off. He decided to close early so he could stop by at his house on his way home. He tried to remember the direction to Tosin’s house as he had been there just once. He was sure no other person in the organization knew Tosin’s house as Tosin hardly made friends. He couldn’t call himself Tosin’s friend, he was also just a colleague.

 

Bayo closed from the office at 6.00p.m. After a number of missed turns, he arrived at Tosin’s estate in an hour. The security guard queried him on his mission and he mentioned Tosin’s name. A call was placed to Tosin’s line but the response was still the same; the number was switched off.

Had anyone seen Tosin? Did he come out of his flat the previous day? Bayo began to ask questions but the security guard could not provide an answer. Tosin lived alone and hardly interacted with the other neighbours; the security guard told him.

Bayo asked the security guard to go with him to Tosin’s flat so they could see what the problem was. They banged on the door and pressed the door bell but there was no answer. They eventually got a carpenter to break open the door.

 

********

Tosin was lying down in the couch and was in his work clothes from two days ago. The TV was still showing images. Bayo called his colleague but there was no answer. He touched him and realized he was cold and stiff. Bayo noticed his mobile phone beside him and picked it up. It had been switched off.

No one had made an effort to check on him to find out why he had not gone out early to work as he usually did. No one had made an effort to find out why his car was parked for two days on a weekday. No one had an idea of what had taken place two nights ago when he came home.

 

As Tosin’s body was moved out of his flat, Bayo remembered Tosin had mentioned having a persistent headache which had refused to abate. Bayo had also been feeling tired of recent but had kept postponing his visit to the hospital. He left Tosin’s flat immediately and drove down to the hospital.

As the nurse checked his blood pressure, she had a grim expression on her face as she looked at him. “Hello sir, you need to slow down if you want to stay alive.”

——–

Photo Credit: http://www.mycity-web.com

Omoshalewa – Episode 7

Shalewa drove home with Akin tailing behind. All through the journey home, she smiled as she kept her eyes on the rear mirror. She still could not believe that Akin, her first love was back in town. Oh Akin, how much I longed for you all these years. And now, you waltz back into my life at this time; when all hope is lost. She shook her head as she sighed. Why did you have to wait this long? She soliloquized.

She drove into her residence and asked the gateman to allow Akin in as well. As she eased out of her car, she waited for Akin. Akin got out of his car and strolled towards her. As he got to her, he held her hand and kissed it with a smile on his face. They both proceeded to walk towards the main door hand in hand. As they were about stepping into the main house, Akin whispered something into Shalewa’s ears and she burst out into laughter.

Funke looked up from the fashion magazine she was browsing through when she heard Shalewa’s laughter. Shalewa walked up to her mum and bent halfway to kiss her on the cheeks. She dropped her handbag on the couch as Funke picked up her glasses from the side stool. She put it on to have a good look at the person walking in behind Shalewa. As she recognized him, Akin smiled as he touched the floor in a half prostrate.

“Good evening ma.” He said.

Funke stood up to give him a hug. “Ah..ah, Akin!!!” She exclaimed.

“Yes ma.”

“Wow! It’s been how many years?”

“Fifteen years ma.” He replied grinning.

“How are your parents?”

“They are fine thank you, ma. I spoke to them on the drive down here and they asked me to send their greetings.”

Shalewa beamed with smiles as she looked at her mum and Akin.

“When did you arrive? It is so nice seeing you again.”

Akin smiled. “I arrived a few weeks ago.”

“Ah…ah, Akin!” Funke said stressing his name. “You have grown into a fine young man. Please sit down, my dear. What do we offer you?”

“I am okay ma. Shalewa and I had some drinks before coming. I just wanted to stop by to say hi after a long time. I have missed you and daddy a lot.”

“Oh, thank you. That is nice of you but he is not home yet.” Funke said.

“No worries ma. Since I have seen you, I have seen daddy.” Akin said as they all burst into laughter. “I should take my leave now. Thank you for taking very good care of Shalewa.”

Shalewa blushed as she looked at her mum. “Ah, do I have a choice?” Funke asked as she raised her palms heavenwards.

“Let me walk you out.” Shalewa said to Akin.

Akin did another bow towards Shalewa’s mother as he stretched forth his hand towards Shalewa. Shalewa immediately took his hand and they walked out of the living room smiling.

Akin eased into his car still holding Shalewa’s hand. He started the ignition and looked lovingly into her eyes.

“I almost feel like you shouldn’t leave.” Shalewa said.

Akin smiled. “I don’t want to as well but you know I have to go.”

“Yeah, I know.” Shalewa said looking downcast.

Akin pulled her closer as he raised up her chin and planted a kiss on her forehead. He caressed her face with his thumb and smiled.

Shalewa smiled back. The unspoken feelings between them saying a thousand words with their eyes.

“Give me your phone.”

“It’s in my handbag. I dropped it in the living room.” Shalewa replied.

Akin picked up his phone from the passenger seat and handed it over to her. She typed in her number immediately.

“Expect my call.” Akin said as he saved the number.

“Definitely.”

Akin engaged the gear and drove towards the gate. The gateman opened up and he drove out of the Samuel’s residence.

Shalewa walked into the house smiling to herself. She met her mum shutting the window blinds as she sauntered into the living room. Funke sighed as Shalewa walked in.

“Mum?” Shalewa said as she gave her mother a curious look.

Funke sat down and tapped the couch. “Please sit down.”

Shalewa obeyed as she sat beside her mum. “Is anything the matter?”

“Yes. I watched the display between you and Akin.” Shalewa’s smile faded immediately. “I don’t think it is right considering that you are getting married very soon.”

“Is that all you have to say, mum?” Shalewa asked beginning to get upset.

“Omoshalewa, listen to me. Tunde loves you….”

“And Akin doesn’t?” Shalewa asked cutting her mother short.

“Shalewa!!! You should concentrate on your wedding preparations.” Her mother said scolding her.

“I have had enough of this, mum. Can I leave now?” Shalewa asked as she picked up her bag from the couch and stood up in anger.

Funke looked at her daughter as she sighed deeply.

Without another word from her mother, Shalewa stormed to her bedroom slamming the door shut.

Shalewa’s phone began to ring. She had been lying down on her bed fully clothed the last one hour. She stood up and walked towards her mini-library where she had dropped her handbag in anger. She took out her phone, looked at the caller ID, hissed and flung the phone on her bed. The phone rang three more times but she refused to pick up the call.

Ten minutes later, her mum tapped on her door once and walked in. Shalewa’s back was turned to the door. “Yes mum.”

“Tunde has been trying to reach you. He says your phone keeps ringing out. He was worried and called me to ask if you were okay.”

“I’m okay.” Shalewa said; not turning back to look at her mum.

“Don’t you think you should pick up his call or at least return the call to let him know that?”

“I’m not interested. If he calls back, you can tell him I am fine.”

“But not interested in picking his call?”

Shalewa turned to look at her mum. “Mum, I really want to be alone. Please can you do that?”

Funke shrugged and sighed as she walked out of her daughter’s room.

*******

Shalewa was beginning to doze off when her phone began to ring again. “Oh goodness.” She said as she picked up the phone in anger. She was about to switch off the phone when the Truecaller app on it brought up a name. She rose up immediately and picked the call.

“Hey.”

“Sounds like you were not expecting my call.”

“I was.”

“Maybe your heart was but your body wasn’t.”

Shalewa smiled. Even though they were apart, he still noticed the seemingly minute details. “I did not realize I had dozed off.”

“I should allow you rest then. You are probably tired.”

“No, no, please.” Shalewa said with a tone of urgency. “I really want to talk to you.”

“How are you doing?”

Shalewa sighed. “Akin, I really can’t say I am doing fine.”

“So what happened between when I left your place and now?”

“It’s mummy. She won’t let me rest.”

Akin laughed. “Let you rest? I don’t understand.”

“It’s about my wedding to Tunde.”

“Okay, so what about it? I remember you said you were not in love with him?” Akin asked chuckling.

“Akin, this ain’t funny. I’m not in love with him but why is it so difficult for everyone to understand?” Shalewa asked irritated.

“Everyone except me.”

“I don’t know what to do, Akin. I am confused.”

“That is because you haven’t told them what you want.”

“But I have, they just won’t listen.”

“Then make them listen.” Akin said matter-of-factly.

Shalewa was quiet for a few seconds. She nodded her head and said; “Right? I think I know what to do.”

“That’s my Shally babe.” Akin said laughing.

Shalewa smiled as she closed her eyes and listened to the sound of Akin’s laughter. Fifteen years had not changed anything between them.

They chatted for another two hours moving from one topic of discussion to another until they both began to yawn continuously into each other’s ears. They laughed over that as well before they bade each other good night.

——-

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

Omoshalewa – Episode 2

“An important visitor! Well, let’s go see who this important visitor is.” Shalewa said to herself as she walked towards her bathroom suite.

As warm water from the shower coursed down her back, she remembered how she had fallen in love with one of her neighbours when she was fifteen. He was just a year older than her. They were both young and naïve but they had loved each other. The park opposite their houses was their favourite spot. They would take walks round it holding hands and gisting. They would sit in the park and talk for hours loosing track of time. They talked about school, their parents, movies and their dreams of the future. They never ran out of what to talk about. They were in different secondary schools as boarding students but that did not deter their friendship. They exchanged letters while they were in school and looked forward to every break in the school session. Everyone in the neighborhood knew where one was, the other had to be there.

Episode 2

One afternoon during the mid-term break of their second year in the senior class, Akin Savage had come running to the park in tears. He looked flustered and was struggling to speak. Shalewa had been sitting down waiting for him. She grabbed him, shaking him as if he were a child that had been caught misbehaving. “What is it? Why are you crying?”

“My…my…my mum says I have to continue my education abroad.” He stammered as he choked on his words.

“Abroad? But why? Your school is one of the best in the country. Why do they want you to go abroad?” Shalewa had asked.

“She says that’s what my dad wants. I don’t know why. I have tried to explain to her that I don’t want to go but she would not listen. She says it has been concluded and that I am leaving in two days.”

“Does that mean I won’t see you again?” Shalewa asked; tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I don’t know.” He answered fidgeting. “Why does my dad want to separate us? Do you think he doesn’t want us to be together?”

Shalewa who was already sobbing could not utter a word. Could it be true that Akin’s dad was trying to separate them? His dad had seen them together on many occasions. Both families were friends and there had never been a complaint from Akin’s father. The two families were regarded as the closest in the neighbourhood. Akin’s father was very wealthy and had sent his son to one of the best schools in the country while Shalewa’s father on the other hand, even though not as wealthy as Akin’s father had prospects of being so. He was a hardworking man with very sharp business instincts.

For a while, both of them sat down locked in each other’s embrace as they sobbed. They could not understand the reason for the sudden movement and it looked like no one was going to give an explanation for it. They tried to talk about what they would do in each other’s absence but it only kept the tears flowing. Sitting right there in the park, they were oblivious to their environment. They just wanted to spend this moment together and cherish it. They promised each other that day to do everything they could to keep in touch and in that moment of sadness; they shared their first kiss. It had been magical even though grief hovered around them. Shalewa had laid her head on Akin’s shoulders and they sat there in silence till the sun went down.

For the next two days, as if on cue, they both avoided the park. Funke had asked her daughter on one occasion. “Shalewa, are you okay? You have not been eating well. Are you worried about something?”

Shalewa had not been sure whether to tell her mum. On second thoughts, she felt she should; maybe her mum could help her convince the Savages not to send their son abroad.

“Mum, could you and dad discuss something with Akin’s dad?” She asked fidgeting with her fingers.

“Okay, and what would that be?” Funke asked.

Shalewa was quiet and unable to look at her mother in the face. She had no idea how to present the issue to her mother.

Funke sensing that her daughter was a little uneasy, pulled her daughter into her arms. “Omoshalewa mi. I’m your mother and you can talk to me. What do you want us to discuss with Akin’s father?”

Shalewa gulped, trying hard to control the tears that were already spilling down her cheeks. “They are sending him away, mum.”

“Sending him away? What do you mean?” Funke asked searching her daughter’s face.

“Mummy, Akin is going abroad. His father doesn’t want him to see me again.” She cried.

All of a sudden, reality hit Funke. The Savages had told them about their intention to send their son to the United States to continue his education but both parents had obviously underestimated the friendship between their kids. Being the only children of both parents, they had assumed that the lack of siblings had attracted them to each other and believed that was the basis for their friendship. They never thought there was more to the walks in the park and the long hours of chatting.

“Hmm…Omoshalewa mi.” Funke said; thinking of how best to explain to her daughter without hurting her feelings. “Akin’s father loves you like his own so it is not possible that he would hurt you intentionally. It’s just that he wants Akin to continue his education abroad so that when he returns to the country, he has better prospects of getting an excellent job.”

“But won’t he get a good job here if he studies in the country?” Shalewa asked trying to figure out what her mother was saying. All she wanted was for her mother to tell Akin’s father not to send his son abroad.

“Omoshalewa…” Funke stressed. “Akin’s parents have made a decision for their only child, who am I to question it?”

“Mum…I…I…” She burst out in uncontrollable tears before she could tell her mum she loved him. Did they realize what they were doing to her? They were tearing her heart apart. She knew she liked Akin a lot but right now she realized she didn’t just like him. She loved him with every piece of her heart.

Shalewa wasn’t the only one having a difficult time; Akin was as well. However, he refused to discuss anything with his parents. They had told him their decision was final so there was no point flogging the issue. He wondered what Shalewa must be going through. He knew she wasn’t strong enough to handle the emotional trauma. He wished he could change the situation but there was nothing he could do. Tomorrow, he would leave the country for the United States.

********

As Shalewa stepped out of the shower, she said, “It’s been 15 years, Akin and I still haven’t found someone to replace the love I had for you.” She sighed as she took out a gown from her closet, wore it and went downstairs to meet her mum.

“Our guest would be coming in at 1.00p.m. I have everything all set for an early lunch. Your dad is in the study as usual.” Funke said looking up from the fashion magazine she was flipping through.

Shalewa looked towards the dining table and gasped. “Mum, who is this guest we are expecting? I can see your finest dishes all set on the table.”

“A very important guest.” She answered without looking up from the magazine.

“He or she must have a name, right? So will you tell me who this person is?” She asked flopping on the couch beside her mum.

“Omoshalewa, you don’t flop on a couch. You take a seat like a lady.” Funke scolded as she dropped the magazine on the side stool next to her.

“Mum…..” Shalewa started to say but Funke raised her hand as if to warn her daughter.

“Okay, I’m sorry.” She said sitting up.

“It is meant to be a surprise but I’ll tell you as long as you don’t squeal to your dad.”

Shalewa put her fingers to her lips making a zipped sign. She had learnt over the years to trust her mum with any issue. Her mum was her confidant and they had stayed close for years sharing secrets and emotional upheavals.

“Do you remember Tunde Williams, the first son of Mr. Williams, your father’s old time friend?”

Shalewa thought for a while. “Tunde Williams? The name rings a bell but I don’t think I remember.”

“I’m sure you would when you meet him. He arrived from South Africa two weeks ago after he lost his father. A business deal took him to your dad’s office and your dad was delighted to see him again after so many years.”

“Hmm…and now he’s coming over for lunch with dad?” Shalewa asked looking disinterested as she picked up the magazine her mum had initially dropped on the side stool.

“No, darling. He’s coming to have lunch with you; well, with us all.”

“With me?” Shalewa questioned as she dropped the magazine. “I don’t even think I remember who this Tunde guy is; so why would he want to have lunch with me?”

“I think he likes you.” Her mum said smiling and pulling her cheeks.

“Mum!” Shalewa looked at her mother curiously. “How can he like me when he hasn’t even met me?”

“Who says he hasn’t met you. He and his dad visited our home regularly years ago. He asked after you from your dad and he was invited to come over for lunch.”

“On my behalf when….” The chime from the doorbell broke their conversation.

Funke checked her watch and gasped. “It’s 1.00pm already. Wow, just right on time. He must be the one at the door. Could you get the door, darling while I go in to inform your dad? And remember to be at your best behaviour.” She said smiling and winking at her daughter.

“Yes, mum.” Shalewa said as she stood up and straightened her gown. Whoever this guy was, must have made an impression on her parents. The name did ring a bell but she couldn’t remember who he was. Her parents were obviously trying to match-make her from all indications. With the amount of broken relationships in her kitty, it did not come as a surprise to her.

Would he end up as all the others? Well, she was going to find out.

——-

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

Second Chances – Episode 13

Kunbi arrives Lagos Sunday evening. Sola is walking out of Wale’s apartment as she gets to the door. She smiles on seeing him. “Hi Sola, leaving already?”

“Yes, how was your trip?” He asks.

“It was okay”.

“I wasn’t aware you had resumed your weekend trips. I was expecting to meet you at home”.

“Erm….yes, I have”. She stammers. “You haven’t been visiting on weekends as well”.

“I decided to visit today”. Sola says.

“Well, I’m back. You can stay a while or are you in a hurry?” She asks hoping he would oblige.

Sola smiles as he stretches his hand to collect her weekend bag. “Let me help you with that”.

They walk back into the house, Kunbi using her keys to open the door. “Wales, I’m back”.

“In here”. Wale says from his bedroom.

Kunbi walks towards the kitchen. “Should I get you a drink or a glass of juice?” She asks Sola.

“I’m fine”. Sola answers.

“Okay. If you say so. I need a glass of cold water”. She says disappearing into the kitchen.

Wale sees Sola as he walks into the living room. “You came back?”

Sola shrugs.

“I thought you said you were going to visit your aunt”. Wale says.

“You were?” Kunbi calls from the kitchen.

“Yes, I was. But you asked me to stay”.

Kunbi smiles as she shakes her head. She is glad she is alone in the kitchen. She closes her eyes and she feels the butterflies. Oh Sola, if only…….

“Why are you smiling?” Wale asks breaking into her thoughts.

Kunbi is startled. She had not realized anyone had walked into the kitchen.

“Nothing”. She says.

Wale squints as he looks at her. He grunts as he gets a bottle of water from the refrigerator. “We need to talk”. He says.

“Now?” Kunbi asks.

“After Sola leaves”.

“Okay”. Kunbi says wondering what the discussion could be about as she goes back to the living room.

“So, I assume you and Ola are back together?” Sola asks.

Kunbi is unable to respond as she looks at Wale, who is walking into the living room. He looks at her as he tilts his head expecting her response.

“I….yes, we are”. She says uncomfortable with the discussion.

Sola looks into her eyes. “I wish you good luck”.

Kunbi looks away unable to look at him. She wishes they did not have to talk about her relationship. Just then, Wale’s mobile phone rings breaking the unwelcome silence. He looks at the caller ID and walks towards the kitchen as he picks the call.

“Hello mum”.

“Báwo ni Wálé?” (How are you, Wale).

“Adúpé mà” (I’m fine, thank you ma).

“Sé o ti bá àbúrò ë sòrò”. (Have you spoken to your younger sister?). Wunmi asks.

“Kò ì pé tó wolé” (She just came in). I will definitely speak with her”.

“Jòó (please), let me know the outcome of your discussion”.

“Okay ma”. He cuts the call and walks back to the living room.

“That was mum, right? Is there a problem?” Kunbi asks, worry written on her face.

“No. She asked me to discuss something with you”.

“Okay. What is it about?”

Wale looks at Sola but says nothing.

Sola notices and gets the hint. He stands up immediately. “I think I should leave now”.

“But I just arrived. Besides, you came to see me, right?” Kunbi asks.

“Looks like Wale has something very important to discuss with you”. Sola says.

“I am sure Wales can talk about it while you are here unless you would get jealous with our heart to heart talk”. She smirks.

Sola looks at Wale.

“I am not sure you want Sola listening to this conversation”. Wale says looking at Kunbi.

“Why? Is something wrong with my mum? Kunbi asks, beginning to get worried.

“No, she is absolutely fine. This is about you”.

“About me? I don’t understand”.

Sola who is still standing looks from Wale to Kunbi, trying to understand as well.

“Kunbi, can’t we discuss this later?” Wale asks.

“No Wales. I want to know now. Too many things happen without my knowledge. I want to know what is going on”.

Wale takes a deep breath. “She called about your engagement to Ola”.

Sola looks at Kunbi with shock.

Kunbi opens her mouth looking aghast. She is about to say something when she hears Sola’s voice.

“You are engaged?”

“Yes….No, it is not what you think”. She replies in confusion.

“Really?” Sola and Wale ask in unison.

“Ola proposed.……”

“And you agreed to marry him”. Wale finishes her sentence.

“Sola, I wasn’t expecting the proposal when it happened. I needed time to think about it”. Kunbi stands up as she walks towards him.

“When did he propose?” Sola asks.

“Sola, please….” Kunbi closes her eyes as she holds him.

Sola yanks his hand from hers and asks again. “When did he propose?”

“The weekend Wales and I went to Ibadan”.

Wale is stunned. “That was three Saturdays ago”.

Sola sneers. “Looks to me like you have had so much time to think about it”. He looks at Wale. “I have overstayed my welcome. Thanks bro. I appreciate every effort you have made”. He says as he walks towards the door.

Kunbi runs after him trying to stop him from leaving as she holds his hand. Sola looks back at her. “I thought I could hope for a future with you but I guess I deceived myself for too long. Good luck and take care”. He says as he gently releases his hand from her grip.

2nd Chances 13

Kunbi kneels down and begins to cry.

Wale walks up to her and lifts her up as she sobs on his shoulders. When she is spent from her crying, she looks up at him. “Wales, I am confused”.

“If you love Sola, why are you getting married to someone else?”

“I don’t know what to expect from him”. She says wiping her eyes.

“Is this about his commitment?”

Kunbi nods.

Wale sighs. “I don’t know about his issues with commitment but I know when I see someone truly in love. And there is no doubt that Sola loves you and it is obvious that you do as well”.

Kunbi looks away.

Wale lifts up her chin and turns her face towards him. “You have fought your feelings for him for too long. You need to let go and follow your heart”.

“Ola is supposed to see mummy next week. What do I tell him? His engagement ring is in my bag”.

Wale shrugs as he walks away. “I have no idea but I know you can handle it”.

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

Sola sits in his living room depressed and heartbroken. The living room is tastefully furnished with entertainment gadgets. Even though different ladies had previously left him to get married, the rejection he felt had never been this deep. He had made up his mind to be committed to Kunbi. He loved her with his life. Tolu had just been a distraction for him. He knew he could never love her as much as he loved Kunbi. Tolu had made it easy for him to go back to the one he loved by her betrayal.

I was a fool to have believed Kunbi loved me. I thought I saw love in her eyes, her actions, her mannerisms. But it was all a joke. He assumed giving his love and attention to Kunbi would eventually make her fall in love with him but how wrong he was. He stood up and walked to the credenza by the wall. Two frames sat on it. He picked up the smaller one and staring at him was a picture of himself with his parents at a restaurant. He had a big smile on his face and his parents had their arms around him. He could see from their faces that they must have been happy and in love. The frame was beautiful but old and he had refused to change it. It was the only reminder he had of who his parents were and how they had lived. His aunt had given it to him when he turned eighteen. After the accident that killed his parents, she had picked up the frame in his parents living room and decided to keep it till he was old enough to have it. She wanted him to have a constant reminder of his parents. The second and bigger frame was an older version of him with his aunt and cousin. His aunt had made sure he and his cousin attended the same schools. The picture was taken during their graduation from secondary school. He stood on the right while his cousin stood on the left of his aunt. They both had their lips on each side of her face in a kiss; and she had a smile that ran from one side of her cheek to the other. She had been a happy mother on that day as they had both graduated with good grades.

He smiled sadly as he looked at the two frames. His parents had a good marriage according to his aunt. His cousin had gotten married five years ago and lived in Tanzania. His job as an engineer had necessitated his relocation. He had two kids; a boy and a girl who he doted on. Every time, they discussed on phone, he never ceased to talk about his loving wife and kids. He shook his head as he sighed. His cousin had found love despite his mother’s failed marriage. He wondered if he was ever going to find true love.

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

To Love and to Hold – Episode 23

“Fadekemi”.

“Hello mum”. She answered cradling her phone between her left ear and her shoulder. She had been preparing amala (yam flour paste) when her phone rang. The delicacy was one of Kemi’s best. Kemi had offered to assist but she had declined the offer. She felt she owed her friend as she had helped a great deal during the exam period.

“Your school is on vacation, right?”

“Yes mum”.

“Aren’t you coming home?”

She did miss home but she wasn’t ready to face her father. “Should I?”

“Fadekemi…..”

“Okay mum. When do you want me to come home?” She gave up knowing this was an argument she wasn’t going to win.

“I want you home today. I’m sending the driver right away. He should be in your school in the next hour and half or two”.

She sighed. “Okay mum”. She scooped the amala she had prepared into a bowl, poured a quarter of ewedu (Jews mallow puree) into another bowl and added a spoonful of stew. She had prepared the stew earlier and it contained all the needed body parts of a cow; shaki (stomach), abodi (intestine), pomo (skin) and ese eran (cow leg).

Kemi felt overfed. She had not eaten this well and this much in a very long while. She downed a cup of cold water and smiled. “Was this what Fadeke enjoyed alone?” She thought. She was more surprised that she was a good cook. She had assumed that as a result of her pedigree, she would be one to shy away from the kitchen.

“My mum is sending the driver to pick me up soon”. Fadeke said breaking into her thoughts.

“Are you serious? I thought you said you weren’t going home”.

“I said I wasn’t sure. She called me when I was preparing the meal”.

“I should start packing my things then”. She said standing up.

“Where are you going?”

“Home”.

“You mean your uncle’s house?” She had said it before she realized that it came out rude.

“That’s where I call home”.

“I didn’t mean to sound rude”.

She smiled. “I understand. Besides, like you rightly said, it’s my uncle’s house”.

Fadeke felt uncomfortable but was at a loss of what to do. Going home or to her uncle’s house; whichever it was called, was definitely not a pleasant experience for Kemi. She couldn’t take her home with her. She did not feel she knew her that well; besides, she had not pre-informed her parents that she was bringing a friend home. She could leave the keys to her room with her; that is if she was willing to spend the rest of the three weeks holiday alone. She looked at her as she moved from one corner of the room to the other packing the few dresses she had brought with her when she moved to her room. She put them in a worn travel bag and Fadeke swallowed looking at it. She hadn’t noticed the travel bag the day she had brought it in as she had moved all her things at night.

“Why are you taking all your clothes home? Are they dirty?”

Kemi laughed. “Dirty? Not at all”.

“Then why are you taking them all?” Fadeke asked again looking confused.

“I’m going to wear them at home”.

“Excuse me”.

“I said I’m going to wear them at home”.

Fadeke looked more confused. “What….I….”

“They are the only clothes I have, so I wear them at home as well”. She said matter-of-factly.

“Was she having it this bad?” Fadeke thought. She wouldn’t have imagined that to be the reason why she was taking all her clothes home. She thought about all the fancy clothes she had in her wardrobe at home that she hadn’t worn for about a year; just because she had newer ones. Kemi needed clothes and that was what she was going to get.

 

As Fadeke was about to retire to her room, Mr. Peters tapped on the door. She had arrived home two hours earlier; had dinner with her family and told them she needed to rest. Her father had noticed that she was unusually quiet at the dining table but had decided it was best to talk to her later.

“Yes, come in. It’s open”. She called from inside.

He entered into the room and sat on the bean bag opposite the bed. “We need to talk”.

“Okay dad”. She said sitting down on the bed and looking at her feet.

“Why have you been avoiding me?”

“Avoiding you?”

“Fadekemi….”

“Yes dad”.

“I want the best for you”. He paused. “And dating an Igbo boy isn’t part of the plans I have for you”.

She raised her head to look at him. “Have you thought about how I feel, dad?”

“You’ll get over it”.

She looked stunned. “I’ll get over it?”

“Yes, I’ll help you. Once you are through with your graduation, you are going abroad to do your masters”.

She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Her father was bent on tearing them apart. He wasn’t even bothered one bit about how she felt. Anger began to rise within her and she squinted at her dad. “Okay daddy”.

“I promise you that you would be glad you took this decision”.

She said nothing.

Her dad rose up and kissed her goodnight.

As he walked out of her room, she paced round her room upset. “What right did her parents have to interfere with her life and her feelings?” They obviously had this planned. “Did they think they could take control of her life?” She had thought her father would reason with her but she hadn’t even been given an opportunity to voice her feelings. She picked up her phone to call Chinedu. It had been three days since she last spoke to him. And right now what she needed was his soothing words to calm her soul.

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

The three weeks holidays were over and Fadeke was back in school for her final semester. Kemi had arrived a day earlier and she had to squat with someone on campus since she did not have a key to Fadeke’s room. Getting and maintaining a mobile phone was luxury; so she couldn’t call her to find out when she would be back in school. Fadeke was just about unpacking when Kemi walked in.

“Hey you!”

“Hi. How was your break?” Kemi asked.

“Just okay”.

“And yours?”

“The usual”.

Fadeke understood what she meant but thought it best to keep quiet about it. This wasn’t the time. “Did you come back with your clothes?”

Kemi laughed. “Of course I did. You want me going around school naked?”

“Not really. Could you put everything outside the door?”

Kemi looked confused. “Outside the door? Are you…..”

“No, I am not sending you out”. Fadeke interrupted suddenly understanding her confusion.

“I brought you a new set of clothes. They are in that bag”. She said pointing to a travel bag she had put on the spare bed.

“You did what?”

She ignored the question. “You can try them on. I’m sure they would fit nicely”.

“But you didn’t have to”.

“Yeah, I know but I did. So can you please quit the pity party and try them on?”

Kemi was at a loss of what to say. How could she say thank you for this gesture? “Fadeke, you are a true friend. Thank you so much”. She said blinking back the tears that were beginning to gather at the corner of her eyes.

 

Kemi and Fadeke got closer over the next few weeks and soon they were both writing their final exams. Fadeke tried as much possible to tell her only a bit about her relationship with Chinedu. Even though, Kemi had become a good friend, she would rather keep her private life to herself. When their call up letters arrived, Kemi was posted to Plateau state while Fadeke was to stay in Lagos. Her father wasn’t ready to let her go to some unknown town, so he had gotten a friend in the NYSC office to effect his daughter’s posting to Lagos. Kemi graduated with a first class degree; and this was not lost on her other course mates. They knew she earned it. Fadeke came out with a second class upper degree and was glad she did not disappoint her parents. Her parents in turn decided to throw her a graduation party. She invited a few friends as she wasn’t interested in having a large crowd. Kemi was also at the party and her friends who knew her were amazed at how close she and Fadeke had become. One thing however kept her unhappy throughout the party; Chinedu’s inability to attend. He couldn’t take time off work; he had said.

By the time her friends were about to leave, the doorman brought her a wrapped box about three feet high and said it had just been delivered by a courier. She wondered what it was about. She took it from him and placed it on the dining table. Her friends however did not want to miss the moment and asked her to open it. She reluctantly opened it after much pressure and found a massive teddy bear holding a heart shaped pillow close to its heart. She noticed there were inscriptions on the pillow and she moved closer to read what was written on it. “I love you so much, baby”. Tears gathered around the corner of her eyes as her friends hugged her. Even though, he hadn’t been able to make it, he had put a smile on her face.

 

“So when would you like to leave the country?” Mr. Peters asked. Her friends had all left about an hour earlier and she was tired and wanted to go to bed.

“It’s too early to decide, dad”.

“Why? Don’t you want to do your masters immediately?”

“When I am through with my youth service, I’d decide”.

He shrugged. “Okay, if you say so”.  He looked towards the teddy bear still sitting on the couch. “Where did that come from?”

“Chinedu sent it”.

“Chinedu?”

“Yes dad. Chinedu, my boyfriend”.

He pulled her by the cheeks smiling. “You can keep it if you want to but I’m sure you know that you aren’t going to marry him”.

She walked towards the couch, picked up the teddy bear and put it on her hip like she would a baby. “I’m going to bed, dad. I’m really tired and I’m beginning to have a headache”.

“Okay darling. Have a good night rest”. As she walked past him, he held her by the hand. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

She looked up at him and smiled. “Yes dad. I do”.

 

She put the teddy bear on her bed with a sad smile. “Why did things have to be this way”. She loved her father and did not want to go against him but she also loved Chinedu, even more. Her father’s refusal to accept him was tearing her apart. A tear slid down her cheek and she lay down on her bed hugging the bear. As she sobbed quietly, the day took its toll on her and she was soon fast asleep.

To Love & to Hold 36

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

The National Youth Service Camp was over in three weeks and Mr. Peters pulled enough strings to ensure his daughter was posted to one of the foremost banks in the country. Fadeke put her all into her job as she knew her prospects of getting retained were quite high. Kemi, on the other hand was posted to a telecommunications company. She kept in touch with Fadeke and both of them grew closer even though they were miles away. Chinedu came home on a few occasions when the company he worked for sent him on assignments in Lagos and on such occasions, he made his visit worthwhile. He made another attempt at visiting the Peter’s home.

Even though Mrs. Peters welcomed him, she told him she was at a loss of what to do as her husband had refused to listen to her entreaties to let them be. Chinedu became more confused than ever. There was no way he could get married to Fadeke without her father’s consent. He thought about coming to visit when he was home so they could discuss man to man but Mrs. Peters advised against it. She was okay with him dating her daughter but coming to talk to her husband was recognizing trouble and walking into it head-on. “He needed to give her husband time”. She had said.

Chinedu decided to listen to the voice of reason and give Mr. Peters time. If that was what his wife said he needed; so be it. Even though, he felt time was against him as he was settled and ready to make Fadeke his wife, he knew there was no point pushing it. He would wait till he was accepted by Mr. Peters.

 

The one year youth service rolled to a finish and Fadeke got retained in the bank. She was transferred to the head office. Kemi was also retained but was moved from Plateau state to Abuja; where she was meant to understudy the job for a few months before being made a team lead. She was overjoyed and Fadeke also shared in her joy. She couldn’t believe what she was offered. God had finally put a smile on her face and she cried tears of joy when she received her letter.

Fadeke had worked for a few months in the bank when she was asked to go with three of her colleagues to Abuja to commence a project. The project was to be handled by the Abuja team but they needed assistance from the head office to get the project going. The head office team was meant to be in Abuja for a week before handing over the project to the Abuja team. Fadeke was overjoyed that she had been picked. It was an opportunity given her to become skilled at her job and most importantly; it was an opportunity to be with Chinedu for a whole week.

She put a call to Chinedu informing him of what was going on. “So, that’s it”.

“Cool. But I’m sure your office would have booked a hotel for everyone, right?”

“Yeah, they did”.

“Write down my address. It is Flat 4, number 202, Babatunde Fashola way, Wuse”.

“Okay”.

“Which hotel are you guys staying in?”

“The Falcon hotel”.

“Oh, that’s at Wuse as well. It’s about a stone throw from my place”.

“Really?”

“Yeah”.

“That’s cool then. We would be in Abuja next Friday”.

“I’d expect you then”.

After the call ended, Fadeke couldn’t contain the joy she felt. Even though Friday was just 7 days away, she felt like it was forever. She went home that night with renewed energy. In a week, she would be with Chinedu and that was all that mattered right now.

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

Second Chances – Episode 8

Wale paces round the reception of the hospital restlessly. Many thoughts run through his mind. “Who could have done this?” “I shouldn’t have left her alone at home”. “Why didn’t I get home earlier?” Worry lines are etched deeply into his face as he punches his left palm in anger. Sola who is seated isn’t any better. He checks his wrist watch intermittently and looks towards the door where Kunbi was wheeled through some minutes ago. Time seems to tick slowly and he shifts in his seat uncomfortably.

After a long wait, the doctor walks into the reception and asks them to follow him into his office. Sola jumps to his feet as Wale takes long strides after the doctor. The doctor offers both of them seats in his office but they both decline.

“How is she?” Wale asks anxiously.

“Is she okay? Can we see her?” Sola asks.

“Take it easy, gentlemen. There is no reason to be worried. She’s okay”.

“Can we see her now then?” Sola asks again.

“She has been moderately sedated as she’s traumatized and needs to rest”. The doctor answers.

“How bad are the injuries?” Wale asks with a frown on his face.

“Nothing life threatening. She has been placed on pain killers”.

Sola sighs.

“She would be fine. I assure you”. The doctor says smiling. “If you don’t mind, please excuse me”. The doctor walks out of his office as Wale and Sola share a look of resignation. As they both walk back to the reception, Wale asks; “Any ideas on the culprit?”

“None”. Sola responds lost in thought. “I am still baffled, though”.

“How do you mean?”

“This is premeditated. I had just left the house probably fifteen minutes before when I realized I had forgotten my phone and turned back”.

“I swear if I get my hands on whoever it is, I’ll design his face worse than he did hers”. Wale says fuming.

“Could the person have been hanging around and waiting for me to leave? So much damage in just about fifteen to twenty minutes?” Sola says talking to himself.

“I have a bad feeling about this”.

Sola looks at Wale confused.

“My instincts tell me it could have been Ola”.

“Wale! How can you say that? You’re taking your dislike for this guy too far”. Sola says in amazement.

“I know what I’m saying”. Wale insists.

“C’mon. How can Ola do this to Kunbi? You had better not let her hear this. She’s going to be really mad at you this time”.

“You don’t know this guy. He’s such a jealous and insecure animal. He manhandled her once simply because you called her while she was with him”.

“But that was some time ago”. Sola says.

“This is not out of place for him to do. And be certain, if I find out from Kunbi that he’s responsible, hmmmm…..he’s a dead man”. Wale says in anger.

Sola pats his friend on the back. “Take it easy, man. Let’s just pray she is okay”.

Wale nods as he relaxes. “Yeah, that’s most important right now. Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it”.

“Hey, what are we friends for?” Sola says as he nudges him.

“I think you should go on to your girlfriend’s. Since the doctor says she needs to rest, there’s really nothing to be done here”.

“True”.

“I’ll get here early tomorrow to be with her in case she needs anything. Hopefully, she should be discharged soon”.

“I’ll meet you here tomorrow then. Please take care of her”.

“Thanks a lot. I appreciate your concern”.

 

Sola walks into the hospital premises at 5.00pm the next day. His shirt has been rolled up while the knot of his tie has been loosened. He stops at the reception to ask for Kunbi’s room and he is directed. As he gets to her room, he taps on the door gently, opens it slightly and peeps in. “Can I come in?” He asks when he sees Wale sitting on the bed and talking earnestly with Kunbi.

2nd Chances 8

“Of course, you can”. Wale answers.

“How are you beauty?” Sola says as he walks to the other side of the bed and gives her a light kiss on the cheek.

“I’m better, thanks”. Kunbi responds as she uses her hands to cover her face.

Wale gives Sola a cursory glance as he raises his brow.

Sola shrugs as he also wonders.

“I am sorry you are seeing me this way”. Kunbi says hiding behind her hands.

“Okay?” Wale acknowledges. “This is definitely for Sola”.

“I carried you in my arms while you were unconscious, so you don’t need to hide behind your hands”. Sola says smiling as he removes her hands from her face. “So, who did this to you?”

“Good question. Maybe she’ll tell you. She has refused to tell me the bastard who did this”.

“Wales, take it easy. I’ll tell you at the right time”. Kunbi says with pleading eyes.

“Right time? What other time is right besides now? Ehn, tell me. What other time?” He asks standing up from the bed in anger.

“Wale, I think you should listen to her. She’s probably right”. Sola says.

“I know I’m right”.

“Kunbi, you can take as long as you want. Whether now or later, be rest assured that whoever did this will pay for it”.

Kunbi tries to sit up but winces as she feels pain. “Wales, I think you should go home and rest. You need it. You are stressed already”. She strains as she tries to lie back.

Wale and Sola both rush to assist her in laying back.

“Okay, Kunbi. I will let go for now”. Wale says. “I need you to get better and come home. That is most important”.

“Thanks Wales”.

“I’m really tired. Sola will keep you company. I need to go home now”. He says yawning.

“When am I leaving here? I’m missing home already”. Kunbi asks.

“The doctor said you’ll be discharged tomorrow; so I’ll pick you up at about noon”. He hugs her gently so as not to cause her any more pain. “Take care darling”.

“Goodnight”. She says smiling.

“You are free to take over from here”. Wale says to Sola.

Sola smiles and shrugs. “You bet I will”.

As Wale walks out of the room, Sola sits down on the lone chair beside Kunbi. He holds her hand and asks; “Don’t tell me he did this to you?”

Kunbi looks at him with surprise. “Who did?”

“C’mon Kunbi. Why did you refuse to tell him if it wasn’t Ola?”

“You’re right. It’s Ola”. She says sighing.

“My goodness”. Sola gasps.

“Wales would not mind travelling to Ibadan this night and he won’t leave Ola until he’s probably confirmed dead. I am not ready to turn my cousin into a murderer”.

“Yeah. I feel you. I know Wale cares about you but he will still get to know one way or the other”.

“Not if you don’t tell him”.

“Why would I? It won’t be long for him to figure it out, though. He mentioned that his instincts told him Ola was responsible”.

“You see why he should not get to know yet. Besides, Ola would be nursing his wounds as well”. She says smiling.

“His wounds?” Sola asks confused.

“Yes, didn’t you guys notice the broken flower vase?”

“We did but we thought it was a victim of the struggle”.

“Well, it was a victim but I used it on Ola’s head when it seemed he was going to kill me”.

“Really? You are a strong woman and you thought very fast even in that situation”. Sola says smiling.

“Yeah, I had to. If I hadn’t, you would have found me dead”.

“God forbid. I can’t stand loosing you”.

Kunbi gently removes her hands from Sola’s hands and looks away. “So, how is your girlfriend?” She asks changing the topic.

“She’s fine”. Sola says frowning.

Kunbi notices the excitement in his voice is gone and turns back to look at him. “When do I get to meet her or are you still hiding her from our prying eyes?” She asks smiling.

“No, I’m not hiding her. The doctor is discharging you tomorrow, right? He asks.

“Are you intentionally changing the topic?” She looks at him curiously.

“No, I am not”.

“What are you hiding, Sola?”

“I am not hiding anything”. He says as he stands up and turns his back to Kunbi.

“Then why are you avoiding my questions”.

“It is rather unfortunate that you may never get to meet her”.

“Why? What happened? What did you do to her?” Kunbi asks anxious.

Sola shrugs. “Nothing”.

“What do you mean by nothing? Sola, look at me. What happened? Please tell me”. Kunbi says as she winces in pain trying to lift herself up.

Sola takes a deep breath as he rushes to her side and props her up with a pillow. “I don’t know where I went wrong. I told you I wanted to give her a surprise visit, right?” He says looking at her.

“Yes, I remember you said so”.

“Well, I got to her apartment and got the shock of my life”. Sola says as he replays the event of the previous day in his mind.

———-

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Second Chances – Episode 6

Kunbi leaves Ibadan for Lagos early Sunday morning. The discussion with her mum had been an eye-opener. It suddenly occurred to her that she had been blinded by love. Her mum and Wale could not be wrong after all. She wondered why it took her so long to see it. Ola had kicked against her having male friends in the University but she never saw it as jealousy. She had broken all ties and friendships with her male course mates and friends. According to him, other guys were a distraction to her. She had not seen anything wrong with it. To her, it was Ola’s way of showing that he loved her.

As she sat in the bus taking her back to Lagos, she thought about their relationship the past four years. She had been so much in love, she had refused to see the handwriting on the wall. She was fifteen when she lost her father and she remembered vividly how much she had detested his jealous attitude. Her mother had lived in hurt and pain while he was alive and she had vowed never to marry someone like him.

She sighed as she looked out of the moving vehicle. As her distance away from Ibadan increased, she felt like she was leaving a part of her heart behind. Maybe it is time to move on. This realization however broke her heart.

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

Monday afternoon, Sola picks Kunbi up for lunch as before. After ditching her for two weeks, he wants to make it up to her. Things are going on smoothly between himself and Tolu and he is thankful to her for it. As they sit at the table with their food, Sola notices that she is not as chatty as she usually is. He thought she just wanted to be quiet during the drive to the restaurant but now, he is sure something is wrong as she has hardly touched her food.

“Kunbi, you’ve been quiet. What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing”. She shrugs.

“You can’t tell me that. You’ve been picking at your food”.

She looks up at him. “Sola, I’m serious. There’s nothing wrong. I’m not really hungry today”.

Sola drops his cutlery and stretches his hands to hold hers on the table. “Kunbi, you can talk to me or don’t you trust me any longer”.

Meanwhile, an unknown person sitting some tables away from them raises up a mobile phone pretending to be chatting on it and takes a picture of him and Kunbi.

Kunbi bows her head as she responds; “I wish I could give myself a dose of my own medication”.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying”. Sola answers looking confused.

“I am having problems with Ola”.

Sola gasps. “Oh my goodness! What’s wrong? Is it because I called you the other day while you were with him?”

“Well, it’s part of it but it started long before then”. She looks up at him all of a sudden and removes her hands from his. “How did you know about that day? Wales told you obviously”. She hisses.

“Kunbi, he meant no harm. He was worried about you and he asked me never to call you while you were out of Lagos”.

Kunbi breathes deeply. “I am so confused”.

Sola looks anxiously at her with worry. “I’m so sorry, Kunbi. What have I done? I did not mean to destabilize your relationship. What can I do to help?”

Kunbi hold his hands and smiles as she looks into his eyes. “Sola, calm down. It’s not your fault. I told you the problem is not recent. Besides, it did not start with you. I’ll try to get myself out of this mess”.

The mobile phone is raised again and their picture is taken.

He forces a smile. “When you need my help, will you call me?”

“I will”. She responds as she bows her head and Sola stares at her.

 

Sola drives her back to her office and they are oblivious to the car trailing them behind. Sola switches off the engine of the car and looks at Kunbi. “Are you sure you would be fine?”

“Of course”. She answers as she removes her seat belt and gives him a hug. “Thank you again for the lunch”.

The car trailing them is parked a few metres behind. The unknown person lifts up a camera, adjusts the lenses to view them and takes a picture just as Kunbi is hugging Sola.

2nd Chances 6

“Do you want me to pick you up after work? I could tell Wale not to bother”. Sola asks ignoring her thanks.

“No. Wales would get worried and I don’t want to put him under unnecessary psychological pressure”.

“Okay. I’ll see you at home, then. Take care of you”. He says as he squeezes her left shoulder.

The camera in the other car clicks again.

“Thanks, I will”. Kunbi says.

She steps out of the car and walks towards her office complex while Sola starts the engine and drives off.

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

A young man is seated in Ola’s living room in Ibadan. He is dressed in blue faded jeans and a white Tee-shirt. He nods his head as he enjoys a music video played on TV.

Ola walks in from the kitchen as he wipes his hands on an apron he is wearing. “Sorry, I wanted to get what I was cooking off the fire”.

The man only smiles.

“So how far? Did you accomplish the task?”

“Of course. I told you to trust me”. The man answers.

Ola sits down. “Where are they?”

The man smiles as he brings out a brown envelope from his knapsack. “Here they are. Sharp and captivating”. He says as he hands over the envelope to Ola.

Ola opens the envelope, pulls out the contents and laughs mockingly. “I should have known better”.

The man rubs his palms together and smiles. “I told you I would do a good job. Didn’t I?”

Ola is upset as he hits his right palm on his forehead. “I can’t believe this”. He says shaking unable to control his anger.

Ola drops the envelope on the settee and begins to pace round the living room.

“My balance, Oga Ola”. The man says seeing that he seems to have been forgotten.

Ola looks at him in anger and shouts. “What?”

“My….my balance”. He stammers.

“How much is it?”

“Three thousand naira plus my transport fare”.

Ola looks at him, dips his hands in his jeans pocket and counts six five hundred naira notes. He throws it at him and orders him to get out.

“My transport fare, Oga Ola”. The man says as he scrambles to pick up the notes from the floor.

Ola walks towards him seething with anger and the man immediately picks his knapsack and rushes to the door.

————-

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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.

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

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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