Shalewa opened the door and standing before her was a handsome young man who was probably in his mid-thirties. He held a bouquet of red roses and a bottle of wine in his hands. “Hi Shalewa, it’s a pleasure meeting you again after a long while. You still look as pretty as you did years ago.”
“Thanks for the compliment.” Shalewa said.
“This is for you.” Tunde said as he stretched out his hands to handover the bouquet of flowers.
“Thank you. Please come in.” Shalewa said as she stepped aside to usher him in.
“Oh….Tunde, welcome. You were right on time. I love that.” Bayo Samuel said walking into the living room and stretching out his hands to shake the young man. Tunde shook Bayo’s hands with a little bow of the head and also greeted Funke as well.
“Hmm….still very cultured, I must say. Please sit down.” Bayo noted, obviously impressed.
While the women left to the kitchen to organize lunch on the dining table, the men took their time to talk about issues.
“So, do you recognize him?” Funke whispered to her daughter in the kitchen.
“The face does look familiar but no, I still can’t place it.” Shalewa answered, peering into the living room. “He’s handsome, though.”
“So, you like him?” Funke smiled looking at her daughter’s face.
Shalewa gave her mum a puzzled look. “Mum? I never said that. I just said he’s handsome. Please can we go set up the table before the men start to wonder what happened to lunch?” She said stepping out of the kitchen before her mum could utter another word.
One hour later
“Thanks for the lunch, ma. It was nice.” Tunde said as they all stood up from the dining table and moved to the living room.
“You are welcome, my dear and I hope you visit more often.” Funke answered smiling.
“On Shalewa’s request, I would.”
“You do not have to wait for Shalewa’s consent to come over.” Bayo Samuel said matter-of-factly. “This is like your second home. Remember, your late dad and I were buddies way back in the university. You are free to visit anytime.”
Tunde nodded his head.
“Shalewa, your mum and I would be in the study so you can have some time to catch up on old gists with Tunde.” Bayo smiled as he led his wife out of the living room.
“Okay daddy.” Shalewa answered, not appreciating the gesture. What gist did she have to catch up with Tunde? There was no history between them, so what was there to talk about?
They both sat down on opposite ends of the room watching the television. Since there was no history between them and they had nothing to talk about, they discussed about the issues on the television. Shalewa tried to be a good host but wondered if her parents knew that she wasn’t enthusiastic about their match making efforts.
Over the next six weeks, Tunde tried as much as possible to impress Shalewa. He would buy her gifts, send her roses and cards and take her out on dinner dates. She liked him, no doubt; but she did not love him. She told him anytime she had the opportunity to but he was adamant that she would grow to love him. “It’s only a matter of time.” He would say.
One evening, Shalewa and her mum were seated in the living room watching a late night sitcom on the television. When the commercials began to run, Funke looked at her daughter. “How is your relationship with Tunde going?”
“Relationship?” Shalewa asked, looking at her mum with a confused look on her face.
“Yes, your relationship.”
“Mum, we are just friends. Nothing more.” Shalewa said as she turned back to face the television.
“Tunde does not take you as a friend. It is obvious he loves you very much with the way he dotes over you.”
“Oh mum!!!” Shalewa protested. The commercials were through and she was not ready to have this discussion.
Funke picked up the remote control and switched off the television.
Shalewa groaned, looking at her mother. “What is it, mum?”
“Do I have your full attention now?” Her mother asked.
Shalewa sighed. “Yes mum.”
“Why don’t you give Tunde a chance?”
“I have tried but it’s just not working.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s a very nice and caring guy but I don’t see him beyond being a friend. I have no feelings for him.”
“Don’t worry darling. You would grow to love him.”
Shalewa’s jaw dropped as she looked at her mum with shock. “You also believe that?”
“Of course. Just give it some time.”
“It is almost two months since we met and I still can’t bring myself to love him. Don’t you think maybe, we are just destined to be friends and nothing more?”
“Your father would be disappointed, Omoshalewa. He’s already making plans for both of you to be together forever.”
“Together forever? Dad is making plans for us to get married without my consent?” Shalewa asked with shock.
“But you haven’t had any relationship that was even close to the altar. Now that you have one, your dad is not letting it slip off your hands and in case you want to know, I’m in total support of it. All the men you previously dated were after your father’s wealth. Tunde is a fine young man who is established and building a good name for himself.”
“So, am I supposed to take it that I do not have a choice?”
Funke sighed as she took her daughter’s hands in hers. “Omoshalewa mi, you are no longer a child. You do have choices but life has given you a golden opportunity to be happy for the rest of your life. What else do you want?”
“I need to love him to get married to him, mum? Is that so difficult for everyone to understand?” Shalewa asked in frustration. “He says I would grow to love him. I am yet to find the root of the love and you want to send me on eternal misery living with a man I do not love?”
“I would leave you to think about it.” Funke said resigning. She stood up as she switched the television on and left her daughter alone in the living room.
Tunde parked his grey Toyota Landcruiser in front of an apartment. He pulled down the visor in front of him and took a look at himself in the mirror. Picking out a small comb from the glove box, he brushed his hair. When he is satisfied with his look, he stepped out of the car, opened the back door and took out a plastic bag. He touched the lock button on the car remote as he walked towards the apartment. The close is quiet as usual.
He tapped the door gently and waited a few seconds before tapping it again. The door is opened to reveal an elderly woman. She is wearing a flowing boubou and her face and hands are wrinkled. She smiled as she hugged Tunde who was already going downwards to prostrate. “Ömö mi, káàbò.” (My son, welcome).
The elderly woman allowed Tunde in as he took a look round the apartment. She never ceased to amaze him with the way she organized things. She had a habit of arranging and rearranging things to keep herself busy. He placed the plastic bag on the dining table which is sparkling as if it had just been polished.
“Öjó wo lo dé láti South Africa?” (When did you come back from South Africa?) She asked as she sat down on a single leather couch.
“Ó ti se díè mà.” (A little while ago, ma).
“Ah….ah, o wá n sèsè n bò wá kí mi.” (And you are just coming to see me?)
“Ë má bínú mà. Bí mo se dé ni isé ti bèrè.” (Please don’t be angry, ma. As soon as I came in, work started).
“Hmm. So how is your business faring?” She asked.
“Adúpé l’ówö Ölórun.” (We thank God).
Tunde moved closer and knelt before her. “You are the only one I have left and I have something very important to tell you.”
She smiled without saying a word.
“I have found a wife.”
“Olúwa o sé o.” (Thank you God). She said as she lifted up her hands to the heavens. “So when are you bringing her here?”
“Very soon, very soon.” Tunde said. “I wanted to inform you first before bringing her.”
“Ìyén náà da.” (That is good).
“Hmm…..” She exhaled. “If only your parents were here, if only Aduke did not have to die at child birth…..” Tears began to make their way down her cheeks.
“Màámi, ë má se báyìí.” (My mother, don’t do this). Tunde pleaded. “Sèbí èyin lë tó mi dàgbà?” (Were you not the one who took care of me?). I never felt motherless because of you.
“Ah, kíni ì bá se?” (What would I have done?) Nígbàtí Àdùké fi é sílè tó lö s’órun (When Aduke left you and departed to the heavens). I had no choice my son.
“Grandma, please it is enough. Today is supposed to be a joyful day not a day of mourning.”
She took a deep breath and touched Tunde gingerly on the cheeks. “Yes, my son. Today is not a day of mourning.”
Tunde walked out of his grandmother’s apartment two hours later after she ensured he had had a meal of amala and ewedu.
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