Second anniversary of “To Love and to Hold”

It has been a few weeks of preparation towards the second anniversary of my debut novel; To Love and to Hold.

To Love and to Hold will be two years on the 24th of October and we are in celebration mode🍾🍾

To mark this milestone, we are offering up to 20% discount off the purchase of my books for a week. Yes, you read that right. A whole week! 💃💃💃

The gates of discounts have been officially opened today, the 22nd of October and will run till the 28th of October 2021.

The offers are thus:

Buy 2 books – One copy of To Love and to Hold and one copy of any of my other books (Jollof Palava or Tears, Blood and Death) and get 10% off.

Buy 3 books – One copy of To Love and to Hold and one copy each of my other books and get 15% off.

Buy multiples of all of books and get 20% off.

Each book costs N2500 (Two thousand, five hundred naira); delivery charges applicable.

So go ahead and place your orders by sending an email to me on naomie2debra@live.com

Tell your friends and family; this is an opportunity you do not want to miss. Everyone sure loves a good discount.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Yours in writing ✍

Olubukola

Have you seen your Jollof?

This news is coming many weeks late and I apologize 🙏

You would agree with me, however, that it is better late than never.

Have you seen your Jollof? 😁

Jollof Palava & Other stories has been published in print form 💃💃💃

And guess what, it is a double double thing.

Tears, Blood, and Death is also available in print.

So dearly beloved readers who love to have their books in their hands, your books are waiting patiently to be picked up 😁

To purchase copies of Jollof Palava or Tears, Blood, and Death;

📌 Send me an email on naomie2debra@live.com to have an autographed copy delivered to you.

📌 The books are also available at the following bookstores;

* Rovingheights; 28 Ogunlana drive, Surulere, Lagos

* Lumbooksnigeria; 11B, First Floor, View Point plaza, Nepa Road, Lapai close, Ajah. Lagos

* Booksellersng; 52, Magazine Road, Ibadan, Oyo.

* Bookpeddlerng; Lagos; 0902 686 9272

* Order online at Loftystepsconsults

Reviews have already started dropping. I would also love to read yours.

Feel free to drop them in the comment section or shoot me an email on naomie2debra@live.com

Till we talk again; enjoy your Jollof

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Yours in writing ✍

Olubukola

The Wait – The story continues

Hi,

Keep calm; The Wait isn’t over yet 😁

I am glad you have followed this story thus far. This is Olúbùkólá saying thank you 🙏

I am sure you are eager to know what became of Ajoke after Kokumo put an end to their whirlwind romance 😉

I am also excited to let you read the full story 💃💃🕺🕺

The Wait has been published and you can purchase a copy on the Okadabooks app or on Amazon kindle.

Please click the icons below and you would be automatically directed to the book on either site.


If you have enjoyed this story, please drop a comment. Your reviews either positive or negative, keeps me writing and also helps me know where I should improve on.

I would love to hear from you.

***

Are you wondering what I have been blabbing about? 🤔

Yes? It means you are new here 🤸‍♀️🤸

Thank you for stopping by. Please don’t leave in a hurry.

Read up on any of my stories, remember to subscribe and drop comments for me 🤗

Until when we talk/read again; please use a face mask 😷 and stay safe 🙏



Yours in writing ✍

Olúbùkólá

The Wait – Chapter 15

Ajoke resumed in school weeks later to study Law. She recruited a maid who helped her with the cleaning of the house, picked up her kids from school and made lunch for them, while they awaited Ajoke’s return in the evening. She decided to visit her parents two days before she was to resume school. As she walked the journey from the bus-stop to her father’s house, different thoughts ran through her mind. If not for Kokumo, I would not step into Baami’s house to give him this news. They don’t deserve to share in this joy that Kokumo has brought into my life. This celebration is meant to be for Kokumo and I alone. What would I do without you Kokumo? Life has new meaning to me all because of you. Kokumo! My one and only true love. I know you have constantly preached forgiveness; I will forgive my parents but it will take some time. How do you just expect me to forgive Baami just like that for throwing away my youth? Even if he could not send me to the University, he did not have to marry me off to Adejoro for his own benefit and ego. Ten years of my life crumpled and thrown away like a piece of paper? The only joy I have derived from the ten years are my children. Ajoke smiled as she thought about them. Despite the turmoil in her heart, her children meant the world to her.

**

Iya Ajoke was bent over a tray of garri. She tied a faded blue Adire scarf loosely over her head. Even from a distance, Ajoke noticed her mother looked tired. She remembered the blue Adire blouse and wrapper she was wearing. It had been one of the attires her father had included in the list given to Adejoro’s family during the preparation for her engagement. Her father had insisted every item on the list must be bought. She looked at her mother as the blouse hung loosely on her neck. The fabric had lost its luster and beauty. Just like I lost mine but regained it when Kokumo walked back into my life. Ajoke moved closer to her mother and greeted. Iya Ajoke looked up from her tray and covered it up in a hurry. She stretched her hands to welcome her daughter as Ajoke knelt.

“Ëkú’ròlé Màámi.
“Good evening my mother.”

“Àjoké ömö mi. Sé daadaa lë wà?” Iya Ajoke pulled her daughter up as she held her hands.
“Ajoke, my daughter. How are you doing?”

“Adúpé Màámi.
“We thank God.”

Iya Ajoke looked behind Ajoke.

“Àwön ömö mi nkó? O ò kó wön wá rí mi ni?”
“Where are my children? You did not come with them to visit me?

“Rárá mà. Wón ti lö sí school.”
“No ma. They have gone to school.”

“Ó da béè.” Iya Ajoke nodded. “Jé ka wö inú ilé.”
“That’s fine. Let us go inside.”

Iya Ajoke asked her daughter what meal she could prepare for her but Ajoke declined and told her she only had a few minutes. She informed them that she had been admitted into the University to study Law and that she was resuming in two days. Her mother was excited and shocked. She asked how long Ajoke had been preparing and planning; Ajoke told her for a few months. Baba Ajoke could not utter a word. He bowed his head in shame; he knew he had failed his daughter. First, denying her the education she desired and secondly, sealing her fate with a man who had abandoned her and made her a single mother prematurely. He prayed for Ajoke and asked God to distinguish her in her studies. As he prayed, his voice broke and Ajoke stood up from her kneeling position and hugged her father. He may not be the greatest father but she forgave him; he did what he thought was best for his family at the time.

*****

Ajoke’s first year on campus went by smoothly. Kokumo was always available to assist her financially. Even though Ajoke began to kick against it, Kokumo did not relent. He told her the proceeds from her salon were not enough to sustain her family and education. He therefore transferred money into her account with his bank at the end of every month.

After Ajoke’s second semester exams in her third year, Kokumo called her and asked that she stopped by his house on her way home. She packed up her travel bag and flagged down a taxi to take her to Kokumo’s house. She had taken up a short-term accommodation so she could concentrate on her exams. She had also gotten her mother to stay with the kids and the maid; so she could keep an eye on them in her absence. Kokumo met her at the door and planted a kiss on her lips. “I have missed you.” He said.

“You don’t know how much I have.” Ajoke replied as she hugged him tight.

Kokumo collected her travel bag from her and dropped it on a single couch. He smiled as he held her hand. “Have you eaten?”

“Yes, I had lunch just before leaving school. So what’s up? How was work today?” Ajoke asked as she sat down and made herself comfortable.

“Work was fine. I came in a few minutes ago. How were your exams?”

Ajoke rolled her eyes. “Hectic. I’m glad it is over so I can sleep better.”

“I wanted you to come here before going home so we could talk.”

Ajoke smiled. “What’s the gist? I have all evening.”

Kokumo cleared his throat and sat down a little away from Ajoke.

“Erm….I……I’m…..”Kokumo stammered as he avoided Ajoke’s eyes.

Ajoke looked at Kokumo. She was surprised he was at a loss of what to say. She scooted closer to him and held his hands. “Kokumo, what’s wrong?”

Kokumo took a deep breath.

“Is this something I need to be scared about?” Ajoke asked as she searched his face.

“I don’t know….erm….I don’t know…how…..how to say…erm….”

“You don’t know….Kokumo, what is going on?”

“I’m getting married.” Kokumo blurted out.

“You are what?” Ajoke screamed as she dropped his hands and stood up.

Kokumo looked at her. He knew it was going to be difficult but he had to tell her. The pressure from his mother had increased and Adunni was also beginning to feel that he wasn’t committed to her. She had visited him unannounced two weeks ago and asked him what his plans were. She said she needed to know so she could move on. He asked her for time to think about it but Adunni had said she wanted an answer right away. She told him she found out he had been seeing an old flame for about two years but had decided to be quiet about it. Adunni said she had left him alone because she thought he would come to his senses. She told him she had given him enough time to consider and decide between her and Ajoke but since it seemed he was bent on continuing his relationship with Ajoke, there was no point holding on to him. Adunni said she wanted to move on and stop wasting her time with him if Ajoke was his future. She said she had given him a long rope to frolic with his girlfriend and it was time for her to know where she stood. If you are getting married to her, then stop holding on to me. Let me go; Adunni had concluded.

Kokumo had been lost for words. He hadn’t imagined that Adunni would find out about Ajoke. He thought he had been very careful and discreet about his relationship with her. He was more shocked that even though Adunni had found out about his dalliance with her, she chose to remain silent. Adunni had a beautiful soul and he couldn’t afford to lose her. He was also in love with Ajoke but life had taken them through different paths. He could not have his cake and eat it at the same time. He needed to make a decision.

He closed his eyes as he thought about all the good times he had spent with Ajoke. Their renewed love and the dreams she had shared with him during their intimate moments. He thought about the joy and fulfillment he had whenever they shared their bodies and soul. He thought about the laughter her kids brought into his life whenever he took them out. He knew all that would make no meaning if her husband decided to come back home someday. Ajoke is still married to Adejoro. It is time to move on.

Right there, he apologized to Adunni for his past attitude towards her and told her he was ready to take their relationship serious. He sought her forgiveness for taking her for granted and he promised to end his relationship with Ajoke. The next weekend, he took her to see his mother. Iya Kokumo was overjoyed and treated Adunni like a queen. She asked her if she and Kokumo had picked a date for their wedding and Adunni had laughed.

**

Ajoke’s sobs brought Kokumo out of his reverie. Ajoke wasn’t the only one heartbroken; he was as well. But he had decided to take what life had given him and make the best use of it. He needed to convince Ajoke to do the same. He stood up and walked towards her. Her back was turned to him and he prayed in his heart that she would listen to him.

“Ajoke, please don’t do this.” He said turning her by the shoulders to face him.

Ajoke’s body shook as she cried uncontrollably.

Kokumo took her in his arms and hugged her tight. “Ajoke, please stop crying.” He said.

“What….what….did….I….I ever do….do to deserve this?”

“Nothing my love. Absolutely nothing. Life has been unfair but we can’t continue to live in the mistakes of the past. Let go Ajoke and make the best use of what life has given you.” Kokumo said as he cupped her face in his hands.

“I love you Kokumo.”

“I know Ajoke. I never stopped loving you too but we have to move on.”

“I don’t want to; can’t you understand?” Ajoke cried.

“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.”

Ajoke looked up at Kokumo as she broke down again into sobs. This life means nothing to me without Kokumo. How am I supposed to live without him? God, what kind of curse have you placed on me? Why did you let him walk back into my life so you could yank him away from me again? A second time? Ha! My joy is taken away from me a second time. Kokumo held her and rocked her till her sobs subsided. Ajoke wiped her tears as she looked at him. “So this is it? Another goodbye from you just like you did years ago?”

Kokumo nodded sadly.

Ajoke sighed as she shook her head. She felt sorry for herself and wondered why she had to suffer so much for love. She raised her head and held Kokumo’s hands. “Thank you.” She said. She walked towards her travel bag and was about picking it up when Kokumo reached her in two steps and held her up to face him. He kissed her passionately and Ajoke returned his kiss with the same passion. They ravaged each other’s lips desperately as they steadily built up and fanned the embers of passion in their bodies. Right there in Kokumo’s living room, he once again took Ajoke into the throes of passion as both of them cried out and moaned in satisfaction and fulfillment. As they lay side by side, arms around each other in the still and quiet living room, they both shed tears – tears of a lost love.

**

Kokumo dropped Ajoke at home hours later. As she eased out of his car, she refused to look back to say goodbye to him as she did not want to break down again. Her mother and her kids welcomed her home and she faked a smile – which was obvious – as she told her mother she needed to be alone. She lied that she was tired and stressed from her exams. Her mother urged her to take a bath and go to bed.

As Ajoke stepped under the shower and opened the tap, she sat on the floor and burst into tears again. She hugged herself and cried. What kind of life is this? Why am I so unfortunate? Kokumo, I knew you had a girlfriend but I really wanted you to be mine forever. We were meant to be together. Why would you do this to me again? Why would you kill the joy I had being with you? She bit her finger, shook her head, and almost cursed her father. Baami, this is all your fault. She gritted her teeth to stop herself from screaming. When she was spent from her tears, she walked out of the bathroom thirty minutes later and flopped on the bed. She hugged her pillow as the day took its toll on her. She slept off thinking about Kokumo, regretting the life she lived and thinking about the life she could have had but lost as a result of her parent’s choices.
—–

The story continues…

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

The Wait – Chapter 14

Ajoke sat down on her bed after ensuring her children were in bed. The gifts from Kokumo lay beside her as she sighed. What does Kokumo want from me? Is it possible he is doing all these to gain nothing like he said? I remember we had dreams. Oh! We had a lot of big dreams. Dreams that after Kokumo’s University education, we would get married – and then I would also go to the University as well. Dreams that got shattered by Baami. Dreams that made no sense to Adejoro. Kokumo always wanted me to go to the University even though Baami could not afford it. Wasn’t it even a struggle to finish from secondary school? Hmmm….Kokumo!!! You have come back into my life ten years after and the first thing you are bothered about is that dream I always had – my dream to be a lawyer. Oh how I love you so much! How I wish we could pick up our lives from where we left and continue from there. But I know you have a woman in your life; my instincts tell me so.

She took out the GCE forms from the envelope which Kokumo had given to her and began to fill them carefully. When she was done, she put it aside with the textbooks and looked at the clothes and shoes in the bag. She smiled as she held each dress to her chest and stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom. She took out the shoes and counted; four flat shoes. She put them on and strutted round her room. When was the last time I ever got a gift or bought something for myself? My life has revolved round my children all through the years. She put the shoes by a corner of her bed and took out the mobile phone. Me? A new phone? Her eyes filled with tears as she opened the box carefully making sure not to tamper with the edges so she could keep it. Two hours later, Ajoke went to bed; all her gifts lying beside her at the corner where her husband, Adejoro would have laid.

Ajoke called Kokumo the next day to inform him that she had filled the forms. He promised to pick them up in a day’s time. Ajoke began to study for the forthcoming exams; leaving her salon earlier than she usually would. Kokumo picked up the forms as promised and submitted them. He made it a duty to call her every morning and night to know how she was faring and to encourage her in her pursuit. He also shopped for her children buying them clothes, shoes and toys befitting for their ages. He handed the gifts to Ajoke as he wasn’t sure if the children were ready to meet him.

*****

A week after Ajoke’s visit to the bank, Adunni called Kokumo. She wondered why she hadn’t heard from him and he told her he had been busy with work. “But you have always been busy, Lekan.” She said; calling him by his second name. He had dropped his first name after graduation from the University and picked up his second name.

“Yeah, I know. I have had a lot on my plate in the last one week but I would make it up to you.”

“Hmm…..” Adunni said. “Are you coming over to my place this weekend or do you want me to come over?” She asked.

“No, no. Don’t come. I will come over.” He said quickly. He did not want to risk Ajoke meeting with Adunni should she decide to visit. Even though, she had not mentioned that she would see him that weekend, he preferred to play safe.

Ajoke buried her head in her books for the next few months. She did not want to disappoint Kokumo so she put in extra hours of study staying up very late sometimes to read. Her exam date drew near and she became apprehensive. She hadn’t written an exam in ten years and she feared she may be incapable.

***

Two days before her exams were to start, Kokumo gave Ajoke a surprise visit at home during the weekend. She had been elated to see him and she introduced him to her children as her best friend. Her children had laughed saying they did not realize adults also had best friends. They welcomed him into their home and he made small talk with them before Ajoke shooed them out of the house so she could discuss with Kokumo alone.

Ajoke looked at Kokumo as she voiced out her concerns about the exams. “I’m scared. I don’t know if I am capable of doing this.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Kokumo, do you know how long ago I wrote an exam?”

Kokumo laughed. “I believe in you and it doesn’t matter how long ago you have written one.”

Ajoke sighed.

“You can do this, trust me. Remember the goal ahead?”

Ajoke nodded.

“Let it push you to accomplish your heart desire.”

Kokumo left hours later and Ajoke felt like a huge load had been lifted off her chest. Kokumo had given her relief and a reason to continue to push till the end.

*****

While Ajoke wrote her exams, Kokumo frequented Ajoke’s home with dinner for the children and Ajoke. In other instances, he went to Ajoke’s house and prepared their meals. He made it a duty to keep the children engaged, sometimes taking them out while their mother studied. Ajoke’s children began to look forward to Uncle Kokumo’s visit and meals. On the days he took them out, they came back excited as they told their mum, tales of places they visited, games they played and all kinds of interesting food they had eaten. Ajoke smiled and her heart fluttered as she watched her children. She had never seen them that happy and their excitement was contagious filling the air in her home and making it a place of love, joy and fulfillment.

By the time Ajoke was through with her GCE exams, Kokumo had started discussing about the forthcoming Jamb registration. He purchased the Jamb form in the first quarter of the next year when it was released and Ajoke burnt the midnight candle again taking only a short breather. By August of that year, Ajoke received her admission letter to study for a Law degree at the Lagos State University. She was overjoyed. As she walked out of the campus premises, she dialed Kokumo’s number.

“I made it. I got my admission letter.” She screamed into the phone when Kokumo picked up.

“Ajoke!!! Oh my God! This calls for a celebration.”

Ajoke smiled as she put the admission letter to her chest and looked up to the heavens.

“Don’t bother with dinner. I am bringing dinner over.”

“Okay.” Ajoke laughed. “I am just leaving campus.”

“That’s fine. I will meet you at home once I close for the day.”

The rest of the day, Kokumo sat in his office grinning from ear to ear. He was proud of Ajoke and the tenacity she put into making her dreams come true.

After work, Kokumo drove to Ajoke’s house with dinner for the children and a gift for Ajoke. The children were excited seeing him and they thanked him for the dinner. He told them he was taking their mother out and that they would be back before their bedtime. They laughed as they gave him a go-ahead. They were also thrilled to know that their mum had gained admission into the University. Ajoke smiled as she got dressed in the simple red gown which Kokumo had bought for her as a celebration gift. As she stood looking at herself in the mirror, it looked surreal that everything was falling in place for her. Her dreams were getting fulfilled right before her eyes. In a few years, I would also be a graduate; thanks to Kokumo. What would I have done without him? Where would I be if he did not walk back into my life? In such a short time, he has brought me hope, love, joy and fulfillment. I should not keep him waiting. She walked out of her bedroom without applying any make-up. Kokumo smiled as he admired her and he reckoned that even without the make-up, she looked beautiful.

Kokumo drove into town and took her to a bar. He walked in with his hand on the small of her back. The bar was dimly lit and the atmosphere was electrifying. Smooth jazz played in the background while couples cocooned themselves in corner tables eating, laughing and clinking glasses. He took a corner table as he guided Ajoke to sit opposite. A waiter came to take their orders and in less than fifteen minutes, they were served finger food and mocktails. They made small talk over their meal after which Kokumo raised his glass and gave a toast to her future.

“I really can’t thank you enough, Kokumo. You have been more than a friend.”

Kokumo laughed. “Have you told your parents?”

Ajoke’s smile faded. “No, I haven’t. I will tell them at the right time.”

Kokumo held her hand on the table and looked at her straight in the face. “You are yet to forgive them.”

Ajoke removed her hand from Kokumo’s. “Let’s not spoil the night, please. I came to have fun with you, not to discuss about my relationship with them.”

Kokumo shrugged. “Okay. We would revisit this discussion some other time.”

Ajoke nodded and her demeanor changed as she started talking about her children and their antics.

After dinner, Kokumo took Ajoke home. The kids were still awake and they asked their mum if she enjoyed her dinner. She responded in the affirmative as she looked at Kokumo lovingly. She asked Kokumo to wait so she could see her children to bed. Kokumo nodded and sat in the living room. After Ajoke had put them to bed, she came back to the living room and sat beside Kokumo.

“Thank you for the dinner and the dress.” She said as she looked at him. “Thank you for everything. For believing in me.”

Kokumo rubbed his thumb on her cheeks. “Thank you for allowing me.” He looked straight into her eyes as he smiled. ‘I couldn’t have done it without your help.”

Ajoke hugged Kokumo as she spoke; “You don’t know the extent of what you have done for me, Kokumo.” She said sighing. She lay her head on his chest and closed her eyes. This is a dream come true.

“I may not know the extent but I have an idea.” Kokumo replied as he pulled her hair away from her face. “I have never felt this kind of fulfillment all my life.”

Ajoke eased away from Kokumo as she planted a kiss on his lips. Desire rose in Kokumo and he held Ajoke as she was about pulling away from him. He kissed her passionately and she responded. “You don’t know the extent of my love for you.” Kokumo whispered as he breathed into her neck. He eased back and cradled her face in his hands. Ajoke closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Kokumo knew that her sigh was pregnant with meaning. Today was a day of celebration and he was committed to making it end as such. He closed the space between them intent on making Ajoke forget her sorrows. He never wanted her to think about the past again – the years she had lost. Her life was starting all over and it was a new dawn. He was determined to create a new future for her. He took her lips in his, kissing her slowly and passionately. The events of the day had set the tone and soon, they both kissed with wild desire.

Kokumo stood up and lifted Ajoke from her feet as he nodded towards the rooms. Ajoke pointed towards the direction of her bedroom. Kokumo walked towards the room, opened the door and locked it behind with Ajoke still in his arms. He dropped her gently on the bed as he teased her sensitive spots with kisses and undressed her. Ajoke shivered as a cold chill ran down her spine. She hurriedly undressed Kokumo and like a ravaging storm, they danced to the rhythm of their bodies delighting in the pleasure of the moment.

Ajoke woke up at about midnight and looked at Kokumo sleeping peacefully. There was a smile on his face. She sat at the edge of her bed and wondered. What exactly am I doing with Kokumo? I have betrayed Adejoro again and I can’t seem to tear myself away from this temptation. She sighed as she thought about how her life had panned out. She wouldn’t be in this mess if her parents hadn’t turned her life into a pawn on a chess board. She knew she should stay away from Kokumo but the more she thought about it, the more her heart broke. He was yet to mention having a girlfriend but she knew he had one. He had once ignored a call in her presence. A lady’s image had appeared on his phone while it rang. Even though, she had urged him to pick up the call, he had refused, saying he would call her later. For how long would we continue with this? Do I have a future with Kokumo? Is he willing to have me back into his life?

Kokumo opened his eyes and saw Ajoke staring at him. She almost felt as if he knew she watched him as he slept. He smiled as he pulled her down to lie beside him. He hugged her close as he kissed her cheeks. Ajoke tilted her head to look at him. “What exactly are we doing? Where are we going with this?”

Kokumo raised himself up and sighed. “I wish I knew Ajoke. I just want to be with you but sincerely I know it is not possible.”

“Why is it impossible?”

“You are still married, Ajoke. Don’t forget that.”

“You know I really hate it when you rub that in my face.” Ajoke said getting upset. “Married to who, please? A man who has abandoned me and my children?”

Kokumo pulled her closer to himself and held her. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I am just stating a fact. I know I am selfish for wanting you so badly but I can’t help it.”

“Do you realize how much I also want you?”

“I won’t deceive you Ajoke. We both long for each other but the circumstances in which we find ourselves is beyond our control. Let’s enjoy the moments and leave things as they are.” He said as he kissed her head.

“I wish……”

“Shhh…..” Kokumo put his fore finger on her lips. “We take it one day at a time.”

“Okay.” Ajoke said resigning.

“School starts in a few weeks, right?”

“Yes. I should have started my search for a maid.”

“A live-in?”

Ajoke shook her head. “No, I don’t want a live-in.”

Kokumo and Ajoke talked about so many issues till the early hours of the morning when Kokumo got dressed and left at about 4.30a.m.

——

The story continues…

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

The Wait – Chapter 13

Ajoke eased into Kokumo’s car after his insistence to drop her at home. It was 9p.m and he did not want to risk letting her go home alone at that time of the night. There was still a lot to be discussed between them but this night was not the night. His heart was joyful and troubled at the same time. He had poured out all his feelings of the last ten years into the intimate moment with her. His heart had burst forth with joy and the ten-year burden on his soul had felt lighter with Ajoke in his arms. After their intimacy, they had stayed locked in each other’s embrace for some minutes; none said a word. Their naked bodies and their hearts had spoken. If he had his way, she would not leave his side again and forever. He held her hand as he drove with the other. “I don’t know if we should have done what we did in there.” He said looking at her. “I’m sorry.”

Ajoke shook her head as she sighed. “There is nothing to be sorry about, Kokumo. We both longed for it and I do not regret my actions.”

Kokumo took a deep breath. He also did not regret the moment they had together but he still felt culpable. The love he had for Ajoke was deeply buried in his heart and it only took seeing her again to awaken the love which still breathed. Ajoke is still married; I should have restrained myself. He sighed. “Ajoke, I want you to go back to school.”

“Why?” Ajoke asked as she looked at him.

“It was your dream to be educated even though your parents could not afford it. What is stopping you now?”

“I don’t know.”

“I will get you a GCE form so that you can write the next exams in October. I will also get you the syllabus compilations for all the subjects you will need.”

“But you don’t have to do this. You don’t owe me anything.” Ajoke said.

“I don’t owe you anything, Ajoke. You seem to forget that we shared our dreams years ago. I have achieved mine and I want you to achieve yours as well. You can still become that lawyer you always wanted to be. And as long as I have breath in me, I would do anything within my power to help you fulfill your dreams.”

“Thank you but I don’t want to be a burden to you.”

Kokumo looked at her. “Ajoke, you can’t and will never be a burden to me. You underestimate the love I have for you.”

Ajoke looked away as she sighed.

In a few minutes, Kokumo parked his car in front of Ajoke’s house. He smiled as he looked at her and traced her lips with his fingers. Ajoke closed her eyes expecting Kokumo to kiss her but he did not. He was in front of her house and her kids could be watching. He did not want to give anyone a reason to question her. He took her hand and squeezed it. “I will get the forms and the books tomorrow as discussed. Let me have your phone so I can save my number on it.”

Ajoke opened her handbag and brought out her phone. The phone had been held together by cello tapes in various areas. Kokumo collected the phone from her without saying a word. He typed his number on it and saved it before handing the phone back to her.

“Thank you for everything.” Ajoke said.

“Thank you for making my evening pleasant.” Kokumo responded.

Ajoke opened the door and eased out of the car. She walked to the front of her door and turned back. Kokumo had started the car but was still waiting. Ajoke waved as she opened the door to her house and Kokumo drove away after ensuring her door was closed.

******

Kokumo got home and sat on the sofa in the living room where he and Ajoke had been intimate some hours ago. He closed his eyes as he reminisced on their time together. Ajoke’s responses to his touch had been electrifying and he wondered if she had been touched by any man since her husband left. Knowing who Ajoke was, he reckoned she would have kept herself all these years. What exactly am I doing with her? He had no intentions of getting married to her while she was still married to another. What if her husband decides to come home? What if he had issues in the U.K that warranted the seven-year silence from him? Hmm….Ajoke!!! Kokumo could not deny the fact that he loved her and wished to make her happy; married to another man or not. He would go to the ends of the earth to make her dreams come true; even though those dreams were not inclusive of him anymore. He looked at the table clock on the credenza. It read 10.30pm. He needed to sleep to be refreshed for work tomorrow. He stretched out on the sofa and closed his eyes. Soon, he was fast asleep with all his thoughts on Ajoke.

The next day during his lunch break, Kokumo purchased the GCE forms, the textbooks and a mobile phone. He also went to a boutique and shopped for a few clothes and shoes. He went back to his office, happy with his purchases. When he closed at 6.00pm, he stopped at an eatery to buy food and drove towards Ajoke’s house. He parked some metres away from her house and placed a call to her.

Ajoke was in her shop when Kokumo’s call came through. She stepped out of her shop to receive the call as she did not want either her girls or her customers eavesdropping on her conversation.

“Hello.” Ajoke said.

“Hi Ajoke. How are you doing?”

“I’m well.”

“I am very close to your house. Are you at home or at your salon?”

“I’m at the salon.” Ajoke said. “What are you doing around here?”

Kokumo smiled. “I came to pick you up.”

“To where?”

“I don’t know. We can go anywhere around or just sit in my car and talk. Can we do that?” Kokumo asked hoping her response would be positive.

Ajoke sighed. “Okay. Where exactly are you?”

Kokumo gave his location and Ajoke went inside her shop instructing her girls on what to do for the rest of the day. She had gone home earlier to prepare lunch for her kids and she thought about calling Kokumo to inform him that she had to go and prepare dinner. She would let him know he may have to wait a while; she thought as she walked towards his location.

Kokumo watched Ajoke as she approached his car. She was wearing an Ankara blouse and wrapper. His heart fluttered at the sight of her. She is beautiful. Ajoke got to the car and Kokumo eased out and gave her a half-hug. “How is your day going?” He asked.

“Good.” Ajoke said. “I may have to take some of your time. I need to go prepare dinner for my children first.” She continued.

“Don’t worry about that.” Kokumo said as he stretched his hand towards the back seat of his car and picked out the plastic bags containing food. He handed it to her. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to leave without dinner prepared so I decided to bring dinner.”

Ajoke looked at Kokumo with surprise.

“Hey, I’m sure the children will be getting hungry. It is almost 7.00pm.” He said; stretching the bags towards her when he noticed she just stood looking at him.

Ajoke nodded, collected the bags and walked home.

Kokumo rested his back on the car as he watched her walking away. “Hmm Ajoke.” He said as he shook his head. He hadn’t called Adunni since he met Ajoke yesterday and he wasn’t sure if what he was doing made any sense. Ajoke was all that mattered to him now.

*

Ajoke was out of her house in ten minutes. She had changed into a long flowing dress and she looked even more beautiful. Kokumo did a quick mental check of where they could hang out without any disturbance. The village did not have any eateries around. He concluded he may have to drive back to town.

They hit the road and Kokumo asked after Ajoke’s children. She seemed happier talking about her children and he reveled in her joy as she gesticulated and made funny faces. They drove to an eatery on the outskirts of the village and he walked in holding her hand. He asked her if she wanted to eat but she took a rain check. He told her he had gotten the forms and the textbooks and that they were in the car. Ajoke smiled her thanks and he discussed her next plan which should be passing the exams, sitting for the next Jamb examinations and getting into school to study Law. He asked how she intended to take care of her kids once she was in school and she replied that she would employ a maid to assist her. He told her he was available and willing during the weekends to help her if she had any issues with any of the subjects.

Ajoke was grateful for everything and she told him so. Kokumo also handed over the plastic bag containing the mobile phone, clothes and shoes to her. Ajoke was shocked beyond words. She looked at Kokumo as they sat in the car after leaving the eatery. “What do you stand to gain in all this?” She asked.

“Nothing Ajoke. Absolutely nothing.”

Ajoke exhaled. “I really don’t know how to say thank you.”

Kokumo smiled. “You don’t have to. Can I take you home now?” He asked. “The children would be waiting.”

“Yes please.” Ajoke said.

They drove back to the village in silence. Kokumo parked at the same spot he had parked earlier on in the day. He switched off the ignition and looked at Ajoke. “If you can, please fill the forms this evening or tomorrow morning at the latest.” He said.

“I will.”

“Take care of you.”

Ajoke suddenly felt unhappy that she was leaving. She wished she could stay back. His presence in her life was like a soothing balm calming her soul. She removed her seat belt and stretched across her seat. She kissed Kokumo slowly and he returned her kiss. When she eased away, she smiled, bid him good night and stepped out of his car. Kokumo watched her till she had closed the door of her house before starting the engine and driving away.

——-

The story continues…

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

The Wait – Chapter 12

Ajoke sat in the taxi taking her back to the village. She put her hand on her chest willing her heart to slow down to its normal rhythm. She wasn’t sure whether it was the sight of Kokumo after ten years or the hope that she was going to see him that evening that made her heart beat faster; but it did. He hadn’t changed much and seeing him again had awoken feelings in her that she thought were dead. She sighed as she closed her eyes. Is he married? He hadn’t mentioned anything about a wife. If he was, he would not have asked me to see him in the evening.

She remembered his question about when she intended to go back to school and she suddenly became upset. What guts did he have to ask me about that? He had had it relatively easy for him. His dream had always been to be a graduate. And now he even worked in a bank with his certificate. She hissed as she thought of her life. Her dream of ever going to the university had been truncated by her father the day he gave her hand in marriage to Adejoro. Adejoro had been more bothered about his own education. Hers was a distraction to the marriage as far as he was concerned. As long as he provided for her and their kids, she did not need to worry herself about an education; he had told her. If only I knew Adejoro would leave and abandon me in the cold. How selfish of him! Now that the sole responsibility of taking care of her children rested on her shoulders, Kokumo had the effrontery to talk her into getting a university education. She hissed again as she looked out of the window. She had promised to see him at 7.30; she would keep to her promise.

*

She closed from her shop about thirty minutes earlier, so she could make an early dinner for her children. Once dinner had been served, she told them she wanted to see a friend in town and would be back before their bedtime.

She boarded a danfo into town and hoped to be back early enough. Different thoughts ran through her mind as she sat in the bus taking her to the home of her beloved. If Baami hadn’t given me out in marriage to Adejoro, maybe I would also be working in a reputable organization like Kokumo. We would have gotten married, have children and live in a fine house in town. She sighed. Other passengers in the bus chatted non-stop but her mind was faraway. She hardly heard a word discussed in the noisy danfo.

As she walked the distance from the bus-stop to Kokumo’s house, she took a look at the dress she was wearing. She had changed into a dress from the blouse and wrapper she was wearing in the morning. She had made an extra effort to look better than she did in the morning. Not that it mattered anyway, she doubted Kokumo still found her attractive. She was no longer the young, slim and beautiful Ajoke he fell in love with. She had filled out in every aspect of her body. Her bust and hips were a size bigger. Her arms had become flabby with extra layers of flesh. Her skin had aged beyond their years from seasons of hardship and labour. There was nothing attractive about her; she told herself.

******

Kokumo couldn’t sit still. He had paced his living room more times than he could remember. Is Ajoke going to honour my invitation? Am I doing the right thing by inviting her to my house? He hadn’t even considered her children when he had asked her to meet him. How selfish of me? He blew out air through his mouth and rubbed his temples. He had missed her so much. He had tried unsuccessfully to forget about her throughout his stay in the university. He had buried himself in his books in a bid to get her off his mind. It worked but only for short periods. He refused to read her letters because he imagined reading them would reopen his wounds which were still fresh. His mother had also steered clear of talking about any woman as she noticed that anytime she asked if he was considering marriage after his education, he flared up and got upset.

He had graduated from the university with a First class and proceeded on the compulsory National Youth Service programme in Anambra state. All through, he had avoided intimate relationships like a plague. On his return from his youth service, his mother began to question him about marriage. She was worried that no woman visited and she voiced out her concerns. When he could no longer bear his mother’s questions, he moved out and got an apartment in town. Besides, it was easier for him to get to work from town than while living with his mother in the village. He had gotten her a mobile phone and taught her how to use it. Two months ago, he was transferred to the branch close to his house.

He thought about Adunni as he sat down on the couch in his living room. He had met her during his Youth Service in Anambra state. She was beautiful and fun to be with. Even though, she had wanted more from their friendship, he had made it clear to her that he was not interested in a relationship. She had been disappointed but had gotten over it quickly. She was free-spirited and he loved that about her. She held no grudges and saw the bright side of every situation.

After their Youth Service, they had kept in touch by calling each other once in a few weeks. She had gotten a job in a telecommunications company and lived with her parents on the other side of town. His last visit to his mother had not been pleasant. She had grumbled throughout his stay in her house. He had heard an earful from her. She had been upset about his inability to settle down. She had asked him what he was waiting for. He had said he wanted to be a graduate. He had said he needed a good job. He had gotten both but had still refused to settle down. She reminded him of all his friends who already had children and told him she was not ready to go down to her grave without seeing her grandchildren. That was six months ago.

He had left his mother’s house the next day and she had made him promise to settle down quickly. On his way home, he had thought over his mother’s request. She was right that he had to settle down but he couldn’t think of anyone who suited or complemented him. While he deliberated on what to do, Adunni had called him to tell him she was visiting an aunt around his vicinity and would not mind visiting him as well. He had gladly accepted her invitation. Out of all his female friends, she had remained a constant in his life.

He had told her that evening that he was willing to take their friendship a step further. Adunni had shrugged. If it worked out between them, it was fine. If it didn’t, she was willing to move on. She had told him. He had felt relieved that she had seen their relationship in that light.

******

The doorbell chimed bringing him out of his reverie. He looked at his wristwatch. It was 7.30pm. He stood up and walked to the door. As he opened the door, he smiled and let Ajoke in. Ajoke walked in with an expressionless face. Kokumo wondered what was on her mind. He observed her change of clothes and appreciated that she still looked as beautiful as she was in her teens. Even though she had filled out, she was still a beauty to behold. He imagined she would still be getting stares of admiration from men in her village. Ajoke! My love!

“Please sit down.” He said. “Have you had dinner? I bought some food at the eatery down the road just in case you hadn’t had dinner.”

“I’m fine.” Ajoke replied as she sat down. “You wanted to see me.”

Kokumo exhaled. He was hoping Ajoke would loosen up with him but it seemed she was bent on being uptight. He wanted the old Ajoke back. The Ajoke he had fallen in love with. The Ajoke that walked and danced with him on the road on their way back from secondary school. The Ajoke who never complained when her parents did not have enough to give her. The Ajoke he shared his heart and dreams with. He walked towards her, knelt on one knee before her as he took her hands in his. He looked into her eyes and deep into her soul. “Ajoke, please I said I am sorry. You are still upset with me.”

Ajoke had not expected his action and it had caught her by surprise. Ajoke looked at him and was about to speak but words failed her. She closed her eyes trying to stop the tears that were beginning to gather at the corner of her eyes. She had promised herself not to breakdown in Kokumo’s house or in his presence but her strength and resolve was failing her. I shouldn’t have come. I can’t keep still in Kokumo’s presence with my hands in his.

“Ajoke, please talk to me.” Kokumo said. “I love you and will always do.”

The words were the trigger Ajoke needed and she broke down into tears.

Kokumo stood up from his kneeling position and pulled Ajoke up. He hugged her tightly as she sobbed on his shoulders. He was in love with her and he could not deny it. The truth was that he never stopped loving her, but life had been unfair to them, throwing a curve in their lives. He wished there was something he could do to ease the pain they both felt. He wished there was something he could do to erase the last ten years and have them start their lives all over again. Ajoke’s tears were breaking his heart; the way they did ten years ago when he had told her goodbye to a life she detested. No one could match the love he had for her; not even Adunni. Adunni? Kokumo sighed. She does not matter now. Ajoke is who I want and need right now.

He raised her head as his lips found hers and he kissed her gently. Ajoke resisted as she put her hands on Kokumo’s chest and pushed him back. Kokumo stepped back and looked at her lovingly as he held on to her hands. The only source of light in his living room was from the television he had muted before Ajoke walked in. He used his thumb to wipe the tears on her cheeks which glowed in the dark. “You are still beautiful”; he whispered. A smile lifted the corner of Ajoke’s lips as she thought about her insecurities just a few moments ago. She sighed as she closed her eyes and allowed herself to savour his touch. She had longed for his touch. She had wanted his love, his kiss and his caress even when she lay beside Adejoro. Now he stands before me giving me all I ever wanted; all I craved for.

Kokumo pulled her closer and kissed her again; slowly and passionately. This time, Ajoke did not push him away. He had kindled a fire within her and her body which was long dead lit up with passion. She kissed him back with a hunger that had been buried for ten years as she held on tightly to him and refused to let go. She was in the arms of her beloved. The one who gave her tingly feelings with his kisses in her teens. She shuddered with every touch and every caress. Nothing mattered to her now – all she wanted was to be consumed by the love of her beloved. In a few minutes, both of them were caught in the frenzy of the moment and they tore at each other’s clothing thirsty with the desire they longed for. The desire they had been denied of – the desire Ajoke almost had ten years ago when she lay by the stream a week to her wedding to another man. As their naked bodies entwined on the seven seater couch in Kokumo’s living room, Ajoke’s body throbbed with passion and expectation. She had not been touched by any man in the past seven years and her body came alive. She screamed in ecstasy as she dug her fingers into Kokumo’s back and cried in fulfillment; her whole body trembling as he made her a woman to be loved again and a body to be relished without caution.

——-
The story continues…

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

The Wait – Chapter 11

Ajoke walked to the bus-stop and was about to flag down a yellow danfo. She was still in shock as she thought about the customer service manager standing before her in the banking hall. Because of his sudden lack of composure, he had gone back to his office mumbling to his report as he walked away. He told her he would call her later as he had to attend to something urgent. Ajoke had refused to look up from the form she was filling till she was done. When she handed over the form to the customer service personnel, the lady had looked at her strangely. “Are you okay, madam?” She had asked.

“I am fine.” Ajoke had said as she faked a smile with trembling lips. The lady shrugged as she received the filled form from Ajoke and put it into a lever arch file on her desk which had “processing” boldly written on it.

The conductor stood and hung gingerly on the door of the bus shouting her destination. Ajoke waved her right hand to signal the bus to a halt to convey her back to the village when a grey Honda Accord parked in front of her. She took a few steps backward so she could get on the danfo which was about to park when she heard her name. She looked in the direction of the Honda Accord and saw the customer service manager stepping out of the car. She stood still as she looked at him.

“Ajoke, please come into the car.”

“What do you want from me?” Ajoke asked.

“Can we talk about this somewhere else please?” He pleaded. “Come into the car.”

The conductor who had tapped the top of the bus, signaling the driver to step on the brakes looked at her. “Are you a go?”

Ajoke shook her head and the conductor hissed.

“Kò lö jàre. Ó ti bá ökùnrin lö. Non-sense!”
“She isn’t going. She has decided to go with a man.”

:

Ajoke walked towards the Honda Accord like someone in a trance. The customer service manager opened the passenger door for her and closed it carefully after Ajoke eased in. He then jogged over to the driver’s side. He put the car in drive and eased into the main road. None of them spoke to each other during the drive – each one lost in thought. Ajoke hid her hands in her laps and refused to look up throughout the journey. In five minutes, they were parked in front of an apartment within town. The area was quiet and the array of townhouses and modest cars showed that the houses were residences to average middle-class individuals. The manager got out of the car, turned round to open Ajoke’s door as he held her hand and led her towards his apartment. He brought out a bunch of keys from his pocket and opened the door leading Ajoke in.

“Please sit down.” He said.

“Are you not supposed to be at work?” Ajoke asked; suddenly finding her voice.

“I have a one-hour lunch break. Since I stay close, I usually come home for lunch.”

Ajoke nodded but remained standing refusing to make eye contact.

“Ajoke, I need you to sit down. I can’t talk to you this way. I wanted us to talk in a relaxed environment; that’s why I brought you here.”

Ajoke sighed as she sat on the edge of the couch closest to the door of the living room. She looked round at her environment for the first time since coming in and noted that the furnishings were simple but screamed class. There was a brown seven-seater leather couch to her right. Fluffy pillows lined the couch like children on an assembly ground. A dark brown glass centre table sat in the middle of the living room. A small round dining table stood to her left surrounded by four chairs. Opposite her was a large television ten times bigger than what she had in her living room. From her sitting position, she could see two doors, one to the left and another to the right. She assumed they were probably the doors to the bedrooms. She sighed again as the manager broke into her thoughts.

“Ajoke, I know I have hurt you but I want you to hear me out. I’m sorry I stopped responding to your letters. So many things were happening at the same time and I felt like you were putting me under pressure.”

Ajoke looked at him intently without uttering a word.

“How have you been doing?”

“Did you think I was suddenly going to forget about our love?”

Kokumo breathed deeply. “No. But you belonged to another man and the hurt I went through was unbearable. My heart was sore and broken.”

“And you thought I would cope better by refusing to have anything to do with me, right? Or you thought your heart was the only one being trampled upon?”

“No Ajoke, but there wasn’t much I could do.”

“You could have at least responded to my letters.” Ajoke spat.

“I am sorry, Ajoke. I don’t know how many times I would have to say it. Sincerely, I am. I couldn’t even read the letters. I did not have the courage to. Seeing your handwriting on those envelopes reopened my wounds every time I received a letter from you. I wanted to move on but my heart refused to. When you stopped writing, I thought it was all over. I picked out all the letters when I was about graduating and read all of them one by one. I’m sorry I never wrote back. I felt you still wanted me to remain a part of your life. You wrote about how unhappy you were and wrote when you had your son and your daughter. They were six letters in all and I cried the day I read them all. I realized I was still heartbroken even after three years.”

“I did not stop writing Kokumo. I knew you would be graduating and there was no way my letters would get delivered to you anymore. Since you never bothered to reply any of the letters and I did not have any forwarding address for you, there was no point writing a letter that would go undelivered. There was no one to ask and no one to talk to.”

Kokumo moved close to Ajoke and sat down beside her. He held her hands. “Please forgive me.”

Ajoke looked away as she spoke. “Adejoro travelled abroad on a scholarship seven years ago. His course was supposed to be for twenty-four months. He never came back. He left me and the kids to start another life in the UK.”

Kokumo shook his head as he realized Ajoke must have had it rough; having to cater for herself and two young kids alone. “I’m so sorry, Ajoke. I did not know that. I would have reached out to you.” He said as he covered her hands in his. “How have you been coping?”

Ajoke shrugged without looking at him. “I started weaving hair for little girls in the vicinity, and then their mothers patronized me after a while before I was able to set up a salon. I have used that to keep body and soul together. My kids and I are not hungry.”

Kokumo smiled despite the situation. The Ajoke he fell in love with years ago was still the same Ajoke sitting before him. The years of their separation had not changed her positive attitude one bit.

“Broda Adisa advised that I open an account to save for the rainy day. There’s no bank in the village yet so I had to come to town.”

“How are your parents and your brothers?”

“My parents are fine. All my brothers are now happily married.”

Kokumo thought about Ajoke’s statement and her emphasis on the word “happily married”. It was a pity that she was the married and abandoned one for no fault of hers. He wished he could turn back the hands of time. He wished life hadn’t been so cruel to their love. He sighed as he looked at his wrist watch. His lunch break was almost over and he had to get back to work. He wished he did not have to. He wanted to know everything that had taken place in Ajoke’s life since the last time they saw; when he had walked her home from the stream and parted ways with her. Even though it was ten years ago, it felt like yesterday to him. He remembered the look of despair on her face when he left her. He remembered her plea to him that they run away from the village to create the future they desired.

“I need to get back to work.” He said standing up.

Ajoke stood up as well. “No problem. I should also take my leave now. I need to get back to my shop and my kids.”

Kokumo moved closer to Ajoke as he held her hand again. “I wish I did not have to go back to work but.….” He stopped and sighed. “When can I see you again?”

Ajoke shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Okay, when do you intend to go back to school?”

Ajoke gave him a surprised look.

“You always wanted to go to the university. It is not too late, Ajoke.”

Ajoke removed her hands from Kokumo’s. “You know what. I think you should get back to work.” She said as she started walking towards the door.

Kokumo got to her in two steps and held her hand. “Did I say something wrong?” He asked looking confused. “I thought that was your dream.”

Ajoke looked away. “Let me go Kokumo.”

Kokumo refused to let her go. “Okay, I’m sorry. Please I apologize if I said something wrong. I don’t want you to leave in anger and I really want to see you again. I close from work at 6pm and I am usually home by 7.”

Ajoke looked at him without uttering a word.

“Please, can I see you later today?”

Even though Ajoke would rather not, a part of her heart longed to come back. She had endured ten years of pain and heartache without her first love. After his refusal to respond to all her letters, she had mourned her loss and never thought she would see him again. She was angry that all her letters to him were unanswered. She was also hurt and pained like he was and she refused to understand why he would turn his back on her and on their young love. He hadn’t changed much – he had only grown older and bulkier. Hearing his voice in the banking hall had struck a chord in her heart. She would recognize the voice of her beloved in the midst of a crowd. Even though her encounter with him had reopened the pain and hurt she had felt when she lost him, it also built up a longing in her heart to be with him again. She wanted to know more. She needed to know more. Ten years! She breathed deeply. “I’ll be here at 7.30.”

“Thank you.” Kokumo smiled. He opened the door and they both walked out of the house.

Kokumo drove Ajoke back to the bus-stop and flagged down a taxi. Ajoke objected as she told him she would rather go back in a bus just like she had come to town but Kokumo refused to listen to her. He paid for the taxi and watched the car drive off to her destination before driving back to his office.

He wasn’t sure how he got to his office. Everything he did after his encounter with Ajoke; including the drive back was on autopilot. The hunger he would have experienced on usual days was non-existent. The sight of Ajoke had filled him up. He was unable to concentrate on his job the rest of the day. He looked at the table clock on his desk almost every ten minutes. He wished close of business would come early.
——–

The story continues….

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

The Wait – Chapter 10

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. With each passing month, Ajoke’s hope of receiving a letter from Adejoro dimmed. Initially, his mother frequented their home assuring her that he would be back soon but Ajoke was not sure who to believe; his friend or his mother. Adejoro’s mother gave no indication that her son had deserted his wife and Ajoke became more confused. She wondered a few times if Akanbi had mentioned her husband’s refusal to write back to spite her for refusing to sleep with him or if he meant what he had said. But she was unable to ask anyone. The only close friend Adejoro had was Akanbi and her elder brother and she was not sure if it was worth asking her brother, Adisa. Each day became a wait in expectation of a hope that was non-existent.

Six months after Adejoro’s scheduled return, Ajoke decided to go to her father’s house to talk to her brother. She reckoned that she was better off knowing if a calamity had befallen her husband than waiting expectantly for a letter that wasn’t forthcoming. She told Adisa about Akanbi’s statement carefully avoiding to discuss her encounter in his house. Even if her brother would forgive her for longing to be touched after years of abstinence, she was sure he would never forgive Akanbi for trying to take advantage of his sister. She knew her brother would head straight to Akanbi’s house and the consequences of his action could be fatal.

Adisa had been surprised by her revelation; and told Ajoke he was not aware Adejoro did not contact her anymore. He was even more shocked that he had stopped sending her a monthly stipend and wondered how his sister had coped the past six months with two extra mouths to feed. He scolded her for not confiding in him earlier but was glad that she sought his help now. He told her he was going to make sure he got to the root of the matter and find out exactly what the situation was.

Ajoke thanked him and Adisa gave her some money to take care of herself and her kids. Her mother also packed some foodstuff for her and Ajoke went home with her heart less burdened. The wait for word on her husband continued; albeit with support from her family. Three months after, Adisa sent an errand to Ajoke to come home. She wondered why Adisa would call for her as it was unusual. She hoped her parents were doing fine. She woke up early the next day, made food for her kids and got them prepared to visit her father’s house. She met her parents and her six brothers seated discussing when she walked in. The discussion stopped as soon as she stepped in and Ajoke felt uneasy. She looked at her father and her mother – they both looked well. Whatever had called for a family meeting must be very important; she reckoned.

Ajoke was asked to sit down and her mother took her grandchildren away, leaving Ajoke alone with her father and elder brothers. Adisa started by asking how she was faring and how she coped taking care of the children alone. Ajoke knew her brother was beating around the bush and she held her breath as she awaited the news from him that had made him call for a family meeting. Adisa eventually broke the bad news to Ajoke. Akanbi had been right – Adejoro had been enticed by the desire to live permanently abroad. He had therefore deserted her to build another home in the United Kingdom. Ajoke looked at her father’s face and shook her head in despair. Her father’s face mirrored her misery. He bowed his head and slumped his shoulders. This was not the desire he had for his only daughter. Ajoke’s face was resolute as she looked at the faces of each of her brothers. No tears escaped her eyes. She was only sad that she had become a single mother with no source of income.

She thanked her brother, Adisa and asked for her children. One of her brothers stood up to call for their mother. Ajoke’s mother came in with her grandchildren. She had tears in her eyes as she looked at Ajoke. She encouraged her daughter to stay the night but Ajoke refused; saying she was going back to her husband’s house – the house of the man she and her husband gave her out in marriage to. Iya Ajoke held her daughter’s hand as she begged her to forgive them. The tears threatening to spill came down Iya Ajoke’s cheeks in streams. She cried while Ajoke looked at her unflinching. They never imagined Adejoro would do this to them, Iya Ajoke said. She cursed the company that gave her son-in-law a scholarship and made her daughter a young single mother in her prime. She regretted the day she agreed to give out her daughter in marriage. She put her hands on her head as she grieved that her grandchildren would grow up without a father. Ajoke looked at her mother and sighed. There was no point lamenting, she told her mother. The deed had been done. The past couldn’t be erased. Ajoke walked out of her father’s house with her kids in tow.

When she got home, Ajoke sat down and looked around her. She needed a clear head and she pushed all thoughts of what could have been aside. The house she lived in had been built by Adejoro and she was glad she had no reason to worry about rent. She had never worked while she was married to Adejoro as he had seen no reason for her to. With two children in quick succession immediately after her marriage, she had had no opportunity to do any other thing but stay home and take care of her children. She thought of what she could do to earn a living so that she and her kids would not suffer. She remembered that when she was in the secondary school, a lot of her friends came to her house to get their hair weaved because most of them could not afford to pay a hairdresser. She stepped out of her house and looked around the vicinity. She saw a small carton lying on the ground; probably abandoned by some children who played around. She picked it up and took it into her house. She strapped her daughter on her back and held her son’s hand as she walked towards a primary school not too far from her house. Used pieces of chalk were strewn all over the floor and Ajoke picked up a few. She wrote on the carton with a piece of chalk advertising that a hairdresser lived within. She found a used rag and tore it into two, then used it to hang the carton on the tree in front of her house. She went back into her house to prepare a meal for her kids and awaited her first client.

Within a short while, word spread round that Iyawo Engineer weaved hair better than most of the other hairdressers in the vicinity. Ajoke’s house became a mecca of sorts for children and her weekends turned out to be her most busy period. She had mothers knocking on her door very early on Saturday morning to plait their daughter’s hair as they did not want to be caught up in long queues later in the day. Those who couldn’t deal with the long queues on Saturdays brought their daughters on Sundays. Ajoke hardly had time for a breather during the weekends.

She enrolled her kids in the nearby primary school and life took a new turn for her. Soon, the mothers who dropped their daughters also needed her services to get their own hair done and Ajoke became busier by the day. Her days became filled with work and soon the mothers had to book appointments. She no longer thought about what to eat and how to survive. She had just enough to feed herself and her kids.

The years rolled by and Ajoke forgot about her husband. His mother still visited her once in a while to see how her grand-children were faring in light of their father’s absence. By an unspoken agreement, Ajoke and her mother-in-law never discussed Adejoro. His mother could visit whenever she deemed fit but Ajoke demonstrated to her husband’s mother that she had no need for their family. Iya Ajoke also visited her grand-children but the relationship between mother and daughter was strained. Iya Ajoke tried to lighten her daughter’s burden by visiting with foodstuffs and buying gifts for her grand-children. Ajoke performed her duties to her parents but it was not done out of love but out of obligation. Her elder brothers all got married and had successful marriages.

*****

Seven years after Adejoro abandoned Ajoke, she rented a shop close to her house and opened a small salon with the proceeds of her business, establishing a name in the village as one of the foremost hairdressers. She recruited two girls who helped her in her salon and business went smoothly. Her brother, Adisa was happy that she was doing well and on one of his visits to her house, he advised that she opened a bank account so she could have some money saved for the rainy day.

Ajoke heeded her brother’s advice and took a bus to the nearest town the next day to open an account. She walked into the bank feeling a little strange as it was her first time in a banking hall. She had previously kept the proceeds of her business in a bag which she kept under her bed. The spacious banking hall was filled with the young and the old all waiting to be attended to. Even with the air-conditioning at full blast, the banking hall was stuffy with the smell of fish and raw beef mixed with sawdust and cement. Ajoke stood in queue by the customer service corner of the hall and awaited her turn. The lady at the customer service desk smiled at her as she asked Ajoke to sit down and gave her an account opening form to fill.

As Ajoke bent her head to fill the form, a man walked out of his office and called the attention of the customer service staff to a form in his hand. Ajoke froze as she heard the voice of the man who she assumed was the lady’s boss. She held on to the pen in her hand mid-air as the questions on the form became confusing – her mind went blank. She was scared to look up to identify the person who had just spoken. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know but she also needed to know. The manager walked to the customer service desk and stood beside his report requesting for more information regarding a customer’s form in his hands. As he spoke to her, Ajoke summoned up courage to lift her head. She met the manager’s eyes and the expression on the faces of both was shock. Ajoke could not believe her eyes. Her jaw dropped as she looked at him. The manager was stunned that he couldn’t finish his sentence. He started to stammer as his mind refused to process the information he was passing across to his report. He stood there looking at Ajoke; confusion and shock stamped on his face. The customer service staff noticed her boss was a little disoriented and asked him if he was okay. She wondered what had suddenly caught her boss’ attention and looked at Ajoke.

Ajoke had however, turned her attention back to the form she was filling. She could not fill the form any longer as the letters danced before her eyes. She held on to her pen refusing to look up as her eyes filled with tears. She could not afford to break down here in the presence of strangers. She bit her lower lip as she blew air through her mouth in a bid to subdue the tears. Life had been unfair to her. She quickly filled the form and handed it over to the lady before rushing out of the bank in a hurry.

———

The story continues…..

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

The Wait – Chapter 9

Kokumo was in the faculty building when he was told by the secretary that he had a letter. He wondered who could have written him a letter as he had only previously received letters from Ajoke. As he collected the letter from the secretary, he looked at it and immediately recognized Ajoke’s handwriting. He sighed as he put it into his folder. Why is she writing me a letter? Is it to inform me about how she enjoyed her married life or what? His demeanour changed and he got angry – and just like the anger came suddenly, it was replaced by rejuvenated tender feelings for Ajoke. He wasn’t sure he wanted to read the letter. It would only open his heart to another round of hurt and he was trying to get over her. He made up his mind not to read the letter. He got to his room later in the day and flung the letter into his travel bag.

*

Ajoke wondered why she did not receive a response to her letter. Even though her husband tried to make her happy, she remained an unhappy woman. She did her wifely duties as she should but found no joy in her home or her husband. She thought about Kokumo day and night and sometimes imagined he would pay her a visit. She longed for his hugs, his kisses and his caresses and cried herself to sleep most nights after intimacy with her husband.

Adejoro’s pride had gone a notch up when he realized he made Ajoke a woman on the night of their traditional wedding. He had showered her with kisses and whispered into her ears endlessly that he loved her; always had and always will. Ajoke’s heart had been broken that night – the gift she had kept for Kokumo had been taken away from her and she mourned the loss of her priced possession to a man she had no feelings for.

Ajoke lived with her husband in a decent self-contained apartment within the averagely expensive part of town. All her friends who had gotten married earlier envied her. None of their husbands could afford to raise a family in that area of the town. Adejoro continued to work hard and he did his best to take care of his wife. However, Ajoke’s heart still longed for Kokumo, despite the fact that she knew his goodbye behind her house on the day he arrived from school had been final. Four weeks after her first letter, she wrote another one. She longed to hear from him. She wanted to know if he still thought about her. She needed to know if the love he had for her had grown cold. She wanted to know if he still missed her or if he had moved on and thrown her into the dustbin of history.

Kokumo received the second letter six weeks after the first. He was on the verge of opening it when he shook his head and flung it into his travel bag. No! He wasn’t going to read any letters from Ajoke again. He did not want to know how her husband made her a woman. He did not want to know how she melted under his touch. He was not interested in the pride she felt being married to one of the most sought out bachelors in her town. He did not need her to tell him to move on. In a few days, he sat for his exams and was through in another three weeks. He packed his few clothing into his travel bag and prepared to go home.

*****

Three months after Ajoke’s wedding to Adejoro, she found out she was pregnant. She knew she was supposed to be happy at the life growing inside her but it only made her more sorrowful. She endured every night attending to the needs of her husband and the consequences lay inside of her. Adejoro had been elated when he found out his wife was carrying his first child. He immediately registered her in a Primary health care centre and ensured she got enough rest.

Six months later, Ajoke delivered a baby boy after an easy labour. Her mother praised her for her bravery and was thankful to God for giving her a grandson. Adejoro’s mother moved in with them to assist Ajoke with taking care of the child. Adejoro converted his self-contained apartment into a two-bed so he could accommodate his mother. She stayed with Ajoke for a month before leaving and Ajoke’s mother moved in to continue from where she stopped. Iya Ajoke stayed for six weeks. When she was sure her daughter was strong enough to handle the job of taking care of her home and her son, she returned to her husband’s house.

With a baby to take care of, Ajoke’s mind became occupied and thoughts of Kokumo were quickly replaced. She however wrote him another letter to inform him that she now had a son which she would have loved to be his. Six months after she had her son, she found out she was pregnant again and was even three months gone. Adejoro was ecstatic. Everything seemed to be working in his favour. His family was doing well and he was never short of sub-contracted jobs to handle. In a few months, he would be through with the technical college and he knew that while his friends would be roaming around looking for jobs, he already had jobs waiting for him to handle. Life couldn’t be better for him and Ajoke.

Ajoke had a baby girl six months later. Her mother-in-law and her mother took turns to take care of her daughter as they previously did. Iya Ajoke told her daughter how proud of her she was; having two children of different sexes in quick successions. She also never failed to praise her daughter’s husband, Adejoro for taking good care of Ajoke. Life was good to them all and she was a fulfilled grandmother of two children. Ajoke’s father was also happy with the decision they had taken to give out their daughter in marriage to a good man. He imagined how envious his friends would be of him. Adejoro was making them proud with a good name, a good job and a great family.

Ajoke’s children were aged eighteen months and six months when Adejoro came home one evening excited. He sauntered into their apartment singing and dancing. He swung his legs to the left and to the right in a manner that thrilled his children. Ajoke wondered what the jubilation was about as she looked at him with confusion. Adejoro informed his wife that one of the companies he sub-contracted for was offering him a scholarship to further his education in the United Kingdom. Ajoke looked at her husband as if he spoke in another language.

Adejoro continued to sing and dance, praising God and oblivious to Ajoke’s demeanour.

“You can’t be serious.” Ajoke shouted when she found her voice. Adejoro stopped dancing and looked at his wife.

Ajoke’s daughter, Adebola began to cry; startled by her mother’s sudden outburst. Ajoke scooped her daughter up immediately and strapped her to the back as she patted her bum to stop her from crying.

“It is just for a few months, Ajoke. Before you know it, I will be back.” Adejoro said after his daughter’s cries subsided.

Ajoke harrumphed.

“Ajoke try to understand. I may never get this opportunity. Don’t deny me of this, please.” Adejoro pleaded.

“How long is a few months?” Ajoke asked as she sighed deeply.

“Twenty-four months.”

Ajoke’s jaw dropped. “And you call two years just a few months?” She asked in anger.

“Ajoke!!!” Adejoro called as he stressed her name.

Ajoke clapped her palms sideways and opened them facing upwards. “Okay oh, I have heard you Adejoro.  I don’t want you to say later that I denied you of progressing in life; God forbid.” She said as she snapped her fingers backwards over her head.  “You are free to go.” She continued.

“Thank you.” Adejoro said as he moved closer to his wife and gave her a hug.

“When are you leaving?”

“In two weeks’ time. I will make sure I send money to you monthly through one of my friends for your upkeep.”

Ajoke shook her head as she thought about her children. How am I going to cope in the next two years?

*****

Two weeks later, Adejoro travelled out of the country leaving Ajoke in the care of his mother. Even though Ajoke was yet to fall in love with her husband after over two years of marriage, she had grown fond of him and thought maybe she would eventually forget about Kokumo.

Adejoro’s mother moved in with Ajoke immediately after her son’s departure to spend time with her. Since Ajoke wasn’t working as advised by her husband, she woke up each day with a single mission – to take care of her children and her home. Adejoro’s mother did her best to keep her daughter-in-law company. She acknowledged that things were a little different without her son but she looked forward with hope that in twenty-four months, her son would be back and his family would be together again. She stayed with Ajoke for six months and left after her grand-daughter clocked one.

Even though Adejoro was on a scholarship, the company paid him a monthly stipend to keep body and soul together. He therefore kept his promise by sending Ajoke a portion of his monthly stipend through his friend, Akanbi. He also wrote letters to her to keep her informed of the progress of his education and life as a married bachelor, while Ajoke replied with pictures of his children.

Twenty-four months came quickly and Ajoke looked forward to her husband coming back home. She wrote him a letter in the twenty-third month to let him know that she and the kids were eager to have him back and expected a response from him. Four weeks passed by and she did not receive a response from her husband. She kept on going to the post office every day to check her box wondering why she was yet to receive a letter. By the twenty-fifth month, she became worried when she did not hear from her husband. She wondered what could have gone wrong and decided to go to his friend’s house on the other side of town.

*****

Akanbi was about stepping out of his house when Ajoke arrived there with her kids in tow. She decided to visit early before the morning sun was out. Her daughter was strapped to her back while she held her son’s hand. Akanbi was surprised to see her; it was Ajoke’s first time in his house. Her monthly upkeep from her husband had always been delivered to her at her house and he wondered what had brought her to his house this early. He welcomed her in and told her to make herself comfortable. Ajoke unstrapped her daughter and put her on the floor so she could play with her elder brother. She sat in the cane chair in Akanbi’s house favouring it for the couch in the living room. Akanbi brought some biscuits for the kids and a cup of cold water for Ajoke. He then asked her if he could be of any help.

Ajoke told him she was wondering why she had not heard from her husband. He was meant to return to the country after two years and it was a full month after the agreed time. She asked him if there had been any change in the terms of his scholarship and if he had an idea why Adejoro had not responded to her letter. Akanbi smiled as he stood up from the couch he was seated on and walked towards Ajoke. He sighed deeply as he took her hand and kissed it. Ajoke stood up abruptly, yanking her hand from him. She was shocked at Akanbi’s attitude and she wondered what had come over him.

“What do you think you are doing?” She asked.

Akanbi stepped towards her as Ajoke backed away. “You know Ajoke, you are still very beautiful even after all these years of not having a man to warm your bed.” He said smiling.

“Akanbi, I respect you a lot as my husband’s friend. I only came here to find out what is wrong with my husband.”

“Give me a chance to take care of you, Ajoke.” Akanbi said.

Ajoke looked at him as if she had just been punched in the face.

“Are you surprised?” Akanbi asked her as he moved towards her. Ajoke continued to back away from him till her back touched the wall.

Akanbi smiled knowing that he had her cornered. He moved close to her pinning her to the wall with his body. He traced his fingers over her bare arms sending Ajoke into a shiver. “I have always liked you but Adejoro was faster than I was. Beautiful Ajoke, the darling of many Ipaja young men.” He said as he moved his fingers up and down her collar bone, his breath on her face.

Ajoke held her breath as her heartbeat increased. She closed her eyes and bit her lips. She had not been touched in two years and her body was sore with desire. She longed to be kissed and caressed and a shiver ran up the length and breadth of her body as Akanbi kissed her shoulder and the nape of her neck. She did not push him back and Akanbi took this as his cue. The thought of Ajoke gracing his bed excited him and he was quickly aroused. Blood seeped into every part of his body stimulating his senses and heating up his body. The Ankara sokoto he was wearing became uncomfortable as he sought a release of the sexual tension built up. He slipped his hand under Ajoke’s dress lifting it up as he glided and pressed his excited lower torso to hers and hugged her tightly at the waist. His action made Ajoke tremble causing a gasp to escape her lips as her body warmed and craved a man’s touch.

Akanbi’s excitement increased as he realized he had broken her will and she ached to have him. Ajoke’s eyes were still closed and he noticed how she took in a deep breath when he caressed her bust. He wished he had invited her towards the couch but that could wait. He reckoned he could lift her easily. Next time, he would make sure their intimacy was on the couch which would be more comfortable for him. He struggled to take off her underskirt with one hand while he tried to untie the rope on his sokoto with the other hand.

Suddenly, Ajoke’s daughter started to cry. Ajoke heard Adebola’s cry but it seemed like it was coming from a faraway distance. Akanbi looked at Adebola briefly before successfully sliding down Ajoke’s underskirt from her body. He wasn’t going to let the cry of the little child abort his mission. He untied his sokoto in a hurry with one hand as the other hand went under Ajoke’s dress to caress her thighs. Adebola’s cries grew louder while Akanbi’s hand moved faster between Ajoke’s thighs. He struggled to step out of his sokoto as the urge to accomplish his mission grew. Ajoke wondered why her daughter was crying as beams of passion shot through her body.

Ajoke began to hear her daughter’s cries come closer and she shook and came out of her reverie. She saw her daughter crawling towards where she stood and looked at Akanbi. Her underskirt was on the floor and Akanbi groped her. He had taken off his underpants and was about to lift her off the floor when she pushed him back. He staggered backward, surprised at the sudden change of behaviour.

“What is wrong with you?” He asked in a low voice as he moved towards her.

“Don’t come near me.” Ajoke shouted.

Akanbi laughed. “What will you do?”

Ajoke started sobbing. “Why would you do this to your friend’s wife? He trusted you.” She said as she picked up her underskirt from the floor and put it back on.

Ajoke’s tears shocked Akanbi and he stammered. “But…but…Ajoke, you also want this. I know you do. Your body longs for a man. Just once won’t hurt. No one will know, I promise you.” He said as he stepped forward and tried to touch her.

Ajoke knew she had failed her husband and she felt sorry. She shouldn’t have come here in the first place. She hit Akanbi’s hand away as she picked up her crying daughter, put her on her back while Akanbi watched confused.

“Ajoke, please don’t go. I will take care of you.” He said.

“I don’t need you to take care of me. I just want to know when my husband is coming back.” Ajoke cried.

“Your husband is never coming back.” Akanbi spat.

Ajoke looked at Akanbi with shock. “What did you say?” She asked as she held on to her son’s hand.

“You heard me. Adejoro is never coming back. He is dating someone else who he plans to get married to.”

Ajoke shook her head vigorously. “No, no, stop lying against my husband.”

“So why hasn’t he responded to your letter? Why hasn’t he told you anything about his return?”

Ajoke burst into tears as she carried her son, opened the door in a hurry and ran out of Akanbi’s house.

——-

The story continues…..

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

The Wait – Chapter 8

Kokumo walked home dejected. The joy and happiness he had initially felt coming home had been stolen from him and he saw no reason to be home. He would have turned back to school but he knew that all his roommates would have also left the campus by now and locked the room. He just wanted to be alone to lick his wounds. He sauntered into his compound, taking out his own key to the padlock on their door. He opened the main door, dropped his travel bag on the floor in his room and flopped on the mattress. He had suddenly lost his appetite and also lost interest in everything. He knew his mother would still be at the market but he did not look forward to seeing her. If only she had pushed him a little to take action the day she had the discussion about Ajoke with him. He sighed as he tossed on the mattress. The day took its toll on him and in a few minutes, he was snoring loudly.

Iya Kokumo arrived home to meet the padlock to the main door of their house open. Only Kokumo had a key to the door. Does that mean my son is home? She quickly dropped her basket of left-over fruits by the door and rushed to her son’s room. She saw him sprawled on the bed snoring loudly and smiled. Her son was home. She closed the door to his room quietly and went to the kitchen. He must be tired and hungry. She set to work as her hands moved in quick motions to prepare a meal for her son.

***

Kokumo woke up at about 7.30pm and heard the melodious voice of his mother as she sang praises to God in the kitchen. He stood up and stretched lazily. His tummy began to rumble announcing the arrival of hunger pangs. He walked to the kitchen to see his mother and to assist her with the food she was preparing.

“Ëkáalé màámi.”
“Good evening, my mother.” He greeted touching the floor in a half-prostrate.

Iya Kokumo held a pot over a stove with her left hand as she used a small turning stick in her right hand to beat the amala she was preparing into a fine paste. She stopped momentarily, turned round to look at her son and smiled.

“Kòkúmó, ömö mi. Káàbò. Báwò ni ilé-ìwé.”
“Kokumo, my son. Welcome. How was school?”

“Daadaa ni mà. Mi ò mò pé ë ti dé lé láti öjà.”
“It was good. I did not realize you had arrived from the market.” Kokumo replied.

Iya Kokumo returned her gaze to the amala in the pot.

“Èmi náà mö bê. Mo ri pé ó rè é gan.”
“I know. I could see you were very tired.”

“Kínni ki n bá a yín se?”
“What can I do for you?” Kokumo asked.

“Má yö ara ë lénu. Ìwö lö jòkó, ko ma wò ní tìë. Óúnjë ti fé jiná.”
“Don’t bother yourself. Just sit and watch. Your food is almost ready.”

Kokumo picked up a small stool by a corner of the kitchen and sat down as he watched his mother. He put his hand on his chin and was lost in thought that he did not realize when she finished the food and dished his meal into a bowl.

“Kokumo, Kokumo.” Iya Kokumo called.

Kokumo suddenly jerked up and looked at his mother. “Maami.”

Iya Kokumo dropped the bowl of amala and ewedu she was holding on the kitchen stool which served as her table and touched Kokumo on his forehead to feel for his temperature.

“Kílódé, ömö mi.”
“What is wrong, my child?”

“Kò sí ìyönu Màámi.”
“There’s no problem, my mother.”

Iya Kokumo looked at her son unconvinced. She stood before him as she waited for him to say something. Kokumo knew his mother would not let him be until he voiced out what plagued his heart. He noticed the worried look on her face and stood up from the stool to pick up his meal.

“Ë jé ka lö jëun.”
“Let us eat.” He said to his mother. He needed to get himself together; he did not want his mother getting worried unnecessarily.

***

Kokumo refused to step out of his house for the next one week. His mother had expected him to visit his farm to see to what his workers were doing but he had no pleasure in that. She asked him every day what the problem was, but he continued to state that he was fine. The pain in his heart was great and being on the farm was not going to help ease the pain. It was only going to remind him of everything and everyone he had lost – his father, Ajoke, their love and their future together.

Deep down, he was also a little angry with his mother. He understood that the situation between himself and Ajoke was beyond her control but if only she had pushed him a little. If only she had welcomed Ajoke the day she saw her in his embrace. If only she had realized early that he was not too young to get a wife. If only she had encouraged him to go ahead and visit Ajoke’s father. If only she had advised him that he need not wait till graduation before getting married. If only she had guided him to marry Ajoke and bring her home. There were a lot of ‘if onlys” that his mother could have done but she had done none.

*

Two weeks after his arrival at home, he was sitting down with his mother outside the house when an old friend of his from secondary school passed by. His friend spotted him and his mother and walked up to them smiling. The last time they saw was the day they wrote their final papers for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations.

“Ah ah Kokumo!” Ajirebi said stressing his name. “Ojú ë rèé.”
“Is this you?”

Kokumo stood up to hug his friend. “Ajirebi, long time. Where have you been?”

Ajirebi did a half-prostrate to greet Iya Kokumo.

“Ëkú’ròlé mà.”
“Good evening ma.”

“Kú’ròlé Ajírébi. Àwön òbí rë n kó?”
“Good evening Ajirebi. How are your folks?” Iya Kokumo smiled as she acknowledged Ajirebi.

“Dáadáa ni wón wà mà.”
“They are fine ma.”

“Ìwo àti òyìnbó ë yìí.”
“You and this your English.” Ajirebi said as he looked at Kokumo. “You no dey tire.”

Kokumo laughed as he slapped his friend on the back. “Wetin you wan make I do? Make I no speak am again?”

Ajirebi suddenly pulled his friend by the arm. “Wetin happen to Ajoke? I hear say she don marry.”

Kokumo looked at his mother and noticed she was looking at both of them. Even though, she was not literate, she understood pidgin English.

“Yes, she should be married now.” Kokumo said looking away.

“Ah…ah, no be say both of you dey carry yourself for secondary school as husband and wife. Women!!!” Ajirebi lamented.

“It is not Ajoke’s fault.” Kokumo shouted at his friend.

Ajirebi looked at his friend, shock written on his face. “Wetin I talk?” He asked gesticulating with his hands.

Kokumo took a deep breath as he calmed down. “It is not her fault. Her father married her off against her will.”

“Hmm…” Ajirebi said as he squeezed his face. “I no know. Ah, the thing go pain you gan oh.” He continued as he bit his forefinger.

Iya Kokumo looked from the son to his friend. She noticed Kokumo was uncomfortable with the discussion and decided to step in.

“Ëìn Ajírébi, kí àwön òbí rë fún mi o.”
“Ajirebi, send my regards to your folks.”

She turned to her son. “Óyá nínu ílé. Èyí ta se ní ìta ti tó.”
“Let us go inside. We have had enough outside.”

Kokumo obeyed his mother as he walked into the house without looking back to say good bye to his friend. He sat down and there was a look of misery on his face. His mother walked into the house, shut the door firmly and sat beside him.

“Kòkúmó, ìdí tí gbogbo nkan ò se wùn é se mó leléyìí, àbí?”
“This is the reason why nothing has been of importance to you anymore, right?”

Kokumo sighed as he looked at his mother.

“Sé o féràn ömö yën tó bè?”
“Do you love her that much?”

Kokumo nodded his head, unable to utter words.

“Mo dè sö fún ë nigba yën o. O ní pé àdéhùn tí èyin méjèjì jö ní nipé ë ma féra tí o bá ti se tán ní ilé-ìwé gíga.”
“And I told you then; but you said it was the agreement between you both to get married after your university education.”

Kokumo put his head in his palms. He did not want to be reminded about the mistake he had made. It still hurt and his heart was still tender and broken. Iya Kokumo noticed her son’s hurt and pulled him close as she rested his head on her bosom. His mother’s action broke him and he groaned as he hid his face in her bosom and shed tears of hurt and pain; his body wracking with each sob. His heart had been shattered into a million pieces and life had lost meaning to him. He had tried unsuccessfully to put the matter behind him; and right now, Ajirebi had brought it to the fore and reopened his wounds.

Iya Kokumo prayed for her son that evening; that he would find his own wife when it was time. She also admonished him to put the love he had for Ajoke behind him and focus on his studies. She told him that maybe they were not meant to be together and he had to accept what fate had in store for him. His mother’s words made him both angry and sad. He was angry that fate did not recognize the love he had for Ajoke; he was sad that he was helpless and had to accept what life had thrown at him.

Kokumo went back to school a week later. The love he had for Ajoke could not easily be forgotten but he was going to make an effort. She was now married to another man and wishing things were different was only going to keep him depressed.

——
The story continues…

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The Wait – Chapter 7

Exams were soon over and Kokumo packed his travel bag in a hurry. He half-ran to the bus stop to catch the next bus out of town. As he sat in the bus that was loading, he waited impatiently hoping the bus would fill up on time. He intended to go to Ajoke’s house before going home – he could not risk going to his house first and getting distracted from his mission. It had been over a month since his mother last saw him and he knew once she did, she would kick against him going out immediately after his arrival home.

As the bus moved and eased into the snarling traffic, he prayed in his heart that Ajoke would be home. He knew he took a risk by going to her house but he had no other choice. The matter at hand had to be handled today.

In one hour, Kokumo arrived Ajoke’s village. He threw his travel bag over his shoulders and walked towards her house. He was a few metres from her house when he saw her sitting on a low stool and frying garri outside her house. He looked to the left and to the right to see if anyone was looking. When he observed no one around, he stood at a corner where he would not been seen and whistled. Ajoke’s turning of the garri with a local fry-spoon stopped immediately she heard the whistle. She looked around her to see if her mother was in the vicinity before looking in the direction the whistling came from.

Kokumo whistled a second time. This time, Ajoke packed up the garri she was frying in a hurry, covered it up and took it into her house. She stepped out of her house with a water pot and started walking towards the back of the house to the path that led to the stream. Kokumo took the cue and also sauntered through another path which would eventually lead him to the stream.

*****

Ajoke dropped her water pot on the ground and waited as she craned her neck to look out for anyone passing by. She tapped her hand on her laps impatiently as she waited. Where is he? She almost jumped when she heard the rustling of leaves behind her. As she turned back, she stood face to face with Kokumo. He had a smile on his face. He removed the travel bag slung across his shoulders and dropped it on the ground without breaking eye contact with Ajoke. Ajoke stood rooted to the spot. Time seemed to stand still; her beloved stood before her but her mind could not decide on what to do. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She wasn’t sure whether to hug him or just stand there lost in his gaze. Kokumo closed the space between them as he took her hands. She hugged him tightly and the tears began to flow freely.

Kokumo pulled her back and kissed her lips gently. Ajoke responded with a passion that was unmatched with his. She ravaged his lips as the tears continued to flow. She wished Kokumo would kiss her fears of the future away. She wished time travelled and threw them into that future where they stood in each other’s embrace as husband and wife. When she eased away from him, Kokumo wiped her cheeks with his thumb. “I love you Ajoke.” He said.

“I am getting married to Adejoro in a week.” She cried.

“What?” Kokumo’s eyes widened. “A week? Why?”

“I don’t know, Kokumo. I don’t know what to do.”

Kokumo exhaled as he picked up his travel bag and slung it carefully on his shoulders. He also picked up Ajoke’s water pot and held her by the hand. “Let us walk to the stream.”

Ajoke sniffed and nodded.

They got to the stream and searched for a secluded area where they could sit down. Kokumo found a spot where they could see anyone coming to the stream to fetch water but remain unseen. There was nothing to sit down on, so he took out his wrapper from his travel bag and spread it on the ground. He placed Ajoke’s water pot and his travel bag by a corner and sat down resting his back on a tree. He spread his legs apart and folded his knees as he pulled Ajoke down to sit with her back to him.

“So who is this guy?” Kokumo asked.

“Adejoro. He is Broda Adisa’s friend. They have been friends for long but I never knew he was interested in me.”

“Hmm….so your father just decided you were getting married to him without consulting with you?”

“Maami discussed it with me. When I kicked against the idea, she asked to know what made me different from my friends who were already married. I had no words to reply her.” Ajoke responded.

Kokumo put his hand on his head as he thought. He hadn’t bargained that Ajoke’s wedding will be so close. He was confused. Was there really anything that could be done at this point to salvage their relationship? Was this the end of their dream?

Ajoke turned to look at Kokumo when she noticed he was silent. She removed his hand from his head and looked straight at him. “Let’s run away.”

Kokumo looked at her; shock stamped on his face. “Run away? To where?”

Ajoke shrugged. “Anywhere. As long as we are far away from the village.”

Kokumo shook his head vigorously. “No Ajoke. We can’t do that. Have you forgotten that you are an only daughter? Your father will never forgive us.”

“I don’t care.” Ajoke said throwing a tantrum. “Did he think about that before deciding to seal my fate with a stranger?”

Kokumo put his hand on his head as he looked to the heavens. “Ajoke, your father believes he is doing this in your best interest.”

“And you?” Ajoke asked, getting angry.

“Ajoke my love, you don’t know how much this hurts. Do you think if I knew this could happen, I would not have asked for your hand in marriage before going to the University? Our dreams are being shattered before our eyes. I wish I knew what to do. I am as confused as you are.  If we elope, where will you stay? How will I cater for you while I am still in school? I wanted a better life for us. A life different from what our parents have in this village where civilization is still a dream.”

“So you are just going to let me go? You would leave me to live a life of misery married to someone I do not love?” Ajoke asked as tears began to stream down her cheeks again.

“Ajoke…..” Kokumo stressed her name as he turned her so that she sat face to face with him. “I cannot help it. What do you want me to do? If we could think of a way out besides eloping, I am ready to go that route.”

Ajoke burst into tears as her body shook. This was not the dream they had when they were leaving the secondary school. They had had lofty dreams; Kokumo especially. He had been so sure of a bright future ahead of them. Even when she had been discouraged knowing that her education ended at the secondary level, he had lightened her spirit by telling her that once they got married, she could go back to school. He wanted her to be educated as well. All the dreams they talked about were crashing before them like a pack of badly arranged cards. She understood everything Kokumo had said. She knew eloping with him did not make sense but she was ready to gamble on their destiny.

As she sobbed, Kokumo pulled her close and hugged her. This was difficult for him as well. His heart was also getting broken. He had never loved anyone the way he loved Ajoke. She was his first love but fate was turning its back on their love. Fate was tearing them apart leaving each one of them in the cold. How he wished he could turn back the hands of time. How he wished he had listened to his mother. It was almost as if she knew this would happen. He would have visited her father immediately to make his intentions known. He would have gotten married to her and taken her home to his mother. He would have still continued his education but he would have also saved their love. Now, his inactions had caused both of them great pain. He sighed deeply as he held on to Ajoke.

Ajoke looked up at Kokumo’s face and his heart broke. She was more broken than he was. She took Kokumo’s face in her hands and kissed him passionately. She kissed him with so much dexterity that Kokumo almost wondered where she learnt to kiss. As she held on to him, she raised herself from her sitting position and knelt before him as she continued to kiss him. Beams of passion began to burn in Kokumo’s body and he tried to pull back but Ajoke refused to let go. She began to caress his body as she put her hands under his tee-shirt. The sensations Kokumo felt were indescribable as blood began to seep into his lower extremities. Ajoke was waking up every member of his body. He kissed her back matching her passion and soon, they were both panting. Ajoke began to unzip his trousers and his body began to seek expression. He tore the wrapper she tied round her waist away as he lay her down gently to take pleasure in her. Just as he was about to merge his body with hers, he remembered what she had told him a few minutes ago; I am getting married to Adejoro in a week. He shook his head as if a spell cast on him had suddenly been lifted and stood up as he began to zip up his trousers.

Ajoke lay on the ground with her eyes closed awaiting his pleasure. His kisses had pleasured her and she wanted him to take her whole. She opened her eyes when she noticed she couldn’t feel his breath on her again and saw him standing and watching her. She looked at him confused as she realized he had zipped up his pants and was holding her wrapper.

“We can’t do this, Ajoke.”

Ajoke sat up. “Why? We both want this.”

Kokumo breathed hard. “Yes, we both want it but it is not right. You are getting married next week.”

Ajoke opened her mouth to say something but shut it again. She stood up, snatched her wrapper from Kokumo and tied it round her waist. She picked up her water pot and was about walking away when Kokumo held her arm. She looked back at him angrily. “Leave me alone, Kokumo.”

“Please understand Ajoke. The embarrassment a woman goes through when her husband finds out someone else had made her a woman is great. I love you and do not want you to go through it.”

“Kokumo, I said leave me alone.” Ajoke repeated in anger.

Kokumo exhaled. He regretted leading her on and as much as he would have loved to be the one to make her a woman, he could not stand the embarrassment she would face later. He retrieved the water pot from her and dropped it gently. He hugged her tight but Ajoke struggled to free herself from him. She continued to fight Kokumo off her but he was unwilling to let her go. He wasn’t ready to part with her this way. When Ajoke’s strength failed her, she sighed and stayed still in his embrace.

“You don’t know how much I love you, Ajoke. I am willing to make this sacrifice to show you how much I love you.” He said as he cradled her face and planted a gentle kiss on her lips. He bent down to pick up her water pot and handed it to her. She collected it without making eye contact with him. She had cried enough for the day.

Kokumo took up his wrapper, shook it before placing it back into his travel bag. He picked the travel bag and held Ajoke’s hand as he led her towards the stream. He collected the water pot from her, filled it up with water and helped to balance it on her head. They walked quietly towards the path that led to her house. Not a word was said between them; it wasn’t needed because they were both heartbroken.

When they got to the junction before her house, Kokumo stopped walking and held Ajoke’s hand. He kissed his fore and middle finger and placed it on her lips. Ajoke smiled sadly as she knew this was his goodbye. Kokumo turned back and took another path that would lead him back to the main road while Ajoke watched in sorrow.

——–

The story continues…..

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The Wait – Chapter 6

Ajoke’s letter got delivered to Kokumo’s department a day before his exams were about to start. He was handed the letter by the departmental secretary. As he collected it, a smile played on his lips as he recognized Ajoke’s handwriting. He closed his eyes briefly and imagined being right by her side. He had missed her so much. He put the letter in his book folder and quickened his steps towards the hostel. He longed to read from her and he wanted to do it while relaxed. He knew she would have written to fill him on the happenings in her village and also gists about her friends.

As he hastened towards the hostel, he thought about when next to pay her a visit. Exams were scheduled to end in a month’s time and he looked forward to going home just to be with her. This time, he was going to take her home and make sure his mother accepted her. He was now a grown man and if he wasn’t in the University, he knew she would have been asking about his marriage plans.

He sauntered into his room, all his thoughts on his beloved. He took out the letter from the book folder and dropped the folder on his mattress which lay by a corner in the room. As he lay on the mattress, he tore the envelope carefully.  He took out the letter and began to read.

“My darling Kokumo,

How are you and school? I hope you are doing well.

I am writing this letter with so much pain because my father is marrying me off very soon. The man to whom I will be married to is coming for my mò mí mòó o in two weeks’ time.

My eyes are filled with tears as I have no choice in this matter. I wish it did not have to be this way.

I don’t know what to do any longer. I am confused. I love you with all my heart.

See you whenever you come home.

Ajoke.”

Kokumo must have read the letter a thousand times but each time, he failed to understand what he had just read. Marrying her off? To who? Why? What about our plan to get married once I graduate from the University? Then it hit him like a thunderbolt. Ajoke had mentioned during his last visit that she had overheard her parents discussing about marrying her off just like her peers. She had been so worried and told him so.

The moment it dawned on him, his eyes filled with tears and he felt like he had been stabbed in the heart. Ajoke, Ajoke, I can’t afford to lose you. God why? First, you took my father. Now, you want to take Ajoke away from me. He put the letter on his chest as he cried silently, hot tears making their way down his cheeks. What do I do? Should I risk going home today? If I do, how will I read for my exams? Would Ajoke’s father grant me audience? Will he think I am insane? So many questions but no answers were forthcoming for Kokumo.

He sighed. Ajoke wasn’t the only one confused; he was as well. His exams were starting tomorrow and it did not make sense to go home now. Besides, from the date on the letter, the introduction had already been done. His mind was in disarray as he thought of what to do.

Throughout that evening, Kokumo could not concentrate. He knew he was meant to read for his paper the next day but every time he did, he saw the words in Ajoke’s letter dancing before his eyes. As much as he tried to get his mind off it, he kept on seeing the words; the man to whom I will be married to is coming for my mò mí mòó o in two weeks’ time.

After a fruitless hour of not being able to concentrate, he decided to pack up his books and go to bed. Maybe when he woke up, he would realize it was all a dream; Ajoke would still be waiting for him to finish school and they would get married – and they would laugh about a letter which he supposedly received from her. He would caress her as he told her he thought he had lost her forever. He would tell her that he was glad their wait was not in vain.

*****

Kokumo woke up fitfully the next day. He could not remember how he slept or if he did at all. He kept on seeing Ajoke crying out to him for help. While she did, he stood afar with his arms folded and watched as she struggled with someone he couldn’t recognize. The person held her tightly by the hand and he made no attempt to rescue her. Her cries filled his ears, calling him and pleading with him to save her from her captor but he shook his head, turned back and walked away.

As he was walking away, he saw his mother walking towards him. She pulled his ears as she got to him and repeated their last conversation over and over again.

“Sé bàbá ömö náà mò é?”
“Does the girl’s father know you?”

“Rárá mà.”
“No ma.”

“Kí ló wá fi é lókàn balè pé to bá padà láti ilé ìwé gíga, o yì ma ba l’ómidan?”
“What gives you the assurance that when you graduate from the University, she would still be single?”

“Àdéhùn t’émi àti è jö ní ni.”
“That is the agreement between us.”

“Ölórun á bá ë sé o.”
“God will do it for you, I hope.”

He sat up on his mattress and noticed that the tee-shirt he wore to bed clung to his body. The tee-shirt and his mattress were wet with sweat. He shook his head as he sighed deeply. What sort of nightmare did he just have? He would do anything within his power to rescue Ajoke from danger but why didn’t he do that in his dream. It made no sense to him. He loved her and would never allow anyone endanger her life. Who could have been holding on tightly to her? Was it her father or the man she was to be married to? Why had he made no attempt to save her from her captor? Instead, he had turned his back on her when she needed him most. The dream was so confusing and he could not fathom what it meant.

To Love & to Hold 40

He stood up from his mattress and stretched. He looked at his other room mates who were still sound asleep. He needed to concentrate if he wasn’t going to fail his exams. He thought about responding to Ajoke’s letter but words were not enough to convey everything he had to say. He would rather see her in person and they could discuss their next line of action. Just give me three weeks and I will be with you, Ajoke. He said to no one.

He picked up his bucket and decided to get ready for the day ahead. As much as he loved Ajoke, he also wanted to make her proud and graduating with good grades was of utmost importance to him. Her friends who had gotten married had been given out in marriage to secondary school certificate holders and artisans. Just like Ajoke whose parents could not afford to send her to the University, most of them either could not afford to do so or did not see the importance of sending their daughters to a tertiary institution. Those who failed to see the importance believed it was a waste of funds as she would eventually get married and be confined to taking care of her husband and her children.

Kokumo reckoned it would be a thing of pride when Ajoke stood in the midst of her friends to say she had gotten married to a graduate. She would become the envy of her friends just as his mother’s friends envied her in the market where she sold her fruits. She was no longer referred to as Iya Kokumo. She had been given a new name and was now called “Iya Gradue.” Even though, he had tried to correct them that he was still an undergraduate, it did not matter to them. The fact that he was in the University had upgraded his status and that of his mother. He also wanted the same change of status for Ajoke and he was going to make sure he worked towards not just being a graduate but one that finished with good grades. Once they were married and he had a good job, he would ensure Ajoke’s dream of going to the University was also fulfilled. She deserved it and much more. Even with his mind in a state of chaos, a small smile lifted his lips and just like it had come, it left and he was thrown into sadness again.

He walked towards the bathroom to take a shower. Once he was done, he sat down to read as he pushed the contents of Ajoke’s letter behind his mind. In three weeks, he would be done and if he needed to present himself to Ajoke’s father as the man who loved his daughter and wanted to get married to her, so be it.

——

The story continues…..

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The Wait – Chapter 5

Kokumo went back to school a week later. Immediately he arrived campus, he went to his favourite spot; away from all the hustle and bustle of the school environment and sat down to write a letter to Ajoke. He informed her that he had arrived school safely and that he missed her already. He wanted to explain how he missed her with more words, but they weren’t enough. He finally told her he couldn’t wait to complete his education so that they could be together and forever.

Ajoke smiled when she received Kokumo’s letter. She placed the letter on her chest and day-dreamed about her marriage rites to Kokumo. The Alága ìjókòó and the Alága ìdúró will get the ceremony started without the couple. A proposal letter and an acceptance letter will be exchanged between the two families signifying an offer and an acceptance. Kokumo will dance in with his friends and she smiled as she imagined the Alága ìjókòó – representing her family; grilling the crew. Kokumo and his friends would be made to open their wallets and pay their way in before their official introduction to her family. Kokumo and his friends will prostrate flat in front of her family and he would receive her parents blessings. He would also acknowledge his family by prostrating in front of them before he is allowed to take his seat.

Ajoke’s smile grew bigger as she saw herself seated patiently with her friends in her room while the traditional engagement went on in her absence – awaiting the call of the Alága ìjókòó. She would be dressed in an expensive lace bùbá and ìró with matching gèlè and ìpèlé. The red coral beads popularly worn by brides during their traditional wedding would adorn her neck. When she is eventually called into the venue, she will be veiled as she dances in, swaying her hips; surrounded by her friends. Ajoke rocked from side to side to an imaginary tune as she moved from her parents to Kokumo’s family, to be received into their fold. She was lost in her imaginary engagement and did not realize when her mother walked into the room.

“Ah ah, kí ló n se ìwö ömö yìí? O jòkó sí ibí bayìí, tó yë ko wá bámi dá iná.”
“What is wrong with you, this child? You sit down here when you should be helping me prepare food.”

Ajoke was startled when she heard her mother and quickly put the letter under her pillow. She had no idea how long she had been in dreamland.

“Kíni ìwé to tójú sí abé ibusùn ë?”
“Which paper did you just keep under your pillow?” Iya Ajoke asked.

“Kò sí mà.”
“Nothing ma.” Ajoke replied looking scared.

“Sé ìdáhùn sí ìbéèrè mi nì yën?”
“Is that the answer to my question?”

“Rárá mà.”
“No ma.”

Iya Ajoke looked at her as she expected a response.

“Ìwé…ehn…ìwé yën.”
“Paper….the paper.” Ajoke stuttered as she looked at her pillow and looked back at her mother.

“S’ó ò lè dáhùn ni?”
“Can’t you answer?” Iya Ajoke shouted.

“Ìwé tí wón fi ránsé sí mi láti ilé ìwé gíga ni.”
“I was sent the letter from the University.”

“Ilé ìwé gíga? Sé bàbá ë o sò fún ë pé kò s’ówó láti rán ë lö sí ilé ìwé gíga ni?
“The university? Has your father not told you that there are no funds to send you to the University?”

“Wön ti so fún mi, mà.”
“He has told me, ma.” Ajoke said looking at her feet.

“Kí lo n wá da ara ë láàmú fún?”
“So why are you disturbing yourself?”

“Mi ò ní rò ó mó.”
“I won’t think about it again.” Ajoke replied as she stood up.

Her mother pulled her close and hugged her.

“Ilé ökö ló yë kí o ma rò ní ìsìnyín. To bá ti lo sí ilé ôkö ë, o ma gbàgbé nípa ilé ìwé.”
“You should be thinking about getting married. Once you get married, you will forget about schooling.”

“Mo ti gbó Màámi.”
“I have heard, my mother.”

*

That night, as Iya Ajoke and her husband were about to retire to their tattered mattress, she mentioned the discussion between her daughter and herself to Baba Ajoke. She told Baba Ajoke that she was beginning to see reasons with him as regards giving their daughter out in marriage. She told her husband that even if Ajoke was interested in going to the University, she would be better off doing that from her husband’s house; as he would bear the sole responsibility of financing her education.

Baba Ajoke told his wife that he was happy that she understood his point of view. He informed her that a friend of their first son, Adisa who was an engineer had indicated interest in Ajoke but since she refused to give out her daughter in marriage, he had asked him to hold on for a while. He also mentioned that he had even gone ahead to make investigations about his family and that they were good people.

Iya Ajoke was surprised that her husband had made all the inquiries needed prior to the marriage of their only daughter without her knowledge. She was however, happy that they had found a suitable suitor – an engineer. That meant her daughter would be referred to as “Ìyàwó Engineer” (wife of an engineer). She smiled as she thought about the title which was much better than hers – Ìyàwó Bàbá Ëlému.

***

The next day, as agreed between her parents, Iya Ajoke called her daughter aside and informed her that a young engineer had indicated interest in her. She told her daughter that she and her father had agreed that this was the best time for her to get married. Most of her friends were already married and they wished the same for their daughter. She informed her that the young engineer was her elder brother’s friend who frequented their house in search of her brother. She also assured her that he would take care of her and make her a proud mother of many children.

Ajoke looked at her mother, unable to utter words. I warned Kokumo. I warned him. Now what I feared is eventually coming to pass. Her heart cried out. Oh Kokumo, where are you? How am I going to fight this battle alone?

“Ajoke…Ajoke, so gbó gbogbo nkan tí mo sö?”
“Ajoke, did you hear all I have said?”

Ajoke looked at her mother as a tear escaped her eyes.

“Mo gbó ö yín Màámi.”
“I heard you, my mother.”

“Kí ló n wa pá é ní igbe? Nkan ìdùnú kó ni mo bá ë sö ni?”
“So why are you crying? Isn’t this discussion a thing of joy?”

“Mi ò tí ì fé lö sí ilé ökö.”
“I am not ready to get married now.”

“Kí lo fé ma se ní ilé Bàbá ë? Sé orí méjì ni àwön òré ë tí wón ti lo sí ilé ökö ní ni?”
“What will you be doing in your father’s house? Do your friends who have gotten married have two heads?”  Iya Ajoke asked irritably.

Ajoke looked down as the tears flowed freely.

“Ya nu ojú ë kíá kíá, ko múra láti pàdé àwön ëbí ökö ë ní òsè méjì sí èní.”
“Better wipe your tears and get ready to meet your husband’s people two weeks from now.” Iya Ajoke concluded.

As Ajoke lay on her bed that night, she thought about the promise Kokumo had made to her; the promise to get married to her immediately after his graduation. Since eavesdropping over her parents’ conversation about marriage, she had been uncomfortable with his decision to wait till he graduated. But his dream was to become a graduate and she knew denying him that dream would be selfish of her. With the turn of events now, she wondered if his decision was the best. Her parents were giving her out in marriage and there was nothing she could do about it. Most of her married friends also had their marriages arranged by her parents and thinking hers would be an exception at this point was laughable.

Early the next morning, before her brothers woke up to prepare for the day’s job, Ajoke tore a sheet of paper and wrote a lengthy letter to Kokumo. She informed him about the decision taken by her parents, the date set for the introduction by her prospective husband’s people and her fear of living a life of misery married to someone she did not know. She put the letter in her pocket and waited till the right time to go to the local post office.

***

Two weeks later, Adejoro and his immediate family came for an introduction. They came bearing gifts of foodstuff and told Baba Ajoke that they had found a flower in his house which they intended to pluck. Baba Ajoke welcomed them into his abode and asked Iya Ajoke to entertain the August visitors.

“Àwön ëbí ökö ë ti dé.”
“Your husband’s family members are here.” Iya Ajoke said excitedly to her daughter who was pounding yam at the back of the house.

Ajoke refused to look up from what she was doing but continued to hit the mortar with the pestle in her hands with force.

Iya Ajoke assuming that her daughter did not hear her moved closer to her. She repeated herself again.

Ajoke ignored her mother and continued to pound.

“Sé o ti di adití ni?”
“Are you now deaf?” She asked her daughter.

Ajoke stopped and wiped her brow with her forefinger flicking the sweat away.

“Mo ti gbó yín.”
“I have heard you.”

“Wò ó, ya só ara ë, tí o ò bá fé kí bàbá ë bínú sí ë.”
“Look, you better be careful if you do not want your father to be cross with you.” Iya Ajoke said as she pointed a warning finger at her daughter.

She walked into the kitchen and started dishing the èfó ëlégùsí that she had prepared that morning for their visitors into bowls. When she was done, she called Ajoke to scoop large mounds of the iyán into plates and bring them into the kitchen. Iya Ajoke called her youngest son, Akanni to assist her so she could serve their visitors. It was not yet time for the prospective husband to see his intending bride.

Akanni and his mother went ahead to serve the visitors while Ajoke went to her room to await her parents call. As she sat down on her mattress, a tear slid down her cheek. She was at a loss of what to do. She hadn’t heard from Kokumo and she wondered if he had received her letter. She was half-expecting him to show up in her house any moment from now to disrupt the marriage rites. She was still in her state of dejection when she heard her mother’s voice.

“Ajoke, Ajoke, ó ti yá o.”
“It is time.”

She quickly cleaned her eyes and stood up. Her mother had given her one of her most expensive ìró and bùbá to wear with beaded accessories. The attire was always at the bottom of her portmanteau as she only wore it for special occasions. Ajoke’s introduction was one of such and she told her daughter that she deserved to be dressed expensively. Even though the attire looked a little big on her, Ajoke had cared less about the fit. She was not interested in looking attractive to her prospective husband’s people.

Her mother took her hand and led her into the small courtyard where everyone waited for the beautiful flower to be plucked. As taught by her mother, she knelt down in front of every member of her prospective husband’s family greeting each one of them. Adejoro smiled broadly as he nodded his head. He raised his shoulders with pride as she took turns to greet every member of his family. He was the last to be greeted and as she knelt down in front of him, he pulled her up into a hug. Everyone clapped at Adejoro’s gesture while Ajoke boiled inside. She refused to hug him back but Adejoro was too caught up in the moment of adulation to notice.

He had eyed his friend’s younger sister for years. She was still in the junior secondary class when he had mentioned to his friend, Adisa that his sister was beginning to sprout into a beautiful lady. Adisa had mocked him when he said he would not mind marrying her one day. Adisa told him she was too young for marriage and that their father wanted her to finish her secondary education. Adejoro had agreed with him on the importance of education. He had also finished his secondary education the same year as Adisa but from different schools. While Adisa had gone ahead to trade in shoe making, Adejoro had gone to a technical college to fine tune his engineering skills. He was still in the technical college but also made a few cash helping out with sub-contracted jobs. His side job had earned him the title “Engineer” within the village and he prided in it jealously. He had also earned the admiration of the young ladies in the village and each one of them sought his attention.

The two families agreed to wed their children in four weeks’ time. A list of items to be bought by Adejoro’s family was also handed over to them by Ajoke’s family. Baba Ajoke reckoned that since his daughter was getting married into a family which stood better than them in terms of means, he needed to make sure he requested enough to cater for his own family.  He therefore demanded for an increased number of food items than the usual tradition. His wife also needed to have a change of clothing, so he demanded for expensive clothing items as well.

This was the only chance he had to upgrade his family and he was ready to go the extra mile to ensure they were well catered for.

——–

The story continues…..

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

The Wait – Chapter 4

Ajoke picked up the water pot she had hid in the bushes behind her house. She brought out a filled keg of water from the bushes and filled her water pot. She searched the bushes, retrieved a small wrapper, rolled it into a ball and balanced it on her head. She bent down to lift up the water pot and placed it gingerly on the wrapper on her head.

As she walked the short distance to her house, she smiled as she thought about the kiss she had shared with Kokumo. She had never been kissed before and it made her ecstatic and wanting at the same time. Kokumo had turned back at the junction that led to her house. She had hoped he would kiss her again before leaving but she knew he did not because he had to be careful. Anyone could be watching them and later report her to her father or her elder brothers. She prayed in her heart and hoped he would not get into trouble with his mother when he got home.

Ajoke placed the pot of water in the small kitchen and walked to the front of the house to look for her mother. She met her bent over a basin of garri which had just been fried.

“Ëkú’ròlé màámi.”
“Good evening, my mother.”

“Ibo lo lö lát’àárò?”
“Where have you been all day?”

“Mo lo pön omi ló’dò.”
“I went to fetch water from the stream.” She lied.

“Lo wá pé tótó yën?”
“And it took you so long?”

“Ë má bínú. Mo rí àwön òré mi, a wá n sòrò nípa ilé ìwé. A ò mò pé àkókò ti lo.”
“Don’t be angry. I saw my friends and we started discussing about school. We did not realize time had been spent.”

“Kò burú. Sáré lô gbé óúnjë sóri iná fún bàbá ë àti àwön ègbón ë.”
“Okay. Go and prepare food for your father and your brothers and be fast about it.”

Ajoke placed her hand on her chest, wiling her heart to be still as she turned to go into the kitchen. She knew she could not afford to do this again but she was glad her journey today had been successful except for her encounter with Kokumo’s mother. She sighed as she thought about her. She hoped the woman would be more receptive to her the next time they met.

***

Kokumo walked into his compound and saw his mother seated outside on a low stool in the veranda. As she saw him walking in, she stood up and entered into the house. Kokumo sighed deeply as he took quick steps into the house. His mother was in the kitchen when he walked in.

“Màámi.”
“My mother”. He called.

She turned to look at her son.

“Kí lo fé?”
“What do you want?”

“Ëni tí mo fé fé nìyën.”
“That is the person I intend to marry.”

Iya Kokumo looked on without a response.

Kokumo closed the space between them and held his mother’s hands.

“Màámi, nítorí ömö yën ni mo sé n tiraka ki n lè lö sí ilé ìwé gíga. Ti bá ti se tán, mo ma fë.”
“Mother, I am doing my best to go to the University because of her. Once I am through, I will marry her.”

“Sé baba ömö náà mò é?”
“Does the girl’s father know you?” Iya Kokumo asked.

“Rárá mà.”
“No ma.”

“Kí ló wá fi é lókàn balè pé to bá se tán ní ilé ìwé gíga, o yì ma ba l’ómidan?”
“What gives you the assurance that when you graduate from the University, she would still be single?”

Àdéhùn t’émi àti è jö ní ni.”
“That is the agreement between us.”

Iya Kokumo took a deep breath as she removed her hands from her son’s grip.

“Ölórun á bá ë sé o.”
“God will do it for you, I hope.” She said as she walked into her room.

Kokumo continued to till his father’s farm day and night with a mission – he hoped he would not have to defer his admission beyond one year and he worked towards achieving his objective. God smiled on him and the harvest season was bountiful. His mother had more than enough to sell and had to employ a sales girl to man another table of fruits for sale in front of their house. Iya Kokumo was overjoyed and she sang praises to God each day for not putting her to shame. She also praised Kokumo’s hardwork and told him often that he had made her a proud and happy mother.

***

Another school year was approaching and Kokumo was elated. He went back to the University of Lagos and he was re-offered his admission to read Accountancy. Since his house was a distance to the school, he knew going home every day would be a herculean task. He employed someone to manage his farm during the week while he went home every weekend to see to the day to day activities on the farm. He quickly made friends in school and asked one of his course mates who had a bed space if he could squat with him. His request was accepted and he put his few belongings in a corner of his friend’s room.

Once he was settled in school, he wrote a letter to Ajoke informing her of his admission. He told her it was only a matter of time. In four years, they would be joined together as husband and wife. Ajoke received the letter a month later. She read the letter over and over, smiling each time she read it. She put it under her pillow and kissed it every night. She imagined that as she kissed it, she was kissing Kokumo wherever he was. Since she shared a room with her brothers, she was careful not to allow her brothers see her anytime she read the letter.

Just before the second semester exams, Kokumo wrote to Ajoke that he wanted to visit her. He told her he was aware her father may not allow her receive male visitors, so he proposed a date, a place and a time where they could meet. The venue was in-between the two towns, on the way to their secondary school. He figured that picking that venue would give Ajoke a sense of security and douse any fear of anyone seeing her and reporting to her father.

Ajoke wrote back responding in the affirmative. With that agreed, the wait began and both of them looked forward to the day with excitement. Ajoke had a little diary which she guarded jealously. She had written down the day she received her first kiss from Kokumo. Now, she wrote down the date she was to meet the love of her life after many weeks of being away at school.

Kokumo finished his exams and packed his few belongings into his travel bag. He had stopped shuttling between home and school just before the exams started so that he could have full concentration on his studies.

As he boarded the bus that would take him home, thoughts of Ajoke filtered into his mind. He smiled as he imagined how she was going to throw herself on him in a hug. He had missed her so much and he couldn’t wait to see her and have her in his arms.

Iya Kokumo was still in the market when Kokumo arrived home. The Ayobo market was a haphazard conglomeration of stalls. Most of the stalls had only a table where food items were displayed in varied quantities. The market women sat on low stools behind their tables as they called out to customers passing by in a bid to advertise their wares.

Kokumo was still a few metres away when the woman in the next stall to his mother’s shouted;

“Ìya Kòkúmó, ömö yín kó ló n bò yën ni?”
“Kokumo’s mother, isn’t that your son coming?”

Iya Kokumo was wearing a black Ankara buba and iro which had lost its colour and looked more white than black. She looked up from the fruits she was arranging, loosened her wrapper revealing a sparkling white long lacy underskirt and retied it again. She began to dance to an imaginary song on seeing her son.

“Ömö mi ti dé o.”
“My son is back.” She lifted up her hands as she continued to sway her hips.

Kokumo closed the distance between them and prostrated.

“Ë kú ìròlé, màámi.”
“Good evening, my mother.”

“Kú’ròlé, ömö mi. Báwò ni ilé ìwé?”
“Good evening, my son. How is school?” She asked as she pulled up her son from the floor and embraced him.

“Ilé ìwé wà dada.”
“School is fine”. Kokumo answered smiling.

The other traders stretched their necks to catch a glimpse of the University student. One tapped the other and both of them sneered at the display of affection between mother and son. Another sat behind her table as she smiled and watched; while another hissed, clapped her hands sideways and turned away in disgust. Some others gathered in a corner as they gossiped about Kokumo’s fortune – A University graduate in the making regardless of his father’s demise about a year ago.

Kokumo greeted the traders as his mother began to pack up her left-over fruits into a basket. A few of the traders smiled at him and asked about his wellbeing while some others faked smiles and others ignored him.

“Se ti ta öjà tán ni?”
“Have you finished your sales for the day?” Kokumo asked his mother when he noticed she was packing up.

“Öjà wo ni mo tún fé tà, nígbàti ömö mi ti wálé?”
“What else am I selling when my son has come home?” Iya Kokumo responded as she opened her palms.

“Ó da nígbà yën. Ë jé ki n bá yin palèmó.”
“It is okay then. Let me help you pack up.”

Fifteen minutes later, mother and son walked home with Kokumo carrying the basket of left-over fruits on his head. Iya Kukomo would stop after walking a few metres, place her palms on her chest and take a look at her son in awe as he smiled at his mother. She would then sway her hips, loosen her wrapper, retie it and begin to dance. They stopped to greet a number of villagers who were also excited to see the University student.

***

A week later, Kokumo told his mother he needed to see a friend while Ajoke told her mother that a friend from her secondary school just came back from Lagos and wanted to see her. The two mothers told their children not to stay out too long. Iya Ajoke reminded her daughter that she needed to get back home in time to prepare dinner for her father and her brothers.

Kokumo arrived the venue of their meeting ten minutes early. The spot was a woody area off the road and not easily visible. He sat down on a log of wood and waited patiently for Ajoke. She arrived about five minutes later than the scheduled time. As she strolled into the woods, she looked out for Kokumo. He whistled and Ajoke looked in the direction of the sound. She ran towards him, hugged him and held on tightly.

“Ajoke mi.”
“My Ajoke.” Kokumo said endearingly as he pulled away from her grip. “I have missed you so much.” He said touching her cheeks lightly with his thumb.

“Not as much as I have.”

“You think so?”

“Prove it.” Ajoke said smilingly sheepishly.

Kokumo pulled her close and kissed her. When he eased away from her, Ajoke’s eyes were still closed and there was a smile on her lips.

“Why are you smiling?” Kokumo asked laughing.

“Because you make me have these tingly feelings anytime you do that.” Ajoke said opening her eyes.

“I love you and would love to make you have those tingly feelings all day long.”

Ajoke’s smile grew brighter like the sun.

“Not today.” Kokumo said as he held her hand and sat on the log of wood pulling her close beside him. “How have you been? What has been happening in my absence?”

Ajoke shrugged. “Nothing much.  The same routine as usual.”

“How is your father?”

“Baami is fine. Broda Adisa has been helping him with his palm wine tapping anytime he has no customers to mend shoes for while the others are doing one job or the other. I still help Maami to sell her garri.”

“So have you been reading? You know, just to brush yourself up.” Kokumo asked as he traced his finger on her cornrows.

“I try to but most times, I listen to the radio. Baami has a small radio that he just bought. I listen to the news.” She said smiling. “How long is your holiday?”

“Just two weeks. I should be back in school by the next weekend.”

Ajoke’s smile faded. “So, I won’t see you again before you leave for school?”

Kokumo blew out air from his mouth as he pulled her close. “No. I won’t be able to come back here. I need to monitor the farm and make sure everything is in place before I leave.”

“How long do I still have to wait?”

“Three years.”

“It’s a long time, Kokumo.” Ajoke said as tears gathered at the corner of her eyes.

Kokumo cradled her face in his hands. “Three years and it will all be over. Please wait for me.”

A stray tear traced its way down Ajoke’s cheek. “My friends are beginning to get married.”

“Don’t worry about your friends.” Kokumo said as he wiped the tear with his forefinger.

“I overheard Baami talking about marriage with Maami but she refused. She told him she still needed me at home with her.”

Kokumo nodded. “That’s good. Just try and convince them that you still need to be with your mother to help her.”

“Okay. I will.”

“I love you so much Ajoke.”

“I love you too.”

Kokumo took her lips in his again; this time he kissed her slowly and passionately. He was leaving in a few days and he wanted to have sweet memories of their last time together.

——

The story continues……

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

The Wait – Chapter 3

Ajoke sneaked out of her house through the path that led to the stream. She had been restless all day. She had missed Kokumo and wanted to see him today at all costs. She knew there was no way her father or her elder brothers would allow her pay a visit to a man but she had to see Kokumo. It had been about four months since she saw him. The last day being the day they had written their final exams. They had promised each other to keep in touch by writing letters but she had not received any letter from him in over a month. His last letter informed her that he had been offered admission into the University of Lagos and that he would be picking up his letter in a few days. She wondered if getting into the University had suddenly erased her from his memory. She had no idea of where his house was located but she was willing to make an attempt.

She took out the sheet of paper on which Kokumo had scribbled his house address. She smiled as she looked at his cursive handwriting. The same handwriting which many of their classmates had fallen in love with.  She quickly folded the sheet of paper carefully and put it in the pocket of her dress. She had saved up a little change by selling the garri processed by her mum a few naira higher. She reckoned that one day, she would need cash. Today happened to be the day and the few cash she had saved up was coming in handy.

*

As she sat in the public bus taking her towards Kokumo’s village, she thought about the good times they spent together reading, walking home and sharing the snacks bought by Kokumo. She hoped those University girls she always heard about in skimpy wears hadn’t diverted Kokumo’s attention away from her.

The bus arrived at the last stop and she disembarked looking around like a lost child. Who could she ask for directions?

“Excuse me, ma.” She said to an elderly lady who was about disembarking from the same bus.

“Yes.” The woman responded looking at her impatiently.

“Ë jò ó mà. Àlejò ni mí ní àdúgbò yìí. Títì Alábéré ni mò n lö .”
“Please ma, I am a stranger in this town. I am going to Alabere street.”

The woman looked at her and pointed to her left.

“Títì Alábéré nì yën bèun.”
“That is Alabere street over there.”

Ajoke curtsied to indicate her thanks before proceeding to walk towards Alabere street. As she got to the beginning of the street, she took out the sheet of paper again to reconfirm her destination. As she walked down the street, she thought about what she would tell Kokumo’s parents. What would be her mission in his house since he was in school? How would she introduce herself to them? She suddenly realized that she hadn’t thought about all these before leaving her house. Now that she was almost at her destination, she suddenly felt foolish that she had been spontaneous about her decision to visit Kokumo’s house.

She saw the number 23 glowing in red paint from afar and knew that she had arrived her destination. The modest house was built far away from the road. Compared to other houses, it looked modern. She stood on the road and continued to look at the house. She suddenly developed cold feet and wasn’t sure she had made the right decision. She was still contemplating on what to do when she heard someone whistling a song behind her. She would recognize that voice even in her dreams. She turned back and walking towards her was Kokumo. He was dressed in a brown Adire danshiki on loose trousers. He had rolled up the sleeves of the danshiki to accommodate a hoe which he placed gingerly over his right shoulder. His brows beaded with sweat and he looked like he had aged five years. Ajoke’s jaws dropped as she looked at him.

Kokumo stopped whistling immediately he saw Ajoke standing by the entrance to his compound. He used the sleeve of his buba to wipe his brow as he dropped his hoe on the floor. Was it truly Ajoke? He wondered. He stood still and bowed his head, expecting to be scolded by her for not going ahead to fulfill his dreams but was surprised when he heard her sobbing. He looked up in shock, unable to form words.

“Kokumo, why?”

Kokumo shook his head in confusion.

“You were supposed to go to the university, so we could have a better life together.” Ajoke cried.

Kokumo closed the space between them and hugged her. He had missed her so much but had felt ashamed to write to tell her about the change of plans. “Let’s go inside and talk.” He said.

He picked up his hoe from the floor and held her hand as they walked into his compound.

*

Kokumo entered into the house, kept the hoe in its place and retrieved a low stool. He put the stool on the floor in the front pavement of his house and asked Ajoke to sit down.

Ajoke shook her head. “I can’t afford to stay late. I did not tell anyone where I was going.”

Kokumo sighed. “I would not delay you, Ajoke. I need you to sit down so you can listen to what I have to say.”

Ajoke sat down reluctantly.

“My father is dead, Ajoke. He died on the day I received my admission letter from Unilag.”

Ajoke looked up at Kokumo, tears filling up her eyes again. “I’m sorry. I did not know.”

Kokumo smiled sadly. “Yes, I know. I couldn’t bring myself to write to explain everything to you. I had to defer my admission till some other time so I could earn a living.”

“How naïve I was to have thought you were getting distracted in school.”

“I love you, Ajoke. Nothing and no one can get me distracted from you. I was only ashamed that I had to forget about school in the meantime and go to the farm.”

“There is no reason to be ashamed.” Ajoke said as she smiled despite her tears. “I am proud of you.”

Kokumo moved closer to Ajoke as he pulled her up into a hug. They sobbed on each other’s shoulders as they stood together locked in an embrace. As Ajoke continued to sob, Kokumo lifted up her face and was about to plant a kiss on her lips when he heard someone cough. He stopped and looked in the direction of the interruption and was startled at his mother’s sudden presence as she stood watching them. In their grief, they had failed to notice that she had walked into the compound.

Iya Kokumo had decided to go home early. She wanted to rest as she noticed she was getting tired easily these days. She put the blame on her sleepless nights thinking about Baba Kokumo. As she trudged home, the only thing on her mind was her bed. She was therefore taken aback when she saw Kokumo in an emotional embrace with a young lady. He had never mentioned having any woman, so the sight before her had been shocking. He was about to kiss her when she knew she had to announce her presence.

“Màámi, ë káàbò mà. Ë kú àt’àárò. Ë mà tètè dé lôní?”
“My mother, welcome back. You are back early today?” Kokumo reeled out greetings to his mother as he stepped back from Ajoke.

“Ëkáàsán mà.”
“Good afternoon ma.” Ajoke said getting down on her knees to greet Iya Kokumo. She wiped her tears with her palm in quick motions.

“Káàsán o.”
“Good afternoon.” Iya Kokumo sneered as she looked at Ajoke and ignored Kokumo’s question.

Kokumo stood and watched.

“Ömö tani é o? Látì ibo lo ti wá?”
“Whose daughter are you and where are you from?” Iya Kokumo continued as she asked with sarcasm.

Ajoke looked up but swiftly bent her head again, still on her knees.

“Ömö Bàbá Àdìsá ni mí láti ìlu Ìpájà.
“I am the daughter of Baba Adisa from Ipaja village.”

“Hmm……” Iya Kokumo grunted.

“Màámi, ë jé ka wölé.”
“My mother, let us go in.” Kokumo said to his mother, uncomfortable with the way she eyed and questioned Ajoke.

Iya Kokumo looked at her son, her eyes intense.

“Sé ìwö ni mò n bá sòrò ni?”
“Was I talking to you?”

“Rárá, máámi.”
“No, my mother.” Kokumo responded uneasily.

“Óyá ní ilé bàbá ë, ki n tó la ojú mi.”
“To your father’s house before I open my eyes.” Iya Kokumo closed her eyes as she pointed towards the entrance of her compound.

“Màámi!” Kokumo protested but Ajoke was already on the feet and running out of the compound.

“Màámi!” Kokumo said again as he looked at his mother in anger.

“Àfara sí inu’lé báyìí.”
“Into the house right now.” She commanded her son.

But Kokumo stood rooted to the spot refusing to heed his mother’s command.

“Sé ò gbó mi ni?”
“Did you not hear me?” Kokumo’s mother asked her son.

“Mo gbó yin Màámi, sùgbôn mi ò kín s’ömödé mó.”
“I heard you clearly my mother, but I am no longer a child.”

With that, Kokumo walked away from his mother. He ran towards the direction Ajoke had gone in a bid to catch up with her.

*

Ajoke was at the bus garage already when Kokumo found her. It was obvious that she had been crying as she still sniffed and wiped her eyes intermittently with her hands. A bus going towards her destination had filled up and was about proceeding on its journey. The next bus moved forward to take the space of the previous bus. Ajoke opened the passenger door and was about to board the bus when Kokumo closed the distance between them.

As she eased into the bus, Kokumo climbed in after her. She hadn’t noticed anyone was waiting and she was surprised as she turned to see Kokumo taking the seat beside her.

“Kokumo?” She looked at him with shock. “What do you think you are doing?”

“I meant it when I told you that I love you. Do you need me to prove it again?”

Tears gathered around the corner of Ajoke’s eyes as she looked at him.

“I promise that I would make enough money to go back to school. And when I am done, we would get married.” Kokumo said as he cradled her face.

The tears that had been threatening to spill made their way down Ajoke’s cheeks as she nodded.

Kokumo looked around him. When he noticed no one paid attention to them, he planted a full kiss on Ajoke’s lips.

Ajoke shivered and Kokumo laid her head on his shoulder.

The bus began to fill up with passengers. Ajoke raised her head and looked at Kokumo. “When are you going back home? The bus is almost full.” She asked as she looked behind them.

“I will return when I know you are safely in your father’s house.”

“You are what?” Ajoke shouted. “You can’t go home with me.”

Kokumo smiled as he held her hand. “Stop shouting. Other passengers may hear us. I have not said I am going home with you. I only said I will return when you are safely in your father’s house.”

Ajoke exhaled as the driver shut the door of the bus. The driver took his seat beside the young lovers as he kicked the engine of the bus.

The journey to Ajoke’s home began as the couple hugged each other. While other passengers chatted all through the journey, Ajoke and Kokumo stayed quiet savouring the closeness of their bodies and the familiarity of each other’s breath. Even though words meant a lot to them, no words were spoken between them till they arrived their destination.

——–

The story continues…..

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

The Wait – Chapter 2

Ajoke and Kokumo remained friends all through their senior secondary education. They studied in class and walked the long journey home together. Even though, Kokumo could afford to take a public bus home, Ajoke couldn’t. Her parents were struggling to survive and told her that transportation fare to and from school in the next village was a luxury. Therefore, she had to make do with long walks every day. Ajoke was however, not deterred. She loved to go to school and education was a priority for her.

Kokumo’s parents could afford to transport their son to and from school but he preferred to walk the long trek home with Ajoke. Kokumo used his transport fare back home to buy snacks and water which he shared with Ajoke as they chatted, sang and sometimes danced on the road. He knew most times, she was hungry but she never once complained about her parents not being able to give her money to buy lunch at school.

By the time they were in their final year in the senior class, they had become inseparable in the school. They were teased by some of their classmates that they should get married immediately after school but Kokumo wanted more than that. He mentioned to Ajoke that his dream was to become an accountant. Ajoke had smiled and wished him well. She knew her education terminated after the secondary school level and there was no point having dreams that were not going to come to fruition.

“So you won’t even bother to make any attempt at the university by writing the Jamb exams?” Kokumo once asked her. They had gotten to the forked junction before their villages but decided to sit down under a palm tree off the road.

Ajoke shrugged. “What is the point of writing an exam when the result of the exams would be useless?”

“At least, make an attempt.”

“Kokumo, both of us know my parents cannot afford a secondary education much less a University. We eat from hand to mouth at the moment and my father is waiting for my brothers to start fending for the family so the burden on him can be reduced.”

Kokumo sighed. “I wish there was something we could do.”

“Nothing can be done. Don’t bother about me.”

Kokumo looked at her as he cradled her face in his hands. “Don’t say that. I love you and I want us to get married someday. But I want to go to the university, so that both of us can leave our villages and have a better life in the city.”

“I know.” Ajoke said smiling. “I love you too and I look forward to the day you will make me your wife.”

They sat for their school certificate exams three weeks later and their results had been impressive. Kokumo had straight A’s in all the nine subjects he had written while Ajoke had A’s in six subjects and credits in the other three. Kokumo sat for his Jamb examinations and also passed with very good grades. He was offered admission into the University of Lagos to study Accountancy just as he had dreamed of. Kokumo was overjoyed when he received his admission letter from the University. He couldn’t wait to get home to tell Ajoke and his parents the good news.

He took a public bus from the University gate as he danced and sang. A few passengers in the bus looked at him strangely but he cared not. The journey home was a long one as a result of the usual Lagos traffic, but Kokumo hardly noticed. He was oblivious to the intermittent hisses and sighs of his fellow passengers as he continued to hum and bob his head at intervals.

On getting to his village, he ran towards his house but noticed a strange calm in the environment. He looked left and right and noticed that the traders who lined the road to his house all avoided his eyes or refused to acknowledge his greeting. This was unusual; he thought. They all seemed to be in a hurry to pack up their wares. He looked at his wrist watch. The time read 5.30pm. The traders usually sold their wares till 7.00pm. He wondered why they were all packing up at this time. He scanned through the market looking out for his mother’s stall but noticed that she wasn’t there. Her stall looked untouched; the same way she left it every evening. He stopped in his tracks. Why did my mother not come to the market today? He had left home as early as 5.00am to make the journey to the University. His mother was already up as she had insisted that he ate a small meal before leaving. She had prepared a bowl of eba and egusi soup for him and his father. He hadn’t been able to eat much as he had been anxious to leave.

The hair on his neck rose as he inched closer towards his house. There was an eerie feeling in the environment which he couldn’t shake off or place his finger on. He got to his house and saw his mother seated on a low stool on the front pavement. She had her arms across her chest as tears streamed down her cheeks. She was lost in thought and did not see her son walking towards her. Kokumo noticed that she did not acknowledge his presence.

“Màámi.”
“My mother.” Kokumo said shaking his mother by the shoulders.

She shook all of a sudden as she saw her son. She burst into tears as she stood up and hugged him.

“Màámi, kílódé?”
“My mother, what is wrong?” Kokumo said tearing himself away from his mother.

“Bàba Kòkúmó ti kú.”
“Kokumo’s father is dead.” She said as she put her hands on her head in lamentation.

Kokumo stood still unable to grasp what his mother had just told him. His father? Dead? He looked around him for an explanation. How could his father who was hale and hearty when he went to bed last night be dead? The traders who had ignored him at the market started trooping into their compound to commiserate with his mother. Some walked in crying and lamenting while others shook their heads in pity. Was this a dream? He had been happy a few hours ago about his admission into the University. His admission letter still sat untouched in the knapsack slung across his shoulders. He had brought good news home to his parents; only to be welcomed with the opposite. No, his father could not be dead. He started walking away from his mother and everyone around him.

“Kokumo! Kokumo!” His mother called. He looked back at her strangely before turning back to walk away.

“Ë má jè kó lö o.”
“Don’t let him go.” Someone shouted amongst the now teeming crowd.

Kokumo continued to walk away without looking back. A man ran after him and grabbed him by the hand. Kokumo flung the man’s hand away as he continued walking.

Iya Kokumo stood up and started shouting.

“Ë gbà mí. Ë má jè kí ömö mi lö.”
“Please help me. Don’t let my son go.”

Two men ran after Kokumo and held him firmly. Kokumo tried to struggle with them but was overpowered. They dragged him towards his mother and made him sit at her feet.

Kokumo was not allowed to step out of his house that evening. His mission at the University was also not discussed. For three days, Kokumo looked at his mother as she wept. He was unable to console her as he was also yet to come to terms with his father’s death. His mother told him that after he left for school, she had gone to wake up his father. It was unusual for him to sleep for so long and she had been worried. He had woken up and complained about a headache. She gave him the meal of eba and egusi to eat and asked that he stay home and not go to the farm. He had nodded as he ate. She also decided to stay home and take care of her husband. He took some herbs to ease the headache after his meal and he went back to sleep. He never woke up.

The burial rites began in earnest as Kokumo’s paternal uncles took over the responsibility. A week later, Kokumo’s father was buried in his house. Two days after his father’s burial, Kokumo took out his admission letter and looked at it. Was this the end of his dream? He still had the letter in his hands when Iya Kokumo walked into his room.

“Kínì yën?”
“What is that?” She asked him.

“Ìwé tí mo lo gbà ní school ní öjó tí Bàámi lö?”
“The letter I went to collect in school the day my father died.”

Iya Kokumo sat down gently on the low mattress in his room.

“Kí ló wà nínú è.”
“What is written inside?”

Kokumo sighed.

“Wón ti fún mi ní admission sí University.”
“I have been offered admission into the University.”

“Hmm….Yunifásítì t’èwo?”
“Which University?”

“University ti Èkó”
“The University of Lagos.”

Iya Kokumo took a deep breath and bowed her head.

Màámi, èmi náà mò pé University ò sé lö mó. Màá ló wá isé ki n lè rí owó rán ara mi lö sí ilé ìwé.”
“My mother, I know going to the University is no longer possible. I will go look for a job so that I can sponsor myself to school.”

Iya Kokumo looked up at her son as tears spilled down her cheeks.

“Màámi, ë jò ó, ë má sunkun mó.”
“My mother, please stop crying.” Kokumo consoled his mother.

“Ah, Bàba Kòkúmó, n kan ta jö sö kó nì yíi. Àdéhùn ta jö ní kó le léyìi o.”
“Baba Kokumo, this is not what we talked about. This was not our agreement.” Iya Kokumo lamented as she bit her forefinger in tears.

Kokumo pulled his mother into a hug and cradled her like a baby.

Ó ti tó Màámi.”
“It is okay, my mother.” He said repeatedly.

When Iya Kokumo was spent from her tears, she removed the end of her wrapper and untied the knot. She took out all the cash she had in the knot and gave it to Kokumo.

Kokumo shook his head as he looked at his mother. He held her hand and said;

A ma jëun, Màámi.
“We will eat, my mother.”

Iya Kokumo looked at her son as her body shook with sobs. Kokumo wrapped his arms around his mother again as he looked heavenwards. Baba Kokumo had left but he was going to make sure his mother did not suffer.

The story continues…….

———–

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

The Wait – Chapter 1

“Do you Ajoke Omolewa, take this man, Enitan Boluwatife to be your lawful wedded husband; to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, keeping yourself solely unto him, to honour him, submit to him, forsaking all others till death do you part? If so, answer “Yes, I do.” The minister asked again, this time with some humour.

Ajoke opened her mouth but was unable to form the words the minister, her family members and Enitan waited to hear. Her eyes were trained on the man who had just walked into the registry and sat quietly at the end of the hall. He had walked in unnoticed but Ajoke’s attention towards him was beginning to attract stares in his direction.

One by one, Ajoke’s family members comprising her father, her mother, her six elder brothers and her two teenage kids looked back to find out what had caught her attention. Enitan also confused at the sudden change in Ajoke’s mien looked in the same direction. He could not recognize the stranger and he wondered why the man’s presence had suddenly affected Ajoke. He turned to look at his bride and saw tears streaming down her made-up face. What on earth is going on?

All of a sudden, there was commotion in the hall. Ajoke’s aged father struggled to get up, his face taut and his jaw set but Ajoke’s brothers were faster. The youngest of her brothers tapped her father on his shoulders and slid his right hand up and down his chest. Their father took the cue and relaxed in his seat. His sons were capable of handling the situation. The six brothers stood up one by one and marched towards the end of the hall.

Ajoke, knowing what her brothers were capable of doing, left Enitan and the minister at the podium and started running towards the end of the hall.

“Ajoke!!!” Enitan called as he watched her break into a run.

She stopped to look back at Enitan, her tears now coming down her face in streams, staining and drawing black lines on her wet cheeks as a result of her smeared mascara. She looked at him, her eyes pleading but it only made Enitan more confused. Who was this guy whose sudden presence had stalled his wedding? He looked at Ajoke’s parents and searched their faces for an answer that didn’t seem to be there. Ajoke’s mother slumped her shoulders as she watched an imaginary being in her open hands while her father’s neck was stretched to the back as he trained his attention on the on-goings down the hall.

Ajoke reached the end of the hall just as her eldest brother, Adisa held the stranger by his tie, rough-handling him. The stranger coughed as Adisa held him by the neck. He refused to hold Adisa’s hand or make an attempt to stop Ajoke’s brother from strangling him.

“What are you doing here, you bastard?” Adisa asked.

The stranger only looked at Adisa without a word or a plea. Ajoke’s brothers had gathered round the stranger but none stopped Adisa from his bid to strangle him. Ajoke pushed through the circle and knelt before her eldest brother.

“Bòdá mi, ë jò ó, ë má pà á.
“My brother, please don’t kill him.”

“Will you go back to the front and continue with your wedding?” Adisa said to Ajoke, his eyes blazing.

“I will but please don’t kill him.” Ajoke said, her face totally in a mess now.

Adisa refused to let go of the stranger.

“Àdìsá, fi sílè.
“Adisa, leave him alone.” Their father said. He had trudged down the hall after Ajoke had broken into a run. He reached the end of the hall panting and sweating in the air-conditioned room. His wife had not accompanied him as she now stood, talking to the minister, the groom, his elder brother, his uncle and aunt. Her hands were clasped as she pleaded with them. They all looked at her confusion clearly written on their faces.

“Ehn, Bàámi kí lë sö?
“My father, what did you say?” Adisa asked, as he looked at his father with anger.

“Mo ní ko fi sílè.  
“I said you should leave him alone”.

Adisa squeezed his hands once more on the stranger’s neck, this time with an emergent strength making the man to gasp for air before releasing his grip. The man coughed once more as he loosened his tie and massaged his neck. His face was sober as he looked at Ajoke’s father. As the old man’s tired eyes met his, the stranger dropped his gaze. Ajoke’s father sighed deeply as he shook his head.

“Bàámi, ë jò ó, mo fé ba s’òrò”
“My father, please I want to talk to him.” Ajoke said to her father.

Ajoke’s father nodded to show affirmation and turned back.

“Alone!” She reiterated when her brothers refused to leave.

“You better know what you are doing.” Adisa advised Ajoke. “And as for you” – He said pointing towards the stranger – “I will still deal with you.”

Ajoke watched her brothers as they all filed back to the front of the hall; leaving her and the stranger alone. Her brothers however kept their eyes on them as they monitored their discussion from afar. As she turned to look at him, he knelt before her and tried to hold her hand. “Don’t touch me, Adejoro.” She said.

“I know I have hurt you greatly but please hear me out.”

“Hear you out? What could you possibly have to say? Hmm….Adejoro. What?”

“Ajoke, please…..”

“Adejoro, what did I do to you to deserve this? What was my offence? Tell me.” She sobbed.

“Ajoke, it is not what you think?”

“I gave up everything and gave you my all. But you trampled it under your feet and threw it back in my face. Just look down the hall” – She said nodding towards the front. “Did your children come here? Did they acknowledge your presence?” She asked.

Adejoro looked towards the front pews and sighed. So those are my children? He placed his hands on his head and bowed his head in shame. His children did not recognize him. They did not know who their father was. Fifteen years was a long time for any man to abandon his family. He knew he had messed up but he wanted to make it right if Ajoke could give him an opportunity to.

As Ajoke looked at his bowed head, she remembered how she had fallen in love with Kokumo nineteen years ago. Both of them had attended the same secondary school in the Ayobo village. The village, a suburb in the Alimosho local government area of Lagos state, Nigeria; had mostly low-income earners as residents. Ajoke’s parents had struggled to send her to school as they barely had enough to eat with seven children. Her mother had given birth to Adisa, two sets of twin boys and another boy before having her. Her father tapped palm-wine for a living while her mother processed garri. The little they made from the sales of palm wine and garri was used to feed the large family.

As much as her father valued education, he had told all his children that the best he could do for them was to ensure they got educated up to the secondary level. After that, he encouraged each one of them to go learn a trade. Her elder brothers had all learnt one trade or the other but Ajoke being the last child and only girl, had been confined to helping her mother’s business so it could thrive.

Kokumo was named an Abiku child. His parents said he always died at childbirth and returned to torment his mother again, and again. To stop the scourge of death, the sixth child was marked before burying, a normal tradition in South-west Yoruba. Even though, Kokumo did not return with the mark (as it was believed would happen), he was still named Kokumo – meaning; will not die again. After his birth, his mother decided to give child bearing a wide berth. Kokumo’s father was a peasant farmer while his mother sold seasonal fruits which were planted and harvested by her husband.

Kokumo and Ajoke attended the same secondary school but only became acquainted with each other in their senior secondary class. They were both in the Art class and having to do the same subjects brought them closer to one another. Ajoke’s parents had been unable to afford to buy her textbooks, so Kokumo was always on hand to assist her with his. They became reading partners and within a short period of time, love found them.

Each day, they both trekked a distance which took them about an hour to get home from school. Kokumo lived in the next village to Ajoke’s and the forked junction before their villages served as their end point before each faced the journey home alone.

Ajoke looked at the man before her, her husband of three years and father of her children. What a wasted life she had lived married to him? She and Kokumo had been denied of their young love and she had been married off to Adejoro. Her father, her mother and her elder brother had thought him man enough to take care of her.

As the tears began to make their way down her cheeks again, her mind is forced to go back in time to when Kokumo meant the whole world to her.

——–
The story continues…..

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

Yesterday Lives goes live

Hi,

If you are here, it probably means you have been following this story for the past 22 Chapters.

I would like to say a big thank you for following me thus far. You have made this journey interesting 😊

It is because of you that I keep writing.

Yesterday Lives has been published and the concluding chapters can be found on Amazon.

I know you love this story and desire to know what happened to Ayotunde, Ayorinde, Aderemi and Grace.

Please click any of the images below to get a copy of Yesterday Lives on Amazon or Okadabooks.

I would also love to know what you think about this story. Would you be kind to leave comments?

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Are you wondering what I have talking about all through? 🤷‍♀️

Then, it means you are here for the first time. Thank you for coming 🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️

You would need to catch up on all the previous chapters of Yesterday Lives. Please leave me a comment after each chapter. I would love to know what you think about this story.

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If you would like to send your comments or reviews by email, I can be reached on naomie2debra@live.com

If you encounter any issues with getting a copy of my book on any of the platforms, please feel free to send me an email.

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This is where I sign off. Thank you all for staying with me as we walked through Yesterday Lives together. If you enjoyed the story, please share with your contacts on social media.

A new story starts next week; same time, same place.

Till then, please stay safe 🙏

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Yours in writing ✍

Olubukola

Yesterday Lives – Chapter 1

The traffic light turned red. The grey Peugeot 405 inched slowly towards the white line and waited. The time on the dashboard read 7:45pm. Aderemi tapped her feet and the steering wheel impatiently. Her father had warned her not to stay out late but she had been so engrossed in her gist with Folake that she lost track of time.

Folake was leaving for Canada in two days and her parents had decided to throw her a farewell party. They had recently graduated from the secondary school and Folake had gotten admission into a University in Canada. Even though, Aderemi was happy for her friend, she was also sad that she was leaving. She had pleaded with her father a number of times to allow her study in the United States but he had insisted that she was going to study in Nigeria. She had just been offered admission into a private university.

As she bid Folake farewell, her eyes filled with tears. She held on tightly to her friend as she hugged her. She knew her father was going to be upset with her as she had stayed beyond the agreed time but they had not even realized that time was far spent. Her father had asked Mr. Solomon, the driver to take her but Aderemi had stamped her feet as she told her father she was no longer a baby. ‘Besides, Daddy, I don’t need a chaperone. Do you want my friends to laugh at me that instead of a boyfriend, I brought a body guard?’ She had asked as she pouted her mouth. Her father had reluctantly allowed her to go alone but with a promise to leave early. ‘Well, leaving at 7:00pm was early.’ She said to herself as she considered her other friends who were still at the party. She was engrossed in her thoughts as her mind unconsciously counted down the seconds on the traffic light and waited for it to go amber.

Suddenly, she was shaken from her reverie with a bang on her wound-up window. Terrified, she turned to see a gun pointed at her face through the glass. She started shaking as she looked at the face and dropped her eyes to the gloved hand holding the gun. A finger signaled to her to look in the other direction and she saw another person standing at the passenger window with a hand movement telling her to roll down her windows. She fumbled with the power button beside her in trepidation and a gloved hand dipped its hands into her car and retrieved her handbag and her mobile phone which were lying carelessly on the passenger seat.

Just like it had happened, she was left alone and she saw the traffic light turn green before her. For a few seconds, she sat in shock with her leg still on the brake pedal. The honk from a car behind her jolted her and she sped away. What had just happened? She kept on thinking over and over.

In ten minutes, she was at the entrance of her house. She honked continuously until the gateman rolled open the gates to let her in. She parked the car, switched off the ignition and jumped out as she broke into a run towards the house.

‘I’m sorry Daddy.’ She said as she ran smack into the father who was fuming at the door.

‘Aderemi!’ Mr. Johnson called out to his daughter who was running towards her room. ‘Will you get back here?’ He shouted but he got the slam of her bedroom door as a response. ‘What is wrong with her?’ He soliloquized as he stormed towards her bedroom in anger.

Aderemi rolled into a fetal position, covered up herself with her duvet and burst into tears. She replayed the events of a few minutes ago over and over in her head. She should have listened to her father and taken Mr. Solomon with her. She should have left earlier as she had promised her father. She should have been more observant of her surroundings; her father had told her that times without number. Her father opened her bedroom door and she jumped.

‘Aderemi, what is….’ Mr. Johnson was saying and stopped short when he saw his daughter’s face. His countenance changed immediately and he walked towards her bed. He stretched out his hands and Aderemi sat up and fell into her father’s embrace. ‘Aderemi my love, my princess, the joy of my world.’ He said as he lifted up his daughter’s chin and wiped her tears with his thumb. ‘What is wrong?’

‘I was robbed Daddy.’ Aderemi said as the tears streamed down her cheeks.

‘Robbed? Where?’

‘At the traffic light at Kingsway junction.’

Mr. Johnson sighed.

‘I’m sorry I came home late Daddy. I should have listened to you and allowed Mr. Solomon to take me. I’m sorry.’ Aderemi said sobbing.

Mr. Johnson pulled his daughter closer and hugged her. ‘It is okay, my love. It is okay. I’m glad you are home and safe.’

When Aderemi ceased from her tears, her father asked her to take a hot bath and go to bed. She nodded quietly as she obeyed her father.

 

Two hours later, when Adeleke Johnson was sure his daughter was asleep, he retired to his bedroom. As he lay in bed, his mind travelled to when Aderemi was just six years old and expecting a baby sister from her mother, Grace. She had been excited as she saw her mother’s tummy grow into a big ball; as she called it. Each day, she put her head on her mother’s tummy as she talked to her baby sister. She was already in love with the unborn child and she showed it daily by kissing the big tummy. She was a precocious child and everyone including her mother marveled at her wisdom.

Grace’s labour had come in her thirty-eight week and everything had seemed normal. She put to bed a healthy baby girl and Adeleke had been filled with joy. His joy was however short-lived when Grace and the baby developed complications the next day. The doctors battled to save the life of both mother and child. Adeleke was confused. What could have happened between when he left them the night before and the next morning when he came to see them? Doctors ran from one room to the other as they struggled with each patient. After about two hours of frenzied activities, the medical director called Adeleke into his office. He had both good news and bad news.

Adeleke asked for the bad news first. They had lost Grace. The good news was his daughter had survived the ordeal and was hale and hearty; even though she was still under observation. Adeleke had bowed his head as tears streamed down his cheeks. His daughter was discharged two days later and he named his daughter after her mother.

He tossed and turned on the bed as he thought about Grace sleeping in the room next to his; separated by an interconnecting door and Aderemi in the room opposite his. After the death of their mother, Aderemi became a recluse and struggled with nightmares. Even at the tender age of six, she understood that her mother was no more. It had taken him years of constant love, care and trust to get her out of where she had hidden her emotions. He refused to send her to a boarding house for her secondary education as he wanted to be a part of her everyday life. His job as an automobile engineer allowed him time to take care of Grace and still do school runs with Aderemi every day. Over the years, the three of them formed an unbreakable bond. He steered clear of relationships as he did not want to risk breaking the bond he shared with his girls.

As he began to doze off, he prayed in his heart that the event of this night would not herald another set of nightmares for his daughter. He also prayed that she would not go back into the deep where he had had to get her out from years ago.

 

The story continues…….

Finally! To Love and to Hold is in print 😁

Hi,
It has been a long while away from here.
I apologize.
Work, family and other pressing commitments took me away.
But I am glad to be back 😁
And I can tell you that I am back with a bang 😂
.
The series “To Love and To Hold” which was featured here a while back is now available in print.
.
So to all my friends/readers uncomfortable with e-books, we got you covered.
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Reviews have already started pouring in. Join the train 🙂

20191028_231726

To Love and To Hold is available for purchase at the following addresses;

1) Pagebookstore
Ibilola Nelson House, 82 Allen Avenue Ikeja, Lagos.
Online store – https://pagebookstore.com/products/to-love-and-to-hold?_pos=1&_sid=677321090&_ss=r

2) RovingHeights Bookstore
28 Ogunlana Drive, Surulere. Lagos.
Block B, Shop 4.1, CVS plaza (former Heroes plaza), opposite Oti carpets, Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja.
Online store – https://rhbooks.com.ng/product/to-love-and-to-hold-by-olubukola-adekusibe/

3) Bookpeddlerng
14 Gbelegbo street, Magodo Isheri 1, Lagos.
Online store – https://bookpeddler.ng/books/to-love-and-to-hold-by-olubukola-adekusibe/

4) Adam’s Pages
Zone 2, Machima plaza. No 2 Mambolo close, off Sultan Abubakar Way, Wuse 900281, Abuja.

5) Bookvilleworld
2 Ezimgbu Link Road (Mummy B road), off Stadium Road Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Online store – https://bookvilleworld.com/product/to-love-and-to-hold/

6) Olubukola’s Thoughts Paystack store
Online store – https://paystack.com/buy/to-love-and-to-hold

7) Amazon
Get an e-copy of ‘To Love and to Hold’
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MEI00FR/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

Please keep the reviews coming. I would love to hear from you.

To Love and to Hold – Chapter 1

Fadeke cursed under her breath as the lift reached the fifth floor. It was 8.45pm on Friday, and she had not planned to leave her office late. Her boss had given her a task that had to be completed before she went home or which she had to be at work early on Saturday morning to finish. Fadeke didn’t work on Saturdays because of her daughter, Kike. Weekends were the only times she had to spend with her; so, she worked late to free her schedule and be with her child.

The lift doors opened, and there – waiting to get on, was a man Fadeke knew very well – a man she had not seen in a while, and whom she was not sure she wanted to see again. On sighting the man, Fadeke’s first reaction was surprise, then curiosity, then anger; in quick succession.

The man, clad in a cream-coloured shirt, leaf-green tie and a navy blue suit which he slung over his shoulder, had taken a step towards the lift when he saw Fadeke. He was taken aback and took a moment to master himself.

‘Fadeke!’ He said slowly. ‘My eyes do not deceive me. Wh- what are you doing here?’

Fadeke looked at the man – the expression on her face a mixture of surprise, anger and disgust – and did not speak.

As the lift began to close, the man said – almost desperately, ‘Hold it, please.’

In that moment, as the lift doors slid to a close, Fadeke knew she did not want to be anywhere alone with this man, particularly not in a lift. But she acted against her better judgement and pressed the button to open the lift doors. The man stepped in.

‘Thank you,’ he said. ‘Fadeke, where have you been? I have been looking for you everywhere.’

Fadeke stayed silent; she searched her bag for her car keys.

The lift slid to the ground floor and the doors opened. Fadeke stepped out without a response and headed for her car, parked behind the building.

‘Fadeke. Answer me, please. Say something.’ The man half-ran, trying to keep up. As he fell in line with her, he touched her arm.

‘Don’t!’ She raised a warning finger. ‘Don’t you dare touch me!’ Her voice seemed to be struggling between a whisper and a scream. But it also had an icy quality to it, like the voice of someone who had the capacity for violence.

‘But Fadeke, what have I done? What happened? I have been looking for you these past six years.’

‘And you have found me.’ She said with venom in her voice.

On getting to her car she stopped, looked him full in the face for a brief moment; she got into her car and drove off.

Chinedu stood there, shocked.

***

‘My mummy has come,’ Kike said, jumping up and grabbing her teddy bear. She tapped her nanny, who was dozing. ‘Ma Win, Ma Win, my mummy has come.’

Ma Win opened her eyes and smiled at the adorable child. ‘Your mum is here? How do you know?’

Just then, Fadeke honked twice – one long piim, and a short one, almost a click. It was her way of announcing her return.

Mrs Winnie – everyone called her Ma Win – was Fadeke’s neighbour of five years. At 57, Ma Win was a widow whose husband had died of a cardiac arrest. She had five adult children who rarely visited because they lived abroad. Ma Win had declined all their offers to relocate her abroad. Though she wanted for nothing, and her children called her every day, she needed to do something to keep agile. So, she opted to care for Kike; she had been doing so for four years.

‘Mummy!’ Kike shouted as Fadeke opened the door; Kike ran into her waiting arms. The teddy bear was temporarily forgotten.

‘How are you, honey?’ Fadeke asked, swinging her daughter round.

‘I’m fine, Mummy. How are you?’

Fadeke raised an eyebrow. ‘What did you learn at school today?’

‘Mummy, you have not answered my question. I said, how are you?’

‘Welcome, Fadeke.’ Mrs. Winnie who had been watching the little drama between mother and daughter interrupted. ‘Kike, your mum needs to rest. She’s tired.’

‘Thank you, Ma Win.’ Fadeke said. ‘We’ll be going home now.’ Home was the flat next door. Only a small wall separated Fadeke and Ma Win’s flat

‘Well done, Fadeke.’ Ma Win patted Kike on the back. ‘Kike, let your mother rest.’

‘Yes, Ma Win,’ Kike said without letting go of Fadeke’s hand.

Fadeke was inwardly grateful to Ma Win. She was so grateful because for Kike, the answer to one question was the cue for another. If Fadeke had responded to her daughter’s question with a ‘fine, my sweetness,’ the next question would have been ‘Are you sure, Mummy?” to which Fadeke would have answered in the affirmative and Kike would have raised another question. Fadeke did not mind playing this game and nurturing her little angel’s mind, but not today. She was too tired.

‘Fadeke, will you have something to eat? It is late and you can’t start cooking now,’ Ma Win said.

‘No, thank you ma. I am not hungry.’

‘Are you sure? Kike and I cooked fried rice. Kike says you’ll like it very much.’

‘Yes, Mummy. We cooked green rice,’ Kike piped.

‘Thank you, sweetheart,’ Fadeke said to Kike and turned to Ma Win. ‘Thank you for the offer ma, but I’m really not hungry.’

‘Okay dear,’ Ma Win said. ‘I will pack it for you.’

‘Thank you. Ma, have you eaten this evening?’

‘Of course, you know I shouldn’t eat late at my age.’

‘I know, but I brought you some fruits. Kike let’s go and get fruits for Ma Win from the car.

‘Yes, Mummy.’ Kike ran out, holding her teddy by the ear.

‘You spoil me, you know.’

‘Do I have a choice? I am the only child you have here,’ Fadeke said, smiling.

‘Thanks, dear.’

That night, after Fadeke had put Kike to sleep and laid down to sleep herself, her mind riveted on her encounter with Chinedu. What was he doing in the building? It had been six years since they last saw each other: six years of pain and heartache; six years of hurt and abandonment. As her thoughts started to reach into the past, sleep took over her body.

***

Chinedu could not believe what happened. He could not remember, after Fadeke drove off, how he got to his car and drove home. Everything had happened as if in a dream – a dream from which he should not have woken up. What he wanted was for the dream to wind back to Fadeke standing in the lift. He wanted Fadeke to scream and fly into his arms in a passionate hug. He wanted to feel her warmth on his skin. He wanted to be reminded of her favourite Daisy fragrance by Marc Jacobs. He wanted to tease her like he used to and call her round cheeks puff-puff.

But what happened was not a dream. He had met Fadeke and she had ignored him. He had been looking for her for six years; she never once left his mind. Everywhere he turned, he saw her. At a point, he had thought he was going crazy. Now, after six years, he had found her, and she had ignored him. He still found it hard to believe that it wasn’t all a dream.

As he tossed and turned on his bed that night he thought, What did I do wrong, Fadeke? After tossing on the bed for close to two hours, he rose and went to his living room. Since he could not sleep, he decided to watch television. As he turned on the TV, his mind went back to his first meeting with Fadeke.

——–

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