“When can I bring Fadeke home?” Chinedu asked.
“Fadeke?” His mother asked looking up from the dinner she was preparing.
“Yes mum. I told you about her the last time I came home”.
“Oh, the lady you said you wanted to bring home as a wife?”
“Yes. Her name is Fadeke”.
“You are bringing home a Yoruba wife?” She asked alarmed. (Western part of Nigeria)
“Mum! Don’t tell me you belong to the group of people who discriminate against tribes”.
“I have not said that. Have I?”
“You haven’t but you were going to”.
She was about to bring down the steaming pot of stew from the stove when Chinedu stopped her. “Let me help you with that”.
“Thank you”. She said standing up from the stool she was sitting on. “Hmm, her name is Fadeke”. She said sighing.
“Yes. Do you have anything against her tribe?”
“No. I don’t. It just never occurred to me that you could bring one home”.
“I have them all around me and the fact that she is Yoruba really makes no difference to me. I love her. I guess that is a good reason to bring her home, right?”
“I understand, Chinedu. I hope you know what you are doing. Marriage is for a lifetime. Have you thought about that?”
“I know mum, which is why I need you to meet her and give us your blessings”. He said holding her hands.
“Have you met her parents?”
“No, not yet. We would do that sometime soon. We wanted to start off with you”.
“Hmm”. She let out a long sigh. “Bring her home over the weekend”.
He kissed her on the cheeks. “Thanks mum. You are the best”.
“Hey love, how are you doing?” Fadeke asked picking up the call on the first ring. She was sitting on a bean bag with her legs raised on an ottoman in her room. She had been absentmindedly flipping the channels searching for a programme to watch.
“I’m good. And you?”
“Cool. You sound excited. What’s the gist?” She smiled.
“My mum is expecting you this weekend”.
She dropped the remote control on the floor with excitement. “Are you serious?”
“Very serious, baby! We talked about you earlier and she asked me to bring you home”.
“Oh my goodness, I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to wear”. She said standing up to search through her wardrobe. She took out a red gown and shook her head. She took out another, looked at it in the mirror and flung it on her bed.
He wondered if she was still on the phone. “Hello love, are you still there?”
“Yes, I am. Just looking for something suitable in my wardrobe”. She replied; the phone between her right ear and shoulder.
“Right now? Today is Tuesday. You have three days to do that”.
“I’m sorry darling. I’m just so excited”.
“Besides, my mum is very simple. Anything you choose to wear will do just fine”.
“Okay. I’ll keep that in mind”. She said walking towards her bed. “How has your day been?”
“A little hectic. I was at the Adedeji’s house today”.
“How are the kids doing?”
“They are good and all grown up. The boys are taller compared to the last time I was home”. He chuckled. “They really gave me a hard time today with our arm wrestling bout”.
“You arm-wrestle them?”
“No, they arm-wrestle me. The twin boys, Temitayo and Temidire always do”. He smiled.
“And the girl?”
“Temitope! She’s very quiet. She is growing into a beautiful lady. And I tell you, she’s not running short of the protection of her brothers. They treat her like a queen”.
She pulled back the duvet cover on her bed and lay down. “I hope I get to meet them someday”.
“I hope so too. You would love them”.
“I’m sure I would. They have obviously struck a chord in your heart”.
“Not like you have”. He replied in a whisper.
She closed her eyes and could see herself in his arms once more. “You mean the world to me”.
“I love you with every breath that I take”. For a few seconds, they were both quiet; each one of them in their world of fantasy.
Fadeke opened her eyes and smiled. “Where do we meet?”
“Hmm….” He thought.
“The Posh café at Ikeja isn’t too far away from your place, right?”
“Yeah, cool. I’ll pick you up from there at 2.00pm. Is that okay?”
“Okay by me!”
They stayed on the phone for another one hour talking about different issues till they decided it was time to go to bed. As soon as Chinedu hit the bed, he was fast asleep. Fadeke, even though sleepy, decided that it was best she started her search for a suitable dress to wear. She rummaged through her wardrobe and after about 45 minutes, she picked out a long dress sewn with an Ankara fabric. She smiled as she set it aside. She was determined to create an impression on her future mother-in-law.
Kunle sat in his living room thinking. He had just received a phone call from Tochukwu and she had sounded calmer than she had in months. She wanted to meet with him at some place where they could talk. He wasn’t ready to have her in his home; she was too much trouble. He decided to meet with her at a café a stone throw away from his house. She agreed without any misgivings and even that made him suspicious. “What was she up to this time?”
The café was just a fifteen-minute walk from his house. He sat facing the main door so he would see her when she walked in. He ordered a sandwich and a bottle of coke and absentmindedly watched the TV screen on the wall. The waiter was just placing his order on the table when she walked in. He waved his hand to signal his position. She was looking very radiant in a knee-length jumpsuit. Her hair was braided and each strand fell loosely on her shoulders. She garnered a few stares from others seated in the eatery and Kunle couldn’t help but smile.
“Hi”. She said sitting down.
“Hi. You look good”.
“Thanks for the flattery”.
“If I were doing that, everyone else wouldn’t be”.
She looked round and saw that some people still had their eyes on her. She smiled back at those who caught her stare. “Thanks all the same”.
“What would you like to have? I was just about getting started on mine”.
“I’m okay. I just had lunch before leaving home”.
“Okay. A drink?”
“A drink will do”.
Kunle called the attention of the waiter and her drink was brought in a few minutes. Since she called the meeting, he decided he was going to let her do the talking.
“I came to say I’m sorry for all that I put you through in the past few weeks”.
Kunle, surprised at what he had heard almost choked on his drink. “You are sorry?”
“Yes, I’m sorry. I know I have been really nasty”.
Kunle set down his half-eaten sandwich and looked aghast. Is this for real or is this another scheme of hers? “Is everything okay?” He asked unsure of what next to expect.
“Everything is okay. Kunle, I know what you are thinking. You probably think this is another plan of mine but you need to understand how I feel”.
She does actually know what I am thinking. Of course, it is hard to believe that Tochukwu would change all of a sudden. He thought; his left eyebrow raised.
She saw the expression. “Believe it or not. I’m really sorry. Do you know how it feels to be rejected by the one you love deeply? Has it ever crossed your mind that I am hurting?
She was quiet for a minute as her mind raced back to her relationship with Kunle. She had been on the receiving end of his breakup. He had proclaimed his unending love for her and had come round after a year to reject her like a used rag. What the hell! She thought. I am willing to throw all in the dustbin of history. He was never who I wanted anyway.
Kunle breathed deeply. “I won’t tell you that I totally understand how you feel because I probably can’t fathom the depth of your hurt. The only thing I can tell you is that I wish you would give up the fight. You have fought for too long and it hasn’t yielded any results”.
“I would try but can you promise me one thing”.
“If it is within my power”.
“If for any reason it doesn’t work out between them….”She paused unsure of his reaction. “Would you talk him into giving me a chance?”
“Tochukwu, has it crossed your mind that there is a very high probability that they would stick together?”
She tapped her finger on the table continuously. Kunle noticed and took note that she was trying to still her temper. “I know. Would you do that for me if it ever happens?”
“I would. I promise I would”.
“Thank you. I need to leave now”. She said standing up.
“I hope you are okay”. He asked worried.
She smiled. “I am, thanks”.
She walked out of the café with her head raised high. She was letting Chinedu go for now but the fight was one she was coming back to fight another day; because whether anyone liked it or not, Chinedu Ugo had become her obsession.