It was a Saturday and Ayo was bent on making the best use of his time. In a week, Chief’s extended family would be moving in. He did not want them to meet him still living in the boys’ quarters when they arrived. He woke up early and set out. He had told Kevwe the night before that she needed to rest. He would do the house hunting alone.
After a long day, at about 6:00p.m, he found a room within the slums of Obalende. That was what he could afford for now. When things got better, he made up his mind to upgrade his family. Right now, what was uppermost on his mind was healthcare for Kevwe and their unborn baby. He had to start scouting for a job as well. His sojourn in Lagos had ended in Chief’s house and he had not made any attempt to look for another job. He made a mental note to get out his CV and start his search the next week.
By the time Ayo got home in the night, he was tired and hungry. Kevwe had prepared dinner for him before his return and he dozed off on the couch in the living room immediately after eating. The next day, Ayo decided to sleep in so he could be adequately rested for his job search the next week.
Monday morning, Ayo woke up with a spring in his steps. He had his bath and got dressed quickly. He had his day planned out. He would drop the kids at school and Kevwe at the hospital for her ante-natal visit. He would come back home to drop the car and pick his document file. He would take a public bus to the mainland where he would start dropping his CV in every organization. At this point in his life, he wasn’t picky about the kind of job he got. All he needed was something to put food on his table and take care of his family.
He tapped the doorbell of the main house at 7:45a.m. Ngozi opened the door and her appearance shocked Ayo. She looked disheveled with her hair scattered. She looked like she hadn’t had any sleep over the night. Her eyes were red and puffy and she sniffed incessantly. She was wearing one of Chief’s long sleeved shirts over a pair of lounge pants. The shirt was rough and stained.
“The kids are ready.” Ngozi said stepping away from the door.
Ayo sighed. Not again.
The girls hugged their mother with sad faces. “Mummy, don’t cry again.” Amara, the older one said.
Ngozi knelt before them and nodded. She kissed each of them on the forehead. Amaka, the younger one held on tightly to her mother as she burst into tears.
‘Amaka, don’t cry.’ Amara said as she hugged her sister.
Ngozi wrapped her daughters in a hug. ‘Mummy is fine. I don’t want anyone of you crying, alright?’
The girls nodded. Ngozi rose up as she released them into Ayo’s care.
Ayo picked the car key from the basket by the door and knew his plans for the day would have to take a new turn. He dropped the kids at school, then dropped Kevwe at the hospital. He asked what time the nurses thought she would be ready and he was told to come back in the afternoon.
As he drove back home, he kept thinking of Ngozi. She needed a different environment; away from everything that reminded her of Chief. He remembered that she mentioned that her only sister was abroad. This was the time to reach out to her sister and with the new development in her husband’s family, he felt she would be better off away from all their shenanigans. The earlier he started working towards getting her out, the better. He owed it to Chief. He couldn’t imagine what she would have to go through in the hands of his family with no one to protect her.
Ayo parked in the compound and headed straight for the main house. He tapped the doorbell and Ngozi opened it after three rings. She stepped away from the door and left Ayo staring at her as she walked into the living room. Ayo stepped in and closed the door behind him.
“Ngozi, why are you doing this?” Ayo asked as he walked towards her.
Tears began to stream down Ngozi cheeks. She looked away as she sat on the couch.
Ayo sat down beside her and took her hand. “The tears are enough. You have to move on.”
Ngozi looked at him and wiped her tears. “Move on, right? I need to move on. How do I move on when my life has been taken away? How do I move on when life no longer has meaning? Chief was my life. Everywhere I turn, I see him smiling at me, talking to me, scolding me, loving me. You said I should move on. Okay. I have heard you. I will move on.” She said nodding and crying at the same time.
“Oh Lord.” Ayo sighed as he pulled her into his embrace. He was lost for words. He had no idea of how he was supposed to console her. She was broken and the future before her looked bleak. Her children seemed to be her only source of strength but that failed on occasions like now. He hugged her till her sobs subsided.
“Ngozi, can we call your sister abroad and work out your movement there?”
Ngozi shook her head.
Ayo pulled her away from himself and looked at her face. “Why? You need a change of environment.”
“I don’t want to be a burden to her. She is married with two kids.”
“But you haven’t asked, Ngozi. Besides, she is your sister. She may not mind if she considers the emotional trauma you are going through here coupled with Chief’s family’s demands.”
Ngozi sighed. “I don’t know.”
“There is no harm in trying.” Ayo said.
“Okay.” Ngozi said shrugging.
“We can call her right now.”
Ngozi looked at the clock on the wall. “She would still be sleeping. Nicaragua is seven hours behind.”
“Okay.” Ayo sighed as he lifted Ngozi’s face. “Please don’t bottle up your emotions. You would be doing yourself more harm than good. Call me when you need to talk.”
Ngozi took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Okay.”
Ayo looked at her and wiped a stray tear on her cheek with his thumb. He closed the space between them and he kissed her gently on her cheek. Ngozi shivered and Ayo put his arms around her. The tears from Ngozi came again and she sobbed silently. Ayo lifted up her face and kissed her slowly and passionately. Ngozi did not push back and Ayo brushed his hand through her hair as he continued to kiss her. Their passions heightened with each caress and their kisses became deeper. Ngozi pushed Ayo back gently as she tried to catch her breath. She shook her head and turned her back on him.
“We shouldn’t have done that.” She said remorsefully.
Ayo ran his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have.”
“I will call my sister later. I pray she accepts to take me and the kids.”
Ayo blew air through his mouth and stood up. “Ngozi.” He called.
She looked up at him.
“I’ll be right here if you need me, okay?” He smiled.
Ngozi dropped her gaze. “Okay.”
Ayo pulled her up into a hug and held her tightly. His feelings for her had changed from being his boss’s wife and he wanted to savour her embrace. As Ngozi freed herself from his embrace, Ayo looked at her lovingly and Ngozi felt a little embarrassed.
“I need to go freshen up. I’m sure I look terrible.” She said trying to break the silence between them.
Ayo smiled. “I also need to go scouting for a job.”
“It is fine, Ngozi. Don’t bother yourself about it. I would survive. My only concern right now is you.”
“I will be fine.”
“I believe you.” Ayo said as he kissed her briefly on her lips. “Take care of you.” He said as he walked towards the door and let himself out.
For the next two days, Ayo woke up every morning to take the kids to school. He would then come back home to get dressed and begin his search for a job as he dropped his CV in various organizations. He paid for the room at Obalende and began renovation to make it habitable for his family. He stayed back till late most days to watch the repair works done in his room. He did not want any excuses from the artisans as he planned moving during the weekend. Chief’s family would be moving in that weekend as well and he planned to be out very early before they arrived.
On Thursday, he went to pick up the kids for school as usual. As Ngozi opened the door for him, she forced a smile. “Good morning.”
Ayo smiled at her. “Good morning. How are you doing?”
“Okay, as in really okay.”
Ngozi shrugged. “Looks like you have been very busy. I noticed you have been coming in very late.”
“Yes. I paid for a room and I have been trying to do a few repair works there. I need to monitor what the men are doing. I don’t want any stories by weekend.”
“Mr. Ayo, we are ready.” The girls chorused interrupting the conversation.
“Okay girls.” Ayo said smiling at the kids. “Have you spoken to her?” Ayo asked looking up at Ngozi.
“Yes, I wanted to discuss it with you.”
“Hmm….can we do tomorrow? I would be dropping Kevwe at the hospital in the morning.”
“Hospital? Is she okay?”
“Yeah, she is. Just routine check-up.” Ayo replied.
“Okay. Tomorrow then. I’ll be waiting.”
Ayo smiled at her as the girls tugged and dragged him towards the door.
The story continues…