After much persuasion, Mr. Johnson agreed that his daughter, Grace apply to the University of Lagos to study Theatre Arts. Classes began in earnest. Grace and Ayotunde made efforts to get the same room and stuck to each other when they were not having lectures. Even though Mr. Johnson’s intention for Grace was not to live on campus, she convinced him by telling him that her best friend was living on campus. Grace also informed her father that she felt she would be more focused while in the campus environment. Mr. Johnson agreed reluctantly.
In about four months, Aderemi was ready to return to Nigeria. A flurry of activities began to welcome her back home. Grace sought the help of her best friend to organize a mini welcome party. Knowing that her sister wasn’t going to be so excited about the party, she decided to make it one for only family and a few friends.
Grace and Ayotunde went to the airport with Mr. Solomon to pick up Aderemi. Grace mentioned to their dad that Aderemi not seeing her at the airport would raise suspicions. Aderemi was glad to see her sister and her friend. Both girls chatted with Aderemi asking her questions after questions until they arrived home.
Grace led the way as they got home. As she got to the front of the main door, she opened the door and asked her sister to go in.
‘Welcome home’ rent the air as Aderemi walked into the house. Aderemi was both surprised and happy. The living room had been decorated with balloons which had the welcome home inscription. The balloons were in her favourite colours of blue and black. Two of Aderemi’s friends were in attendance and they were excited to see her as they hugged her tight.
Aderemi saw her father smiling at a corner of the room and she squeezed herself out of her friends’ grip as she made a beeline for him. He hugged her as he kissed her on her forehead.
‘I’m glad you are home, my Princess.’ He said, his smile reaching his eyes.
‘I’m glad to be back too, Dad. I feel like I was away for too long.’ She laughed as she hugged her dad again. ‘This was Grace’s idea, I’m sure.’ She said spreading out her hands round the living room.
‘Your sister is as strong-headed as you are.’
‘Daddy, I hear my name over there.’ Grace said as she walked towards her father
‘We are just admiring your party.’ Aderemi shrugged.
‘Thank you, thank you.’ Grace curtsied. ‘Come and meet my friends.’ She continued as she dragged her sister to introduce her to two of her course mates from school.
After the introductions, she whispered to her sister. ‘One more person you need to meet.’ She danced excitedly.
‘Hmmm….the one?’ Aderemi snickered.
‘Sis c’mon, you would love him.’ Grace tapped her sister on the arm playfully as she led her away from her friends.
As they approached where Ayorinde was sitting, he stood up. ‘Welcome home, Aderemi.’ He said as he stretched out his hand.
Aderemi took his hand and her eye twitched.
‘Sis, this is Ayorinde, my boyfriend.’ She held him by the hand and whispered the word ‘boyfriend’ to her sister.
Aderemi nodded. ‘Hi Ayorinde. Have we met before?’
Grace laughed. ‘Sis, I’m always talking about him, so you know; you kinda met already in the spirit.’ She gesticulated with her hands.
‘Ayorinde, my sis and I need a lot of catching up to do.’ Grace said as she dragged her sister again; away from Ayorinde.
About 2 hours later, Aderemi thanked everyone for attending her welcome party which she warned her sister against. Everyone laughed and in another thirty minutes, it was just Aderemi, Grace and their father as it had always been.
The girls retreated into Aderemi’s room for the night. ‘Your boyfriend really does look familiar.’
‘Really? You’ve been away for a while. Where would you have met him?’
Aderemi shrugged. ‘I don’t know but I know I have seen that face before.’
‘I’m sure you haven’t sis. Your mind is playing games on you.’ Grace laughed. ‘He never had the opportunity to attend a Uni, the reason why I am sure you couldn’t have met him.’
‘He didn’t? So what does he do?’
‘He’s a hairdresser. He has a big salon for both men and women at Gbagada.’
‘And you think your father will allow you date someone who didn’t attend a Uni?’ Aderemi asked, eyebrows raised.
Grace moved closer to her sister. ‘That is why I need you on my side, sis. I know dad is suspicious ‘cos he kept looking at Ayorinde all through the party. I think he relaxed a little when I mentioned that he is Ayotunde’s elder brother. But you know your father, the questions will come soon and I want to be prepared when they come.’
‘I don’t know about this Grace. It is going to be difficult to convince him that you want to date a hairdresser coupled with the fact that – I think you are still too young to be getting yourself involved or worried about men.’ Aderemi put her right hand on her sister’s cheek. ‘You are in 100 level darling, you have a long way ahead of you. Bury your head into your books now.’
Grace sighed. ‘Sis, I need you. You can’t do this to me.’
‘Grace, you are just eighteen, for crying out loud. You still have the world ahead of you to conquer. Leave boys alone for now.’
‘Nineteen in a few months and in love.’
Aderemi burst out into laughter. ‘Okay baby sister in love, I need to go to bed. I am tired. I have had a long day.’ She said as she turned her back to Grace.
Grace knelt on the bed as she clasped her hands in a prayer mode. ‘Just say yes sis.’
Aderemi turned to face her. ‘Yes to what? Continuing a relationship? Capital N-O.’
‘Please, please, please sis. Please!!!’
‘Oh goodness gracious!’
‘Sis, you know I love you. Sis, please, please.’
Aderemi threw her hands up in the air. ‘Okay, okay. Just leave my room.’
‘Is that a yes?’ Grace got up from the bed smiling.
‘Whatever! Shut the door after you.’
‘I love you sis.’
‘Love you too.’ Aderemi grumbled.
Aderemi woke up with a start. She had beads of sweat on her forehead. She sat up and turned on her bedside lamp to the lowest setting. She couldn’t understand what was going on. The last time she had nightmares was years ago. She looked at the clock beside the lamp. It read 2:00a.m. A sharp pain hit at the right side of her head and she swung her legs off the bed gently. She knew the first aid box in her bathroom would be empty since she had been away for a while. She got up and padded down the hallway with slow steps.
She got to the kitchen and flicked on the light. A wave of pain hit her again and she grimaced as she held her head. She walked quickly to the kitchen cabinet where they kept over-the-counter drugs. She pulled out a pack of Tylenol and took out 2 tablets. She was trying to get a glass cup from the kitchen counter when her hand missed it. It rolled down the counter and fell with a loud shatter on the floor.
‘Oh shoot.’ She cursed.
She bent down to pick up the shards on the floor. As she got up, she saw her father running into the kitchen.
‘Just leave it. I will clean it up.’ He said as he got the broom and dustpan behind the door.
‘I’m sorry I woke you up.’
“It’s fine darling. What’s wrong?’ Her father asked as he bent down, swept the shards carefully and dumped them in the bin.
Aderemi looked at the tablets in her hands. ‘I have a pounding headache.’
Adeleke signaled to his daughter to sit at the kitchen island. He got another glass cup, filled it with water and gave it to her.
‘Thank you Daddy.’
He pulled out another chair and sat facing her.
She downed the tablets and the water. ‘Nightmares.’ She said she placed the tumbler on the table.
‘You still have nightmares?’
‘So when did it start again?’ Adeleke asked looking worried.
‘This night or should I call it morning.’
‘That’s strange. What triggered it?’
Aderemi looked at her dad. Her mind flashed back to the conversation she had with Grace last night.
‘Yes dad. I’m sorry, did you say something?’
‘Are you okay? You were sitting right here in front of me and totally lost.’
‘I’m sorry Daddy. I guess the stress of the long flight must be making me disoriented.’
‘Okay, you should go back to bed then.’
‘Yes.’ She stood up and kissed her dad on the cheek. ‘Thank you.’
Adeleke watched as his daughter sauntered to her bedroom. He put his hand on his chin deep in thought. The last time he remembered Aderemi having nightmares was after she was robbed about seven years ago. What could have triggered it this time?
He stood up, switched off the kitchen light and went into his room. However, sleep eluded him. Thoughts of Aderemi struggling with nightmares every night as a child when she lost her mother besieged him. His mind also took him back to the night she had gone to her friend’s party, the way she had sobbed uncontrollably on his shoulders and the nightmares thereafter.
He took a deep breath as he lay on his bed. He looked up to the heavens in the dark as he said a prayer. ‘Oh God, please help my daughter again.’
The story continues…