Tag Archives: broken dreams

The Wait – Chapter 14

Ajoke filled the forms and handed them back to Kokumo two days after. He submitted them and she began to study in preparation for the forthcoming exams. Kokumo made it a duty to call her every morning and night. He also shopped for her children buying them clothes, shoes and toys befitting for their ages.

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 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 just in case she decided 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 kids had laughed saying they did not realize adults also had best friends. During his visit, Ajoke voiced out her concerns about the exams to Kokumo. Kokumo laughed and told her he believed in her and that it did not matter that she hadn’t written an exam in years. He urged her on and Ajoke felt relieved talking to him.

While Ajoke wrote her exams, Kokumo frequented Ajoke’s home with dinner for the kids and Ajoke. On other occasions, 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. By the time Ajoke was through with her GCE exams, Kokumo had started discussing about the forthcoming Jamb registration. Kokumo 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 Law at the Lagos State University. She was overjoyed. She called Kokumo on her way out of the campus premises informing him about her letter. Kokumo told her it called for a celebration. He told her not to bother with dinner. After work, he drove to Ajoke’s house with dinner for the kids and a gift for Ajoke. The kids were excited seeing him and they thanked him for the dinner. He told the kids he was taking their mother out and that they would be back before their bedtime. The kids gave him the go-ahead. Ajoke smiled as she got dressed in the simple red gown which Kokumo had bought for her as a celebration gift. Even though she did not apply any make-up, she still looked beautiful.

 

Kokumo drove into town and took her to a bar where 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 kids 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 take her kids to bed. Kokumo nodded and sat in the living room. After Ajoke had put her kids 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.”

Ajoke hugged Kokumo as she spoke; “You don’t know the extent of what you have done for me, Kokumo.” She said sighing.

“I may not know the extent but I have an idea.”

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 closed the space between them again intent on making her forget her sorrows. He took her lips in his and both of them 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 room. 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 could they continue with this? She thought.

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.

“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 already 9p.m and he did not want to risk letting her go home alone at that time of the night. 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 action.”

Kokumo took a deep breath. “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 was he doing with her; he thought.

He had no intentions of getting married to her while she was still married to another. But he could not deny the fact that he loved her and wished to make her happy. 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 back to let him know 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. She was still beautiful; he thought. 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 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 for them.”

Ajoke looked at Kokumo with surprise.

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

Ajoke nodded as she 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. 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 both 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.

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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 bus when a car parked in front of her. She took a few steps backward so she could get on the bus which was about to park to pick her up when she heard her name. She looked in the direction of the car 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.”

Ajoke walked towards the car like someone in a trance. He opened the door for her and 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. Ajoke hid her hands in her laps and refused to look up throughout the journey. In five minutes, he was parked in front of an apartment within town. He got out of the car and opened 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 said 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.

“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 in the living room. She looked round at her environment for the first time since coming in. The furnishings were simple but screamed class.

“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 going to suddenly forget about our love?”

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

“And you thought I would cope better by refusing to have anything to do with me, right?”

“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. 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 also 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 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 sat down beside Ajoke and 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 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. “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.”

Kokumo smiled despite the situation.

“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 what Ajoke had just said and her emphasis on the word “happily married”. It was a pity that she remained the only unmarried one for no fault of hers. He wished he could turn back the hands of time. 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 almost felt like yesterday to him.

“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. “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. 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 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 dropped Ajoke at the bus-stop, flagged down a taxi and paid for it before driving back to the office.

He was unable to concentrate on his job the rest of the day. 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. She wondered so many 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.

Six months after Adejoro’s scheduled return, Ajoke decided to go to her father’s house to talk to her brother. She told him about Akanbi’s statement carefully avoiding to discuss her encounter in his house. Adisa had been surprised 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 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. Three months after, Adisa sent an errand to Ajoke to come home. She wondered why Adisa would call for her. She hoped her parents were doing fine. She took her kids and went to her father’s house. She met her parents and all her six brothers seated discussing when she walked in. Her mother took her grandchildren away, leaving Ajoke alone with her father and elder brothers. Adisa broke the bad news to Ajoke. Akanbi had been right. Adejoro had deserted her to build another home in the United Kingdom. Ajoke looked at her father’s face and shook her head in despair. 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. Her mother encouraged her to stay the night but she 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 please forgive them. They never imagined Adejoro would do this to them, she said. Ajoke looked at her mother and sighed. There was no point lamenting, she told her mother. The deed had been done. Ajoke walked out of her father’s house with her kids in tow.

 

When she got home, 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 did not have the money to pay a hairdresser. She stepped out of her house and looked around. She saw a small carton lying on the ground. She picked it up and 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 inside 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 of mecca of sorts for children and her weekends became 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.

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. 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. Iya Ajoke also visited her grand-children but the relationship between mother and daughter was strained. 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 left Ajoke, she rented a shop close to her house and opened a small salon in 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.

She heeded her brother’s advice and took a bus to the nearest town to open an account. The lady at the customer service desk gave her an account opening form to fill. As Ajoke bent her head to fill the form, the lady’s boss 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 manager. She was scared to look up to identify the person who had just spoken. The manager walked to the customer service desk and as he spoke to his report, Ajoke summoned up courage to lift up her head. She met the manager’s eyes and the expression on the faces of both of them was shock. Ajoke could not believe her eyes. Her jaw dropped as she looked at him. The manager was so 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. 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 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 was she writing him a letter? Was it to inform him about how she enjoyed her married life or what? 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 lived with her husband in a decent self-contained apartment within the averagely expensive part of town. All her friends who had gotten married before her envied her. None of their husbands could afford to live in the part of town where Ajoke lived with her husband. Adejoro continued to work hard and he did his best to take care of his wife. However, Ajoke’s heart still longed for Kokumo even though, she knew his good bye to her 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 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 at 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. 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 of 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 gave birth to a 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 as to 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 became relegated to the back. 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 himself and Ajoke.

Ajoke had a baby girl six months later. Her mother-in-law and her mother took turns to take care of her baby 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 her daughter.

 

Ajoke’s children were aged eighteen months and six months when Adejoro came home to inform 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.

“You can’t be serious.” Ajoke shouted when she found her voice.

Her daughter began to cry and Ajoke immediately scooped her up and strapped her to the back as she patted her daughter’s bum to stop her from crying.

“It is just for a few months, Ajoke. Before you know it, I will be back.”

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 hands together and opened the palms 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. You are free to go.”

“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 was she 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 keep her company. She stayed with her 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 on-goings with his education, 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 get a response. 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.

Akanbi was about stepping out when Ajoke arrived there with her kids in tow. She strapped her daughter on her back while she held her son’s hand. Akanbi 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 why Adejoro had not responded to her letter. Akanbi 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.

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

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 closer 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 did not push Akanbi back and he took this as his cue. He was already aroused and excited as his nether region stood out in the Ankara sokoto he was wearing. 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. A shiver ran through Ajoke’s spine 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 longed to have him. He struggled to take off Ajoke’s underskirt with one hand while he tried to untie the rope on his sokoto with the other hand. All of a sudden, Ajoke’s daughter started to cry. Ajoke shook as she came out of her reverie. Her underskirt was on the floor and Akani groped her as he also struggled to step out of his sokoto. She looked at her daughter who was crying and crawling towards where she stood and took a look at Akanbi. He had taken off his underpants and was about to lift her off the floor when she pushed him back. He staggered backward a bit surprised at the sudden change.

“What is wrong with you?” He said moving 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 intends 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 if not 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 even 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. Did that mean her son was home? She thought. 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 turned round to look at her son as she 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.)

Iya Kokumo returned to the amala she was preparing. “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 go sit and watch. The 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 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 a 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. Kokumo noticing that his mother was getting worried, stood up from the low stool and picked 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; he thought.

 

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.

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. “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?)

“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 no. Ah, the thing go pain you gan oh.” He continued as he bit his forefinger.

Iya Kokumo noticed her son was uncomfortable with the discussion with his friend 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 sat beside him as she walked into the house.

“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 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. 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.

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

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

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. His mother had not seen him for over a month 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 noticed no one around, he stood at a corner where he would not been seen and whistled. Ajoke’s hand movement 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 whistle 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 passed 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. She almost jumped when she heard the rustling of leaves behind her. As she turned back, she was 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. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. 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. 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 put it 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 as she nodded.

They got to the stream and looked for a secluded area where they could sit down. He 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 Kokumo 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 as he pulled Ajoke down to sit in front of 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 answer to her.” Ajoke replied.

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 surprised. “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 took 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 nether region. 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. When her 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.

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

——–
The story continues…..

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

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 mo mi mo 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 their plans to get married once he graduated? Then it hit him like a thunderbolt. Ajoke had mentioned during his last visit that she had overheard her parents discussing about getting her married. The moment it dawned on him, tears dropped down his cheeks. Ajoke, Ajoke, I can’t afford to lose you. He said to himself. 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. 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 moomi mo in two weeks’ time.

After a fruitless hour of not being able to concentrate, he decided to pack up his books and go to sleep. Maybe when he woke up, he would realize it was all a dream; and Ajoke would still be waiting for him to finish school and they could get married.

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 all 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 did not 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 even 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.

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.

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The story continues…..

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