Tag Archives: University

The Cloak of Madness

Funmilade took out his keys from his pocket and opened the door to the flat he lived in with his mother. He sauntered in tired and collapsed on the single couch in the living room. It had been a long day and he was famished. He cradled a can of Bournvita in his arms and he used the key in his hand to open the can. Naira notes and coins stared at him. He shook the can and it rattled. He was shocked that a few people still spent the coins when most people had moved on from it. He dropped the can carefully by his side. Right now, he was hungry. He would come back to the can after his meal.

He walked into the kitchen and uncovered a pot of ila asepo. The aroma wafted into his nostrils and he took a deep breath. His stomach rumbled acknowledging its desire to be filled. He touched the pot and immediately retrieved his hand. It was still very hot. He looked to his right and noticed the brown cooler. He opened it and whistled as he saw two mounds of pounded yam neatly wrapped. He took out the bigger one, scooped out some soup into a bowl and settled down on a stool right there in the kitchen.

He knew he should wait for his mother to arrive as they always had lunch together whenever he came back from school but he was so hungry and he had to break the tradition today. He gulped down a cup of water after his meal, washed the plates and placed them carefully on the kitchen zinc.

He went back to the living room to attend to the can he had previously abandoned as a result of hunger. He picked out the money, straightened them out and counted them. It was five hundred and thirty-five naira. Fifteen naira out of that amount was in coins. Not bad; he thought. In a few minutes, the events of the day wore him out coupled with the heavy meal and he began to doze off.

**********

Iya Funmi opened the door with her key and walked in. She knew her son would be back from school waiting for her, so they could have lunch together. As she placed her bag on the centre table in the living room, the sight before her shocked her. She looked at her son but he was unrecognizable. She immediately ran out and started shouting as she placed her hands on her head. “Ará àdúgbò, ë gbà mí o” (Neighbours, please save me). Very soon, she began to draw the attention of her neighbours who lived in the other flats. They came out and began to ask each other what the problem was. When no one could answer the other, one of the men looked at Iya Funmi who was already seated on the floor and crying.

“Wetin happen, Iya Funmi.” The man asked.

“Na my pikin oh. Àwön tí n wón sá tèlé mi ti mú ömö mi o.” (Those running after me have taken hold of my child). The man looked around at the faces of the other neighbours and someone interpreted Iya Funmi’s lamentation to him.

“Oya make we go inside go see her pikin.” The man said. The others looked at each other but no one made a move. “Make we go inside nau.” The man repeated.

“Dey go for front. We go dey your back.” One of the women answered.

Another man stepped out of the crowd and the two men entered Iya Funmi’s flat.

They walked in to see Funmilade sleeping peacefully. He was however dressed in a torn tee shirt which had been previously white. He had his jeans trousers rolled up to his knee on one leg while the other was rolled down. He wore a white pair of socks which looked new on the leg with the roll up. He wore two different types of sneakers. One was green while the other was red. His face was also painted with make-up which looked like the job of a child playing with crayons.

The men stood at a distance and called his name. “Funmilade, Funmilade.” When he did not answer, one of them saw a mop stick by the corner and stretched out his hand to hit Funmilade on his leg.

 

Funmilade woke up with a start. He looked at the men before him and wondered why they stared at him like he was a clown. He heard voices outside and also heard his mother crying. Why was his mother crying? He thought. He stood up and the men retreated immediately.

“Ahn, ahn….Chigozie, IK, why you dey run?”

“U no mad?” Chigozie asked.

“Mad ke? Which kain question be dat?” Funmilade looked at them confused.

“Your mama say u don mad.” Ikechukwu said.

“Me mad?” Funmilade asked. He looked at himself and it suddenly dawned on him. Funmilade burst out into laughter and this further confused the two young men. They looked at each other and both of them ran outside.

The neighbours who were waiting for the outcome of their visit all scattered and ran in various directions when they saw the two men emerge in a run. Funmilade walked out and all the neighbours peeped from their hiding places to catch a glimpse of him.

Iya Funmi who was still seated on the floor and crying looked at her son. “Ah…ah, Funmilade, ta ni mo sè?” (Who have I offended?)

“Màámi, mi ò ya wèrè.” (My mother, I am not mad).

“Ah…ah…” Iya Funmi shook her feet and banged her hand on her laps as she lamented.

“Màámi, è dìde n’lè. Mo ní mi ò ya wèrè.” (My mother, get up from the ground. I said I am not mad).

Funmilade removed the tee shirt and began to clean the make-up on his face. He rolled down one leg of his jeans and removed his sneakers. “Màámi, rag day là n se ní school.”

Iya Funmi who had stopped crying and was watching her son while he was getting himself cleaned up looked at him. “Rag day?”

“Ni wón wá ní pé kë múra bíi wèré.” (And you were asked to dress like a mad man?)

“Rárá, Màámi.” (No, my mother).

Iya Funmi stood up and held her son as she turned him to the left and to the right scrutinizing him like a newly acquired product. “Funmilade, o ò ya wèrè?” (You are not mad?)

“Mi ò ya wèrè, Màámi.” (I am not mad, my mother).

“Ömö mì ò ya wèrè o. Jésù o sé o.” (My son is not mad oh. Thanks be to Jesus). Iya Funmi raised her voice as she began to dance to an imaginary tune.

The peeping neighbours all began to step out one by one. “Funmilade, you no mad?” “Wetin be rag day?” “So una dey pretend to be mad people for una school?” “Which kain madness thing una unifasity students dey do sef?” Questions flew from the left and the right.

Iya Funmi looked at her only son again as she wiped her tears and held his hand. She thanked her neighbours for their concern and walked into her flat with him right behind her.

“Rag day. Rag day.” She continued to say as she shook her head.

——

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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.

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The story continues….

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The Wait – Chapter 6

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

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

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

“My darling Kokumo,

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

I am writing this letter with so much pain because my father is marrying me off very soon. The man to whom I will be married to is coming for my 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.

——
The story continues…..

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The Wait – Chapter 3

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The woman looked at her and pointed to her left. “Títì Alábéré nì yën bèun.” (That is Alabere street over there).

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

She saw the number 23 glowing in red paint from afar and knew that she had arrived her destination. The modest house was built far away from the road. Compared to other houses, it looked modern. She stood on the road and continued to look at the house. She suddenly developed cold feet and wasn’t sure she had made the right decision. She was still contemplating on what to do when she heard someone whistling a song behind her. She would recognize that voice even in her dreams. She turned back and walking towards her was Kokumo. He had a hoe over his shoulders and his brows beaded with sweat. Her jaws dropped as she looked at him.

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

“Kokumo, why?”

Kokumo shook his head in confusion.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Ajoke sat down reluctantly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kokumo moved closer to Ajoke as she pulled her up into a hug. They sobbed on each other’s shoulders as they stood together locked in an embrace.

As Ajoke continued to sob, Kokumo lifted up her face and was about to plant a kiss on her lips when he heard someone cough. He stopped and looked as he noticed his mother watching them. In their grief, they had failed to notice that she had walked into the compound.

 

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

 

“Màámi, ë káàbò mà. Ë kú àt’àárò.” (My mother, welcome back). Kokumo said suddenly startled. “Ë mà tètè dé lôní.” (You are back early today?).

“Ëkáàsán mà.” (Good afternoon ma). Ajoke said getting down on her two knees to greet Iya Kokumo.

“Káàsán o.” (Good afternoon). Iya Kokumo said as she looked at Ajoke and ignored Kokumo’s statement. “Ömö tani é o? Látì ibo lo ti wá?” (Whose daughter are you and where are you from?). She asked with sarcasm.

Ajoke looked up but swiftly bent her head again, still on her knees. “Ömö Bàbá Àdìsá ni mí láti ìlu Ìpájà.” (I am the daughter of Baba Adisa from Ipaja village).

“Hmm……” Iya Kokumo grunted.

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

Iya Kokumo looked at her son, her eyes intense. “Sé ìwö ni mò n bá sòrò ni?” (Was I talking to you?).

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

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

“Màámi!” Kokumo protested but Ajoke was already on the feet and running out of the compound. “Màámi!” Kokumo said again as he looked at his mother in anger.

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

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

“Sé ò gbó mi ni?” (Did you not hear me?) Iya Kokumo asked her son.

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

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

 

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

She hadn’t noticed anyone was waiting and she had been surprised. She turned to see Kokumo taking the seat beside her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ajoke shivered and Kokumo laid her head on his shoulder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

——–
The story continues…..

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

Blind Pact – Chapter 13

Gboyega wakes up with a start. Kofo is still asleep sprawled over his bare body. He shuts his eyes and the event of the night flashes in his mind. His heart cries out to God for forgiveness. Once again, he had allowed himself to be used to fulfill Kofo’s desires. The cry of his heart is deep and intense and it consumes his whole being.

He lifts his head and looks at Kofo’s face. Her jaw is set even in her sleep. He lifts her gently off his body. He stands up from the bed to pick up his underwear and clothes which are strewn all over the room from the night’s encounter. He dresses up quickly and quietly. The keys to his room lie on the floor beside the chaise lounge. It had been released from Kofo’s bosom when he tore her underwear away. He picks up both keys, slings the travel bag he had packed the night before over his shoulders and opens the door quietly. He walks briskly into the early morning dew. His wrist watch tells him that it is a quarter to 5.00am. He has nowhere to go as he has not figured it out yet. But what he is sure of, is that he wants to be far away from Kofo.

He walks to the bus-stop as the early risers make their preparations for the day’s business. He begins to weigh his options of a temporary abode. A colleague of his and also a youth corper lived alone with her younger sister. Their parents were hardly at home as they travelled constantly. She had once invited him over to her house but he had taken a rain check. Her home would have been a comfortable option for him but right now, he was finding it difficult to trust any other woman besides Bola.

Another friend of his comes to mind. He lived in a self-contained apartment just like his on the other side of town. They had both graduated from the same university but from different departments. They had met at the orientation camp and had hooked up immediately. He thought of putting a call to him as he looked at his wrist watch. It was 5.30a.m. He knew it was quite early to ring someone on a Sunday morning but there were no other options.

His friend picks up the call after the fourth ring. “Hello.” He answers half-awake.

“Good morning Tosan. I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“What’s up, Gboyega?”

“I need a favour.” Gboyega prays in his heart that his request will not be denied.

“Okay?”

“Can I bunk up with you for a few days?” He really had no idea how long it will take before Kofo got tired and left his room. He hoped it will be sooner than later.

“It’s fine but is there a problem at your end?”

“Yeah, something of the sort.”

“Okay. I’m home. You can come over.” Tosan concludes.

“Thanks a lot, Tosan. I should be there in less than an hour.”

His well thought out plan gives him renewed energy. He would stay with Tosan and go to work from there. It will cost him more in transportation but right now, he really did not care. If it meant taking rough and cheaper buses to work, he would. He knew there was no way Kofo would find him where he was. He only hoped she would tire out of the search for him quickly and return to Lagos.

**********

Kofo yawns as she stretches on the bed to feel Gboyega. She lifts her head a little when she realizes he is not on the bed. She checks the time on the wall clock in the room. It is 10.00a.m. She smiles broadly as she remembers the pleasurable night. Gboyega never failed to disappoint her and last night, he had possessed her with great force and renewed vigour. She knew it would only be a matter of time before he came lapping up to her because they belonged to each other. She runs her tongue over her lips as her body desires more of him. He had denied her for too long and she wanted to have him to her fill.

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She stands up to check on him in the bathroom when she notices that his clothes are no longer on the floor. She looks towards the reading table where his travel bag had been last night; it is no longer there. She hits her right hand on the bed in anger. Gboyega had left her again. Anger begins to boil within her chest. He couldn’t have gone back to Akure. He has to go to work. She makes a futile effort to calm down. She shakes her head. No, he is coming back. He won’t dare leave me alone again. She picks up her phone and rings her informant. She gives him details of what she needs. She steps into the bathroom and decides to fill up the bath tub with hot water. What she needs right now is to soak in a hot bath and be relaxed. Gbosgaga belonged to her. He will definitely be back.

********

For a whole week, Kofo waits patiently for Gboyega’s return. She shops for new clothing in town and also familiarizes herself with the city. She leaves his room every day returning late at night. She makes a few business contacts with politicians in the city and slowly begins to build a small cartel.

One of Gboyega’s neighbours notice her as she is about to drive out of the compound one late morning. He walks up to her. “Hi, you must be Gboyega’s girlfriend. My name is Zolch.” He says stretching forth his hand to take hers which were already on the wheel.

Kofo looks at him over the rim of the shades on her face. “Zolch?” She questions as she gives him her hand.

He kisses the back of her hand. “Yes, Zolch.” He laughs. “That is what most people call me”.

Kofo gives him a disdainful look. “Okay”. She replies as she starts the car.

“I was wondering, I have not seen Gboyega for a while.”

Kofo looks at him and fakes a smile. “He travelled out of town. He should be back soon.”

“Okay, say hi to him whenever he calls.”

“I will.” Kofo sneers as she drives off. She hisses as she rolls up her window.

Zolch looks at the tail lights of the car till it disappears. “Wow, what a catch?” He says to himself. “Na this kain babe I dey look for.”

 

Kofo moves out of Gboyega’s room the next week. After one week of waiting, it looked like Gboyega had fallen out of her grasp. She called her informant daily as she waited patiently for news from him. She needed to go back to Lagos as some of her clients had been calling her incessantly. Her job was suffering because of her continued stay in Shagamu and her clients were beginning to get upset with her. They were getting bored of some of the girls she had provided and were asking for fresh girls. She goes back to Lagos to face her business but she insists on her informant continuing his job until he hits gold.

 

Gboyega rings his neighbour from his hiding place three weeks after his absence. “Uzo, how far now? How you dey?”

“Hey, my guy. You don arrive?” Zolch answers.

“No, I neva come.”

“Where you come dey sins? I see your girlfriend. Chai! This guy, you get eyes for head oh.”

Gboyega is not amused. “Abeg, she still dey dia?”

“Hmm…e be like say I see her when she dey carry plenty bag comot your room last week.”

“You sure?”

“Ahn ahn, you dey run from her?”

“No. I just dey ask. You fit help me check to confirm?”

“Guy, this one wey you dey do confirmation for your girlfriend. She don carry belle for you?”

“No be like that. Abeg, just call me when you don confirm.” Gboyega says impatiently.

A few minutes later, Zolch rings Gboyega back. “I tell you say she don go but she no lock your door. E dey open.”

“No wahala. Thank you.” Gboyega says.

“If na me, I no go let that kain girl go oh. I go just die for the girl lap. Haba! See the kain car wey she dey drive. Her papa go get money. Na the kain thing I dey find be dat make I comot this poverty level.” Zolch rambles on.

Gboyega mumbles a reply and cuts the line. He breathes a sigh of relief. He had avoided telling Tosan his problem. He only told him that he had a visitor who came from Lagos for a programme and that he wanted her to have some privacy. He told him that the programme should not take more than two weeks. He was delighted to have his room back as he thanked Tosan profusely and apologized for the inconvenience.

It was time to go back home.

——
Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com

In search of me!

When I was a child, I wanted to be a Banker. I grew older and decided I wanted to be an Architect because I loved cursive writing. I had no idea what it took to become an Architect.

Jamb made me realize I could not become an Architect. I had never done Technical Drawing. The dream died with Jamb.

Silhouette of a man in a business suit giving a shrug with a question mark

I got into the University and studied Geography and Planning. I found love in Urban and Regional Planning. My dream of doing something that involved drawing was revived. Even if it was not directly related; they were distant cousins.

I graduated from the University and another confusion set in. Did I really intend to work with my certificate?

It has been 18 years and two University certificates plus a professional one are sitting pretty in my dropbox folder. They are whipped out when it is needed to show that I attended a higher institution. But that’s about it.

What pays me a monthly package today has nothing to do with my certificates. Will I ever use them? I have no idea.

I have found what I love and it unfolds daily. I am still in search of me.

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Photo Credit: http://www.truth4freedom.wordpress.com

Blind Pact – Chapter 3

Femi and Banke became instant friends. They rode on the same staff bus as they lived on the same route; Banke dropping off first before Femi. They discussed on their way to work and back home every day. In a short while, love found them and they became an item. They however had a dilemma. The bank frowned at couples working together. Femi needed the job if Banke was going to get married to him and start a family. He also felt it would be unfair for Banke to resign and become jobless just because she was getting married.

He thought about this situation for days and could only come up with one option. He reckoned that the option he envisaged was risky and could as well cost him his job, but he was ready to make an effort than sit and wait for whatever will be, will be.

During one of his lunch breaks, he walked up to Banke’s boss and asked for an audience with him. The man was in his late 40s and was known to be tough on his reports. Banke, however, never had any issues with him. If anything, he liked Banke and took her like a daughter. The man looked at Femi over the rim of his glasses and decided to oblige him. Even though within the four walls of the bank, Femi and Banke’s relationship was very official, her boss had taken note of her smiles reaching her eyes anytime they talked to each other. He knew there had to be more to their friendship but since they were aware that the bank frowned at couples working together, he had kept mute.

Banke’s boss asked Femi to sit down and state his mission. Femi went straight to the point telling Banke’s boss that he was about to propose to Banke and he needed a favour from him. Her boss had been shocked wondering how their personal lives was any of his business. Femi pleaded that he wanted Banke transferred to another branch of the bank. He had read up the company policy and found out that as long as couples did not work in the same branch, they could get married. He went ahead to mention that he knew that her boss considered Banke as his daughter and would be grateful if he could grant them that favour. Banke’s boss had been angry that Femi had such guts to discuss his personal problems with him. He therefore walked Femi out of his office.

Femi went home downcast. Was this going to be the end of their relationship? If he took the risk and resigned, he knew chances of getting another job was slim. Some of his friends were still jobless after two years of service to the nation. He decided to delay on his proposal to Banke until he was sure of what step to take.

Two days later, Banke was summoned into her boss’s office. He handed her a letter of transfer to a branch closer to her home. She had been both happy and sad. Happy because it meant she was closer home; but sad because it meant she would longer see Femi everyday as she currently did. She had no idea what had transpired between her boss and Femi. When she told Femi about the letter, he walked up to her boss and told him “Thank you”. He got a grunt in response and Femi wondered why the man put up such a hard stance when he was actually soft-hearted.

Months later, Banke became Mrs. Davies. Bola was born a year later and Banke got another job in a different bank just after her maternity leave.

*******

Bola returns to school and prepares for her forthcoming exams. Her dad is gone and crying continuously was not going to bring him back. She decides to put her best into her exams as she wants to make him proud of her. And so, she did. Her results are the best in the school having straight A’s in all subjects.

Her mum advises her to choose the Federal University of Technology, Akure for her university education. It had been previously agreed that Bola would attend a private university but with Femi’s death, Banke did not think she could afford to bear the cost alone. They were relying solely on her salary. She also wanted her daughter closer home. They had just each other and needed to be there for the other. Most private universities were far away, so the University in Akure was the best option.

Even though Bola is not exactly happy about the decision to study at the Federal University, she acknowledges that it will be unfair to insist that she attends a private University. Besides, the death of her father had brought her and her mum closer and she was beginning to appreciate the relationship.

Bola gains admission into the Federal University of Technology, Akure to read Civil Engineering. She quickly becomes popular as they are just two ladies in the class of fifty students. A lot of guys try to befriend her but she busies herself with her academics and keeps them all at arm’s length. Her life becomes a triangle. When she is not in class receiving lectures, she is either among her co-members in fellowship or in her hostel reading. Her life revolves around school, church fellowship and hostel.

In her second year in school, she is walking out of the hall where students have gathered for fellowship one day when a guy walks up to her. “Hi Bola, my name is Gboyega”. He says extending his hand.

She looks at him and shakes his hand. “Hi”.

“I just joined the fellowship today”. Gboyega says. “I was looking around for a familiar face and I saw you”.

A group of girls walk by and wave at Bola. She returns the gesture with a smile.

“I’m sorry. I don’t think I know you, though. But I hope you enjoyed the service”. She says as she apologizes for the little distraction.

Gboyega smiles. “Yes, I did. We are in the same department. 500 level”.

“Oh. I don’t think I know anyone in final year”.

Two guys walk by and call Bola. She waves to them.

“I understand”. Gboyega says. “Looks like you have been a member of the fellowship for a while, everyone seems to know you”.

Bola laughs. “I joined immediately I came into school, so it’s not like I have been here forever”.

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The last group of members are about leaving the hall and Bola decides it is best she leaves with them. She does not want to be left alone with a stranger. “I need to leave now. I hope you will be here next week”. She says as she walks forward.

Gboyega steps in line with her and replies. “Definitely. Now that I know there is a familiar face, I will be more comfortable”.

Banke laughs heartily as she gesticulates. “No one is going to bite you. You should be comfortable in the presence of the Lord”.

“Yes ma’am”. Gboyega says with a slight nod of his head. “It was nice meeting you”.

“Also a pleasure”. She says as she quickly joins the last group of fellowship members leaving Gboyega behind. They walk away together as they chat to their respective hostels.

——

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

To Love and to Hold – Episode 30

Fadeke woke up tired. This was becoming a norm and she wasn’t sure she could continue this way. Waking up early and driving to work which had previously been a necessity had now become a luxury. Her father had presented a car to her a week after her graduation party and she drove it herself. She did not need a driver to take her around; she had told her father. Right now, she was beginning to wonder if that request couldn’t be reopened. She knew she couldn’t talk to her father as he had refused to acknowledge her presence in the house since the Sunday morning he had instructed her to go for an abortion. She also tried to stay out of his way; waking up early to go to work and going straight to her room immediately she was back from work. Her mum had employed a cook and her meals were brought to her in her room.

As she stood up from the bed, she thought about putting in her resignation at work. Even though, the dizzy spells had reduced, she had been advised that she needed to take rests. She was working herself too hard; the in-house doctor had told her. She put her hand on her tummy. She was almost twelve weeks gone and she was beginning to show a bump. She had started wearing loose shirts to work and she did not want her colleagues to find out before she tendered her resignation. The sooner she did it, the better. She had to talk to her mother. Over the past few weeks, they had become closer. She knew her mum was disappointed and she did not fail to chip it in once in a while but she had accepted the present situation and was trying to make the best of it. She would ask her mum for a chat when she returned from work.

“I want to resign, mum”. Fadeke said later that evening. She was dressed in a loose blouse over a pinafore and her legs were stretched on a stool.

“Why?”

“I don’t think I can continue this way. My bump is beginning to garner a few stares from my colleagues”.

“Is that the reason why you want to resign?”

“Coupled with the fact that I get tired easily as well”.

“That is a norm once you are pregnant”.

She sighed. “This ain’t easy, mum”.

“You should have thought about that when……”

“Mum?”

“I’m sorry”.

“I don’t need this right now”.

Mrs. Peters was quiet.

“What do you think about my resignation?”

“If you can’t handle it anymore, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. But you have to let your father know”.

“He hasn’t spoken to me in weeks”.

“You still have to let him know”.

Fadeke fidgeted with her fingers. “Mum, can I ask you a favour?”

“Go ahead”.

“I want to go stay abroad till I have my baby”.

Her mother looked at her astonished. “Why?”

“I…I don’t want Chinedu finding me in this condition”. She stammered.

“He is in Abuja. How is he going to see you?”

“He’s coming home in about a week or so”.

Her eyebrows rose. “How do you know that?”

“We had discussed about it before. He is taking his vacation and he wanted to come and see dad”.

“He better not”.

“I sincerely don’t know what he would do but I don’t want to be around when he comes”. She paused. “Can I go stay with Aunt Morayo in the states?”

“Till you have your baby?”

“Yes mum, please”. She pleaded.

She put her right hand on her head and looked at her daughter. She wished things did not have to be this way. Aunt Morayo was her cousin and would gladly take in her daughter. With four sons and no daughter; she treated Fadeke like the daughter she would have loved to have. Fadeke always stayed with her during her visits to the states so living with her now would not pose a problem. The problem however, was convincing her husband. It was bad enough that father and daughter now lived like strangers. Sending her out of the country was going to totally breakdown the relationship between them. Whatever the case may be, she wanted her daughter’s happiness.

“I’d talk to your dad”. She concluded.

“Thanks mum”.

“But you would have to do the talking as regards your resignation”.

She sighed. “Okay. I would try”.

“Your father loves you and wants the best for you. You do know that, don’t you?”

She dropped her head. “I know mum. I know he is disappointed in me and I accept that I made a mistake by falling in love with Chinedu. I hope he forgives me”.

“He would. He is just hurt”.

“I am sorry I can’t have an abortion like he suggested”. She looked at her mum as tears filled her eyes. “Deep down in my heart, I still love Chinedu even though he has hurt me so much”.

Her mother moved closer to hug her. “I know darling”. She put her hand on her daughter’s tummy. “This baby would always remind you of the love you had for him”.

As they both sat there crying in each other’s embrace; each had reasons for tears.

Fadeke; for her heart which was hurting. Her mother; for the relationship her daughter was losing with her father and the hurt they were both going through.

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Adeola gave his sister a hug. She was scheduled to leave on the 11p.m flight on Delta Airlines. At nineteen, he understood what the whole family was going through. He was studying Architecture in the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in Ogbomosho, Oyo state. Being a five year course, he had one more year to go before graduation. Fadeke had called him two days ago to inform him about her trip to the states. He had been surprised as he wasn’t aware of the present situation of things. He however came home as he wanted to see his big sister and know what the sudden move to the states was about. They had both talked for hours last night.

Mrs. Peters looked at her daughter with tear-stained cheeks. After much persuasion, her husband had eventually agreed to let her go to the states to stay with Aunt Morayo till the birth of her baby. He wasn’t exactly in support of her having the baby but he had listened to the voice of reason from his wife. What if complications arose during the termination? She had asked him. His daughter would never forgive him. She pulled her daughter close and held her tightly. “Promise me, you would take good care of yourself”.

“I promise”. She sobbed.

“I love you so much darling. Don’t ever forget that”.

“I love you too, mum”.

“I’d visit you in the next two months”.

“Okay mum”.

“Enough of the pity party. You should get going”. Mr. Peters said irritated.

He was hurting and was finding it hard to express his feelings. This was not what he had planned for his daughter. He had been a proud father until some weeks ago. He watched his daughter grow up into a beautiful girl and had even been the envy of some of his friends. A few of them had joked about visiting him soon with their sons to seek for his daughter’s hand in marriage. That dream had however been dashed by the Igbo boy she had gotten pregnant for. He never imagined his daughter becoming an unwed mother. If he had known, he would have flown her out of the country to continue her education. He never imagined that Dupe would not handle the situation as appropriate. He wasn’t just upset with Fadeke. He was also upset with her. Her carelessness had resulted in Fadeke getting pregnant.

When she sought his opinion about having the baby in the states, he had been angrier than ever. She was meant to help her get an abortion, but she was doing otherwise. “Do you think I am glad that my daughter is pregnant?” She had asked him. He had walked out on her without a response. He had come back home much later that night expecting everyone to be in bed. But she had waited up for him. She had knelt down before him in tears pleading with him. It wasn’t her desire that things were going this way, but they had to look beyond the present situation and think of their daughter’s future.

Fadeke looked at her dad. “I’m ready to leave now”.

“The driver would take you to the airport”.

She stammered. “I…you…I mean….you ain’t going with us?”

“What do you need me there for?”

Fadeke looked downcast. “Nothing”. She paused. “I just wanted to give you a hug”. She said without raising her head.

Mrs. Peters looked at her husband with pleading eyes.

Mr. Peters moved closer to his daughter, lifted up her chin and hugged her.

Fadeke burst into fresh tears. “I’m sorry, dad. Please forgive me”.

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Chinedu flew into Lagos at 9.00am. He took a taxi straight to his house and headed out almost immediately. Today was the first day of his vacation and he couldn’t wait any longer. As he walked into the premises of the bank, he looked round to see who could attend to him.

“Good morning”. He said to the lady behind the customer service desk.

She smiled at him. “Good morning. Please sit down”.

He sat down.

“How may I help you?”

“I would like to see Miss Peters. Could you help, please?”

“Miss Peters?”

“Yes, Fadeke Peters”.

“Is it official or personal?”

“Personal”.

“I’m sorry. She doesn’t work with us anymore. She resigned two days ago…..”

“She resigned?” He interrupted.

“Yes, she did. If it is official or something I can help you with, I can refer you to…..”

“Don’t bother. Thanks”. He said as he stood up.

He walked out of the bank lost. What is happening? This had been his last hope of getting across to her. After the incident during his last visit to her house, he had decided that the best place to meet with her without any intrusion was her office. With the new development, he was left with no option than to go back to her house. He flagged down a taxi and gave him the address of the Peter’s residence. As he got to her house, he saw a Lexus Jeep driving out of the house with Mrs. Peters sitting in the backseat. He eased out of the taxi in a hurry and ran towards the car. Mrs. Peters saw him and asked the driver to stop as she wound down the window.

“Good afternoon ma”.

“Yes, how may I help you?”

Unsure of what her next reaction would be, he stammered. “I….I wanted to see Fadeke. Is she home, ma?”

Mrs. Peters eyed him. “What do you want from her again? Haven’t you done enough already?”

“I’m sorry ma. I still don’t understand what is going on. Please, I need your help”.

She laughed derisively. “My help? Did you just ask for my help? Look here Chinedu, Fadeke is far away from where you can harm her. Do you understand me?”

Chinedu stood transfixed.

Mrs. Peters wound the window back up and the car sped away.

What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment? What did she mean by far away from where I can harm her? I have exhausted all the options I have of getting across to her. Have I hurt her so much that she wouldn’t even give him an opportunity to defend myself?

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He was still standing there when the door man tapped him on the shoulder.

“Mr. Chinedu, Aunty Fadeke has travelled”.

“She has?”

“Yes, she travelled yesterday night”.

“Do you know where she travelled to?”

Haba, Oga Chinedu, dem no dey tell me dat kain thing nah. How I go know?”

“Okay. Thank you”.

He walked back to the taxi; as the man was still waiting to get paid. He eased into the taxi and gave him his address. This was too much to bear. Fadeke had travelled without a word. He had no one else to talk to.

Everyone he spoke to seemed not to know anything and those who knew had decided to keep mum.

——–

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

Blind Pact – Chapter 2

Hi,

Apologies for the radio silence.

The website went through a technical glitch but we are glad to be back.

Thanks for reading and following my stories.

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The Davies’ residence stands alone on a close which ends in a cul-de-sac. Houses dot the close situated a few metres apart from each other. The house is a modest bungalow with a pent-house. After putting in over twenty years of service in the banking industry, Femi Davies could boast of a house of his own. Building the house had not come cheap as he had taken a ten-year mortgage loan from the bank he worked for; but it had been worth the pain. In two years, the house was built and he had gladly moved his young family in. It lacked beauty on the outside as he had left a few finishing undone. He had not been bothered as his family had an abundance of beauty on the inside and made it a home. Few years later, one step at a time, he beautified the surroundings and made it his dream home.

As the principal’s car drives into the close, Bola notices a number of people going in and out of her house. This is unusual and she becomes more worried. Her parents lived quietly and tried as much as possible to keep few friends. The driver parks in front of her house. She steps out of the car and says thank you to the principal who nods his response back. The atmosphere carries an impending doom. Bola tries to look for an answer to the situation in the principal’s face but he only signals towards her house with his head. She looks at the house and her environment with people thronging in and out. She wonders if this is the same house she has lived all her life.

She walks towards her house like one in a trance. She sees different faces; some known, some unknown. Her entrance is greeted by pitiful faces and mournful looks. One nudges the other and the faces all begin to pave way for her to go in. She enters the living room and sees her mother sitting on the floor. She is surrounded by two women; her best friend and her only sister. Bola takes in the environment as she looks round her as if looking for someone. Banke sees her daughter and is instinctively aware that her daughter already knows. She stands up to embrace her and they both burst into tears.

“What…what happened to Daddy?”

“I…we…your…your…daddy”. Banke struggles to mumble before the tears start flowing freely again.

“It’s okay, mum. It’s okay”. Bola says as she hugs her mum tightly. She knows whatever it is, they will pull through it.

*******

“No, please don’t do it. Please, please. No, no, noooooo….” Banke screams and is jolted out of her sleep. She is sweating profusely.

Bola, who is lying on the bed beside her mother also wakes up with a start. She had been awakened by Banke’s scream. She sits up and looks at her mum in confusion. “Mum, what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry I woke you up. I had a nightmare. Please go back to sleep”. She says to her daughter. She is still panting like someone who had been in a run.

“No mum. I need to know what happened to daddy”.

“Not this night, Bola. We both need to rest”. Banke pleaded.

“Mum, I have a right to know what happened to my father. And I want to know right now”. Bola asks stubbornly.

Banke sighs as the event of two nights ago flash back. “We arrived the country at about 5.00pm. We chartered a taxi at the airport. Since we had promised to check on you on our way home, the taxi was to take us first to your school, then take us home. The taxi had a flat tyre on the way and the driver asked that we get down so he could change the tyre to a spare one. As we got down, he suddenly brought out a gun and asked that we lie flat on the ground”. Tears roll down Banke’s cheeks.

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Bola’s jaw drops.

“The driver spoke good English and we guessed he was learned. We begged him to take everything he wanted but spare our lives. He said he would do exactly that provided we co-operated with him. Meanwhile, we had not taken note of a car that was parked some metres ahead of us. The taxi driver whistled and the person in the other car reversed towards us. Both of them started offloading our luggage from the taxi into the other car. As they were about driving off, your father raised his head probably to get the plate number of the car they were driving away in”.

“Ah, why?” Bola exclaimed.

“I heard the driver’s voice asking in anger why your father had to raise his head and then……Banke holds her head. “A gun shot and your father screamed”. The tears are coming down in streams now and Banke struggles to continue her story. “The…the taxi and the other person drove off. They drove off and left me alone. I had no one to turn to. The…the road was deserted. I…I told your daddy to allow me call my sister to pick us from the airport. He…he…he refused. You know how your daddy would always say he does not want to inconvenience anyone. If…if…if…I had known”. Banke breaks down uncontrollably.

Bola moves closer to her mum and embraces her as they sob on each other’s shoulders.

*********

The burial of Femi Davies is done quickly. Banke is not willing to prolong closure for herself and her daughter. She is supported by her sister and her best friend and a few of her colleagues at work. Her neighbours also make themselves available and Femi Davies is laid to earth. A few of his colleagues promise heaven and earth. Bola’s education will not suffer. They would ensure she is well taken care of. Her university education will be outside the country; because that is what Femi would have wanted. Her education would be sponsored to Master’s level. A job awaits her once she is through with her university education. Promises! Promises! Promises! But Banke knew better. Promises were easy to make; talk is cheap. Fulfilling them came with responsibilities.

Twenty years ago, she had met Femi Davies when she went to drop her resume at the bank he worked for. He had just been retained at the bank after his National Youth Service. He was sitting behind the customer service counter when she walked up to him. It had not been love at first sight and nothing had struck to give them lasting impressions. She had also just finished her Youth Service as a secondary school teacher. She had enjoyed the job but it was not financially rewarding. She had therefore dusted her Economics certificate and headed to various banks dropping them at their customer service desks. She also checked the dailies for job openings and applied for them with an expectant heart.

She got responses from some inviting her for tests. She had passed each one of them. Her joy was however short-lived during her interview sessions. They were either looking for experienced hands or someone with a second degree. How am I supposed to be experienced if I am not given a chance? How can I afford a second degree if I do not have a job? Her parents had done enough by sending her to the university. They were traders in palm oil and foodstuffs and she was not ready to impose additional responsibilities on them. Her younger sister who was ten years younger was about securing admission into the secondary school. They had enough on their plate already.

She had waited quietly in queue until it was her turn to go to the customer service desk. She smiled as Femi asked, “Good afternoon madam, how may I be of help to you today?”

“Good afternoon, I just wanted to drop my CV here”. She said as she leaned forward on the desk and spoke in a whisper.

Femi smiled. He was lucky to have been retained by the bank. A lot of his friends still roamed the streets with their CVs just like the lady sitting before him. Some of them had handed their CVs to him as well, while a few people still walked in just liked she was doing. He knew he had every reason to be thankful to God. “Okay, madam”. He said stretching out his hand to collect the single piece of paper from her.

“Thank you”. Banke said as she handed the CV to him.

Three months later, she received letters from two different banks asking her to write an employment test. One of the banks had been the bank Femi worked for. The interview sessions had also gone smoothly and both banks were willing to offer her a placement as a bank teller. She became confused on which to pick.

One day, on her way to the market, as she alighted at the bus-stop, she found herself standing face to face with Femi. “Hi. How are you doing?” Femi asked smiling.

Banke was at a loss. “I’m sorry. Have we met before?” She asked confused.

“Of course. Ain’t you Banke? You dropped your CV with me at Alájeséku bank a while ago”.

“Oh, I am so sorry. I am not good at faces”.

“It’s fine”. Femi says smiling. “Have you heard from them yet?”

“Oh yes. I have even been given an offer but I am yet to accept”.

Femi is surprised. “Why? I thought you really needed a job”.

“Yes, I do. I have offers from two banks”.

“Right! So you are confused, I guess”.

“Exactly. The take-home for both banks are about the same. Also I was offered the same position in both banks. So I am trying to look at other benefits and pick the one with better options. I am meant to get back to both banks with my acceptance or rejection next week”.

Femi smiles as he looks at her. “A brilliant idea”. He says.

Banke nods.

“So have you checked out all those benefits now and considered them?”

“I just did earlier on today”.

“And your final answer is….?” Femi asks raising a brow.

Banke laughs as she sees his expression. “I picked your bank”.

“Nice. So I get to see you every day”.

“Yes stranger”.

“My bad. My name is Femi Davies”. He stretches his hand.

She takes it and responds. “It’s a pleasure meeting you again”.

——-

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

To Love and to Hold – Episode 11

In a few weeks, the entire campus was filled with excited students. The returning students were excited seeing the freshers while the latter were excited that they had been given admission into the university. Some of the “staylites” could be seen chatting up some of the freshers. It was a new session and the tradition was beginning to come into play.

It was going to be a busy session for Chinedu as it was his finals. He and Fadeke agreed that their lunch together wouldn’t be so often. However, Fadeke was free to visit him in his hostel anytime she wished. He gave her a spare key to his room so she could come in unhindered. This gladdened Fadeke’s heart as she saw it as his way of proving to everyone that their love was growing stronger and had come to stay.

*********

Kunle walked into the corridor leading to Chinedu’s room and saw the door to his room close. Chinedu had mentioned he would come back late as he had to see his project supervisor. He decided to check on him wondering why he changed his mind. He did not bother to knock on the door as he never did when going into his friend’s room. He opened the door and saw Fadeke who was half naked and frightened as she struggled to cover up herself.

To Love & to Hold 20b

For a minute, he stood staring at her body before he realized all of a sudden that it was his best friend’s girlfriend he was gawking at with his mouth open. Fadeke was embarrassed by the look on Kunle’s face and tried to speak but before she could utter a word, Kunle walked out and slammed the door leaving her astonished.

Kunle walked as fast as his legs could carry him without looking back. As he entered into his room, he stood behind the door panting. What just happened in there? He had seen Fadeke stripped down to her underwear and he had stood there rooted to the spot staring at her body. She was a beautiful lady but he never thought seeing her body would trigger emotions in him. He had dated so many girls on campus and had had his way with a lot of them but this was a different feeling. He put his hand on his temples trying to ease the pain that was beginning to build up in his head. Whatever feelings or emotions he had while staring at her had to be discarded. She was dating his best friend and there was an unspoken agreement between his circle of friends that they never snitched each other’s babes.

********

Kunle lay on his bed lost in thought. He knew Fadeke had been embarrassed and he had not even bothered to apologize. All he wanted to do was run as fast as his legs could carry him. He wondered what she would have been thinking as he stared at her. She was shocked as she obviously wasn’t expecting anyone to walk in. He silently said his thanks to God that Chinedu hadn’t walked in while he was gawking at her body. Even though, Chinedu trusted him, he knew it would have been difficult convincing him that it wasn’t a deliberate action. He was not aware that Chinedu had given Fadeke the key to his room. He smiled and spoke to himself “That guy is sure in love with her”. How nice it would have been to touch and feel her. Her luscious lips on his shooting beams of passion in him. Her moans in response to his gentle caresses. His gentleness and care while trying to have his way with her and….. “Kunle, are you okay?” Chinedu slapped his friend on the wrist.

To Love & to Hold 21

“Aww….that hurt”. Kunle said rubbing his eyes and sitting up.

“Who were you thinking about or rather dreaming about that had you smiling in your sleep?”

“Oh, was I?” Kunle asked looking perplexed.

“You had this smile on your face and you were even licking your lips”. Chinedu laughed. “Hmm…..I hope it’s not one of those new chicks you have been hanging around with of recent that you were fantasizing about”.

“If only he knew that it wasn’t any new chick but his beloved Fadeke he was trying to have his way with in his sleep”. He must have fallen asleep while thinking about what happened earlier.

“Anyway, what’s going on?” Kunle asked discarding every thought.

“Good. I am just coming in from school and decided to stop by your room”.

“That meant he hadn’t been to his room or seen Fadeke”. Kunle thought.

“You sure you okay, man?” Chinedu asked with concern.

“I am cool. Just a little distracted”.

“I can imagine”. Chinedu laughed. “I need your Risk management note. I want to clarify some stuff I’m not sure about”.

“No issues. They are right there on the table”. Kunle said pointing towards his reading table.

“Thanks. You are the man”. Chinedu said as he picked up the note.

As Chinedu was about walking out of the room, he looked at his friend once more and said, “If you need a listening ear, you know where to find me”.

“Thanks dawg”. Kunle said standing up as they shook hands with bent elbows and hugged halfway patting each other at the back. As he stood alone in his room, he looked heavenwards and wondered aloud; “What the heck is wrong with me?”

*************

Fadeke avoided going to Chinedu’s hostel for the next three weeks. Chinedu noticed and asked why she stopped visiting. She however, lied that she was getting busier with school work. She was unable to get over the incident during her last visit. Her period had started unexpectedly and she needed to do a quick change. Since her hostel was a distance from campus, Chinedu’s room had been a better option. She knew he would stay back late in school as his project had been keeping him of recent. In her rush to quickly clean herself up and change, she had forgotten to lock the door behind her.

She was stunned when Kunle walked in and the look on his face gave him away. He was attracted to her body. She was so humiliated that immediately he walked out of the room, she got dressed quickly and left for her hostel. She was jumpy all through the evening, expecting the worst from Chinedu. She wasn’t sure of what to think. Would Kunle tell Chinedu what happened? If he did, would Chinedu believe that it wasn’t a deliberate action? Tochukwu noticed her nervousness and asked if she was okay. She was too embarrassed to talk about it and decided it was best no other person knew about the incident. She only hoped Kunle would be quiet about it as well.

*********************************************************************************

“Hey baby, how are you doing?” Chinedu asked as Fadeke picked up on the first ring.

“Good”. She replied as she walked down her faculty building clutching the phone between her head and right shoulder.

“It’s been a while since we had lunch together. Could we do one today? 2 o’clock?”

“Sure. The usual place?”

“Yeah. I’ll be waiting”. Chinedu said.

“No problem, darling. See you at 2”.

She was glad the spark in their relationship hadn’t abated. She was trying to put her phone in her bag when she bumped into someone who seemed to be in a hurry.

To Love & to Hold 21b

“Hey, watch where you…..” She said as she stopped mid-sentence.

“I’m sorry I bumped into you”. Kunle said picking up her bag which had fallen to the ground by reason of the impact.

“I’m sorry. I was also distracted”.

“I hope you are not hurt”. He asked giving her the bag.

As she collected her bag from him, his hand brushed hers. She froze for a few seconds and looked away. “No, I am not hurt. Thank you”. She said as she started walking away.

“Fadeke, I…I…I’m sorry about….” He stammered as she turned back to look at him.

“You don’t have to be”. She said avoiding his gaze.

“I did not realize you had a key to Chinedu’s room. He had told me earlier that he would like to see his supervisor and would leave school later than usual. I assumed he was the one that walked in”.

“It’s okay. I hope you would not mention it”. She asked still unable to look at him.

“No way. I wouldn’t do that. Trust me”. He said trying to touch her. She drew back spontaneously and Kunle immediately dropped his hand.

“You have a great body, I must confess”. He said and immediately regretted that he had as she looked at him with disgust and walked away.

“Oh God”. He said wondering why he had voiced out his thoughts.

He looked on as Fadeke walked down the corridor without looking back.

Fadeke could feel her temperature rising as she walked away. He even had the guts to talk about her body. She assumed he was remorseful over the incident. Could he have done it intentionally? But what would have been his motive? Kunle was Chinedu’s best friend and they talked about almost everything. Was he capable of betraying his friend? She wasn’t sure of what to think any longer. She wished she could talk to someone about it but she was scared that she could be misunderstood. Tochukwu hadn’t proved to be good at keeping sealed lips. She couldn’t also talk to Chinedu as she wasn’t sure of what his response would be. Besides, she wasn’t ready to jeopardize her relationship or be the root of a friction between two friends. As she prepared for her lunch date with Chinedu, just one thing filled her mind; how to keep her relationship secure.

———

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