Mabel called everyday but I always told her Serwa just ran out or she was down for her nap. In the first two weeks she didn’t make anything of it but she was becoming anxious to speak to her. She sent her friend Rose over to check up on us, luckily for me Serwa was actually down for her nap that day. Rose promised to check back and left. Every evening, a hot and delicious Nigerian delicacy awaits Tade on the dinning table.
After he had his meals, we would talk about his day and how I and Serwa’s day went. sometimes we would sprawl on the living room floor playing monopoly while the three of us banter with each playfully. Occasionally he would slip Mabel into the conversation and remind me to give her a call. I don’t know why I felt the way I did, It feels like Tade and Serwa were mine and they belonged to me alone. I had a deep sickening feeling of keeping them to myself forever. I made his meals, gave him a listening ear when he needed it and I took care of his child. I read her bed time stories, I attend her Pta meetings and I taught how to make a kite. Just like a loving mother would do.
Somehow it felt right that they should be mine. I never wanted to hurt Mabel but to me she didn’t deserve them. She ignored the young girl when she was around and she led Tade by the nose. She didn’t treat him with the respect he deserved, she doesn’t call her mother_ in_ law or care about her husband’s friends. It was always about her, her friends, her life and her pleasure.
” How’s your boyfriend? ” Tade asked, one evening during dinner.
“I don’t have one and I have never had one before”
He looked shocked ” Interesting, You are quiet young. Don’t you desire to be in a relationship and eventually settle down?”
” I do. I am still waiting on the lord” I replied honestly
” There’s this guy I know. He’s a good guy and he’s single too.” He said,” besides he’s also a good christian. Can I hook you guys?”
” I don’t know…..”
” Don’t worry. He’s a good friend of mine. His name is Fola, a Nigerian ”
” Alright.” I replied uncertainly
” I will give him your phone number. If you don’t like him, there are more fishes in the river” he said, laughing.
The only fish I want to hook is you but I don’t know why. It should feel wrong and I should be feeling guilty but I don’t, I thought.” How did you meet Mabel?”I asked instead.
” We met at a dinner party.” He replied, ” We were attracted to each other from the moment we set eyes on each other.” He sighed, ” I miss my Bell so much,”
I nodded and stuck the prongs of my fork into the chicken on my plate. ” When is she coming back?”
” That reminds me. She said you have been keeping Serwa from her and she was worried that we were hiding something from her. She actually thought Serwa was sick. I assured her Serwa is fine, please do try to call her as often as you can and let her speak to serwa. I know Bell is a worrywart”
” I call her often but the thing is she usually calls when Serwa is down for her nap.”
” I think I will get Serwa a phone, so Bell can reach her directly.” He said
” That’s a good idea” The chicken in my mouth suddenly turned sour. I don’t want Mabel anywhere near my child_ I mean my ward.
Fola turned out to be a starchy looking man in an expensive car but his fashion sense was zero. I cringed when I saw his churchy gray and blue suit jacket and pant and his oldskool hair cut. There was nothing sexy, charming or rugged about him. He smiled too much and he was just too nice for my liking. He picked me up from the house while Tade sat Serwa. He took me to an expensive restaurant, he tried to know me but my mind was elsewhere. I couldn’t even enjoy my dinner because I was worried.
I wondered if Serwa was already in bed, did Tade give her a good bath?, did he read her favorite stories from a book or did he make it up as I often did? I wondered what Tade was doing and all I wanted was to run back to my family at home.
” So tell me something about you which I don’t know,” Fola said
I love watching e.rotic videos while I fantasize about your friend. I wondered what his reaction would be if I actually told him that.” You already know all there is to know about me,” I replied
He nodded his head and gave me a pleasant smile.” You are a lovely lady and I want to know more about you. I want to invite you to my church this Sunday and I would also like you to meet my pastor”
I flashed him a fake smile, ” That would be nice, I look forward to that”
Tade stayed up waiting for me when Fola dropped me off at 11 pm. He was in a bathrobe, nursing a glass of wine.
” How was your first official date?” He asked,
I shrugged, ” Okay. I guess”
” Geez, was it that bad?” He asked, ” Or did he make any move you did not like?”
I dropped on the sofa and he sat down beside me. ” Please pour me a glass, ”
” Oh. I didn’t know you drink” He asked, filling a glass for me.
” I don’t ”
” Here,” he handed me a glass of wine.” What happened?”
” He was nice, kind and charming but I didn’t feel any connection towards him”
” This is just the first date Funmi,” he said, ” You will feel more connected to him when you get to know him better. Fola is a good guy and he earns well too.”
” I don’t know…..I…have never felt connected to any guy before or crushed on one”
” Maybe…… maybe……you feel more chemistry with women?” He asked
” Women?” I asked, “No I don’t”
” You can’t say for sure until you have had an encounter with one. Have you ever gotten intimate with the opposite s-x before?”
He whistled, ” How about a kiss?”
” I think you are into women then,”
” I am not!” I stated vehemently, I made to stand up but he pulled me back on the sofa.
” I know this is crazy…..but”, he pulled my face closer and kissed me softly on my lips. My mouth closed over his, he deepened the kiss and abruptly stood up.” You are definitely not into women.”
“Y…..yea I guess,”
” I am sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. It’s just that……you looked so miserable not knowing your sexuality.”
” Thank you…..for helping me find out”
” Ummn, we…..we shouldn’t have this conversation again. Goodnight Funmi,”
” Night Tade,” I said, using his first name for the first time.
Sylvester sent a cleaning company to clean up my shop and put it back in order. Despite his mean reputation he seemed so different in person. He was so soft spoken and gentle, his dark eyes never missed a thing and he seemed so perceptive to my feelings. He always knew what I was feeling and thinking, sometimes it feels like he was in my head.
For the duration of the two weeks Uche was not around, Sylvester and I seemed to have stepped over the formal boundaries. He was gradually becoming a friend to lean on, I don’t know what Uche would make of our friendship so I kept it from him. I wished Funmi and I hadn’t grown apart, I wished I could call her and dump it all on her. She would listen, beret me for putting up with Uche’s mom, give me a hug and offer to pray for me. Although Sylvester was also a good listener, he had so many mysteries surrounding his person and he was too close mouthed. He rarely talks about himself, he dodges any question about his family and he always found a way to shift the conversation away from himself.Besides, he wasn’t a girlfriend who you can totally bare your heart and soul to.
I dialed Funmi’s line and waited for her to pick up.
” Hello,” She said breathlessly
” Hello stranger, what are you up to?”
” Sorry Dupe, I have been so busy. Mabel traveled so I am left on my own to deal with her daughter and the girl is a handful. How are you?”
” I’ m alright. How about you? met any hunk yet?”I asked.
She laughed.” As a matter of fact, yes”
” Wow! what’s his name? his he a Nigerian? ”
” He’s a Nigerian ” She replied.
” Have you been on a date with him?”
” Not yet,” She replied, ” how’s Uche?”
I sighed and narrated everything to her.” His mother really want to tear us apart and I am getting tired. I don’t know what to, I have prayed and fasted”
” I know what you can do. I have a solution,”
” Oh Funmi, You are a life saver! what should I do?”
” Poison her,” She stated.
I was bubbling with excitement as I led Dupe into the elegant restaurant. Our seat was by the fountain in the open court yard.Today was the ‘D’ day, I couldn’t wait to see the wonderful expression on her face as I go down on bended knees to propose to her. I had discreetly slipped the ring to the waiter who would bring it to her on a sliver platter, some guitarist was also waiting by the corner to start playing a favorite tune of hers as soon as I went on my knee.
” I have something to say to you,” Dupe said, as soon as we sat down.
” I have something to say to you too but ladies first. I’ m listening”
She suddenly looked nervous and her eyes were downcast. ” I have had time to think while you were away. About us,”
” Yes, I thought a lot about us too,” I chipped in, beaming.
” Uche, please don’t interrupt me. This is hard for me as it is,”
I sat upright, suddenly feeling tense.” Alright”
” I also prayed a lot about what I am about to say,” She sighed heavily, ” I can’t continue with this anymore.”
” Continue with what?” I asked, ” What are you trying to say?”
” I want out. I can’t keep looking after my back every second. I am not happy and your mother too isn’t happy. This is best for all of us, I’ m sorry.”
” Wait, wait. You are breaking up with me? because of my mother?” I asked in disbelief
” I’m sorry.”
” Here’s what I have for you.” I said, slipping the cheque out of my inner suit pocket.
She accepted it, took a look at me and pushed it back to me.” 1 million naira. I can’t accept it.”
” I……I don’t know. It will feel like you are paying me off,”
” I am not paying you off! I love you! I want to….”
” Keep your voice down! You are shouting, ” She said, scrapping her chair backwards. ” I wanted to tell you in person, don’t tell me you love me please, it will only make it hurt more. It is better I walk away now, I’ m sorry Uche,”
” Dupe, wait. I…..”
” Take care Uche,”
” Please hear me out. Tonight is….”
” Please be good to yourself,” She said, backing away before fleeing out of the open court yard.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I whirled around. The waiter, stood beside me with the silver platter containing the ring in his palm. I took the platter from him, retrieved my ring and walked out dejectedly.
To be continued..