By Ogechi Nwobia
You have no right to be here
Bobby silenced the voice in his head and slowly raised the curtain. He was already here, nothing could change that. There was a small pool of bathroom slippers just outside the entrance, different sizes and colours.
There were shoes too and leather slippers and sandals. Hewaded through them and made his way into the living room. It was crowded as expected. His eyes roamed the room but couldn’t find her. Everyone spoke in hushed tones. Typical. He’d been in settings like this before, they hardly changed.
He made his way to the bedroom. The door was shut. He knocked gently before opening and walked in. She lay on the bed, eyes glued to her Bible.
“Hey.” She looked up and smiled.
“Hello. What are you doing here?”
He’d asked himself the same question. He had no idea
“Umm, I came to check up on you.”
Her smile was still in place but it was only a mask on her face. It wasn’t in her eyes.
“You have no reason to be here you know.” He ignored her comment.
“Why are you in here all by yourself? I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be left alone.”
She laughed and shook her head. The sound made him nervous
“I don’t care what you think. I want to be by myself and everyone has been reasonable enough to respect my wishes.”
He looked at her and didn’t know what to say.
The words tasted like chalk in his mouth. They didn’t feel right.
She smiled again. The smile unnerved him some more.
“For your loss…”
He paused. She said nothing and he struggled to find words to continue.
“-I’m sorry for everything. Particularly for not telling you the truth when you asked…”
She raised a hand and silenced him.
“That’s enough. It’s no surprise people turn a blind eye when wrong is being done. I don’t need your apologies. You may leave now.”
There was nothing left to say but he wouldn’t leave. He just stood there watching her. She ignored him and got out of bed instead. A few steps found her in the bathroom. She turned on the faucet and washed her face. Bobby waited patiently till she was done. He watched her come out. She looked lean and tired. It was obvious she was not eating well.
“There’s a lot of people out there. Is anyone staying with you?”
“So they’re cooking for you I guess.”
“Of course. Bobby, can you leave please?”
A knock sounded on the door and a young girl walked in.
“Aunty, your lunch is ready. Should I bring it here for you?”
“Not yet. Leave it in the kitchen. I’ll eat later. I’m coming out now. Are there still people in the parlour?”
“Yes ma. Plenty of them.”
She sighed and looked at Bobby.
“Thank you for coming. You can leave now.”
She ushered him to the door and Bobby walked out. The atmosphere in the living room changed a bit. The hushed voices went silent and everyone turned to look at them. He walked right to the entrance, slipped on his leather slippers and walked out.
Her face was permanently etched in his memory. He would never be able to rid himself of it; the empty smile, the blank look. He felt totally shut out. Her grief was private and personal and she wasn’t sharing with anyone. Well, at least not with him.
He sighed and walked on. He was definitely coming back. In the few minutes he spent at the house, she went from being a random lady he had met a few of times to someone he was fiercely protective of. He would begin to look out for her from that moment.
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Teni fumbled in her purse as she tried to find her keys. The road trip from Ekiti back to Abuja had left her tired and cranky. Thanks to her mother whose unending theatrics kept her in town till almost 12pm. She had planned to leave at 6am and get in at about noon but her mother apparently had other plans. First was the all too familiar marriage lecture, then the grumbling about her job, then the comparison to her sisters. She was tired.
She finally found her keys and opened the door to her two-bedroom apartment. She was gone for just a week but she felt the place needed major cleaning.
She dropped her bags in the living room and went straight to the kitchen. She brought out some stew from the freezer and put it in the microwave, setting the time to twenty minutes. Then she got her broom and bucket to commence her cleaning.
45 minutes later, she had swept and mopped the entire house and changed her bedsheets. She took a warm bath and settled in bed to eat her bread and stew. Her phone rang and she looked at the caller ID
“Hey sis! What’s up? I don reach house o.”
“I was going to ask whether they kidnapped you. You didn’t call or text to say you’d gotten in.”
“I’m sorry darling. Mum’s wahala this morning left me really grouchy then I got in here and had to clean up. The place was a mess.”
Laughter floated across the line
“A mess ke? Your place? You’re just a clean freak jor.”
Teni shrugged as though her sister could see her.
“Whatever. What’s up?”
“I’m fine. I just wanted to be sure you’re okay.”
“Mum’s drama gets even more ridiculous by the year but it’s certainly not going to get to me anymore. She should just let me be. She’s lived her life. She should allow me live mine.”
“But you know she means well-“
“She does and I know but I really don’t care. When will you people learn to stop drinking panadol for headache that is not even worrying me?”
Deola laughed again.
“Sis mi, you’re funny o. You mean being single doesn’t bother you?”
It was Teni’s turn to laugh.
“Well darling, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m not complaining to any of you now am I? I’m content with my life as it is. You guys should stop fussing over me. How is your husband jare?”
“He’s fine and stop trying to change the subject.”
“Babe, we’ve been through this a million times. Can we please just drop it? Mum lectured me enough today. C’mon! Let it rest already. This is why I hate coming home for Christmas. Everyone gets on my matter like it’s a national problem. Please I’m going to sleep jor.”
“I’m sorry. I honestly didn’t mean to do that. It’s just, there’s someone I want you to meet…”
Teni withdrew the phone from her ears, looked at it and rolled her eyes.
Seriously? Didn’t these people ever get tired?
“Deola, no way! No, I am not meeting anyone. The last time you tried to set me up, I found out he was married…”
“But he said he was going to divorce his wife and marry you.”
Teni breathed deeply and forced herself to calm down. Her sister could be really shallow sometimes.
“Dee, you didn’t even know he was married. It was only after I made my discovery and confronted him that he said that. Please let this matter rest jor.”
“Okay o. Well, I’m coming into Abuja in two weeks. I guess I’ll see you then.”
“No wahala. Good night.”
“Good night sis. I love you”
Teni pretended not to have heard her and hung up.
The grouchiness returned. These people would drive her crazy. It was only a matter of time. Sadly, they had no idea. They were utterly clueless. She was never getting married.