Ese sat in her living room watching Tv with her daughters. Anita lay on her lap, head still wrapped in a bandage. It was Sunday afternoon. She hadn’t gone to church because she didn’t think Anita was up to it. She was feeling a lot better and so was Anita. She heard someone knock on her door and she sent Anne to get it.
Anne returned seconds later with Bobby in tow. She was a little reserved, fully aware of the tensions that existed between her mum and Bobby only the previous day. As they got to the living room, she settled in a couch and turned her attention back to the television.
“Hi. How are you?”
Ese looked at him and delivered a polite smile.
“I’m very well, thank you. How are you?”
He walked closer to her and stopped down so his was the same level as Anita’s head.
“How are you dear?”
Anita smiled and said she was fine. He stroked her cheek and apologized for the accident. He had brought some ice cream as peace offering and he dropped it on the center table. He looked at Ese and his eyes implored her to talk with him. Ese gently laid Anita’s head on the chair and walked towards the dining with Bobby following close behind. She took a seat and turned a stern face to him.
“I hope you aren’t expecting an apology from me.”
Bobby looked surprised.
“No nau. I actually just want to know how you’re doing and your daughter as well.”
Ese relaxed her shoulders a bit and her tone was softer.
“We’re fine. I was really scared yesterday, I can’t even begin to describe how much.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. I guess. She’ll be alright. No irreparable damage done.”
A brief moment of silence, then Ese spoke again.
“The couple that helped you. Who are they? I forgot to even thank them properly, especially the lady.”
“I don’t think they’re married. I didn’t see a ring on her finger. I don’t know the guy’s name but the lady is Teni.”
“Oh really? Okay. Maybe they’re just dating but anyways, I like the lady. She seemed pretty nice.”
“Yes. She actually is nice. That was not even my first time of meeting her. The first day I met her, it was also a crisis situation. One of my friends was in an accident and she stopped and rushed him to the hospital then called me on his phone.”
Ese looked impressed.
“Wow. That’s nice. People like her are hard to come by. Good Samaritans. Very rare. Please thank her for me o. God bless her.”
Bobby nodded and his mind unwittingly brought back thoughts of Teni. He had woken up that morning thinking of her. It was pretty strange indeed. Perhaps the reason she affected him so much was simply because she reminded him of his mother. His mother had been everything to him. She was a single parent and had raised him well. He had always promised to spoil her silly when he made money but that never happened. She died in his final year in the university.
The same way Teni went out of her way to help was the same way his mother was always going out of her way to help people who were in need or in some form of trouble or the other. And when Teni had said ‘don’t cry over spilt milk, rather tell yourself this is how to not spill milk again,’ he felt like he would pass out. His mother always said that. She taught him how to deal with mistakes and move on instead of brooding over them. He sighed and turned his attention back to Ese.
“So what plans have you got for today?”
Ese smiled and said
Bobby was confused.
“Welcome back from wherever it is you went to. You had this faraway look in your eyes for the longest time and then you sighed. Where did your mind go?”
Bobby rubbed his forehead and then his nose all the while smiling.
“Nowhere. I was just thinking about my mum. Teni said something to me yesterday that reminded me of her.”
Ese’s smile disappeared and was swiftly replaced by a concerned look
“Yeah. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not sad or anything. I just found it interesting. My mum was a single parent and I was her only child. Anytime I made a mistake or did something I knew greatly disappointed her, I would beat myself up about it endlessly and she would say to me ‘never cry over spilt milk. Rather, tell yourself this is how not to get milk spilled.’ And Teni said that to me yesterday, it was the most unusual thing ever.”
Ese had a look of understanding on.
“Oh I see, well that’s pretty good advice.”
“Yeah, it is. Anyways, what are you doing today?”
Ese noted that he was eager to change the subject and she obliged him.
“Nothing. I’ll be home with the girls watching tv and resting. Not much else to do.”
“Alright. I’ll just stay here and keep you ladies company for a little while longer. I don’t have any major plans for the day.”
“Thanks Bobby, I really think you’re sweet.”
Bobby smiled back and they walked back to the living room.
Teni turned on the couch in her living room and suddenly found herself awake. She reached for her phone on the center table and checked the time. It was 8:00pm. She yawned and stretched. She had been watching a movie and hadn’t realized when she’d fallen asleep. She yawned again and rubbed her eyes. Her phone started ringing and she picked it up again. It was Deola.
“Birthday babe! How did your day go?”
Deola’s excitement carried heavily in her voice.
“Sister mi! You won’t believe it! Deji threw me a surprise party!”
Teni immediately sat up.
“Eh? What did you say?!”
“I’m telling you o! He threw me a surprise party and he bought me a car! That’s why he had been sneaking up and down since and having all these secret meetings. Ah! I cried o! I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Teni laughed. She was really happy for her sister.
“You see yourself? And you were there worrying like what I don’t know.”
Deola laughed happily
“Wo, leave me jare. Is it my fault? You should have been here! Honestly! He did not follow me to church this morning. I was so annoyed! He didn’t even wish me a happy birthday before I left for church-”
“Yeah, you mentioned that.”
“Ehen, so when I now came back from church, I told him it was my birthday and said I was really disappointed that he forgot. He was so dramatic! He said he was sorry and promised to make it up to me. Then he said he would take me out to lunch by 3. I agreed.
He took me to one nice hotel. As we got there, we ran into one of his friends that is a businessman. Deji told him it was my birthday and he said we should follow him to one hall where he was having a meeting so he could write me a check. I was happy o! At least, the birthday was beginning to look good. Omo, nothing prepared me for the shock I received o. We walked into the hall and everyone shouted ‘surprise!’ They now started singing for me. I cried o. I really cried. A lot of his friends were there and my friends too. Colleagues from our offices… As in! I was just so weak.”
Teni smiled warmly. She was truly happy.
“Awww! Look at you!”
“Then he now gave me the car. I had been telling Deji since that I wanted my own car. It wasn’t convenient managing just one car in the house and he actually bought it! Sis, I’m so happy!”
“Congrats darling! I’m happy for you as well.”
“We just got home now and he’s tucking the boys in so I decided to call you and gist you. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”
“Alright dear. Kosi wahala.”
“Ehen, before I forget. How is Kachi?”
Teni smiled. She had been wondering as well. They hadn’t spoken all day.
“He’s fine. He’s in Lagos now sef but he should be back to Abuja tomorrow.”
“Alright. Please greet him for me o. I don’t even know what two of you are waiting for sef. You’re perfect for each other. You should just get married already.”
“See this clown. Madam matchmaker! Comot for my phone jor. Go and perform your wifely duties. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
As soon as the call ended, Teni bowed her head and covered her eyes.
Why on earth could she not find someone to love her like that? Kachi was wonderful but Kachi was not stable and she hated that.
You haven’t even considered telling him how you feel. What makes you think he would not decide to settle with you?
Feelings ke? What did she feel? She had lost the ability to feel. All her past relationships had scarred her. The guys always stopped being loving and caring the moment they settled into the relationship. They stopped sacrificing, they stopped going out of their way for her. She could not handle that and she could not risk getting hurt again. She just wanted to have a baby and be happy. Whoever said she needed a man to be happy and fulfilled?
You know you love Kachi. You can’t even deny it. Stop lying to yourself.
Okay. So what if she loved Kachi? He was her best friend. So really, what was not to love?
Keep deceiving yourself. You know you want to marry regardless of what you keep telling everyone. You want someone who would see you as special and spoil you silly and you know Kachi can do that.
Teni grew tired of fighting the voices in her head. They were wearing her out. She picked her phone again and dialed Kachi’s number. He picked up on the first ring.
“Bebe! I have missed you like crazy!”
Teni laughed and the warmth spread across her cheeks and managed to get to her tummy as well.
“Yeye! You didn’t even let the phone ring.”
“Yes nau. I had missed you that much.”
“Indeed! How are you? How did your day go?”
“Very well thanks. I’ll return tomorrow. How did your own day go?”
“Oh it was fine. I went to church, came home then lazed about. I even slept sef.”
“Lucky you. You’re chilling. I’ve been in meetings all day.”
“Ah. Today that is Sunday?”
“Yes o. Every day is a working day for the business men. But good thing sha, I’ve sorted things out with the customs people. I’ll finish up with them tomorrow morning then take an afternoon flight back.”
“Alright dear. That’ll be fine.”
“Are you okay? I kinda feel like you don’t sound right. How is Deola? Have you guys spoken?”
“Yeah. I’m alright just a little listless. Deola is great o. Deji wasn’t cheating on her. He threw her a surprise birthday party and even got her a car.”
“Oh wow! Check him out! That’s amazing. Really amazing! So is that why you’re down?”
Teni was irritated and she snapped at him
“Kachi I’m not down jor. Please leave me alone. I’m just tired. I want to go and sleep.”
Kachi was not convinced.
“At past 8? Abeg! It’s perfectly normal to feel a little jealous. Do you know how it stings me sometimes when my friends say something about their wives and children? I can’t have what they have and it really sucks but I don’t wallow in it. Marriage isn’t for everyone. My brief spell with Tejiri taught me that. So chill out. It’s okay for this to get under your skin but don’t dwell on it.”
“You’re just a mumu. Sha hurry and come back. I miss you. A lot.”
“I miss you too dear. I’ll come straight to your office from the airport tomorrow.”
“Ah no. Please don’t. I’ll be really busy. I’ve prepared my resignation letter sef. My boss will be in shock. Let’s just meet after work.”
“Alright dear. Good night.”
Teni hung up and wanted to slap herself. Why had she acted so weird with Kachi? She knew he was right. She envied Deola and the fact that she was able to get a good man but Kachi was right. Marriage wasn’t for everyone. Had she not said the same thing to herself a thousand times already? Why then did she feel differently now?
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It was late Monday afternoon and Teni was in the bathroom stall adjusting her skirt when she heard two people walk in. The office restrooms were small and as she put her hand on the latch to open it, one of the voices stopped her.
“I heard Teni is resigning.”
“Yes o. Omo, I don’t even understand that babe.”
“Abeg. Whatever jor. Make she go. The woman tire me. Women like her get on my nerves. She go dey form hardworker and she can’t even find a man.”
“I heard that no guy has toasted in a long time.”
“Mtscheew. Madam sophisticated! How will they toast her? Me I even heard that she says she doesn’t want to get married. That one no be lie? Which sensible woman does not want to get married? She’ll now be pretending to be happy meanwhile, I’m sure she envies all of us that aren’t single.”
“Nne rapu okwu biko! Just leave talk for people wey sabi talk. Meanwhile, keep your oil money boyfriend o. I’m sure if she has a chance, she will want to snatch him. That’s the thing with women like her. After forming that they don’t want to marry, they will now be looking for someone’s boyfriend to snatch.”
“Are you telling me?!”
At that point, Teni decided that she’d heard enough. She flushed the toilet then unlatched the door and walked right out. The two ladies froze. Teni ignored them and proceeded to wash her hands before leaving. The girls were stupid. There was no point indulging them.
She went through the rest of her activities for the day and the moment it was closing time, she picked her bags and drove straight to Kachi’s hotel. Kachi seemed really excited to see her and after the pleasantries, they settled on his bed to talk
“How far? How did your day go?”
“Good good. Until some scallywags tried to ruin it.”
“Scallywags kwa? What did they do?”
“I overheard some idiots in the bathroom saying I am a frustrated old maid who can’t find a man because I am too sophisticated.”
Kachi’s entire body rippled with laughter. He spent a good few minutes laughing even as Teni smacked him with a pillow.
“Idiot! You better stop laughing o. It’s not even funny.”
Kachi laughed some more before he got himself together.
“That has got to be the most retarded thing ever. The men keep coming to you. You just keep chasing them away.”
Teni eyed him.
“Even you yourself are getting it wrong. Kachi, there was a time in my life when I wanted to get married, have a family, build a home but all that has changed. In my quest for marriage and happiness, I have gotten unending hurt. I don’t even get it. It’s almost as though there are no good men left. I’m tired.
It’s not as if I can’t find a man. I just don’t trust the ones I have seen. I can see right through them and I know they aren’t up to any good. If they’re not looking for trophy wife that’ll sit home and do nothing, they are looking for a woman that will make good investments in them without returns. The men are not exactly in short supply, my trust is.”
Kachi nodded in understanding.
“I get you. Omo, if you know what you want, go for it and stick to your guns. Don’t let anyone pressure you into a loveless marriage.”
Teni nodded dryly.
“Please, let’s talk about something else. Oh by the way, I’m going to get an artificial insemination next week. I’ve thought about it. I really want to have a baby.”
Kachi had a look of utter surprise on his face.
“You’re joking! Artificial gini?”
“Don’t look so shocked silly! People do it all the time.”
“I don’t think you should.”
“How can you carry the baby of someone you know nothing about? And when the child grows up, who do you tell them their biological father is?”
“You really need to relax. What makes you think I’ll take some random guy’s sperm? I was actually thinking you’d donate yours.”
She laughed but Kachi was not amused.
“So that’s all I’m good for? A sperm donor?”
Teni grinned. She was enjoying teasing Kachi.
“Yes ke. My baby daddy!”
Kachi still did not smile.
“I see. Well, the answer is no.”
Teni suddenly realized he was serious.
“Ahan. What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing. All I’m good for is making babies abi?”
“Haba Kachi! I didn’t mean it like that.”
Kachi did not let her finish.
“When we are seemingly joking, we say the things that are really on our minds.”
Teni sighed. The one problem Kachi had. He could be overly dramatic.
“Kachi, I really think you’re overreacting. It was just a joke.”
“Say whatever you please. Na me get my emotions.”
She stared at him for a bit and she grew tired.
“If you’re going to keep sulking, I might as well go home.”
Kachi eyed her.
“Typical. You won’t even apologize.”
Teni was shocked.
“Apologize ke? What did I do wrong? I was messing with you, you decided to take it seriously. Why on earth would you believe I think you’re only good for a sperm donor?”
“I dunno, maybe because you said it? And mind you, we were having a serious conversation.”
“Omo mehn, I can’t deal. I’m going home.”
Kachi did not bother stopping her.
Teni looked like she wanted to say something but she did not bother. Rather, she picked her bag and walked to the door.
“Oh and by the way, I’m going back to Dubai tomorrow evening. My business here is done.”
Teni was shocked. She was hurt and angry and all she could think of in that moment was to hurt him with her words just as much as he had hurt her.
“I guess it’s just as well then. I don’t understand this sudden overbearing attitude of yours. I’ll be glad to be rid of it.”
She walked out and slammed the door shut.
To be continued