The hangout certainly wasn’t normal this day. A strange coldness hung in the air of the room, it felt like we were hanging out with angels and needed to act like zombies; not saying a word, just staring at each other. We had been in this seating room for an hour, thirty-five minutes and had not said more than six sentences altogether. It was obvious some things had been said behind me. I was sure they all knew aboutTunji way before I got to find out and had dissected our lives over and over. Oh how silly I had been, all those times, gushing about how blissful my relationship was, while they had pictures of Tunji and other ladies in their minds as they watched me talk foolishly.
At this point I didn’t know if I was to hate my friends for keeping it away from me, hate myself for knowing that if they had told me I might have hated them for telling me, or feel frustrated that Tunji was the cause of all this and I still loved him. I really didn’t know what to feel. When I couldn’t take the awkwardness anymore, I told them I had a headache -a lie I didn’t have to tell, because everyone in the room knew how much of a lie it was- and that I needed to go home. Then, Chioma asked that I get her something at Ebeano supermarket… Before she could finish with her request, I told her I would not be able to do that, as I would be going straight to my house at Ikota Estate and not Tunji’s. The look on their faces after I blurted those words told me how unnecessary the information was, so, I hurriedly left her apartment, left Lekki Phase1 and headed straight to my now abandoned home in Ikota, where I was sure I would find peace. I guess, in life, there comes a time where you have to fight your demons all by yourself, especially when it concerns matters of the heart… And so I did, I was incommunicable all through the slow and boring weekend.
Monday came and went by like it never came: I resumed work really early, was at my best behavior at the office, no extra smile, no extended pleasantries, I just did my work and headed straight home, had a piece of pancake and fried eggs with a cold glass of orange juice for dinner and turned on the TV to keep myself company till sleep took me away –it is when you are lonely that you realize how boring DSTV can be-.
The doorbell rang, I checked my phone to see if a call slipped in without my knowing, but nothing came through. The only people that knew I was here were the girls, so it most likely would be Chioma coming to perform her best friend duties, I thought to myself as I opened the gate with a wide smile to reassure my friend that her little baby was fine.
Tunji’s stressed out face met mine. After driving through all that traffic to get here, who wouldn’t be stressed? I hugged him tight at the gate and let him in. My actions within the next hour was amazing to even me. When I got my senses back, I was on the steering of my car, headed for Tunji’s. Then I prayed this one prayer, “Dear Lord, God of Love, falling in love is neither a mistake nor a sin, so help me God, Amen”.
And God really showed me that it wasn’t a mistake, because at the end of that year, December 28 precisely, every one of our friends were gathered at our place, his place, for the celebration of our third year anniversary.
I stood to give the anniversary speech, I was so happy it showed in everything: my countenance, gestures, everything. I couldn’t stop smiling, in fact, I had a wide smile all through my speech. I ended it with, “Its three years already and there is no doubt in me that this man is sent to me from up high”. My speech met a resounding applause from everyone. I scanned the room in search of Chioma, when I found her, I saw that she was crying. Those tears had better be for joy, if not she should shove it to God knows where, for all I care, I thought to myself as I blew her a kiss. She stood and joined the rest of the guests in the applaud.
Half way into it all, Shola announced that she had been engaged by Timi, her University sweetheart and would be getting married in four months’ time. This was rather surprising to me, because I never saw their relationship as being serious: they quarreled more times than I had ever heard about in any relationship. Anyway, it was what it was, so I shove my thoughts to the corner as we all flocked around her to check out the ring. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I tap from your anointing, I sure will be next o”. “Amen”, she replied and the party went on.
New year’s eve went by quietly and I made a resolution for the year to come: to always spend one weekend in a month with my Mum. This, I had promised her four months ago, the day my younger brother was buried, but never kept to it.
Supo and I were the only children of my parents and grew up lacking nothing. Dad worked with the Nigerian Customs and Mum ran a boutique where she sold unisex wears. Mum was really fond of us, she always wanted us around, to the extent that, after I got back from the USA for my MSC and got this job at Adobe advertising in Victoria Island, she fought that I wouldn’t move out of our family house in Festac. She said she needed to watch me turn into a woman so she could teach and prepare me for my wifely duties when I got married. I fought tooth and nail and promised to come see them every weekend, before my Dad allowed me get my own place in Ikota. Mum made sure my house was furnished to her taste. After the first three months of visiting them every weekend, I could not keep up with it anymore.
A year after I moved out, we lost our Dad and Supo became my Mum’s everything: her husband, only company and her right hand man. She was involved in his life, she knew all his girlfriends and once in a while allowed them spend the weekend at our place. She said she needed to teach them how her son liked his food prepared.
On the 26th of August 2013, Supo died in a ghastly motor accident, he was on a road trip to Ghana to meet his girlfriend, Sheila, when his car failed break and ran into an oncoming vehicle. We buried him almost immediately and since then, my Mum has not been the same.
On the day of Supo’s burial, I promised her that I would spend a weekend once in a month with her. I pulled it off for the first two months, then got distracted by work but mostly Tunji and his drama. I made sure I called her every day to ensure she's fine, to know if her younger sister, Aunty Maggy, was with her and for the sake of my conscience, I sent her money every month.
The last weekend in January, I went to my Mum’s for the weekend and I must say, it wasn’t a smart way to start a new year. She spent every single minute of my stay talking about how relationships and anniversary parties weren’t marriage. Her words, “If he loves you that much Ojuolape Shoyebi, he should put a ring on your finger” -whoever bought a beyonce’s album for mum?- and she went on and on. All through the weekend, I felt like a 35-year-old single and ugly lady who could not lock a man down. I just couldn’t wait for it to end.
5am on Monday morning, as I left home for work, she escorted me to my car, then held my right ear in her hand and went, “If he is not going to marry you, tell me now, let me connect you with one of my friend’s children for you to marry. A word is enough for the wise o. Now have a good day at work”, she said, then pecked me and went back to the house and Abu, the security man, opened the gate for me. The day went by really slow with my mother’s voice resounding in my ears continuously.
While having dinner with Tunji that night, I told him all that happened at my Mum’s and all that she had said, carefully watching his face to find a reaction, an expression, to see if he had marriage anywhere in his mind. But, no, he didn’t give off anything. He simply cracked jokes about some things my Mum had said and continued with his meal.
After dinner, as I made our usual blend of water melon and pawpaw smoothie, he told me about a client he had been prospecting for over a year, who happened to be Shola’s boss. He said he found this out at our anniversary and needed me to call Shola to remind her to talk to her boss in his favor. Just watching his facial expressions, how his eyes lit when he found out who the client was, I couldn’t help but hope he got the job, I wanted to give him anything I could to make him happy, I loved this man. Shola was a very smart and intelligent lady held in high esteem by her boss and he agreed to most of her suggestions, so getting her to talk to her boss about making Tunji being their company’s architect will definitely get him the job in one hand. I put a call through to her and she told me that she was already on it.
The next three months, Tunji was almost always in Shola’s office as he had series of meetings and proposals to present to her boss.
This Friday evening, girls were broke and our darling Jummy was not in good terms with her newest money bag, the Alhaji Nagoba that was making our girl’s skin look like she drank a cup of butter every day and was too posh to poo. We agreed to meetup at Chioma’s, I stopped at Shopright supermarket on my way to get us some cookies, chocolate and booze. While we discussed life and sex and the new agriculture business that Chioma our entrepreneur friend was about to venture into, I jokingly asked Shola how our boyfriend, Tunji, was doing. And the look on Cynthia’s face…