“Please get back on your seat Tunji”, I said, then ended Paul’s call, shut my eyes for a bit just to wrap my head around all that was happening in my life. My life was complicated, well my relationship life was. I didn’t know what to do; I had one guy with whom I had spent the last six years of my life loving and committed to and prayed vehemently that he saw me as enough, to be contentwith –which he didn’t-; then I had another man that seemed to have a sweet soul, wanting to be part of my life and willing to give anything he could to achieve this.
Tears slowly slid down both sides of my cheeks. Oh, Paul looked like a good person, but how could I trust he was a better person than Tunji? What if I tried, only to realize that he was just like them all? What if I blew Tunji away and gave Paul a chance and two years after, we call the whole relationship quits? By then, Tunji would be married with a child with some other lady? I would certainly be a miserable lady having wasted eight whole years of my life in this thing called relationship? Where is God? He is supposed to help us in our confused state. Where is my father? He is a man, so he can tell me which of these men will be good for me. These things, I thought and thought to myself.
I felt a soft pat on my lap, then opened my eyes to see Tunji stretching out a piece of serviette to me. In his eyes, I could see genuine care and love. Hmmm, should I tell him that I had sex with another man the day before, just to see if he would hurt and probably leave me alone, at least, that would make this whole decision easier to make.
I took the serviette from him, forced a smile and wiped my cheeks, looked at him for about two hard minutes and said,
“You have really hurt me Tunji. I sit here and am excited at the fact that a man finds me worthy to be his partner for life, but then, what if it also means signing up for a life of everlasting hurt? What if….”
“Please, stop Juju”, he interrupted me, “I know I have hurt you, I really do and I am extremely sorry for that. But I promise you, whatever hurt you feel now, will be the last of any of such you would ever feel. I will be the best man and husband there is. I will make you a happy woman. Juju, I spoke with your mother for more than two hours, I even cried at some point. She made me promise, she made me swear that I will never hurt you in our marriage. She told me how many Soldiers and Lawyers and Judges she had as friends and how they would torture the hell out of me if I hurt you ever again. And I will tell you what I told her; I will never do anything to make you regret marrying me. Ever.”
I smiled at the thought of what my Mother did. And there I was thinking she was the worse mother in the world. One who only cared about herself; about how she could brag to her friends that her daughter was getting married and probably hold the most elaborate wedding in Lagos.
Suddenly, Tunji was back on bended knees, with my left hand in his, asking me the question again, “will you marry me ojuolape?”. I smiled and said,
“Only if you would let me redecorate your house”, -You know I had to wipe off every spirit of promiscuity that was present in that home right? - He nodded and I nodded too. He smiled and slid the ring into my middle finger, kissed the back of my palm and sat back on his seat. He was jumpy and smiling deeply, everyone around could tell he was really excited. He then asked me to call Chioma and tell her we were engaged and soon to be married. I knew it was a bad idea, but I did it anyway.
“Hello dear”, I said.
“Hello to the hottest lady I know, to the only one who spends one weekend in Singapore and the next in an exotic island.”
“Chioma, I am engaged to Tunji, he just asked me the question and I said yes.” I said with no excitement in my voice. The line went cold, “hello Chioma, are you still there?” I asked, praying to God that she said something and not show Tunji how much she obviously hated him.
“Yes I am Ojuolape and I hope to God that this phone is on speaker because I want to give you a sincere piece of my mind. I know it is your life and no one should make the decision on who you should marry, but you. But if I do not say this now, I would hate myself for the rest of my life. I do not know if it is age or lack of self-worth that would make you say yes to a man that makes you cry more than you laugh; a man that abuses you in the worst emotional ways possible, one that has his eyes on every woman on the face of the earth. Juju, a rock of gold or diamond or whatever nonsense he got you, will not change who he is. That man knows nothing about being faithful and you know this. You are a smart lady, let no man make or tell you otherwise. But if marrying him is what you really want to do, then congratulations on achieving your life goal.”
And she ended the call. I looked at Tunji dead in the face and said, “Let us go home please.” He nodded and we did.
Needless to say that sleep was the last thing on my mind that night. At 2am I put a call through to Jummy, I chose to call her because I needed to talk to someone who was too busy with her life to give a thought about mine. I just needed someone to fuel the silly decision I knew I had made.
The noise at the background affirmed my intention. She was at the club on a Monday night, hmmm, my friend Jummy. “Jummy, please I need to talk to you”, I shouted, trying to the audible amidst the noise that blared into my ear piece.
“Okay, give me a minute let me get to my car.”, she replied, so I hung up and called her back few minutes after.
“I got engaged to Tunji yesterday and he said our wedding would hold next month.”
“WHAT!!! Why would you agree to something like that? Firstly, I am scheduled to go to Dubai with Alhaji next month and secondly, you know I would love more than ever to see the tears in your face when the priest proclaims you married to Tunji for life, because, by then, I am sure you would realize how foolish a decision that is.
Now, Juju, I know I am not the best example of a virtuous woman, but sleeping with married men is a far better bet than marrying a man like Tunji. I know he has a bright future and all, but he is not good for you my dear. That guy is a two timing bastard that rubs it on your face at every given opportunity. Dear Ojuolape, please, be true to yourself. Please.” she said.
“Jummy, I have to sleep now, I have to be at work by 8 AM tomorrow.” I said and ended the call before she could say any other thing.
I avoided Paul for four long days. Every time I saw his call, I felt really bad. He never just stopped calling; morning, afternoon and night, all through those four days. I didn’t want to talk to him, I didn’t know what to say to him.
Saturday morning, as I was cleaning my apartment, I heard a knock at my gate. I peeped at my phone, to see if I had missed either Chioma’s –who has chosen not to speak to me since I dropped the bombshell- or Tunji’s call, but I hadn’t. Then I went to the gate to find out who it was. It was Paul.
I was totally confused. What do I say to him now? Then I remembered that earlier that morning, I was trying out Tunji’s ring, to see what it really looked like on my finger. Praying to God that I took it off and placed in my jewelry box, where it has been all week, my eyes quickly went to my left fingers, but I didn’t. I was wearing it. I looked at Paul and he was looking at it too.
He spent about five minutes just staring at my finger, then looked me in the face and said,
“What a terrible host you are, won’t you at least let me in?”
In my apartment:
“Have a seat”, I said.
“Oh no, I would rather stand. Was I that bad, that you won't just pick my call? Let me guess, it is that guy that gave you the ring, the one you told me about. What’s his name? oh yes, Tunji. I sincerely wish you didn’t know I like you so you would take my advice truthfully.
That night when you told me about him, you know you were hurting, I do not need to say that. But Ojuolape, marriage is a life time thing. How can you agree to spend the rest of your life with someone who already makes you unhappy? How can you resign to such fate? And I know what you might be thinking, what if you give me a chance and I am just as bad.
I wish I can tell you what the future holds, but I can’t. I will not stand here and promise never to hurt you, but I would have you know something, I am a lion, I guard my territory jealously. The only important thing to me, is making sure my territory is in order. I care deeply for everyone in my space and would never do anything intentional to hurt those people.
Juju, I haven’t had time for ladies, hell, I haven’t even found any lady exciting enough to get at my attention, until I met you. Please give us a chance, I beg you. At least try. Even if it means figuring me out for about three months while you are still engaged to that man. I promise you will never regret it. I will not put any pressure whatsoever on you. Please dear, please.”
“We are getting married next month Paul.”, I said, with my head bent and my eyes closed. I needed help, I didn’t know what to do. Everybody was correct, I knew they were. But why then was that voice in my head telling me to try it out. Why?
“Paul, everything you have said makes sense, but I have invested six years of my life in this man and I don’t want a repeat of that. I have been able to beat him to a marriageable state; I wouldn’t leave that for another woman to inherit. I really like you Paul, but I am tired of that fear of not knowing what the future holds. I would leave you for another woman to work on. Please leave my house.”
I looked at him, he was close to tears, I was too, but I didn’t know what else to do. I’d rather stay with the demon I had in my house, than go and get totally devoured by the devil on the street.
The 16th of March, 2016, I got married to Tunji. Chioma was my chief bridesmaid, Jummy cancelled her trip to be on my bridal train, Shola was certainly not invited and Paul was in the front seat at the church and even at the reception, watching me get tied in holy matrimony to another man and I was happy.
But six months after…