I tried Lana’s number again. The phone was off so I decided to drive back to her parent’s house.
She was getting into her car and looking very distraught. I stopped the car with the engine still running and rushed to her before she drove off.
She was crying hysterically.
“Give me the keys,” I commanded her.
She looked at me defiantly. One minute looking like she would drive off and the next switching off the engine and giving the keys to me meekly.
Wiping her eyes and sniffing away, she rested her head on the headrest, with her eyes closed.
“You are not in the best position to drive. You’ll be an accident waiting to happen, except you are contemplating suicide,” I said trying a small smile.
“At least it would put an end to the drama happening around me,” she retorted.
“Yeah,” I answered drily.
“Some drama in the last few hours,”
“Come,” I pulled her out of the car.
“I booked this place tonight for dinner for two to celebrate but who says we can’t still celebrate.”
She was staring at me bewildered.
“Yes crap happens, but we still have each other so who cares,” I said looking on the bright side.
She followed me with a look I was yet to decipher as I got her seated in the passenger’s seat and went around the car to the driver’s seat and drove off to the dinner venue.
Lana was silent all through the trip, but as soon as I parked, she blurted out, “We are first cousins!”
“Your uncle having a child with my aunt does not make us first cousins,” I argued.
“Although, technically we share the same cousin.”
“She is your cousin and my cousin as well, but we are not directly related,” I explained.
“I am that child they had,” whispered Lana afraid that if she said it loud it could mean acknowledging the truth.
I froze in time as my brain tried to analyse the implication of this revelation to her and our relationship. I felt like a huge rock had been thrown at me and pinned me to the ground. Our relationship had finally hit the brick wall. No love so strong could surmount this.
There had to be a way a little voice in me argued, and until we had exhausted all our options, we were not going to give into what society and tradition threw at us. Did not Abraham marry his father’s daughter and Lot’s daughters had children by him? We grew up in different circumstances. That should mean something.
“There must be a way,” I muttered as I revved the car expressing my anger at our helplessness.
“You are not driving away in that rage,” Lana rebuked me for someone who was contemplating near suicide some few minutes ago.
“Wouldn’t it be epic to both commit suicide and end the pain,” she teased as tears started a free falling spree like the Niagara falls which later turned to heart wrecking sobs.
“Sleep with me,” she said eyes wide with a faint burst of excitement at the idea.
“Once I am pregnant, all my family’s hesitancy will disappear, and my parents will jump start the marriage rites.What of it I was already pregnant? Why did we choose to wait till after the wedding?” She asked forlornly.
We had both agreed from the first time we were together to wait till after marriage to be intimate. Our honourable resolution stared us mockingly while taunting us to find a solution.
“ Lana, we can’t have waited this long and decide to make a rubbish of it all.
There must be a way out,” I said with a camouflaged assurance.
“Let me drop you at home,” I offered.
“I am not going back home.I have said that much to my parents oh not my parents,” she snickered.
” I am done with my family. Please do not insist. Family do not destroy your life, and Family do not keep secrets like this, hiding my identity, family do not rub you of knowing who you are. They had a long time to tell me not this way,” Lana said.
“Your Uncle Segun had been telling you in several ways all this while. You kept saying he was your favourite uncle but more of a father to you than your dad. Every milestone he was there,” I said the words mimicking her adoration for her uncle.
“That was before I found out, he was some selfish, conniving man.
“He did the best he could for you. Giving you a stable home with two parents and not taking you off to be cared by some step mother who might have been threatened by your existence, and made life miserable for you. However, family hurt us we still need them and are knitted intricately with them. Walking away does not make you not related to them, walking away won’t make the pain go away or less bearable. Rather, it would live in your head and stare at you every day. Take time if you need to but don’t walk away,” I advised hoping he would see that two wrongs do not make a right.
“Cousin,” I teased lightheartedly. A far cry from the feeling of despair that had engulfed me.
“I need a mind operation to start seeing you in that light,” she managed a small, sad smile that mirrored both our hearts.
And there in the car, I held her like my life depended on it. I held her and sobbed for what we may lose eventually.
“ I am not sleeping at my house tonight, and you can’t make me. I should call Peju,” she said picking her mobile phone.
“Oh God! It’s dead! Lana exclaimed.
” And you were running off in the night to nowhere with a dead phone. A good thing I came around, I said.
“My knight in shining armour,” she teased. It was sweet but heartbreaking to hear us make light our predicament.
“I might have to lose that title, I teased back but winced inwardly with pain as the reality of those words dawned on me.
“Do I take you home? Or Peju’s place?” I asked.
“Oh, not Peju she does not need my excitement right now. I think she is going through a difficult pregnancy. I have to keep this bit away from her. I had almost forgotten. I would never forgive myself if I were the reason she lost her babies after the fiasco I pulled at her wedding.
Maybe Peju’s mother in law today. She’s been scheduling meetings that I have been too busy to attend, and Peju might be there or a hotel for some few days while I get my head cleared, and what to do, Lana said unsure of herself.
“Peju’s mother in law’s place will be better. You need the advice of an older person to prevent you from making a mistake you will regret all your life like my aunt.
She missed the joy of seeing you grow up into the beautiful, intelligent and confident woman you have become.Talking about her, have you thought what you want to do?” I asked.
Lana started blankly at me. I could tell it was not something she had considered.
“That is too much for me right now. I have no clue what I want or should not want. I do not know who I am anymore,” said Lana bowing her head into her hands.
“No matter how bad a situation is there is always a bright side to it.Don’t give in to despair. Keep an open mind,” I advised.
We were back at her house. I waited for her to go out but she just sat there.
“I can’t face them. Not tonight.
When I walked out, I did so with the intention of never coming back.”
“You want to come to my place?”
“No, not anywhere near the woman they call my mother. I am still processing the new information.”
“What plans do you have?”
“I will sort myself out,” said Lana. I felt helpless at my loss to assuage her pain and confusion.
“Let me use your car. I will return it tomorrow,” she said.
I argued with her, how it was not safe to be driving around in her state. I offered to drop her at a hotel, but she insisted or either taking a cab or driving.
I had to release the car to her but on one condition. She charged the phone in the car and called me at whatever time of the night, should she need help.
I reluctantly handed her my car keys and prayed she would be safe or somewhere along the road she would change her mind and drive home.