Tomorrow’s Sunset

The sky blue so vibrant did not mirror Tooni’s feeling of dread as she meandered the drive into her Mother’s residence. There was no admiration for the beautiful cut flowers that surrounded the house or the magnificent trees that walled both sides of the drive. She had designed the house while her mother with her green thumb had done wonders to the driveway and the gardens. In an area mainly covered with cement and concrete, theirs stood out with every kind of trees, shrubs, flowers in different shades of colours that heralded a beauty so pure calling the inner you to a feeling of peace and calm the world no longer experienced freely.

Over the Sunset

Coming home was one of Tooni’s favourite things to do, but recently she was getting weighed down by her mother’s constant barging on her single state.
She has the words from their last conversation in her head for days till she thought she was going crazy. Suddenly it felt the whole world around her was conspiring to push her over the edge to the marriage cliff with little or no regard how she got there. It seemed she could marry a dog for all they care. Just bring a Mr something to change your status and complete who you are.

“Tooni, you are not growing any younger. At your age I was married and had Gbile your brother was 15, Bukky 14, Taiye and Kehinde were already 12, Bola was 11, and you were 7.”
“Mami, your time was different from ours o!” Tooni emphasised. “Did you not tell me your parents were the ones that arranged your marriage with Baami?”

“Not really, your father was a family friend, he proposed, I liked him, and my parents were happy for us to get married.

“If you want me to arrange one for you. I can.”

“Ah, mami koto be,” Tooni was quick to reply in their local language meaning, “It has not come to that. My time will come,” she went on to reassure her mother.

“My time will come, is what you have been telling me for over ten years. Do you want me to go to the grave without cuddling my grandchildren?”

“Mami you have almost twenty-one grandchildren with Bola’s fourth child on the way,” Tooni argued.

“It’s your grandchildren I want. Grandchildren can never be enough.”
Mami folded her hands across her bosom and pushed her chin forward challenging her youngest daughter.

Mami, as her children fondly called her, was the matriarch of the Adesida family. She lost her husband in her early forties and was left to take care of the children alone. A teacher then at the government local primary school in the nineties, there was not much income the profession could bring, but she traded alongside to ensure her children got the best education.

There were nights of endless tears and hunger, but she encouraged her children to be the best they could be, strive to ace their studies and dream big. The season would pass quickly. And true to her words, looking back, the years passed quickly, although it did not seem so while going through the hardship.

Toni had barely gotten to the driveway when her mum ran out of the house retying her wrapper that was threatening to fall. Dressed in navy blue leaf pattened Ankara Buba and Iro attire. She looked warm and elegant. Tooni smiled as she watched the excitement on her mother’s face forgetting every apprehension she felt as she drove into the gates.

Mrs Adesida always welcomed her children home with this same warmth and excitement. She never failed to make homecoming a big affair for her children. Whenever they arrived back from school in their younger days, her welcome always put to shame the welcome ceremony for the visit of Queen of England to Nigeria in 1956.

Mami treated her children and everyone around her with love, dignity and value. She has always been an epitome of kindness and hospitality. She was rarely seen to be offended, and you could not stay angry at her for too long.
Tooni, felt the lift in her spirit as she got out of the car and fell into her mother’s warm embrace. All worries of Mami’s nagging vanished into thin air.

“My beautiful mum. The best mum in the whole world” she eulogised.
Mami, are you growing younger? You are looking more beautiful from the last time I saw you.”

She slapped her daughter gently on the shoulder, “Tooni, you had better start talking with all your patronising, there seems to be something you want from me,” Mami joked with a twinkle in her eyes.
Should it had been possible, you would have seen her blushing through her dark skin.

Mami was a beauty queen in her younger days, not the ones ran by the National beauty pageants but the one acclaimed by her village. There had been many requests for her hand in marriage from the eligible young men at that time. However, she settled for, a friend to her cousin she met at one of the village festivals during his visit for the holidays from the university much to the chagrin of the young men in the village.

The years had not been kind to Mami with the death of her husband and the curve balls thrown her way, but she had aged with grace and beauty.

“No, Mami, I don’t need anything. It is a fact you are beautiful, inside out.”

“Let’s go inside, I have prepared pounded yam with egusi soup, stockfish and bushmeat for you.”

“Mami, my size six figure is on the verge of extinction with all that food,” Tooni protested.

“Who? You? Tooni, should you eat a whale you would remain the size you are,” Mami refuted affectionately at her youngest daughter.

Tooni might not be married the way she wanted, but the girl was a bundle of accomplishment, beauty, grace and humility.

Mami wiped the tears threatening to fall. Losing her husband almost killed her but looking at the five children they had, she knew she had to be alive and healthy for them. The children had been her motivation to move on in the face of adversity, poverty and lack.

Her labour paid off as they were all doing well in their respective fields and home. Mami could not be happier with their achievement. God had wiped away her misery.

Mami resolved not to engage in any husband talk this visit. She would enjoy their time together. Tooni’s patronising was surely working. She chuckled to herself as she linked her hands in her daughters and they walked into her home.

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Omowashe Omorishe#37

I picked the bottle of wine before me, reading the label to be sure the drink was non-alcoholic. I needed my sanity to be intact when the air hostess discovered that she had made a mistake and needed to return me to economy class.

second-chance

I wrinkled my nose at the mere thought filled me with distaste. After experiencing the comfort and luxury of business class, you don’t want to be anywhere else. I poured out the wine into the wine glass by my seat and took a sip. I swirled the drink around my tongue savouring the rich grape taste.

“Hey, stranger!”

I almost dropped my cup with fear. My mind is playing games on me. I hope I do not need to visit a psychiatric doctor. I was not only seeing things, but I have also started hearing things. The next set of people I might begin to see would be Peju and the twins! I tried to make light my present predicament.

“Hey stranger!” came the deep baritone voice, I knew so well.
It took me some few seconds to realise that I was not hallucinating but sitting before me was Drew Akande.
I gasped in unbelief.

“You!” I squealed with delight but lowered my voice looking around but none of the two other people in the far corner of the plane seem to look our way.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as a soft, warm feeling starting up my toes and gradually engulfing the whole of me.

“Travelling,” he answered with a smile and a look of innocence, I could bet my two cents were for the Oscars but had my heart racing with excitement.

“You were the one…..” I mouthed.

It was all coming together. The business class was Drew.

“Yes, that’s me, your royal highness at your service,” Drew said raising his glass of champagne in mock salute.

“To a new world of happiness and possibilities on your adventure.”

“You call a degree an adventure?” I asked rolling my eyes with amusement. Why was I complaining anyway? I was neither coerced nor mandated by anyone. I choose this journey of my own free will.
What was I thinking? Throwing everything I had accomplished for a whim to get out of a reminder of my misfortune.

 

Lately, my heart had decided to betray me. Accusation and counter-accusation were playing back and forth in my mind. I would never be the other woman. I should not interpret his friendship for any romantic gesture. I needed to keep my head and enjoy the camaraderie.

I was amazed at the length he went to schedule his flight with mine. Ahead of his scheduled meeting four days away.

“I might never see you again and want to create memories. You know…..” Drew’s deep baritone voice washed over me.

I nodded even when I did not know. But I was contented to have this time together. Perhaps, I will keep it as part of my memoirs of a great friend and former boss.

I was contented to lie back and bask it in his presence. Stealing looks at him through my half closed eyes.

Drew is the traditional tall, dark and handsome guy. Piercing eyes that could be quite intimidating, a strong chin showing character. Outside the no-nonsense exterior, he was a man with a good heart. Too kind to a fault. He would make that lucky girl a good husband.

I shook my head to reign in my thoughts. I would lose my friend once he’s married.

Why had he not mentioned her to me? I was aware that sometimes ago there was no special someone in the picture, that he did tell me. But I guess time happened for him, and he found her while mine went downhill.

Perhaps the reason he never brought it up.

“A penny for your thoughts?”

“Sorry dude not even a quarter of a million dollar would do,” I teased back.
I would rather die than let a guy know I had fallen for him. Not an already taken guy. I smile sadly and wondered at what point I fell in love with this hunk of a guy with a heart of gold. Love has stolen sweetly on me while I was not looking, the only snag is, it was too late. I could not fight it when I did not even know it was upon me.

A tear fell of my face as I abruptly wiped it away embarrassed at my display of weakness.

“You okay?” Drew asked with deep concern etched on his face.

How I could gaze into those eyes for a zillion years memorising every line, look and expression to take me through the coming days when my heart will hurt and as time passed the pain will slowly ebb away, I hoped. I was drowning in a loss of what I did not have and could never have. I loved Drew. I have always loved him. I do not know when or where or how it all started, but on this flight to England, it became clear as crystal and hurt so bad that I could feel the pain in my heart like a hot iron on my skin.

“Yeah, I got something in my eyes,” I forced a laugh that sounded hollow to my ears.
“You are so bad at lying,” Drew chuckled as he unlatched his seat belt and came over to kneel at my seat.
Luckily, the “fasten off your seat belt” light was off.

“You have not left the shores of Africa and you are missing home already. How do you suppose you ‘ll cope for the next 18 months?”

I smiled with relief. Thank goodness Drew could not read minds. He would be left aghast at my thoughts.
Grateful for the lifeline. I agreed too quickly to the theory of missing friends and family.

“You are such a pathetic liar,” he teased.

With eyes opened wide, I stared at him, hoping whatever psychic ability he had would not do a number on me.
“You are now a mind reader?” I shuddered.

“You could change your mind you know, “he continued like I had not spoken eyes boring into mine.

“No way,” I answered too vehemently in a bid to break up the emotional atmosphere that engulfed us.

“I do not want to be 50 and regret never taking that step.”

“Hmmm, yeah I can agree on that,” he said thoughtfully.

“I do not want to be 70 with a toothless mouth, sitting on a cane chair, looking in the sky and wondering why I ever let that girl go.”

I shifted uncomfortably wincing at the pain I felt cut my heart as a reminder that this debonair of a guy kneeling before me with such expressive handsome eyes was not mine.

“It is about time you told me about her but what do you mean letting her go? From what I can see you both look great together.

“Who?” Drew had this amazed look on his face like I had grown a horn or something scarier.

“Your fiancée, the girl in the picture at your house,” I blurted out.

I was like a rat in a trap, the more I tried to escape the more entangled I became saying the wrong things.

“My fiancée? Oh! You mean Ella! That’s my kid sister.”

I felt hot with shame and embarrassment. Followed by a park of hope and then a huge disappointment. There was still someone else.
So this is the point the guy you love tells you he loves someone else.

LANA! I shouted my name in my head. Get a grip on yourself. Don’t throw away a great friendship. I scolded myself and pushed away the melancholy threatening to engulf me.

“So who is this lucky girl?” I asked too brightly anyone with keen eyes could read through me. It must have been a brilliant act because Drew believed me.
“Yeah, you should meet her soon, if you haven’t already.”

“Is it someone I know?” I continued pestering him acting too excitedly while intense pain punctuated every word and move? I should be declared the winner at the next Oscars for my excellent performance.

“It would be my honour, your majesty,” I mimicked a bow from my seat to hide the tears that threatened to fall.

What is wrong with me? 35,000 feet above sea level was sure messing my emotions.

Drew stood up from his where he knelt beside my seat all the while. He looked like he wanted to say something but decided against it. There was a look in his eyes I could not read. I guess he did not wnat to talk about her. I should respect that.

I feigned a yawn and closed my eyes. Finding it hard to swallor. I wanted to lie on my bed and cry the pain out.

Love perhaps might never be for me after all.

THE END.

Watch out for the sequel Winter 2018

Drew struggles with how to make Lana see she is the most important person to him juggling between his frequent visit to London from Lagos.
Lana is thrown into another season of grief as she loses someone special to her and fails to see love staring at her.
In an effort to solve her problems she further entangles herself in a web of deceit and betrayal.

 

 

 

 

 

Omowashe Omorishe #36

second-chance

It’s so surreal that I am leaving Naija this evening. You know the feeling you get when you are stepping out into the unknown. It’s both trepidation and excitement.

Peju organised a surprised send forth this afternoon. I was surprised to see most of my friends at work. How did they get off work to come?

We shared and laughed off our heads as my friends shared funny moments at work. Peju recalled the visit we made to the Kiri Kiri prisons at the start of our career. How I was dressed to the nines on that fateful day only to meet inmates who cared less how I looked but when they would one day be free like me.

I wiped away the tears that fell freely. I was leaving valuable friendships and family behind. At this moment, it was hard to remember why I was going away.

I received quite some gifts and keepsakes.Peju presented a framed office group picture. It was one of the Bank’s award night where we had won the Branch of the year.

“Wow! Where did you get the picture? It is beautiful. See our Manager looking every inch the business guru.”

“Is that all you see?” Peju asked with a glint of mischief in her eyes.

“Unlike you, I see a guy smitten by you and who is yet to come to terms with what to do, but it is written all over him.”

“I hate to put a snag to your fantasy, Peju. The guy is not available. Please don’t put me in trouble. There is one correct babe around. In these days of jealous girlfriends, jumping around with acid. I don’t want to be a victim.

“You sure Drew is taken?”

“100%, like I know my name.”

Peju looked so comical with the look of disappointment on her face that I lost the battle to stifle my laughter.

“Stop playing cupid Peju. I am fine with or without love. Romance does not define my life. I should not be jumping straight into the arms of any guy who gives me a second of his time. I am not desperate.

Drew and I are good friends who understand each other. We have a great friendship that I would not destroy because I am unable to differentiate between friendship and lust.

“It’s just that the signs are all out there. That guy adores you,” argued Peju.

“He does, I agree but not in the way you are thinking. He adores my work and dedication while we worked together, turned mother hen when I fell ill, and we have fallen into the rhythm of having a platonic friendship.

“Recipe for true love,” remarked Peju.

“I give up,” I muttered, exasperatedly clueless how to make Peju understand her romantic dreams for Andrew and I were never going to happen. The thought alone filled me with sadness, but it was not something I could explain. The logic would be once he gets married, the dynamics of our friendship would change.

“Is Drew aware you are leaving today?” Peju asked undeterred.

“Yes, I went to tell him last night. He was mad. I could not comprehend why he was more upset that the rest of you. You could think he was losing a multi-billion dollar contract. His ranting might be justified, but I do believe it was overboard but all I did was apologise for peace sake rather than aggravate an already bad situation.

But you know what? You all will be okay, and within one week, you would have forgotten whether I am around or not. Moving to the other side of the globe is better than moving to the other side of the universe. A big thanks to technology. We can always communicate with ease.”

“Would my babies be talking to you on the phone?”

“Yep in their gibberish language. I will be cooing blowing the twins kisses. I promise to come in every three months just for them. I do take my Godmother duties seriously,” I assured Peju.

I could see her trying not to tear up, and I did appreciate. I was not sure I could hold off my tears if she started hers.

“I am trying to be strong, and little things like the twins were tearing me apart,” I mumbled incoherently hugging my best friend fiercely.

 

******

 

The day went in a blur. I was finally able to catch my breath when I took my seat on my plane. Six hours of sleep was a luxury I was looking forward to with delight.

I had barely settled down to begin my anticipated sleep when an air hostess came over to inform me of a change in my seat from economy to first class

“There must have been a mistake,” I argued knowing what ticket I booked and how much I paid. It was nothing near a first class.

She checked my seat number and name and reconfirmed if I was Lana of which I affirmed. All my explanations that she must have the wrong Lana seem to fall on deaf ears.

“Please, could you identify your hand luggage? I will help you with that while you follow me. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”

I chucked. How inconvenient is moving from economy to first class?

I was still trying to figure out what was going on but I guess there would be an explanation. I hope the airline does not come back with another mix-up story as I definitely will not go back to the economy class.

Sinking into the plush cream leather seat, I closed my eyes savouring the luxury that engulfed me and like a lullaby lured me to nap.

I must be dreaming.

Why am I seeing Drew? He is seating opposite me on the plane working on his laptop like he was doing last night at his place. I was on a plane and not in his garden.

Rubbing my eyes, trying to distinguish between dreams and reality. I stretched like a shire cat and observed around me.

Shaking my head, in a bid to wipe out the image before me. How could my subconscious be conjuring Drew? Peju had messed up my head with all that talk. Laughing out loud, I assured myself I would be fine.

I picked the bottle of wine before me, reading it to be sure it was non-alcoholic. I needed my sanity to be intact when the air hostess discovered that she made a mistake. Wrinkling my nose with disgust, the mere thought of going back to economy class filled me with distaste. The airline would hear a thing or two from me if it came to that.

I poured out the wine into the wine glass and took a sip enjoying the taste of the grape. No need to worry about the future.

Hey stranger!

I almost dropped my wine glass with fear.Now I needed to visit a psychiatric doctor.I was not only hallucinating Drew being on the plane with me, but it had gotten worse that I could hear his voice.

 

 

 

 

Omowashe Omorishe#35

Drew……

Today I knew I was in love with Lana. There was no point fighting it. If ever I had no clue to define the emotion. The loss of having her close by only opened my eyes to what I felt. It was love. It had been love all along. And for the first time in my life, I had a situation I was at a loss what to do.

second-chance

For two weeks. I had taken off work and was supervising the setup of the investment company. I had gotten my father to buy into that to add to his conglomerates. I would manage the investment arm while working with him on the rest of the companies till when it was time for me to take over entirely.

The time just flew by with so much to do. Sometimes I remembered Lana and would plan to call or drop a text, but it would be well into midnight, I forgot I had not. I was in and out of the country jetting between five destinations trying to seal a deal. It had indeed been exhausting for me.

Today was a caution to rest and take it slow as I came in last night from New York fatigued.I took my phone to call Lana when another call came in. My attention was needed again at the office. I groaned as I rushed out.

At 4 pm, I quickly placed a call but her line was busy, so I sent a text.
“Howdy stranger. Can I check you up today?”
The chat dropped but remained unread. I got caught in the activities of the day. I tried calling two hours later. This time, she picked the call.

“Hey, stranger!” I called out.
“I could say that for you too,” she responded with an excitement that was contagious.
“Yeah,” I replied dryly. Guilty as charged
“How’s my favourite friend doing? ”
“I am fine better than I have ever been.”
“Wonderful! I am excited to hear that. Would you be free this weekend? We could go somewhere of your choice to catch up.”

I could hear her groan on the other side of the phone. That was Lana with a filled up schedule.

“What about tonight?” she asked.

“Tonight?” I was surprised. Weeknight outings were never her thing to do.

“Yeah if you are free. I have something to tell you, and I want to do it in person.”

A million reasons flew through my mind. But I seem to be getting ahead of myself.
“What time, it’s already half six.”

“8:00 pm is fine.”
“Any specific place?”
“Nah, anywhere, but come to think of it let me come by your place,” she offered.

The red alert was up. Lana rarely came by my place. She had been over to my house just once.

“That’s fine. Since it’s my place, do you want me to cook or order?”
“Cook?” I could hear her scream over the phone.

“Please order.How do I pay for such personal services?” you want to run me bankrupt?”

“Is that your worry? I thought money was never your problem.

I should not use my life savings on engaging a personal chef.” I could hear laugh over the phone.

“Joking! I will buy Chinese on my way. You can provide the drink.”

Perfecto! See you then. I managed the little Spanish I knew.

One more reason why she was a dear friend. She came to you as an equal friend not dropping any burden at your doorstep.

I switched off my phone and concentrated on reviewing the proposal before me. I should be able to leave work half seven and make it home shortly before 8.00pm.

 

**********

 

I made it back home at the same time Lana was driving through my driveway.

Lana came out struggling with the boxes of food and her handbag. She looked gorgeous in a simple white top on blue jeans, big round channel O earrings, cropped hair and light make up.

I drank in her looks, perfection to the T’s.

“Hey, please help me out and stop looking at me that way,” she scolded.
“Taking the boxes,” I laughed to cover my embarrassment.

“What way?”

She replaces a frown on her face with her eyes hitting both inner corners.

“That’s a scary look. I doubt that was what you saw.”

“Nah,” her favourite expression for No.

I took her in a big hug wrapping her with my hands filled with the boxes of food, placing a light kiss on her hair.
“You are good?” I asked searching her face.
“Perfect Drew.”

I felt a tug at my heart the way she called my name.
What was wrong with me? I must be tired.

We walked into the house. I placed the food on the worktable in my open plan kitchen opening the sliding doors so we could seat outside in the garden.

“Beautiful night. Lana exclaimed looking up the dark sky.
“I love looking at the stars and lucky us the weather was just right to stay out.”

“Give me a second,” I requested as I went upstairs to change into a more casual outfit.

I came back watching Lana as she gazed into a recent picture of my sister and me.
“She is lovely,” she said to me turning around with a wistful look on her face.
“How come I never get to see her?”
“She lives abroad but should be home anytime soon.”
“You are lucky to have her.”
“You can say that again. I won’t trade her, for anyone else.”

The wistful look was back in her eyes so fleeting a less observant eye would have missed it.

“You ready?” she asked linking her hand into mine as she dragged me outside to the garden like she owned the house.

I served the drink while Lana busied herself putting the Chinese food in the paper plates the brought along.

We settled in the lounge chairs eating our meal as the silence of the night engulfed us under the bright stars shining from the sky above.
“The meal was wonderful that I am feeling so sleepy. I am ashamed, and I came to visit” Lana stifled a yawn.

“Feel free. You can rest while I catch some work.”
“You sure?” she asked with those large almond eyes gazing at me in the dark in a bid to reassure herself.

“Yeah, I would send some emails quickly and come pour some cold water on you, half an hour later if you are not awake by then,” I offered wickedly.
“Very tempting,” Lana retorted sarcastically.

She stifled another yawn, and I was almost bowling over with laughter with the look of embarrassment she wore so angelically.

“You better take that needed rest, or you might be sleeping over here tonight,” I warned.

I could as well have been talking to myself as she was already fast asleep.

I chuckled only Lana could ask for a visit and fall asleep.

An excellent opportunity for me to go on the conference call I had forgotten.I adjusted her head with a soft pillow and threw a blanket over her feet. She slept so soundly that I doubted if she would wake up should a hurricane hit the area.

 

Lana is a beautiful girl. I watched the smile on her face with was contagious. I found myself smiling too. I wondered what it would be like to wake up each morning beholding her face. I needed to get a grip on myself. Why all these thoughts.

I settled in the seat opposite her putting on a table lamp with light enough for me to work while keeping her other end still in darkness. Whatever, has she done to be that fatigued? I wondered but thankful for the warm weather which made it comfortable to sit out there.

I lost track of time and place while working. Not until Lana stirred did remember I had company.
Sometimes I could be that pathetic, always caught up in work. I was lucky to love what I did or else my life would have been empty and miserable. So where work was concerned it was recreation for me.

“Hey sleeping beauty,” I called out.
“What says the time?” asked Lana, struggling to sit up and doing it gracefully.

I resisted the urge to help her up. I did not trust myself.
Something was messing with my head, and I needed to get my acts together, or I lose the trust and friendship I have built over the time with Lana

I glanced at my watch and winced aghast.
“Half Eleven.”
“Half what!” She screamed scrambling to get her things.

“Oh, Drew, I am so sorry, what sort of person am I. I came to see you and practically slept all through.” she wailed.

“Don’t worry. You seemed quite tired though. Are you sure you are okay? Are you using your medications?” I asked concerned for her health.
“I am perfectly fine, please don’t go Mother Hen on Me.” she raised her hand and rolled those lovely eyes.

“I got to go. My flight is tomorrow.”
“Flight?” I asked perplexed.
“Where are you going?”
“Oh,” she groaned.
“I am such a scatterbrain. That’s what I came to tell you. I am going back to school. Cambridge UK. It is a two-year program. I should be back, but I can not be too sure. I would also have the opportunity of spending time with my mother,” gushed Lana all in one breath.

I swallowed hard. I was angry. It seemed Lana would have left without bothering to inform me, had I not called her today.

“When did you decide this?”
“Oh, two weeks ago. I had the offer last year and deferred it. I had forgotten about it. I was lucky to remember within the time frame, or I would have lost out completely.

Maybe loosing out would not have been a bad idea. I thought to myself. At the same time criticising myself at my selfishness.

“And when were you going to tell me?”
“I am sorry. That’s what I have been doing all week. My friends are so mad at me right now that no amount of explanation or apology is being accepted. Please don’t add to the number,” pleased Lana.

“It’s a lifetime opportunity especially with all the drama happening in my life now. A change would help. I hope.”

I let out a loud breath. Exasperated. Why did I not see this coming? Putting my hands in my pocket, I walked away from her to the end of the garden starring into space.

Lana had become a very integral part of my life. She seeped into my subconscious that it was a routine to reach out to her always. There were times I deliberately did not contact her giving her all the space that she needs, but I do not think I would ever mean anything to her more than a friend.
Her decision to go back to school was a clear indicator that she did not think of me more than a friend.
“Is there anything wrong,” Lana asked coming behind me.
I turned almost bumping into her.
“Nope, why do you ask?”
“I feel like you are upset with me or something.”
“I won’t tell you that I am not. I am so upset I could toss you into the Red sea right now,” I pretended to want to carry her.

She moved back. Laughing. “No, you won’t.”
“I can. I challenged Lana. “What friend comes up to you and tells you, I am going to school in the UK; Cambridge,” I mimicked her.

Lana slapped my arm in protest, laughing so hard that the tensed atmosphere became lighter, protesting I was unfair.

“A friend who values you and would miss you so much,” she said.
Should she ask for the stars at that moment, I would not hesitate to hand them over to her

I took her hands in mine.
“I will miss you is an understatement, Lana.”
I wanted to say more, but I could see the confusion in her eyes.

“Let’s get you back home quickly. Tomorrow is a long day for you,” I kept back my words.

Today I knew I was in love with Lana. There was no point fighting it. If ever I had no clue to define the emotion. The loss of having her close by only opened my eyes to what I felt. It was love. It had been love all along. And for the first time in my life, I had a situation I was at a loss what to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omowashe Omorishe#34

I was pressing the bell a second time today filled with anxiety as I stood at the entrance of the cream coloured well designed Victorian – contemporary house. It was not my first time here, but today the character flaw its design screamed out dissatisfaction. At face value, it did not look out of place but judging with a critical eye; the architect should have stuck to either a period house or a contemporary one or look for a way to harmonise both seamlessly.

 

second-chance

The door was opened by a young girl I had not seen before.
“Please, I would like to see Mrs Coker and her sister”. I could not remember my birth mum but could get to her through her sister.
I tried to think what I had seen on my birth certificate, My Father handed over to me on the day of the engagement, but my mind was blank.
“Mummy is in, but her Auntie is not,” replied the petite young girl who answered the door.
Thinking of either leaving on learning my main reason for coming was not available or going in to say hello to Bode’s mum. I did try to reach my birth mum. I could defend myself when accused of not making any effort to see her.
I was not left with a choice as I heard Bode’s mum’s voice and there she was before me.

A look of recognition shone in her eyes as she warmly embraced me. Had things gone to plan, she should be my mother-in-law. I felt the pain slowly stealing back into me. When would I be free? Would I ever be able to get past this hurt and loss?

“She waited so long for you to come. She left this afternoon but not without leaving a box for you,” she said pulling me away to take a look at my face.

“I am hanging in there,” I assured her although far from it. I was a basket case of many emotions.

I tried, I said to myself trying to still the feeling of despair threatening to sweep over me like a hurricane, the sense of losing something so precious. I did not know her, why was I feeling this way?

Mrs Coker took my hands and led me in.
“Sit, let me get the box.”

I have not seen her since the failed introduction. Her warm reception was almost making me cry as tears pooled in my eyes and I willed them not to fall.
She went in and came back dragging a suitcase which filled me with curiosity about its content.

I stood up to leave once she handed over the box to me.
“Thank you Ma, I have to go,” I gushed. I had nothing to say to my almost mother-in-law and now Aunt.

I fled with the speed a dragging suitcase will allow afraid I could no longer hold the tears.

 

Back in my room. I sat on my bed battling whether to ignore or open the suitcase to check its content. Eventually curiosity won. I opened a small envelope addressed to me, and there were letters penned to me with several dated photos of me as a baby till about two years old.

How did she have access to these pictures? Was she in touch with my parents?
There were letters for each year of my life. Every month of the year and the last was written last night.

I spent the whole night reading my birth mum’s letters. She never wanted to give me away, but she knew she could not give me the kind of life I deserved. She would have had to drop out to take care of me. Going back to my Dad was out of it she did not want him to think she had tricked him into marriage by getting pregnant. They had always used protection. She knew Segun would not have minded, but she felt playing the marriage card would not have worked for their relationship.

Time would come when resentment would set in. She never wanted the day Segun will look at her and hold her responsible for not fulfilling his dreams because of a forced marriage.

It was bad enough she had gotten pregnant. Her parents back in Nigeria would hear none of it. She took the easy way out by giving up the child. She was delighted when Segun’s brother and sister in law decided to take the child and help raise pending when Segun decided what he wanted to do.

She wrote of nights she longed to hold me. Nights she cried that she had made the wrong decision. However, she needed to complete her medical program, become the surgeon she had always dreamt of being.

She stumbled one day at the park where Mum brought my sister and me to play and kept coming to observe from a distance. She could tell I was happy and began to feel she might disrupt my life should she want me back

Not too long they stopped coming to the park. She made up her mind on my fifth birthday to come and pick me up. She now had a good job, and she could juggle her life and mine together. She was shocked when she located the house and they were no longer living there.

It was later she got to know that the family had moved back to Africa. She was devasted. She did not know how to contact them. She had been so silly to think they would always be in the United Kingdom.

The letter on my 16th birthday was about boys. How to keep away from them and keep your head in your books. I smiled at that one.

My 21st was how I must have become a lovely woman. I had her eyes while the rest of my features favoured my Dad.

It was the early hours of the morning, and I forced myself to go to bed not before sending a text message to uncle Segun that she won’t be able to make it in for work today.

Uncle Segun replied the text immediately.
Does the man ever sleep? I wondered to myself.

Uncle Segun: Are you okay?
Me: Yes. I did not want to go into details.

I laid on my bed, too much on my mind.
My birth mum loves me. She did not give me away because she did not want me.
I wondered what it would be like to get to know her.
With that thought, I bolted out of bed to pick my laptop.
There was an admission offer from Cambridge I was to respond to, but with all happening around myself I had forgotten.
I opened the email. Today was the deadline for the offer.

I applied over a year ago when I was considering going away for my masters before Bode and I came back together.
I deferred and now was not a perfect time. I could do with a distraction and change of environment. Something to take my time and energy.
I accepted the offer then realised I had two weeks to resumption!

I groaned. What was I thinking? I could send an email to defer, or I could get ready in two weeks. My thoughts went back and forth. Reasons why I should and should not but I knew that going away for the program was what I needed now.
I chose to go.
I had to tell my parents, friends, stop work at the firm and a long to-do list to clear in 14 days.

 

Omowashe Omorishe#33

Peju alias Mummy twins

second-chance

Once I settled Phil, I got back to Lana. Knowing we had hours to catch up.
Was it not nine months we last saw, but the stories were like that of a lifetime. Finding out Bode was her cousin blew my mind. What if they had gotten married? The issue of congenital disabilities might arise, and they would have no clue the cause of the problem.

While I was still feeling sad over the loss of a love so pure and genuine, she told me of diabetes and the drugs she was constantly on.
“It doesn’t show on you.”
“I look better now, and you should have seen me when I came out of the hospital. Gaunt looking, eyes sunken and bones were sticking out at every corner.
“I am glad I was not there to behold the sight.”
“Have you met your birth mum?”
“Oh my God”, she slapped her forehead.
“I was to see her today and gosh here I am.”
“You mean you have not met her all these nine months?”
“No, she answered looking at me with amazement.
“Was I supposed to?”
“Lana who won’t be curious to see and have that talk with their birth mum. Find out why she gave you up and try to see for yourself what she looks like?”
“I don’t need another mother. I have one, and it’s so confusing. Do I stop calling the woman I have known as a mother all my life and start calling my birth mum – mother because she gave birth to me? Even when she did not love me enough to keep me but gave me up so easily and never looked back.”
“What she did was wrong but don’t validate her wrong by ignoring her. Give her the chance to explain herself. You might sympathise with her and not judge her when you hear it all.”
“I just need time to get myself together to see her. I did promise Uncle Segun I would check on her today, but that would be tomorrow.
“Sorry girlfriend. It would be today, and I am shooing you out of my house to her place. Had the kids not being sleeping for a while and would wake up anytime soon, I would have gone with you to make sure you get it done. Once and for all and move on.”
“Did I tell you I did not miss you while you were away?  I was so glad I had no one to boss around.”
“Good thing I am back because you do need the bossing especially when it comes to matters of the heart.”
She threw her tongue out at me.
“He who wears the shoes feels the pain the most. I hear everyone with an opinion on the matter, but they were not the abandoned child. Neither were they the ones lied to all their lives nor the people whose favourite uncle became their Dad overnight, and you were meant to trust as you have always done,” said Lana with tears flowing like a river down her cheeks.

I held her, and we cried together. Cried for the unfairness of the world. Cried why her life and sanity were being threatened and cried because we were both hearts broken.
“You will try and see her,” I pushed Lana away to gaze at her. Pleading with her to push behind her hurt and do the right thing.
“I will try, she tried to laugh amidst the tears that came out like a croak and then bubbled into a wellspring of laughter.

“Did we just do the pity party thing just now?” She asked wiping the tears away from her eyes in a bid not to smear her mascara, although a futile effort.
“Life throws you lemons, but you have to make lemonade out of it. See I know all that motivational talk, but in here, she said pointing to her heart. It hurts so deep that I have lost the peaceful, beautiful life I had were all my worry was how to make senior manager before I was thirty. Now that pales compared to my goal of living a healthy and full life.”
“You would Lana. I have no doubt about that. God will show you mercy. Your strength and determination will see you through.
You will laugh again, love again and wondered if this pain you feel in here, I said touching her chest was ever real or just a nightmare at night.”

“What if I am too tired fighting?”

“You’ll get up and give it your best shot.”

“ On a much lighter note. How is Drew?” I asked. “Do you still see him around?”

“Yeah, I did today, he came by to check on me. It ‘s incredible how he could turn and be a father hen. Always texting and calling to make sure I am okay and have taken my drugs when I first left the hospital.”
“Father hen,” I repeated thoughtfully.

I have always felt there was something between them both although my friend was yet to see beyond what she wanted to see.
Going back to Bode, clouded it all but with the present situation, the coast was clear for Drew, but maybe the timing was not right.
Lana needed to get herself together and sort all the issues that threatened her sanity.
Drew coming in at this time was sure to mess her up and when Lana is messed up, you could not getting anything worthwhile from her.
I smiled like a wise old woman. I knew like I knew my name that this two would one day become an Item, but I was not going to throw it at Lana’s face. I would watch knowingly and do some little pushing, arranging and innocent moves to get them together.
Lana will thank me later.

Omowashe Omorishe#32

Some friendships are like fresh air

 

second-chanceI  walked  briskly,  then ran up the stairs and pressed the bell.I could barely contain my excitement.An unknown robust black middle-aged woman opened the door with an infectious smile. She looked too groomed to be the house help but did not look like my friend’s mum.

“Good afternoon madam, Mummy twins will join you,” she announced leading me to the living room on the west wing of the house.

I settled into the familiar living room and could notice the little changes here and there.Was it so long ago we had worked with the interior decorator designing the house while running around for the wedding? How true the saying “time flies.”

“Mummy twins would soon be with you”, said the woman I now presume must be the house help and served me a cup of orange juice with chopped pieces of dried spicy beef.

I eyed the meat hungrily. Threw cautioned to the wind and settled to devour it. I was still savouring the delicacy with much ecstasy when I heard the voice.

“I hope you enjoyed my peace offering.”

“It’s truly a peace offering,” I concurred rising into a warm hug.

“Mummy twins” I teased.

“You have barely been here five minutes, and Madam Rose has indoctrinated you.”

“I was first taken aback when I heard, but I love the sound of it. Please where are the young men I came to see?”

“They are being dressed and drilled to be of good behaviour. They are meeting their godmother for the first time.”

I felt both honoured and elated to receive such role, and I took it seriously vowing to be the best godmother who ever lived. Madam Rose came with the boys, and I lost my heart to them at first sight. They would be the cutest pair of babies I have seen.

“Jason and Jaden meet your god – mummy,” cued Peju on what I presume was baby talk. I held Jaden first and then Jason.

“I am so glad to meet you and feel very honoured to be your god- mummy,”I cooed in the new baby language I seemed to have acquired by instinct.

What a shame, she can’t risk getting pregnant. She will never carry a child” I heard the voice of one of my family members, and it kept echoing. “She will never carry her baby.” I also heard my mum’s voice refuting the declaration but I still heard it in my head days without end, and today, it was ringing loudly.

A tear dropped.  “They’re both lovely and so identical, you can hardly tell them apart,” my voice cracking and betraying my emotional state.

“Yes Lana, I bawled like a baby when I first laid eyes on them. How could these precious tiny cute beings have come out of me? You can hardly tell them apart, but I know although Phil always confuses them.

I played with the twins till Madam Rose came to take them away from me for their nap.

“Motherhood looks good on you. See how more beautiful and radiant you have become.”

“Is that to say I have been the ugly duckling?”

“You have always been pretty, but you look breathtaking now.”

“Please tell her,” Phil came in, giving his wife a full kiss on the mouth and turning his attention to me.

“I must seek your forgiveness for whisking your friend away. She had a difficult pregnancy, and we had to move her out to a calmer place without the drama of family and friends. I have been apologising to almost the whole world since we came back. No one told me I married the town’s sweetheart.” He had a twinkle in his eyes, drawing Peju closer to him.

“You are forgiven. I cannot be upset with those two cutie pies I just held in my arms.”

“The easiest and fastest forgiveness ever. I now know why you are Peju’s closest friend.”

He chatted with us and took his leave.

“Please give me some time to attend to him. I will be back. And please don’t go away. Please,” begged Peju hilariously batting her eye lids.

“I will advise, you keep that for Phil. It has no effect on me but if you send more of the dried meat my way. That should suffice.”