Meena’s Diary#8

My eyes flew open while I slowly stretched on the hard seat in the waiting reception of the hospital careful not to wake Hauwau.
The things I heard still rang in my head. To think that I had always thought my friend had her life on a platter of gold and was going through a difficult marriage deeply hid in the false exterior of a fulfilled life. She had opened up to me in the hours that flew while we waited for Sa’a to wake up.

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I gasped when I saw Atiku standing before me. I knew I was not dreaming for my eyes were well wide awake although my addled brain was still trying to process the information.
“You came,” I exclaimed with joy like a little girl who had just received a gift from Santa Claus.
“Where was I supposed to be, when my dear wife is on admission at the hospital? Stay and be working? Oh no! You do not think work is more important than Sa’a?”

I am both confused and shocked simultaneously. What in the first place brought Sa’a to the hospital? I rubbed my eyes tiredly stifling a yawn, and thinking that perhaps I must be dreaming. This was not the attitude of one willing to take on a second wife.
“Atiku, I don’t know what to think.” He did look tired, but this was my chance to broach the subject. Maybe he would have a rethink and the looming calamity over my friends’ home will be averted.
I took a glance where Hauwau lay and was happy she was fast asleep. She would have reprimanded me to let sleeping dogs lie but me in my character of saying what I thought neither paid attention nor gave heed to the warning but for the intervention of providence.

There was no love lost between Hawau and Atiku. How she managed to remain in Sa’as life is still a mystery. One thing Sa’a had not been able to oblige Atiku is forfeiting her friendship with Hawau.
Atiku followed my gaze and his tired face now replaced with a scowl. I could not help but chuckle, and he scowled harder.
“You should get used to her,” I walked ahead to leading the way  Sa’as room.

Sa’a was fast asleep. Atiku rushed to her side holding her hand with so much tenderness that tears rolled down my cheek. I hoped what I heard were lies or a misunderstanding. The picture before me did not portray a man planning to bring in a second wife. There definitely must be a mistake. The look of love and anguish that filled his eyes as he watched Sa’a lying almost lifeless on the bed except her slow but laboured breathing.
“What did the Doctor say?” He asked hoarsely, and I felt so sorry for him.
“She tried to commit suicide.”
“What!” He exclaimed shutting his eyes in anguish.
“Why would she do that?”
I could see the look of confusion on his face.
“Why would she want to kill herself?”
“You have no idea?”
He was looking at me like I had a growth or something not in place on my head.
“Meena, please do not torture me further by going in circles. Tell me what I need to know to rectify why she felt the need to try to kill herself.”

A few minutes ago I was ready to give him my opinion and beg him to see reason, but common sense told me to keep shut and let this two work out whatever the issue was.
There was hope for Sa’a. A man heartbroken like what I just saw could not have been the mean guy portrayed in the story Hauwau narrated. Something was not right in the story, but the scene here was looking good.

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Meena’s Diary#6

Survivor

The doctors rushed in as I got a glimpse of Sa’a gasping for breath while the hospital staff shooed us out.An eerie feeling filled the air, I shivered with goose pimples, negotiating with the creator to spare her life. My thoughts went to her little twin girls. Who would take care of them if anything happened to her?

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I was pacing the length and breadth of the reception, too apprehensive to sit down.
” Meena,” Hawau called out to me.
“You should sit down. Let’s hope for the best.”

She looked more scared and subdued than she thought she was letting on but this was not the time or place to hassle her.

“Do you think she’ll make it?”
“I hope she does. If for anything for her girls
“Do you think Atiku would marry this new girl?”

“You might need to ask him that question Meena. I am not him, and for the life of me, I don’t know what he is thinking.”
I closed my eyes as the pain washed over me. I tried to imagine JK marrying someone else or maybe having an affair, and the mere thought was enough to kill me.I shook my head willing the idea out of my head.
“What would you have done if you were Sa’a?” asked Hauwau
“I don’t know. The thought just crossed my mind, and I don’t wish it upon my enemy. It will kill me. Sa’a might not have a choice since her culture allows it. Although we thought with Atiku being an educated man, it will be different, but with JK, polygamy is not an option.
“If polygamy is not an option. You are aware they could have affairs and mistresses outside ko bahaka ba?” said Hauwau emphasising her point in the Hausa language.
“JK would never do that. He loves me and the kids so much to toe that line.”
Hauwau laughed. “Oh my naïve friend. I am with you in your paradise of foolishness.”
I was on the verge of replying when the team of doctors and nurses who were with Sa’a came out.

We rushed out to them with hope in our eyes. The lead Doctor smiled at us and reassuring us “She pulled through but is resting now. She will be all right.”
We both heaved a sigh of relief.
“I have to go and pick the kids from school and would be back. I would spend the night with her. Shouldn’t we call Atiku?”I asked again.
“He should be here with his wife and not on some rendezvous with a God forsaken girl who sees no wrong in going after someone’s husband.”
“You have been itching to call him. Call him,” hissed Hauwau. She has been in a foul mood all day, and I was yet to get around asking her what the problem was.
I pulled my phone and dialled his number which he picked on the first ring.
“Hajia Meena, ya kike?” He greeted me over the phone.
“Kalau  Atiku but there is a problem. We almost lost Sa’a today. Thank God she is out of danger,” And I started crying over the phone.
“When was this?” He asked, and I could hear the trepidation in his voice.
“This morning.”
“Why did you not call me?”
I had to lie to answer the question. “I was called in by Hauwau. Everything was happening so fast that I was so confused not until the doctor just assured us she was going to be alright, did it occur to me to call you. At least the latter part was true. Where are you I ventured to asked?” feigning ignorance
“I am in Dubai, but I will be taking the next available flight back home. “What hospital is she in?”
“Gurara Hospital.”
I whooped for joy. The situation was not that bad. He still cared for Sa’a.

Meena’s Dairy#5

Wake up

 

wordle-girlstoys I ran into the reception of Gurara hospital looking around for Hauwau, and there she was sitting calmly like she was not the one who had raised the alarm sending me scurrying off to the hospital like a frightened rat.

“Hey! What’s the problem, spill it out,” I commanded irritably.

“You need not be in a hurry.  Only brace yourself for what you are about to see.”

“What kind of suspense is this?” My heart was beating at 70, above the normal healthy heart rate per minute and my friend was all cool and dilly-dallying on the main issue

“Follow me,” she said gravely.
I was filled with trepidation as I walked behind her trying not to second guess what I was to behold.
Once we entered the room, I almost blacked out with shock as I saw Sa’a my dear friend lying lifeless on the bed.

My knees buckled as my mind screamed. She could not be dead. No, it was not possible.
I spoke to her over the weekend, and we had planned to go to the Garki city mall to watch a movie on Friday Night.
I gripped Hauwau and asked “What is this? Is she sleeping?” I wanted to believe Sa’a was sleeping.

“She was brought in here unconscious; her house help called me after raising the alarm and a kind neighbour brought her here last night.

Last night, and I was lying on my bed being cuddled by JK while my best friend was being snatched by the cold hands of death.
“What about Atiku?” I asked. “He should be here.”

Hauwau hissed and rolled her eyes. “Atiku is away in Dubai. He left yesterday night.”
She handed me a letter, and I took it from her. Something was terribly wrong, and I could feel it.

Atiku and Hauwa were two inseparable lovebirds. We were both in the same class in secondary and went on to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Their love had span teenage-hood to adulthood. Atiku was just a year older than Hauwau, but they had weathered the storm through thick and thin that threatened their love.

Their love story would make you never feel enamoured by Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet.
In her second year at the University, Sa’as father had gotten her a respectable husband. He was a dear friend of her father, a business mogul and she was to be his fourth wife. Sa’a fought tooth and nail with her father and faced almost being disowned but for the intervention of the Emir of the town who she ran to for help.

The intervention brought a twist to her destiny of being a fourth wife to marrying her teenage sweetheart in pomp and pageantry as the two families were Arewa socialites.
What I read in the note brought tears to my eyes.

Sa’a had contemplated suicide on discovering Atiku was having an affair with a girl ten years their junior and was planning to marry her. She was a daughter of a governor. I recognised the name when I saw it. We had one of the girls in our class in secondary school. I also remember she was a sworn enemy of Sa’a over Atiku. What one sister could not get the other has gotten it. Was it Sa’as destiny to be traumatised by this family?

I sat in the nearest available chair dejectedly.
“Is she going to make it?” I asked with an apprehension that had come to seat within my breast since I walked into the room.
The Doctors are doing all they can, but they can’t give us any assurance.

“Oh, Atiku! What have you done?” I whispered to myself.

“Is Atiku aware?”

“No, he is not. Like I told you he was off to Dubai. That I know because the house help said that much to me.”
I pulled my phone out to call him; he would most likely be roaming his number.
“What are you doing?” Hauwa asked making an effort to snatch my phone from my hand.

“Calling Atiku,” I answered what else did it look like I was doing. I fumed below my breath.

“You wouldn’t dare,” she threatened.

“Why?” I asked more baffled by the way Hauwau was handling the situation. Why so much anger and poison oozing out of her.

“You think he cares? The man is on the verge of taking another wife, and you are calling him?” she hissed.

“Taking another wife or not he would want to know about his wife near suicide attempt,” I argued stubbornly.
Hauwau laughed at my foolishness.

“You still think life is like all the – Mills and Boons you read in school. How many did you read? 100, 200 300, because I believe you have been brainwashed. What part of – there is no happily ever after in marriage are you finding it hard to believe?”
“My story,” I retorted upset with her and how callous she was being.
Tsk! Tsk!! Tsk!!! she smirked. “My dear Meena, wake up from dreamland before you find out that the carpet has been pulled from under your feet.
A groan from the bed where Sa’a lay got me rushing off to her side while Hauwau picked the phone to call the Nurses.

Omowashe Omorishe#23

Like a dying flower

a-dying-flowerLana

I drove around in and out of traffic for hours losing track of time. Thoughts were racing through my head till my mind was going numb. I had no plan where to go.  After hours of driving with no destination, I turned into a lounge, still in the traditional buba and iro, attire I had worn for my failed introduction.  I used the extra piece tied around my waist to wrap my head, covering my ears and removing all the pieces of jewellery I wore.

It was precarious to be here alone, no need to make the situation worse by drawing any attention to myself.

I had never been to a lounge. It was not my style of winding down, but tonight there was no home to go. I had sent myself on a self-exile. No friend to crash with – I did not want to add my burden to Peju’s difficult pregnancy.

Bode was not an option either. I needed to get used to having him out of my life as a fiancée. Although, he would always be in my life as a relation. Isn’t this crazy? I must have said that for the umpteenth time to myself, but there was no better word to describe what I was going through. Yeah, crazy!crappy!!creepy!!!!!

Standing at the entrance of the bar, I took a quick scan around while allowing my eyes time to adjust to the dim light. The place looked sane enough for me.
I slid into the nearest table I could find, fished for a book out of my handbag and put it on the chair,  giving the appearance of having a partner. I settled to enjoy the jazz music provided by a life band.

An attendant came to take my order. I paid for a glass of Chapman making sure there was no form of alcohol in my drink. I knew from experience what a little alcohol could do to me.

I lost count of the hours that must have gone. The life band have stopped playing. I could feel the curious glances at my table, but I did not care.

Just when I was about to relax, a man staggered to my table, tried to seat and noticed the book.

“ I do not think your partner is coming tonight,” he slurred the words as he removed the book to place it on the table and dropped into the vacant seat He was drunk.

Terror gripped me.  I knew I should be afraid yet I was indifferent. I was scared and not scared simultaneously. Scared,  he might try to hurt me. Detached that whatever pain inflicted, would be a far cry to my bruised, broken and bleeding heart.

There were people around, but most were either half or dead drunk. I knew I should not have come here but this was the only opened place I could fit in at that time of the night, and I was not thinking.

Someone tapped the guy.
“Excuse me, gentleman, I am with the lady.”
I almost leapt and threw myself at Andrew.
The drunk was gentleman enough to stand up

“Sorry man,” he slurred and staggered away.
I looked curiously at Andrew. “What are you doing here?”

“I think that should be my cue, not yours.
I am shocked to see you here, and you came alone, he said as he scanned the place like an FBI agent.

“Bode?”  I asked, and answered.

“He is not here, through no fault of his,” I said defensively.

“I am here alone, and that is a long story,” I concluded.

“We have the whole night,” he answered tightly.
I could see he was trying to calm his anger.

“Are you here to get hurt? Why would you come to a place like this alone and at night?”
I was not going on any guilt trip or allow someone send me there either.
I gestured to him to stop.

“Maybe I want to get hurt,” I muttered.
Andrew stared at me neither stunned nor upset at my words which heightened my suspicion.

“How did you know I was here?”

“Your uncle sent me,” he answered in his personal integrity.

“Uncle Segun, he knew I was here?” I whispered.

“Is my uncle in the Mafia or something or do I have a bodyguard I am not aware exists?”

I was getting furious. I needed space to process the development in my life and not interference.

“Do you want to talk?” Andrew asked.

“I do not know what I want,” I replied truthfully.
My head was beginning to hurt badly.

“Let me take you home,” Andrew offered.

“I am not going home,” I answered stubbornly.
Home was the last place I wanted to be now.

“You can’t stay here all night,” he said exasperatedly.
“What about Bode?”

“No,” I replied vehemently.

Whatever Uncle Segun had told Andrew, he did not seem to have the whole story.

“Peju?” He asked.

“She would have been my first call, but I suspect she has a difficult pregnancy. I don’t want to add to her burden.”

“You might be if I have to leave you here alone, Andrew said his jaws were tightening as I saw the lines harden around his mouth.

“I am not the one who asked you to come.
I can take care of myself, you know. I was not asking for help when you came.I could have handled that man on my own,” I argued.

“I could see that,” said Andrew nodding his head reminding me of the many fables of the agama lizard I heard as a child.

Standing up, he took the book on the table and my handbag,
“Let’s go,” he commanded in a voice I had never heard him use before, that did not welcome any argument.

We were barely outside when a part of the building came crashing down. There were rubble and dust everywhere. Screams and groans from men trapped inside the building
I was shaking all over to think that I could have been in that building had Andrew not taken me out. To think that I would have also gotten him killed.

How do you feel you do not want to live but when death comes calling you are not willing to answer and an escape puts your life in a perspective you have failed to notice.

I could hear the sirens from afar as the place became agog with lights and activity.People from neighbourhood were rushing out to the scene some to render help while others out of curiosity and a story to tell. The young men took over searching for people to help while we waited for more help from the government.
Andrew left me to join the rescue mission after making sure I was okay. And not before calling Bode to alert him what had happened.

Bode must have either flown or telepathed himself because it could not have been roughly fifteen minutes he showed up.
“Are you okay,” he asked, looking at me and then the rubble?
I knew what he was thinking.
How my foolishness would have caused pain to my family, my birth parents and friends.

“I am sorry,”  was the only intelligible word I could utter while trying not to cry and be strong.

Omowashe Omorishe#17

Priceless memories

The next hours of my life were the longest.Lana slumped before me. I was hysterical as I shouted for help. The ambulance came, and the whole wedding party was in disarray as the groom and bride left their reception and followed the ambulance to the hospital.

 

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We sat for hours at the St Nicholas hospital waiting for the Doctors to come out. While we were out, her parents and famous uncle Sege was around. I mustered a smile when I saw him. I was yet to see an uncle who was so fond of his niece like him.  His devotion was beyond my imagination leaving me secretly wishing he was mine, considering that I  had lost my father at a young age of six,  It had been just my mother and me and since then

He seemed more agitated than even her parents. Her father was reassuring him that she would be okay.

“Lana is a fighter, she would pull through,” he said confidently. And I prayed with all my might that he was right.

Another guy rushed in. You could see he was agitated. I found out he was her boss at work.

He walked over to Peju, shook the groom and Peju fell into his embrace. All she had been doing since she came in was cry and how it was her fault. Although, we all failed to see how it could be her fault.

From the conversation he had with them, I deduced he was her boss at work. He spoke some words to her and handed her over to her husband as he took his seat beside them with a grim look on his face.

I watched the whole family and felt like an outcast, although I was the most important person to her, yet no one had this knowledge except the both of us. We were meant to be celebrating, but here I was sitting in the cold hospital with her hanging between death and life.

I walked up to her parents, and her mum and managed a smile as I said my hello.
“I did not know you were back together,” she said with pain that mirrored mine.
“Lana and I met today at Peju’s wedding. I was there when she slumped,” I  explained.
“What happened?” she asked looking at me, hoping to get a clue from whatever I had to say
“We were talking, she opted to sit down saying she was tired and before I knew it. She slumped,” I narrated.

I winced, my ring was on her finger, and she was not even able to let me know if we were back together again.
Why did I have to lose, gain and lose her again,
I chided myself, to remain optimistic. She would wake up and get better.

The waiting party grew in number as another lady with her husband and a boy of five years old rushed in. She was a younger version of Lana’s mother, and I presume, it was Nekan, her older sister.

“What happened?” she asked worry etched all over her face as she joined her parents.

Her mother mumbled something I could not hear from where I was, but she nodded towards me.
The lady turned to look at me. Although, we had never met, but she seemed to recognise me. She had a surprised look on her face as she left her parents and came over to me.

I swallowed hard as I prayed the Doctor would appear with good news. The wait was getting rather too long, and heart-wrenching. I gazed over to Peju feeling sorry for how her wedding had turned out.

“Hi, my name is Nekan,” she introduced herself to me stretching her hand for a handshake.
“Hi, I am Bode Coker,” I said with as much smile I could muster.
“My mother told me you were with her when it happened,” she said looking at me with questions in her eyes.
“Yes, we were just talking, and she complained of being tired as took her seat, and the next thing she slumped,” I said. I had lost count of the number of times I had to retell the story.
“Did Lana hit hear head when she slumped, was it a hard surface, did she look pale?” she questioned.
“If you are asking if there was a sign for what was coming? There was none. We were having a regular conversation, and she complained she felt tired, I just thought it was the fatigue of the day, you know the wedding and all the running around. I raked my hands through my almost non-existent hair in frustration.

“Thank you, Bode, she will be okay. I have not spoken to her in a week, just chats over the phone. I had no idea you were back together,” she commented
“We just met today, and she was calm about it,” I offered an explanation. There was no correlation with our meeting and what happened, but it seemed like people were inferring the shock might have caused it. There was no shock, no surprise to cause a heart to fail.

“I  will go and see the Medical Director. He is an old friend from medical school. We should hear something soon,” she said as she walked back to where here parents sat not without stopping to have some few words with Peju, her husband and Lana’s boss.

True to her word she came back about twenty minutes later with a Doctor who addressed us that she is calm but need a lot of rest. Her parents alone were allowed to go in while the rest of us could come back when she was sufficiently recovered to see visitors.

We all stood up to leave as her parents thanked us for coming, promising to keep us abreast with any new development and when we could come back for a visit.

Peju’s flight was for the next morning, and although she said she was thinking of cancelling the honeymoon, Lana’s mother convinced her to go ahead that Lana will be up like her usual self in no time and would be furious if she failed to travel on her account.
You could see fatigue around Peju’s eyes as her husband joked how he needed to take her to the hotel or she might be spending a night her in a room next to her friend.

Then the boss greeted us all and left not without a word of encouragement of how we all needed to be strong for her.
I was the last to leave as I stood up dejectedly, not knowing how to keep in touch. Peju who would have been my link would be away on honeymoon, asking for a family’s phone number at this time did not seem appropriate. I thought of coming back every day if I could pass the security but that option was one of uncertainty.
Fortunately, her sister was quick to catch up with me to collect my number and promised to give me an update of which I was grateful.

The coming days, I merely existed living life just going through the motions, praying and hoping for good news. All I wanted was for Lana to get better.

**********

I hear voices in the background. I recognise that of my Dad’s, and could tell he was speaking to me.
“Lana we love you and want you back to us healthy and active like your usual self. I know you can hear me.”
Then my mum’s came so soft and filled with emotion.
“My baby, I love you, please pull through for us for yourself, we cannot afford to lose you,” and she broke down in quiet sobs.
I could sense my Dad holding her, and I wanted to go and give her a hug to reassure her that I would be okay.
I was surprised to hear Nekan’s voice, and I wanted to jump out of where I was to give her a hug, but all I could do was just lie there. How did she get here? I must have missed her mentioning she was coming over. It had been a while we saw. It has been phone calls and chats and lately I had been busy.
At the sound of my Uncle Sege’s raspy voice, my heart broke. I heard my father say in the background
“Segun, you need to pull yourself together .”
I felt his touch and heard his cry as he begged me to come back.  He mentioned that we both had unfinished business. He promised not to bother me anymore on marriage and to desist from sending the strings of young men to my office on the excuse of account opening.

I wanted to laugh. My uncle could still crack a joke in his desperation. I wanted to tell him I was right there with him and was not going anywhere, but the words did not come out.
My eyelids were closing, and I wanted to sleep again. I felt this constant tiredness like a dark cloak wrapped around me as I battled with sleep that was stronger than my will to stay awake. The voices faded into the background replaced with muddled, incoherent sounds as it lulled me into a state of rest that had become my new companion.

*******
I had no idea, how long I had been asleep but when I opened my eyes this time around, I could see around me. There was my favourite uncle with his big frame dozing off in the only chair in the room. He must have sensed I was awake because not too long he opened his eyes and was beside himself with joy.
“Oluwalana, he called my full name. I can’t recollect ever hearing him call my name in full. I tried to talk, but it was just a raspy noise with no words forming. I looked at him with fear and alarm in my eyes. I tried to stand up, but my body felt like lead.
“Please stay calm,” he urged as he pressed the bell for the nurse to come.
Taking my hands in his, he kept saying thank you as tears ran down his cheeks. My sleek too handsome uncle with a body built like Richard Mofe Damijo was crying brokenly like a woman who had lost her child.
Something must be terribly wrong with me. I concluded, intense terror engulfing me as I tried to recollect how I got there.

It was in this state of panic, a man, in his late fifties with grey hairs around his temple, clad in a white coat, with an air of authority and confidence strolled in. I  presumed he was the doctor and could trust him, and my addled brain knew it was in my best interest to do so.

“We are glad to have you back,” he boomed in a voice that sent me ten years back to my Biology Laboratory in secondary school. Having being suspended from Biology class for refusing to dissect a dried frog with whatever instrument, we had were given. It took the intervention of Mrs Akan, the guidance and counselling teacher to convince my Biology teacher that I was not stubborn or rude, but displaying symptoms of ranidaphobia and should overlook the assignment.

It was that same voice that boomed the day I came back to class “we are glad to have you back” and the only difference was while today was genuine the later was sarcastic.

“We have run all the necessary tests, and they have all come out good. You were acutely fatigued and dehydrated but a few more days of rest and drips should get you out of here in no time. The body has a way of adjusting to itself and yours had to shut down. You were lucky it was not a heart attack or stroke,” he said reviewing the case note.

“In the future, it would be important to take time off activities for scheduled rest, vacation and spend time on things you love to do so this does not happen again,” he said kindly.

I laid down there taking all he had to say in still wondering why I could not just get out of bed and be back at home. Lying here was killing. This mode of inertia was driving me crazy, but all I did was to nod my head as my tired eyes betrayed me giving into sleep again.

I must have been in and out of sleep for days. Moreso, by the time I was able to make small talk, it was shocking to find out that I had been in the hospital for two weeks!

Fast forward to another five more days and the doctor was convinced,  I could go back home but not back to work until another two weeks.
What was I supposed to be doing at home? Sitting and staring. I thrived in the fast pace and stress of work where your adrenalin was driven to all-time high so that the slow pace I was forced to embrace was more excruciating than If I was allowed to return to work.

The saying that there is always a silver lining to every cloud could not have been truer. I got time to think of my life and make some adjustments to my values and goals. One good outcome was my second chance at love and unashamedly enjoying the attention I received from Bode.
He was at the hospital every day after work as soon as I was allowed to receive visitors and at my parent’s place upon my discharge.
He had not changed one bit as he was more doting on me, probably because of my health which had made me closer to an invalid. The icing on the cake was it helped to take my mind off my present state.

I must have forgotten what it meant to be bitten by the love bug. This time, around I threw caution to the wind. I did not want to second guess every move or word I just wanted to flow to the rhythm of love being played by Bode and enjoy the second chance being handed over to me.

The clouds were bluer, the rainbow, colourful and the sun brighter than it had ever been and my life could not have been any better. I  vowed not to waste any time wallowing in self-pity at the time I had lost but to savour every moment I had.

Bode’s love was one substantial factor that saw to my fast recovery and six weeks after my compulsory leave of work I was fit to return.

**********

My first day at the work was an emotional one as my colleagues had balloons around my table with a “welcome back” banner.  There were kind words and hugs. These are people who had taken time out to check on me, send text messages and calls.
Andrew had been understanding. He had a word of encouragement every day as soon as I was able to pick my phone. Although he rarely came by to the hospital, I learnt he was there, the first day I was brought in.

Peju who had been shuttling between office, my house and hers was warned by my mother not to come by anymore and focus her attention on her new home. The morose look on her face the day she received the riot act would have won her an Oscar and put Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, to shame.

However, we made up the time with loads of chats going back and front on our cell phones since my house was a no go area for her.

We were both filled with ecstasy to be back together. I could not wait to be filled up with all the loads of “kongosa” our secret code for first class gossip, I had missed.

My love for juicy titbits in any form; pas,t present and future, was one of my few weaknesses. The moment we were off work we made out time to catch up on each other’s lives that missed the chat room on our cell phones.
Peju kept apologising as to how she was so sorry to have invited Bode over. I had already gotten tired of telling her over and over again that she was not responsible for what happened. I  was neither overly excited nor furious at seeing Bode that day, to have caused the fiasco that followed, rather, it was just two friends catching up on what they have lost due to one’s foolishness and a little meddling from some unhelpful quarters. I am glad for where I am right now and if I had the power to recreate the scene I could not have done a better job.
I drew her into a warm hug.

“Thanks for bringing us together and not paying attention to me. It would not have happened without you,” I said.
And there Peju was smiling from ear to ear with so much self-righteousness as she smugly said,“I told you, you would eat humble pie.”

“Your boast almost cost me my life,” I teased her loving the look of remorse stealing over her face.

“I thought you said it had nothing to do with it,” she complained.

“Yes it did not, but I hate the look of triumph on your face and the fact that I have to agree you were right.You have tortured yourself too long, and someone had to deliver you from this guilt. Not to add the miserable honeymoon you had,” I pointed out.

Peju did cut short her honey moon when Phil was tired of her moaning about how she had no clue as to if I was getting better or worse. It must have worked for him too,  because as soon as they were back in the country, he was off to Dubai, back to his project.

My house became Peju’s second home until my mum banished her to her matrimonial home with no knowledge that Phil had abandoned his bride for work who had equally abandoned her honeymoon for her near dying friend.
Luckily they had planned another honeymoon in a couple of weeks, and Peju had warned me up front not to pull any stunts as this time around she would feel no guilt if they had to bury me while she was away.

We would have been there in our usual fashion chatting away at everything and nothing if Bode had not come to whisk me away.
He said a friendly hello to Peju, who was smiling rather stupidly like one suffering from dementia as he planted a kiss on my cheek. I rolled my eyes at her.
“I got to go, you both are making me regret cutting my honeymoon short,” she teased winking at me.

“Do you have something in your eyes Peju? I asked her holding back my laughter

” Yeah, must be an insect,” she answered sweetly with her eyes shooting daggers my way.

” Bye, see you tomorrow, I replied as went off with Bode

I  could not be more grateful to be still alive. Nonetheless, I still shudder with horror when I remember the catastrophe I caused by disrupting Peju’s wedding reception and honeymoon.

Omowashe Omorishe#15

Bridal Shower

 

bridal shower

Lana has been a rock through the highs and lows of the wedding preparation. Despite employing a wedding planner, there were loads of activities and things to do that would have been overwhelming and daunting.

She had bullied me into making up my mind about the gown I wanted after visiting several shops, and nothing appealed to me.
My dream dress was one of sophistication laced with classical in between of conservative and provocative. I wanted an elegant gown that did justice to the best features of my body while hiding away its imperfection and throwing into the limelight its perfection.

Phil has been more out of town than in, working on wrapping the project at Dubai so he could take a holiday off for the honeymoon. We were going to Casablanca. The beautiful city of Morocco ruled by monarchy like the United Kingdom. I still had my research to do although Phil had drawn up an itinerary he had asked me to find places of interest I would love to visit.
I often wondered how I got lucky to be loved by a guy that was almost too perfect. He was the perfect gentleman, kind, considerate, generous, and honest and gave me room to be me. He loved me with an intensity that scared me but one that I ultimately returned. You could feel the sparks whenever we were together. Thinking of Phil had a way of lighting up my face. It is the knowledge of that contentment you feel knowing your heart has found its home.
Call me crazy but I desperately wanted what I had for Lana. I watched Andrew in the office, and I do not think my eyes were fooling me. Although he tried hard to mask it, it was evident he had something for Lana. Perhaps he did not know it himself, but something was going on nonetheless oblivious to both of them but might eventually happen, and I hope it did. If Bode was out of the picture, she needed a little nudge in the right direction at seeing other options, particularly, one that was right before her eyes every day.

I had only met Bode twice during our national youth service corps but was surprised he remembered me when I ran into him at the Superstores on the Island
“Hi, you are Lana’s friend?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered juggling my memory to where I knew the face.

“I’m Bode Coker. He introduced himself to me judging from my vague look. I could not remember the face. I was terrible with faces but great with names. I never forgot a name. It could sometimes be embarrassing and in my younger days, my friends usually thought I was pretending, but it was a fault I worked so hard to overcome but had stuck to me like a shadow and since the name was my thing I used that to my advantage.

“Bode Coker!” I squealed and gave him a quick hug like a long lost brother.

“My God! When did you come into town?” I asked trying to come to terms with this encounter and what it could mean.

“Was I supposed to be out of town?” he asked with confusion is his brown eyes.

“I got this feeling you were out of the country although things were not okay between you and Lana,” I replied.

“Yeah that was five years ago, and it was a six months training,” he said his eyes twinkling now at my confusion.

“How’s Lana doing?” He asked with raised eyebrows.

“She is good, but whatever happened to you two?” I ventured boldly without wasting time, and this was my opportunity to get the facts right and see how I could help them to get back together.

“Your friend must have told you,” he said with a hint of disbelief in his voice taking a deep breath like one letting the tension out, but the tension was several years ago.

“No, she did not. That is one of the only areas Lana has her lips sealed. She only guaranteed me that you were not the reason for the breakup which is why I am still here having a conversation with you.And not looking at some way to inflict bodily harm on you, equal to the pain she has been going through all these years,” I said watching for any telltale sign in his eyes.

“I must thank my stars, but you must be exaggerating your friend’s pain,” he said with a look of hurt in his eyes.

“How’s she doing?” he asked with so much love that I almost broke down at what these two people have been going through over the years but confused that he had made no effort to contact her.

“If you were so concerned, why have you not checked on her more so you have been in the same city?” I asked bewildered but sure to get my answers from him today.
“Lana spelt it out that she I was not to check on her and she would contact me when she came to terms with what she was dealing with at that time,” he said the pain in his eyes now replaced with regret.

“She said she wanted time and what I thought will be one month turned into five years, and here I am still waiting,” he said sadly.

“You are kidding me right?” I asked shocked.

“I know Lana said she developed cold feet but not keeping to her word is very unlike her. But come to think of it, you mean Lana never got back to you, and you never bothered to see her for an explanation all these five years?” I asked short of stunned.

“I am sorry to say this, but I am yet to meet two clueless people in love oblivious to the unnecessary pain they have caused each other and more so to themselves” I voiced my opinion with much chagrin.

“You do have a good idea of Lana’s capability. She loves you to take her at her word. Had I showed up then it would have been futile,” he answered exasperatedly.

“One thing that Lana made clear was that you were a better person than her,” I commented.

“She could not have been more wrong. Looking back at the years I should have not given in without fighting back for the love we once shared,” he said resignedly.

“Do you think I still have space in her life?” He asked with a vulnerability I had not seen before.

“Lana, is the only person who can provide the answer but if you never try to find out how would you know?” I asked.

“She never talked about you. Your name is more like a taboo. I don’t think she got over you, but she is too stubborn to admit it. You will have to win her back with slowly with a constant show of love and affection. Let her see that you are won’t change now or in the future. If you can do that, you might stand a chance of winning her back,” I advised.

“Let it be on her terms. If she wants to see you or not. Let what she feels for you grow. In one shell let her make her decision without pressure,” I added.

“That is what I have allowed her to do and see where it got us,” he argued.

“You will let her be, but not from outside the scene. Be in her life but not crowd it,” I encouraged him.

What I said did not seem to make any sense even to me, but I had heard Lana lament to know how important that was to her.

“She does not believe in love existing after marriage. She feels what happens while dating flies out of the window after the wedding,” I offered a feeble explanation nonetheless hoping the message gets through to him.

“She never gave me a clue,” he said surprised, and I could see the battle on his face as he tried to take in all I said.

“I wonder if it is the same person we are talking about here,” he said.

“Perhaps you never knew her, I concluded.

“Nothing is guaranteed with Lana. I hope you know that, but you can put in all your best and hope it all works out,” I advised.

“When and if you do get back together, you’ll have to do a lot more talking so understand each other,” I said.

“As her friend, I want what is best for her, and if that is you in her life you have my blessing,” I said wishing with all my heart that Lana will see how good a second chance she has been handed and make good use of it.

“Here,” I said giving him my wedding and complimentary card.
“We work in the same office, I offered. Giving Bode a lifeline on how to reach her.

I left Bode feeling exhilarated hoping that Lana will thank me one day for meddling in her affairs. But she needed this push to shore. I tried to convince myself I was doing the right thing as I had no intention of letting her know about me meeting with Bode Coker.
I hoped the surprise element would work, with Lana thinking and analysing everything through she would be taken unawares, and her reaction would be more likely to be from her heart and not her head.

*************

Peju and I eventually made the trip to London, three weeks before her wedding. She said it was time out as single girls together. It was a fun trip and one we shopped. I could not have come this way without taking back souvenirs. That’s what I called them, but they turned out to be my full two luggage allowance and extra luggage.

A week to Peju’s wedding we had the bridal shower. The event was both hilarious and teary. We invited Phil for the hot seat section. The other girls had questions for him.
When he walked in, dressed in the traditional attire of white guinea brocade designed in grey embroidery and black palm slippers.  His well-shaved look with the hairs around his mouth like that of Banky W the Nigerian R and B crooner, the ladies were swooning while Peju gestured “he’s not available,” with the rest of the girls bursting into giggles.

Time for the hot seat.
And I was the one reading out the questions as the girls submitted them in the raffia basket I passed around.
We started with Phil.

“Where did you first meet her and when?”

“Monday,10th of July 2006 at precisely 8:45pm.I first met Peju at the Marco Polo Restaurant on the island one evening. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever laid my eyes on, and I wanted to get to know her. Unfortunately, I had no clue to who she was and I was in the middle of a business meeting.
I took a brief excuse for the gents only to go towards the service point and order an ice bucket of champagne to her and the lady she was with which was turned down.
I did not know when they left, and I lost that opportunity. I could not recognise her friend as she had her back to me who now I know as Lana.  Had I seen Lana, I probably would have met Peju faster as Lana, as Lana was in my office the next that same week.
However, Cupid smiled on me when at my Mother’s birthday, I saw her again, vowed never to let her go. The rest is history.
Being the moderator, I mouthed to Peju, girl we must have a talk tonight. How come I was just finding that out tonight? I recalled that night perfectly. I had been upset, and Peju drove off after work for a meal at our beloved Chinese restaurant.

The other girls were clapping and smiling as Phil stole their hearts with his precision and accuracy. I caught Chinwe wiping a tear or two from her face.

Turning to Peju, “When was the first time you met him?” I asked the same question.

“At his mother’s party.  I took a look at him, and I was smitten. Mine was love at first sight,” she said with a smile on her face bright enough to compete with the sun.

“As the moderator and one who has been with them from the beginning but whose job but will ultimately end next week Saturday, I can confirm their story,” I joked.

I directed the next question at  Peju.

“What do you like best about Phil?

“His thoughtfulness, kindness, devotion and love and his hot looks – the typical tall, dark and handsome romance character,” she teased.

This seat is not hot enough,” I challenged the girls sending in the questions

“Phil, what do you love most about Peju?” I read the next question.

“She is beautiful in a drop dead gorgeous way, gentle and kind. She laughs a lot and love to tease, and she is all real and no pretence,” he answered with a triumph grin his face.

I have another question here. But Phil signalled to me as I drew close he whispered he had to leave urgently. We would have gone on, but Phil had to go for another engagement.

We rocked the party till midnight as we all shared how we met Peju, our good wishes on her journey to matrimony and gifts.

The girls bombarded Peju with questions about the wedding night with a lot of advice coming from people who were not even married.
I was quick to make my observation but was shut down by Agnes.
“Who says you have to be married before you know what goes on in between the sheets?” argued Agnes, a girl with a reputation for having a new boyfriend every month.

It was time to open the gifts, and we all had a good laughter as each girl explained the use of the gift.
Agnes was back on the scene with her gift of a black all net lingerie leaving nothing to your imagination.
“And this is for the wedding night, not that he requires you wear anything,” she said making moaning noises that made the rest of the girls put their fingers into their ears.

“What do you think that is? If you are not all pretending how do you recognise the noise that you are closing your ears?” she accused us.
“Peju your Nun days are over welcome to your glorious days of prostitution with Phil as your only client

We cried, we laughed,  danced and had fun as we ushered Peju into the institution of marriage, the only institution you get a certificate before you start and not the usual awarded after your program.

Omowashe Omorishe#14

Love stole on me

Calm

The days flew by as we got ready for Peju’s big day. We were at work in the day and hitting the road in the evenings for dress fittings, meetings with the wedding planner, makeup artist, and hairstylist for trials interior decorator for the house. There was so much to do. I was surprised at the work that had to go in for a four-hour program.

I shuddered to think what would have happened if we had not involved the services of a wedding planner because we still had so much to do on our part.
I was fatigued weeks before the wedding, and I could only imagine what Peju was going through. I looked forward to that day more with relief that all the craziness of the last couple of weeks will end.

One of the exciting moments of the event was my meeting with Phil’s Mum. I had all but forgotten about our meeting at her birthday party and how drawn I was to her. Mrs Idowu was grace and beauty personified. If getting such a woman was in the marriage package, I would not have minded being in Peju’s shoes with the kind of scary mother in law stories we hear about today. She was a breath of fresh air, and I considered Peju lucky to have her. We had several meetings with her that I had even carried on some without Peju. I did not mind she was one woman you left refreshed and ready to take on the whole world.

If I ever was asked a mentor I wanted to her to be one. She had her business and home worked out to perfection. I was surprised when I found out the companies she managed. Chief and Phil were not the only ones who had businesses in the family. She had a portfolio that rivaled theirs. I made a mental note to come back after the wedding to ask her to sign up with my Bank.

My closeness to the family during this period was a delight to see how they all related to each other with love and adoration. Phil and his father Chief treated her like royalty. She ran the Idowu Empire, but you could also see grace and kindness around her, and there was no doubt as to why the men treated her with respect and devotion.

On one of my visits, there she was in the garden wrapped in the arms of her husband. To see elderly people with love and romance after almost thirty years of marriage was one of the sweetest things I had experienced. It made me begin to reconsider my stance. That my parents’ marriage was not the defining factor of how unions would turn out and theirs was just one of the many failed ones, and there were many other successful ones like what Chief and his wife had.

To go by the saying that you could judge how a son would treat his wife by how his father treats his mother and how he treats his mother then, Peju had hers figured out for good. Love, romance and luxury in the mix.
I did not know when it happened, but I looked forward to getting married someday when I had gathered enough courage to tear down completely my walls of unbelief about marriage. I was a step ahead in the positive direction as hope ignited in my heart.
I hope to meet that special someone who would treat me right till we were old and grey haired.

*******
I let myself in with my key. It was nice to see my mother in the living room watching a soap – Tinsel.
“Mum!” I called after greeting.

“I did not know that you watch this program. I have not been able to follow up the episodes in a long while,” I said dropping into the seat beside hers.

“I stumbled into it last month and got hooked. It is interesting and engaging,” my mum said without taking her eyes off the screen.

“How are you? She asked now looking me over. You know this mother look that pierces into your soul searching for what you are not saying.

“I am good, in between work and Peju’s wedding, I am completely swamped,” I replied.

“You both need to take it slow,” she advised.

“Any news on yours?” she asked hopefully.
Trust my mum not to miss any opportunity to ask what was dearest to her heart right now – getting me married off.

“Remain expectant, mum,” I said squeezing her hands not wanting to dampen her hope. In the past, I had either ignored the questioned or teased her on how she could not wait to get rid of me

“What was it like when you first married?” I asked her as the episode came to an end.

“It was heaven. Your Dad, and I got married in England. We were in the same university and the only Nigerians in the faculty. It was only natural we got together. More so, we were from the same state and had so much in common,” she said with the most beautiful smile I had seen on her.

“I thought yours was an arranged marriage, like one of convenience,” I teased.

“No,” she said with a shudder.

“It was the norm then, but I got lucky and married to someone wanted, and not my parent’s imposition, unlike others who were not so fortunate.

“I want to hear the whole story,” I said settling into my chair gazing at her expectantly.

“There is not much to tell,” my mum said shyly.

“Okay, Mum say the little there is to tell,” I begged.

“I saw your Dad on my first day on campus. He was one of the very few African men on campus so it was easy to notice him.  He came up to me, introduced himself and told me where to find him if I needed any help. He was a year ahead of me. We became friends, and he asked me to marry him.  I did at that time; that was the best thing that could happen to me.

“You were not in love?” I asked surprised.

“I liked him enough to marry him we did and started a family with Nekan, and you came along after that.

“Mum, why don’t you want to say you fell in love with him,” I chastised her? She made it sound so businesslike and obligatory even Ronald Reagan was more passionate in his tear down the wall speech to Gorbachev in West Berlin in 1987.

“I loved your Dad and still do but sometimes love is not enough,” she said sadly.

“What would be enough?” I asked. I wanted to know perhaps it would answer some of my questions.

“Hard work, discipline, sacrifice, keeping in- laws out of your personal issues, communication and understanding,” she reeled out with ease.

“Was that what was missing for you and Dad? You live like strangers and try to hide it, but Nekan and I saw through it,” I told her emboldened by the heart to heart moment.

“We sought to stay together beyond our differences to give you girls a home, but I guess it did not make a difference, she sighed dejectedly.

“Mum,” I called and held her hands compassionately grateful for the sacrifice she made staying in an enduring marriage just for my sister and me.

“You both must have done your best. What I saw in our home, influenced my decision to stay off marriage but in the last few weeks preparing for Peju’s wedding, I saw that not all marriages end up disastrous, and there are lovely marriages to be desired out there. I can hope again that when I find love, I won’t run away this time. And in that hope I wish Dad, and you would find a way back to yourselves again,” I said encouraging and willing her to fight for her marriage.

“We are far too gone apart that love matters less now. A lot has happened with complications that are now too difficult to resolve,” she said wiping away her tears.

I was taken aback by my mum’s tears. My mum might not want to declare her love for my Dad, but you could see it shining through her eyes.
We were both carried away in our discussion that we failed not hear my Father come in. I had no idea how long he had stood there and what he had heard, but he came and stood in front of my mum wiping her eyes as he pulled her up into his arms.

“It has been too long Dupe, but we can work it out together,” my Dad whispered to her.

I slipped out leaving the new lovebirds with a song rising in my heart. Miracles do happen.
All things were going looking up pleasantly for me except I had lost Bode for good. I close my eyes and allow the pain to wash over me one last time as I vowed to move on and hope love will find me again.

Bode’s story did not end with me not calling and giving up. I knew he was back in town from a mutual friend and collected his address to pay him a surprise visit, apologise and remind him of his promise to wait for me rather than call on the phone.

I dressed that day, taking care of my makeup and dress with hints of what he had said he liked when we dated, colour, shoes, dress style. It was a peace offering. I had no doubt we would work out our relationship and make up for the lost years.If only I had an inkling of the drama that awaited me when I arrived at his place.The shock I received when I got to his place and found out he was married was enough to send me to an early grave.

The lady introduced herself to me as his wife. I remember the look of satisfaction on her face at my disbelief and disappointment and how she wagged her ring finger in my face, possibly in a bit to taunt me.

She obviously knew who I was and enjoyed the pain I was going through. I did not blame her. My loss was her gain. She had a fantastic guy, and it was okay to show off especially to an ex who discarded him like a dishcloth.
How I made it back home that day driving was a blur, but I did get home safely to deal my misery.

I cried for weeks, heartbroken and there was no one to confide in. I had made my bed and had to lie on it, but it was not what I wanted. If only I could turn the hands of the clock back to the day, I told Bode I needed a break. If only I could explain to him my fears and how I felt. If only I had called him back that same day that I had not meant all I said as my heart yearned to. If only I had not given into the logical side of my brain and analysed my romance like a science experiment.

The if-only were too many, but they were not going to bring me out of the hole I fell in. I never thought I could get out. It was the feeling of being afraid to breathe. Going through all the motions of life but your heart was not in it. I was a living dead. I lost what mattered most because I was too selfish to recognise the best gift that was handed to me in the person of Bode Coker and now I had lost him forever.

In my grief, I convinced myself that I was okay, my career was enough, and there was no room for romance or family. I had a wall around my heart enforced my beliefs which were gradually crumbling down.
Love and family were okay, and I could pray to open my heart at a second chance if I was lucky to get one.