Step Back, Dad! (8)
(FROM THE WRITER: Welcome to episode 8. It has been a wonderful journey for us all. I am most indebted to all my ardent readers. What would I do without you? Thank you for being there all the way. If you missed the last episode, please click here. Also, please remember to invite others, so they can join our fellowship ;). Have an enjoyable read. Cheers!)
… A Cinderella dream to be whisked away by a handsome prince who would never break her heart and they would live ‘happily-ever-after’. There would be no 12 midnight deadline and no evil stepsister who would try to steal the glass shoe. Well, that only existed in fairy tales. In real life, there are many ‘Happily-Never-Afters’ and mine appears to be towing that line.
A little cough brought me back to the reality and I noticed all eyes were fixed on me.
“We are waiting, Chinwe.” Steve nudged me with his arm and I felt like hitting him.
What were they waiting for? If what they wanted was bombs of spiteful words, I’ve got loads of those at the tip of my tongue for everyone at the table. EVERYONE.
I put on a fake smile and mumbled. “Waiting for?” Heat flooded my face and I felt silly.
Segun quickly responded. “What you think about the epileptic power supply we have been facing in the country.”
Discussion on PHCN? What a topic! How about we discussed more interesting things like why my prince is on an outing with my evil step sister! Or where on earth Segun and Steve knew each other. The world is not just a small place. It is now a face-me-I-face-you apartment.
“Your orders, please. “ The waiter stood beside us with his pen and pad and I almost hugged him for jumping to my rescue. As I picked up the menu, I realised I had no appetite. I lowered the book and peeped at Segun. His head was bent a little towards Tayo and they seemed to be deliberating on what they should eat. Hello, I’m the Cinderella here! I should be the one at his side. I should be the one to decide what he eats like he had always allowed me. Sometimes, we would play the game of ‘mini-mini-mani-mo’ and would end up with courses outside our choices, but with Segun, everything was always delicious.
“Would you like the Tuna Tatare? It’s a fantastic menu.” Steve looked at me with a funny look in his eyes. I could almost take it as concern, but I knew it was all a ruse.
“Well, I’ve never taken it before. I could give it a try.” I dropped the menu book disinterestedly.
“Trust me, you would love it. I’m taking same.” He beckoned on the waiter and as he made the orders for us, I watched with silent anger as Segun and Tayo concluded on the same meal.
Every time our eyes locked, Segun always quickly averted his but his frown did not go unnoticed. I knew he was trying hard to keep calm like me. We were alike in so many ways and the fact scares me sometimes.
“So, where did you two meet each other?” I blurted out without thinking. “Ermm… I mean you and Steve?” I asked Segun with a forced smile.
“Ha! We met at Uniben, same faculty, different departments.” He chuckled. “He didn’t wait to complete his education before his father shipped him off abroad. He was a bad boy then o!”
“Well, you can say that again.” Steve laughed hard. “On the other hand, you were the Jesus boy, always trying to preach to me and I remember one day, I almost had my boys beat you up because you were having fellowship in the same hall I wanted to have my birthday party.”
“Well, thank God you didn’t. I would have bound and loosed that day and you would have seen angels performing karate on you.”
Everyone laughed, even I managed a smile. Perhaps, pretending nothing was wrong would be the best option.
“So what about you, Chinwe, did you meet your fellow church members in the church or outside?” Steve directed the question at me.
“Well, I knew Sister Tayo and Brother Tunde in the church, but for Segun, I umm…” I took a sip of water with shaky hands “We go a long way back.”
There was an uncomfortable silence and Segun cleared his throat.
Bro Tunde chipped in. “Sister Chinwe is the daughter of our pastor. Her father owns the church. Sister Tayo is the daughter of our assistant pastor.”
“I see.” Steve smiled. What does he always ‘see’? Didn’t he notice his questions were starting a fire? What in Heaven am I doing there? I should excuse myself.
“So, should I assume you guys are in a relationship?” Steve faced Segun and Tayo. “I can feel some vibes coming from you.”
What! This was it. I could take no more.
Tayo beamed and placed her hands in Segun’s. “Something like that.”
I nearly choked on my drink. Shut up, Liar!
Segun quickly disagreed and he removed his hand politely. “Actually, Tayo and I are close friends, but I am engaged to another.”
“How nice!” I could not take the betrayal anymore. “Does she know you are out with a close friend?” I taunted. “I bet she wouldn’t mind.”
Segun’s voice was a little louder. “Actually, she confirmed she had an urgent appointment this evening, one she could not cancel.”
“Your orders, please.” The waiter came with several others and placed our meals on the table. I raised my eyes to Segun and his were fixed squarely on me. I could feel the heat in them.
“I would love to meet her someday.” Steve passed a plate to Segun. “This woman who has captured this Jesus boy’s heart. I bet she doesn’t know you are out with another woman. No sane woman will accept that, trust me. But, if she’s a Jesus girl, I bet she will easily forgive and forget.”
That was the final straw. I stood up. “Excuse me, please. I need to use the ladies.”
I didn’t wait for any response. I needed to be out of there before the tears came spilling down and I would embarrass myself. I could not bear the pain any longer. Why did it have to be me? God, I have done everything right. I have denied myself for so many years, kept myself chaste, despite the many advances at school. Was I too naive to see where this was heading all along? To think it all started at this same place… Please Jesus, tell me where I went wrong.
The door opened slightly and I could do little to hide my teary face on time. Tayo stood at the entrance. Talk of the devil! She had come to mock me more.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT AGAIN? YOU HAVE WON, OKAY? YOU HAVE FINALLY STOLEN MY FIANCE. YOU CAN HAVE HIM FOR ALL I CARE.”
“Calm down, sister and hear me out.” She locked the door behind her. “Please just give me a listening ear. You will be interested in what I have to say.”
“I don’t have interest in what husband snatchers have to say.” I turned my back against her. “Just go away. You have won.”
“Actually, you do and by the time I’m done, you will thank me for it.”
I faced her slowly. I did not know what to expect from her. I wasn’t sure whose side she was on. This minute she would be antagonistic and the next, supportive. I needed to be very careful with her. Evil step sister.
When she saw she had my full attention, she smiled. “Five minutes is all I need.”