Step Back, Dad! (10)
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It is 12.50 am and I have not had a minute sleep. How can I sleep when my house is on fire? All I have dreamt of, worked for, and waited patiently for all these years came crumbling down in a matter of minutes in an hotel’s restroom. They say the truth is bitter and no matter how hard you try to hide from it, it will catch up with you one day…
That ‘one day’ for me was just few hours ago…
I had returned to the table after my chat with Tayo and while I was oppressed at heart, a part of me strangely felt relieved, like a big load was off my shoulder. I was no longer a novice at the game. I knew the rules and the players well enough to strategise how to come out on top. All I needed to do was to play my cards right.
For the rest of the meal, there was a chilling coldness at the table, despite Steve’s constant jokes. I wondered why he did not observe the silent animosity flowing with high current round the table, or perhaps he chose to ignore it. Bro Tunde also cracked a few jokes, though his were more ‘spiritual’. I had to roll my eyes several times as most of his jokes were bland to me. He should really learn to be more ‘social.’
At around 9p.m., Segun suggested we left and that was a welcome idea to me. I could not wait for us to be alone and thrash this issue once and for all. No need beating about the bush. I was no longer the love-struck lady he proposed to some months ago and who had voiced a ‘yes’ through teary eyes. That lady died in the restroom an hour ago.
“Steve, I am sure you are going my way. I will prefer to go with you.” Tayo suggested with a sweet smile on her face. ”Sister Chinwe and Bro Tunde will go with Segun since they are going the same direction.”
“That sounds great.” I agreed. She could have Steve for all she wants.
“No. Chinwe goes with me.” Steve refused. “I brought her here and am responsible to ensure she gets home safe.” He winked at Segun. “Not that I doubt your capabilities.”
“Sure, Chinwe can go with you.” Segun shrugged nonchalantly before looking at me straight in the eye. “She is your date.” His voice was laced with meaning.
I held my tongue from blurting out all the things at the tip of my tongue. I cast Segun a cold stare and picked up my bag. Now was not the time to start a scene. With a forced smile, I turned to steve. “After you, boss.”
Tayo did not waste time to show her disappointment as we walked out of the restaurant. She kept murmuring to Segun, who still insisted she went with him.
As we got to the exit, Bro Tunde tapped my shoulder and whispered into my ears. “Everything will be alright.” His eyes were reassuring and I thought I saw concern too.
I nodded with a faint smile. “I believe so. Thank you.”
It dawned on me that he had seen beyond the pretenses acted out during dinner. Of course, he knew I was engaged to Segun. Every member of our church knew.
On our way home, the drive was quiet for the first half of the journey which gave me enough time to ruminate. If what Tayo told me was indeed true, then I needed to move very fast. I was at war with forces above my class and needed to be in top form. And if she lied, well…
Steve pulled into a petrol station and stayed on the queue. He cleared his throat. “So, did you enjoy this evening?”
“Yes…Yes, it was fun.” Terrible fun!
“We should do this more often, or what do you think?”
Hell, no! “Whatever you say, boss.” There were weightier matters on my mind and another disastrous date was not among them.
“I saw the way he looked at you all through the dinner.”
I glanced at him sharply. “Who?” Was it that obvious? I could feel Segun’s cold stare on me again.
“Tunde or is it Brother Tunde you call him.” He drove closer to the attendant. “When a man looks at a woman with that kind of look, then he’s got something in mind.”
Bro Tunde? LOL. I could not contain my sneer. Pleaseeeeee, he was the last person I would think of in the world. (Now, don’t get me wrong. He is a good looking Christian brother, but when it comes to social skills, he sucks. He barely chats with sisters in the church and I was surprised to have seen him today. Segun must have dragged him along.)
Speaking of Segun… “There is something I want you to know.” I adjusted uncomfortably on the seat. Steve was talking to the attendant. I had to tell him about Segun and who Segun was to me. That would put a final end to his ‘goal’, whatever it was.
“You said what?” Steve faced me.
“There is something you should know.” I brought out my engagement ring.
“That you are engaged? You have proven that over and over today. That still does not stop me from hanging out with you, okay? Not that it matters anymore.”
“Excuse me?” I sat straight. “What do you mean?”
“Miss Chinwe. I know you are engaged to Segun and my bringing you to this meeting was intentional.
“What!” I nearly screamed. “You mean you knew Segun was my fiancé and you planned this all along?”
“That is another way to put it.” He handed the attendant some money and drove out of the station.
OMG! This was more than I thought. “How… How did you know? Did Segun tell you?”
He chuckled. “Segun did not need to tell me anything. I only needed to check your Facebook status.”
My marital status was ‘engaged’ and Segun was named. “Oh no! Do you realize what you caused tonight?”
“Well” He blared the horn of the car. “I have been able to make you see that not all that the so called church brothers are real christians. See, Chinwe, I like you. I am not a church brother and I won’t treat you bad. Break up your engagement with Segun and let me be your man, not just a boss.”
I could not believe my ears. “Are you okay at all?” This was no longer a boss-employee talk.
“I am trying to save you from heartbreak here. I saw all the hostility flying at dinner. What kind of man would go out with another woman without the knowledge of his fiancée? That is cheating! I will never do that to my woman and I do not need church to teach me that. I am a real man, not your fake church friend. Give us a chance, Chinwe.”
“Stop the car, please.” I needed to get some fresh air and get far away from Steve. My head was hot and funny imaginations filled them.
Steve instead accelerated more. “You are a good lady and deserve to be loved and respected. I can give you that and more, if you allow me.”
“Just think about it, please. I really would like to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Now, that was pushing it too far. “That’s my bus stop”. I pointed at a distance not far away. “Obanikoro”
Before Steve could park, I had already opened the door. The further I got away from him, the better for me. What a manipulator!
I jumped out of the car and crossed to the other side without looking back. This had taken a new dimension. An unfaithful lover and An ungodly seducer. Two unlikely options. Jesus, take the wheel.
As I walked briskly home, I got a text message. It read “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”
What choice does a 29 year old Christian lady have when her only next available option is an ‘ungodly’ choice in the form of a handsome, ready-made husband? Tonight I will speak with Segun on phone. Tonight, everything will be settled…
But first, I needed to chat with dad and tell him he was right all along. He would be so happy to hear his prodigal daughter had realized her mistake. When I entered the house, he was seated on his favourite chair with a photo album in his hands. It was his wedding album and his face was filled with intense emotions. He was relishing the good, old times with my mum. I did not want to disturb him with my own troubles. Everyone had his own ‘wahala’. I postponed the talk…
My alarm rings. It is 1 a.m. Time to play my first card. I picked up my phone and dialed Segun’s number.