Wishing You and You and You a wonderful year. Every good thing will come because God has got your back. Thank you for being with REDigion through 2014 and we promise you a better ride in 2015 as we launch into new horizons, God helping us. Tell everyone you know about this space as we work on making your reading and spiritual experience even better. Today, we have two episodes jammed into one post to celebrate the start of the year. Be Blessed with TRIANGULAR, 11th and 12th episode!
MONDAY, 14TH JULY 2014
5.00am – Duro Soleye Hospital, Ikeja
“Hello, Pauline.” Mrs. Adesuwa rolled on her bed, trying to fight off the sleep in her eyes. “Why are you calling me at this time?” She yawned. “It’s very early in the morning. Is everything okay?”
There was a muffled sound on the line. “Which sounds okay to you, Mama? Is it the fact that I am out of my matrimonial home or that my life is over and I feel like committing suicide?
Mrs. Adesuwa jumped out of bed, startled. “What do you mean? Don’t make me afraid, Pauline! What sort of rubbish are you saying this morning?”
“You heard me, Mama! George has driven me out of the house and…”
“What! I was still with you yesterday morning and everything looked okay. You told me everything was okay!”
“I lied.” Pauline started crying profusely. “Everything that happened was a lie. The lady you saw leaving for the market is the woman who has taken over my home. George sent me parking out of the house because that husband snatcher got pregnant for him.”
“But why didn’t you tell me this?” Mrs. Adesuwa sounded exasperated.
“Because I didn’t want to make you feel sad. You have always believed in me and I didn’t want to disappoint you. I so much wanted to tell you, but you were concerned about other things.”
“You cannot blame me for being concerned about other things when I was led to believe all was well. Your husband even kissed you in front of me!”
Pauline sniffed hard. “Well, all isn’t. And it is mostly my fault. If I had been able to give him at least a child, this would not be happening.”
Mrs. Adesuwa sighed sorrowfully. She could not swallow everything her daughter was spilling out to her. “You cannot blame yourself. What happened to you back then could have happened to anyone. Our mistake was in deciding you should not tell your husband.”
“Yes.” Pauline groaned. “I wish I had told him, but would that have changed anything? Wouldn’t it have made him hate me, detest me and blame me for not giving him a child?”
“Perhaps and perhaps not. We cannot tell right now. Tell me, where are you now?”
“I had a minor accident and spent the night at the hospital.”
“What minor accident is that?” Mrs. Adesuwa sounded angry. “Did he raise his hands on you?”
“Not him, mother. She did.”
“That girl touched you?” Mama jumped out of bed. “And your husband didn’t do anything about it? I am coming over to Lagos right now.”
“No, don’t come. There is nothing you can do anymore. This battle is lost.”
“So what do you want to do?”
“I am coming home, Mum. I don’t have anywhere else to go. I need a place I can think about my life and maybe pick up the pieces and try to start again.”
“You know this place is always open to you. Your father and I love you, Pauline.” Mrs. Adesuwa was almost crying.
“I know and I need all the support you can give me now.”
“We are here for you. Come home, baby.”
“I will be there by 9.00am. Cook something good.” Pauline cut the call.
Mrs. Adesuwa fell back on the bed, her heart heavy with sorrow.
“Was that Pauline?” The voice was deep and strong.
She turned to see her husband, whose eyes were wide opened and had been listening to her side of the conversation. “Yes. Something bad has happened.”
“I know what it is. I heard your discussion. So, she is coming here today to do what?” His voice became a bit hard.
“She needs a place where she can think. Plus, I need to see my daughter again.”
“If she had listened to us in the first place, she would not have married that fool!”
“Oko mi, don’t say that. She was in love with him.”
“Love? Where has that got her to do with raising a family? And how is that going to solve her problem? She put herself into this in the first place. She should solve it herself.”
“But we are her parents and should provide support for her.” Mrs. Adesuwa defended her daughter. “She needs us now more than ever.”
“Well, if she comes here to cry, I will not tell her how sorry I am. What has happened has happened. What she needs is someone that will spank her and talk some sense into her head.” Her husband insisted, rising up from the bed. “And it is obvious who that person is between us.” He walked out of the room, muttering some angry words under his breath.
Mrs. Adesuwa heaved a deep sigh. She was not happy at how things had turned for her daughter, neither was she impressed with the way her husband was handling the issue. If there was anything Pauline needed now, it was support from them and her father had shown he was not interested in offering that. The next days would be very tough for her family and she had better found a way of balancing things up before they exploded even more.
8.30am – George’s Office
George could hardly concentrate on the Management meeting which started thirty minutes ago. His mind was far away, lost in grief about recent events. He had not only lost his wife, but also any chance he could have at getting her back. His heart was completely broken when he had found her looking so happy in the arms of another man. Every hope of rebuilding his family had come crashing down right before his eyes. And last night, in the loneliness of his room, he had done what he had not done in years. He had cried and wished his wife back. He had even gone to her room and saw the wedding ring with which he had vowed his life to her on the floor, disfigured and a stark reminder of how much of a failure he was. All the years they spent together, he had poured all the blame on her, made her feel like a disappointment, when in fact, he was the one to blame. He was the cause of all that had happened. He was the reason they could not have a child. And he had hid it from her.
His phone rang suddenly and when he saw it was his mother on the line, he excused himself from the meeting and headed for the closest restroom.
“Nwoke, What did I hear you have done?” His mother blurted out even before he could say a word.
“Kedu, Mama.” Once he was sure he was alone, he spat into the phone. “You heard what you heard, Mama.”
“How can you throw Nneka and your baby out of the house and go after that… that witch you call a wife?”
“My baby? We both know the baby is not mine, Mother! Let’s stop this pretense. The plan didn’t work.”
“And you are to blame for that.” His mother fumed over the phone. “The plan was working just fine until your stupid mother-in-law decided to pay you a visit. She must have come with strong juju. But it will fail. She and her daughter will suffer the wrath of the gods by the time I am done with them.”
“You will not do anything more, Mama. You hear me?” George yelled into the phone. “This was your fault from the beginning. If you had kept your mouth out of my family’s affairs, maybe things would not have gone as bad as this.”
“You are my son and your family is my business. It is because you could not take any initiative all these years that I had to come up with mine. And Nneka was not a bad option. Her pregnancy was still in its early stage, so no one would have known the pregnancy was not yours. I did you a favour, Nwoke, trying to make you a man and cover up your shame. But see what you have done now. You are such an ungrateful child.”
George exhaled sharply. “Good for you then. At least, now you know your plan has foiled. My shame is mine alone to carry. I don’t need you to do that for me anymore.”
“Useless child. I just thank God you are not the only son I have and your elder brothers have children or else the world would have turned me into a laughing stock, calling me the mother of infertile men.”
“Enough, Mother! You do not have to rub my problem on my face!” George could no longer control his anger. “I may be the infertile one of your children, but I am the only one who takes care of you.”
“So you think your sending me money every week will replace my desire to see my grandchildren before I die? Tufiakwa! You can hold on to your money. Money that has not given you children.”
George took in deep breaths, trying to calm his raging nerves. “”Goodbye, Mama and please don’t call me again on this issue.”
“I will not because talking to you is a waste of time. When you are ready to take Nneka back and raise that child as yours, you will call to beg me. Foolish child!” Mama cut the call, leaving a trail of venom.
George rested his head on the door. He was tired of everything. The Pretense, the lies and everything in-between. When his mother had called him some weeks back and suggested the whole drama with Nneka, he had not agreed with her at first, but her persistent calls and overbearing attitude had finally made him succumb. Pauline’s nonchalant attitude hadn’t helped either. Every day, a new row of bricks was added to the wall of separation that was between them and he had begun to think she was seeing another man secretly. He had actually agreed to Mama’s plan just to see how Pauline would react, to see if she still had any feelings at all for him. But he had been disappointed. She withdrew further into her shell as if nothing about him mattered to her any more. Only a woman who had other plans would have reacted that way. And he was confirmed right when he had found her in the arms of another man. The pain in his heart was too hard to bear. He was indeed infertile. Both in body and in life.
9:15am – Mrs. Williams’ House, Ikoyi
Bola opened her eyes slowly and the first thing she saw was the decorated white ceiling above her. Where am I? She thought confoundedly. The floor on which she usually slept felt too soft and a fluffy white cloth covered her body. She turned her head and took in the flowery white curtain that screamed quality and a fresh scent from the white flower vase near her floated into her nostrils. Am I in heaven? If this is heaven, then I don’t want to leave.
The door to the room opened and a lady carrying a tray walked in. “Good morning, Bola.” She smiled as she carefully placed the tray on the table beside the bed.
“Am I in heaven?” Bola asked. “Are you an angel?”
The lady giggled. “No, I’m not, though I wish I were. My name is Dupe and I am Mrs. Williams’ house help.”
Mrs. Williams? Bola nearly jumped out of the bed as events of the past day came flooding in a rush. She had hardly put anything into her mouth before she passed out yesterday. And hadn’t she had the most relaxing rest of her life? She could not recall if she ever slept soundly like that in her entire life. She looked at her bandaged parts and anxiety crept back slowly into her head.
“Where is my brother?” She asked worriedly.
“He is downstairs watching TV. The nurse advised nobody should disturb you till you wake up. I just came in to check if you have and to drop this.” Dupe placed the tray on the reading table at the corner of the room. “You look worried. Don’t worry. You are safe here. Your brother told me everything that happened to you and my Madam will protect you from other bad people.”
Bola rubbed her neck, itching to know more about this guardian fate had sent into her life again. “This your Madam, who is she, really?”
“I know. I mean who is she? What does she do? Why is she risking her life to take care of me?”
“I am sure you know Chief Tobi Williams.”
“I don’t know who he is.”
Dupe’s eyes widened in shock. “You don’t know Chief Tobi Williams, owner of Emerson Communications, one of the biggest telecommunications companies in this country? He was a very popular man.”
“I know Emerson Communications. My phone is their network.” Then sudden realization dawned on Bola and she almost screamed. “What! Are you telling me she is his wife?”
“Yes, she is.”
Bola stood still for some seconds. She could not believe her ears… or her luck. Mrs. Williams, the woman who had put her life on hold to protect Bola, was one of the richest women in the country. No wonder she had always looked so affluent, even when she tried to hide it. Bola wanted the ground to open and swallow her. She wished she had been friendlier from the start, had not been an ingrate, had not allowed her pride to take over her. Now, trying to make amends would be very difficult, especially as she was guest to the woman she had once insulted. “I owe her an apology.”
“What for?” Dupe asked as she brought the tray to the bed. “Would you like some biscuits and milk now?”
“No thanks.” Bola tried to get off the bed, not minding the discomfort in her arm and leg. “I need to see Mrs. Williams. Where is she?”
“Well, I left her with your brother in the living room just outside the corridor. Oh! I almost forgot.” Dupe walked to a corner and brought out a pair of crutches. “These are for you. Madam got them for you. She thought you might need them to move around.”
How thoughtful of her, Bola was thankful. She owed the woman a bucketful of gratitude. She collected the crutches and with Dupe’s assistance, balanced on them. Then she hobbled slowly towards the door. Dupe moved to assist her.
“No, thank you.” Bola stopped her. “I am fine.” She walked through the door into a white corridor. It appeared everything in this house was painted white. The living room was the biggest she had ever seen and everything was white except a splash of red here and there. The television was on and she saw the tip of a little head resting on the big sofa.
The head turned and before she knew it, the boy threw away the pack of biscuits in his hands and rushed into her body.
“Aunt Bola!” He shouted with relief. “You are fine.”
Bola could hardly hold him with her hands holding on to the crutches. “Yes I am and I am glad you are too.” That he was alive and well was something she would always be thankful for. “I am sorry I have put you through a lot these past days. My bad decisions nearly cost us our lives. But you have been a brave boy.”
“I kept the paper you threw away. The paper that had her number. I knew that one day, we might need it. I am happy I kept the paper.”
“Yes, that was very smart of you.” Bola looked around the room for their host. “Where is Mrs. Williams?”
Tomiwa pointed to the balcony opposite them. “She went that way. She had a phone call and went outside to answer it. It looked like an important call. You know you should tell her ‘thank you’ this time for all she has done for us.”
“Yes, that is why I am looking for her. I want to show my gratitude.” Bola smiled at him. “You should go back to your TV.”
Tomiwa did not wait a moment longer. “Yes. I love this cartoon. It’s called Spongebob.” He picked up the pack of biscuit and settled in front of the TV.
“Good.” Bola saw she had lost his attention and found her way to the Balcony. When she opened the glass door, what she saw left her mouth wide open. The balcony was big enough for a party and had its own eating area. But what numbed Bola most was the big swimming pool just in front of it. The pool was beautiful and calm and had its own side bar as if it was another world on its own. It reminded Bola of the contrast in her life. Her life had been an ugly storm one after the other and she wondered if some peace had finally come for her.
A little sound distracted her and when she paid closer attention, she discovered it was someone crying. She traced the voice, walking closer to the railings and just in front of it sat Mrs. Williams crying softly into her phone.
“I don’t know what else to do, Dr. Aluko. I am just tired of everything.” Mrs. Williams wiped the tears off her face. “I have told you my son is not travelling down any time soon. Where else do you want me to get a kidney donor that is compatible? I urinated a lot of blood this morning and my feet are swollen like those of a pregnant woman. I’m scared, doctor. I’m really scared. If this kidney disease is what God wants to use to call me home, then I am ready.” She waited a few seconds before speaking again. “I am not being pessimistic. I am just realistic.” She muffled a cry as she listened to the doctor. “I will try to call him again and see maybe he will be more concerned this time. I know I do not have much time.” She exhaled roughly. “I promise to use my drugs. Thank you, Doctor. Bye for now.”
She cut the call and placed her head into her hands, weeping bitterly into them. After some minutes, she cleaned her face with the tip of her clothes, making sure she looked okay again. With some guests around, she dared not reveal her weak spot. Then she stood up and as she turned to go back into the house, she saw she was not alone.
“Oh, Bola! You are here.” She adjusted her top. “I hope you slept well.” Then she raised a curious eyebrow. “How long have you been standing there?”
Bola’s heart was torn at what she just saw and heard. “Just now.” She lied quickly to cover up. “I just got here now and yes, I slept well, Ma.”
“That’s good. Have you taken breakfast?” Lola smiled beautifully. No one would know she had just finished crying her heart out.
“No, I haven’t, but I will.” Bola replied, staring into her eyes. “I just came to tell you how grateful I am for your kindness. I know I have been rude to you and that was very bad of me. I am very sorry about that, Ma.”
Lola walked round to join Bola on the Balcony. “It’s okay, dear. I know you have had a pretty rough life and showing how tough you are is the way you deal with problems. But it won’t always work for you. Sometimes, you have got to show some weakness and allow someone help you. That way we learn to grow strong together.”
Bola nodded in agreement. “Yes, I get that now.”
“Let’s go eat breakfast.” Lola nodded towards the house. “Before it gets too cold.” She led the way into the living room, walking confidently as if everything was alright.
Bola followed her closely, somewhat confused at the turn of events. How could this woman who appeared to have everything anybody could ask for be in need of something everybody had? Nobody really had everything in this world. Everybody had one problem or the other which they tried to hide beneath the smiles. It was she who wore the shoe that knew where it pinched. No life was perfect, after all. Nobody, not even the rich, had it all.
10.15am – Pauline’s Parent’s house, Abeokuta
When Pauline alighted from the cab that dropped her in front of her parent’s house, a powerful surge of nostalgia overwhelmed her. This was where she had spent all her childhood, had grown up into a well-trained lady her parents had been proud of. In fact, it was from here she got married. In a trance, she saw herself walk out of the house in a beautiful white wedding gown looking like a fairy princess and surrounded by cheery friends and families who had come to wish her well before leaving for the church service. She had been the happiest lady on earth that day. It had been a dream come true. She had overcome the hatred and depression that had taken over her life after the rape incident and was now taking charge of her life. Her world was having a whole new meaning.
Now as she stood just opposite the house, she wished she could turn back the hands of time; wished she had seen into the future and decided against the wedding. Or even left George standing at the altar. She wished none of what she pictured on her mind never happened.
“Pauline? Is that you?”
Pauline snapped out of her thought and saw her mother running out of the bungalow house and across the street to welcome her.
Mrs. Adesuwa pulled her daughter into a tight embrace immediately she crossed the street. “Oh! My daughter.” She said, her voice tight with emotions. “Welcome, home. I have been expecting you.”
Pauline reluctantly placed an arm around her. “Thank you, Mama. But we both know I should not be here to disturb you with my problems.”
“Don’t say that. I am your mother and your problems are my problems.” Mrs. Adesuwa pulled out of the embrace, looking around. “Where is your load? Is this how you came?”
“Yes, Mama. The burden on my heart is enough load to carry.”
“Let’s go into the house.” The older woman held her daughter’s hand. “Your father is expecting you too. But I must warn that he is not pleased you are here.”
“Papa was never pleased with my marriage from the start, so I am not expecting him to welcome me with open arms.”
Pauline allowed herself to be guided by her mother across the street and into the house. As they stepped on the porch, they met her father waiting for them at the door of the house with a frank frown on his face. Pauline sighed. Her father had always been a no-nonsense man who always was fearless in speaking his mind.
“So anytime you have problems in your marital home, you start running back to your parent’s home, abi?” He snarled at her.
“Oko mi, please let her come in first before you start questioning her.” Her mother rose to her defence. “You should know she is not in a good state of mind right now.”
“This is my home and she is my daughter and I have the right to question her the way I want.” He turned his full glare on Pauline. “If your mother had returned home every time we had a problem, then you would have been born out of wedlock or even not born at all.”
“Don’t listen to him.” Mrs. Adesuwa focused on her daughter. “He is just angry at what is happening.” She pulled her daughter past her husband into the house. “Your old room is still empty after all these years. You can use it if you want.”
“It’s okay.” Pauline replied and she walked straight to the room, desperate to leave the living room before another battle of words began between her parents. “I will like some time alone, please.”
“Of course. Take your time.” Her mother responded. “You need all the rest you can get after all you have gone through.”
Pauline shut the door gently after her and once she was alone, she rested her back on the door and the tears she had been stifling came falling down.
If there was anything she would never have thought would happen, it would be coming back to her old room, the place she had spent many months of depression and had shut herself off from the world; the place she had thought she had escaped from. Now, she was back into it. She fell on her knees with her head bowed to the ground as the pains of all the years of a failed marriage came crashing down on her. She was stupid, very stupid to think she had overcome this anguish. No, that dreadful night would haunt her forever. This nightmare had come to stay.
6.45pm – Lola Williams’ House, Ikoyi
“And what is this? I have never eaten this before.” Bola pointed at some leafy foods on the dining table. The three of them – she, Lola and little Tomiwa- had gathered to eat dinner and Bola had never seen so much food in one table. There were some she could recognize and many she couldn’t. So this was what rich people ate? She thought within herself.
“That’s lettuce. Very good source of vitamins.” Lola answered kindly without any trace of irritation. She had been enjoying herself actually. The way Bola had been asking questions before picking any item on the table had been hilarious to watch. The young woman reminded her of how she had reacted the first time Tobi had taken her to a restaurant.
“I don’t think I will like it.” Bola’s face was distorted with distaste.
“Why don’t you taste it first?”
Bola caught the glint in her host’s eyes and felt ashamed of herself. No doubt, she was making a mockery of herself here. And it was funny, even to herself. She laughed out loud. “Maybe tomorrow. I will give it a try tomorrow.”
Lola smiled in response. She liked the sound of the girl’s laughter. The more time they spent together, the more she saw different sides to the girl, as if there were many layers under which laid a beautiful butterfly. And Lola would like to see that butterfly fly. “It is one of the many wonderful foods God provided His children to give us very good health.”
Bola shifted uncomfortably. “You have talked about God many times today. You talk about Him as if He is present with you. But He isn’t.”
Lola smiled at the change of topic. “Oh! He is. He is omnipresent. He is here with us as we eat.”
Lola looked around at the table and smirked. “Then I must be blind or He hates me so much He doesn’t want me to see him.”
“God does not hate you. He is a God of love. Don’t you think it is because He loves you so much that he has brought us together again?”
That question dumbfounded Bola. Why would God love her at all? She had never acknowledged Him; never even believed He existed. Of course, if He did, why did He watch as she suffered all these years without lifting a finger? But today, here she was. Out of the streets. Delivered from death’s grip. With the promise of a better life in front of her. Maybe there was a God after all. And maybe she did underestimate Him.
When she did not reply, Lola continued. “Nothing ever happens without God allowing it. And maybe He allowed you to go through all you went through for a reason. You may not realize it now, but some day, you will. Can you pass me the lettuce, please?”
Bola picked up the bowl filled with the vegetable and as Lola collected it, their hands brushed and Bola felt a connection drawing her closer to the older woman. There was something about her that she could not explain. Was it in the way she spoke with such depth of wisdom or the way she acted with so much love that one could hardly find fault in her? Or the calm way she took life as if she was not fighting a life-threatening disease? Bola was simply in awe.
“Can I ask you something, Bola?” Lola took on a more serious expression. Something had been bothering her since yesterday when she had asked about her parents and the way Bola had snapped made her a bit concerned. “I hope you do not mind.”
Bola noticed the change in tone and became uneasy. “What is it, ma?”
Lola cleared her throat, turning her attention to Tomiwa, who was busy digging into his food. “Tomiwa, can you please excuse your sister and I? You can take your food to the living room but try not to stain the chairs, okay?”
Tomiwa nodded and picked up his plate and juice, eager to spend some time in front of the TV.
When they were alone, Lola spoke quietly. “Please don’t get offended at what I am about to ask. Yesterday when I asked after your parents, you were quick to put an end to the conversation. I am sorry your father kicked you out. Would you like to share with me what happened?”
Bola shut her eyes, fighting off the resistance building up within her. She had expected this would come up, but not this soon. “I… I… I do not really have a good relationship with Baba. He…um…” Bola could not continue.
“He touched you in ways a father shouldn’t?” Lola presumed.
Bola’s eyes met hers, confirming the assumption. “He tried to. But I ran away.”
Lola held the girl’s hands, squeezing them in a comforting way. “I am sorry that happened to you. But you should know you are not alone in this. I know of another young woman who suffered worse fate. Her father, whom she thought was the only one she could trust and would never bring any harm to her, turned against her on one tragic night and forcefully had his way with her. The shame that brought almost led her to commit suicide. And she almost did if not that God decided to come in just in time. It is what you make of your past that will decide your future.”
Bola wondered how she would have endured the shame and pain that would have come had Baba had his way with her. Perhaps, she would have attempted suicide too. And succeeded.
“And about your mother.” Lola continued. “I am sorry you lost her at Tomiwa’s birth.”
“Well, that was a lie I told you.” Bola tried not to make eye contact as shame consumed her. “Truth is I never met my mother. Father said she was a prostitute who got pregnant for him and he took me in because he pitied me. I never met her. I don’t know who she is. Same for Tomiwa. Actually, he is my half-brother. His mother was a prostitute too.”
“Really?” Lola caressed the girl’s hands. “I am sorry about that. How hard it must be for both of you growing up without your mothers.”
“Well, Tomiwa had a mother in me. I was not so lucky, but I survived.”
“And I am very proud of you.” Lola’s heart swelled with pride at what this girl had achieved with so little resources. She was such a tough survivor. “You know I may not be the kind of mother-figure you need. You once called me an old hag.” Lola winked playfully. “But I can act the part if you allow me.”
Bola’s mind almost exploded. The elderly host said she was proud of her. No one had ever been proud of her. And that made her feel important for the first time in her entire life. She started crying.
“Did I say something wrong?” Lola was confused.
“No, you didn’t.” Bola wiped the tears off her face. “I… I don’t know why you are treating me with such kindness. Sometimes I feel I do not deserve it. Actually, I don’t.”
“Actually, you do. Because you have faced difficult times does not mean you are not entitled to good times or deeds. And when such good times come, you should make the effort to enjoy them. Just think about my offer, okay?” Lola stood up from the table. “Don’t forget I didn’t say I wanted to be your mother. I only said I wanted to act like, if that would make you feel comfortable. I need to retire for the night now. It has been a pleasurable and stimulating conversation with you.”
Bola stood up in respect. “Thank you very much, Ma. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
“Me too.” Lola replied with a bright smile and left the table.
As she was about to finally leave the dining room, Bola stopped her.
“Wait.” Bola searched her eyes. “That young lady who got raped by her father in the story was you, wasn’t it?”
Lola did not reply. Instead she smiled again, this time very meaningfully before she turned and walked away.
Bola watched her leave with a singular thought on her mind. If this woman could overcome her terrible, past life, why can’t I?