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TRIANGULAR (14)

Happy New Week, friends! Today, we go a step further with ‘Triangular’ and hope it has been a pleasant ride for you. Please note that today, 5th January 2015, we shall be moving REDigion to her new home and everyone is invited. The new REDigion offers much more for your spiritual journey and walk with Christ. There is something in it for everyone. Please follow/subscribe on the site so you can keep to date with everything.  You can also follow REDigion on Facebook and Twitter to get updates. Trust me, what God has in store for you through REDigion will blow your mind. Bookmark the page and invite people along. Let’s do this together!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has shared, tweeted, subscribed, commented, liked, read and followed REDigion on this platform. Now, let’s take it to a bigger stage. 2015 will be a beautiful walk. Together in Christ.

Now, the 14th episode…

 

TUESDAY, 15TH JULY 2014

4.00pm – St. George’s Hospital, Ikoyi

Dr. Aluko sat in his large office filled with books and some medical tools. He was tired. Today had been very hectic for him after going through one surgery to another, barely having time to rest in-between. His fingers were tired and his eyes drowsy. He yawned, grateful his shift was finally over. A knock on the door got a reluctant response from him.

The door opened and a head peeped in. It was the Head Nurse. “You have a visitor sir. Can she come in?”

Dr. Aluko scowled. “Can’t you see my shift is over? I cannot see anybody now. Please refer her to another doctor.”

The door opened wider and the nurse came in fully, closing the door behind her. “I did but she insisted it was you she wanted to see. I am sorry you are tired, but she said she would not leave until she sees you. She is a bit stubborn.”

“Is she one of our registered patients?”

“Mrs. Williams.”

“Oh!” The doctor sat straight and adjusted his overall. “You should have told me it was her. She is one of our Diamond Patients. Please send her in.”

The nurse nodded and left the room. A minute later, the door opened and she ushered the Patient in. When Dr. Aluko saw Lola, he became perturbed when he saw the look on her face. Immediately she sat down, he got down to business.

“Good evening, Mrs. Williams. You don’t look well. Is the nurse not taking good care of you?”

“Good afternoon, Doctor. I must thank you for creating time for me.” Lola settled fully into the chair. “Nurse Titi is doing her best. But you know there are some things she still cannot do for me.”

“That was why I wanted to keep you here, but you refused. How do you feel?”

“Well, I have this occasional pain in my stomach, but that cannot be compared to the pain in my heart.”

“Your heart? What is the problem?” The doctor brought out his notepad and pen. “You know you can tell me anything.”

“You can put your note and pen back. This isn’t something your medical knowledge can cure.”

“Is this about Charles?” Dr. Aluko knew his Patient and her family issues too well. “Did he refuse to be a donor?”

“Well, technically, yes.”

“What do you mean ‘technically’? You have told him, haven’t you?”

“I did tell him or tried to, but he stated clearly that he would not come down to Nigeria any time soon because of his business interests.” Lola’s hands shook slightly. “You will not even believe that he called my husband’s younger sister to come and take care of me in his stead. How thoughtless of him!”

“You are agitated, Mrs. Williams, and that is not good for your health. I have told you that you need to keep your calm always, especially at this time.”

“How can I keep my calm when my own flesh and blood is treating me as if I am nothing but a piece of bone?” The veins in Lola’s throat throbbed with pain. “To think he is all I have now is something that is even more hurting. I wish I had another child I could turn to right now.”

Dr. Aluko did not know how to respond. He could handle matters relating to physical health, but when it came to emotional health, he could hardly treat even himself. “I am sorry you feel that way, Mrs. Williams. But we cannot keep waiting for you and Charles to be on the same page. We have to look for an alternative. Don’t you have anyone else?”

Lola quickly cleaned off the tears at the corners of her eyes. “That is why I am here, Doctor. To ask you if there is anybody you can recommend. I am ready to pay any amount to this person.”

Dr. Aluko was taken aback. He had not expected that. “Unfortunately, I cannot do that. The donor must be someone close to you because your antigens need to match, or else it will be very risky. Getting a commercial donor is difficult and against my professional ethics.”

Lola sank lower into the seat. “That means I am going to die then.”

“You will not. Can’t you think of another person in your family or your husband’s?

“Don’t you get it, Doctor? I have kept this as a secret from everyone. Once they hear of this ailment, a tussle will begin for the inheritance my husband and I have sweated all our lives for. Do you know the problems I faced from my in-laws after Tobi died, especially when they learnt he willed everything to me? No, telling them is not going to happen.”

“So there is not one of them you can trust?”

“No.” Her response was curt. There was no way she would go through the trauma she went through after Tobi’s death. This was why she had distanced herself from her in-laws. They had always been trouble.

Doctor Aluko did not know what to do. He sighed deeply. “Okay. I will get across to my contacts and see if we can find a couple of people that can donate. Hopefully, we can get one who will be compatible.”

“That would be fantastic, Doctor. I suggest you do that on time, now that I am ready to do the surgery before I change my mind. I don’t even mind having to fly to India even if I have to throw up all the way. And I also hope there will be no heart attack this time.”

The doctor smiled assuredly. “Don’t worry. You will be fine. The surgery is also very easy to perform.”

Lola stood up to leave, feeling a whole lot better. “Thank you, Doctor. At least I know there is still hope for me, even if it does not come through my son.”

“I trust you are using your medications well.”

“Yes, I am.”

“Good. Once I get any info, I will let you know.”

“Thank you, Doctor. You have been more than a Doctor to me. You are also a friend and lifesaver. Thank you so much.”

Doctor Aluko smiled. “And the pleasure is mine.”

As soon she stepped out of the office, Lola felt a surge of elation pass through her. No hope was lost after all. God would provide a way for her, even if it was through a total stranger and not her son. He would not leave her to die. She walked out of the hospital and towards her car full of hope and faith than she had ever had in recent times.

“How the meeting go, Madam?” Emeka asked as he opened the door of the car for her.

“It went very well, Emeka. Thank you.” Lola replied sweetly.

Emeka smiled in response and when he got inside the car, he asked. “Na house we dey go so?”

“No. Not yet. We have just one more place to visit. My lawyer is expecting me at 5.30pm and I do not want to be late.”

“No problem, Madam. We go reach there now now.”

“Just don’t speed too much.” Lola settled comfortably into the seat with a smile on her face.

Things were taking shape little by little. She would get a compatible donor and have the transplant done in no time. No one would even know. Her phone rang and she smiled when she saw who it was.

“Hello, Bola. How are you doing? Hope you are resting well.” She listened to her caller and then she laughed hard. “No, not at all. I am fine too and will be home soon.” She listened again. “I am not sure but I don’t think I will make it back before 9.00pm. I am on my way for a business meeting now, so don’t worry if you cannot wait up for me. You can go to sleep if I don’t come back early.” She grinned. “Thank you for checking up on me. That’s thoughtful of you. Bye for now.” She cut the phone, the smile not leaving her face. “Isn’t she a nice girl?” She asked Emeka.

“Who?” Emeka asked, not sure who she was referring to.

“Bola. The girl I brought home from the hospital.”

“She dey rude before but e be like say she don change.”

“Yes, she has. All she needed was to be put in the right direction. I have plans for her and can’t wait to share it with her when I get home.” The excitement in Lola rose even higher as she pictured the joy on Bola’s face when she gives the young girl the news. But first, she needed to see her lawyer and put all legal things in place. It was time she started that Foundation she had always wanted, her vision of taking poor girls out of the slum and placing them on their feet, giving them a chance at fulfilling their dreams by placing them on life-time education scholarships. And Bola would be the first recipient of that. How more exciting could that be?

 

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

8.00pm – Lola Williams’ House

Bola was very tense. She did not know why the people in the house had refused to have an early night today of all days. Even Dupe, who was always busy, had been sitting in front of the television for hours as if she had nothing else to do. ‘Madam’ was not around so everyone was in a relaxed mood. Only Bola wasn’t. She needed everyone to retire early, but it did not look like it would happen soon.

After the scary call from ‘Chairman’ this afternoon, Bola had thought of finding a way out of the dilemma she had been put, but there was none. And she was getting really frightened. Time was running out on her. She had been given twenty four hours to do what her father’s captors demanded or he would be killed. As much as she did not like Baba, she was not ready to lose him. Excluding little Tomiwa, he was all the family she has got.

Chairman’s demand was simple. Get some costly jewelry out of the house and bring it to him at an undisclosed location tomorrow morning. He would call her to finalise where in the morning. And she had been strictly warned not to tell anyone or else she would lose her father. She did not have a choice. She knew Mrs. Williams would have some very expensive jewelry, considering the ones the woman had been wearing all these times. There were some Bola was sure would cost a lot of money. Perhaps if she could secretly lay her hands on them, she would be early enough to save her father’s life. But was she ready to betray the very person who had shown her kindness and given her life some value? What if she confided in the woman? She doubted Mrs. Williams would want to part with any of her jewelry. Plus, she did not want to involve the old woman more into this mess. Already, her residing in the house was causing trouble and who knew what more would come after this. One thing was certain, if she was able to get some of those jewelry, there would be no coming back into the house. She would have to kiss this life goodbye and run away as far as she could. And what about Tomiwa? Would she want to take him back into the dirty life they once lived? She shook her head. No, she would leave him here. This was the life she had promised to give him. And she had fulfilled her promise. He would have a good life, get the best education, grow up to be an accomplished man she would be proud of. And she? Well, she might keep running all the days of her life. She did not have a choice. She had to save Baba. He was family.

Her eyes strayed to the corridor behind them where the master bedroom was located. She wished everyone would just stand up and go to sleep, so she could gain access into that room. She glanced at the wall clock. Mrs. Williams had said she would not make it before 9.00pm, leaving a grace period of less than an hour for Bola to make the move.

“Is nobody feeling sleepy?” She yawned in pretence. “I am. We should all go and sleep. Plus Mrs. Williams must not meet you sitting in front of the TV, doing nothing.” She faced Dupe and two other workers. “You know she doesn’t like idleness.”

“You are right.” Dupe replied before turning to the others. “Madam must not see us sitting us like this o!”

“And she can come in any moment from now.” Bola quickly added. She stood up with the help of her crutches and walked towards the television, switching it off before anyone could object.

Everyone stood up hastily and said their goodbyes as they left the main house to the boys’ quarters.

“Are you not going to sleep too, Aunty Bola?” Tomiwa asked his sister as he fought to keep sleep away from his eyes.

“I will lie down here and wait for her to come before I go to sleep. You just go and sleep. I will come and meet you soon.”

“Okay.” Tomiwa rubbed his sleepy eyes as he walked towards their bedroom.

Bola laid on the sofa, waiting patiently for silence to take over the house. Once everywhere became quiet, she got out of the sofa stealthily like a cat and headed straight for the room where what she wanted laid. She was worried about one thing, though. What if Mrs. Williams had locked the door? Still, there was no harm in trying. If she did, Bola would have to devise another means.

She walked silently along the corridor to the bedroom door. She had never been to this side of the house and was a bit scared. When she got to the door, she cautiously placed her hand on the handle and tried to open the door. To her surprise, the door opened without any resistance, as if it had been waiting for her. This was too easy, Bola thought. Guilt started eating into her mind, but she waved it off. This was for Baba. She either did this or risk losing him. She doubted if she would be able to live with the guilt of his death if she failed this mission.

Once inside the room, Bola stood still for several seconds after she put on the light, amazed at how beautiful the room was. She had never been into a more spacious, more elegant bedroom. The gigantic bed which was in the middle was surrounded by art works and the marbled floor sparkled against the cream wall. On the wall laid portraits of Mrs. Williams and her husband. One of them was a picture of the couple playing in the beach when they were much younger with Mrs. Williams looking vibrant and very much in love.  Concentrate, Bola! She chided herself. This was no time to get carried away by photos. You are here for expensive jewelry, not useless photos.

Bola headed straight to the big three-drawer mini-cupboard below a giant mirror by the bed. She was sure she would find what she wanted there. And when she opened the first drawer, she was right. The amount of Jewelry there was something she had never seen before. And they all sparkled and looked beautiful. Bola became confused. She did not know which to pick. Truth was the jewelry was so much that she was sure Mrs. Williams would not notice if anything got missing. Why would she keep so much jewelry in the house without locking her door? Did she trust her house-helps enough not to steal from her? What kind of silly trust was that?

She picked up one long neck chain and chuckled at how it sparkled in the light. So this was what it looked like to be rich? To have so many accessories and not be able to wear some of them in your lifetime. She dug her hand further into the drawer and her hand hit something hard at the bottom. When she searched for it and brought it out, she was shocked at what she saw. It was a wedding ring that had little diamond crusts around it and with a sparkling one at the top. This would definitely cost a lot of money. Bola could hardly breathe at her discovery. The fact that it was below the heap of jewelry showed Mrs. Williams did not need it and might not even notice its absence. How perfect!

But this is wrong, Bola! You shouldn’t do this.

I don’t have a choice.

You do. You can choose to confide in Mrs. Williams.

If I do, Baba will be killed. I cannot risk that. It’s just a ring that she doesn’t wear anymore. At least, I am not harming her.

You are stealing from her and betraying her. That is harm enough.

Bola shut her eyes against the guilt crawling up her skin. She was betraying the woman who had sacrificed a lot for her, throwing her only chance at a good life into the wind. She slid the ring into her finger and it fit perfectly as if it belonged to her. Bola wondered if she would ever get anything this lovely and expensive as a wedding ring. Or if she would ever get a ring at all. This ring could be Mrs. Williams’ most treasured item. This was a mistake. She shouldn’t be doing this.

Your father will die if you don’t.

But it is wrong. I cannot steal from her.

Mtschew! Like she will know. Look at the amount of jewelry she has. She will never realize the ring is missing.

But it is her wedding ring.

And it is your father’s life at stake. Can you live with the thought that you could have saved him but you did not? That it was your negligence that killed him?

No, I cannot allow Baba die because of me. She hid the ring in her pocket and carefully sneaked out of the room. As she quietly closed the door after her, she sighed sorrowfully. The deed was done and there was no turning back.

 

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

10.15pm

George rolled from one edge of the bed to the other in agitation. Today had not gone too well for him. He had woken up with a slight headache, had hit another car on his way to work, had received written query from the Director when he arrived later than usual, had failed to submit the proposal that was long overdue and received another query for that, but top of all, had been bugged relentlessly by annoying phone calls from his mother-in-law. It was as if the more he was determined not to pick her calls, the more resilient she was to talk to him. It was not like he did not want to talk to her, he just did not know how to start explaining where things went wrong. The fact was things went wrong from the beginning, from the moment he refused to tell his wife the truth about himself. And it kept getting worse with every passing day of silence.

His phone rang again and he grumbled when he saw it was the same person calling. Maybe he should just pick the call so she could let him be. He picked the call. “Good evening, ma.”

“George, why are you doing this to me?” Mama headed straight into the hard talk. “What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment you are giving my daughter?”

“Mama, if you can just listen to me…”

“You sent her packing out of her matrimonial home because of something that is no fault of hers.” Mrs. Adesuwa spoke amidst tears.

That caught George’s attention and he sat up in bed. “What do you mean?” Did she know about his problem?

“You brought another woman into the home my daughter built with her life all these years. Tell me, George, is that fair? All because she could not bear you children.”

“I made a mistake, no doubt, and I have rectified it. I sent the woman packing out of my house and wanted Pauline back.” George replied, the hurt boiling in his heart. “Only for me to get to the hospital, thinking I could beg my wife to come back, just to find her all cuddled up in the arms of another man.”

“Another man?” Mrs. Adesuwa sounded lost. “Which man?”

“Oh! I see she hasn’t told you of her new boyfriend.”

“Pauline has been dedicated to you all her life. She would never cheat on you.”

“You think so?” George scorned bitterly. “Why don’t you go ask her yourself? Of course, she may lie to you the way she has been lying to me.”

“I know my girl. She can never do such a thing. She can be stubborn sometimes, but she will never cheat on you. It was you who cheated on her by bringing another woman into your house.” Mrs. Adesuwa was insistent. “And you should come over to my place to apologise to her right away.”

George gave a mocking chortle. “Apologise fire! I am not coming down to Abeokuta to settle issues between myself and her in her parent’s house. No way! Tell your daughter to come back to Lagos and we shall settle things under my own roof.”

“It may not be as easy as you make it sound.”

“What do you mean?”

“I heard her talking over the phone to a lawyer. She was asking about the divorce process, George. Pauline is really frustrated right now and when she is like this, she takes some foolish steps. This is why I have been calling you. To try to convince you to come down so we can settle this issue once and for all.”

Ehn…. So she is working on getting a divorce?” George felt some sourness on his tongue. “She can go ahead. Our marriage was a mistake from the start anyway. I should not have married her. I made the greatest mistake of my life eight years ago when I took her to the altar.”

“Don’t say that…”

“I will say it over and over again. She did not love me at all. She was only pretending. That is why she has been making sure she does not get pregnant.”

“Ha! George, don’t say that. My daughter really wants to be pregnant, to build a family with you. But…” Her voice trailed away. “Never mind.”

“But what?” George jumped off his bed. “Is there something I should know?”

Mrs. Adesuwa sighed sadly and her voice went a notch lower. “There is something you should know George, something that happened to your wife some years back.” She sniffed as sorrow overwhelmed her. “Promise me you will never tell her I told you. But I just feel that as her husband, you have every right to know and I hope this will make you change your mind about the whole thing and come for your wife.”

It was moments like this that made George uncomfortable. He had a gut feeling he would not like what she was about to tell him. “I am listening.”

For the next five minutes, George listened to the terrifying trauma that happened to Pauline nine years ago and with every word, his heart sank deeper. Why didn’t she ever tell him about this? To think that they lived as husband and wife for eight years and she kept such a deep secret from him? Knowing this before now would have changed everything… How was she able to live with such pain without letting him be a part of it? He could hardly blame her because he, himself, was guilty of same. He had never told his wife that he would never be able to have children either, that his sperm count was so low that the doctor had said only a miracle could change that. And he had got married, hoping the miracle would happen. He had got married sterile to a woman who would never be able to bear children, which was no fault of hers. Why had they not been truthful to each other from the start? Being sincere and open would have rid them of all the years of pain and rejection they had suffered together. What a loss!

“So that is why she cannot give birth.” Mrs. Adesuwa concluded amidst tears. “My daughter lost her womb to that incident.”

“Who are you talking to, Mama?”

Mrs. Adesuwa turned slowly to see her daughter standing behind her in the shadows of the late evening.

“Who are you talking to about me?” Pauline asked in anger, fear clear on her face. “Is it George you are talking with? Have you spilled my life to him?”

Mrs. Adesuwa tried to hold her daughter. “Pauline, it is not what you think.”

“Did you tell him I cannot bear children, that my womb is destroyed and that is why he doesn’t have a child?” Pauline stepped back in fury and scared she could do something really bad to her mother. “Did you tell him what happened to me that fateful night and does he hate me more now more than ever?” She burst into uncontrollable tears as she turned and walked away.

“Pauline, wait!” Her mother ran after her.

“Leave me alone!” Pauline cried out. “You have hurt me greatly, Mama, and right now, I really don’t know the difference between you and George. I don’t ever want to see the both of you again!” She stormed back into the house.

“What is happening here?” Her father stood in the door way, wondering what the noise was all about.

Pauline ran past him without saying a word. When he saw his wife and the phone in her hand, he took a guess. “You have spilled the beans to her husband, haven’t you?”

His wife looked like she had just been caught stealing.

He condemned her outright. “You this woman! Didn’t I tell you to leave them alone? But your chatty mouth will not. Now you have destroyed everything. Now hand over that phone to me!”

His wife took some steps towards him and handed over the phone without objection.

He took a look at the phone and found out the ongoing call was still on. “Hello, George. Are you there?”

A disenchanted George spoke into the phone. “Yes… Yes sir.”

“I don’t have much to say to you as I see that my wife has done that for me. But this I have to say to you. Stop being wimpy and be a man. Whatever happens after now is in your court. If you love your wife in spite of what you have been told, then come and get her. If not, then stay away, but I promise you that if any further hurt comes to my daughter, this earth will not be able to contain you and I.” He cut the call.

George trembled intensely as he ruminated over what just happened. He fell on the bed and took deep breaths. He knew what to do. First thing tomorrow, he would travel to Abeokuta. He would bring his wife back home and they would talk. They would talk and be open to each other for once in their marriage. And they would start again. Things would take a new turn. They would try to build what they had crashed. Together. As it should have been from the beginning.

 

TRIANGULAR (11&12)

Happy New Year

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, Mama.”

“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?”

“Mrs. Williams.”

“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.

“Tomiwa.”

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?

TRIANGULAR (9)

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SUNDAY, 13TH JULY 2014

1.05pm

Bosco parked opposite the Duro-Soleye Hospital and studied the environment. Here everyone minded his business and no one would suspect an assassin was around, so doing this job would be easy. All he needed to do was to enter the hospital, pretend to be Bola’s brother, get directions to her room and when they were alone, he would kill her. Thankfully, it was a silent pistol so no one would hear a thing. Perfect plan!

He, however, needed to be careful especially of that policewoman, if she was still around. He still wondered how she got to know about the exchange and where and when it would take place. If not for her, everything would have gone according to plan. She had foiled everything and created this mess for him. He saw her now as she walked out of the hospital compound, looking like every other woman on the street. No one would know there was more to her. She was a devil sent to make his life a living hell, but he was about to change that. The woman, dressed in plain, yellow shirt and a pair of black trousers, seemed to be staring at his car before she turned left and walked away, with her phone placed on her ear. Now, the coast was clear for him. His hand went underneath his jacket to check what hung inside the holster and when he felt the cold steel against his hands, his courage went a notch higher. He needed to do this job right or he would lose more than his life.

He got out of the car and locked the door. Then he went to the boot and laid his hands on it. Something was there that no one should know about. Something he needed to discard once he was done with this job. He headed straight into the hospital, crossing the road and into the compound. It was a small, two storey hospital and when he entered the large reception, he met a nurse at the desk.

He quickly twisted his face as if he was in deep worry. “Nurse, please. I am here for my sister. I heard she was involved in an accident and was brought here. Her name is Bola.”

The petite nurse looked up from the file in her hands. “Oh! Thank God! We have not been able to make any contact with her family. She had no phone on her. Thankfully, you are here.”

“Is she okay?” Bosco held tightly to the desk. “Is my sister okay? Can I see her?”

“Well, she is resting now. Luckily, the car was not on top speed or else it could have been worse. She got some dislocations though and some bruises here and there, but nothing that won’t heal.”

“Oh! Thank God!” Bosco looked VERY relieved. “Our mother nearly died when I told her. She is on her way, but may not be here anytime soon. But I am here. Is Bola alone? Can I see her now?”

“Unfortunately, she is sleeping now, so it’s best not to disturb her.” The nurse pointed at one of the seats in the reception. “You can sit there and wait. I promise I will alert you once she wakes up. I am sure she will be happy to see you.”

That didn’t go down well with Bosco. “I want to see my sister now and you are telling me to sit and wait for her to awake! I just want to see her and stay by her side, holding her hands! I am her brother!”

“Excuse me, please!”

Two pair of eyes turned to the entrance, when an elderly but graceful-looking woman stood.

“How can I help you, ma?” The nurse asked.

The woman walked slowly to the desk. “My name is Mrs. Williams and I will like to see Bola.”

“Oh! You must be her mother we have been expecting.” The nurse’s eyes flew back to Bosco. “Thank God she is here.” She walked around the desk. “Let me check on Bola and see if she is awake and fit to receive visitors. You can sit down there and wait.”

Lola raised her hand to object she was not the mother, but something told her to hold back. Bola, whoever she was, was in danger and she needed to be careful. Her killers could be anywhere.

She walked to the seat area and sat on one of the chairs. The young man, on the other hand, refused to sit and kept his eyes on the nurse till she entered one of the rooms. He looked very agitated and Lola felt sorry for him. She wondered who he was, a close family member or a friend. Still, there was something eerie about him and about the way the veins throbbed in his neck.

“I assume you are here for Bola too.” Lola asked him.

“Yes.”

“Are you her friend or brother?”

Bosco stopped pacing and gave the woman a hard look. “I am her friend. Who are you to her? I know you are not the mother because I have never met you before.”

“Well, you can say I’m her friend too.” Though I have never met her.

“I’ve known her since childhood. This accident nearly took her life, but thank God it didn’t.”

Accident? Lola thought wildly. The little boy never mentioned that. This must be worse than she was told. Maybe she should just stand up and leave. “I hope she’s fine.”

The nurse returned, shaking her head. “She is still sleeping and I am sorry, I cannot wake her. You will have to wait till she wakes up.”

“Where is your restroom, please?” Bosco asked, holding his trousers as if he was really under pressure.

“The male restroom is that way.” The nurse pointed to the same direction she had returned from. “First room on your left on the corridor.”

Bosco walked smartly to the restroom, hiding a smile. He had studied the area very well. The restroom was just opposite the room where Bola was. All he needed to do was to pretend to use the restroom and then sneak out to the other room, making sure no one saw him. Then he would do what he came here to do and sneak out after giving a lame excuse.

He entered the restroom and stayed there for about a minute before moving. He opened the door very quietly and looked from left to right. Not a soul moved in the corridor and the nurse was deep into a phone conversation. The old woman kept staring at the entrance as if she was expecting someone to come through. Within few seconds, he tiptoed to the other side, his back against the wall. Then his hand went to the knob of the door beside him. This is it, he smiled to himself, as he left himself in.

 

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

1.05pm – same time

“I’m sorry I cannot just let you go, Mrs….” The doctor looked through the file in his hand for the name of his Patient.

“Pauline. Just call me Pauline.” I am Mrs. Nobody.

“Okay, Pauline. You have some first degree burns especially on your right arm and a bit of it on your left.”

Pauline sat up on the hospital bed. “Yes, I know that, but it isn’t something major. It isn’t like I have burns all over my body that I cannot do anything else or even take care of myself.”

“Yes, right. But still, I need you to stay for one night. Plus, you look like an emotional wreck.” The doctor insisted.

“He is right, Pauline.” Ezinne agreed with him. “The burn doesn’t look good at all.” Plus you look like an emotional wreck.

Pauline gave up. They were right anyway. “Okay. Just one night.”

The doctor smiled. “Thank you for accepting. I have to check on my other patients now. I promise I will check up on you again before my shift is over.”

“Okay, thank you, doctor.” Pauline rested back into the bed, making sure her bandaged hand was safely tucked beside her.

“What are you going to do now?” Ezinne asked immediately the door closed after the doctor. “I cannot believe what that witch did this to you.”

“I don’t know. I feel I have lost the battle already so there is nothing else I can do to get my husband back. I have failed, Ezinne.”

Ezinne exhaled sharply. Anytime her friend became pessimistic, it affected her, made her want to fight for Pauline. When she had arrived at Pauline’s house some hours ago and saw the burns, it took all her willpower and persuasion from Pauline to stop her from climbing up the stairs and forcing her way into the house to pour a bucket of hot water on Nneka.

“I almost told him.” Pauline spoke sadly. “Almost told him my darkest secret. Been thinking if it would have changed anything if I had opened up. Perhaps it would have made him more understanding, empathic.”

“Or made him hate you more.” Ezinne stood up, irritated at her friend’s words. “You never told him before he married you. You kept that secret from him for eight years, Pauline. Eight long years! He will detest you, blame you for all the delay. It was good you withheld it from telling him. You would have got more than first degree burns. Maybe a first-class assault.”

Ezinne’s words felt like hot steam on Pauline’s skin, adding to the pain she already was going through. Guilt gnawed at her, condemning her for keeping quiet all these years. But she had been afraid. Afraid to speak out. Afraid no man would have wanted her. Ashamed of being tagged a rape victim. Frightened to come out of the shell she had shielded herself in. She never knew that someday that shell would crack, exposing her to the shadows of her past and she would have nowhere to hide or run to for safety. That day had finally come.

Her phone vibrated and Ezinne picked it up from the bedside table. Her mouth opened in surprise as she handed over the phone to Pauline. “It’s Ola.”

Pauline almost jumped out of the bed, forgetting her pains temporarily. “Ola?” She grabbed the phone from Ezinne. Ola? What did he want with her? She thought he had completely forgotten about her. After the Friday reunion, he had not called her neither did not mention he would like to see her again when the meeting ended. And Pauline had not wanted to see him ever again. Not after she realized she would never be more than a friend to him.

“Pick the call, Pauline.” Ezinne encouraged. “Isn’t he the nice pastor guy you told me about?”

Pauline dropped the phone on the table and turned her back against it, fighting off the temptation to pick the call. She desperately wanted to. “No, I cannot. I thought he had travelled back to the States. Why is he calling me?” Especially when I am weak and need a strong shoulder to cry on.

“Maybe there was more to the meeting then. Maybe he felt a connection too.”

Pauline gasped. “How can you say that, Ezinne? A connection? He is married, for Pete’s sake, and has a happy family. The last thing I need right now is to be another man’s play tool.” The line cut and she relaxed. She overcame the temptation.

Ezinne sat beside her friend. “If he did not feel something, then why would he call at all?”

The phone started ringing again.

“Or why would he be calling again?” Ezinne added, picking the phone and placing it before Pauline. “Just pick the call, Pauline. Forget what I said about the connection thing. You need people around you now and right now, it’s becoming too tasking for me to be all you need. It’s just a call from a friend, that’s all.”

Pauline watched the phone ring and slowly her hands went to the handset. She took in a deep breath. “Hello.”

“Hi, Pauline!” Ola sounded very excited. “I thought you were busy, just decided to try my luck one more time. Will be leaving on Tuesday, so I thought we could catch up one last time before I leave. Can we see tomorrow, if that’s okay with you?”

Yes! Yes!!, Pauline wanted to scream out.  “I…I can… I cannot, Ola. I’m sorry. I will be very… very busy.” Pauline tried to pull herself together. “I will not be available.”

“Are you okay? You don’t sound too good.” His voice was filled with concern and Pauline almost changed her mind. “Where are you?” He asked.

“In the hospital. Just had a minor accident, but I will be out in no time.”

“You are in the hospital? That’s not good. Where is the hospital? Let me come and see you now.”

“No, you cannot.”

“I insist. What kind of accident is that? Is your husband aware? Is he there with you?”

There was a moment of silence as Pauline did not know how to respond. Her husband was not there, had never been there. She had been all alone for a long time. “I’m okay, but if you insist, it’s Duro-Soleye Hospital in Ikeja.”

“Got it. I’m getting my driver to bring me down right away. Is there anything you would want me to come along with? Beverages, food, anything?”

How about a dose of love? “Bring anything that comes to your mind.”

“Okay, on my way. Will be with you shortly.”

The line cut and Pauline dug her head into the pillow. What have I done?

“So I guess he is on his way?” Ezinne asked with a sheepish smile on her face.

“Yes, and I hope I am not making a mistake.”

“Not at all. It’s just a friendly visit, that’s all, and I think you should be happy there are people who still care about you.”

Pauline sighed. Ezinne was right. Right now, she needed those who loved her to be around her more than ever. There was nothing wrong in having Ola over, was there? No, there wasn’t. But why was her heart beating so hard as if she had just committed a fatal error?

 

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

1.35pm

She was sleeping when he walked in. He smiled. This would be easier than he thought. He would just point the pistol at her chest and hit his target. She would not feel a thing. His hand went to his pistol pad. He would do this quick and get out of here before anyone could notice a thing. Her head turned sideways as if she was trying to wake up and she mumbled some things he could barely hear. Her broken right arm was fully bandaged and placed above her chest and her left leg was raised, hanging above her body. It appeared she was greatly hit. Well, she deserved it. If she had kept her mouth shut, minded the business she was sent to do, all these would not have happened. She deserved the pain she got and she also deserved to die. His hand went to the holster beneath his jacket.

“Bosco?” It was barely a whisper.

Bosco moved closer to the bed, hiding the gun behind him. “Yes, Bola.”

Her eyes still looked sleepy, but she was awake. There were bits of scratches here and there on her face. “What happened?”

“A car hit you.” He replied in Yoruba.

Bola twisted her face as she tried to recall everything that happened. “I messed up.”

“Yes, you didn’t follow instructions and you messed up everything.” How he hated her right now!

“How is my brother?” She tried to sit up as panic steadily took over. “Where is my brother?”

“Your brother is not here.”

“Where is he? I want to see him.” Bola tried to get off the bed.

“No, you will not. You remember our bargain, don’t you? Your foolishness has cost us too much already and your brother too will pay for it.”

“What do you mean by ‘too’?” Bola’s eyes followed his right hand that had rested underneath his jacket. “You are here to kill me?” Panic took the full swing. But before any sound could come out of her throat, Bosco brought out the gun and hit her hard on the head with the butt, knocking her out.

Then he raised the pistol above her chest, counting one, two, three and as he pulled the trigger…

The door flung open. “Drop your weapon!”

Bosco froze on his feet. He turned and saw a woman in yellow and black cloth point a pistol directly at his head.

“I will not repeat myself. Drop that gun!” Detective Bridget looked like she would not miss her target if the young man made the mistake of pulling the trigger. “Put your hands on your head.”

Bosco looked from the fearsome Detective to the unconscious lady on the bed and back. He had almost accomplished this task until this stupid policewoman came in. No doubt, she had been watching him and he had fallen prey to her trap. He held on to the gun. “If you kill me, you will not find her brother. Only I know where he is, so you need me alive.”

“You mean the boy you hid inside your boot? Don’t worry. I got him out.”

Gobe!  Bosco thought wildly. It was clear all odds were against him. If only he could turn the tables… Without warning, he turned the gun on the Detective quickly and as he pulled the trigger, he felt several waves of pain in his legs. He slumped on the floor, writhing in pain.

“You should have listened to me instead.” Detective Bridget stood vigilant, ready to release more shots. She moved closer to him and knocked him out with the butt of her gun. “That is to teach you to obey Police Officers.”

She dashed to the bed, afraid she was too late to save the poor girl. She had almost lost hope when she entered the room and found the girl unconscious with a gun raised above her body. But when she felt the pulse on the girl’s neck, the Detective breathed a sigh of relief. She made it just in time.

 

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

At the adjoining room

“What was that?” Pauline asked, fear on her face as she laid face-down on the floor beside Ezinne.

“I don’t know. Sounds like a gun.” Ezinne replied, equally afraid.

“Gunshot in an hospital?”

“Shhhh!” Ezinne cautioned her friend. “Sounds like it’s coming from the room next to us.”

“Maybe my husband has come to kill me.”

“Don’t be silly!” Ezinne pressed her ears against the floor. “Looks like it has stopped. Let me go and check what it is.”

“What!” Pauline disagreed. “What if a stray bullet hits you?”

“There are no more gunshots, Pauline. I need to know what is out there if we are to get out of here alive.”

There was a heavy knock on the door and both women nearly fainted from fright.

“This is Detective Bridget. You may come out of your rooms. Everything is safe now.” The voice was definitely a woman’s and sounded very authoritative.

Slowly, Ezinne opened the door and right at the entrance was a woman in a commando position holding a pistol, with a very serious look on her face.

“Who are you?” Ezinne asked. A killer, no doubt.

“I already told you my name.” The Detective’s voice was blunt. “I just came here to tell you not to be scared. I got everything under control and the killer has been unarmed.” She moved to check if there were occupants in other rooms.

Killer? Pauline rose from the floor and walked slowly out of the room. Who would an assassin come to murder in an hospital? The shots indeed came from the next room and when she got there, she met a man lying flat in a pool of blood while the doctor was trying to calm a young woman, who was hysterical. Beside him was another woman, more elderly, who equally looked panic-stricken.

“What happened here?” She asked in a trembling voice.

Three pairs of eyes turned to look at her and she almost choked on her feet when she recognized two of those pairs.

What the heck is going on here?

 

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

2.10pm

“Sign here, please.” Detective Bridget passed a form and a pen to the elderly woman.

“Thank you, Detective ….”

“Detective Bridget.” Bridget answered with a smile. She was used to having people accept the fact that a woman could be such a good police officer that would bring down an armed man with a gun. So she was not surprised when she had walked through the door of the hospital with a pistol in her hand and the older woman had looked like she was about to jump out of her skin.

Lola signed the paper with trembling hand, barely focusing on the form. Her eyes were on the woman who had just brought down an armed assassin in a matter of minutes. The detective had walked through the door and asked them to quietly exit the hospital. Then she had locked the door from inside to go on a mission she evidently did not want compromised. The next thing Lola heard was a number of gunshots that had her and the nurse scampering away for safety. Then, there was the silence, after which the detective opened the door to tell them all was safe and the nurse should come in to do some cleaning.

“How did you know he was coming to kill the girl?” Lola could not keep her curiosity at bay. Plus, there was something about the officer than seemed strangely familiar, but she could not place her hands on it.

“Well, we had this lead, who unfortunately, was killed by the assassin’s men some weeks back. She informed us about a set of gang who was involved in drug-trafficking and peddling. According to her, the gang exploited innocent girls who they sometimes use to do the exchange and that one of the meeting places was Allen Bus stop. So, I had been waiting for an exchange to take place for many days now and I almost gave up. But today I got lucky. It is not every Sunday you see a girl in school uniform waiting at a major bus stop in Lagos. The nurse told me you came for the girl. Are you related to her?”

Lola was speechless. She had not thought of how to reply if asked that question. “Well, we not really related.”

“I thought as much.” Bridget took a quick scan of the older woman, taking note of the quality clothing on her. “You do not look like you would have a daughter who would fall prey to such act. They often use girls from poor background and who are desperate to make a living. So, I guess you are just a concerned somebody too?”

“I got a call from her brother. I was on my way home from another hospital when his call came through. He sounded very helpless and I could not resist his plea. So I changed course and came here immediately.”

“You are a good woman. Not many people will do that.” Bridget commended with an appreciative smile.

“Thank you, Detective. So what will happen to the girl?”

“Well, it’s obvious she needs more time to recuperate. This event has caused more than enough trauma than she can handle. For her safety, we will need to move her out of this place. Her life is in more danger than ever as the top dog of this criminal gang will more desperate to take her life. I need to get her to somewhere safe, somewhere no one would know where she is. She is my primary witness.”

“She can come and stay with me.”

“No, I don’t think…” Bridget raised an eyebrow. “Sorry, what did you say?”

Lola chastised herself for not thinking before speaking. How could she suggest that? Take the girl into her home as if that would solve the problem? It was clear it would not. Plus, the girl had expressed shock when Lola had walked into the room with the doctor. It was evident on her face that she had not been happy to see the older woman. Lola sighed deeply. “Never mind. There is…”

“That would be perfect!” Bridget was ecstatic. “We can move her right away to your home right away. Any extra minute spent here is putting her life more at risk.”

Lola folded her hands in disagreement. “I don’t think she would want to come with me. Actually, the girl and I have met before and our meeting wasn’t pleasant. She did not want to have anything to do with me.”

“Well, she doesn’t have a choice now. Go get your car ready. She is moving in with you and I hope you do not mind having her brother too.” Bridget nodded at the little boy who was being attended to by the doctor. He looked very tired, but in his eyes, a light of victory shone bright.

When Lola met the boy some minutes ago, she fell in love with him instantly. Something about him reminded her of Charles when he was little. Perhaps, it was in the way he carried himself as if as he was bigger than what he was or it was the bravery of his heart that melted hers. “I guess I can handle both of them.”

“Good.” Bridget concluded, walking away. “I will get them ready.”

“Wait!” Lola reached out to her. “I just have one question. Why would you trust me with this?”

“Because I know you very well, Mrs. Lola Williams. And I know that you always like to sit in the back left corner in the church every Sunday so you would greet people as they pass by.” Bridget tilted her head with a grin on her face as she walked away. “The world is a small place, isn’t it?”

Lola was stunned. That was it! She must have seen the Officer in the church, but the woman had looked different, wielding a gun. The world was indeed a small place, which was why it was important one needed to keep a clean state every time. She turned her head and met the eyes of the young boy who was being treated. The warmth in his smile enveloped her like a cloud and she smiled back. He did not need to say anything. His smile said it all. Thank you for believing me.

TRIANGULAR (7)

Thank you for following REDigion on this new journey and I do hope you are enjoying the ride. Please remember to keep sharing the story/links with your loved ones. There is something in ‘Triangular” for everyone. Have a good time reading this episode and Season’s Greetings from REDigion. And oh! We appreciate your comments, so please feel free to drop one if you so desire. Cheers! 

 

SUNDAY, 13TH JULY 2014

1.45am – Bosco’s house, Surulere

Bola could not sleep. Her heart was heavy with dread. She looked at the table clock and trembled when she saw she had fifteen minutes left to take the walk out of the bedroom into the adjoining one. She had not anticipated what she had met when she arrived at Bosco’s door-step some ten hours ago. A half-naked woman with a glass half-filled with wine had let them in and Bosco, who looked like he just had a quick bath and was still dripping with water, had come in a minute later to welcome them. He had introduced the other woman as his cousin, much to her dismay, and had asked her to deliver a package immediately to her mother. The woman, who looked much older than him, looked disappointed and as she walked out of the house, she cast Bola a hateful stare, muttering some words under her breath.

Bola caught the words and she shuddered. What had she got herself into?

“I am glad you finally came to your senses, my dear. I told you your father had nothing to offer you.” Bosco poured himself a glass of red wine, speaking in fluent Yoruba. “Do you like my house?”

Bola took in the big living room painted masterfully with cream and chocolate brown. The leather chairs and other furniture in the room matched perfectly. Everything was in perfect harmony and looked very tasteful. Only someone with access to good money could afford this. “It… it is beautiful.”

Boso smiled with pride. “I knew you would love it. One of the bedrooms is yours.” His eyes flew to the little boy sitting beside her. He added with less enthusiasm. “And for your brother too.”

Bola’s arm flew protectively over Tomiwa. “I can assure you he is a good boy. He will not give you any problem at all.”

“I actually don’t do well with little children around me. In fact, I don’t want them around me, but because this is about you and I love you very much, I am sure I can manage.”

“I am the only one he has and…”

“I know that.” Bosco interrupted her and took a large gulp of the wine. “As long as he does not stand in my way, I am sure we shall go along fine.”

“Thank you.” Bola nudged Tomiwa lightly and whispered into his ears. “Say ‘thank you’ to Uncle Bosco.”

Tomiwa stood up and prostrated on the floor. “Thank you, sir.”

Bosco turned his back against the little boy, hiding the little smile on his lips. He could not believe how everything was going so well beyond what he had planned. Now, he could move as quickly as possible. Not only did he have the girl under his roof, he also now had leverage over her. With her brother under his grasp, he could get her to do whatever it was he wanted. How perfect!

He turned around with a stern on his face. “Go into that room, boy. I want to talk to your sister alone.” He pointed at the room on the left side of the corridor. “There are some sweets and chocolates on the table beside the bed. Take as many as you want, okay?”

Tomiwa looked at his sister as if to seek her approval. When Bola nodded, he relaxed and ran into the room excitedly.

When the door was closed, Bosco cleared his throat and sat beside her. “I am so happy you are here, my love.” He traced a finger across her face. “I promise you that you will never regret this decision. This beautiful place can be yours if you do all I ask you to do, you know what I mean.” He traced the finger across her lips.

Bola shook slightly. “I know and I am prepared to do whatever you ask me. My body is yours. All I ask for is a good life for my brother and I.”

Bosco chuckled. “You cannot even imagine the kind of good life I have in store for you. Soon, you will be rolling in money. I mean good money and you will be glad you agreed to be my lover.”

Bola’s heart quickened in anticipation, but something still bothered her. “What… what about the woman that just left here? Is she really your cousin? She said something that made me think otherwise.”

Bosco’s face twisted into an ugly frown. “What did that fool say?”

“She said ‘Na turn by turn’.”

“Na turn by turn.” He repeated slowly. “Don’t mind her. She is just a jealous cousin. She actually came here to beg me for money to start up a business for her mother. I gave her what I could afford, but she was so greedy she wanted more. She thinks you also came here to beg for money. She doesn’t know you are my girlfriend.”

Bola did not know whether to believe or not, but he sounded sincere. “Okay.”

He inched closer to her and spoke softly. “So tonight, I should expect you in my room? Let’s say 2 am?”

So quickly? Bola did not expect she would have to start paying the price so early. “Well… i..um… I thought I could just rest a bit tonight. You know…umm… my brother is…”

“Your brother does not have to know and he should be soundly asleep by then. That is why I asked you to come into my room. It is the room opposite yours. I know you are a smart girl and you can find your way out without his knowledge.”

“But…”

“You promised me you would do whatever I asked. I am asking you to join me in my room at 2am. Is that something too much to ask?” Bosco looked disappointed. She had known this would come up, didn’t she? Then why was she pretending? Or could she be having second thoughts?

Bola stared at him in silence as her mind pondered on what to do. Bosco was the only available choice she had. If she refused his invitation and walked out of the house with Tomiwa, where or to whom would they turn to for help? She swallowed hard. “It is not a problem at all. I will be at your room by 2a.m.”

“Good.” Bosco looked into her eyes deeply. “I know you are a smart girl.” He stood up. “I have a business meeting now and may not return until night. The kitchen is open to you and full of food. You can cook something for yourself and your brother. Feel free in this house. It is for you and I now, okay baby?”

Bola nodded.

He bent and pasted a kiss on her forehead. “Love you so much. I have to dress up now or I will be late for the meeting.” He walked towards his bedroom and winked at her before closing the door after him.

Now, ten hours later with sleep far from her eyes, Bola knew the next minutes would take her life into another phase, but was she prepared for this? She looked at Tomiwa, who was sleeping peacefully and the way he clutched the pillow tugged at her heart. He had never slept with a pillow before and neither had he had a toy to hold dearly to his heart the way he held the pillow. Her heart yearned for a better life for him. It was her duty to give him that life.

She stood up from the bed and towards the door. She opened it as silently as she could and tiptoed outside, trying not to arouse the sleeping boy. When she turned, she found out the opposite door was slightly open and music was playing in very low volume, one could hardly hear it. There was also a strange and unmistakable smell coming out of the room, one Bola could recognize instantly and she stopped dead on her feet. What had she got herself into?

“Hey!” The voice was low and guttural. “What are you waiting for? Come here!” Bosco had appeared out of nowhere and stood in front of the door. “I kept the door open for you.”

“You are smoking Mary J, Bosco.” The words barely came out as a whisper. Bola was shocked beyond her wits. She had not bargained for this. How would she be able to keep herself and Tomiwa away from this kind of life? It was like jumping from frying pan into fire.

“Why do you always behave like a JJC? You are telling me you have not taken one before? Everyone takes it in Mushin, don’t they?” Without warning, he stretched out a hand and pulled her into the room, locking the door behind them. He pushed her forward. “Have a seat. I have a business proposal for you.”

Bola took in the large room and the big bed in the centre. In front of the bed was a small stool on which was a tray filled with little pieces of white substance that Bosco was packaging into small nylons.

“My God!” Bola placed her arms over her head in perplexity . “You are into drugs, Bosco. Is this the business you have been doing?”

Bosco glanced at her as if she just spoke like a foolish child. “Oh! You think selling pure water on the streets is what has given me this lovely house or my car? I said you should sit down.”

Bola shook her head in disagreement, heading towards the exit. “I want no part in this.”

“Too late.” Bosco sat down on the bed and reached for the side drawer, pulling out a pistol and placing it on top of the stool. “If you love yourself, you will do as I said. Sit down and listen to what I have to propose. If you fight this, I can assure you that this is a silent pistol and no one will hear a sound or suspect anything.” He continued wrapping the substance into nylons as if he did not just threaten her life.

Bola quickly covered her mouth to stop the scream in her throat. She walked like a robot to the chair beside the bed and sat at the edge.

Bosco picked some of the substance with his right index finger and placed it right under his nose. He inhaled it sharply and laid back as it took its effect on him. For some seconds, his eyes were dazed and looked like he had travelled thousands of kilometers away, then he exhaled contentedly and refocused his eyes on her. “You don’t know how good this feels. It is like going to heaven and back.”

Bola moved uncomfortably at the edge of her seat. “What do you want from me? I promise not to tell anyone about this. Whatever you want, you can do, but please, I don’t not want to have any part in this.”

Bosco cleared his throat, ignoring her plea. “You do not determine whether or not you will do this. You don’t have a choice. You will do this job to convince us that you are capable and then we shall decide whether to keep you or do away with you and your brother.”

“What… what job?”

“You have to deliver a package to one of my clients tomorrow. You will be taken to the venue where someone will come over to collect the bag from you and hand you another bag. This other bag will contain a lot of money so you should guard it with your life.            When the exchange is done, you will walk quietly and cautiously back to the car, which will bring you back here. Is that clear enough?”

“I have to deliver a package of cocaine? What if I am caught?”

“You cannot be caught or must not be caught. You must act as natural as possible. The lady who usually delivered this for me, unfortunately, has been done away with. So, consider this a test for you. Do this exchange successfully and consider your life changed for good.”

“How do you mean ‘done away with’? What happened to her?”

Bosco’s eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. “We discovered she had been telling the Police about our operations and decided to deal with her before she put us into trouble.” He wrapped the final batch. “And if you do the same mistake, I promise you I will handle your execution myself.”

Execution? Bola quickly fell on her knees, her eyes filled with tears. “Bosco, I beg you please, if you love me like you say you do, please don’t let me do this. I did not prepare for this. Just let me go back to my room and get my brother and we shall step out of here as if we never came. I promise I will not tell anyone about your business.”

Bosco laughed sarcastically. “You wanted a good life and I am giving it to you and here you are begging me to take it back. What did you think? That I would give you a good life on a platter of gold? You have to work for it and right now, you do not have a choice here. You must do this job.”

“But I don’t want to!”

Bosco’s hand went to the pistol. “Then you will not give me much choice to use this on your little fool sleeping in the next room now.”

“What!”

“Yes! I will kill him without a second thought if you refuse.”

Bola started weeping. She could never have imagined things would turn out this way. She was to be a drug peddler? What if she was caught? What would happen to her? What would happen to Tomiwa?

“Save those crocodile tears and go and prepare yourself. I will be driving you there myself to make sure you do as you are told and we shall leave at exactly 8a.m. There is a school uniform for you inside the cupboard in your room. No one will suspect a school girl. And don’t think of escaping. Everywhere is locked right now. If I were you, I will concentrate on doing this job right if you ever want to see your brother again. You want a better life, you have it now. Get out of my room.”

Bola rushed at the door and quickly opened it. Her mind was on the next room where she had left Tomiwa. She wanted to hold him tightly in her arms and be sure he was safe. When she saw him sleeping soundly, she almost burst into another round of sobs. She climbed the bed noiselessly and pulled him into her arms as she thought of how to take them out of the dilemma her greed had pushed her into, but right now, her mind was empty, as blank as the starless sky up above her. Who could she call to come to their rescue? She knew nobody. They were alone in the devil’s trap. Her mind flew back to the old woman whom she had met at the Mall some days back. She doubted the woman would even want to come and help her, not after the disrespectful way Bola had treated her. Plus, Bola had discarded her card, so there was no way she could reach the woman. She had no choice. She had to do this job in order to keep them alive. She wanted a ‘better’ life, didn’t she? Now, she has got it.

 

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

5:58am – Ezinne’s house

Ezinne stared down at her friend whose head laid on her laps. The previous night had been a nightmare. Pauline had spent most of it crying and making regretful statements about marriage and that had scared Ezinne to bits. Coming from a broken home herself, she had promised herself not to make the same mistake her mother made, getting married to a man whom she did not love, but had been forced to marry. At nine years old, her father had left the house and never returned, leaving a jobless woman to cater for herself and her child. Her mother, herself, had not been too supportive either and Ezinne had to live from one house to another, as a house-help, until she met The Edunjobi family whose kindness had turned her life around. They had taken her in and treated her like a daughter, and not a slave she had groomed herself to be. They had made sure she attended school and even funded her University education. She wondered what would have happened to her, if God had not made their paths cross. However, despite the kindness of her guardian, especially Mr. Edunjobi, she still had not got over the rejection she felt when her father took that walk out the door and never came back. And every time she thought she had recovered a bit, something would come up that would make her detest men more than ever.

She looked at her friend’s sad, sleepy face and felt like crying. Why should this poor woman have to go through this trauma for something she did not bring upon herself? Why would she have to go through such humiliation because she could not conceive? It was not that she committed abortion and had her womb destroyed. She was raped, for Pete’s sake, and that could have happened to anyone. Anger boiled within her. She suppressed the need to stand up and find her way to meet Pauline’s husband and talk some sense into his head. What an ingrate! Here was a woman who remained faithful to him all these years, while he was going about cheating, and all he could repay her with was this?

Pauline raised her head. “I am sorry to disturb you this way, Ezinne. I should allow you to have some rest.”

Ezinne looked at the wall clock. It was 6am already and her eyes were heavy with sleep. “I am fine, Pauline. You should be the one to rest. You were awake all through the night.”

“But what have I done to deserve to be treated like this?”

Here we go again, Ezinne thought wildly. She was afraid she might be forced to do something terrible to someone this Sunday morning. “Just stop worrying and rest, Pauline. Don’t worry, everything will work well for you in the end. Every plan of the devil will be destroyed by fire.” And I will break George’s head too.

Pauline looked up at her friend. She could see how Ezinne was trying hard to keep calm. The Ezinne she knew would not stay this long before reacting. Ezinne had always been the presumptuous one, always ready to counter every opposition standing in her way, or in the way of someone she loved. Pauline was only glad she had a friend she could run to at this traumatic moment of her life. She lifted herself off her friend’s laps. “It is 6 o’clock. We should start preparing for church.”

“We?” Ezinne could not believe her friend was thinking about attending church in her terrible emotional state.

“Yes, we. I have to be in church too.”

“I don’t think that is a good idea.” Ezinne discouraged her, taking in her frail form and puffy eyes. What would she do if she came face-to-face with her husband?

“I know what you are thinking. I want him to see that what he did to me has no effect on me anymore. I want him to know I have moved on.”

“You haven’t, Pauline.” Ezinne shook her head. “You are going through a lot right now and you are not thinking straight. We shall stay in this house together. No church for us today.”

“Okay.” Pauline agreed without further argument.

“Okay? Just like that?” Ezinne raised a suspicious eyebrow. She had anticipated more resistance over this.

“Yes, okay. You are right. I need to get my head straight, so I don’t do any foolish thing.” Pauline moved towards the bedroom. “I should sleep and you should too.”

“Good idea.” Ezinne yawned loudly, stretching her body on the sofa. “I will rest here. You can take the bedroom.”

Pauline smiled. “Thank you for being there for me all through the night. Sleep well.”

Ezinne nodded absently. Sleep was already taking over and she could not stop it in any way. Her mind and body were tired.

Pauline watched her friend relax into the sofa. She would count one to fifty and she would be out of here. She would find a way to the church, where she would begin a full-fledged revenge against the man who had hurt her without any sign of remorse. He married her for better, for worse, hadn’t he? He had made her life hell, now it was time to make his a nightmare. She would make sure he paid for every year of pain she had spent with him. When she was done with him, then she would face God. God would have to explain why He sat back and allowed all these to happen to her. Why He said He loved her, yet never showed it. Why He watched from afar as her life was torn to pieces. And why she should ever believe in Him at all. Everyone would pay in one way or the other. Four, five, six…

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

8.43am – St. George’s Hospital, Ikoyi

“Hi, mum. I was just about to call you when I saw your call. Coincidental, right? Shows we are of one mind.”

Lola rolled over on her side on the bed. She had been trying to reach her son after yesterday’s incident, but his phone was off and could not get him until now. “I don’t know about that. I have been dialing your number since yesterday, but couldn’t reach you. What happened to your phone?”

“Well, I had to do an urgent surgery on one of my patients and it took longer than expected. You won’t believe I almost lost her, but she finally came around at the last minute. I was so relieved. Is there a problem that you have been trying to call me since yesterday?”

“I want you to come home.”

“What!” Charles sounded irritated. “C’mon, mum! I told you I would try my best to make it next month and I thought you were satisfied with that. I am so busy this month I hardly have time to take a nap.”

“Charles my son, have I asked for anything from you desperately like this before?”

There was a resigned sigh on the other end of the line. “No, mum.”

“And you don’t think there could be a reason behind my insistence?”

“I know the reason, mum. It’s the same you have always given. You feel lonely and miss me so much. I know how hard it has been for you since daddy left and I have given you my word that I shall be with you soon. You’ve got to understand my situation too.”

Lola cleaned the tear that had slid down her face. “I wish your dad were alive. I would not have to resort to begging you to come home to see your mother.”

“Get over it, mum! Dad’s gone and life continues. Maybe you should get married again. You obviously need a companion and as much as I hate to admit, truth is I cannot fill that spot as much as you want me to. There are a couple of my close friends whose dads can fill the spot. I will be glad to make the introductions if you don’t mind.”

“I cannot believe you are suggesting this to me.”

“I just suggested the most reasonable solution to this loneliness problem. Truth is I cannot fly to Nigeria every time you need me and every day it’s clearer you need someone who you can depend on, on whose shoulders you can lay your head and who will hold your hands. As much as I want to be that, I cannot because I have got responsibilities of my own. I have a family I take care of, too. And if I ask you to travel down to the States, I know you will not want to. Plus I will not have time to keep settling disputes between you and my wife on how to raise our kids.”

Lola shut her eyes against the implications of her son’s words. She knew he said the truth. His wife, Geraldine, and she had never been on the same side, especially when it came to her grandchildren and as much as she did not want to interfere into her son’s family affairs, she had not been so pleased with the ungodly behavior of the kids the last time they were in Nigeria. And every moment she tried to correct them, Geraldine would always attack her, telling her she did not want her kids to be raised in the Jesus way. They were free moral agents and would be free to choose the kind of religion they wanted to practice when they were ready. About getting married again, that was out of the question. She had little time to live, so why waste time on getting attached to a man she would not be with for a long time? Plus, she was yet to get over Tobi. She doubted she ever would. Perhaps, she should resign to her fate. She would die a lonely widow.

“It’s okay, Charles. I just want you to know how much I love you and that no matter what happens, that love will never die.”

“Ummm… I don’t get it, Mum. What’s gonna happen?” Charles became disconcerted. “Are you okay? Just hold on. I promise I will be with you soon.”

“Everything’s fine, Charles. Extend my greetings to your wife and kids.”

There was a bit of silence as if Charles was thinking of how to respond. “I will. I love you, Mum.”

Lola cut the call and buried her head into the pillow. It ached to hear her son profess love for her yet he could hardly act it out.

“Was that Charles?”

Lola raised her head to see Dr. Aluko standing right behind her. She quickly cleaned her wet eyes, but it was too late. The doctor had seen the pain in her eyes. “Yes.”

“When are you going to tell him?”

Lola stared straight into his eyes. How long had he been eavesdropping? “I… I don’t know.” She stammered, unsure of her answer. “He isn’t ready for such news.”

“But you know you need him as a donor. Plus he is your son and deserves to know.”

Lola sat up. “So what do you suggest I do, Doctor? Tie him up and drag him down to Nigeria when he obviously doesn’t consider it important to come down and see his mother.”

“Perhaps if he understands the real reason behind your demand, he will come with the next flight.” Dr. Aluko moved closer to her, his eyes pleading. “We need a donor urgently, Mrs. Williams, and your son would be perfect, other things being equal.”

Lola knew the doctor was right and she understood the urgency of the situation, but it hurt her deeply that her son would only come down to Nigeria because of her health, and not because it was of his own volition. “Can’t we get someone else, just in case he cannot make it down soon enough? I mean… we can find another alternative, can’t we?”

“Yes, we can. But having your son down will make the process easier for us. Apart from being a donor, you will also need someone very close to you for support when you travel for the transplant.”

“Don’t worry, Doctor. God will provide the right person for me.” She tried to stand. “I think I feel very well enough to go home. I don’t want to spend another night in this place.”

Dr. Aluko looked at the poor woman, feeling sorry for her. Though she pretended to be strong on the outside, she was groaning within and he had been her doctor long enough to know once she made up her mind, it was difficult to persuade her. “Just give me a couple more hours and I will have you out of here, but one of my nurses will go with you to take care of you and report to me.”

“That’s fine.”

Dr. Aluko gave her a professional smile. “Thank you.” He walked towards the door. “You should rest. The next couple of weeks are going to be very hard on you, but I know you will come out fine. I have always known you to be a strong woman.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

The doctor nodded at her and closed the door gently behind him. Lola took in deep breaths, trying to put some calmness into her head, but it proved difficult. Her mind was in chaos, just like her health and she feared she might collapse even before the surgery.

I cannot do this, Lord. I feel so feeble right now.

No response.

Are you there, Lord? I am dying and need Your arms around me.

The room was quiet as a graveyard and Lola could not hear that familiar soothing voice in her head. She was alone. Alone with her problems. She burst into fresh tears. Nothing would ever be the same again.

TRIANGULAR (6)

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SATURDAY, 12TH NOVEMBER 2014

6.45am

Pauline woke up with a start. She just had a wonderful dream. She had been having the fun of her life with a man she once secretly admired, still admired, and it was as if the date should not end. Her eyes were still wet from the laughter that rocked her rib cage. Ola had been cracking enough jokes to light up a house and it appeared natural to him as the words flowed out like honey from the honeycomb. To everyone else in the restaurant, they looked like a beautiful couple, what they should have been if things had gone the way Pauline had secretly wanted. It did not matter that Ola was married with two kids and was only in Nigeria briefly for a business function. In-between their conversation, Pauline had appreciated the way his lips moved anytime he spoke and the way his neck arched to demonstrate his point of view. He was a very handsome and understanding man, the kind that would stand by his woman, no matter the circumstance.

She rubbed her sleepy eyes and stood up from the king-size bed that was partly rough, partly neat. Any time she saw the contrast, it reminded her of the loneliness in her life. That side of the bed should be filled by her husband and she ached for the past days when she would wake up wrapped like a baby in George’s arms and he would plant a morning kiss on her lips. It was more depressing to know that those arms were wrapped around another woman now. Which was one of the reasons she had looked forward to the meeting with Ola last evening, very excited that she would at least have some fun time with someone who would take her mind off her husband. Within her, she had also hoped for something else. To see if the spark she once had for Ola would still be there and if there could be a re-connection between them. Though she knew it was wrong of her to desire such, as both of them were married, there was a sinful excitement that came with trying to hook up with an old flame.

And while she waited for him inside the restaurant at The Four Seasons, the place they had planned to meet, her conscience kept eating her up, condemning her motives and when she had picked her phone and almost made the call to cancel the meeting, especially as Ola was running late, Ola had walked through the door, looking very dark, tall and handsome in his navy blue suit and with the brightest of smiles on his face and apologies on his lips. And when he hugged her fondly, Pauline could almost feel her heart explode.

“I am very sorry. The traffic was really mad. Lagos is a messed up place.” He said as they settled down on the table she had reserved. “Men! How do you guys cope with that killer-traffic and the death-trap potholes?” Then he softened. “My God! You haven’t changed, Pauline. Still as beautiful as ever.” His eyes were full of admiration. “Your husband is sure a lucky chap.”

Pauline forced a smile. If only he knew how ‘unlucky’ her husband felt.  “Well, you can say I am the lucky one.” She lied. She was not about to let Ola know of her woes. “He is a very wonderful husband.”

“Yes, I checked him out on Facebook.” A waiter walked up to them with the menu and Olisa collected them.

“You checked my husband out on Facebook?” Pauline was surprised he would do that. Did that mean he could be more interested in her than she thought he was? Would jealousy have pushed him to do that?

“Yes. I just wanted to see the lucky man who finally caught your heart.” His eyes sparkled like diamonds and Pauline’s heart melted. He passed one of the menu over to her. “Please make your order for anything you desire. Everything is on me.”

Pauline could hardly keep her mind on the items. Her heart thumped heavily and she tried to steady her hands. “How is your… your wife and kids?”

“I miss my kids. Wish I could have brought them here to have a feel of Nigeria.” He brought out his wallet, opened it and showed her a miniature picture of his kids. He pointed at them one after the other “This is Tayo and this is Tola. They are too American. They need to know their fatherland.” He made his choice on the menu and spoke quietly to the waiter before turning his attention back at Pauline. “How about your kids? I would really like them to meet mine maybe when I bring them to Nigeria.”

Pauline suddenly felt nauseous, praying that the ground would open up and swallow her. Why did he have to ask her that? Rub her problems on her face?

“Pauline, are you okay?” Ola grabbed her hands. “You turned stiff all of a sudden. Should I get you to the hospital?”

Pauline quickly recovered. “No, No… I’m fine.” She forced another smile. “My kids, you asked for, right? They are fine. I have two lovely girls, Mary and Martha. I am sure your kids will love them.” She turned her face to the other side and quickly dabbed at the corner of her right eye to stop the tear that hanged there.

“I know they will be as beautiful as you are.”

Pauline could only nod and she quickly beckoned to one of the waiters and made her order. All of a sudden, nothing on the menu appealed to her anymore, so the waiter was surprised when she only requested a bottle of water.

“Just water?” Ola laughed. “Come on, you can do more than that. Or is there something you are not telling me? A third on the way?” He teased, winking and smiling.

The laughter that came out of her lips sounded ridiculous to her ears. “Sorry to soil your fun, Ola. I wish there were a third.” Or even one at all. She quickly changed the subject before he made another comment that would lead to more lies. “So, tell me about this business you came to do.”

Ola relaxed on the chair, his handsome face taking on a business-like expression. “Oh, just properties. The retail industry here is growing tremendously and my company is looking for ways of coming in, so they asked me to come and do some underground research.”

“Like snoop around existing businesses and properties?”

“Yes. And see how we can come in and offer even better services.”

“Then you have met the right person.”

Ola sat upright. “How do you mean?”

“I work for a marketing research consultancy company, the best in town, really. And I am sure we can help your Company get the right info you need.”

“Wow! That makes my work so much easier. So you see our meeting again is ordained by God. I, not only, get my work done, I also will have the opportunity to spend time with an old friend.”

Old friend? Pauline shuddered lightly. Years ago, she had wanted more than being just friends with this man, but she lost. Now, that they have met again, it appeared ‘friend’ was all she would ever be to him. She sighed sadly. Life had given up on her entirely.

A loud noise in the living room snapped her out of her daydream. She quickly rushed to the door and unlocked it. George had Nneka in her arms and they were dancing around the room as if they just won a lottery. Pauline had not see George that happy for a very long time. He looked very rapturous and that made her a bit nervous.

She closed the door gently behind her. “What is it? What is the noise about?”

George walked up to her and grabbed her excitedly by the shoulders. “I am having a baby!” He shouted at the top of his voice. “God has finally remembered me. I am having a baby!”

“What!” Pauline could barely move from shock. “I don’t understand. A baby? From who?”

“Who else?” Nneka answered sharply. “I am having a baby. His baby” She picked up an item from the chair and positioned it directly in front of Pauline’s eyes. “See, I dey sure say you fit read pregnancy tests well, since you yourself go don take many before.”

Pauline could not miss the two faint lines that marked the little white stick in Nneka’s hand. It was not only clear evidence, it was also a mockery of what Pauline could never have, would never be.

“You are a liar!” Pauline grabbed the strand and dropped it on the floor, stamping on it with all her strength. “You are a big liar. How is even possible. You have just spent a week here and you are claiming to be pregnant? What kind of fool will believe that?”

“Are you calling me a fool?” George asked angrily. “You are the fool here, Pauline. Only a fool will be barren for many years and refuse to find something to do about it. You are an incomplete woman! And if you think I will allow your problems hinder my happiness in life, you are mistaken.”

“George, listen to me…”

“Shut up!” Nneka silenced her. “You think I be like you wey your belle don condemn finish? Or na because we allow you stay for this house?” She turned to George. “My love, me I cannot stay in this house with this kain insult o! if dis woman stay for this house, I fit lose my belle. Her wahala go too much for me.”

Pauline was horrified beyond reason. “Excuse me? What does this… this rat mean?”

“Nneka means three is a crowd, Pauline.” George replied curtly. “And she is right. You will be too much of a trouble to her and our baby.” He moved to wrap his arms around Nneka protectively. “You will need to excuse us.”

Pauline’s blood boiled like hot steam. “You cannot do that to me. I am the wife in this house and no woman, not even a village street dog, can take my place in my home. Remember our vows, George.”

George laughed in a sarcastic manner that made Pauline feel very foolish. “Vows? You talk of vows when you are going about town committing adultery with your boyfriends. You think I did not know about your date last night? Tell me, was it not another man you dressed up like a prostitute for?”

“What!” Pauline was shocked. Had he followed her up?

“You see, you cannot even deny it. For the first time in a long while, you dressed up as if you were going to see the President of Nigeria. You even used an expensive perfume and you thought I would not know what you were up to? Vows, my foot! Get inside and pack everything you have and get out of my house right now! I cannot take this nonsense anymore!”

Pauline fell on her knees, pleading with her husband. “Please, don’t do this to me. It isn’t what you think. It is …”

“Don’t let me have to repeat myself, whore!”

Whore? Pauline was horror-struck. What had she done to be called that? Tears slid down her face like water falling off a cliff. She bowed her head in deep-seated pain. I cannot do this anymore! I am a failure. My life is over. I just want to die now. I want to die now!

Two strong hands pulled her off the floor roughly and pushed her towards her bedroom. “Your presence in this house nauseates me.” George breathed hard on her neck. “I give you just thirty minutes to get out of here. If not, I will have to throw you out myself. And keep your crocodile tears to yourself. I know they are as fake as your womb anyway.” He opened the door and flung her on the floor. “Wherever you are, I will send you the divorce papers for you to sign. We shall finally go our separate ways, thank God. I, to a life of fruitfulness and you…” He eyed her with disdain. “I don’t care wherever you decide to do with your life. Good riddance to bad rubbish!” He walked towards the door. “Your thirty minutes has started counting.” He banged the door after him so hard that the picture on the wall fell off and shattered into pieces.

Pauline laid still on the ground for several minutes, devastated, wounded and totally broken-hearted. Her whole life flashed before her eyes and all the pains of the past and present came crashing down on her like waves on a stormy sea. For years, she had gone through shame and had thought she could finally make a meaning of her life when she married George. Little did she know her troubles just began and right now… right now, everything just crumbled as if all her effort through the years was not worth it at all. Was it her fault that she was raped? Was it her fault that her womb got damaged in the process? Was it her fault that she could never conceive?

I blame you, God, for creating me in the first place. You should have just taken my life that night when You had the chance.

Her eyes flew to the Bible resting on top of the bedside table. She could not remember the last time she went through it. Why would she want to? When the God of the Book had placed a curse on her. Where was He when the fools captured and carried her into the bush? Did He not see from Heaven when the tears gushed down her eyes and how she had prayed desperately for a miracle that never came? Did He not feel her pains when the rapist took their turns one after the other? Instead, He had stood watching as if… as if she never even existed!

Fuming with unbridled anger, she stood up, picked the Book and flung it across the room. She opened the drawer in which she kept her jewelry and picked out a small leather box and opened it. Inside was her wedding ring, the symbol of love and commitment that was made almost nine years ago. New tears welled up in her eyes. She remembered how she was filled with so much love for George as he slipped the ring into her finger. She had cried with so much passion that the Minister had to patiently wait for her to recover before he could continue with the solemnization. She had been so overwhelmed with the thought that she could finally love and settle with the man of her dream. Years after, she was living a nightmare. Enraged, she tossed the gold ring on the floor, crushing it with her feet until she was spent. But she wanted to do more. She wanted to burn down the whole room, the entire house. She wanted to burn up the memories, the painful memories she had built in this place. Still, she wanted more. She wanted revenge. Revenge against a man who had inflicted so much ache in her heart, who thought she was … what did he call her? An incomplete woman? Before he married her, he had said she made his world complete and had called her all endearing names. What happened to the man who had professed so much love? He had disappeared after three years of childlessness.

Her phone rang and she almost did not pick it up, but when she saw it was Ezinne, she changed her mind.

“Hello, Pauline. How are you?” Ezinne greeted with a cheery voice.

There was only irregular breathing on the other line.

“Hello, Pauline. Are you there?”

More ragged breathing.

“Am I on to Pauline, please?” Ezinne was starting to get worried.

“I don’t know who you want to speak with.” The voice was more like a hoary whisper. “But if you do not come and get me away from this house now, you will come and meet three dead bodies in less than thirty minutes.”

“Pauline, what are you saying? Wait! You…”

The line cut sharply in Ezinne’s ears. Quickly, she picked up her bag. “I am sorry, Tunde, But I have to leave now. My friend needs my help.” She stood up from the table where she had been having breakfast with a dude she met on Facebook.

“But we only just met. Okay, let me have your number.” Tunde raised hopeful eyes.

Ezinne cast him a scathing look. “Sorry, I find you uninteresting and we cannot meet again after today.”

The man looked dejected, but Ezinne didn’t care.

“Okay, just allow me to drop you where you are going.” Tunde made a last attempt.

“No worries, thanks. I can find my way.”

Tunde gave up as it was obvious his overtures would head nowhere. “So where are you off to?” He asked dispassionately.

Ezinne took the first step away from the table. “To save a life.”

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

7.30am

“Do you really have to go? Can’t Henry go instead? Why is he your assistant if you cannot delegate some duties to him?” Lola whined incessantly as she watched her husband zip up the bag in which he had packed his luggage he wanted to travel with.

“I want to seal this deal myself.” Tobi repeated for the umpteenth time. “We have come this far with negotiations. I do not want any little thing to disrupt it at this final stage.” He looked at his wife and stilled his heart against the concern he saw there. “You have to understand, Honey. We are looking at a deal worth billions of naira.”

Lola moved closer to him on the bed and touched his hand. “But if we do not get this business, it does not mean we will suffer for it, really. We are already comfortable enough and other deals will come.” She folded her hands like a sulking child. “I just don’t like the way you have been travelling about lately.”

“You mean you don’t like the way you have been alone lately.” Tobi’s grin covered his face. He knew his wife like the back of his hand. He knew how much she always wanted him to be around and how much she loved waking up by his side every morning for over thirty years. He kissed her forehead lightly. “Don’t worry. I will be back in a jiffy. You will not even realise I am gone. I promise to call you every hour.”

Lola jumped out of the bed angrily. It was obvious there was nothing she could do to change his mind. “You know you should try to call your son and demand that he comes home and takes over this business from you. If he were here, you will not have to be jumping here and there at this old age. At least, you will be able to trust him enough with this kind of deal if you cannot trust Henry.”

“Well, Charles has shown his disinterest over and over. He has stated emphatically enough that he wants to build his medical career and as tough as that is to accept, I am his father and have the responsibility to support and believe in him. After all, it isn’t that he is doing something illegal. You are well aware I have tried all I can to convince him.”

Lola moved towards the window, sulking. “And his wife is not helping matters either.”

“I don’t think I want to discuss your problems with his wife now.” Tobi lifted the bag off the bed and walked towards the door. He stopped at the window to kiss his wife on her right cheek. “I will miss you, honey. Promise me you will remain as beautiful as you are when I return.”

Lola looked up at his dark, handsome face and caressed his chin that housed well-cut grey beard. “If you promise to remain as handsome as you are.”

Tobi kissed her fully on the mouth. He inhaled her fresh scent and smiled. “I promise.”

“God go with you, my love. I sure will miss you for the next three days you will be away, but I will be fine.”

“I know you will. I leave you in God’s hands and I am confident He will take care of you.” He planted another kiss on her forehead and headed for the door. “By the time this deal is completed, we shall have enough money to start that Girls Foundation you have always wanted. That will be the first thing we shall do.”

Lola smiled for the first time that morning. “That would be wonderful, Tobi. I cannot wait for your return.”

“Goodbye, Love.”

Lola watched her husband leave the room, saw him enter the awaiting SUV and waved from the window as he was driven out of the compound. Little did she know that was the last time she would see him smile.

That was eight months ago and yet, it still felt like yesterday. Every morning, she still woke up disappointed anytime she turned on her bed, hoping to see his face, but was only rewarded by emptiness. Saturdays were the worst days. It was the day they would spend long hours on the bed, basking in each other’s arms and chatting about the week’s events, laughing over everything that happened. It was her favourite day of the week. Now, it represented gloom and she was not looking forward to what today had in store. She stretched lazily on the bed and wished she could speed up the day. There was a soft knock on the door and before she could respond, Dupe, her maid, walked in with a tray of bottle water and fruit salad.

“Good morning, ma.” She greeted as she dropped the tray and walked towards the window, opening the blinds to allow light in. “Sorry to disturb you, but you said I should wake you up this morning.”

Lola sat up on the bed. “I said so?” She could not recall telling her maid to do that. She racked her brain, but still could not remember anything related to that.

“Yes, ma. You told me to wake you up at 7am, just in case you were still asleep.”

“Did… Did I tell you why?” Lola stammered. She could not believe she was starting to suffer memory loss. The disease was already taking its toll and her heart began to beat faster. She normally never forgot things.

Dupe cast the older woman a funny look. “No. You just said I should wake you up at that time.”

“Go to the living room and use the landline. Call Dr. Aluko to come down immediately. I need a check-up. Hurry up!”

“Yes, ma.” Dupe did not like the look on her mistress’ face. She quickly ran out the door.

Lola ran a hand through her hair in frustration and picked up the bottle water to take some sips. What was happening to her? Her hands began to shake uncontrollably and the bottle fell off her hands without her volition. Next, her legs began to shake too and her muscles began to contract as if they would tear through her skin. She screamed in fright. What is happening to me? She tried to stand and fell on the floor, weightless like a piece of paper. Is this it? Is this how I will die?

Hold on, Lola. A gentle voice whispered into her ears. I will never leave you or forsake you.

The room began to go round and round and soon, everything looked hazy and began turning dark.

Into thy hands I commit my life, Jesus. Please don’t leave me alone.

Don’t worry, daughter. I got you.

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

1.00pm

Bola turned restively on the mattress. Her mind was as unsettled as muddy waters. Since she returned from the party in the wake of the morning, she had not been able to take her mind off everything that happened there. She had never seen so much affluence and in one place. It was as if these people lived money, breathed money, even ate and drank it. They were not afraid to spend it, show off and did not have the slightest worry it would finish as if they had a whole lot of it stashed somewhere. Bola fantasized heavily. That was the kind of life she had always dreamed of. A life where she would never have to worry about money. Where she could have everything she desired at the tap of her finger. She would not have to think of how to feed her family, get her brother the best education or even live in this kind of dejected place. She would not have to steal anymore.

But there was a problem.

During the course of the party while she had been on the dance floor with a bunch of girls she had never seen before, Bosco had walked through the crowd and tapped her shoulder, asking her to follow him to the upper floor of the building. There she had met a group of four men who looked like they had the world under their grasp. The expensive drinks on the table and the way they puffed on their cigars made her uncomfortable, but Bosco had assured her she was safe. Nothing much happened except a little introduction and one of the men, the biggest of them whom Bosco referred to as ‘Chairman’, had asked her to turn around several times while he ogled her. Then he nodded with a look of satisfaction on his face and asked Bosco to take her back downstairs. Bosco had been full of smiles as he led her back to the dance floor and told her intimately into her ears that she was lucky and that her life was about to change for the better.

Hours later as they left and she asked him what the brief meeting was about, Bosco told her not to worry and that he would tell her in due time. But Bola was worried. In fact, she had been troubled from the moment she laid eyes on those men. She noticed the semi-nude girls who were around them and how the men stroked their naked bodies as if they owned them. As much as she needed money badly, she did not want to be like those girls; and she was afraid that was what Bosco would request of her.

The door flung opened and Baba staggered in, looking very drunk and not in control of himself. “You are still sleeping at this time of the day?” His words were slurred and Bola could barely understand his thick Yoruba.

Bola quickly stood up from the bed. “You are drunk again and it is just afternoon.”

“What can I do? That is the only thing that makes me happy, that makes me feel like the man I am.” He fell on the mattress with a clumsy smile on his lips. “I should thank you for that money. I know you did not go to your friend’s place to sleep, but wherever it is you went to, you should go there every day. Before you know it, we shall be rich.” He licked his lips in a seductive manner and spoke in a husky tone, stretching his hands at her. “Come here, baby.”

“What!” Bola shrank further away. Come here to what? Baba was really out of his mind.

Baba rose on his knees and stretched his hands towards her. “I said you should come here. Come and lie beside me. I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

“Lie beside you? You are not okay, Baba.” She tried to dodge him, but was not fast enough.

Baba launched at her and tried to force her on the bed with him. “You slept with other men last night, didn’t you? So stop acting like a baby. Just imagine I am one of them. I promise I won’t hurt you.”

Bola almost puked when the stench of his mouth floated into her nose and before she knew it, she released her right hand and placed a hot slap on his face. “Leave me alone!” She shouted at the top of her voice and wrestled herself away from his grip and out of the room.

Ashawo! You come back here now!” Baba shouted behind her. “You are just like your mother. Ashawo Oloshi!” He stood up and pursued her out of the house, ranting aloud and drawing people’s attention. “You think you can have your way with me like you have had with other men you have been sleeping around with?”

Bola did not wait to respond. Instead, she kept running and running, pushed by the fear of what just happened. Her eyes were filled with tears. How could her own father do that to her? She started crying uncontrollably and it did not matter if passersby noticed her or the dirty accusations her father cast at her back. Her life just took a worse turn. Where would she go to now? Going back to the house was never her option after her disrespectful act. Already, her father had tarnished her reputation and would not want her back. How could she ever have faith that she would be safe around him anymore and what would neigbours say about  her?

“Aunty Bola!” Tomiwa called out, trying to catch up with her as fast as his little legs could run.

She turned and quickly cleaned the tears off her eyes before he came close. “Yes, Tomiwa. I thought you were playing with your friends.”

“Yes, I was, but when I saw Baba shouting at you and the way you were running, I knew something was wrong. What happened again this time?” He sounded so sad.

Bola held his face in her hands. How could she get this seven year old boy to understand the gravity of what happened? “Just Baba getting angry for no reason.” She lied. “Don’t worry. This will soon be over.”

Tomiwa looked like he was going to cry. “You say that every time. Then something worse happens.”

Bola took him into his arms. “Don’t worry. This time I have a solution. We are leaving the house. You and I together.”

Tomiwa stared at her, eyes wide in disbelief. “Really? To where? Where will we get the money to get a new room?”

Bola closed her eyes for a minute, taking in deep, calculated breaths. She never would have thought she would reach this decision. “You remember that my friend that you said you did not really like?”

“That man that gave you money that day?”

“Yes, him.” Bola ruffled his hair. “You are a smart boy. That man is a good man and he has said we can come and live with him.”

“But…”

“There is no but. With him, we have a better life. Food on the table, money to send you to school. I will not have to worry about getting you new clothes.” She touched a large hole in his shirt. “And Baba will not have to shout at you anymore.”

Tomiwa looked very confused. “Are you sure he is a good man? He does not really like me.”

That question tore at Bola’s heart. Living with Bosco was not the best option, but it was the only one she had. She would rather live with him than go back home to a molesting father. “Don’t worry. I will protect you from him, I promise.”

Tomiwa held her tighter. “I will miss my friends, but I know I will make new ones. I also do not want to live with Baba anymore. He hates me. Sometimes, I wonder if he really is my father.”

Me too. Bola thought inwardly as she dipped her hand into her trouser pocket and brought out her small phone. It was time she made the decision she had been dreading. She dialed a familiar number and when the person picked up, a cold shiver ran down her spine.

“Hello, my… my love. Yes, I slept well. I just need something important from you.” There was a bit of silence as she listened to the receiver, biting her lips. “I just want to know if your offer of coming to live at your place is still open. I am tired of where I am and need to find a new place to stay.” She raked a hand through her hair. “No, not just me alone. I also need a place for my little brother. Please can you help me?”

Tomiwa watched his sister agitatedly. Would this be the escape they had always hoped for? The step into a better life? She loved his sister so much and would do anything to make her happy, even if it meant having to live with someone he did not like so much.

“Thank you so much!” Bola jumped excitedly. “You have just made my day. I promise you will not regret this! I love you too.” Bola cut the call and hugged her brother happily. “He said we can come and stay in his house for some days. He has a three bedroom flat in Surulere and he can give us one of the rooms.”

Tomiwa laughed heartily. “Really?” He jumped and held his sister’s waist. “Now we can be free from Baba. He must not know where we will be living so he will not come and disturb us again.”

“Baba will not know because we are leaving right away.”

“Now?” Bola pulled away. “But I have not said goodbye to my friends.”

Bola stroked his hair. “I am sorry, Tomiwa. I promise to bring you to see them soon. But we have to go now. If we go back, Baba will see us and may do something worse.”

Tomiwa sighed with regret and that tore at Bola’s heart. She knew she was asking too much from the little boy and she pitied him, but there was nothing she could do. Without waiting, she grabbed his arms before he pleaded some more and dragged him to the nearest bus stop. While a part of her was happy she was starting afresh, the other part condemned her and her decision. But right now, she did not care. Bosco was providing them a place to stay, better than the shack they were before, and if dancing to his tune for a while was the price she would have to pay, she would gladly pay it. Lying underneath Bosco did not mean she was a prostitute.  It only meant she was using what she had to get what she wanted until she could stand on her own feet. That was the difference between her and her mother. Her mother was a prostitute, who sold her body to all and sundry. Bola was a hustler. And hustlers always found a way out of every situation.  Even if they had to suffer for a while.

TRIANGULAR (3)

Happy weekend! For last episode, please click here. Enjoy!

 

SUNDAY, 6TH JULY 2014

8.25am

Bola hated Sundays. She often wondered what made it so special that people would make a lot of fuss trying to look their best as they walked to their churches. On other days, they would dress like the average people they were, but on Sundays, it was as if these church people would try to out-dress one another. She could not remember the last time she wore good clothes, not to talk of wearing one to church. But what irked her most about Sunday was it appeared to be the only day of the week that people remembered there was a God that could judge them for the sins they committed the previous week. These were the people who would cuss one another on the streets, lie, steal and cheat their neighbours every other day of the week, but when Sunday arrived, these sinners became ‘righteous’ and walked to church as if they could not hurt a fly. What a bunch of hypocrites! That was why she would never step into a church. Instead she preferred to spend her Sunday morning watching the local boys play football in the middle of the street. It was on one of those mornings she had met Bosco, a young man of twenty five who looked older than his age and who had indicated romantic interest in her. ‘Bosco’ was not his original name, but no one cared to know what it was. Everyone, young and old, called him ‘Bosco’ and that seemed to go down well with him, especially as it gave him a kind of popularity in the neighbourhood and among his area boys. At first, Bola had treated his proposal with disdain, but lately, she had begun to give it a second thought, considering the wads of notes he had been showing off these days. His appearance also seemed to have drastically changed and he wore expensive clothes that often contrasted his poor surroundings. His sudden wealth had raised many eyebrows in the community and some had even said he was involved in armed robbery and blood money, but no one had enough evidence to pin that on him. And neither did it stop them from grinning ear to ear and flattering him in anticipation for some kudi anytime he came close.

Now as she watched him from the small crowd who had gathered to watch the morning match, she saw the way his peers surrounded him, hailing him as if he was a king and the look of pride on his face showed he enjoyed the attention he was receiving. This was what money brought an individual – respect, honour and recognition. Those who once looked down on you would begin to lick your feet, even if they were dirty and full of bacteria and everyone who once snubbed you would struggle to be associated with you.  Bola sighed with anticipation. If she accepted his proposal, then she and her brother would not have to go hungry ever again. Bosco would take care of them, right? The little food she brought home yesterday would soon be exhausted and the fear of what next to eat was gradually overcoming her. Perhaps, saying ‘yes’ to Bosco might not be a bad idea, after all. It was not like she would be tied to him forever. It was only for a while, until she got her feet. When she was tired of the relationship and had saved enough to start a petty business, she would leave. All she needed was to play her cards well.

A set of people were going round the crowd distributing some flyers and Bola rolled her eyes in disgust. These Jesus hypocrites are here again. Can’t they just leave us in peace? When one of them got to her, she shook her head and turned her face to the other side. What she needed was not a piece of paper preaching rubbish, what she needed was wads of notes that would put food on her table every time she needed it.

“It is just a little pamphlet, sister.” The woman who had come to hand her the tract pleaded. “Just take one, please. You can read it anytime you are ready.”

Bola cast her an irritated look. “Do I look like someone who needs your stupid paper? Go and give it to the fools who need it.”

The woman looked pained, but instead of retorting like Bola expected, she walked away to another person. Bola felt a bit guilty she had shouted on the woman and at the same time, was relieved she had been left alone. Her kind of people had nothing to offer Bola.

A young boy of about five came over to Bola and tugged at her shirt. When Bola looked down, he pointed at someone in the distance, who needed her attention. When Bola saw it was Bosco, her heart quickened with excitement. Bosco had called for her. Maybe he was her salvation. She walked hastily to where he was and as she approached him, the young men around him made way for her, sizing her up as if she was a piece of meat about to be eaten.

Omo tó san! Baby tó make sense!” Bosco greeted her amidst whistles from his friends. “My one and only Caro. Doro beautiful.” His smile revealed a set of blackened teeth. He wore a big gold chain around his neck and he smelt heavily of cheap perfume. His oversized shirt hung loosely on his thin frame, swallowing him up and making him appear bigger than he really was.

Bola felt uncomfortably uneasy as all the males stared at her as if trying to confirm Bosco’s compliments.

“You see as all my guys just dey size you up. Ko le ye won!” Bosco continued, his eyes never leaving her body and staying a bit longer on her chest. Then he smiled sheepishly when his eyes met hers. “I always go for the best.” His English was marked with thick Yoruba accent. He turned to his friends “Eyin boys, e joooor o, leave me and my kokolet alone. We get yarn.”

His remark was rewarded with some snickers from his friends as they moved away reluctantly, some casting funny glances at Bola.

Bola was very embarrassed and once they were alone, she did not hesitate to express her feelings. “What was that for? You did not have to say all that in front of your friends. Some of them are my neighbours.”

“Say what? Call you my babe? You no be my babe? Abeg, bone dat side! Do you know how much my boys will respect you now?”

Though it was silly to believe, Bola knew he was right. The fact that he had publicly called her his girlfriend would make her the envy of many people in the society, especially the ladies. “So why did you call for me?”

“You know why, Bola.” Bosco stood up and motioned to her to take a walk with him. Then he spoke in the native dialect. “I have offered you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be my African Queen, a chance to rise above everyone in this place, to leave this rat-hole and spend a better life with me, but you have been falling my hand, telling me you needed more time to think. Do you know how many of these kokolets here would jump at me if I asked any of them?”

Bola had often seen how ladies flocked around him like ants after sugar, some of them willing to do anything for him at the slightest request. Wouldn’t she be spending most of her time with him fighting off these girls? “I am still thinking about it.”

Bosco stopped abruptly, speaking in fluent Yoruba. “Thinking? But it has been three weeks since I asked you. How many weeks more do you need again? See if it is about money, I have it and will not hesitate to spend every kobo on you. I know how hard things are for you. I know you need money badly like everyone else in this place and I have got it in abundance and cannot wait to spend it on you. Omo, shine your eyes o! You better jasi before I change my mind.”

“Where… where do you get this money from?” Bola stammered. This was one of the things bothering her, the main reason she was yet to give him a definite answer.

Bosco stared at her with suspicion. “You also believe all the rubbish people have been saying about me?” He sounded angry. “I don’t do blood money, God forbid. I have business investments here and there and they are paying off for me. Why do people always think someone can hammer only from blood money in this Naija?”

“It’s not what you think.” Bola cut in. “I mean that is just rumour anyway. People will always talk. So, what would you want in return from me?” Another question that worried her.

Bosco laughed loudly as if she just asked the most foolish question. “Sometimes, the way you talk makes me think you act below your age. Are you telling me you don’t know what to give me in return, eh baby?” He winked seductively and inched closer to her. “Abi you want me to show you small?”

Not that Bola did not know what to expect. In this kind of relationship, she knew the barter that needed to take place. She would have to sleep with him every time he wanted it in exchange of what she needed. Did that not turn her into a full-time prostitute like her mother? And what if she got pregnant? The shame would be too much to bear. Her father would not hesitate to send her out of the house back to the streets, where she came from. Then, the cycle would begin again. She was born through prostitution. Her child would be born through prostitution, and without a father. There were many of such children in the neighbourhood. Children without fathers and without any possible future, making a living out of the streets. She was sure Bosco would not want to have anything to do with her if she made the mistake of getting pregnant.

“Not now.” She stepped back instinctively and quickly blocked him from planting a kiss on her cheek. “People are watching us.” Then she added shyly. “How often would you want us to… em… ?”

He licked his lips in anticipation. “Ha! Any time I want it, but I must warn you. I can go two, three, sometimes four times a day. You cannot blame me. My konji is always on fire.” He smiled mischievously. “But I assure you, no dulling at all with me.”

Bola swallowed hard. Four times a day? Wasn’t that too much? “I… I don’t know.” She stammered. “I don’t know if I want to do it four times a day.”

Though she was not new to sex, the thought of laying under Bosco scared her. Her first experience two years ago had been very unpleasant and left her shattered for many weeks. It had been in the toilet at school when she did the ‘experiment’ with one of her classmates, after everyone else had left for home. The inexperienced boy had got it all wrong, treating her like an animal he could not wait to tear apart and when he eventually tore through her, she had screamed her heart out and he had to cover her mouth, so they would not get caught. The next day, she had arrived school late but could not have imagined the disgrace that awaited her. The silly boy had gone round, telling everyone who cared to listen of how he masterfully ‘conquered’ her in the school’s lavatory and how she had been begging for more. That was the most embarrassing day of her life. That was also the last day she stepped into school.  When she told her father of her decision to stop school that night, he did not even bother to ask her why, neither did he take note of her swollen, red eyes. He had taken a big gulp of the cheap beer in his hand, waved his other hand and told her to get lost. She was fifteen and in the middle senior class. After that experience, she vowed never to let any man get that close to her again, but she had broken that vow seven months ago for a just cause. She trembled slightly as she remembered the terrible experience behind the closed door and how that man had handled her like a slut. She had cried bitterly after that and promised herself it would never happen again. Now, it appeared she would have to break that promise again.

“Maybe you didn’t enjoy it with other guys, but not with me.” Bosco boasted. “With me, you will get to the third heavens. By the time I start with you, you will be the one begging me not to stop.” He laughed hard and dipped his hands into his pocket, bringing out some crisp fresh notes. “Take this. Maybe this will allow you make up your mind on time.”

Bola grabbed the money from his hands with unsteady fingers. Here was the thing she needed most all her life, the answer to all her prayers. And everything depended on a one-word answer from her. She cleared her throat. “I umm… I think…”

“Aunty Bola! Aunty Bola!” Tomiwa ran towards them as if something was chasing him.

“What is it, Tomiwa?” Bola ran to meet him midway. She didn’t like the troubled look on his face.

He ran into her arms. “It is Baba. He has found where we hid the food and he is very angry that we hid it from him. He has threatened to throw you out of the house.” His eyes were filled with unshed tears. “Do you think he will? Who will take care of me if he does? I don’t want to live alone with him.”

Bola tightened her arms on him. “You worry your head too much, little boy. Baba cannot send me away from the house. We will tell him we hid it away from rats and were going to eat it together today anyway.”

Tomiwa raised surprised eyes at his sister. “But that’s a lie.”

Bola’s heart burned at his statement. In their world, lying was normal and a needed tool to survive. She could not keep count of the number of lies she had made just to get them to where they were today. “Well, do you have another option, Tomiwa?”

The poor boy shook his head. “Okay. I hope Baba believes us.”

A loud cough drew their attention. Bosco didn’t like the interruption and he frowned at the little boy. “Are you done with your sister?”

Tomiwa shrank away from him and hid behind his sister.

“He is just a little boy.” Bola defended. “I am sorry I have to leave. It is urgent.”

Bosco’s face contorted into a deeper frown. “And how long will you keep me waiting this time?”

“I… I will call you tonight.” She added when she saw the skepticism on his face. “I promise.”

Bosco brought out more money and handed them over to her. “Remember there is more where this came from.”

Bola, much overwhelmed at his generosity, collected the money, and muttered an incoherent ‘thank you.’

Bosco dipped his head and walked away with a secret smile of victory on his lips. He already knew he had won her over. Girls in the kind of neigbourhood would do anything to get money.

“I don’t like that man.” Tomiwa tugged at his sister’s dress.

“That man just gave us money for food that will last us for some days. We should be grateful to him.” She pocketed all the cash.

“I don’t like him still.”

Bola pulled her brother towards the direction of the house. “You should try to like him because in the coming days, you may be seeing more of him.”

As they walked towards their house and saw Baba standing outside with anger written all over him, Bola knew just the right thing to tell him. All she needed was to show him the wads of notes in her pocket and that would silence him. It was all about the money and it did not matter where it came from. All that mattered was there was money.

“And where have you been?” Baba yelled at Bola even before she came close to him, drawing some public attention to them. “I have been shouting your name all over the place.” He lifted the nylon half-filled with goodies. “And where did you get this from?”

“A friend bought it for me.” Bola replied calmly, trying not to sound disrespectful.

“A friend? One of your boyfriends? I see you have been sleeping all over the place, just like your harlot-mother.” Baba accused blatantly as he stretched the package at her. “And you had the guts to hide this away from me? Do I look like I am a beggar? What an ingrate you are! I saved you from a life on the street and this is what I get for it? Hiding food away from me?”

“It is not what you think, Baba. I only hid it away from the rats, not from you. And see” She brought out the money she got from Bosco. “I also got these.”

Baba stared at the money as if he had just seen a miracle. With his left hand, he snatched the money from her hands. “I will hold on to this too, so the rats will not get to it. Now get inside and clean up the room.” He ordered. “And you too!” He pointed an accusing finger at Tomiwa. “Awon oloshi!”

Tomiwa held his sister’s hands as they hurried into their one-room apartment. “You gave him all the money. You know he will not share it with us. He will spend everything drinking.”

“Don’t worry.” She dipped her hands into a second pocket and brought out a large amount. “I only gave him a little portion. I got us covered. This should be enough for us for at least three days.”

“And after that?” Tomiwa asked the inevitable question.

Bola sighed deeply. “From tonight, I do not think we shall have to worry about hunger anymore.”

“You mean we will have food all the time?” Tomiwa was excited. “You have finally got a work that will give us money?”

Bola drew him close and kissed his forehead. Being the girlfriend of one of the ‘area boys’ did not really sound like a job to her. “Let’s just say it is something that will put food in our mouth for a long while.”

“Yay!!” He jumped in the air happily. Then he stopped suddenly like he remembered something and rushed to the corner where the plates were arranged. Behind the little pile, he brought out a bar of chocolate. “I was keeping this for today. It was the remaining one left in the nylon.”

“Oh! You should have eaten it, Tomiwa.”

“No, I wanted us to eat it on your birthday. Today is your birthday, isn’t it? Or have you forgotten?”

Bola’s legs nearly gave way. Her birthday was today. How could she have forgotten? It took a prompting from her little brother to remind her about the most important day of her life, the day when she always wished for a new beginning. Tears filled her eyes as she drew him into a tight hug. “You remembered. Thank you, Tomiwa.”

He held her even tighter. “Happy birthday, Aunty Bola.”

The tears spilled down Bola’s face. Today she was eighteen. Seventeen years of hunger and shame had passed. How time flew! She remembered all the suffering and pain she had gone through to be where she was today. It was time she started taking life more aggressively, time she became a real woman, even if she had to do that by lying underneath a man she barely loved . That was the only salvation life offered her. If she wanted a fresh start, she had got it in a man named Bosco. It was time to make that phone call. ‘Tonight’ was just too far away.

 

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

10.00am

Pauline watched as her husband danced to the praise and worship session and grimaced when he lifted his hands in the air, singing heartily as if all was well. To everyone around, they were the perfect couple, the role models for younger couples to look up to. No one knew that beyond their matching outfit and outward display of love was a fire that was burning their home and tearing them apart. Only yesterday, her mother-in-law had added more gas to the flame, making it more uncomfortable for her. To make matters worse, George had also been privy to the plan. Not that she was surprised. He had always threatened her that day would come when she would have to accept her fate. Another ‘wife’ had come in to take her place and while the woman was to act as a ‘maid’, she would be playing the wifely role Pauline should be doing. Pauline had wept bitterly all through the night. She wished she could just pack her possession and leave, but she had nowhere to go to. She dared not go back to her parent’s house in Abeokuta, who would not even want to hear about all she had been going through.  After all, they had warned her she was too hasty in marrying her husband, but she had convinced them she was making the right decision. Now, she knew she was wrong and they were right.

“Why are you not singing? Don’t you know people are watching you?” George barked quietly at her. His eyes told her he was not pleased with her at all. While everyone was standing, she was sitting and not joining in the singing.

“I am tired.” Pauline told him. “I should not have come at all.”

“Whose fault is that?” His cold eyes did not leave hers. “I don’t want people thinking something else. So I suggest you pretend you are well and do as everyone.”

Reluctantly, Pauline stood up to join the standing congregation. The singing, the dancing, the drums, everything was noise to her. She wished she could just disappear away from there into a quiet place where she could cry her heart out. Her husband was clapping and singing as if he did not just chastise her. If he could pretend all was well between them, she could not. In fact, she was tired of him, his charade, his verbal abuse, everything about him and she could not stand it anymore. She excused herself and walked out of the row and out of the auditorium. She half-expected her husband to follow her, but when she turned and saw he was not, she was glad he did not. If he did, she would have made an embarrassing spectacle of them. She tried to hold back the tears as she hurried to the nearest rest room. Once inside one of the toilets, she spilled out the content in her eyes, breathing heavily as if she had just completed a marathon. I can’t do this anymore! I cannot take this anymore! I just want to die… God, just take me away from this place. She cried bitterly into her hands, trying hard not to scream her heart out and get unwanted attention to herself. By the time she was spent, she had no idea how long she had spent in the restroom. She needed to freshen up before returning to the auditorium. She cleaned her eyes and stepped out of the toilet, just to see Ezinne standing just outside the door. When she glanced around and saw they were the only ones in the restroom, she relaxed and walked to the other sink to wash her face.

Ezinne noticed her friend’s puffed eyes and her heart yearned to bear some of the burden. When she saw the look on Pauline’s face as Pauline walked out of the auditorium, she knew things were not alright. Pauline had looked like she was about to throw up and when Ezinne had waited for a minute without seeing her friend return to rejoin the service, she had walked out of the auditorium and headed straight to where she thought Pauline could be and she had guessed right. The little sobs coming from one of the toilets had proven that. Not that she could not have knocked on the door and comforted her friend, but she knew that this was a time Pauline needed to be alone and fight her battle by herself. She pitied Pauline. Really pitied her. No woman should go through what her friend was going through. This was one of the reasons she was yet to marry herself and every day, she wondered if she ever would. Was it not better to remain single than to be married and miserable all the days of your life?

She watched as Pauline dabbed her face with water and cleaned up with one of the towels lined up on rail.

“How long was I there?” Pauline asked.

Ezinne shrugged. “Long enough to start getting me impatient. It doesn’t matter, Pauline.”

“I am surprised my husband has not come banging on the door. I must confess I am surprised he is not the one standing outside the door.”

“You cannot keep suffering forever.” Ezinne told her the obvious truth. “You can kill yourself if you go on like this.”

“You won’t even believe what happened yesterday.” Pauline lowered her voice. “He brought another woman home.”

“What!” Ezinne looked stunned. “You are joking, right?”

“Do I look like a joker to you? His mother brought in a girl from the village yesterday and told me to my face that I would soon pack out of the house.”

“How could she do that? She has no right to interfere in your home.”

“Well, she and her son think otherwise.”

“I cannot believe this.” Ezinne paced around angrily. “And where is this girl?”

“At home. I am to continue being the good wife outside while she is the wife inside. They sleep together now.”

“My God! I am sorry you are going through this hell, Pauline. I wish I could help. In fact, I will like to help. Let me go now and scatter this girl for you. By the time I am through with her, she will regret ever coming to Lagos.”

Pauline rested on one of the sinks. “You don’t understand, Ezinne. The problem is not with my husband, his mother or even the girl. The problem is with me. ME! If I were not barren, all these would not have happened.”

“Don’t you ever confess negatively! You are not barren. God did not create you that way. Because something bad happened in your past does not mean it has power over your future.” Ezinne grabbed her friend’s shoulders. “Listen to me. You are God’s child and He created you fearfully and wonderfully. You will have children. This is just the devil’s plan against you, but you have to keep your head straight. The devil must not win this battle. You need to trust in God more than ever.”

Pauline shook her head. Trust in God? When was the last time she did that? Where was God all these years? Why did He stand by and let her face such humiliation all these years? Where was He when she needed Him most? Right now, trusting God was not something she could afford. “We need to get back to the auditorium. My husband will be wondering what must have happened to me.” She walked towards the door.

“You will be fine, Pauline. I believe God. I have been praying for you and I know God will answer soon.”

“I have been praying eight years, Ezinne, and God has not answered. I doubt if He will ever remember me.”

“He will, my dear friend. He will.” Ezinne watched as her friend walked out of the restroom. Her heart ached terribly at what she just heard. How low could George go? Bringing another woman into his home, playing the adulterer and coming to church to pretend as if he was the holiest of all? A bitter venom filled her mouth and she stamped her foot. Men are the most dangerous creatures on earth! Her desire to get married just got another big blow.

 

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12.01pm

Sunday was Lola’s favourite day of the week for many reasons. First, she had the opportunity to meet some of her friends she hardly saw during the week and for the few minutes they would spend together in church, they would try, as much as possible, to catch up on what they had missed. It gave her a sense of belonging and made up for the days of loneliness. Second, it afforded her the chance to spend some time with the kids in the children’s church and relieve the good, old days with her only child and son, Charles, who was based in the United Kingdom with his family. She only saw him on two occasions in the year – Christmas and Easter- when he would visit briefly with his family, as much as his busy work schedule allowed him. She barely had a fulfilling relationship with her two grandchildren and that hurt her a lot. With the lovely kids in church, she was able to feel like a mother again. There were times she wished she and Tobi had got a second child, preferably a girl, but that never happened, despite their effort. Charles, himself, had been a miracle from God, just when she thought she would never have a child. How much she wanted a girl! At this trying time in her life, she was sure a daughter would have come in handy. Her daughter would not desert her the way Charles had. Most important reason of all, being in Church made her feel close to God as if she could see Him face to face. There was something about the big Cross draped with red, satin cloth hanging on the wall behind the pulpit. Every time she saw the symbol, she could picture Jesus crucified to it with blood dripping from every part of His body. Sometimes, she would see herself kneeling beside the cross and washing off the blood off His feet. She wished she could do that over and over. He had done more than that for her.

“Deaconess Williams, the Pastor wants to see you urgently, please. He is in his office.” An immaculately-dressed male usher spoke gently to her.

Lola smiled at him. “Okay. Thank you. I will be with him shortly.”

The young man nodded and walked away to resume his duties. The service had ended and while everyone had stood up to leave or chat with their friends, Lola had remained on her seat. That was very strange, even to her, but today, there were many things on her mind. Things that weighed her down with anxiety. She glanced at the Cross again and wished the blood would appear and wash off every worry from her heart. She had woken up this morning, feeling some pains in her stomach and had immediately called her physician who had paid her a visit and given her some drugs to use, and when she confessed she visited the Mall yesterday, the doctor had chided her like a disobedient child. She was to stop all activities that would put the least risk to her health. As much as she did not want to admit, Lola knew her health was fast deteriorating and unless she heeded the doctor’s advice on time, she would pay a grave consequence, but going under the knife was something she dreaded to do.

Before she left for church, she had placed a call to her son, but it entered voicemail. She desperately wanted him to come home with his family. She longed to see them and tell them of how much she loved them… and how much she would miss them. Time was no longer on her side and she hoped Charles would realize that too before it was too late. She knew she could not keep this a secret for long and she desperately needed a shoulder to cry on. How she missed her late husband! He would have been very helpful at this time. Though she was surrounded by many people, especially in church, she still felt lonely, a void that could only be filled by someone very close to her and the person who could have been was thousands of kilometers away with his family. She sighed sadly. Lord, I need You badly at this difficult time of my life. I feel so alone as I walk through this valley. Replace my weakness with Your strength. Fill my mouth with laughter again. And the whole world will know of Your goodness towards me.

Someone waved at her and she waved back, quickly pasting a smile across her face. She suddenly remembered the pastor would be waiting for her and she jumped off the seat and walked, as fast as she could, to the office located towards the end of the corridor. As she walked down, many people stopped to greet her as they normally would. No one had any idea that underneath her cheery replies was a woman who was broken and yearning for a miracle. When she got to the door of the office, she found it half-open and she took a quick peep.

“Come in, Deaconess Williams.” Pastor Mark flashed a set of very white teeth which contrasted his very dark complexion. He was a middle-aged man whose knowledge of the Bible marveled Lola. The ways he broke down controversial doctrines made Christian living more realistic and relatable. The first time Lola was under his ministration, she knew she had found the right place of worship and at her second visit, she had dragged her husband along. He, too, became hooked and they both became dedicated members after that. That was seven years ago.

When she saw the smile on his face as she entered his office, Lola’s fears disappeared temporarily and she relaxed a bit. “You called for me, Pastor?” She asked as she sat on one of the leather seats opposite him.

“Yes, please.” Pastor Mark waited for her to be comfortably seated before continuing. “How are you today?”

“I am very well and much better after that sermon you gave. It was as if God was speaking through you to me directly.”

Pastor Mark smiled inwardly. If only she knew how terrible his preparation for the message had been, he thought. He had planned for an entirely different topic, but when he woke up this morning, he felt a strange urge within to speak on discouragement as a tool of the devil in waging war against God’s children. That minute, he had scribbled down some points that were pungent on his mind. As he climbed the podium some two hours later, half-prepared and without a defined sense of direction, he had given the control of his sermon to God. The way the message had gone had left him dumbstruck and when every one of his congregation had raised their hands when he had asked those who were battling discouragement to do so, he felt very humbled and was glad he had heeded the inclination of the Holy Spirit.

“I am glad you were blessed by the sermon.” He was happy the confirmation came from her, one of the aging people in the church. Sometimes, he feared his youthfulness might not appeal to the older generation, but so far, many of them had not left for another denomination. He must be doing something right. “I just wanted to check on how you are faring. It has been a while we sat face-to-face like this. I am sorry these past months have been extremely busy for me.”

Lola nodded in agreement. “I understand how busy your schedule has been. The work of God is increasing day by day and I must say I am most proud of you. I am doing well and adjusted to life without my husband. It isn’t easy though, but God’s grace has been sufficient for me.”

“That’s good to know. Thank God for His grace. You know you can always reach me if you need anything. I cannot stand in the place of your late husband and the age gap between us may be much, but I am your spiritual father and it is my responsibility to make sure you are okay every time.”

Lola’s heart became heavy again. Should she inform him of the doctor’s diagnosis? Or should she wait and perhaps go for another test at another hospital? Perhaps, Dr. Aluko, their family doctor for twelve years running, made the wrong conclusion. There was nothing wrong in checking with another medical personnel and until she got another confirmation, she would not tell anyone, not even Pastor Mark, about her greatest fear. But one thing she needed to do, whether the diagnosis was right or wrong, was to see her son because if Dr. Aluko  was right, then she had just few months to live. “Thank you for your concern, Pastor. I believe I am fine, but if you insist, there is something bothering me seriously and if you can help me, I shall be most grateful.”

Pastor Mark sat straight, his face more serious. “What is it, Deaconess Williams?”

Lola swallowed deeply. “Can you get my son down to Nigeria as soon as possible?”

Pastor Mark was shocked at her request. He had only met her son once, when he had attended last Christmas celebration with his mother. The meeting had only lasted for some seconds as the man was in a haste to leave the church. It was apparent he had only attended at the insistence of his mother. “Your son?”

“Yes, Charles is his name. Not sure if you can remember him, but you have met him before. He is a medical doctor running his own practice in the UK. Always very busy and never having time for his old mother in Nigeria.”

“If he is too busy to travel down, why don’t you travel there instead?”

Lola’s face twisted into a knot. “I don’t travel, Pastor. I hate flying. The last time I travelled, two years ago, I suffered a heart attack and have vowed never to board a plan again. I would rather trek to Birmingham than fly.”

Pastor Mark remembered that event and when she gave the testimony in church, everyone had given a standing ovation to God. He tried another option. “Why don’t you call him instead and let him know how you feel. I am sure he will find the time.”

“You think I have not tried calling? Any time I call, it enters voicemail and even when I drop a message, he hardly gets back to me. The few times I got through, someone else would pick and tell me he was busy in the operating room. I have tried all I can. Perhaps, if another person places a call to him, he will understand how important his visit is to me.”

There was nothing wrong in helping this poor mother with her simple request, but Pastor Mark was skeptical at placing this call to the same man who had snubbed him the only time they met. Charles had looked down his nose and muttered a stiff ‘hello’ that sounded like he forced himself to say and had turned his attention almost immediately back to his mother, as if Pastor Mark never existed. Pastor Mark sighed. He knew he had no choice. “Okay. I will place to call to him.”

Lola nearly jumped off her seat in excitement. “Really? Oh! Thank you, Pastor. You don’t know how much this means to me.” She brought out her phone from her bag and clicked some buttons. “Here is his number.” She could not believe her pastor would readily agree to this and hoped it would work out as she wanted. She could not wait to see her son again, even if it meant for the last time.

When Pastor Mark was done scribbling down the digits, he glanced at the woman and saw the light in her eyes. It was obvious she was desperate to see her son. Which mother wouldn’t? He wished his own mother were alive. Here was a woman who wanted her son’s attention very badly and here he was without a mother. Too bad people didn’t value what they had until they lost it. He only hoped he would be able to get through to Charles and that Charles would even listen to him at all.

“Thank you, Pastor.” Lola relaxed into her seat. “So how soon can you call him?”

“Before today ends and I will let you know once I get his response.”

Lola had never been more grateful to someone recently. If her son could not find time to pick her calls, perhaps, he will find time to pick another’s. She stood to leave. “I really appreciate your kind gesture, Pastor.”

“It’s my pleasure, ma’am.” Pastor Mark smiled at her. “Just let me know if you need any other thing at all. I will be glad to help.”

Lola suddenly remembered something. “Yes, one other thing please. Can you recommend a reputable hospital around? Not St. George, I’ve been there.”

Pastor Mark stared at her. Hospital? “Is everything okay?”

Lola waved a hand. “Yes, it is. I just want to do a quick check up, that’s all.”

“And St. George could not do it?”

Lola bit her lips. How could she maneuver her way around this without letting the cat out of the bag? “Well, you know there are times you just tired of the hospital you are used to and you need a fresh perspective.”

Pastor Mark wrote on a piece a piece of paper and handed it over to her. Her desperation to see her son and now, a desire to visit another hospital for ‘check up’? Deaconess Williams was hiding something.

When Lola read it, she beamed with appreciation. “The Trinity Hospital. I heard they are good too. Thank you.” She walked towards the door. “I will be expecting that call of yours tonight.”

“Yes, I will get back to you.” Pastor Mark studied her carefully as she opened the door. “Goodbye, Deaconess.”

“Bye, Pastor and thank you for your concern.” She closed the door gently.

Pastor Mark’s eyes flew to the small piece of paper in front of him and once again wondered why the deaconess would go to this extent of getting her son’s attention. He only hoped whatever it was that she needed medical checkup for was a minor reason. After she lost her husband, he knew picking the pieces of her life would be difficult. She needed her beloved son to be closer to her than ever. He picked up his phone and dialed the number on the paper. As if on cue, the call entered into voicemail. But Pastor Mark would not be deterred. If reaching Charles was the only thing he achieved for the rest of the day, then he would consider his day fruitful. He relaxed deeper into his seat and dialed again. He had made a promise and would not rest until he fulfilled it.

#WWR: FEEL THE MOMENTS

It was indeed a time of superb worship. GOD came down and HIS glory filled the temple at the just concluded Worship-With-Ralph (#WWR) season three event. Check out the best moments. For more pictures please click here.

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Raphael Francis, The Convener.

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Qadowsh

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Jayjazz

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Isebiama

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Gpiano

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Boluwatife

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Cross section of artistes

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worshippers in attendance

Meet the Host of #WWR

He looks like the regular kind of guy (he is, in fact, one), but a closer look will tell you there is more. Underneath that slim physique and calm demeanor is a passion and vision to transform lives and change the world for God through the instrument of worship. Today, we meet with the man who is behind the most talked-about worship event in town – ‘Worship With Ralph’. Read and enjoy!

RED: Tell us a bit about yourself in few sentences.
Raphael: My name is Raphael Francis Oladipo. A product of God’s grace and mercy. I am from Edo state in Nigeria. I am a Singer, a Songwriter, a Music Director and Instructor.

R3RED: How did you get into the music ministry and what kind of training did you have to become a musician?
Raphael: Music has been my lifelong passion. As a kid, my dad made sure I was involved in the church choir while he maintained a strong musical homefront where we had to sing loads of hymns during family devotion. At the age of thirteen I came under the tutelage of the dynamic Dr Albert Oikelome, whose musical influence still laces my every composition and instructing skills. He gave me the opportunity to sing on an international stage and made me discover my voice. In 2008, I went ahead to do a music diploma at the MUSON centre and there I learnt under proven professionals to be a better singer and flutist and also learnt advanced theory of music. I graduated in 2010 as the best male vocalist amongst a class of maestros.

RED: There’s word in town about an upcoming event you are hosting titled ‘Worship With Ralph’. Can you tell us what the programme is  all about?
Raphael: Wow! WWR, as we fondly call it, is simply a worship program as the name implies. It is a gathering of true worshippers; people who have a heart for God and a yearning to see His glory manifest in their lives. This will be the third season of this programme and more than the previous ones, we expect a bigger crowd of worshippers.

RED: What is the theme and when is it taking place?
Raphael: The theme is ‘Lifting Up The Name “JESUS” and it is scheduled to hold on Sunday, November 2nd  2014. Venue is at Halified School in Maryland, Lagos. Programme starts at 2:00pm prompt with a call to worship.

RED: What’s the vision behind it?
Raphael: Oh my! When I completed another decade some years ago, I felt a leading to gather just my friends to celebrate with me in songs. The need for sons of God to manifest was strongly implanted on me; the need to reach out to the world through songs (a tool God has blessed me with); A need to minister on a platform outside the confines of a church wall; A need to touch the lives of my fellow men and bring people together in an atmosphere of true worship and divine embrace.

RED: Is there a target audience or is it just for everybody?
Raphael: I see myself as a voice to the young generation. And I know I have a ministry to reach out to youths. So, yes! The target audience is the youth and young adults.

RED:What do you expect from the congregation as you lead and what should they expect from you at this third season of WWR?
Raphael: #WWR is a program where we come to worship God. I just want people coming with an open heart and a readiness to worship irrespective of who is on the mic. and for this season, we will be singing songs like: – Jesus at the centre (Israel Houghton), – I’m in love with Jesus (New Directions) – Take me to the King (Tamela Mann) and a host of other songs.

RED: Are there other musicians ministering on that day?
Raphael: Oh yes. I am more like a convener.  There will be an array of gospel artistes. Young men and women like me in whom the Spirit of God is and in whose heart God has placed a burden to bless the world.

RED: Who is your role model or who are you influenced by most as a worship leader?
Raphael: I listen widely to a lot of gospel artistes largely because I find myself directing choirs a lot. But if I have to mention names I must confess that I have been largely influenced by the legendary Don Moen, the dynamic Ron Kenoly and the masterful Donnie McClurkin

RED: What’s your advice to other worship leaders out there?
Raphael: The Lord is Spirit and they that must worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

RED: Thank you for your time, Mr. Raphael.
Raphael: Most welcome

It’s here! Worship With Ralph  (WWR) – Season 3

#wwr3

Hey, peeps! The long-awaited worship event that brings great minds to an atmosphere of worship and fellowship with God is here again and this time it is bigger, better and more boom!  It is the third season of ‘Worship With Ralph’ A.K.A ‘WWR’ and it is happening live in Lagos on the 2nd of November 2014.

The theme of the event is ‘Lifting Up The Name JESUS’ and it will bring together true worshippers who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth and who have the positive mind and attitude to take over the world for the kingdom of Heaven.

So if you fit this description, you have got to be in this event and don’t come alone. Bring with you other heaven-minded people as we join our hearts and lift our hands in reverence to God as we are led by anointed singers and instrumentalists.  Below are the details of the programme:

Venue: Halified School, 2-6 Oki Lane, Maryland, Lagos (Opposite KICC Headquarters)

Time: 2pm. prompt.

Date: Sunday, 2nd November 2014.

Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty. Make it a date with Jesus. Let the countdown begin…

Step Back, Dad! (6)

Please click here if you missed the last episode. Thanks for following! Love you.

I had the same dream again or rather a different variation. This time, I found myself locked in a cage that was speeding towards God-knows-where. The air was tight and I could hardly breathe. I flung myself at the cage and the faster it went, the weaker I became. I tried to call the name of Jesus but it came out as a whisper. I knew this was it. I was going to die.

10The loud bang on the door woke me and my father peeped in. “Chinwe, it’s 6.15. You are late for work.”

‘Oh! Thanks dad. I overslept.” My head floated in midair as I tried to regain control and waited till things began to take shape.

“Over-hurry then. You would not want a query on Monday morning, would you?” He closed the door.

I tried to stand but fell back on the bed. This was not good. Two bad dreams at a row. I needed to speak with someone. No, not dad. He spiritualizes things too much. I needed someone with a different perspective. Mrs. Folarin, perhaps…my mother’s best friend. She was also a deaconess in the church and though she had no child, had been of great help to many spinsters. She was the perfect person to speak with.

I picked up my phone under my pillow to dial her number. There was a message waiting for me. Philippians 4:6 ‘Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.’ Who sends these messages anyway? I tried the number twice, but no one picked. Probably one of those phone evangelists.

I dialed Mrs. Folarin and it didn’t ring long before she picked.

“Hello, daughter. How are you?”

Her voice reminded me of my mum. Reassuring… just what I needed.

“Good morning, mummy. I am fine. Please I need to see you urgently today.”

“Really?” She was concerned. “Is there a problem?”

YES!!! I’M GONNA DIE!  “No. I mean just a little issue. I will stop at your shop this evening when returning from work.”

“No, come directly to the house. I will be waiting for you. I have something God dropped in my heart about you this morning.”

“Really?” My heart skipped a bit. “I will try to come early.”

“See you then and remain blessed.” She cut the line.

I dropped the phone slowly. So, God had something for me? Whatever it was, I hoped it was not connected to the dreams. My heart seemed heavier all of a sudden.

At work that day, everything seemed to be too slow for me. 5pm looked like forever and the boring meetings didn’t seem to help. Steve kept giving me a funny look. Couldn’t he just mind his business?

At 4.30pm, my table was clear (a feat I had not achieved since I started working in the company). I called Mrs. Folarin and she confirmed she was already at home and expecting me. At five minutes to closing time, Steve barged into my office with an angry face.

“Miss Chinwe, I sent you an urgent mail about 30 minutes ago and no response yet.” His hands were on my desk.

“Oh, really?” I looked at my system. I had shut down 30 minutes ago. “What was it about?” Wrong question.

He straightened. “It’s late already. I need that report first thing tomorrow morning, okay?”

“Alright, sir. You will get it.” Which report? I was not sure of what he needed but was not about to ask either.

Then he folded his arms and his face softened. “Got time for dinner with your boss?”

How arrogant! “Ermm… I would have loved to, but I have an appointment…an URGENT appointment.”

“A date?”

“Well, a meeting.” I was not about to tell him what.

“Good luck then. Maybe tomorrow? I will be meeting a couple of friends, so we won’t be alone.”

“Tomorrow is fine. ” Did I just agree? Oh my!

He smiled and I felt some butterflies in my stomach. He headed for the door and turned. “Don’t forget my report.”

“Okay, sir. First thing tomorrow.”

What have I just done? A date with Steve? Whether with friends or not, I just agreed to do something I consider ‘bad’, hanging out with someone other than my fiancé. Segun wouldn’t mind, would he? After all, he is guilty of that too, but does that grant me permission to do same?

5 minutes late! I dashed out of my office and by 6.15pm, I was at my counselor’s home. She welcomed me with so much warmth that I felt happy for the first time that day. When we finally settled down to talk, I told her of my dreams, of my relationship, of my dad, of everything.

She listened attentively and occasionally interrupted to ask me a few questions. At the end of everything, she picked up her Bible and read a passage – Phillipians 4:6, same message I got this morning. God was indeed speaking to me. I asked myself, how well have I prayed about this? Have my emotions not beclouded my judgment? Have I been trusting God enough to take control of my life? Has the flesh not taken over in this? The answers made me bow my head in shame.

Mrs. Folarin prayed with me and I felt a peace I hadn’t felt in a long while. I promised God from that moment, He would take the wheel of my life. As I stepped out of the house, I met the last person I needed to see. Tayo stood outside the door with a surprised look on her face.

“What are you doing here?” We blurted out at the same time.

“Well, I came to see mummy.” She replied.

“Me too.” I stepped aside for her to enter. “I had a wonderful time with her. I am sure you will too.”

“No doubt about that.” She managed a smile. “Have a good evening.”

Tayo with her curt manner of ending conversations. I would not let her get to me. Never again.

“You too.” I walked away without a backward glance, though I knew she kept looking until I stepped out of the gate.

My phone rang loudly. It was Segun and a smile crept up my face.

“Hello, darling.” His deep voice melted me.

“Hi again, baby. Good day at work? You sounded dull earlier today.” He had called me twice at work.

‘No more dullness again. I am very fine now.”

“Wonderful. So, you have time to hang out with your fiancé tomorrow evening?”

“Oh no! Sorry, I have an appointment. What about Wednesday?”

“Awww… too bad. Maybe Wednesday then. Will let you know. Talk to you later, okay? I’m driving now.”

“Okay, bye dearie.” I cut the call and heaved a sigh. Wished I had not given a ‘yes’ to Steve.

It’s all good. God is in control of my life now and He knows everything that happens to me. My mind drifted back to Tayo and the strange look she had when she saw me. Well, whatever she had in mind was her cup of tea. I sang all the way to my house. IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.

 

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