Friday, 31 January 2014

the BIG picture Episode 12

Episode 12




She opened the door, and smiled, revealing her white set. He looked around, then walked in.

“I got you some fruits.” He said, taking a seat.

“Oh that’s so thoughtful of you. Thank you.” She replied.

“Is mama in? And where is the baby?”

Francisca rolled her eyes.

“Do you hate me that much Dotun? You can’t even have a decent conversation with me that doesn’t involve the baby. If anyone should be angry it should be me.” She had started to cry. “You knocked me up and went ahead to get married.”
Dotun sighed.

“Francisca it was a fling!”

“Well, it meant more than a fling to me. We were together for about six months before you went back to her. She made you feel so spiritually inferior and you came back into my arms. I have never made you feel less of a man, Dotun. I carried your son. I loved you.”

“It was just…” he stuttered. She was crying. She walked to the door and opened it.

“In fact, please just leave.” She said.

He shook his head, and hesitated, then pulled her close and hugged her.

“I’m sorry Francisca. I had no idea you took it that far.” He said.

“You have hurt me so much.” She continued crying. “Now my life is miserable and lonely.”

He was lost for words or what to do. He could not leave her crying like that. He tried to hug her. She resisted at first, then slowly opened up.

“I just want you to give me some regard as the mother of your only child.” She said.

“I know. I am sorry. I will try to make amends.” He said.

She wiped her tears and went into the kitchen, then brought plates and cutlery.

“Will you start by having some food?” she smiled.

She went back in and came out with two ceramic bowls. The aroma of fresh egusi soup made his belly churn with eagerness. She carried a table, and uncovered the ceramic bowl. It was as though he was looking into heaven. The egusi lumps were rich in size and color. The splash of succulent green ugwu mixed with the egusi only made his taste buds tick. Jumbo sized crayfish and pomo stood out, enticing him, with dried fish and other assorted meat parts. She opened the other bowl and it was a delicacy of bush meat and snails. The height of it was the fluffy white mound of pounded yam she unwrapped before him.

“Please have some food, dear.” She said, smiling.

“Em..Fran..Francisca, I shouldn’t. My wife already made me food.” He stammered.

“But you said she travelled…” she said in a calm and soft pitch.

“Er.. yes she did. She made rice in the morning.”

“That means warmed food for you? And rice? Are you not tired of rice?”

He dipped his right hand into the plastic bowl she had brought for him to wash his hand, but then hesitated.

“I shouldn’t. Really.” He said.

“I don’t bite, man! I slaved over this meal for you because I thought you would be tired from work. I am just trying to show you some respect and concern here. I am not trying to break your marriage. It is a waste anyways. I’ll just go dump the meal in the bin.” She said, and covered the bowls.
Dotun watched as she lifted the tray. His stomach growled and he held it in embarrassment.

“Okay I want…” he said in a very low voice. She smiled, but pretended not to hear.

“I’m sorry what did you say?” she asked.

“I said…” he cleared his throat as his tummy growled again, louder. “I will eat it.” He said.


***

It was 9pm and Dotun had still not picked his call. She was getting worried. She had sent a couple of text messages and BBM messages but he had not replied any. Francisca looked at the phone, and saw the caller id. She hissed and removed the battery, then put the phone on her dresser. Dotun was fast asleep on her bed. After his meal, she brought chilled beer for him to top it up. She knew the man. He was a beer lover, and he could not resist cold beer. He drowned a bottle and she engaged him in a soccer conversation. She knew a lot about soccer. She talked about the economy too. Dotun was very engaged and she went to the freezer to bring two more bottles, as they watched soccer on TV. He was still conscious when she tried to help him to the bedroom, although he was half asleep.
She unbuttoned his shirt and placed her head on his chest, massaging it with her hands. She touched his head and rubbed it. She knew he liked it. He cleared his throat and placed his hand on her waist, pulling her closer.

***

Chichi packed her bag and left the room, when Captain Taiwo was still in the bathroom. For once, she had a conscience. She wanted to get back to Lagos, before Toyin spoilt everything and told her husband or Niran. She paid for a ticket at the airport, and waited for the next available flight back to Lagos.
Toyin lay in her bed, without finding any sleep. She thought of what to do. What if Chichi went ahead to tell Niran or Dotun about her past? Chichi had nothing to lose. She could always find another man. But not her. She couldn’t lose Dotun, and she couldn’t bear the scandal. She made up her mind to get this over with once and for all. What was the worst that could happen?  By morning, she left instructions with her assistant to follow up on the décor in the hotel, and packed her bags. She would catch the next flight to Lagos.


***

Dotun hit his head on the steering, as he parked the vehicle in his compound. What had he done? How could he be that stupid? How was he any different from Esau that sold his birth right because of food? He had sold his loyalty because of egusi and beer.

“Oh God please help me find a way out of this please.” He said, trying to pull himself together. What if Francisca got pregnant again? Toyin would never forgive him. It was probably high time he stopped hiding things and came out plain. He grabbed his blazer and dragged his feet into the house. He tried to unlock the door but it was already open. He remembered he had sent the gateman to go buy him recharge cards for airtime as he drove in. Slowly, he walked in, trying not to make a sound. Who could be in the house?

***

Chichi cried as Niran walked out. She had confessed everything to him, and how she had recently been with Captain Taiwo, but decided not to sleep with him and came back to Lagos. He was beyond shocked. He was a calm man, and very reserved, and she had never seen this part of him before. He had raised his hand and had almost hit her, but then he regained composure, and slowly walked out of the house, without uttering a word.

“Niran please I am so sorry. I understand if you don’t want to have anything to do with me anymore. I just love you too much to cheat on you anymore.”  She cried, holding his hand. He wriggled his hand from her grip, got into his SUV, and drove off.
She ran back into her apartment and grabbed her phone. She needed to talk to Dotun, his cousin. Dotun was the only one who could help her intercede. She remembered Toyin, and for a minute, thought it was even to drag her into her own mess, but decided not to. The poor woman had just been very naïve back then and truth be told, Chichi knew her conscience pricked her.

***

Dotun had found his wife in the living room, sitting on the sofa, crying.

‘Oh no! She knows!’ he thought. He walked up to her and dropped his phone on the stool, preparing in his head, what to say.

His phone rang out. He refused to answer it. It was Chichi. Her talk could wait. She had sent a text earlier saying they needed to talk. Toyin tried to avoid his eyes, and instead, looked at his phone. The call came through again. It was Chichi. He had stored her name as Chisom Niran. Goosebumps filled her flesh, and shivers went down her spine. He picked the call.

“Hello, Chichi. You said you had something to discuss earlier…can it please…”
What she said stopped him immediately and He couldn't complete his sentence. He looked at Toyin and frowned.

“What?!” he said.

Toyin got down on her knees immediately, crying.

“Dotun It was a mistake! Please,” she wept. “I thought an abortion was the only solution! We had no idea he was a quack. He destroyed my womb. I am sooo sorrryyyyy” she wept on uncontrollably.

“What?” Dotun said, and cut the call.

“Please Dotun forgive me. I didn’t know how to tell you I can’t have kids.” She cried.

“What are you talking about Toyin!” His eyes were red.

“Chichi…she told you…”

“She told me she hurt Niran and that he walked out and his phone is switched off. What are you saying!” He yelled.

Toyin sank into the floor, raising her hands on her head. What had she done?!


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the BIG picture Episode 11

Episode 11


“You are going again abi!” Dupe Taiwo said, holding her husband’s shirt. The man laughed, and shook his head.
“Women!” he said. “If I stay home doing nothing, you will complain to the whole world that your husband is incapable of providing for you.” 
“Taiwo if you are going anywhere we will go together.” She said.
His phone rang. It was a text message from Chichi. The girl was already packed and ready for this trip.
“She is calling you again abi. Wait till I teach that girl a lesson. She is by the gate abi.” She let go of his shirt and went into the kitchen to get a stick. Captain Taiwo picked up his small suitcase and hurried into his Range rover.
“Oya move to airport. We will stop at Surulere first to pick Chichi.”
The driver started the SUV and reversed, as the gateman opened the gate wide.
“Close that gate o! Taiwo! “ Dupe Taiwo raged like a lunatic.
“Never marry an illiterate o, John. Orelse this is what will happen to you.” Captain Taiwo said, laughing.

***
Dotun had noticed that she had been distant ever since they got back home from Niran’s book launch. He wanted to reach out and ask what the problem was, but he was scared. What if she knew about Francisca? What if she knew he had still checked on the baby after they got married, contrary to the promise he had made never to have anything to do with the mother and child. He pretended to be asleep, when she got up at 4.30 am and went to the bathroom to take a bath. She was there for a considerably long amount of time. She finally got out, and began to apply moisturizer on herself. He looked at her, and every thought of Francisca was shut out from his mind. He couldn’t pretend to be asleep anymore. He got out of bed, went behind her, and kissed her neck. She jumped.
“Good morning, darling.” He cooed in her ears.
“Dotun, how was your night.” She managed to say. He started to kiss her back and then she stood up and wore her dressing gown.
“I have a flight to catch by 9am. I have some work to do at a customer’s hotel in Abuja.” She said.
“Baby, ten minutes won’t hurt, would it?” He said, pulling her close. “Let’s make a baby. Little Dotun or a mini Toyin, huh?” he smiled.
Her heart skipped multiple beats at those words. She felt like the worst person on earth, as her husband lay with her. There he was, putting so much effort into making kids, but she could not tell him the truth. Maybe it was his fault she was in this situation, and he was getting what he deserved. If he had not broken her heart, she would never have gone to meet Gideon. The rape would not happen and the pregnancy would not have come up, and she would not have had to abort the pregnancy.
***
He dropped Toyin and two of her staff off at the airport, then turned back to go to the office. It was 8.00am already. He got into the elevator, and alighted on the fifth floor. To his surprise, Francisca was waiting at his reception with the baby. His secretary tried to explain her presence but he nodded, affirming that it was okay, and beckoned on Francisca to come into his office.
“He is ill. I need some money to take him to the hospital and buy some baby food and clothes. He is almost six months now. He needs new clothes you know. He is getting bigger.” She said. The boy let out some baby noises, as though he was confirming his mother’s claim.
Dotun sighed.
“Is a hundred and fifty thousand enough?” he asked, bringing out his cheque book.
“Make it two hundred. A happy mom makes a happy baby.” She smiled.
He wrote the check for two hundred thousand naira and handed it to her.
“Dotun, you know, I met your wife the other day at the book launch. I had no idea Niran was your cousin.” She said. Dotun flashed an angry look.
“I hope you did not say a thing to her. Breathe a word, and I will make you as broke as a pauper.” He threatened.
She laughed, shaking her head. “Of course I did not.” She said.
“Won’t you hold your boy?” she stood and went to the other side of the table where Dotun sat, and dropped the baby in his arms. Dotun was about to curse and say something, but then the baby smiled at him, and for the first time, he was beginning to see the semblance the child had with him. He felt a chord strike in his heart that endeared him to the child. Francisca saw it too, as Dotun kissed the child and closed his eyes with love. In the middle of his emotional moment, she snatched the baby from him.
“Thank you. I should let you focus on your job and your wife. My baby should not get too used to you because it is not as though you will always be there for him.” She said, and headed for the door.
“Francisca,” he said.
She smiled, and turned to him. “Yes?”
“I love that child. Please don’t take him away from me. When can I see him again?”
“Well, your wife won’t let you.” She said.
“She is…she is out of town.” He said with some hesitation. “I can stop by today after work.”
“That will be good.” She smiled, and walked out.

***

Iya Dotun hugged her friend, Mama Jibola goodbye, and got into the back seat of her Toyota Camry, as her driver pulled out. Mama Jibola waved, and she waved back. The woman had just awakened her to something she had been meaning to talk to her son about. She dialled his number.
“Momsi, ekasan (good afternoon)” Dotun said.
“My dear, how are you? It’s been a while o” she replied.
“We did not see you at Niran’s book launch. Aunty Jibike said you travelled to China.”
“Beeni o (Yes o). Had to restock my shop.” She said.
“Okay ma. How is Daddy, and your co-wives?” he laughed.
“Those ones, don’t mind them. They think your father doesn’t have girlfriends outside.” She hissed. “By the way, how is Toyin tomato?”
She loved to call Toyin by that pet name.
“She is good. She went to Abuja today.”
“Adedotun, we need to talk. I want you to come by the house after office hours.”  She said.
He paused.
“I have to be somewhere after work. Is it that important?”
“Very important, Dotun.”

He guessed as much. She wanted to talk about babies. She complained that it had been six months since the wedding and that Jibola her friend’s daughter, who got married four months ago, was already pregnant. Dotun was the first son of his parents, and they wanted a grandchild. He sighed. He did not want to explain to them that he did not want to rush Toyin because of what she had been through in the past. He had read it online that bad sexual experiences or trauma could slow down pregnancy and that a baby was best conceived in peace, tranquillity, and rest of mind.
“I am giving you a two month ultimatum o! Pass my message across to your wife.” His mother said.
“We will have our children in God’s own time! Mom please just let this rest.”
“Abi is something wrong with her? Is she fit? She is thirty years old. I had you when I was twenty one. ”
He hissed and placed his hands on his head.
“Toyin is perfect. I married her a virgin if you must know.” He said. Well, she was technically his virgin. Rape did not count…
“Then is something wrong with you? Are you a man?”
Those words hit him way below the belt and he jumped in anger.
“I am a man! I have a son!” he yelled.
Iya Dotun’s face lit up in a mixture of shock, and joy.
“You have a son? And I do not know this?” she held him.
“Someone got pregnant for me. But please, Toyin must not know this. I promised never to see the lady and the baby anymore.”
“I can take care of the baby. Where do they live?” his mother said.
“They are okay. I give her money to take care of the boy. Her mother does a good job at that already.”
“No! This is tradition. Our son cannot be a bastard somewhere else. You have to bring him home.”
“It is complicated. I can’t do that.” He said, and walked out.


***
The interior décor required was just for the hotel’s board room, and the executive suites. She had sent for one of her staff in her Maitama shop to bring items and decorations for the job. The man was delaying so she had to wait in the reception while her other staff that travelled with her from Lagos, waited outside. She picked up her phone. It was Dotun. She called back but he did not answer the call. He was probably driving home. She had made some stew and jollof rice, and stored it in the freezer. She glanced at her wrist watch again, and the staff had not yet arrived. Looking up, she saw a man in a grey shirt, with a bulging belly. She wondered how he could afford this hotel with the way he looked. His face was rough and unshaved. There was a young girl beside him. She shook her head with disgust and stretched out her neck to see what the lady looked like. The man kissed the girl’s cheek and went out to pick up something from his car. Just then, their eyes met.
“Chichi?” Toyin exclaimed.
“Toyin.” Chichi walked over to her. “What are you doing here? You dey follow me?”
“I should be asking you what you are doing here! You are my in-law’s fiancée for God’s sake!”
The man came back, and held Chichi’s waist. Chichi smiled, trying to avoid Toyin’s eyes. They went upstairs together. Almost immediately she came back to pick up her purse that she had deliberately forgotten.
“Please Toyin. This is not what you think it is. I love Niran and I just…”
“You just what? And to think you are pregnant!” she hissed.
“Fine.” She hissed. “Have it your way.”


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Thursday, 30 January 2014

the BIG picture Episode 10

Episode 10

                  
Chichi wrapped the large white towel around her light skinned body, as she stepped out of the bathroom. She glanced at the clock hanging on her wall. She had about an hour and forty minutes to prepare for the event. She was one to spend much time on make-up so it was only logical she had taken a bath. Her new purple dress lay adorably on her bed. She had just bought it, and it was worth every kobo for its price. Her phone rang. It was Francisca.

“Hi, Iyawo.” Francisca said. She could hear Dotun Junior’s baby noises from the background.

“Why is my booboo crying o? And are you bringing him today?” Chichi asked, squeezing some foundation on her index finger.

“No I think I have to drop him with Mom. Don’t wanna cramp my style tonight o. what if I meet potential husband…”

Chichi laughed. Her friend was so desperate for a man. She had brought the baby on the night of her engagement party with her fiancé, and had lost the attention of single hot guys who were looking for single girls, not single moms. Anyway, it was about time. She was thirty years old and it was only logical.

“I’m sorry love. I have to pick this call.” She said, cutting the call, and picking up her iPhone.  It was Captain Taiwo. The man would just not let go. She had told him severally that she could no longer see him. He was her goodbye to the world of dating rich married men.

“Taiwo, please…” she started.

“Chichi, my baby girl, why are you avoiding me now?” he said with his thin voice and heavy Yoruba accent. If not that he had lots of cash to offer, she often wondered what she ever saw in him. He never shaved his beard such that it always appeared untidy. He was always sweating, and he had a mouth odour. She had laughed hysterically when his wife had called her number and threatened her to stay away from her husband.

“You young girls can’t bear to see a rich and handsome man!” the wife had said.

“I want to see you tonight. I need you to come with me to Abuja for the weekend.” He said.

“How much is in it for me? I hope it is not the one that your wife will start stalking my life?”

“Trust your honey now, Chi babe. Enough treats for you, better than the last time.”

“Okay but maybe tomorrow. I can’t be there tonight. My father is at the hospital so I need to be there.” She lied.

In an hour’s time, her fiancé was downstairs by her door, to pick her up for the event they were attending. They would pick up Francisca on the way.


***

Toyin had hardly touched her food. She kept picking at it. Her shop girl came into the inner room which served as her office.

“Madam, the customer is saying he will only pay seventy thousand naira last.” The girl said. It took like four repetitions for Toyin to jolt back into consciousness.

“Give me a minute,” she said, then covered the plate of food grown cold, and joined the customer in the bigger room.

“Hello Sir,” she forced a smile. He was a man in his thirties. He wore a shirt and pants with a silk tie. It was obvious he was on lunch break from work.

“My girl told me you said seventy last Sir. You know this flower vase is imported. You can see it is very sensuous in shape. Can you see the vintage detailing by the side, and it is marble. In fact giving you at eight five thousand naira is more than benevolent of me.” She said.

“My sister travels often now and it is not this expensive, you know. I just need it urgently because I am decorating my new office.”

“Oh wonderful! We also do interior décor sir,” the shop girl said.

Toyin shook her head. How could she forget to mention that she designed offices, homes and hotels? Her girl was a life saver!

“Please have our card sir. And if we design you you get a 10% knock-off on any item you purchase here at Toyinz décor.” She said.

The man collected the card and exchanged his, nodding. He got the vase for seventy nine thousand naira. She called her gateman and driver to help the man carry the packaged vase to his car.

She went back to her inner room and threw the pack of fried rice into the plastic bag it came with. She had lost her appetite. She tried to open her bible and find a scripture to lift her but nothing was forthcoming. She decided to surf the internet to while away time. She stumbled on a blog…”real Christian women.” There was a post about a woman who asked a question if she should leave her violent husband. 80 percent said she should stay in the marriage, and accept the bullying and abuse as her cross. Someone asked that what if he kills her? Then no one replied. Two said she should separate from her husband and pray for God to heal the marriage. As she clicked on the home page, and was about to close the window, she saw a post which read “I had an abortion. Should I disclose this to hubby?”
She read every single comment as though her life depended on it. She needed answers and solutions. She did not know what to do. It seemed as though God was silent and wasn’t speaking on this matter…or so she had chosen to believe. Whenever the thought of confessing to Dotun overflowed the better part of her mind, she always shut it out with something else to distract her. God could not be asking her to tell him. She knew the truth set free, but she was free already. At least she had her man back. Old things had passed away.
Many commenters said it was wise to tell the man but how many of them would do that in actual fact. It was the last comment that hit her beneath the bone and marrow.

“I had aborted three pregnancies when I was under twenty five. I found my man at twenty seven. I told him and he accepted me. Turned out I could not have children. Husband died in an accident and baby mama showed up at the burial with twins and a boy. His family supported her over me.”

It just occurred to her that Dotun might be seeing his son every weekend. For the past three to four months, he was hardly home during weekends. It was either he was hanging with the boys, or work. He was a contract staff with an oil company. What kind of work would take him away almost every weekend?

Dotun had sent a text for her to go freshen up. He would be home soon to pick her up, because his cousin had invited him for an event that evening.
“Look sexy o” he had added in another text. She smiled.
He thought her electric blue maxi evening dress with silver sequins was exquisite. He changed into another shirt, and a bow tie, and then they drove to the Riverstone restaurant in Victoria Island. It was obvious they were over thirty minutes late. The speeches had been read and item 7 was already taking its course. Dotun held her as he went to say hello to his old relatives and friends. Him and his cousin had practically grown up together till the man had left for the UK to pursue a bachelors, masters, and a PhD. Everyone thought he had a jewel for a wife.

“Lucky man you are isn’t it, Dot-man!” Mr Asiwaju said, teasing in his usual jovial manner. Mr. Asiwaju was his uncle. The event was the launch of a book his Lawyer son, and Dotun’s cousin, Niran, had written.
Toyin blushed, as she received the older man’s compliments.
Niran was around them in no time, hugging his cousin. “I am glad you could make it, D” he said.

“Please meet my wife, Toyin Da-Silva” Dotun said. Niran had been unable to attend their wedding. He had been abroad on some research.

“Oh what a beauty you are.” He said. “Thank God I have a fiancée. Please meet Chisom Okonkwo, my wife to be.”

Chisom smiled and hugged Dotun, and then their eyes met: Toyin and Chichi.

“Um…I am very pleased to meet you, Chichi…Chisom I mean.” Toyin stuttered.

Dotun spotted Francisca just beside Chisom, and tried to look away as quick as possible. Oh my God, he said underneath his breath. Thank God she had not brought the baby, and thank God Toyin had never seen her before! He ended the conversation quickly and pulled Toyin as they went back to their seat while Niran chatted with his other guests.
Toyin could hardly eat, and so did Dotun. She was so disturbed that she had not noticed Dotun’s attitude change. He wasn’t eating anything too.

“I need to use the bathroom. I will be right back,” she pecked him and went to the Ladies. Chichi and another lady where right in her face as she walked in.

“Oh God!” she screamed out of fright.

Chichi saw her from the huge bathroom mirror, and turned to face her.

“Toyin dear, it has been ages! I almost did not recognise you back there,” she said, starting conversation.

“Em…how have you been Chichi, so good to see you.” She muttered. “I see we ended up in the same family circle.” 

Chichi smiled, then pulled Toyin aside.

“Girl, the past is past. I am getting married to Niran and I DON’T WANT YOU MESSING ANYTHING UP. IF YOU DO, YOU KNOW I HAVE YOUR SECRET IN MY HANDS.” She said in a very low but audible pitch.

“Are you threatning me?” Toyin said, shaking her head.

“No. I am telling you a fact.”

“If you rubbish me, I will rubbish you.” Toyin said. She could not believe those words had proceeded from her mouth.
Chichi laughed.

“Funny enough, you are the one who can’t get pregnant yet you forced that innocent man to marry you. Niran talks about him all the time and how much he loves his angel of a wife. So you are the angel.” She laughed.

“What do you mean it is me who can’t…” Toyin started, and then she remembered Chichi had gotten pregnant even after two abortions.

“I am three weeks gone for Niran.” Chichi said.

Hot tears welled up in Toyin’s eyes as she ran out of the bathroom.

Francisca walked over to Chichi.

“That is Dotun’s wife!” she said. “That is the woman holding my baby daddy from me Chichi!”

Chichi screamed in surprise.

“Oh my God. Toyin? Ohhh you have it easy Francisca. That girl cannot have kids. Na me carry am for abortion that time. The thing went wrong.”  She said.

“Oh no. what if she gets you arrested or something?” Francisca said.

“Arrest Fire. She is a church woman. She won’t want that scandal.”

As they walked out of the bathroom, Francisca stopped her friend.

“I had no idea you are pregnant!” she said.

Chichi laughed.

“I am not. I just said that to gain ground.”







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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

the BIG picture Episode 9

EPISODE 9



He threw the last of his clothes into the suitcase and tried to zip it. It got stuck and he forcefully pulled it backwards to unzip, then zip again. He cursed under his breath. She went by his side and knelt before him, holding his left leg.

“Please I beg you!” she cried.

He yanked his leg from her grip and went into the closet to get his other suitcase.

“Let’s at least spend the remaining five days we have to be here together. Where do you want us to go? We don’t know anyone in this Country…”

“We are going back to Lagos!” he shot at her.

“La—Lagos?” she stammered.

“I have called my agent and she got us rebooked.  When we get there, I am taking you back to your mother. I can’t stay one more second with you!”

She stared at him, with disbelief, as tears streamed down her face.

“You can’t leave me now. You can’t do this to me!” she cried. She held his hand and he raised the other to hit her, but stopped himself.

“Do not make me hit you, please!” He said. It was not the words that startled her. It was his demeanor. She had never seen Dotun that angry before. Slowly, she stood, and dragged her suitcase out to start packing.

***

Chichi dashed into her best friend’s apartment, screaming her name.

“Keep your voice low, Chi! Dotun is asleep. I don’t want another round of wailing o.” Francisca said, waving her hands, beckoning her to shush.

“I’m sorry my love,” she peeked into the cot. The boy was just too cute. She wanted to carry him but Francisca pulled her away.

“It took me two hours to get that kid to sleep.” She hissed. “How far you?”

Chichi stretched out her left hand and put it up to Francisca’s face.

“Oh my God! You are engaged? To who? Do you even have a boyfriend?” Francisca held her finger and looked at the diamond ring. “It is sooo expensive!”

Chichi smiled, throwing her head back. “I have a boyfriend of course. The aristos are just for extra cash and to keep me less bored."

“So you hid him from me!”

“Yes na. I don’t want this one to slip away. Any way you will meet him soon. His father is having a small family get-together, and he plans to announce the engagement there. Rich pikin tins.” She said.

“Tell me his name now. At least now you are engaged I can’t snatch him from you.”

“Snatcher’s club hahaha. You will meet him after his family has announced the engagement. You are invited though, as my maid of honour to be.”

Francisca smiled, and then hugged her friend. “I am happy for you. I hope he represents o, and he is not one dulling guy.”

Chichi looked at her friend and knew she was unhappy inside.

“Sweetie, I didn’t mean to rub this engagement in your face. I know you are thinking of settling and all. That reminds me, any news from your baby daddy?”

Francisca shook her head, and then went over to her child’s cot. He had woken up and was crying.

“I need to breastfeed. See what your noise caused.” She laughed.

***

Ladi was his best friend and brother. He was the one person who would never condemn him, but who knew how to tell him the truth and how to get his act together, whenever he erred. They sat at the bar in King’s club at Opebi, over bottles of beer. Dotun was on the fourth bottle when Ladi snatched it from him.

“Guy you need to take this easy.” He said.

Dotun laughed. “Five bottles won’t make me even tipsy, you know. You don forget say my mama born me with bottle for mouth.”

Ladi hissed and dragged the beer mug too.

“I think you should go back home to your wife.”

“Wife or hypocrite? Can you believe she made me think she was a virgin! It is not even the not-virgin that I am concerned about. It is the fact that she always acted like she was too holy for me. That’s bull crap! For so many years I felt I was the sinner.”

“Guy, the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t.” Ladi said.

“Oh Toyin is one big fat devil then!”

“Just look beyond your anger.  I know you love her. Remember she has always been there for you, even when you messed up. This is the time to show you are the bigger person and you are not the sinner. It is the sinner who doesn’t forgive."

Dotun got up, and grabbed his car keys.

“Let’s go to your place. I can’t listen to this rubbish.” He said.

“Okay.” Ladi replied.

They got into his Honda and Ladi drove down, keeping quiet. He stole glances at his best friend, as he began to doze off gradually. He got to turned by the roundabout and drove into the gated estate.

“What is the meaning of this nonsense, Ladi!” Dotun said, as they approached Dotun’s house. Toyin was standing by the entrance door.

“This is your home. Work it out.” Ladi said, and unlocked the door for Dotun to get off.


***

Toyin tried to get his blazer but he hushed her and walked into the bedroom. He wouldn’t even eat the food she had prepared. She knew she had to beg him even if it meant swallowing whatever ego she had left. She went into the guest room and found him sprawled on the bed. Locking the door, she put the key in her bra, and went to kneel before him.

“I won’t go until you forgive me Dotun. I love you, please. I am so sorry for everything I have done to upset you. I know I am the worst woman ever but please just try to forgive me. I can explain everything to you.”

After about forty minutes of tears and pleas, he pulled his wife close.

“Toyin, it is okay.” He said, looking into her eyes. “You should have told me all along. The big deal is that, you acted like you were all spotless, but you kept condemning me.”

“I am so sorry! I am ready to make it up.” She cried.

He paused, and then pulled her up to sit beside him.

“Let us work this out, okay.” He said. “I might as well just tell you that I drink. I don’t want us to keep anything from each other anymore. I drink, but try not to get wasted. Is that okay with you?”

She was going to say something but then decided to keep shut, and nodded her head.

“We will work on that.” She said.

“Good. Now I want you to tell me every single thing I don’t know about you.”

He stroked her hair as he comforted her. He couldn’t believe she had been through so much at such a young age. He wanted to go out and kill GBK but he was already dead. He got what he deserved. He felt worse because he had pushed her into the arms of that idiot.

“I am so sorry baby” he kissed her.

“It is fine dear. It is in my past now.”

“Thank God you did not get some infection or STDs, or even get pregnant!” he said, holding her close.

She swallowed hard, and her heart raced faster than it ever had.

“Yes dear. Thank God nothing happened.” She said.



 *fisayotalabi

Monday, 27 January 2014

the BIG picture Episode 8

EPISODE 8



He watched her sleep soundly after their trip, as he stuffed their luggage in the walk in closet. She had hardly caught any sleep in the plane. He had woken up about three times and found her staring into space. He wanted to talk to her but he knew she would not speak. It gave him some inner peace now, as she slept. She had not even showered. He unzipped his hand luggage and brought out the champagne coloured lace nighty he bought. He tried to imagine her in it, with her hair let loose, down to her shoulders. She mumbled in her sleep, and then he touched her face. She jumped suddenly.

“I’m sorry babe. I was just…” He stammered, confused.

“I’m sorry too. Was just a bit terrified. Probably because I am not used to this environment, you know.”

He knew she was concealing something but he was willing to let her speak at her own time.

“Do you still want to nap?” he asked.

“Yeah…but I think I have a headache.”

“Do you want me to grab you a snack?”

“Yes, I wouldn’t mind.” She said.

He went downstairs and in a jiffy, was back with a sandwich and a bottle of orange juice.

“My bank card worked on their POS.” He laughed.

“That’s good. So we don’t have to spend all the cash we changed. I told you it would work.” She replied, smiling. He held her hand, and stared into her eyes. Slowly, he got on his knees, without shifting his gaze.

“Toyin, I want you to know I am so sorry. I am willing to make it up to you. I promise never to hurt you for the rest of my life. I know I have messed up so bad. All I ask is for another chance. Please let me show you how sorry I am.”

“It isn’t that easy or simple. You don’t have an idea how much damage you have caused. Not just Francisca…but way back. You caused me so much pain, more than you even know.” She burst into tears.

“Then tell me what it is, please. Let me heal…”

“Only God saves. You can’t do anything about it.”

He sighed, and opened the sealed cap of the fresh juice.

“I won’t give up on us. Like you say, God has a reason why he brought you into my life.”

He convinced her to take a walk with him round the garden, and he brought up memories of their past---well, the good part of their past. He was glad to see her laugh again. She even responded when he tickled her. She was warming up gradually.

***

She swallowed two tablets of paracetamol, as she pondered on what next to do. She could not discuss this with anyone. Not her mom, not her friends in school who thought she was all spiritual, and definitely not Dotun. She had broken up with him. Her elder sister was away in France for her master’s degree. She was lost. She grabbed her bible but there were no scriptures on an unwanted baby. She thought of Mary mother of Jesus. She had also been pregnant out of wedlock, but God had specifically designed Mary’s situation. God had not told her to go to GBK’s house after she found out about Dotun and Kelu. She had run to Gideon because she felt he was spiritually mature to advise her sufficiently. She should have known better. Gideon was a full blooded male. She should not have gone to his house. But she had trusted him like a brother. She had her whole life ahead. She would die of embarrassment if they found out in the fellowship that she was pregnant. No one would understand she had been raped. Brother Gideon had been a two time pastor at her fellowship. No one would believe her.
She withdrew thirty five thousand Naira from her ATM and took a bike to Daddy Wiper Clinic. Chichi was waiting by the entrance.

“I am so scared, Chi.” She said, crying.

Her roommate hugged her.

“This is not the first time I am patronising Doctor. He is very good. I have done a job for a three month old bump. In a few hours it will be over.”
Indeed in a few hours it was all over. The baby’s life had been aborted and she was in so much pain. Fortunately her mom had travelled to Abuja for business and would not be back till Saturday. Chichi had called a cab, ready to take them home.
After three days, she was beginning to feel better. After two weeks, she felt absolutely no pain. He had told her to take a lot of hot Schweppes. She resumed school three weeks later, hale and hearty. No one needed to know. It was just between her, Chichi, and God.

However, about a month later, she began to feel strong pains in her abdomen. It was so sharp that she had to be rushed to the school clinic and they had to refer her to the school’s teaching hospital. She was told something had gone wrong and her womb had been damaged. How come?! Chichi had several abortions and still got pregnant. How come just that one time, and her womb was damaged?
Chichi had apologized and consoled her, but then she graduated that session, and changed her phone number. She became all alone in her mess.
She had gone back to Lagos, without anybody’s knowledge, and headed straight to Gideon’s place. She had made up her mind to do something horrible to the Brother that had destroyed her life! His apartment was locked. She decided she would wait there till he got back from wherever he went. His neighbour broke the news to her. Gideon Baker-Kolawole died in a car accident last week.

***

They had done a little shopping, and had dinner at a small romantic restaurant close to their rented apartment. He held her hands as they walked back and then, midway pulled her close and kissed her. She did not fight back. He opened his eyes and looked into hers. He knew she was ready…
She looked absolutely stunning in the nighty. It was definitely worth the wait! He was nervous. With all his escapades, he had never been with a virgin. He was grateful that she had not agreed to have sex with him all those times he had asked. He said a small “Thank you Baba God” and got down to husband duties…


***
“Dotun I can explain please!” she cried, holding his shirt.

“Get away from me you ugly hypocrite!” he roared. 



*fisayotalabi  

The BIG picture Episode 7

EPISODE 7



Their flight was for Friday night. He wasn’t even sure if he still wanted to go on the honeymoon. He had wanted to cancel but Ladi had advised against such a decision. His best friend told him to use Greece as an opportunity to work things out with his woman. She would probably even let him finally consummate the marriage. He knew it was just six days old, but he felt like a man married for ten years and starved of sex.
He checked his hand luggage again and found the gift he bought for her. He was going to make this very special for them both. He heard the door creak open and he hurriedly zipped the bag.

“Hey Love,” He said.

“I went to have lunch at the hotel reception. Have you had anything to eat?” she replied faintly.

“Wow. You are assuming your wifely duties I see.” He laughed.

She smiled and sat on the bed.

“Dotun I was thinking about us…” she started. “We are already in this marriage. We might as well just make it work.”

He rushed beside her and hugged her.

“Baby I have waited forever for you to say this! Of course I am willing to work this out. Anything you want, I am yours Toyin! I am so sorry for all I have put you through.”

“You hurt me so bad! How could you get Francisca pregnant?” she cried.
He pulled her close and kissed her face.

“I am so sorry my angel! I have been very stupid and I know I have been unfair to you.” He kept on kissing her face.

She flinched and moved back.

“Get away from me!” she yelled.

She was shocked by her reaction, but more by her husband’s expression. She had scared him and made him feel worse.

“I should go get some lunch too.” He smiled coldly and walked out of the room.


***

Her mother and his had come to see them off at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport. Mrs Fayemi held her daughter’s hand shortly after they had checked in their luggage.

“Oluwatoyin, my sweet girl,” Her mother started. Toyin smiled like a child.

“No marriage is easy. Please try to make things work between you and your husband, sogbo?”

“Mom we are fine. There is nothing wrong…” Toyin said, searching her mother’s eyes. Were they that transparent? Had Dotun said something to her mom?

“I gave birth to you and I know you, but God knows you more. Cast ALL your burdens on Him.”

She laughed. What did her mother know? She went to that old Presbyterian Church in the neighborhood where they did not give deep rev like she wanted to hear.

“Yes mom. I appreciate it. We no longer feed on elementary principles like that. There are more important things in the kingdom of God.”

After they had passed the departure lounge and waved their mothers farewell, Dotun held her hand as they proceeded to their boarding gate. He was determined to make this work, no matter what.

***

Francisca watched her clock strike 12 AM. She knew calls would start coming in. it was her Thirtieth birthday. She was right. Her phone rang. It was Chichi, her best friend.

“Babes of life!” Her friend cheered.

“Chichi how far.” She responded flatly.

“Wetin do you na? You suppose dey plan trips for us today o! Ehn baby mama of life!”

“Girl, just free me. I no dey mood.”

“What’s biting you now?”

“Nothing. I’m just…I am not happy. I thought by this age, I would be settled in my husband’s house with a  baby, not out of it.”

Chichi sighed and hissed. “Husband fire! You this certified aristo chic” she laughed.

“Chichi I am done with that. I need something serious. I am thirty years old for God’s sake. I have a baby whose dad is married to someone else.”

“You are the one dulling.”

“What do you expect me to do? I have tried talking to him but he’s so stuck up on his wife.”

Chichi laughed, then hissed again.

“We shall plan well. That baby is your ticket to the Marriage world. Anyway since you are done with those rich men, just pass them over to me. I am twenty eight, not ready at all. He he he.” 

Francisca looked over the bed into the small cot. Dotun Junior was sleeping soundly. She ran her index finger over his curly hair. He was as handsome as his father. He raised his arm and turned, holding her finger in his tiny fist.
“Daddy will come for you, my love.” She said.

***

They checked into the apartment he had booked and dropped their bags. Toyin was tired. She could not sleep throughout the whole flight. She had not found any sleep. She had watched Dotun sleep off and she knew in her heart she had waited so long for their wedding and when she would finally give herself to him as man with wife, but this was just too complicated. First, he had been with other women, and even fathered a baby. Second, each time he touched her, she could not help but remember Bro Gideon.



She had gathered her torn chiffon blouse and her stained skirt, and tried to hold back her tears. She looked at him as he kept pleading and begging.
“Can I go now please, Brother Gideon.” She said, torn, embittered and distressed.
“Let me take you home please.”
He gave her his mother’s old wrapper and she tied it round her waist then he sneaked her into his car. He did not utter a word all through the ride to her house. She wondered what she would tell her mother. She prayed the woman would not be home.
“I have prayer meeting by 6pm. I have to go soon.” He said, avoiding her eyes, when she would not get down from the car. She was shocked. That was his problem? Being late for prayer meeting?
“I am going to report this to the police.” She said, and opened the door.
“To..Toyin we don’t have to go about it this way. I love you, please. I am going to take responsibility and marry you. You can’t tell the police. It is the work of the devil. Please don’t let the devil destroy our story together…we have purpose…”
“Oh just shut up! Gideon Baker-Kolawole Please shut up.” She cried, and leaped into the house.

Almost two months had passed and she had not seen her period. Her mother had noticed changes in her behaviour, and was suggesting she went to see a doctor. The University was about resuming, and excos in her fellowship were required to come to school a week earlier. She did not want to resume ill, so she decided to get some medical attention. She went to another clinic. She did not want to go to the hospital their family used. She was hoping it was not what she thought.
“This is the urine sample, nurse.” Toyin handed it over to the unwilling nurse. She eyeballed her and collected the bottle.
“Go and sit down.” She said, pointing to the rusted seats at the reception. After an hour, the nurse told her to go home. NEPA had taken the light and the clinic staff wanted to go home.
She went back the next day, and the expressions on the unwilling nurse affirmed her doubts.
“You don carry bele.” She said.




*Fisayo Talabi   *www.rippdemup.com