It had been a month and two weeks, and she knew that she had started growing fond of Jide, although within her, she knew everything was temporary. She would soon be leaving Birmingham, by the next week and she wondered what would happen to their “____”. That was what it was. She didn’t have a name for it, but she knew if she was not married, she would want to be Mrs Thomas. He had taken her to his church, and introduced her to his friends and his Pastor as his new friend. She wanted to be called more than his friend, but she knew everything was just so complicated. She laughed as the Brum chics sized her up. She imagined what must have been on their minds. ‘Who is this Naija girl coming to steal the last of the few good black men in Birmingham?’
She had gotten to know him better. She had been to his apartment and even prepared some home-made Efo riro with Spinach, and she had him licking his fingers. As she watched him that day, she remembered her life with Dotun, and what it actually would have turned out to be, if all that drama had not happened. As she remembered Dotun, she remembered the root of the problem. She had kept the truth a secret from him. She didn’t know if to tell Jide her whole story, or if to just walk away to Nigeria, and cut all ties with him. She was beginning to---fall in love with him gradually. Deola laughed when she told her. To Dey, nothing was hard about life. Life was meant to be lived and enjoyed.
She was confused, and decided the best way to handle this was to talk to Jide himself.
After her shopping that evening, at the Bullring, she saw his missed calls and a text message on her phone. He wanted to pick her up for eight. She decided this was the best time to tell him everything.
“So, where are we going to?” She smiled, as she got into his car.
“My house.” He replied.
Thoughts of Brother Gideon danced through her mind, but then she waded them off. Jide was different, and that was not the first time she would visit him. He was a gentle man to the bone.
They arrived his house on Maple road, and he opened her door as usual. As he opened the door to his apartment, darkness seeped out.
“Is your power out? Welcome to Nigeria.” She laughed.
He switched on the lights, laughing. “Bush girl.” He teased.
She took her seat and he went inside to change into his t-shirt and house shorts, after switching on the heater.
“I ordered Chinese already. They should deliver in the next twenty minutes.” He said, offering her a glass of juice.
As they ate their food, Toyin kept stealing glances at him, trying to think of how to break the news to him.
“Jide, I have something to tell you.” She started. He looked at her, and placed his finger on her lips. The shivers she felt silenced her.
“Let me go first,” He said.
“Toyin, I have…I have grown in love with you!” He said. She smiled, but the smile soon disappeared as she remembered what she was about to say.
“You are a beautiful and strong woman, and it is my dream to be your man someday, anytime you are ready…If you will be ready. You seem to be holding on to something, and I don’t know what that is, but I want to help you through whatever it is you are going through. I want to be in your life always, but that is only if you will let me, and let God.”
Toyin blocked her ears, and turned her back to him.
“I am married, Jide.” She said.
“Wh—what did you say?” His eyes widened with shock.
She faced him.
“I am married. I should as well just stop keeping things from you. I love you very much, and it surprises me how quick everything is going. I can’t even put a name to what is going on between us.”
“Where is your husband? In Nigeria? I am so sorry! I had no idea…”
“Jide it’s alright. Please don’t blame yourself for what you haven’t done. My husband kicked me out.” She said.
He held her hand, and then, dropped it.
“What happened? Why would he do that to someone as…?”
“As good as me?” she laughed. “That’s the same thing my Pastor said. And then he said he was disappointed in me of all people. Can you tell I was raped when I was younger? Can you see through me and know that I had dated my husband for so long and he threw me out. I caught him cheating, and I went to find solace in a friend, who kindled my pain from bad to worse. He raped me.”
She burst into tears. Jide stared at her stone cold.
“I got pregnant, had an abortion, and now I can’t have children of my own. So you see, this whole thing is complicated. I found out close to the wedding that my husband fathers a child with some other woman.”
Jide pulled her close and hugged her tightly.
“It’s okay, baby.” He said.
“Baby? Don’t you get it? I am trash. I am defiled. I am cast-out. I am …”
“You are special.” He said. “And forgiven.”
“Forgiven? I don’t even think I need God’s forgiveness. He has wrecked me totally. What’s the point of living a life of total dedication to Him. I did everything right. I have always been an executive in church. I have donated and prayed my mouth out. I asked Him to forgive me back then, but why is He punishing me now?! And please don’t tell me any trial or persecution story. This is karma!” she wept.
“Toyin I don’t think you can get past this if you don’t walk past it. Do you really believe that all these things are passed away?”
“I know you know, but do you believe? Do you believe everything is new? And God has forgotten…”
“Jide, if he has forgotten then why am I suffering all these?”
He stroked her hair, and she pulled him closer, then kissed his lips. He kissed her back, but then broke away immediately. She searched his eyes.
“I’m sorry…” She cleared her throat. “I should go.”
“Toyin, it’s just…”
“It’s what? I am too filthy for you, I understand.” She grabbed her handbag.
“Ofcourse not, Toyin. I..It’s just complicated. I shouldn’t be taking advantage of your vulnerability.”
She walked out of his house, and stopped by the bus stop to get a bus home.
Jide threw his glass on the wall, and buried his head in his hands. What was going on? He had finally found a woman he loved, and the devil was coming to mess things up. He had wanted to take her to London to introduce her to his family, before she went back to Nigeria, but now, everything was messed up. Or was this his own punishment for his sin?
Dotun Junior’s birthday party had turned out beautiful. Dotun felt like a man, as he watched his son cut his Ben10 and Sponge Bob square pants birthday cakes. He felt proud to be able to call the child his son. He had invited friends and family members for the party and everyone was having a nice time. Niran had also come with Chichi.
Francisca dragged her friend into the kitchen , as she went to pack the party favours from the living room where she had arranged them in a box.
“My pregnant babe,” Francisca hailed her. “I’m so happy for you o. Everything is just going in your favour. I heard Niran is planning to open a beauty spa for you after you put to bed.”
“Na God o.” Chichi laughed.
“I wish that one that calls himself my man can just take a cue from his cousin. Hian!” She shrugged her shoulders in disgust.
“Come on, he is doing well for you and the baby.” Chichi said.
“I just want him to marry me. I’m tired of just hanging.”
“Francisca, hanging? You have moved into the man’s house for God’s sake.”
“I know. I just feel…I don’t want to be just his child’s mother. If he dies tomorrow now, what do I have for myself?”
Chichi covered her mouth in shock as she stared at her friend.
“I can’t believe that is what you are thinking of. Francisca don’t you even fear God?”
Francisca laughed. “See this one. You wey worse pass me!”
“That was then. Babe, there’s more to life than that.”
“Says the woman with a rich husband.” Francisca laughed.
“I ran into Toyin sometime. She is so…I feel so bad for everything I did. I feel so guilty, but Niran says I shouldn’t blame myself.”
Francisca turned to Chichi and hissed.
“That one is history. That’s why I want to make all this legal as soon as possible. I don’t know why Dotun is dulling on the divorce.”
“That’s because she’s out of the country. I went by her shop some time ago and her girl said she had travelled out.”
“Good news and bad news. Let her come quick, and go to blazes for all I care.”
Toyin hugged her mom, as they wheeled her trolley out of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. As the driver brought the car, they got into the back seat and hugged each other like long lost lovers.
“I missed you so much my dear.” Sumbo Faniyi said.
Toyin’s phone rang. It was Deola. She was calling to know if the flight had landed.
“Osas sends his regards, dear. Greet Mom for me. I’ll call her tomorrow.” Deola said.
“Alright sis, though she is right beside me.”
“Oh, please give it to her.”
Toyin looked through the window, as the driver moved the car, and her mother and sister chatted over the phone. She thought of Dotun and how he had been. His child must be about a year now. She thought of Jide too, but decided to shake it off. He was history. A vacation fling…for lack of words.
As she walked into her bedroom, she took a shower, and a thought came to her mind. She remembered what Jide had said. He asked her if she really believed that old things were really passed away. She went on her knees, and tried to pray. It had been a really long time she was able to do that.
“God of heaven, why have you forsaken me?” She said, staring into thin air.
“What did I do? I made mistakes and I begged you to forgive me. I thought you did, but suddenly, it seems you got angry again and decided to ruin my life. I am ashamed. I am so ashamed, Jesus. I thought you came to bear my shame. Why am I still ashamed? Why do people make a spectacle of me? How come with one abortion, my life is over, but you decided to favour Chichi. Chichi…really, God? Why have you punished me so much?”
She had started to sob.
“And why did you bring Jide my way? He is such a sweet person, but now he finds me dirty and defiled. I don’t understand your ways. I don’t know what you want from me! Am I the worst sinner on earth? Is my sin too huge to forgive? Why are you not speaking to me? Defend yourself!”
She yelled. By now, she was on her feet, pointing her index finger to the ceiling.
“If you are really God, defend yourself. Explain to me why I should believe in you and believe your words are true? Because I have told the truth but it did not set me free. I have lived my life in dedication to you but that is not enough for you, is it?” She cried.
Her phone rang and with anger, she snatched it and yelled into the speaker.
“What is it? Who is this?” She wiped her tears.
“Is this Mrs Toyin Da Silva?” a male voice said.
“I am Toyin. What can I help you with?” She hissed.
“We need you to come by Knight Hospital at Ikoyi. Your husband has been involved in an accident!”