I was already getting irritated because for the fifth time, the phone number of the cab man we had booked was not connecting. What upset me the more was that Wunmi was acting unconcerned, probably because she was not speaking to me. Why was my wife not speaking to me? I had scolded her because she had delayed in getting ready and we were going to miss our flight. We almost missed it, but thankfully we didn’t. I know I would have been livid if we had because I had been saving for this trip for a long time. I looked at her. The weather was cold. The month was November and all the residue from the year’s Summer was definitely inexistent. I took off my brown leather jacket and handed it over to her but she ignored me.
“Teni! Oh my God! It’s a lie!” Wunmi screamed at the top of her lungs. I was wondering who she had seen this time. My wife had been quite popular in school. And somehow, she seemed to know everyone in the planet.
A young woman (extremely pretty) hurried towards where we stood. Wunmi left our bags and hurried towards the woman too. Then they met and hugged each other.
“Gosh you look so good, Teni. How have you been?” Wunmi said, grinning.
The woman smiled, rolling her eyes. Well, she did look good. She was wearing a green dress and metallic high heel court shoes. Her hair was nicely set in curls and her makeup looked freshly done. I knew I shouldn’t compare but my wife was looking all tired from our six hour flight from Lagos. She was a contrast from her friend.
“Thanks dearie. It’s been so long. I haven’t seen you in four years! Are you based in the U.K now?”
Wunmi shook her head.
“I live in Lagos. Just came in for vacation.”
“Oh. That’s great. It is necessary to get a vacation. I went to Lagos briefly for some business. I don’t know how you guys cope there! The traffic, the stress, the crankiness of drivers!”
“Oh so you live here?” Wunmi asked.
The woman nodded.
“Yes. I left after we graduated school. So are you waiting for someone to pick you up?”
“Yeah. We are trying to call the taxi’s phone number but it seems there’s a problem. By the way, this is my husband, Deyemi.” She said without looking at me.
Anyway it was obvious I was the husband she was referring to because I was standing close to them with the bags she dumped at my feet.
“Oh hello! I didn’t know! Forgive my manners!” She said. I smiled and brought out my hand to receive her handshake. Wunmi did not introduce us so the lady did.
“I’m Teniola Baker. Wunmi used to be my school mother in secondary school.” She smiled.
I smiled too.
“I’m Deyemi Akindele. Nice to meet you. I hope you had a good flight.” I said.
“Yeah, it was good. Thank you. How long are you in the U.K for?” She asked.
“Just ten days.” Wunmi said.
“Awww. I hope you’d have time to visit us though. What area will you be staying in Birmingham?”
“We booked a hotel at Edgbaston but the taxi’s phone number is not connecting.”
“Perhaps you got the wrong number.” Wunmi snapped.
There was some silence for a while. Even Teni could sense the tension.
“Why don’t you come with us. My husband should be here in a bit. You could have dinner with us.”
I was going to thank her and tell her that we appreciated her gesture but we would be fine. But Wunmi jumped at the offer and thanked her for her thoughtfulness.
It had been four hours since we got to Teni’s house. I had to admit that their place was breathtaking and I only wondered how much they had paid/were paying for it. The house was tastefully and deliciously furnished and the space was so big. Portraits of their family hung on the wall and the dropping chandelier gave the living room the feel of a palace. The wooden floor was so polished I could almost see my reflection. When we had dinner, all I could taste in the meal was pure class and finesse and I wasn't surprised when Teni informed us of how much she loved their private chef. I was glad to have saved some money on the hotel food we would have bought for dinner.
“So what do you do, Deyemi? I must say you do look like a lawyer. Perhaps it’s your glasses.” Paul, Teni’s husband said, laughing. I laughed too. I get that a lot. Most people think I am either a doctor or a lawyer. We had finished dinner and were all sitting in the smaller living room having some wine. Soft jazz music played in the background.
“He isn’t.” Wunmi laughed. She was also trying to speak with a British accent. I knew she was trying to change the topic so I wouldn’t answer the question.
“When I first met him too I thought he was a doctor or a lawyer. The funny thing is I used to wear glasses back in secondary school and everyone thought I would be a lawyer majorly because I like to argue most of the time. Who would have known I would end up us a bank manager?”
I let my wife finish her speech before I answered Paul’s question.
“I am a professional photographer and I also run a bespoke tailoring business.” I said.
There was some silence for a while. Then Teni said “Oh, great.”
Paul asked to be excused for a little while as he needed to take some important phone calls. Later on he said he needed to head somewhere immediately and he tendered his apologies for leaving us. He promised to see us some other time before we traveled back to Nigeria.
“I have to hurry to work right now. I wish I had all the free time for vacations like you, bro.” He said. I didn’t know if that was a sarcastic one or an honest joke.
That evening, when we eventually got to our hotel room, all it took was for me to comment on how nice a place Teni and Paul lived. Immediately interjecting, Wunmi started to rant about how I should be ashamed of myself and how she had always told me it was a bad idea to quit my former job as a Risk analyst at the CBN. I had tried to prove to my wife that I could make it as a photographer and a fashion designer because that was indeed my real passion. And that was why I had brought her on this trip to Birmingham, U.K. She had never travelled out of Nigeria save for when we had our honeymoon in Ghana. I expected she would be delighted but all I received from her were insults and endless comparisons with Paul. She also didn’t forget to remind me that I was older than Mr. Paul.
We were on Day 7 of our 10 day vacation. Wunmi had just walked into our hotel room. She had gone shopping earlier with Teni while I decided to stay back and play some games on my computer. I watched her with a puzzled look as she stood still at the door without uttering a word. The shopping bags, all five of them, were still in her hands.
“You look like you have seen a ghost. What’s wrong?” I asked her.
She opened her mouth to speak but nothing was spoken. I took the bags from her and held her.
“Baby, are you okay? What’s the problem?” I asked again.
“It’s Teni’s husband, Paul. He…he…” She started to stutter.
“Paul? Is he okay? Where is Teni?”
“After we left the city centre, we got to their house and there was police everywhere!”
I started to think the worst had happened!
“Oh no! What happened? I hope no one is dead please!” I searched Wunmi’s eyes for answers.
“He was arrested! He is a drug dealer! Teni has also been taken to the station for questioning. She had no idea….oh my God! Her husband is supposed to be an automobile business man!”
I was speechless.
I didn’t know what to say.
My wife was speechless too. But I know that her speechlessness wasn’t because of the shock of Paul’s arrest. It was the shame she felt for comparing me with a total stranger on this vacation.
*Hi guys! Please note that this isn't a series. It's just a short story I wrote this afternoon. Much love!