Time, they say, heals all wounds. Considerable months had passed since the demise of his son. At first, in the weeks subsequent to the burial, he had been exceptionally touchy and mean to her. But she understood him. Lolade knew she could take it especially because it was temporary. It would pass. He was only grieving.
Another good thing had happened. The divorce process between him and Nike had been finalized and he was now a free man…single and available for her, although she knew that she already had unhindered access to everything about him.
She had driven down to the mainland to buy some supplies for the house. Items were always cheaper in the mainland. Lekki merchants knew how to hike the prices. But she really couldn’t blame them. The rent for shops alone was alarming not to talk about other costs like running on generator and paying overhead. She took off her sun shades as three alabarus approached her to convey her items to her car. The two young women and an older one were almost getting into a fight on who would seal the deal.
She turned around. She knew she had heard her name. Someone had called her. And it was someone familiar going by the name she had been called.
“Ololade!” The female elderly voice called again. That was her full name and the few people who knew her by that were neighbors from her father’s house at Surulere before he had chased her mother away.
A robust woman in her late forties or early fifties was hurrying her steps towards Lolade. She was wearing an Ankara print iro and buba. Lolade recognized her without much effort.
“Mummy Tope?” Lolade said, trying to confirm that her guess was right.
The woman smiled and reached out to hug her. Lolade smiled but stepped back a little. The woman was mosit with sweat.
“Iwo re! Bawo ni? Oko e ati awon omo e nko?” The woman asked. (This is you! How are you? How are your husband and your children?)
Lolade nodded. She was not ready to go into any detailed explanation on how she was semi-married.
“Eyin na wa raja?” Lolade asked. (Did you also come to buy items in the market?)
“Rara o. Shop mi wa lehin. Mo man ta ounje fun awon iya oloja.” (No. My shop is behind. I sell food to the market women.)
Lolade nodded again. She opened her purse and counted five pieces of five hundred Naira notes and handed the sum to Mummy Tope. The woman grinned and thanked her and folded the notes in her bra.
“O tie bere aburo e Tope.” She said. (You didn’t ask about the well-being of your sister Tope.)
Lolade looked at her wrist watch. She had to leave.
“E ba mi ki.” (Send my regards to her.) Lolade said. She knew what was coming. Mummy Tope was going to inform her about all of Tope’s third world problems and how she needed help.
“Iya e nko?” Mummy Tope asked. (How’s your mother?)
The question lingered on her mind as she drove out of the parking lot. She did miss her mother. She was practically the only family she had left since her sister had died. She knew nothing about her father anymore and she wasn’t interested whether he was alive or dead. She decided to make a U-turn and take that one bold step she had been avoiding since she started her love relationship with Lanre.
The area was still the same. Cocks and stray goats walked on the muddy streets and the ugly stench of the blocked gutters filled with decomposing materials and stagnant green liquid choked her. It was amazing how the stench she had been used to before her big break suddenly became repulsive. A few teenage touts obviously high on cheap weed loitered around corners and fences, saying hello to young girls who had begun to manifest their womanly potentials with splurging breasts and round buttocks. She remembered her sister and Goosebumps crawled over her. She had vowed back then to track down the idiots that had raped and killed her. But later on, she realized it was her emotions that had been speaking, especially when she was faced with the realities of Nigeria. No man was willing to help any man without getting something in return. Shortly after her sister’s death, she had gone to the police to report the case and asked them to bring the criminals to justice. The police men had laughed and told her to come back after the elections as they were short of funds. Another officer had told her to leave everything to God.
She touched the knob of the wooden door that led to the two bedroom flat in the old pale green block on Nurudeen street. It was rusty and obviously bacteria infested. She reached for her sanitizer and applied some on her hand. As she walked into the living room, memories flooded her mind. She shut her eyes and swallowed some saliva. She was nervous.
“Ta ni yen?” She heard her mother’s all-too-familiar voice ask. (Who is that?)
Lolade turned around to face her. And for a few seconds, she was speechless. Her mother was frail. That was the word. Fragile. She was naked save for an old wrapper which she tied round her chest. Her hair was grey and braided with wool. She was a little bent.
“Mummy.” Lolade said. There was a variation in her pitch. It was from an emotional place.
The older woman was silent as well. Then she sat on the plastic chair beside her. Lolade noticed the limp. Had it been that long? Her mother had not been that ungoodlooking.
“Ololade.” Her mother said.
Lolade sighed. She didn’t know what to say.
“Sit down.” Her mother said, stretching out her arm towards the old fabric woven sofa.
Lolade dusted the seat first and then sat in it.
“What are you doing here?” Her mother asked.
“I…I wanted to see you. It has been a long time.” She replied.
“Em….Abike!” Her mother called out. A young girl probably around eight or nine years old hurried into the living room from the kitchen.
“Yes ma. Guaftnun ma.” Abike greeted Lolade.
“Who’s she?” Lolade asked her mother.
“The neigbours child. She helps me cook and clean the house sometimes.” Her mother said.
She turned to Abike. “Go and buy malt for me from Mama Biliki. I will pay her tomorrow. Tell her I said so.”
Lolade shook her head immediately.
“No, no Mummy. I am okay. I--I won’t be staying long.” She said.
Her mother nodded, unready to challenge the decision.
“How is your health? You look sick.” Lolade said.
Her mother shrugged. “The Lord is my strength.” She said.
“He is mine too but how are you feeling?”
“I am healed.”
Lolade rolled her eyes. She opened her purse and counted seven thousand Naira then she handed it to her mother.
“Please manage this. I need your account number. I want to give you more money. You need to take care of yourself.”
Her mother looked at her.
“Do you still work at the law firm? Or you have found a better one? You are looking very healthy and well.”
Lolade smiled, shaking her head in sarcasm.
“You know I don’t work at the firm anymore Mummy. You know I quit my job since two years ago. I asked you to move in with me but you refused. We can take care of you. He can fly you abroad for proper medical attention…”
Her mother laughed this time.
“So you are still playing concubine to that man abi. O ti jawo nbe?” (You have still not stopped.)
“He is a good man. He has really helped me and you should even be grateful. He wants to marry me. But I keep telling him no because I know you won’t approve of him.”
“A married man wants to marry you. Have you not learnt anything from my own experience? Didn’t you see how your father treated us?”
Lolade grabbed her purse and stood up. She dropped the Naira notes on the centre table.
“He is not married. He is divorced. And I am going to marry him. I am not you, Mummy.”
“You are a coward. You are wallowing in sin.”
“I don’t know why I came here. I really thought things would have changed but no! I am going to marry him whether you think I am a whoremonger or not.” Lolade yelled and stormed out of the house where she had called home once.
“You must be out of your mind.” Lanre yelled. He shook his head. He was seated in his executive chair in his big office.
Nike was on the other side, with one leg crossed over the other. She was still wearing black. It had been over nine months since they had lost Lekan but she was still clad in black. Her face had no makeup on and over her head was a vintage scarf. She was a classy woman who still looked good in her grief.
Lanre noticed she no longer wore her wedding band. The band was off but he could see the ring marks on her finger. The marks had stayed because she never took off her rings.
“Lanre please I am not here to fight with you. All I want is that Lade be withdrawn from the school in Toronto. I want him here in Lagos with me…with us. I don’t ever want him to think for a moment that we don’t love him…” She said in a soft tone.
“Love him? I just forwarded three thousand sh*t to him on Monday. He has everything he wants and lives very well. You know what? I think you are a selfish mother.”
Nike’s eyes pierced his face. She opened her mouth but kept shut. He had started to curse again with swear words.
“You f***cking want to deny him of a proper education just because you want him with you…and because you want to punish me. You want to limit my access to him. Sh*t, woman I will fight you in court. You know me, Nike. We have joint custody of him. He really…”
Nike hit his marble table in anger.
“Shut up! Just shut your mouth filled with curse. Do you think the world revolves around you? Why on earth would I want to spite you with having my son closer to us. Didn’t …” Nike hesitated.
“Didn’t his case teach you anything?” She said.
“Whose case?” Lanre said sarcastically.
Nike shook her head. She was not going to let him break her.
“Lanre please don’t do this.”
“I need you to talk. If you keep denying the fact that Lekan is dead, you won’t ever move on from this pain. You need to let go.”
“I don’t need a come back advice from you. All I want is to sign the necessary papers and forms and get our son back to us in Lagos! There are great schools here too.”
“Please leave my office.” Lanre said.
“What?” Nike said.
“I asked you to get out of my office.” He said, looking away.
She sighed and stood up, then took her hand bag.
“I wish you died instead of him.” She said. She was shocked at her own words. She almost couldn’t believe she had said those words to him.
“You don’t want to get on my bad side, hun.” He said and walked towards the door. He opened it and asked her to leave.
The time was 11.05 pm when Lanre came into the house. She had waited up. She knew he had been drinking and she did not blame him for it.
He was grieving.
She knew he had stopped talking about marrying her too.
He was grieving.
And she had the remedy to soothe his grief.
“Welcome baby.” She kissed his lips entirely, rubbing the back of his neck. He smiled.
“That feels good.” He said.
They had been in the bedroom for a few minutes when he had requested for another one of his numerous discoveries. He called it Anal Night.
“Not today, baby.” Lolade said. She had to admit she was getting tired of his demands. She was beginning to feel very uncomfortable in her anus and she had scheduled a doctor’s appointment.
He begged again and when she wouldn’t, he pushed her to the bed and turned her around forcefully.
Then she screamed. “I am pregnant. I am pregnant, Lanre. Please…stop…I am pregnant.”
*Episode 5 Before Our eyes
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