It was always a joy to leave the house. Even at a young age she knew being with her mum choked her. She could have manged it like she had been doing in the past, but that day was different. That day she wanted to explore and be free for once in her life.
The air outside the house smelled of burnt jollof-rice from the buka not too far from the house. Her stomach grumbled but she didn’t obey it’s call, rather she quickened her steps as she ran out of the compound unnoticed in her bathroomslippers, not having enough time to change into something else.
The security guard was out of sight.
He was trying to toast Amina at the back of the compound … after Zainab had forged a note that the house-help liked him and was too shy to tell him in person. Zainab could imagine how it would all turn out. She chuckled as she ran down the street to her friend Sonia’s house.
Sonia was the closest person Zainab could call a friend. Their parents were never close but were always cordial to one another. Not because they wanted to, but because as cousins it was what was expected from them. Zainab’s mother was an only child and assumed to be spoilt and aloof. Zainab guessed her distant aunt to be jealous of her mother.
Zainab called Sonia out with their usual call of throwing little stones at her bedroom window. Within minutes Sonia snuck out of the house and they both ran off to an uncompleted building. It was their usual hangout… their getaway from home.
“My mother is so annoying. She just irritates me!” Zainab said, kicking stones at a rusty drum at a far corner.
“Have you ever kissed a girl?” Sonia asked out of the blue.
“What?” Zainab stopped what she was doing and looked at Sonia. She was curling a strand of her hair round her finger. “No.”
“Would you like to?”
“For what? It sounds weird. Have you?”
Sonia nodded. “It’s actually not. I do it all the time. I have this friend in school who likes to kiss a lot. Both guys and girls.”
Zainab looked at Sonia closely and realized she wasn’t joking.
“Do you want to try it out?”
Zainab looked at Sonia closely. . . Mostly at her lips that she had always thought were too pink to be natural. Her eyes moved from her lips to look at her. It wouldn’t be bad to kiss her. Nothing wrong in it.
As if Sonia could tell what she was thinking, with a knowing smile she jumped up to her feet and walked towards Zainab. Zainab stayed fixated on the rock as Sonia bent low and looked her in terms eyes.
“Are you scared?” She asked.
Zainab shrugged. “No. What’s there?”
Sonia smiled widely and softly pressed her lips against hers . . .
Zainab shook away the thought from her mind. She didn’t want time think too much on it. Ever since Sonia got back she had been on her case; talking about the wedding and how silly it was for her to go through with it.
Zainab rolled her eyes. That was Sonia’s business; she could continue her nagging but Zainab was having none of it.
She looked around her.
Her clothes were all over the place ‘cause of all the wedding plans. Neither of them wanted to wait for more than six months to get married to each-other. Their wedding was just two months away and there was still a lot to do. Adesewa, her maid-of-honour, wasn’t coming till a week to the wedding so the bulk of the work fell on Zainab’s shoulders.
Her consolation was that Audrey had offered to help out and would be in Abuja in two weeks time. Even though, to Zainab, Audrey could sometimes be a pain in the neck, she was glad to have someone around her. Sonia was also stressing her out with her constant calls concerning wedding.
Zainab sighed and started sorting out her clothes; both dirty and clean. I.K was at Dubai at the moment and wouldn’t be around until next-week Tuesday. It was going to be a long and boring weekend for her.
Gosh, I need a smoke.
She got off the couch and went to her room and straight to her wardrobe. The shoebox was underneath her clothes. She took it, walked back to her bed and got the lid off. Her stash of weed was almost out and she did a mental note to ask I.K to bring some home when he got back from his trip.
The weed did much to calm her nerves. Wasn’t it just eleven months ago she had questioned her relationship with I.K and now they were getting married. She remembered the night he had proposed; being all romantic. Zainab’s lips tilted up to a smile. She loved I.K to a fault but she wasn’t going to admit how much to him. But the doubts were still there; if she was making the right decision and if I.K and her could have a blissful marriage and have fun . . . Just like how it was when they were dating.
Her mother came to mind and she remembered the letters she read at her biological father’s place. Having discovered her father was a pastor in Ibadan and how much her mother was in love with him. Zainab chased the thoughts away and packed away the little weed that was left and placed the box back in her closet. She needed to finish up with her chores and get on with other things.
She wondered if she should let her biological father know that she was getting married. It wasn’t like he was a big part of her life. He occasionally sent her messages and called to ask how she was doing. He had even offered sending her money but she had declined. It wasn’t like he was rich but he was comfortable. He had his other daughter to worry about. Zainab got to know Daniel had kicked Efe out of the house, but she felt no pity for the girl. She had messed around with someone else’s man and now she was paying dearly for it.
It was one in the morning and it was quiet, except for the crickets doing their usual nightly rounds. The sounds only re-echoed her feelings. Pain. Sadness. Unhappiness. They were like little demons preying on her heart and in her mind and she was tired of it all. Tired of the hollow feeling that crept up on her frequently when she was all alone. She wanted it to come to an end.
Efe sneezed and drew the covers closer to her body. The mosquitoes dancing near her ear to a tune she didn’t know. She was serving in the far town of Cross-rivers state. Far from her family and the life she had always known. Far from her daughter . . . Far from Daniel.
She and Daniel had both agreed for their daughter to stay with his family for the time being until they could settle on a permanent arrangement for her. Efe’s father had been distraught; a huge fight harbouring between him and Daniel.
Daniel. Efe shifted on the bed as she thought of him. The same man she had crushed on for years and began to love. The man she had given her virginity to. He was the father of her daughter. But she had done wrong by him; trapping him with her pregnancy and he was forced to marry her against his wishes . . . When he loved someone else. Their marriage didn’t work out and now they were separated; taking time out to think on the next step.
So this is how it feels like to be separated from your husband? All the chaos and pain. . . God when would this end? I know I made a mistake in the past, but how long would my punishment last for? Or isn’t this a punishment?
No scripture dropped in her heart. No answer from God. It was awful. Now she understood what it meant when people said God was silent. No longer did she feel His presence comforting her like before. It was frustrating.
Efe remembered how in church it was easy to ask couples not to separate from their spouses when their marriage was undergoing tough times, but it was easier said than done.
It was easy for people to say all that when they had never been in such a difficult situation. They were all going through the religious motions and not acting it all out.
Just like love.
Efe chuckled silently; careful not to awaken her new room-mate.
It was easy to say ‘love your enemies’ but it was really hard to do.
But uncle John acted it all out. Loving Funlola despite all the things she did to him. Sleeping with men that weren’t her husband.
The mere thought of Daniel with another woman tore at her heart and she couldn’t imagine how Uncle John got past the pain of Funlola’s betrayal. It was definitely God all the way.
“So where are you now God?” She whispered to her pillow. “Where are you when I need you the most in my life and at this moment?”
Lean on me.
Lean on You God? It’s been three months already and Daniel hasn’t gotten back to me. I’m trusting in You but it’s hard. What do I do?
Wait on me.
Lean . . . Wait . . . I’m afraid I can’t wait any more . . . Why wait? I’ve waited all these years.
With that line of thought on her mind she finally drifted off to sleep.
The next day she got to work with baggy eyes. She was serving in an oil company, courtesy of Daniel’s father who was trying to right his son’s wrongs by helping her whatever way he could.
Efe worked as a personal assistant to the Assistant Managing Director in the company. So it entailed a lot of running around and setting up meetings and other tiring tasks. A plus of the job was the salary; a whooping figure for her first job. Efe already had plans after NYSC. She had plans to go abroad and do her masters in psychology. But she would be taking her daughter and no one would stop her.
Efe looked up from the computer screen at her boss who stood before her. “Yes sir.”
He stretched out a couple of papers to her which she took. “Make copies of this for me and bring it up to my office.”
“Okay sir. Erm – How many copies would you like?”
He shrugged. “Two of each is fine. Thanks.” He winked at her and took off to his office.
Pamela, her room-mate/colleague, came to her table as soon as the boss was out of sight. “What did he want?”
Efe raised the papers up. “He wants me to make copies of this for him.”
“That’s strange. He should just have called you up to his office and given it to you instead of coming out here.”
Efe didn’t get her. “What’s wrong with him coming here to give it to me?”
With one hand on Efe’s table and the other on her slim waist, she leaned on the table and whispered. “Because that man is very arrogant! Too proud.” She hissed. “He’s the type to buzz for his secretary to come wipe the catarrh from his nose. I don’t know why God blesses the handsome ones with pride and a terrible attitude.”
Efe chuckled lightly. “You’re not serious. God doesn’t bless people with pride jor. It’s we ourselves that decide to be too pompous and think we don’t need anyone other than ourselves.” She said as she got about making the photocopies.
Pamela waved her hand. “Abeg, I know . . . Before you begin to preach to me. I think oga likes you.”
Efe stopped what she was doing and frowned at Pamela.
“Get that silly thought out of your head!”
“Na wa o! See how you snapped at me. Okay o! Just telling you what I see. He’s not that bad nau. He’s young, well in his late thirties. He’s rich, he’s hot, he’s -”
“Since he meets your taste go after him na.”
Pamela shook her head. “I heard gist about him. Besides,” She turned so Efe could get a look at her back view and said, “Which man can resist this? No offence o, but how can he see this and not be attracted?! I just think there’s something wrong somewhere.”
Efe chuckled and shook her head, her friend seemed to be talking in circles. “See you at lunch jere.”
Papers in hand, she walked to his office and knocked on the wooden door. She heard him call for her to come in.
On sighting him from where she stood she couldn’t deny he was indeed as handsome as Pamela, and literary all women in the office, said he was. She dropped the papers on his table and asked if he needed anything else.
“Yes. Please have a seat.”
She drew the chair back and sat down. He got up from his chair and came to sit opposite her on the edge of his glass table.
“Efe, why do you keep turning me down?”
Efe looked down at her hands. Yesterday afternoon she had made her decision but now she struggled with it.
“I’m married sir.”
“No, you’re separated. There’s a difference.”
But in My eyes you are still married.
She gasped as the word came to her swiftly. She looked up at Amanze’s face that held on a bewildered look. He unaware of the battle going on within her. She shook her head. “We made a mistake the first time. I – I feel so guilty.”
His strong hands caressed her face and Efe felt herself shiver from his touch. “Guilt, to me, means you enjoyed what we did.” She felt him lean close to her. His breath on her face that smelled of coffee. . . She wondered what gist Pamela had heard of him even as his lips pressed against hers. . .
The church disapproved of his decisions to leave Efe. John wasn’t supportive of it either. But who cared? Where they the ones that were going to live in the same house with her? A woman that had manipulated her way into his life? It was all nonsense and he was having none of it. He didn’t care that his father had slapped him and practically disowned him when he told them about his separation. He didn’t care if his whole life seemed to be falling apart.
All that mattered was Adesewa giving him another chance to right his many wrongs. Adesewa was the woman he truly loved. Even after his betrayal of getting Efe pregnant while they were still dating, she had taken him back. . . only to disappoint her again by marrying Efe.
He was a fool. And now she wanted nothing to do with him. Despite having begged her for the past couple of months. He suspected she was seeing someone but had no idea who it was.
“I don’t know what to do any-more. I have begged you severally Ade. I’m leaving Efe -”
“And all for what? To get back with me? That’s never going to happen Daniel. Never.”
He rose from his seat and reached out to touch her but she shoved him away. “No Daniel! Not again. We can’t do this again. I gave my life to Christ. I changed my ways and God is making me a better person. You need to change as well. You need God. Efe might have slept with you and all but the past is the past and cannot be rewritten! You are married and you have to make it work. Forget me-”
“No, Ade I don’t want to forget you. I don’t want to forget the love we shared. I want to hold you in my arms and tell you how much I love you. I want to have a family with you and together we raise Ulunma.”
Adesewa threw her head back and laughed out-loud. “You must be joking! Me raise your daughter with you when she still has a mother and you’re still married? Do you hear yourself at all as you speak? Daniel, what happened to you?”
He ran his hand over his head. “Adesewa please hear me out and let’s forget the past. I’m sorry for what I did, forgive me.”
She nodded. “I forgive you Daniel, but I don’t want you back. Please don’t make this harder for us. Being friends is not even an option.”
He had every reason to believe there was someone else in her life. But he wondered if it was someone he knew. These days she hardly picked his calls, so he thought of trying to get Ebuka to talk to her. At least the two of them were getting along with each other and Ebuka could speak on Daniel’s behalf. Daniel was heading to his friend’s house now so they could talk.
On getting to Ebuka’s place he saw a Red Range Rover that reminded him so much of Adesewa’s car. He parked his car safe from the main road and crossed to Ebuka’s apartment. He rang the bell and pounded the door. His heart beating rapidly at the thought of seeing Adesewa there or . . . He shook his head and discarded the ludicrous thought.
“I dey come jor! Who be that?”
“Aceman! Na Daniel.”
The shuffling of feet stopped and everything grew silent. Few minutes later the door opened and Daniel walked in, going straight to his friend’s living room without any greeting. There he found Adesewa seated, arms folded.
“Adesewa what are you doing here?”
“I came to report you to Ebuka.”
“Isn’t that funny. I came to tell Ebuka to beg you to hear me out.”
Ebuka leaned against the wall, watching the both of them.
“Daniel when are you going to finally understand that nothing can happen between us?! I’m getting tired of your calls and your constant begging.
Please leave me alone and let me have my own life. Go back to your wife.”
“I sent her out of the house.”
“Then you have made a mistake sending away the only woman who really loves you.”
He frowned. What does that mean? She doesn’t love me any-more? “Ade what are you trying to say? That you don’t love me again?”
She got up from the couch and picked up her bag. “Yes, I don’t love you any-more. I don’t love you that way.”
He walked closer to her and she shrunk back. “You don’t love me that way any-more? You don’t miss my kisses on your lips? You don’t miss the way I make love to you?”
“Step back Daniel.” She warned but he wasn’t interested in doing that.
“You don’t miss the way I touch you? You don’t miss me in your arms and how I make love to you?” He pulled her close to him, holding her by the waist against her wishes. He heard Ebuka tell him to stop but he was turning deaf to what anyone was saying. He wanted Adesewa to remember him. To remember their moments together. To remember the times she screamed his name.
He forced his lips down on hers and was met with a slap and a blow to his back. He doubled over in pain and had to balance one hand on the chair so he wouldn’t fall to the ground. Adesewa pushed him away and ran out the door. He heard the car door slam and the screech of her tires as she drove away.
“What is wrong with you Daniel? When did all this madness start?”
Daniel sat on the chair and rubbed his eyes tiredly. “I don’t know jere. I really love her and I’m trying to right my wrongs.”
“So far you haven’t been righting any wrongs. Rather, you have been making more wrongs.”
“What can I do?”
Daniel shook his head. Not that simple. “It’s hard.”
“But you have to. She doesn’t love you any-more.”
Daniel didn’t want to consider that happening. “Maybe she’s punishing me for what I did to her. You know it took her a year to let go of what I did. Maybe I need to keep begging her some more.”
Ebuka sighed and took his seat opposite Daniel.
“I really hope you see the light someday soon.”
Daniel shook his head. I never want to see the light. I can’t accept she doesn’t want me any-more. Never.
Efe moved shaky hands to her lips. It was sore and slightly swollen from Amanze’s kisses. A part of her knew what she was doing was wrong. But then another part felt so good. She was ecstatic that a man as handsome as him could take an interest in her. Her phone vibrated and she grabbed it from her table lest it continued the irritating sound. She had a text message. She opened it and the words she read made her gasp.
Already missing you. Dinner at my place? 9pm.
Efe raised her head and looked around her guiltily. When she saw no one deemed her worthy of any attention she typed out, I’m sorry I’m not ready for all this sir. She sent the message and put her phone on silence to prevent further distractions. She set out to get the day’s job done and when her boss requested for her attention she made sure she acted professional and didn’t give in to his silent wooing calls.
At break she hurried out with Pamela and few other female staffs that were more of Pamela’s friends than hers. They were women who liked fashion, gossip. . . Things Efe avoided at all costs. But while she was there, she kept herself company with her own thoughts while drifting in and out of their conversations.
“I’m looking for opportunities out there.” Pamela said before putting a spoonful of Fried-rice in her mouth, careful to finish chewing before she continued. “I need to start this my modelling business ASAP.”
“You’ve been going on and on about this modelling thing. Do you think your parents would allow you?” One of the girls, a secretary to one of the managers, asked Pamela.
“Abeg, they don’t have a choice. Have I not done all they want? Spent five years of my life reading law. I would give them my degree and all the receipts of all my school-fees. They should use that one to make themselves happy.”
The girls laughed.
“It’s true nau. I know what I want and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“But you know that business is very costly. You know nothing comes for free in this country. Are you prepared for all that?”
Efe could guess the ‘costs’ they were all referring to and listened on to what Pamela would say as she chewed on her piece of meat that was hard.
“They say nothing good comes easy. So a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.”
Efe wanted to tell her that she couldn’t say that. That it was from God all good things came from and they were without sorrow. But she couldn’t talk and it wasn’t because of the meat that was making her jaw ache her. It was ‘cause of her guilt. She had given up on anything good coming from God for the past few months. She took a paper-napkin and spat out the piece of meat.
“I like your spirit.” The oldest among them said. “You would go far with that . . .”
Very far to hell . . . She thought.
Who are you to judge?
Efe jolted in her seat as if she had been slapped.
“Efe why are you so quiet? Has your oga had you working too much?”
Efe looked at her and wondered if she knew anything. She shook her head. “Not really. Just paperwork and setting meetings.”
“That man is just too handsome. I wish I was the one working with him.” Pamela said and took a sip of pure water. “I wonder why he hasn’t married yet.”
“A man as fine as him must have a lot of problems chasing him for him not to be married yet.”
“Problems or not, I wouldn’t mind being with him.”
“Nkechi are you that desperate?” Pamela joked and they all laughed.
Break time was over and they all made their way back to their offices. Efe got to her desk and saw a pile of paperwork waiting for her. She groaned inwardly. She had been hoping she would be able to go home early but with all the work she had in front of her to do, her dream of doing so was not going to happen.
Is Amanze deliberately punishing me?
Efe took her seat and for the next two hours she typed out all the information. She backed them up. In between her boss called her and asked for her to pick up his suit at the dry-cleaners before they closed at seven and thereafter he had her pick up of some documents from a client’s office (of which she wondered why the client couldn’t send one of his employees to deliver the documents) and she hurried back to an empty office at few minutes to eight to find out her boss had gone home leaving her strict instructions to finish her work. With a lot of anger and annoyance, she continued with her work and got the Agenda ready for tomorrow’s meeting.
She checked the time. It was ten minutes to nine when she was done with everything and her fingers hurt from having typed so long. She took a deep breath and packed away everything.
Efe picked up her bag, hoping she would get a cab on time. She heard the elevator and turned to see her boss walk in with two big, white nylon bags. What is he doing here?
He raised the bags up as he walked towards her. “I brought dinner. Hope you like Chinese.”
“Dinner? For whom?”
He was standing close to her table now and she could smell the food. Her stomach grumbled.
“For you. Actually, for the both of us. I asked for dinner at 9pm and you blew me off. I don’t really like rejections.”
He placed the bags on her table and pulled a seat from another person’s table. “Have a seat and let’s eat. I’m sure you must be hungry after all the stress of today.”
Efe stared at him as he brought out the take-away packs of food and opened them. The once distant smell now potent and tantalizing her. She couldn’t believe he could do all this. Was it all about his ego taking a blow? Or was he genuinely interested in her?
“Seat down and let’s eat. I want to know more about you. Let’s call this the first of more dates to come.” He smiled. That gorgeous smile that made her want to forget everything about Daniel and the pricking of her heart.
NEXT. . .
Emails and Instagram notifications. Random messages and broadcasts. Her eye caught-on to a message from Ebuka and she tapped it.
As usual your phone is off. I figure you’re busy. Hope you’re doing okay from the last time you were over. Please let me know if Daniel tries anything like that with you again. Also, don’t be a stranger. 🙂
P.S I miss you.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Please drop your comments below 😊.
Author: Temitope Ogunyinka
Temitope Ogunyinka, is a loving, caring and friendly person. She is passionate about impacting the world through timeless wisdom and knowledge found in her thought provoking stories and writing that applies to all ages. Her stories and articles cut across love, relationship and romance in a way that does not deny the relevance of God in our everyday life. She is a devoted christian, passionate about bringing people to the knowledge of God’s true and unfailing love.
Read More of my stories on http://www.lifegodandlove.com