Sharon placed a glass of juice before me and took her seat opposite mine as though she was about to start an interview session. When she met me at the door, she simply stepped back with a smile and let me into the house without a word. Even when I had tried to mumble greetings to her, she remained unmoved by them and continued ushering me into the house. I didn’t like a minute of the silence and to be honest it was getting me worked up, but I had promised myself that I would keep my cool throughout the meeting with her; after all, I chose to visit her.
“Sorry about your leg.” She said.
I smiled faintly as the silence had finally been broken and we could now speak. “I am having therapy; I’ll walk again pretty soon.” I replied.
She nodded. “So, tell me, The great Ijeoma Martins in my house? Is Austin dead?”
I smiled. “If he were?”
“It’s understandable that you break the news to me, you are guys are like Bonnie and Clyde, right?” she asked.
“I see you haven’t lost your touch for subtle insults.” I replied as I sipped the drink slowly.
She scoffed. “Me? I haven’t had a touch for anything. If I did, I won’t be the loser.”
“You are not a loser.” I replied, replacing the glass.
She smiled. “Says the woman with a boyfriend and husband! You know, I actually wonder how you manage to rotate them or should I say conveniently swap them? You are a legend, Ijeoma.”
I swallowed. “Do I take it as if you are going to vent on me all day?”
“Am I wrong to do that? I can’t see Austin to tell him how I feel and life has presented me with you on a platter, am I supposed to throw away the maybe only opportunity I’ll ever get?” she asked.
I took a deep breath. “Well Sharon, I am not to blame for what happened between you and Austin.”
“Really? Why would a married woman call my boyfriend up in the middle of the night to cry with her after she has done something so wrong?”
I stared at her. “What are you talking about?”
“The stuff between you and your husband?”
I blinked. “He told you?”
“We used to talk about everything and I thought I was doing just enough to be his girlfriend and there was always you, getting all the attention. ‘Ijeoma needs this…Ijeoma needs that. I have to do this for her, she is my friend.’ I envy your level of friendship, it’s amazing, I wish I had a friend who would love me that much.” She continued.
I turned my wheelchair to approach the door and then I turned back at her. “You know what? I am going take everything you say, so continue.”
“Really? Why did you come here, Ijeoma?” she asked with a smile.
I took a deep breath. “I came to ask your forgiveness.”
The smile on her face faded slowly. “Forgiveness?”
I nodded. “I am sorry, I came in between you guys and I apologize for that.”
“So, you do admit that you were responsible for all the problems I had with Austin?” she asked.
I shook my head in disagreement. “I am only sorry for the attention that was divided but I won’t claim responsibility for your jealousy and drama. I know how you feel and how mad you are at me and how easy it is for you to blame everything on me, but, you should have never asked him to choose. Austin still loves you and I am going to do my part of slipping out of his life gradually, it is your call to get your man and keep him.”
“Are you doing me a favour?” she asked. “This is not a favour just in case you think you are helping me.”
I shrugged. “I have not said anything about that, I am here to amend whatever was broken between us and for what it’s worth, I did enjoy the few times we hung out.”
The room was silent. Sharon smiled faintly. “Like when we had to go to the cinemas with Austin and he was screaming with us.”
“That’s because we were screaming and he wasn’t. He felt weird.” I replied chuckling.
She shrugged. “Why would a guy even scream for any reason?”
I raised an eyebrow.
I watched Olivia as she paced round the bedroom. “We need to get married soon, Omololu.”
She nodded. “Two weeks max.”
“Two weeks? I…I haven’t even proposed to you.” I said dumbly.
She stared at me. “You are so good with words, aren’t you?”
I wiped some perspiration off my brow. “I am sorry, i…I didn’t mean it that way, but, aren’t we going too fast? If we are going to get married, it should be properly planned.”
“Why? We can’t get married in the church. We are both divorcees.”
“I am not yet divorced.” I replied cutting in.
She folded her arms. “What are you trying to say, Lolu? Can you be a little more explicit with me?” she asked.
I rubbed my palms together. “I am just saying that we should take it easy. You are pregnant and so we need to take things easy right now.”
“I am taking everything easy except this, you are developing cold feet about this thing and I am not going to allow us throw everything between us away and if you think I am going to let you make a mistake in your life and come back begging, you are mistaken. And you know why? You are not even making that mistake in the first place.” She replied.
“Olivia, you are overreacting. Ijeoma is a not a mistake.”
She scoffed. “Oh really? And what happened that night? A woman who claims that you are life to her does what she did to you? She denied you and then came over to say sorry and that was all. Did she come back? All she cared about was her money, status, fame and everything that she has achieved. Does she care about you or her daughter?”
“Ijeoma loves me. And she loves Tiwa too and Tiwa does love her too.”
She laughed mockingly. “Loves? She doesn’t. A woman who loves you won’t look down on you when you were nothing and then embrace you now.”
“She apologized even then.” I replied.
“Now you are making excuses for her. Tiwa is a young girl, she is excited to meet her mom and we are talking about a celeb mom, it’s not a problem, the issue is this, the society does not even acknowledge you or your daughter with Ijeoma. Remember what the papers said about you the next morning after that night? ‘Party crasher’. You were called at a party crasher and your own wife whom you claim loves you did nothing. Where does this all fit in?”
I slammed the chair. “Stop it, Olivia. Where are you going with all these?”
“I am opening your eyes again and to be honest, I am sick and tired of it.” She replied and stormed out of the room.
I took a deep breath and slid into a chair.
Sharon and I approached the car. “To be honest, it was nice seeing you again.” I said.
“Nice finally been seen.” Sharon replied. I paused and stared at her. “Sense of humour.” She added quickly.
I rolled my eyes. “That’s not cool.”
“Come on, Ijeoma. Don’t tell me that you don’t feel a bit of awkwardness between us?”
“You are super human.” She replied. “I am not holding on to the past anymore to be honest, I just want to make sure that you are really through with Austin before I give myself any false hopes.”
“The only thing I have with Austin is the friendship that I have always had with him.”
She took a deep breath. “I don’t want any of that friendship, Ijeoma. I didn’t survive it then and I don’t think I can survive it now, I think I am fine on my own without him.” She replied.
“Are you? You’ll never be the same after now, and it won’t hurt if you try fighting for what’s yours.”
She smiled faintly. “Am I getting lessons on fighting for love from you?”
I nodded. “Some of us have learnt.”
“I see.” She replied as she opened the car door for me. “Where is your family now?”
I smiled. “Around, but I am fighting for them and believe me when I tell you that I am sorry because I know how hard it is to fight for something that’s yours.” I replied.
Olivia had locked herself in the bathroom downstairs for over thirty minutes and I didn’t know what to say or how to say it to her. I stared at the door waiting for it open but it didn’t. Funny thoughts started to run through my mind. I even had the feeling that she might have committed suicide but I didn’t think she would try it, she is the psychologist. She knew better about these things.
I started to tap the door slowly and when I didn’t get any response, I started to drum on the door. “Olivia! Olivia! I am coming in now!” I shouted as I drummed hard. I still didn’t hear anything from her so I started to throw my weight against the door frantically. I pushed the door open and Olivia stood before me naked.
“What…What?” I asked.
She walked up to me. “Make love to me.” She said.
My mouth stayed agape and she planted a kiss in it as she started to unbutton my shirt. I got a grip of her hand. “I can’t.” I said.
“You can.” She replied as she reached for my shirt. “Come on, Lolu.”
I took her hand firmly. “I am sorry. I can’t do this.” I said and walked out of the house.
I drove my wheelchair into the garden with my iPod in one hand. It was late at night and I knew that I could use a moment alone to reflect on a very long day but one with a lot of fulfilment. I had bridged the gap between Sharon and I in a way or so I think.
I stared at the skies and started to count the stars. As a girl, I would count the stars at night with Omololu and we would talk about how many kids we would have.
“I want a boy.” Omololu had said. “And after then, I want our house to be as big as this town, you know? The kids would run around and we would just sit and watch them from the roof top.”
I smiled. “A girl is more like it.”
“Do you want a girl because you are a female? Or because you really want a girl?” he asked.
“I just want a girl.” I replied. “To spite you.” I added quickly with a grin.
He nodded and cuddled me in his arms. “Then I want a girl too. Because now, I’ll be the one spiting you.” He replied and kissed my forehead.
“Memory has a way of haunting us, isn’t it?”
I swirled my wheelchair in response to my mother-in-law’s voice. “Why are you not asleep?” I asked.
She set her chair and stretched out her legs. “How easy is it for a mother to sleep when her kids are not okay? Would she even get any sleep?”
“Mama, Omololu and I would sort it out.” I replied.
She nodded. “I see? You guys loved staring at the skies when you were younger, are you reliving those days in his absence?”
“I might have to move on.” I replied.
She smiled faintly. “I never knew that moving on involved coming back to old spots to dwell in it, that’s really not like moving on.” She replied.
Mama was right. Moving on would never be easy without Omololu. “I can always try.”
“Ijeoma, I have not really had the time to know what went wrong with you, but, I can’t say I am totally shocked at how fast you changed. You were the bright girl with prospects and you needed that opportunity which thankfully came your way, but how on earth did you forget where you came from?”
I swallowed hard. If there was anyone that I would want to avoid on the discussion, it had to be Mama. “I am sorry.”
“I know. Omololu knows. Tiwa knows. But what I don’t know is how you could do that to Omololu?”
I blinked. “I…I didn’t make the right choice.”
“Of course, you didn’t. You could have damned the job right there and gone with the man you love, but you chose to ignore him and that not only bruised his ego, it shattered him. He told me how the press labelled him ‘Party crasher’. Ijeoma, that was your husband they insulted and you kept mute, why? For money?”
I couldn’t hold back my tears as they flowed freely. “I know I was wrong, but…but I am sorry.”
“Sometimes, sorry is never enough and that is what you might have to learn. Wounds take time to heal and I think Olivia’s presence in Omololu’s life at his vulnerable moment sold you out, but, the good thing is he loves you and that is where you’ve always had the edge, I just hope and pray to God that he heals all the wounds and Lolu can totally forget that night.” She replied.
“Olivia is pregnant.” I said. “Omololu slept with her, he is having a child with her, what am I to do?”
Mama smiled. “Pregnant? That was expected. Anyway, it means I’ll have another grandchild soon.”
“I…I don’t know if I’ll be able to take it.” I replied.
She smiled. “Do you have a choice?” she asked.
I turned my face away.
“Let’s say she isn’t pregnant.” Mama suggested.
I turned in her direction in smiles. “How high is that probability?”
“I can say 20%”
I took a deep breath. “I want my husband back and I am ready to build my hopes on the 20%.”
She shrugged. “This is not about how much love you guys have for each other, this would involve mature reasoning as a child is now involved.”
I hurled the empty bottle of water in my hand into the sea. I had gone to the bay to see if I could make any meaning out of my life. The sea breeze did a lot for me. It made me want to sleep. At the moment, sleeping felt appropriate except that I was far from home and I didn’t have the intention of going back to Olivia’s. She was too mad at me for me to show my face anywhere near her. I would just return to the apartment.
I stepped into my car and started to drive. I stared at the document on the passenger’s seat as I drove on. The divorce papers had not been signed and I didn’t know if I really wanted her to sign it, but, I had to do something for Olivia.
I stopped as I joined the traffic. It didn’t look hopeful and so I followed the next diversion into streets. I continued in my thoughts as I drove slowly through the bad roads. I didn’t have to concentrate on the driving as my thoughts strayed. It was soon going to cost me as I heard a loud bang on the car. I immediately pulled up and stepped to see a dent on the side of the car.
“Oga, you no get sense? You dey sleep? I don dey horn for your head since morning and you just dey there no move your moto.” A man rambled in pidgin.
I stared at the dented portion of the car and then back at the man. “I am the one with the dent in my car, why are you screaming?” I asked.
“It be like say this one dey craze! Na me you dey speak English for?” The man continued.
Loud horns went off as we had blocked the tiny street. “Just move your crap out of the way.” I said attempting to return to my car but the Man reached for me. I was saved from his hit by a man who shoved him aside.
Nerves were calmed and I stepped aside with the man who saved me as the other cars moved on. “I am a victim of traffic, else, I wonder what I’ll be doing in these streets.”
“Do you remember me?” The Man asked.
I stared at him blankly. “Who are you?” I asked. I then stared around and noticed a familiar territory.
“I am Pastor Tim. Tiwa was here.”
I smiled. “Nice to meet you…again.” I said as I approached my car in an attempt to avoid the lengthy sermons.
“Why don’t you come with me to the Church and we could talk? Traffic would have died down after our discussion.”
I shook my head in disagreement. “I am sorry, I don’t want to talk.”
“Why not? I saw you in the car before that man hit your car. You looked lost.” He continued.
I blinked. “Was it so obvious to see?”
“I guess so.” He replied. “So?”
“I am getting a divorce.” I said as I stared at Pastor Tim.
He folded his arm as he stared at me. “Clearly that is not what you want.”
“I don’t know what to do. My hands are tied.” I replied.
He nodded in agreement. “What has your hands?”
“Can we talk as men, not you as a pastor now?” I asked.
He smiled. “Lolu, my name is Tim.”
“We might get along well.” I replied with a grin. “Well, Tiwa’s mom is my wife and she is the woman I love.” I said with a smile. “Look at me talking about love like a boy. I am crazy about her and it’s been the same passion since when we were young and even though everything seems so complicated right now, I just want her.”
Tim sat up as I took him into a world I had with Ijeoma.
“So, if Olivia has a boy, Lolu would be glad, right? He always wanted a boy.” I said as I stared at the stars.
Mama shrugged. “What if you give him a boy?”
“Me? We are about to get a divorce here in case you haven’t noticed.” I replied.
She nodded. “I know about the divorce and I think it is going to be really hard on the both of you if it goes through, so I am hoping God does something about it.”
“Olivia is desperate and I am scared that she’ll win Lolu eventually.” I confessed. “She’s bringing her gloves at me.”
Mama smiled. “That’s good, she’ll need it because we would be crushing her together.”
“I never got over that night and now Olivia is pregnant, so, it’s all complicated. I…I just wish Ijeoma had never done that to me.”
Tim was silent.
“That’s it.” I said as I clasped my hands into my laps.
He stared at me. “That’s not it. It’s obvious that there is still a lot to fight for and I know that Olivia is pregnant, but have you thought of what would happen to you? To Ijeoma? To Tiwa?”
“What would you have me do?” I asked.
He scoffed. “This is not about me, Lolu. This is about you, you are the man who has to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life and how you want to please God doing that.”
“It’s tough for me. If I am with Olivia, I don’t have to worry, because she has the master plan, but, with Ijeoma, we are like two crazy kids, we just keep going, failing together, winning together, I don’t know what I’ll do without her.” I said as I stared at the documents in my hand. “I need her to forgive me for breaking our vows too. Even she hurt me, I hurt her too.”
Tim nodded and stared at me. “What are you going to do?”
“I am going to fight for my family.” I said tearing the divorce papers.