Last Episode of Broken Pieces of Me
Four months later . . .
She was taking it one step at a time. One day at a time. It had been difficult but she had been able to get through it these last four months with her mother by her side. Theresa had gone to visit Kayode at the prison three months ago. He had a gaunt look and a few bruises on his face. She could barely recognize him. He looked terrible. She let her thoughts take her back to when she saw him. . .
“Theresa I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.” He had said. “I know I did a lot of things to hurt you. Please, forgive me.”
She had looked at him with hatred and pity at the same time. But the hatred was more. He had done a lot of harm to her. The thought of not being able to bear a child hurt her more and more. There was no way she could ever get over it. No way she could ever forgive him for the pain he had caused her.
“Kayode you think being sorry can bring my womb back? You think sorry can wipe away my inability to have children? I wish you had been castrated in the first place.” She whispered to him, lest the police people caught on to what she was saying. “I wish those boys I hired had done the job of dealing with you, instead they led you to Shola.” She shook her head at him. “Don’t you feel bad for causing women pain? You said you never wanted to be like your father but you became like him, probably even worse!”
Kayode sighed and looked down at his hands behind the cell. “I know that now. I realized that too late. I always believed I would try as much as possible to keep my anger in-check. But I couldn’t. I know you may not be able to forgive me now, but I hope someday you would. I loved you Theresa -”
Theresa cut in. “No. You never loved me. I protected you all these years Kayode. I thought you could be a better man and change someday.”
“It hurt me to hurt you. I thought I could change for the better. I wanted to be better for you.”
“But you weren’t. You couldn’t.”
“I would let you go Theresa. I won’t try to win you back because I want what’s best for you . . . Even if it hurts me to let you go.”
She hissed. “Oh how martyr of you.” She cleaned the tears on her cheek and licked away the tears that had fallen on her lips. “Please don’t say that . . .” He said.
“All the best in life Kayode.”
Theresa folded her arms and leaned back on her chair. She bowed her head and swallowed hard, trying hard to hold her tears back. She was in the office and didn’t want to be seen as an emotional wreck.
“You can talk to his assistant, Theresa Ekafor. She’s seated at that table.”
Theresa looked up just in time to see a man walk towards her. She straightened on her seat and adjusted her blouse.
“Good afternoon Miss Ekafor. I’m here to see Mr. Stevens. He called to say he needed a technical guy to help with a project.”
Theresa checked Mr. Stevens diary on her desk. She had written Malik across the time ten to ten-thirty. “Oh yes Mr. Malik. I’ll just notify him that you’re here.”
He nodded, but was staring at her.
Theresa wondered if she had anything on her face. She finished the call and told him to go in.
He took a step away from her, but then took a step back. “Erm – I’m sorry to ask but are you okay?”
She was taken aback by his question. “Yes, I am. Why?”
“You looked so sad when I walked in and now, talking to you briefly, it seems there’s a lot on your mind. . .”
She forced a bright smile. “I do have a lot on my mind but I would be fine. God willing.”
He nodded, smiling. “Okay.” He walked away from her desk and straight to Mr. Stevens office.
Theresa was surprised he had cared enough to ask. And he was sincere about it. Some people just came to the office hoping to get Mr. Stevens over for a presentation or a talk, but they never paid much attention to her. The few times they did it was solely for their own selfish interests, trying to get access to her boss. It was in one of his talks that she had met Kayode,her ex-fiancé. She sighed. Was she ever going to be remembering him like this? She had to let it go.
The meeting lasted fifteen minutes and Mr. Stevens and Malik walked out all smiles. Her brow raised as she noticed a sort of resemblance. This guy looks more than just a contract staff.
They stopped at her table. “Theresa I have not introduced you to my cousin Malik. Malik this is the best assistant in town, Theresa Ekafor.”
Malik extended his hand and shook hers. “Nice to meet you. Though Fred we already got acquainted before I came in to see you.”
“Oh really? That means I should just let you guys flow on your own. You don’t need my help.”
Malik chuckled and Theresa was confused.
Mr. Stevens leaned close and whispered something in his cousin’s ear and slapped his back. Malik chuckled and shook his head in response to whatever Fred had said. After he had disappeared into his office, it occurred to Theresa that he was giving the both of them space, Malik cleared his throat.
“So my cousin would like me to take you out to dinner.”
Theresa’s eyes widened as she looked up at him. “What?” She gave a nervous laugh. “How can he ask you to do such a thing? You shouldn’t pay him any attention though.”
Malik shrugged. “He needn’t ask in the first place. It was my intention.”
The smile left her face immediately. Was he joking? “You barely know me . . .”
“I would like to get to know you.”
Theresa was surprised. He was interested in someone as broken as her? He didn’t know her past. He didn’t know she couldn’t have children. There was no point going out with him.
She shook her head. “No. I don’t think we should.”
He raised his brow. “Why?”
“Because you barely know me. I could be HIV positive for all you know.” Theresa was sure that would scare him off. So she resumed work on her laptop, but looked up three minutes later to still find him standing in-front of her.
“You’re still here? Despite what I told you?”
“If I were you I wouldn’t pronounce such things on yourself especially if it isn’t true.”
Theresa threw her chin up defiantly. “And what if it is?”
He shrugged. “I want to get to know you. If you don’t agree today, you would agree tomorrow; even if tomorrow may be in the next two weeks.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“See you tomorrow.” He winked at her and strolled out of the office.
Theresa smiled to herself.
Victoria stifled a yawn as she waited her turn. The queue moved slowly and there were still three people ahead of her with a lot of things in their trolleys. She wished she could just sit down on the floor while she waited. It took fifteen minutes before she got out her items from the basket; a few toiletries, ingredients for her cakes and cookies, chicken, fruits and a bar of chocolate. It was what she would need for the month. She had purchased garri, onions,eggs, flour, tomatoes and other things at the market.
Ever since Linda had asked her to leave her parents house, Victoria had squatted with Sandra but the room had been too crowded for them. She had gone to search out a place she could stay in and raised the rent by seeking help in her church. Funmi had been of huge help, as well as her friend Tomike. God had been faithful in providing for her and she knew He would never let her down.
Her cake and cookie business was building up gradually. It was her profit she used to sustain herself. She would save at most ten percent of it, as advised by Tony, and use the rest in her business or for buying her food and whatever else she needed. There were a few days she struggled with eating two meals and had to settle for drinking garri with milk and Milo. Some-days she would have the pleasure of eating it with Suya.
Victoria got home thirty minutes later and put away all of the things she had bought. She was staying in a one-room apartment, but it didn’t matter . . . She was proud to have a place she could call her own without the help of any man. She was glad she was fending for herself and was living a better life than before.
The light issue was a problem though. It made it difficult for her to store food and she had to painstakingly meet up with orders; working through the night when they brought light. Sometimes she had to use her neighbour’s house when they put on their generator. Victoria sighed, she believed things would get better.
“I should sleep sha . . .” She said to herself when she was done putting away the things. She laid on her bed and closed her eyes for only ten minutes when there were heavy knocks on her door.
She opened her eyes. “Who’s that?” She called out.
“Get off your ass and open the door jere!”
Victoria smiled. She recognized that voice. She got up from the bed and hurried to the door. On opening it she couldn’t believe her eyes. Funmi, Tomike and Tony stood before her with nylon bags in their hands. There was a large package behind them, but Victoria couldn’t tell what it was.
She shifted aside to let them in. “What are you guys doing here? I was just about to sleep.”
“Thank goodness we got here at the right time. We’re hungry. We brought the food we would eat so you can prepare it for us.” Funmi answered.
Victoria frowned. “Isn’t the food you bought too much? Besides I’m tired.” Tony was the last person to enter and that was when she saw the small generator there. Victoria’s eyes widened. “Who’s that for?”
“For you.” Tomike said as she propped herself in a chair.
“You needed one so we contributed money to get it for you.”
“What? Why? You guys didn’t have to nau . . .” Wow. Tears gathered in her eyes. She couldn’t believe it. These were the best friends any one could ever had. They were the brother and sisters that showed love to her. They weren’t like her own family who had left her to sort herself out when she was in need. These were her family as well as Mrs. Johnson.
Mrs. Johnson came to visit her and they met every once in a while to catch-up and learn new things from each-other. It was a time of fun and laughter. Victoria couldn’t say the same thing about Mrs. Johnson’s daughter. She hoped Linda would forgive her someday.
“We didn’t, but we wanted to.” Funmi said.
Victoria let the tears fall freely. “I can’t thank you guys enough. God bless you guys greatly.”
They all hugged her. A group hug.
“You’re welcome a hundred times over.” Tomike said.
“Oya please make one of those your special dishes that you always browse on and let us eat. I’ve been looking forward to this all day.” Tony said, settling down on a seat.
“Doesn’t your girlfriend cook for you?” Victoria asked him with a raised brow as she cleaned her tears with the back of her hand.
Tony shrugged. “Well she could take cooking lessons from you.”
Victoria had learnt a lot over the last couple of months. No matter what her circumstances had been she had a choice to either stay fixated on it and wallow in her pity, or decide not to let it get to her and come out better. Moving on from Moses had been hard but it was the best decision she had ever made. Whatever thing her family thought they had; the thought of happiness, pleasures and whatever niceties, it couldn’t be like what she had then with her new family. One by a new birth.
She cooed Isabel as she cried. Her baby was hungry. Linda fed her and as soon as she was done she patted her back to make sure she burped and cleaned her mouth. She smiled at the cute baby as her little hands touched Linda’s face. She planted a kiss on her cheek. “My sweet baby. Mummy loves you very very very much!”
Isabel smiled at her mother, making baby sounds.
“Mum when are we going to see dad?” Jeremy, her first-born, asked.
The huge grin on her face disappeared immediately. She had to force a smile to not get her son worried. “You would see your dad soon. He would come over the weekend to take you guys out for lunch and ice-cream.”
“Why aren’t we living with dad any longer?”
Linda held back a sigh. “My darling I told you we are spending time here with your grandmother. You haven’t seen her in a while and she has missed you.”
Jeremy pouted and folded his arms. “But I miss my dad and I’m sure he misses us too.”
Linda rolled her eyes. “Weekend is almost here so stop your whining.” She got up and put her baby in the crib. She gave her a peck and watched as her little eyes looked at her sleepily. Linda turned around to see her son standing there. “Go and watch some TV if you’re done with your homework. I would make hot chocolate and prawn crackers for you when I come downstairs.”
Jeremy smiled a little and quickly walked out of her room.
Linda let out an exasperated sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. This wasn’t easy at all. Lying to her children and keeping up false appearances; pretending to be cordial with Moses when what she really wanted to do was never see him again. He had done the worst thing ever by sleeping around and making them commit abortions. He was not only an adulterer but also a murderer.
She raised her fist to her lips and bit on the back of her hand to hold back her tears. She had cried too many times over one man. She had loved one man for years. She had wasted time.
Her friend, Ijeoma, had finalized her divorce two months ago and had spent a few more days with her to help ease her off her pains. Linda didn’t know how Ijeoma did it. She was stronger than she was, going unaffected by her divorce to a man that had confessed that he hadn’t loved her. She was back in Abuja now and opening her boutique, Boss Babe clothing, in the next two weeks. She was starting her life afresh and was putting men behind her; at least for the time being.
Ifeoma looked at her in the eyes with so much seriousness before she left for Abuja months ago, “Whether hot and handsome, tall and boxed-up, whether pastor or minister, whether love or lust . . . I’m not interested in being with any man at the moment!”
Linda chuckled at the words of her friend. It was currently her mantra. She had promised to pay her a visit on the opening of her boutique.
Linda sat down on her bed.
God, please help me. Am I making the right decision here? I need your direction . . . I need your help. I know in the past I didn’t listen . . . I know, but please lead me as before and I would listen. I would obey. . .
Linda’s mother walked into the room then, putting an end to her inward prayer.
“How are you doing?”
“Fine mum. I was just praying to God and asking him to help me. I really want to be sure I’m not making a mistake again.”
Her mother came to sit next to her on the bed. “I know God would lead you. I’ve also been praying for you. In as much as I didn’t like him in times past I believe God is working on him.”
Linda nodded. She had also realized she couldn’t continue to live with faults that kept hurting her, especially without him wanting to change. But a dramatic turn of events had happened. Moses had changed since that night she had told him to meet her in court. It wasn’t a drastic change but a gradual one. He had pounded on her door that night, almost breaking it down until she opened it.
“What do you want you ingrate?” She spat the question at him.
“Linda please hear me out.”
“What more can you say to me? The truth is already out. You want to make up a lie now? You want to tell me you never slept with that prostitute?”
“I don’t want to lie. Everything you heard was the truth. I’m deeply sorry for all I did. I made a mistake. Y- you asked me a question the other day . . . You asked me if I loved you. I do. I love you with everything within me. I want to be -”
“Oh please! All you make are empty promises that you don’t mean. Isn’t that what you said about our vows? Or you have forgotten?”
He shook his head. “No. I remember everything.” He dropped to his knees. “Baby I know I hurt you, but please give me a second chance. Don’t throw away that love you’ve had for me all these years. Don’t give up on me . . .”
He had been relentless. It had taken more begging and pleading on his part, but she had decided to give him another chance. She hadn’t stopped loving him. Sometimes she felt stupid, foolish for wanting to give him another chance in her life. But God’s love sometimes did silly things to rubbish what others deemed as love. Like with Victoria. She hadn’t seen her in months but she was learning to forgive. It wasn’t easy but it was a gradual process. She and Moses were taking it slow. He was more interested in church now. He was taking steps to love her better.
There were bumps along the way. There were times she expressed her jealousy whenever she saw him talking to another woman. There were times she wanted to take his phone and go through it. He hid nothing from her. Nothing. She felt peace in her heart. She might have been broken, but not broken enough that God couldn’t put together pieces of her and make her whole.
Her parents had been amazed at her willingness to go out with a much older man, but they also knew they had a similar relationship with each-other so they had accepted it and given their blessings.
“You know he’s very handsome and he looks at you with love and respect. That’s what I want for you Tomike.” Her mother said. “With everything that happened to you my daughter you deserve the very best man. Someone that would be patient and kind with you. To treat you with utmost care.”
Tomike chuckled. “Mum I’m not a fragile girl. I’m a grown woman and I can handle myself. I’m okay.”
Her mum smiled at her. “Yes, you’re not fragile. You’re strong and courageous. I’m not sure what I would have done if I were in your shoes.”
“God has been a pillar of strength for me.”
“Indeed He has. Thank God.”
The both of them hugged each-other.
For Tomike love was beautiful. It wasn’t sappy. It wasn’t silly as people were saying. It was a gift from God. She couldn’t describe how she felt. They were getting to know each-other the more and it felt so right! It was just four months since they had started going out, but the peace she felt was unshakable.
“Have I told you today that I love your smile?” Tunde asked her.
Tomike laughed. “I don’t think you told me today.”
Tunde’s mouth fell open in an exaggerated way. “Really I haven’t? I must make amends immediately.” He pulled her closer to him and gave her a side hug while she laughed.
“Tomike dear, I love your smile.”
She looked up at him. “Thank you Dr. Coker.”
“You’re very much welcome.”
Tomike got up and pulled her blouse down. “I want to get some ice-cream, you want some?” She knew they had to pause on all their eating-out. He had once bragged about being a great cook. One day they would put it his skills to test.
He nodded and requested for some more things. She went off to get it. Tomike placed her order and the cashier asked what her uncle would like. She raised her brow at her. “My uncle?” She looked back at Tunde and shook her head. “That’s not my uncle. That’s my boyfriend.” She made sure she said it proudly. She wasn’t ashamed. They had discussed how the public would view their relationship and were both ready to stand up strong to what anyone thought.
“Oh,” The cashier began, an embarrassed look on her face. “I’m sorry.”
Tomike shrugged. She placed Tunde’s order and made payments. When she returned to their seat with their tray of orders Tunde asked if everything was okay. She related what had happened.
“How does that make you feel?”
“I’m cool. We’ve discussed this before and I care about you. I’m proud to say it.” She winked at him. “And that girl is seeing triple. Can’t she see that you look hot and look nothing your age. You’re quite handsome.”’
He raised a brow. “Are you flirting with me Miss Bello?”
Tomike smiled broadly. “What if I am?”
“I like it.”
Tomike took a spoon of her ice-cream. “Good.”
“And I love you.”
Tomike could literally feel her heart bursting out of her chest with all she felt for him. She wanted to cry. She wanted to throw her hands around him and hug him. She wanted to do a lot of things. But she only said what she had to say at that very moment; the others could wait.