Tomike was told that the woman she was standing in for was was resuming work in two weeks time. It meant her days on the show were numbered and she would be back to being an assistant or running little errands for the station. She made up her mind to do better than she had done in previous weeks, probably if she put in a lot of effort her boss would let her have her own show.
Stella walked out of the studio with her bag, looking frustrated and disappointed. She dropped her custard-yellow bag on the table in the break-room and pulled out a chair to settle down.
“Men are so unpredictable!”
Tomike raised her brow. “What happened?”
Stella gave a small hiss. “All the while I thought Tunde was single, turns out he’s in a relationship. He said they just got started . . . Can you imagine that?” She folded her arms and let out an exasperated sigh.
Tomike didn’t know what to say. He also hadn’t revealed his mystery woman to her. “Why did you give Dr. Coker my phone number?”
She shrugged her slim shoulders. “He asked for it. Said he wanted to thank you for the interview and how he had gotten more sponsors for the organization. So I gave it to him.” she looked pointedly at Tomike. “Did anything happen? Do you know his girlfriend?”
Her barrage of questions had Tomike shaking her head guiltily. “I don’t know her. Did – did you guys ever go out or anything?”
Stella shook her head and opened her bag. “No. We just worked in the office. Why? Did he take you out?”
Why all these questions? Should I lie and say no? No- what’s the point of lying . . . “Yes, he did. I guess that was just his way of saying thank-you; even though it’s not really me he should be thanking.”
Stella eyed her. “I see . . . So do you like him or what?”
Tomike shifted in her seat. The conversation was getting awkward and she wished George would just come in and disrupt their conversation. Her ringing phone came to her rescue. She quickly picked the call from her mother. It was one of the rare times she was glad she called during work-hours.
“My dear,” Her mother said after they had exchanged pleasantries. “Your uncle just arrived. He’s been asking after you. . . Could you share a room with your sister? I have to prepare your room for him and his wife. Is that okay?”
Tomike felt her heart pick up pace. My uncle is around . . . My uncle is around . . .
“Tomike are you there?”
“Mum if you let him into my room . . . I swear I’m not coming back into that house.” Tomike didn’t care if Stella was eaves-dropping in her conversation, but she couldn’t hide the anger and despair going on within her. The thought of seeing him again made her sick. She hated him. . . Hated him with everything that was within her.
“Ahn-ahn? Tomike are you okay? What kind of stupid statement is that? What do you mean you aren’t coming back to the house if I let your uncle stay there?”
How could she explain it to her? “I will explain later. But mum please . . . I told you I didn’t feel comfortable with you letting him stay in the house. . .”
Her mother’s voice was rising over the phone. “Without any concrete reason! Your sister is getting married and Uncle Afolabi flew all the way from South-Africa for the wedding. Should we then tell him to stay in an hotel? Who would foot the bills? We’re already paying for so much with Bimbo’s wedding!”
Tomike held back an exasperated sigh. “Mum it’s either me or him.”
Her mother didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then she said, “Fine! I would sort it out. He wouldn’t be here by the time you get home.” The click sound made her know the call had ended.
Tomike sighed in relief. She looked up to find Stella gone. Tomike rested her back on the chair and let out another breath. She knew she would still have the conversation with Stella, but for the time being she was grateful it wasn’t at that exact moment.
Victoria couldn’t explain what she was feeling. Joy? Peace? Contentment? The positive emotions coursing through her body was only the result of one thing; she had given her life to Christ! After her talk with Mrs. Johnson, asking her how she could cling to God and trust Him, the older woman had told her God loved her so much and wanted her to have a relationship with Him.
“Despite everything I have done?” She asked in awe.
Mrs. Johnson smiled at her lovingly. “In-spite of that . . . He loves you.”
Mrs. Johnson had led her to Christ at Victoria’s request and plea. Tears had run down her cheeks as she repeated the prayer the older woman said. The peace that had came in her heart was indescribable.
She rubbed her hands together as she knelt on the floor beside her bed and closed her eyes. “Father Lord,” She paused then gave a nervous laugh, “I’m still new at this. I don’t know how I should talk to You much . . .” Victoria remembered Mrs. Johnson had told her to speak freely with Him as she would talk to her or Sandra. Just be free . . . Victoria continued, “Thank You for waking me up this morning to see another day. Thank You for loving me, thank You for everything. Please Lord, help me to live this day out for You. Please help me out with my exams this afternoon. Thank you.” Victoria racked her brain; she didn’t really have anything else to say. “I love you and . . . Amen.”
She opened her eyes and a wave of peace enveloped her heart. She smiled. Thank You Lord . . . Victoria got up and dusted the little dirt particles off her knees. The medium-sized brown bible on her bed was a gift Mrs. Johnson had presented to her yesterday and she had started with the book of John as advised; she was four chapters gone. “I will expect you in church on Sunday. 8 am.” Mrs. Johnson said when she gave her the bible. “I’m so happy for you.” She was truly a blessing to Victoria.
What are you going to do about Moses?
The thought came to her mind and a dreary feeling came over her. Moses was a weakness to her. She couldn’t deny her love for him, yet she knew it was wrong. She would have to talk to Mrs. Johnson about it . . . Victoria had a lot to sort out. Once she broke off her relationship with Moses what would she do next? She couldn’t afford to stay in the apartment. She wouldn’t be able to take care of herself, not to talk more of her school fees.
Victoria sighed heavily. She thought about Sandra, her close-friend that was like a sister to her, she was shocked at her revelation but afterwards was indifferent about it. She had mixed feelings.
“Does that mean you would start looking down on me ‘cause I often do obscene things to make my money?” She asked the next day when Victoria had announced to her that she was a Christian.
“No, I would never look down on you. But I will be praying for you to experience this newness I feel. I still love you sis.”
She smiled. “I love you too.”
“You weren’t concerned about me . . . You are just concerned about having sex. You don’t . . . You don’t love me . . .” Moses remembered her words. He closed his eyes and placed his hand on the wet shower glass as the warm water poured over his body. He missed her. What hold did the girl have over him to have him thinking this much about her? Could he possibly love her as well?
He shook his head. No. He didn’t love her. Probably he was obsessed. Obsessed? He grimaced, it sounded psychotic. Maybe I’m emotionally attached to her . . .
Moses opened his eyes as he heard his wife call his name again. He cleared his throat. “I’m in the bathroom!” He called out to her.
The steam on the glass prevented him from seeing her walk into the bathroom. The shower door was pulled open and a cool breeze found it’s way to his back; touching him lightly. Moses turned around to see Linda staring at him. An awe expression on her face. He raised his brow. Had it been that long we have been intimate with each-other? I can’t even remember the last time . . .
“What’s up Linda?”
She cleared her throat and literally dragged her eyes away from the lower part of his body until she made eye-contact with him. “Erm – I just wanted to tell you dinner was ready.” She swallowed hard. “Would you be coming down any-time soon?”
Moses nodded. “Yes, I will be down soon.”
Linda raised her brow. “Are you okay?”
He smiled at her. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just stressed out. Let me finish up her and I would be down in some minutes.”
“Okay.” She shut the door and Moses pinched the bridge of his nose and breathed through his mouth.
Dinner was fried-rice and chicken with coleslaw. The children ate their meal while looking for each other’s trouble. Moses picked at his meal. Linda was a good cook, but at that moment the food tasted bland in his mouth. He picked up his phone and looked up her number. How is she doing?
“Moses is everything okay? Is there something wrong with the food?”
Moses looked up at his wife. Her face scrunched up in concern. He picked up the napkin beside his plate and shook his head. “The food is fine. I’m just not hungry.”
Linda’s face fell. “Oh. . . Does this have to do with your sister?”
His sister? He had to call her. He nodded. “Yeah.” He rose up from the table. “I would be in the room.” on his way to the room he took a bottle of beer from the fridge. He changed his mind and headed to his car. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts without the sounds of the children or T.V bothering him.
It was getting cold. The clouds gathered in the skies and everywhere was getting dark and Theresa pulled her jacket tighter to keep the cold away from her. But then, the coldness she felt in her heart was never going to go away until she dealt with him.
Theresa walked into the fast-food restaurant and brushed a wisp of her hair from her face; careful not to mar her make-up. She was meeting up with Kayode at two o’clock, but she had arrived thirty minutes earlier. She wanted to be in control of everything. She noticed an empty table at the far corner of the restaurant and settled down there.
Leaning back on her seat, Theresa closed her eyes. She thought of all the times Kayode had slapped her, all the times he had grabbed her neck and slammed her against the wall. The kicks his strong legs had delivered her to her stomach . . . The strong kicks that had killed her baby. Theresa remembered the time when she had bought a lingerie for his birthday and having found it, his immediate thought was that she was cheating on him. He had failed to listen to her shouts that it was for him, all that was on his mind was to punish her. I’m not afraid any-more . .
Theresa couldn’t see the sinister smile that crossed her lips. A movement in-front of her made her look up to see the man standing there in-front of her.
“Hi darling.” Kayode bent low and Theresa moved forward to accommodate him as he pressed his lips against her cheek. “How are you love?”
Theresa smiled and said coolly, “I’m fine.”
He raised his brow. “You sure? You sound a bit cold.”
The coldness was in her heart and he would feel her wrath very soon. “I’m okay. It’s probably the weather. I’m sort of cold I guess.”
Their lunch meeting lasted for well over an hour; eating and discussing about different things. Kayode brought up their wedding as his last topic.
“We should start attending erm – counselling and send out invitations. What do you think?”
Theresa smiled. “Sure. I would look into it.”
He nodded and they rose up and walked out of the building to their individual cars. Theresa picked up her phone and dialled a number and when the person picked she only said two words. “Do it.”
Theresa tossed the phone on the passenger seat and watched as Kayode’s car pulled away.
Tomike got home the next day and was extremely tired. She just wanted to get on her bed and sleep! She was struggling to keep her eyes open. She heard voices in the living-room. She walked over to the living-room to greet her parents and stopped suddenly when she saw him. His back was to her, but she knew it was him. His shiny bald head was as she had remembered it in the past. Images flashed in her mind. . .
It was dark. Dark. Yet not dark enough for her to notice the roundness of his yellow stomach as it heaved from his heavy breathing. She could smell the thick stench of his bad breath, mingled with garlic from their breakfast, as it drifted to her nostrils. Her stomach squeezed tightly and she wanted to throw up. Most importantly, she was trying to think of a way out as she remained hunched in the corner of the room. . . He had covered her mouth as she made muffled sounds and struggled to get him off of her . . . She had been too small and him too big for any of her endeavours to be successful. . .
Tomike’s shrieks filled the room as her bag dropped to the floor with a thud sound. Everyone turned to look at her. Her father had placed his hand over his chest in shock.
“Tomike! What is it?” Her mother asked.
Uncle Afolabi rose, slowly, from the three-sitter and turned to look at her. “Tomike . . .”
Tomike looked at him angrily and pointed a finger at him. “Don’t you dare say my name you useless, perverted man!”
Her mother’s eyes widened and she looked at her husband who was also baffled at their daughter’s outburst.
“Tomike please . . .” Uncle Afolabi went down on his knees. “Please let us talk.” His eyes pleaded with her, but she couldn’t let go of the same eyes holding desire in his eyes as he had raped her! The same eyes that had looked at her lustfully when she was younger. . .
“Shut up! Just shut up! You have mouth to beg now? Aft – after you raped me repeatedly when I begged you to stop?” Tomike heard a sharp intake of breath but didn’t know who it came from; all her attention was on uncle Afolabi. “Now you tell me to let us talk?” Tomike moved further into the room and moved close to him until they were inches apart. She picked up a throw-pillow and threw it at him with anger of the past few years. It hit on his face and had him reeling backwards. Tears were falling down her cheeks uncontrollably. “Now you’re pleading with me? I will never forgive you! You’re a sick bastard!”
Her mother gasped and fell back on the couch. Her breathing fast. Tomike directed her next words at her mother. “I told you to not let him come here! I told you I would explain . . . You have made your choice mum.”
Tomike picked up her bag and ran out of the house.
Tunde shifted the phone to his other ear and felt his heart racing as he heard her voice. He dropped the fork he had just picked up back on the plate and settled back on the seat.
Had she been crying? “Tomike what’s up? How are you doing?”
“I’m fine thank-you. And you?”
He nodded, but then she couldn’t see him. “Yes, I’m good.” He would have kept the conversation going but he wanted to know why she had called him. Was she missing him?
“I wanted to ask how you were doing. Elm – good bye.”
“Wait!” He didn’t know why, but he felt something was terribly wrong with her. “Tomike you sure you’re okay? You want us to meet?”
He could sense her hesitation over the phone. “I don’t want to interrupt whatever you’re doing.”
Tunde looked down at his meal of yam porridge and beef. He hadn’t had breakfast `and it was four in the evening. He turned his face away from the meal. “I’m free. I can come meet you wherever.”
Tomike told him where to meet her and he nodded. “I’ll be there in some minutes. Thirty minutes given there’s no traffic. See you soon. Later.”
He got to Leisure Mall in twenty minutes. When he got out of the car he saw her almost immediately. She was seated in her car. He dropped his keys in pocket and walked up her. When he reached her car she turned to look at him and his heart sunk. Her eyes were puffy and red, her cheeks stained with tears. She looked terrible . . . Tired.
What happened Lord? What happened . . . “Tomike. Tomike what happened? Is it your parents? Siblings?”
Tomike released a breath and shook her head.
He walked over to the passengers side and opened the door, the space limited ‘cause of a car parked next to hers and he had to squeeze his tall-frame through to get in. Once seated next to her. He asked her what was wrong.
“I’m a mess Dr. Coker. A terrible mess . . . I- I don’t know if I can be fixed . . . I’m so tired.”
Tunde didn’t understand a word of what she was saying. “What do you mean you’re a mess?”
“My uncle came back,” She laughed, “My uncle that raped me long ago and made me do things a small girl shouldn’t do.” She turned to look at him. “I don’t know what to do. I’m torn in between castrating him . . . Or dying. Which do you think is better?”
Tunde looked at her, the sadness and anger in his heart overwhelming. Sadness for what she had been through and anger for the man that had caused her so much pain. Lord, please give me wisdom . . . And more so, give me strength.
Linda was worried about Moses. He was acting strange, he was more withdrawn than she had seen him in days. What’s wrong with him? She called Ifeoma, her best-friend, and told her about her husband’s recent behaviour and she had laughed.
“You want the truth?”
Linda bit her lip. “Yes.”
“You sure? Can you handle it?”
Linda snapped at her. “I’m not a child! Of-course I can.”
Ifeoma’s first reply was to tell her to calm down and take a deep breath. Then she said, “He’s cheating on you girl-friend. That’s the only thing to it.”
“Tell me something new . . . I know that already. Do you think he’s – he’s in love with her?”
“Hmm . . . I can’t say. Describe how he is at home. Does he constantly stare at his phone? Does he refuse to eat? All those teenage love-sick behaviours . . .”
Linda racked her brain and tried to think if her husband had been exhibiting those traits. Yes, he had been behaving those ways. But she had always thought it was because of what had happened to his sister, not because of some cheap prostitute!
She felt uncomfortable even as she confessed to her friend that her husband was truly behaving that way. She remembered when he was in the shower and so lost in thought.
“Linda do you still want to be married to that man? Why are you with a man that doesn’t want to change?”
“Ifeoma you won’t understand . . .”
Ifeoma sighed. “Okay. Talk to someone older and more experienced. Why not call your mum? Hasn’t it been a while you guys spoke?”
Linda knew the conflict between her and her mother was mostly her fault. She had distanced herself from her mother all because of her pride. Her mother hadn’t wanted her to marry Moses. She had been against it, because according to her she could see the outcome of the marriage. Linda shook her head to wade away the thoughts of her mother.
“Yes, it’s been a while.”
“I know you are being stubborn and proud. Just go and talk to your mum. Don’t regret it in the long-run, you would if you don’t settle that squabble with your mum.”
“It wasn’t a squabble. It was really serious.”
“Serious or not, you need your mother.”
The car was parked at the side of the road giving enough room for other cars to be able to pass with ease. Linda got out of the car and looked at the house of her late teenage years and university days before she had gotten married. It had been so long she had visited her mother.
She walked past the gate into the compound filled with flowers. It was a beautiful sight, different colours of flowers made the building look more inviting. The cream colour of the building had been re-touched so it looked new. She knew the front part of the house had been rented out to two people and the house behind belonged to her mother. Her siblings filled her in on what was happening, all the while urging her to make amends with their mother.
Linda found her mother seated on a green plastic chair and singing, a young lady was also seated beside her.
“I don’t understand something. I don’t know how the disciples could leave behind so many things and people, and go after a man they never met before. What made them do it?” The young lady asked Linda’s mother.
Linda stopped in her tracks and listened on to their conversation.
“Hmm . . . Nice question. There’s a parable in the bible of the pearl. Matthew 13 verse 44-45, about a man who found something precious buried in a field and with so much joy, sold all he had to buy that field. That’s how the kingdom of heaven is like . . . When you discover it, you would go after it with your whole being. Nothing else seems to matter.”
“That’s so profound.,” the girl said.
Her mother nodded. “As you read on you would discover how Paul, a great apostle of God, went about doing great things for God, nothing mattered than doing what God wanted him to do. He had a passion for lost souls. . .”
Linda watched as her mother looked at the girl fondly. A pang of jealousy gripping her heart. Who is this girl and how come she’s so close to my mum? Linda walked towards them and she saw a surprised look on her mother’s face when she turned to look at her.
The other girl turned to look at her and gasped. What’s wrong with her? “Good afternoon mum.”
Her mother rushed over to her and embraced her loosely; Linda’s large belly getting in the way. “My precious daughter. My beautiful daughter.” Her mother pulled back and looked at her, tears forming in her eyes. “Welcome home.”
Linda smiled at her mother as tears gathered in her eyes. Her mother’s quick acceptance of her was not what she had expected. She felt like the prodigal son that had finally come to his senses.
And the story continues next week…
♥♡ Love Quote for the Day:
In true love it is not we who love… but it is God in us who loves them. – SIMONE WEIL
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