Efe scrolled through Funlola’s pictures on Instagram of her and Uncle John, smiling at all the cute things Funlola said about her husband.
“My second love after God.”
“Sweetest boo ever!”
“My sugar hun! Kisses luv”
Few minutes back she posted another picture of her husband holding a microphone and addressing a couple of people. At this she typed out, That’s my man being a servant of God and preaching the good news. What’s better than a man who’s sold out for God?! Nothing! Be with a man who loves God more than you.
It was clear, the Funlola they had all known in the past had changed and was still in the process of more changes. It was also obvious that she was enjoying married life compared to before, when she cheated on her husband.
Efe felt a tinge of jealousy at her friend. She wished it was her and Daniel having such wonderful moments together and serving God. Efe sighed. She was tired of thinking about Daniel from one minute to the other.
To take her mind off things Efe picked up her phone and dialled Funlola’s number. It had been a while they spoke. She was always cheerful and made her happy when everything in her life seemed dull.
What about me?
The question came out of nowhere but Efe didn’t give any answer.
“Hey dear!” Funlola screamed over the phone when she finally picked after three rings.
Efe smiled. “Hi Funlola. How are you doing? How’s Uncle John?”
“I’m good babes, he’s fine too. Thank God. What about you? How’s Calabar?”
Efe played with a thread sticking out of her blouse. When she had first arrived at Calabar she had spent most of her days crying and keeping to herself over the pain she had been through, but then meeting Pamela changed everything. She didn’t give Efe much of a choice than to socialize.
“It’s fine. Meeting new people . . . Trying to make friends.”
“That’s good. You shouldn’t be all alone feeling sorry for yourself. So how are you holding up?”
Efe Sighed. She knew what Funlola was asking about and thought of the best way to reply without bursting out in tears. “I’m trying to move on. Trying to be strong. Honestly, I’m done waiting around for him. I’ve done that for too many years and now I want to move forward.”
“I get you hun. It’s all going to be fine. PJ tries to talk to him once in a while but . . . He’s not budging yet. He looks terrible these days.”
Efe frowned. Terrible? “What do you mean?”
“He just needs someone around to take care of him and he needs to get over his obsession with a woman that does not love him again. When last did you guys talk?”
“It’s been weeks . . .”
“Oh wow, alright then. We will keep praying for him to see the light and come back to his senses. He’s just behaving very stupid.” She cleared her throat. “Pardon my language. . . So asides that what else is happening with you?”
Efe told her about Amanze and all that transpired between them. When she first started working in the company he gave her a hard time but gradually he started warming up to her just out of the blues. He had asked her out severally of which she kept refusing. She didn’t see herself being with another man at the time being. But things changed between the both of them when they bumped into each-other at a super-market and he had offered to take her home.
They shared a kiss that could have turned to more when she had shakily forced him out of the house; thankfully Pamela wasn’t there to witness it.
Efe also told Funlola what had happened the other evening with the Chinese food. . .
“Oh wow. It seems this guy is determined to sweep you off your feet . . . And Daniel is there dulling and falling for Adesewa.” She hissed. “Rubbish! Anyway, how do you feel about this Amanze guy? His name sef sounds hot, it’s good. It should give Daniel sense to know he has competition .”
Efe chuckled but then stopped. For a minute she wondered if Funlola could go back to her old ways but she tossed the thought aside and shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not ready to start up anything new. He already knows Daniel and I are separated but right now? I’m not interested in any guy at the moment.”
“Hmm. . . This is getting interesting. Sis, just take it easy. It’s too soon to move on to another guy. You still love Daniel right?”
Efe stayed silent for a few seconds. Unsure of her answer.
“Efe? Are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here.”
“Do you still love Daniel?”
Efe felt tears gather in her eyes at the sad realization. “I don’t know any-more . . .”
He didn’t know what it was about Efe that pulled him to her but he knew he didn’t want to stop pursuing her even if each time it seemed his efforts were in vain. He liked her and he was willing to pursue her. His grandmother’s advice was under-works. He left Efe alone throughout the weekend and on Monday. He was strictly professional with her and he could tell that his actions confused her ‘cause she kept looking at him when she thought he wasn’t looking.
He smiled to himself; it was all part of a strategy. He was going to back off a little and not hound her. Like his grandmother had advised, she was going through a hard time (though his grandmother didn’t have the full details) and needed love and support.
A knock on his door disrupted his thoughts. “Yes, come in.”
The door opened and the woman on his mind walked in. He studied her for the briefest of moments as she walked towards him. Her countenance showed how sad she was. He was tempted to ask what was wrong with her but he kept his mouth shut. “Efe, how can I help you?”
“There were some files I saw on my desk in the morning and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with them.”
“What files?” He stretched out his hand and she handed him the files. He went through them. A frown crossed his features. It was the files of the upcoming Annual Ball coming up at the end of the year and he had been given the responsibility that year to organize the event. It was going to be a hectic one and he had to pull it off. He had to show some of his colleagues who looked down on him, and were waiting for his downfall, that he could make things happen. But obviously they were already set to sabotage him.
“When did you get this?”
“I didn’t notice it on my table when I came in this morning and I got swamped with work and forgot to pass it to you. It was in the not too urgent files and I didn’t know. Did I do something wrong?”
He raised a brow. “Why do you ask?”
“Because you have a frown on your face.”
He tossed the files on his table and cleaned the sides of his mouth. “Thanks for bringing it here.”
She turned to leave but he couldn’t shake off the sadness on her face. Amanze rolled his eyes. He didn’t want to interfere but . . . “Efe wait.”
She stopped in her tracks and turned to meet him. “Yes sir? You need something?”
Yes, I need you to stop giving me a hard time and give me a chance to show you how much I care. “What’s wrong? I could tell from when you came into my office that there’s something up with you.”
She hugged herself and shook her head. “I’m fine sir. There’s nothing wrong.”
“You sure? Look, I’m not just some guy trying to jump you. I really care and I’ve tried to show you that . . . Though sometimes I can be a pain. I’ve respected your wishes but I won’t stand back when I see you looking down and defeated.” He got up from his black leather seat and walked towards her but stopped when she stepped back.
“Don’t worry I’m not coming to steal a kiss from you; no matter how much I want to.”
“I’m fine sir. Just stressed.”
“Is the work too much? Or is it emotional stress?”
She rubbed her forehead. “I don’t want to talk about it. Please I have a lot to do. Can I go back to work?”
He tried not to sound defeated as he gave her the go ahead to leave. Once she was out of his office and he settled back on his seat he thought of what he could do to make Efe happy. He hated seeing her that way.
He picked up his phone and dialled one of the secretaries in the office. He got her number just in-case he needed her help. As it turned out, he did. Minutes later Pamela walked into his office.
“You wanted to see me sir?”
“Yes, Pamela please have a seat.”
She did as he asked.
“What can you tell me about your friend Efe?”
She raised her brow. “Efe? What do you mean sir?”
“She’s been looking gloomy these couple of days and I don’t understand. It’s affecting her job and I won’t stand for such here.” He couldn’t afford to tell her the real reason he wanted info on her friend. It would just lead to more office gossip he would be sure to regret.
“Well, I know she’s a bit down because of her husband and not being able to see her daughter -”
“She has a daughter?”
Pamela bobbed her head up and down. “And she’s staying with her father while they are separated and Efe hasn’t seen her in months. I don’t know the details but I think the real issue is what her husband did to her. He cheated on her with another woman on their wedding day and he kept on with the relationship till recently. Anyhow sha, please sir don’t get annoyed with her. I would talk to her -”
Amanze shook his head. “No, you don’t have to. I – er – understand. I won’t be harsh on her since you explained this to me, but let’s keep this conversation confidential. Thanks.”
Pamela took that as her cue to leave the office. As soon as she left Amanze rested his back on his chair in deep thought. So that’s why she feels the way she does. He would have to think of a way to help her out, but first he had to deal with the files infront of him.
Pamela tried to finish the work on her table but frenetic thoughts ran through her mind. Thoughts of what had happened back at Flow’s studio. She felt so stupid as she thought back to what she had used to get the photo-shoot she wanted; sleeping with a complete stranger! It may just as well be the most craziest thing she had done in her life. But then it was a step closer to her dreams.
That thought kept her going so she didn’t breakdown and berate herself. Feyi had congratulated her on thinking on her feet; Pamela had felt like slapping her big mouth. Feyi had shrugged an apology her way when Pamela threw an angry look at her. She repented and said she would pay her a visit on Tuesday evening with goodies. Pamela could care less. The only important thing were the pictures.
Despite it all, she was excited to see the pictures. She had even browsed up Rex Mfon on the internet and seen some of his works. But instead of focusing more on his works she found herself undressing him and remembering how the other evening had been. . .
“What did you say?”
She shifted from one foot to another. “I asked if I could buy your time in another way.”
“Interesting. So you would sleep with me just because you want me to take your pictures?”
Pamela wasn’t sure if he wanted her to answer him. Instead, she looked at him with a blank look on her face.
He got off the stool and strolled towards her in a casual manner. When he was merely a few inches away from her he looked her up and down and pulled her to him. She placed her hand on his chest, shaken from the sudden action.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
Was she sure? No, she wasn’t. But she was sure she wanted to make it in modelling and so she nodded. The rest was history as he kissed her . . .
Pamela jerked the mouse away and looked up to see Efe looking down at her. “What?”
“Err- sorry to disturb you. Do you have extra sanitary towel with you? I forgot to bring some to work with me.”
Pamela chuckled as she pulled open her drawer and wrapped two pads in an A4 paper. She handed it to Efe as her face relaxed to a smile. “Take. Next time don’t forget something like that.”
“You’re welcome baby.”
As Efe laughed and walked away, Pamela thought about her new friend. She was a kind-hearted girl but then looked like she had been bruised too many times in her life. Pamela didn’t know much about Efe, but she knew she was married and separated. According to her, her husband was in love with another woman. Stupid man! Pamela gave a low hiss.
Efe has to give herself another chance at love and forget her so called husband!
She heard Efe at night sometimes, when she would cry herself to sleep. It was pathetic, but then when a woman was in love and heartbroken it could be a serious matter. Pamela focused more on her work until she got a text that scattered her whole mood.
Pictures didn’t turn out as I wanted them to. Would be around next Thursday. Meet me @ 5pm at the studio and let’s shoot it again.
She hissed and said a little too loudly, “What kind of rubbish is this?!” It earned her a few stares. She dropped the phone on the table, contemplating if she would go or not and what happened to the pictures he took. Or was it just him looking for another opportunity to bed her? If that was his plan he would get what was coming to him!
Flowers. Dresses. Aso-ebi. Cake. Honey-moon. I.K. It was like a list going off in her head and making her distressed. She wanted everything to just happen all of a sudden without the stress she was going through. The idea of having a wedding planner do all the work was far more appealing. She was going to ask around for one as soon as she got off the bed. That was if she managed to get up in the next three hours.
Her body ached from the gruelling sessions of make-up training she had done over the past week. The students giving her a hard time and she wondered if some were colour blind. Her mind drifted back to the colours for her wedding; black, pale green and white. Should Eghosa be at the wedding? Her newly found father that had been absent from her life for the past twenty-plus years. I.K would want him there . . . They both seem to be getting along fine with each-other.
The door cracked open and she heard feet across the floor then a heavy weight on the bed. She felt little kisses on her shoulder-blade and on her neck. She shifted her body away from the kisses, the distraction was not welcome.
“Baby.” He whispered into her ear.
“Hmm?” Zainab snuggled closer to her pillow and pulled some of the cover-cloth with her. “Leave me alone.”
“There’s someone here to see you.”
“Tell whoever it is to get lost.”
Her eyes snapped open immediately and she sat up on the bed, hitting I.K with her elbow in the process.
“Aaaarrggh!” He shouted.
“Ouch.” She turned to look at the damage she might have done. He held on to his nose and finally freed it to check for any signs of bleeding. “Sorry about that. What does she want?”
“Thank God you didn’t break my nose or cause any injury. God should have made you a man with all this your tough- tough nature.”
Zainab ignored his remark and pushed the covers away from her body. “Do you know why Sonia is here?”
“She didn’t say. Just said she needed to see you. Told her you were asleep but it sounded urgent.”
She got off the bed and walked out of the room. Her steps determined. She found Sonia looking at the photos hanging on the wall. One was sure to be an eye-catcher. It was a picture of Zainab and I.K taken at a garden . . . Heads almost touching as they stared into each-other’s eyes, looking so in love. Sometimes when Zainab looked at the picture she was awestruck at how much love she felt for him and him for her. It might not be a crazy love she felt for him, but it was something. She looked away from the portrait and called Sonia’s attention by throwing a question at her.
“What do you want?”
Sonia spun around and Zainab was enthralled/taken aback by her beauty like she was most times when she saw her. Her flawless skin that needed no make-up. When they were children playing around with make-up and painting each-other’s faces, no amount of make-up could cover up her multiple pimples. Things were different now that she had gotten into money.
“Ouch. Is that how to talk to me? What did I do to you Zee?”
Zainab walked further into the room until they were merely inches apart. “You shouldn’t be coming here anyhow without any notice! What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing is wrong with me. You make it sound like I have a problem or something and I don’t like it.”
Sonia stepped to close the gap between them. “You haven’t come to see me in a while and I was worried about you. I thought you would be elated that I was back in town.”
Zainab took a seat on a nearby couch and dragged Sonia down with her. Then she whispered, “You know I have been busy with the wedding.”
“A wedding you would regret.”
“Is that why you came here? ‘Cause honestly I don’t have time for this.”
“Zainab please we need to talk.”
“Talk about you dissuading me from getting married? I think not.”
“So if you get married does it stop us from getting together? Haven’t you missed me all this while?”
Zainab shook her head. “Whether I missed you or not isn’t important. Not with what you did the last time. You lied to me Sonia.”
“Zainab it was -”
“Hey ladies!” I.K came into the living-room and took a seat; bringing an end to their conversation. “Sonia it was a surprise to see you standing at the door. Zainab told me you weren’t returning to the country anytime soon.”
Sonia looked at Zainab with a smug look on her face. “I can understand why Zainab would say that. She’s upset with me and doesn’t want me to be a part of her wedding. She hasn’t even told me the date.”
I.K turned his attention to Zainab with a raised eye-brow, asking what happened between them.
Zainab ignored him.
Daniel propped Ulunma on his laps and cleaned the tears on her face, having spent at least thirty minutes crying her eyes out.
“Shh baby. Don’t cry anymore. I’m here.” He kissed her chubby cheeks and she moved closer to him and rested her head on his chest. He rubbed her back gently. He needed someone to take care of his daughter. Yes, she had a mother. But her mother was a terrible example for her. She wasn’t someone to rely on.
“Ulunma you want ice-cream?”
She bobbed her head. “Yes.”
“Alright. Let’s go get some ice-cream.”
They got some ice-cream at a super-market not too far from the house. There were some people walking around sharing tracts. He remembered when he used to do that once upon a time. That part of his life seemed to be over. He couldn’t remember the last time he read his bible.
“Awww, your daughter is so cute.”’
Daniel spun around to see a young woman, probably in her early twenties, staring down at Ulunma.
She looked up at him and her smile took his attention straight away. It was a beautiful smile. She was a beautiful girl.
“Jesus loves you.” She stretched out a tract to him and he looked down at it and back to her.
“Err- I don’t need that. I’m a Christian.”
“Oh! I’m glad to hear that. You could still give this to someone else y’know.”
He nodded and collected it from her.
“Hope you still read your bible and have a good relationship with God.”
Daniel forced a smile and nodded. “Of course.”
She cocked her head to a side. “When last did you read your bible?”
“I have sha read it before.”
She nodded and said, “Yes, you may have read the bible a lot but you can never stop reading it. The Word of God lets you know more of God; who He is. You grow more and more as you read it. You get to know Him more as a Father.”
Daniel swallowed hard. I need to get out of here.
“Thank you. I need to get her home. Thanks.”
“Oh! Please take the tract. Your name is . . .?”
“Mitchell. Our church is not too far from here. You could join us at bible study on Wednesdays. See you there.”
“Who said I would come?”
She gave a knowing smile and said, “I know you will.”
Eghosa held his phone close to his ear as Felix rambled on about how much his son was being a pain and unwilling to pay him any attention. Eghosa held back his tongue from releasing some harsh words to his friend. If he happened to speak his mind it would cause more harm than good.
“I just don’t know what to do again my friend. I have told him I never want to see him in my house again. He can leave Ulunma but then he shouldn’t bother setting foot in my house till he gets his act right.”
Eghosa heaved a sigh.
“There are things we can never force someone to do. You can’t force love on a person. It’s best we leave things as they are.”
“Has your daughter mentioned anything about it all?”
Eghosa knew Efe was distressed about the whole matter and was trying her best to be strong. No matter how much he tried to broach the topic with her and understand what was going on in her head, she kept it all to herself. He hoped that even if she wasn’t telling him then she was telling God. He was the only one that could help her.
“So what do we do?”
“Nothing ke? What do you mean by that? What if they never get back together.”
“Let God’s will be done.”
“Are we waiting for God’s will or are we to take actions on our own?”
Eghosa rubbed his eye-lids; tired of the whole thing. “Felix, what would be would be. I’m tired of the whole thing. I wouldn’t deny that Daniel had offended me in the greatest way possible, but then he’s an adult and not a child. He knows right from wrong. I rest my case and leave the rest to God.”
His friend sighed heavily over the phone. “I’m sorry about all that happened. You know if I had my way Daniel would not do such a thing.”
“It’s fine. Let’s talk later. I have to prepare for a sermon.”
“Okay my friend. Take care.”
“My regards to your wife.”
“She will hear.”
The line clicked and Eghosa dropped the phone on his desk and rested his back on his chair. He was too old and tired for the kind of things happening around him. He hadn’t spoken to his daughter in a week. Zainab was also building up a barricade to hinder any relationship between the both of them.
God, You didn’t let me know the latter part of my life would be too depressing and tedious.
What do I do? I have no plan. My daughters are drifting away from me . . .