The dawn of 2006 came with the realization that, perhaps, I had made a big mistake letting go of my marriage.
I thought I’d healed. I’d thought I’d gotten him out of my system. I thought the relief that came from not having to panic over whether or not he loved me or not, would be enough to make me never long for him again. But I was wrong.
What started with a nostalgic thought or two, soon blossomed into full-on regret. I missed Jimi. I missed the sound of his voice in the house. I missed the deep belly-laugh that came whenever her found something even mildly amusing. I missed the sound of him whistling in the bathroom as he had a shower. I missed the sound of his music as he walked on this architectural drawings, deep into the night. I missed hearing him breathe beside me, as we lay asleep at night. I missed the smell of him, which still lingered on a few of Rire’s clothes, and even mine.
I missed my husband.
But I didn’t even have the courage to say it out loud. Not after how stubbornly I had resisted any form of reconciliation between us. Who was I going to tell that I was missing Jimi? His parents? Mine? The ship for that had long, long sailed. I had made it crystal clear that I was done with the anxiety that came with being married to him, and it appeared everyone had accepted it. Was it when our divorce was already almost finalized that I would try to step on the breaks?
So, I had no choice but to move on with life. Rire and I settled into our new routine of just us two. Our day would start by 5am each morning, with me rising, praying and having a shower. Rire would be up by 6:15am. We would share breakfast, after which we would leave the house by 7am. I would drop him at school by 7.30am, and head off to my office from there. By the time he was done with school for the day, his paternal grandmother, Mama Jay, would be on hand to pick him up, and after work, I would inevitably have to stop at my former in-laws’ house, not only to pick Rire up, but also for dinner and a little chit chat with the old folks. After dinner, 70% of the time, Rire and would go back home, which was just a few houses away, but 30% of the time, we would find ourselves in the room dedicated specially for us.
Yes, even though our divorce was underway, I was probably even closer to Jimi’s family than I had been when we were still married. As for Mama Jay, she took me even dearer to her heart than she’d done before. I pretty much became her handbag, tailing her everywhere she went. My mother-in-law was the kind of woman that had a party to attend every weekend; weddings, birthdays, funerals, meetings…name it! As long as it was the weekend, she was up for anything. Suddenly, she realized she had a ready companion in me. I became her dependable partner, the daughter she never had.
And I indulged her. For every wedding, party and such, she would buy me my own aso ebi, and sometimes even have it sewn for me. And by the time we stepped out for these functions, as far as everyone could tell, I was her daughter, and she made no effort to correct their opinion. It didn’t take long for our companionship to transcend beyond social functions, to even the mundane parts of day-to-day life. When she needed a companion for the market, when she needed someone to sit around in the kitchen to gist with her as she cooked, all she had to do was beckon, and I would be right there.
“How can you be hanging around your mother-in-law like that?” Bimbo, my best friend, had asked, in exasperation, when she saw a picture of my mother-in-law and I in the society pages of a newspaper, from a wedding we had attended. “How can you expect to meet someone else, when there are still invisible strings tying you to the last one?”
Invisible strings. I knew she had a point, but I was too ingrained with their family to pull back. With most of my family, at least those that meant something to me, out of the country, Daddy and Mama Jay became the only family I had…my only support system. The love, care, and not to mention financial stability, were just a few of the reasons why I kept those ‘invisible lines’.
As for the other members of my family, Adun and her husband were enjoying being a family of 4, and were even planning for a new addition. Niyi had qualified as General Practitioner in the U.K., and had decide to settle down in Manchester. Our mother had decided to make London her second home, no thanks to her younger sister. After losing her husband, my Aunty Titi had finally relocated to their house in London, and had taken my mother along with her. For me, it was good riddance to bad rubbish,
But as for Dolly, that was a different kettle of fish altogether.
After the encounter with Jimi, she had returned to her old ways with a vengeance. It was clear that those months of heartbreak and devastation following her breakup with Joseph, had been nothing but an act of Academy Award proportions. Clearly, she had orchestrated the whole thing with Jimi and, like a fool, I had danced along to her script. I wish I could have gone back in time to change history. If I could, I would have fought for Jimi with every ounce of strength I had. I would never have let go of him that easily. Never.
Dolly became well known as one of Princewill’s (her married Politician lover) courtesans. There was no more hiding it. She started driving a flashy, brand new Mercedes coupe, and her lifestyle became reminiscent of what it had been with Frank, her very wealthy ex. Flashy and extravagant. Princewill moved her out of her Yaba apartment, to a serviced one in Victoria Island. My sister was now living the high life.
Except she wasn’t.
You see, as Dolly’s fortune increased, her looks diminished. For the first time in my life, my hitherto flawless sister was flawless no longer. What started as a few holiday kilograms, soon became over 40kg of excess flesh. Her skin lost its lustre, and her clothes which seemed to hug in all the right places before, were suddenly too tight. It appeared her glory days were well behind her.
“That’s what happens when you are promiscuous! When women have sex with too many men, that’s what happens! Their beauty fades!” had come many an opinioned statement about what was going on with Dolapo.
But the girl no send anybody message! She continued living her life like it was golden! It appeared Princewill, and the other guys she dated intermittently, liked her the way she was, and she seemed quite happy with that. In April, she turned 29, and she hosted her friends to a lavish dinner at a high brow restaurant in Ikoyi. Even though I’d initially thought I wouldn’t, I had accepted her invite. Dolly and I still had a very strained relationship, but I guess there was no point keeping up with the malice, when life had moved on. In only a matter of months, maybe even weeks, my divorce would be final, and there would be no more reason to play the blame game. What was done was done.
But rather than diminish at the reality of this realization, my longing for Jimi only got worse. I yearned for him with everything, and by June, I decided it was time for me to act. As long as our divorce hadn’t been finalized, there was still hope for me.
And so, I mustered the courage to confide in Mama Jay, and she had been very happy to hear about it.
“Folabomi, I knew you didn’t know what you were dong! I knew you didn’t know what you meant by being so stubborn about this divorce! You and Jimi are great for each other, and it broke my heart to see you both throw it all away!” she had exclaimed, her eyes dancing in joy. “It’s not too late! Daddy and I are going to see Seyi in a few weeks. If you come with us, you can go surprise Jimi in LA! I’m sure he’ll be very happy to see you!”
And with that seed planted, it was all I could think of. I envisioned myself dressed in my sexiest, showing up on Jimi’s doorstep. I imagined how excited he would be, seeing me, his wife, after a whole year. And all I could think of was how we would make it up to each other…especially in the bedroom, considering that it had been almost 2 years since I’d been intimate with anyone. Jimi was the only person I had ever been with, and I wasn’t ready to change that.
July soon came along, and I set off for the States with Daddy and Mama Jay, with Rire in tow. Leaving him with them in New York, I left for California…to win my man back.
Getting to the spacious condominium that Jimi called his own, I felt a mix of both and excitement and tension. I’d prepared so long for that moment. I had worked to achieve the sexy body I had, and I was banking on the love I hoped he still had for me, to send him right back into my arms.
As I rode up the elevator, as I located his apartment on the 10th floor, and as I knocked on the door, my heart was pounding right out of my chest. But when it opened, my heart dropped as I stood face-to-face with a scantily clad white girl, with blond hair cascading down her back.
I squinted at the door, and at the piece of paper in my hand, wondering if there was a mistake somewhere. Perhaps I’d gotten off on the wrong floor? Or perhaps, maybe, the wrong condo altogether.
That was until I heard that familiar voice coming from inside the room.
“Ava, is that the pizza guy?” came Jimi’s voice, distinctly.
“No…I think it’s someone here to see you…” the white girl answered, her eyes boring into mine, as it was apparent she was quickly catching on to what was happening.
The realization of the scene unfolding before me almost sent me crumbling to the ground. Jimi…my husband…was dating someone else?!
Before I could even regroup, before I could turn around and make a quick dash for it, he was standing right there beside ‘Ava’.
“Folabomi!” he exclaimed, looking more angry and shocked. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you!” I sad weakly, not knowing else what to say.
“I’ll give you two some space.” Ava said, walking into the house, leaving Jimi standing at the door, watching me.
“Who is she?” I heard myself asking.
“No, Fola. That’s not the question here. The question is, what on earth are you doing here? What do you want?” he asked, a hard edge creeping into his voice.
“Won’t you even let me in?” I asked. “You’re just going to let me stand in the hallway?!”
“I won’t disrespect my girlfriend by asking you into our home.” Jimi answered. “I don’t know what you want, but I reckon we can discuss it here.”
At that very moment, I realized it was a pipe dream, what I had come for. There wasn’t going to be a grand reconciliation. Jimi wasn’t going to just sweep me into his arms, and carry me to his bedroom. That wasn’t going to happen…especially not with his girlfriend, Ava, at arm’s length.
I had lost Jimi…for good.
“Actually, nothing…” I stuttered. “I found myself here in LA, and decided to stop by. But I think it might be best for me to leave…”
“Yeah, I think so!” Jimi replied, with an unreadable poker face.
I don’t know how I stumbled out of the condo, or back to the hotel I had already checked out of, or to the airport to return to New York. But somehow…I did.
Jimi and I were clearly over…for good!
You can catch up on Fola’s story here:
- Sister, Sister 1: Calling Me Mrs.
- Sister, Sister 2: The Odd Family
- Sister, Sister 3: Floating On Air
- Sister, Sister 4: The Many Wives of Jimi
- Sister, Sister 5: Russian Roulette
- Sister, Sister 6: So Much In Common
- Sister, Sister 7: An Unlikely Pair
- Sister, Sister 8: Longing For Her
- Sister, Sister 9: The Return
- Sister, Sister 10: The Catastrophe
- Sister, Sister 11: Not Working
- Sister, Sister 12: Sham of a Marriage