April 18th, 2013
Later that morning, after a quick shower, and a much needed meal, Ebika and I went back to Paddington, but this time to the hospital, to see Diana. I was relieved to see that she was in better spirits, and she was so excited to see me. Phillip, on the other hand, was still obviously angry about last night’s episode, and wore a permanent frown on his face the whole time. If Diana noticed the tension between my brother and I, she didn’t show it. For her, seeing me seemed to give her a sense of normalcy…an assurance that everything was going to be okay.
But that wasn’t my plan for the day.
The text message exchange between Phillip and Idara was still eating me up, and it was taking everything in me not to slap my brother upside his head. But nah…I knew that wouldn’t do. What we needed was someone who he respected, and even feared, to talk some sense into his thick skull. There was only one person, besides Diana, who fit the bill. Vou.
So, as Ebika and I were leaving the hospital room, I slipped Vou a note, asking her to meet me at the Pret a Manger café, just outside the hospital. I saw her frown as she read the note, and gave me a slight nod, in agreement. Fifteen minutes later, she was there with us, and I told her everything I knew about this Phillip and Idara situation. Everything! I knew it was a risk, telling the sister of my brother’s fiancée that he was skating on very thin ice, and on the verge of cheating on her sister. But apart from the fact that this was my last option, I knew that, as crazy as Vou is, she is mature enough to handle a situation like that.
“That boy!” was all she said, but the fire in her eyes was enough indication of her anger.
And so, the three of us hatched a plan.
From the text messages, 7pm was the time Idara was expecting Phillip, so at 6pm, Vou picked Ebika and I up, and we drove to Golders Green. We got there at about 6.30, and parked a few steps away from Idara’s door…and waited. We didn’t say much to each other, and just left the radio on, to fill the silence.
And at 6.58, as Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy was belting from the speakers, we saw Phillip alight from the 328 bus. It was showtime!
“Phillip!!” Vou yelled, as he knocked on Idara’s door. “What the hell is going on here??!”
My brother turned around in shock, as the 3 of us surrounded him. At that moment, Idara opened her door.
“What is going on here?!” she demanded.
Vou pointed at her. “You!!! Didn’t I see you at the hospital the other day??!”
Idara smiled and crossed her arms, “Yes, you did!” she had the cheek to reply. I honestly felt like slapping the schemer.
“Vou, it is not what you think!” Phillip exclaimed, before glaring at me. “I can’t believe you did this, Faith!!!”
“How isn’t this what I think?! Does Diana know you are here? Am I expected to believe that this is just some innocent dinner?!” Vou demanded.
“I swear to you, that’s what it is!!!” Phillip was exasperated by now. “I just desperately wanted to talk to a friend, and Idara has been my closest friend for years!”
“Oh really!” Vou retorted. “And that’s all you two have been all these years?! Friends?!”
Phillip bowed his head momentarily, before looking up. “No. We were lovers before.”
Vou hit her palm with her fist. “Do you know how hard I fought for you??! Do you know how hard it was to convince my brothers to allow Diana marry you…a man for whom another woman is expecting a baby?! How could you do this, Phillip?! How could you let me down like this??!”
“Vou, I swear I haven’t cheated on Diana!!!” Phillip exclaimed, his eyes wide with frustration and panic. “When I met Diana, I knew she was special…and I ended things with Idara. I love Diana with my whole heart, mind, and soul…and Idara, as my closest friend, understands that! Diana is my LIFE, and Idara knows that! She knows I can never betray her,” then turning to Idara. “Tell them, Idara.”
But Idara said nothing.
“Idara…” Phillip said, still prompting his so-called closest friend.
A single tear rolled down Idara’s face, giving us all the answer we needed.
“Idara!!!” Phillip exclaimed, this time in genuine surprise.
“I have waited for you for 12 years, Phillip,” she said, the tears now cascading down her face in torrents. “And I am still waiting!”
“Ehen!” Vou exclaimed.
“Idara, what is this?!” Phillip exclaimed. “Why are you saying this? You told me you understood. You also agreed that we didn’t have a future…”
“Because I thought you were just going through yet another phase!!!” Idara spat, her eyes blazing in anger. “I was there all through the Akunna years, and even when you were cheating on her with other girls, I was still there!!! This your girl is no different from the others!”
“But she is!” Phillip shouted. “She isn’t like any of the others. Idara, we already had this conversation. I told you that I am in love with her, and will never do anything to hurt her.”
“So, why are you here?!” she demanded. “Why did you agree to let me come to your hotel room that night? Or…or to come here this evening? I’m the one you love, not her!!! I’m the one who has been there for you through everything!!! I’m the one on whose shoulders you cried when your sister, Eme, died! I’m the one who fed you when every kobo of your salary was being used to repay the debt your father left your family with! I’m the one who has packed your vomit and shit on countless occasions !! I’m the one whom you call at 3am in the morning, just to talk!!! Me! Not any other person! Why can’t you see that I’m the one you love!”
Vou, Ebika, and I stood there in stunned silence, not even minding the chilly April evening breeze. None of us had anticipated this outburst.
Phillip shook his head, and when he spoke, his voice was heavy with emotion. “I’m sorry if I led you on, Idara. I’m sorry for being selfish, and thinking of only myself this whole time…thinking I could eat my cake and have it, by still having you in my life. But it’s not you.”
“Phillip!” Idara said, her tone high with panic.
“Goodbye, Idara,” he said, before turning around and walking away, without a word to any of us.
“Phillip! Phillip!!” Idara called out, and made to run after him, when Vou stepped in front of her.
“You better turn around, get back into that house, and delete all his numbers, if you know what’s good for you!” Vou sneered, her face mere inches away from Idara’s.
“I know all his numbers by heart, so try another one!” Idara sneered back.
I covered my mouth with my hands. This babe didn’t know who she was trying oh!
A slow, but humourless, smile, formed on Vou’s face. “When I was your age, I already had teenage children…but your own life’s ambition is to be a side chick. You are pathetic! If I even see your shadow around Phillip again, I’ll show you that I didn’t spend 20 years of my life in Hackney for nothing!” then laughing drily, she added with a wink, “Don’t let the Prada fool you, honey!”
Idara glared at Vou, her eyes brimming with tears, and her breathing heavy, before she stormed back into her house, and slammed the door with such force, we felt the impact on the sidewalk. Na she sabi! This confrontation was long overdue, from the look of things.
On the drive home, there wasn’t much jubilation. Vou and I mused over what had happened, and agreed that Phillip was clearly in the dark, and had meant Diana no harm. But Ebika was quiet all through the drive.
Getting to the hospital, we were surprised to see Phillip already there. Diana was sleeping, but he sat by her bedside, deep in thought. We all stood there in silence, nobody quite knowing what to say. I didn’t know if I should apologise for involving Vou, and it looked like Vou was also struggling with what to say herself.
But it was Phillip who eventually broke the silence.
“Vou, do you think your Pastor can marry Diana and I this weekend?”
Huh?! Marry? This weekend?
“But…but she is on bed rest…” Vou stuttered.
“Will he be able to marry us here?” he asked, and from his tone, I knew his mind was all made up. “I don’t want to leave London without making that commitment.”
Vou, Ebika and I exchanged shocked glances. None of us had seen that coming!