I awoke the next morning not quite sure how I felt. I felt a sense of loss I just couldn’t describe. I knew I’d done what I had to do by expelling Pere from my life…from our lives…but it still hurt like crazy. And it wasn’t just the thought of having to go through the journey that hurt. It was the fact the realization that any hope of getting him back had disappeared like a cloud of smoke.
My body felt as heavy as lead, and I knew I couldn’t make it to work that day. Rising to my feet, I decided to go to the kitchen to fix something to eat. I opened my bedroom door, and the first person I saw lying on a couch in the living room…was Pere.
I smiled in spite of myself, and his eyes opened at that very minute. Neither of us said anything for a few seconds.
“Don’t tell me Voke allowed you to crash here.” I remarked, trying hard not to smile.
He sat up and stretched. “Well, it was either that or my car…because I wasn’t going to leave here with you thinking you’d succeeded in chasing me away. Isio, I’m not going anywhere!”
I sat beside him on the couch. “I don’t want to be the reason you lose out on a good opportunity.”
He smiled. “Trust me, it isn’t that great an opportunity.”
I rose a brow. “A foreign job? You want to tell me the money isn’t more?”
“If it’s money you’re talking about, then woah! It’s a much better one. It’s easily quadruple what I’m earning here.” he answered.
“And you say it’s not a great opportunity?!” I exclaimed.
“Money isn’t everything, Isio.” he said, and as our eyes connected, I felt a connection stronger than anything I’d ever felt before.
I felt magic.
A part of me wanted to tell him every colorful thing Ogechi said to me, but I decided not to. She wasn’t worth spoiling the magic.
“Aren’t you late for work?” I asked.
“Aren’t you?” he quipped.
I pointed at my bump. “I have my excuse. What’s yours?”
He pointed at the same bump, and we both burst into laughter.
“Let me go home to freshen up, and I’ll be back with breakfast.” he said, rising to his feet. “What do you feel like having? Pancakes? Sandwiches? English?”
“The truth? Beans and plantain from Ghana High!” I answered.
He smiled. “Your wish is my command!”
When he’d left, I shut my eyes with a content smile on my face. I knew having him around wasn’t a good idea for me. I knew getting used to him shower me attention wasn’t wise. I knew it would all be over when the twins arrived, and we would be back to our usual status quo.
But for that point in time, until that happened, I decided to give myself the liberty to dream…
And then I felt the babies move!
I sat up, my mouth open. In the days preceding, I’d been feeling some light fluttering, which I wasn’t sure was movement or gas bubbles, but this time, it was unmistakable! It felt like a wave washing over my belly! And it was the best feeling ever!!!
Pere was back in a little over an hour, and I happily shared the news with him. Alas, he couldn’t feel anything from touching my stomach, so felt a little left out.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be able to feel them in a few weeks.” I said, smiling so wide, it felt like my lips would rip right open.
“You see why I can’t be too far from you. Even with me right here, I’m not even experiencing the whole thing!” Pere remarked. “And you were there telling me to go to Angola!”
“But Ogechi seems to think it’s a good idea for you to go.” I quipped. “I’m actually surprised, because I wouldn’t want my man moving to another country, no matter how sweet the offer is!”
He shrugged. “She works on a 30-day rotation, so is able to travel anywhere she wants to. Her family lives in New York, and before we started dating, that’s where she went on every rotation. Even now, she still does a lot of travelling, so Angola wouldn’t have been an issue for her.”
I rolled my eyes. “So she travels out of the country every 30 days, big deal! Why did she even accept a job in Nigeria then?!”
Pere laughed. “With what she’s getting paid, she would have moved here from Australia if she had to!” he reached over to pull my cheek. “And envy doesn’t become you! We don’t want one of the girls getting the jealousy bug from their mother!”
“Girls? You think we’re having girls?” I laughed. “You’re so wrong! I know they are boys!”
Pere shook his head. “They’re girls.”
“Do you want to put money on it?” I dared. “Do you want to bet?!”
I hissed. “Please make it worth my while. Or abi you’re not confident?!”
“I am 100% sure you’re having girls, Isio! Everything I’ve read on the Internet about women having girls, you’ve ticked them to a T! Besides, even the Chinese calendar predicts you having girls.”
I smiled. “Someone has been doing a lot of reading!”
“Damn right. I was just feeling sorry for you with the N10k. But since you’re feeling brave, let’s make it N300k!”
“My salary isn’t even up to that!” I cackled. “Abeg, I no do!”
“So, you agree?”
I shrugged. To be honest, I really didn’t care what mix they were. I was just really looking forward to finally being able to meet them.
“I guess we’ll find out in two weeks.” I said, smiling.
“One week and six days, actually!” Pere declared, and I couldn’t help but smile at his zeal.
“But you know we have a doctor’s appointment before that, right?” I asked.
He nodded. “On Friday. I know. And I’ll be there for sure!”
Just then, there was a knock on the door, and I found myself irritated by the interruption.
“Mom!” I exclaimed, when I opened the door. “What are you doing here? How did you know I was home?!”
My mother brushed past me and into the living room, and cast a bemused look Pere’s way. “Voke said you didn’t go to work today, so I decided to stop by with some pepper soup for you.”
“’Good morning, Ma!’” she mimicked. “See your foolish mouth like ‘good morning’! Stupid boy wey no get home training! You think say Isio na born troway? You think say she no get family?!”
Pere cast a frantic glance at me, and I let out a frustrated sigh.
“Mom, why are you insulting him? Pere actually offered to come see you and Dad, but I figured there’s no reason for that. There’s no need to involve our families, because we’re handling the situation on our own!”
“Oh really?! You are handling the situation on your own, abi? Very good.” my mother answered, with a sarcastic smile. “I suppose he won’t mind if the children don’t answer his surname.”
“Ah, mommy. No oh!” Pere protested.
“Who is your mommy?!” she snapped. “I no blame you. I blame the money wey you don dey touch. If na before when your neck long like NEPA pole, and when you dey wear tear tear shirt, you no for fit try this nonsense!”
“My children are going to answer their father’s surname.” I mumbled.
“Until Pere and his people do the needful, na Clarke those children go be!” mother declared, setting her coolers on the table.
“Mommy, please, I’m sorry. I truly wanted to come, but Isio told me there was no need.” Pere implored. “Besides, my mother is out of the country for medical reasons, and I didn’t want to come without her.”
“You don’t have any Uncle or Aunty that could have brought you? What about that your Uncle that lives in Iwaya?!” she demanded.
“He’s late, Ma. He died about three years ago.”
“That’s unfortunate…but not our concern.” was Mom’s snide remark. “Yes, I’m told you’ve been taking care of Isio and her responsibilities, but it is a big insult for you and your people not to have bothered to come and see us all this while. Is it when the babies arrive that you’ll show up and expect the red carpet treatment? My husband is very angry, and I will advise you to do the right thing…and quickly! You might not be marrying her, but if you want to claim those children as yours, then you have to do what’s right!”
Pere and I exchanged a look, when she entered the kitchen.
“Your Mom was speaking proper English. It must mean I’m in serious trouble!” Pere said, prompting us both to burst into hysterical laughter.
“Wetin dey laugh una?” my mom asked, upon her return to the living room, bearing a tray of hot pepper soup for me.
But this only got us laughing harder, much to her chagrin.
Pere left about an hour later, and the minute he was out the door, my mother looked at me.
“Wetin you and that boy dey do?” she asked. “Abi una wan join add to the ones wey dey your belle?”
“Pere and I are just friends, Mom!” I retorted. “Why does everyone find it so strange that we have such a good relationship?”
Mom gave me the side eye and chuckled. “Dey there dey deceive yourself!”
“He has a girlfriend!” I exclaimed.
“But yet, na you e give belle? Make e weh done!” Mom retorted back. “Just make sure say he and his people come greet us soon oh, because this one don already pass insult.” and then looking at me closely. “And also make sure you yourself don’t get carried away. I know you, Isio. You better not allow your heart get carried away.”
Long after she’d left, I pondered over her words. Everyone was right; Voke and now my mom. I couldn’t allow myself get carried away by the good relationship Pere and I had. He had chosen another woman over me, and the sooner I allowed that fact sink in, the better for me.
And this was further buttressed the morning of our doctor’s appointment, when he called me as I got dressed.
“Hi, Isio. I’m so sorry, but I won’t be able to follow you today. Ogechi’s plane lands in an hour, and I have to pick her up from the airport.”
I felt my blood begin to boil. “You’re missing a doctor’s appointment to pick up your girlfriend from the airport??! She can’t take a taxi to town? Isn’t she meant to be offshore anyway?!”
“Ogechi doesn’t know Lagos, so no, she can’t take a taxi.” Pere answered, is own voice also rising. “And she is on a 30-day rotation, so can spend it anywhere she likes.”
“Is she staying with you?!” I demanded.
“Not that it’s any of your concern, but yes, she is.” was his terse reply.
“So for 30 days, you will be unreachable?! Is that what you’re saying?”
“Ogechi is here for only a week, before she leaves for New York.” Pere answered. “And no, just because she’s around doesn’t mean I’ll disappear. Nothing will change. I’m only letting you know beforehand. I could even bring her over for you two to meet…”
“Please, please, please!” I snapped. “I don’t want to meet anybody abeg. You two have fun. I’ll get Apache to take me to the hospital.”
“Apache? Are you having a laugh? You better not try it…” Pere started to rant, but I terminated the call.
Even though I was seething in anger, deep inside, I knew I had no reason to. I knew I was being unreasonable to expect Ogechi not to visit, or Pere not to spend any time with her. She was his girlfriend after all…and could one day be his fiancée…or even his wife.
And that was an extremely hard pill for me to swallow.
As I had no plans at all to hitch a ride with Apache, and as Sylvester was with Pere, I decided to take a taxi to the hospital, for the routine appointment with my doctor. Everything was fine and set for my next appointment, which would reveal to us the gender of our babies. While sitting in the reception, waiting for my medication, someone screamed my name.
I looked up and was surprised to see Daisy…the very same Daisy who had broken Pere and I up…that Daisy…standing before me. Save for the big baby bump she was sporting, she looked just the same as she had back in school.
“Wow, Daisy! Long time!” I said politely.
“As in, very long time!” she squealed, hugging me. “You look amazing! And congrats on your pregnancy! What number is this one?”
Before I could answer, the nurse called out to me. “Mrs. Lawson.”
I waved and the nurse walked up to hand over the medication, giving me instructions on how to use them. I asked more questions than I should have, with the hope of discouraging Daisy from waiting, but no, the woman looked like she was happy to wait forever.
“Mrs. Lawson, eh? Niiiiiice!” she beamed. “I see you and Pere got married in the end!”
I knew I could have told her the truth, that I was only answering his name to be able to access his medical care, but instead I nodded and smiled politely. “Yes, we did.”
“I’m really happy for you! I’m glad you finally woke up and decided to fight for your man, instead of the way you just left him for me back then!” Daisy said, giggling.
I glared at her as she laughed, tempted to give her the beat down of her life. If it hadn’t been for her, Pere and I would have been long married! But no, instead we were in a complicated co-parenting situationship!
“I was asking what number is your pregnancy?” Daisy asked.
“It’s my first.” I answered politely.
She looked at me, aghast. “First ke?! Ah, why did you and Pere start so late? This is my last pregnancy, and it was even a surprise one. I have 4 grown kids. My oldest just turned 12!” she shook her head. “You and Pere really wasted time oh!”
“It was nice seeing you again, Daisy.” I said, rising to my feet. “Good luck with the rest of the pregnancy.”
As I walked away, I had an even stronger urge to give her a resounding, brain-resetting slap. As if I needed a reminder of how long it had taken for me to get there…and without a husband either. I could only wonder what her reaction would have been if she knew the truth.
Walking into the car park, I was happy to see Obiora had made good on his promise to pick me up.
“You’re a life saver!” I said, settling into his air conditioned car.
“My beloved pregnant sister-in-law can’t be entering Uber all over town, when I’m here!” he said, with a wink.
“Don’t just mind that yeye Pere! Can you imagine him standing me up, just so he could pick up Queen Ogechi from the airport?! Who does that?!”
“Isio, you have to learn how to accept the fact that Ogechi is in Pere’s life. And if you ask me, the poor guy is doing a great job of managing the whole thing. Cut him a bit of slack. Stop expecting him to drive you everywhere. You have a car. Drive it! You’re not an invalid!”
I scowled and sulked all the way to my office. Why did everyone feel the need to remind me that Pere was now with Ogechi?! I got it! Ogechi was his girlfriend. Big deal! Could everyone just shut and move on?!!!
“Take it easy, Isio. And stop frowning, or you’ll get wrinkles. And we don’t want a wrinkly maid-of-honour!” Obiora teased, as I got out of the car.
I hissed as he drove off. Yeye guy!
“Was that Obiora Akwada?” my colleague, Ifeanyi, remarked, when I walked into the office. “Where do you know him from?”
“Where do you know him from, Ifeanyi?!” I teased. “Mr. Popular Jingo! Is there anyone in this Lagos you don’t know?”
He laughed. “Very funny, Isio. Seriously though, I know him very well. He’s dating my fiancée’s younger sister.”
My neck snapped up so fast, I almost sprained a nerve. “Dating who? Nah, it must be a different Obiora.”
“Obiora Akwada that drives a G-class? Lives in Lekki? Into real estate runs?” he asked.
I stared at him, my mouth hanging open. No doubt, we were talking about the same guy. I suddenly remembered a conversation Ifeanyi and I’d had a while back, about how his girlfriend’s father was a Politician who had chosen to build a sprawling mansion all the way in Epe, in a bid to stay under the radar, making him, Ifeanyi, have to drive for hours just to see his lady.
“Wait a minute! Is Belinda your fiancée’s sister?!” I asked.
When he nodded, I smiled in relief. “Belinda is Obiora’s ex-girlfriend na! Phew! You had me scared for a minute. Obiora is getting married to my sister in December. He and Belinda broke up since last year!”
“Which kin ex? Someone I still saw in the house this past weekend!” Ifeanyi retorted.
I sat up. “What?!”
“Obiora and Belinda are not ex anything!” Ifeanyi continued. “They are very much an item. And if we should go by how long they spent in her bedroom on Sunday, they are certainly not platonic.”
Iya Beji returns on Thursday, April 5th.
Happy Easter everyone!!!
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
- Iya Beji 8: The Boss
- Iya Beji 9: The Deal Breaker
- Iya Beji 10: The Convert
- Iya Beji 11: Hiatus
- Iya Beji 12: Never Stopped
- Iya Beji 13: Jealousy
- Iya Beji 14: Pure Magic
- Iya Beji 15: Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!
- Iya Beji 16: Blast from the Past
- Iya Beji 17: The Offer
- Iya Beji 18: Co-Parenting
- Iya Beji 19: The Baby Mama
Catch up on our other series here: