I guess having the encounter with Shoga on a Sunday, the official start of the week, was not the best way to set the tone for the rest of that week. That evening, I got home mad as hell! Upon his return from his grandparents, Rire sensed my mood and was wise enough to give me my space. Getting to work on Monday, the thunderous look on my face I guess was enough of a red flag to my colleagues that I wasn’t in the mood for any rubbish from anyone…or anything. So they all avoided me.
But alas, Mr. Aka didn’t get that memo.
He hadn’t contacted me all weekend, which was good for him. But by Monday morning, it was as if an onslaught had been unleashed. As early as 6:30am, he called, but of course the call went unanswered. By the 6th unanswered call at about 8am, I went on to block his number. Thinking I had succeeded in shutting him out of my life, the mongrel proceeded to calling me on my office line.
“For crying out loud, Chioma! I don’t want to speak with him! Tell him I’m not around!” I snapped at our Front Desk Officer, on her 4th attempt to transfer the call.
“But why now, Fola! The guy sounds like a chasis guy!” Chioma remarked, making me regret exposing my warped private life to our ever intrusive, resident office busybody. No wonder Wonu and the rest kept her at arms length.
“Chioma, just make sure you don’t transfer any more calls from him!” I said, with a finality I hoped was well communicated to Madam Chioma. Thankfully, it was, as there were no more attempts.
But alas, Aka wasn’t done with me yet!
Driving home, I was stunned to see him standing by my gate, waiting for me, a bouquet of flowers in his hand. I hissed upon seeing him, and almost knocked down my security guard, when he opened the gate for me to drive in. Alas, he wasn’t quick enough to prevent Aka from entering the compound.
“Mr. Man, what exactly do you want from me?!” I yelled, leaping out of my car, enraged at the sight of him. “Why can’t you just get the message and leave me alone?!”
My 12 year old son also disembarked the car, and from the look on his face, he was ready to take on this strange man who had infuriated his mother so.
“Folabomi, please! I really, really need to talk to you! Please!” Aka pleaded, “I’m not here to make any trouble. I just want to talk!”
“Well, my Mom doesn’t want to talk to you! So why don’t you just leave!” Rire shouted.
Hearing my son’s voice was what knocked some sense into my head. I had no reason dragging him into my mess. I had no business exposing him to my crazy mess of a love life. If speaking with Aka would get him out of my hair permanently, then speak with him I would.
“It’s okay, Rire.” I said, looking at my son imploringly. “Go inside the house. I’ve got this.”
After Rire reluctantly complied, I glared at Aka. “5 minutes!”
“Fola, I know you must have found out about Ngozi and I…but you have to hear me out…” he started.
“Look, I admit it started out with me wanting to just see what the world had to offer. Ngozi and I have been together since 1988! Since we were in high school! That’s 24 years! And I never cheated on her for one single minute in all that time! I just felt…I don’t know…choked and suffocated. You asked the question why we never got engaged in all that time. It was a question I found myself asking as well! What was stopping me from committing to her? Why couldn’t I just take our relationship to the next level? She was on my case big time…and so was her family…my family…In the end, I decided to give in to an engagement…but on the condition that I be given a few months to just exhale! You know what I mean?”
I crossed my arms, looking at the guy incredulously, as he confirmed everything I’d already heard.
“So, she agreed to give me 3 months…and I went out there, dating around here and there. After the 3 months, it was the expectation that I return to her, but I found myself unwilling to do so. There was nobody special, but my heart just didn’t want to go back to Ngozi. So 3 months became 4, became 5, became 6…and then you came along! Fola, meeting you ignited a spark in my heart like I have never known. Spending that day with you literally brought me back to life! I connected with you in a way I never connected with Ngozi in 24 years! You are the one I’ve been looking for, Fola! It’s you!”
I shook my head and laughed. Was this guy for real?
“So, let me see if I understand you clearly. You want to be with me…instead of the woman who has been with you for 24 years?” I asked.
“It’s not about the number of years, Fola! It’s about what the heart wants…and my heart wants you!”
I thought about the poor woman, who was so desperate to hold on to her love that she agreed to allow him wander around, with the hope that he would realize what he had, and return to her. I thought about the woman who had dedicated 24 good years of her life to a man ready to throw her away at the drop of a hat!
“Tell me something. Was Ngozi also allowed to date around? This your 3 abi 6 month arrangement, did it also apply to her?” I asked.
The flicker in his eyes gave me the answer I needed.
“She didn’t ask for it…” he answered lamely.
I’ll bet she didn’t.
“Akachukwu, go back to your woman! Don’t let the devil use you to destroy a life!” I said to him, gently patting his arm. “Because I, Folabomi Ige, will not be a part of such an evil plan! Please leave my house, and never return! I beg you!”
His shoulders slumped and his eyes looked so downcast, that for the splittest of seconds, I was tempted to reconsider. But as quickly as the thought came, I banished it. I would never, ever, do something so wicked to a woman like me! Lest of all one who had given away her youth, all for the sake of love.
As he exited my gate, and my life, I was relieved and hopeful that would be the end of my drama for the week. But I was wrong.
By the time Mama Jay heard about how Shoga had humiliated me at Chocolat Royale, World War 3 broke out between herself and Alhaja Okusami, his mother. I was told about the intense shouting match between the two women, over how brutish and uncouth one’s son was to snatch a gift that had been willing given, all because there was no retaliation of affection; and how desperate the other was to impose her son’s leftovers on any man willing to have her.
It was bloody.
But I didn’t feel guilty about it. Not at all. I hadn’t asked to be match made, especially not with someone as lousy as Shoga. Mama Jay should have at least taken the time to be sure that he would be a good fit for me, instead of sending me off like a sheep to the slaughter. Maybe I shouldn’t have accepted a gift that expensive, but after the public humiliation, I knew I had more than paid the price for that mistake.
So no, I didn’t feel bad that Mama Jay’s over 30 year friendship with the Okusamis had come to a disastrous end.
I had other things to worry about. Like how to get my life back on track…especially where men were concerned. With my back-to-back series of disaster near-relationships, I found myself getting desperate to have one, just one, relationship that would at least take off, instead of being DOA each time!
Another thing I was trying to do avoid was running into Jimi. I’d been able to do so since our shouting match the week before, and I was in no hurry to come face to face with him anytime soon. Luckily, he and Clairice appeared to have a full itinerary, and were out most of the time, so I was able to avoid them.
Until the following weekend, when I wasn’t.
Walking into their house that Sunday afternoon, Jimi was the very first person I saw. From the look on his face, I was the last person he expected to see as well.
“Hey, Fola…” he said, awkwardly.
“Hey…” was my own response.
“I haven’t seen you all week. How have you been?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I’ve been fine, thanks.”
He nodded. “How’s your boyfriend?”
I was momentarily confused. “Boyfriend?”
“The guy from last week. The one you were kissing at your gate.”
A slow smile formed on my lips. Ah yes, kissing-gate. I toyed with the idea of spinning a lie, just to mess with him, but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.
“It didn’t work out.” I answered, giving nothing away.
Jimi’s expression was unreadable. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
I shrugged. “Just one of those things…”
“Fola, I’m sorry I overreacted that evening. I also don’t know what came over me. I guess it was seeing you with another…” Jimi began.
Just then, Clairice walked into the room. She smiled broadly, but just as it had been since the DVD encounter, it didn’t get to her eyes. I couldn’t even tell if she’d overheard any of our conversation before walking into the room.
“Oh hey, Fola! I haven’t seen you all week. How’ve you been? How’s Aka?” she asked, sounding chirpy, taking her seat next to Jimi, and wrapping her arm around his.
“I’ve been fine thanks. And it didn’t work out with Aka.” I answered.
She cocked her head to the side. “Awww, that’s a shame. He seemed like such a great guy.”
Not wanting to offer any more gory details, I politely excused myself and went to the dining room to wait for Rire, who had gone out with his grandparents. I was still too raw to bear the thought of sitting down with Jimi and Clairice, watching them act like lovebirds.
About an hour later, I heard Seyi’s voice coming from the living room, and I went there to say hello. I hadn’t seen him since he’d moved to his own apartment on the mainland, and I was so pleased he was there.
“Isn’t this woman a sight for sore eyes!” Seyi exclaimed, as we embraced.
“You just forgot all about me! Is it fair?!” I said, complete with a pout.
“Forget my first love? How can?” Seyi answered, smiling.
I stole a glance at Jimi, who didn’t look too amused by the exchange. But before I could further analyze his reaction, Seyi took me by the hand and led me out the garden, where we proceeded to catch up on gist. He told me all about Amina, the girl he was seeing seriously, and I told him all about my disaster dates.
“Are you serious? One chip?” he had burst out laughing, as I told all about stingy Kojo.
“Nooooo! He didn’t tell Rire about the price of his shoes??!!” when I told him about name dropping Wale.
“The guy is an asshole! Such a shallow thinking guy doesn’t deserve someone like you!” when I told him about Charles, who had lost interest in me, because I wasn’t as high up the career ladder as he’d like.
“You’re lucky you found out when you did! If things had progressed any further, it sounds like you’d have fallen hard for the guy…and that wouldn’t have been pretty, considering he would have still gone back to his girlfriend in the end.” when I told him all about Aka.
But it was the Shoga story that sent him into hysterical laughter. “How could Mom have hooked you up with Shoga? Shoga of all people? Mr. Fuji Shoga? She sure must have been desperate to see you hooked up!”
Jimi walked into the garden, just as Seyi was still reeling with laughter over the Shoga story.
“You two look really chummy!” he remarked. “You didn’t give me all these details of your dates, Fola.”
“Fola and I have a special relationship, Jimi.” Seyi answered, before I could even open my mouth. “So don’t be too jealous.”
Sensing the tension, I rose to my feet. “I think I can hear their car. I think they’re back.” I said, referencing Rire and his grandparents.
“But just look at this fine babe that all these guys are treating anyhow! Those guys must be blind as bats!” Seyi said, his eyes sparkling.
As this was our usual banter, I smacked him playfully, before starting to walk away.
“And just look at that body! Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm! Girrrrl, you’re fine as hell!” he continued saying, which, again, was not unusual banter for us.
I looked back to throw him a playful comment of my own, at the very instant Jimi’s fist was connecting with his jaw, sending him toppling to the floor. In a flash, Jimi was on top of his brother, and the two of them were soon wrestling on the ground.
Clairice, who had been watching the exchange all along, joined me as we tried to separate the two men. It took the intervention of their other domestic staff, to successfully break up the fight.
“What is this? What is going on here?!” Mama Jay shrieked, as she ran into the garden, closely followed by her husband and Rire.
But neither Jimi nor Seyi said a word, as they both stood, bloodied and dirtied, panting. But then, to everyone’s surprise, Seyi started chuckling, as he wiped off the blood from his mouth.
“My brother! To thyself, be true!” he said, before walking away, leaving the rest of us standing there, stunned.
Clairice was the next person to storm away.
“Come, Rire. Let’s go inside.” Mama Jay had said, leading my son out, closely followed by her husband.
Leaving Jimi and I standing there, staring at each other.
“What the hell was that for?!” I yelled, angry.
“He was being disrespectful….” Jimi muttered.
“To whom?!” I demanded, so angry, the veins in my head were popping. “Definitely not to me!!! This is how Seyi and I talk all the time! Did I look like I was being disrespected?”
“He wasn’t respecting the fact that you are my wife!” Jimi shouted back, equally enraged.
The silence that followed was a pregnant one, the weight of his words heavy in the air between us.
“Was…” I said eventually, my voice a half whisper. “Was your wife, Jimi. You don’t have that kind of right over me. Not any more!”
We stood in silence for a few more minutes, before he nodded. “You’re right. I guess I need to do a better job of reminding myself of that.”
As he walked away, leaving me standing alone in the garden, I was left feeling alone…and empty.
Sister, Sister returns on Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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
- Sister, Sister 13: Invisible Strings
- Sister, Sister 14: Rehab
- Sister, Sister 15: Fall From Grace
- Sister, Sister 16: Reset Button
- Sister, Sister 17: Available…Unavailable
- Sister, Sister 18: Paradigm Shift
- Sister, Sister 19: Living a Lie
- Sister, Sister 20: Not That Kind of Girl
- Sister, Sister 21: Name Dropping
- Sister, Sister 22: The Banker
- Sister, Sister 23: One Chip
- Sister, Sister 24: A Mess
- Sister, Sister 25: The Matchmaker
- Sister, Sister 26: Promise of Fidelity
- Sister, Sister 27: Hole In My Heart
- Sister, Sister 28: Charmed
- Sister, Sister 29: Last Minute Snack