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She turned round catching her breath. How she wished everything didn’t have to end like this, she didn’t have to leave with a wounded head and a bleeding heart. She looked at Segun through blurry eyes.
“Let me drop you home” came the emotion filled voice.
“No, I’ll find my way home by myself” she replied with steel in her voice.
“No, don’t be sorry, you are my past now, what ever happened is over” with a long pause she said “We both have long lives ahead of us”
Segun sighed “Would you someday forgive me? I shouldn’t have hit you”
“I can forget but not forgive you” it was a lie; she knew it as she walked out of the gate. Briefly, Nike closed her eyes remembering that fateful night of their argument which led to their heartbreaking divorce.
A tear burned through her right cheek as she hurriedly wiped it off walking slowly towards the lonely junction.
The following one month was not an easy one for Nike. First she had to tell James she had quit the job, second she had to run from place to place gathering up her documents to resume as head nurse but luckily she pulled through.
Nike walked up to the door or her flat opening it and entering inside. As usual there was no power supply and slowly, she had a warm bath dressed in a velvet red mini-gown for bed, she fried a little plantain while closing her eyes to the little dark wall behind those of her eyes.
It was hard not to think of Segun and her Madina, much harder than it was the first time. There would be pouches beneath her eyes in the morning; she knew it because every day she cried herself to sleep also praying for long life for Yinka. Finally the food was ready, carrying it in a saucer to the sitting room; Nike sat down in the dim light of the lantern eating her food.
There was a loud knock on the door and Nike looked at the time, it was past ten. Who could it be at this hour?
“Who is it?” she shouted walking towards the door and wrapping the gown more tightly around her.
“It’s me” came the reply. It was a male voice adding to her discomfort, a familiar male voice.
Nike opened the door to face Segun staring at her. Silence engulfed them as they stood staring at each other.
“Were you expecting someone?” he asked gravelly misjudging her dressing. A lover perhaps.
Nike ignored the question and the excitement welling up within her, he had sincerely caught her by surprise much to her practical discomfort.
“What are you doing here?”
Segun shrugged, his eyes still on her “I just came to see you”
She blocked his entrance into the sitting room.
“Well, you’ve seen me now, you can leave” she replied coldly.
“I can’t, not until I talk to you,” he paused and looked at her intently. “You’ve been crying,” Nike looked away and asked again, “Why are you here Segun?” her heart did a flip, “I can’t stand here all night and I’m not letting you in”
He nodded as if disappointed “I had a fight with Tola”
It was her turn to shrug “So what does that have to do with me?”
“It really doesn’t concern me if you both fight as far as…”
“Can I have a drink?”
Nike looked at him grabbing hold of his ambiguous statement. “Come in”. Segun entered nodding in approval at her little modern apartment as she brought both of them two glasses of wine. They sat in silence staring round the same room.
“You know I can’t think straight anymore”, Nike stared again trying not to listen to his sweet words and Segun continued. “I just had to see you one more time”
“You shouldn’t even be here,” Nike replied.
“But I am”
She closed her eyes feeling the wine relax her… so much she didn’t know when he slipped beside her. The power was so much she could feel his presence as if they were bound together by a rope. She started crying, crying for the good old times. Segun seeing this, held her close to his chest as her body continued to rack with sobs.
“I am sorry. I never knew that seeing me again would make you cry so much please stop crying” After a lot of begging, he managed to calm her down. He motioned her towards the settee and when they sat, he just kept on looking at her face.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” she asked amidst tears “because you are so beautiful when you are not crying, when you are crying and even after crying” He said in a hushed tone looking at her tear streaked face. Gradually, he brought his lips closer to her, and she, needing comfort simply relaxed his lips met hers to give her the passion and love her heart longed for.
“Where is the bedroom?” he asked tearing his lips from hers. She could not respond due to the shivering expectancy of her body so she only pointed to the right side of the house.
She woke up the next morning feeling very happy. She wondered why and as if all of a sudden, she remembered Segun and everything that had happened last night. He had given her the best night she had had in a long time and oh, he made her feel like a woman in every way, shook her to her very core… but where was he? She wondered looking around the room. She was already beginning to entertain the thought that he had left her, disappointment welled up in her when she heard his whistle and her heart did a flip and only then did she realise how much he meant to her.
He came in with a tray containing bread, tea and fried egg “I see you are awake, sleeping beauty”
She smiled up at him biting her lower lips as she greeted him good morning. She no longer felt ashamed of sleeping with him after all, he was her ex- husband and he also came to her house to meet her. He would have been hers if not for the divorce so what difference did it make whether she slept with him or not? She wanted to be with him and that was all that mattered at the moment… even if she had to throw her conscience into the bin.
“I see you brought breakfast” she said smiling at him when she saw he was trying to read into her thoughts. He kissed her lightly as he poured the tea into the mug. “So, you told me you fought with your wife Tola, what exactly happened?”
Segun sighed reluctant to speak about his wife “I guess we just fell apart” he said simply.
Nike only nodded slowly as he continued talking. “Look Nike, I know it’s against your principles… it’s against mine too but the truth is I can’t live without you again. These past 11 years have been the most terrible years of my life. I don’t want to lose you after finding you again”
“These past 11 years have also been the most trying years of my life. It’s not the same without you” Nike replied slowly “There were times when I felt so alone and discouraged. The truth is I also want to be with you but you don’t understand what it feels like to know that I can be this disloyal to Tola after how nice she was to me. But if it’s what it takes to be happy then I want to be your lover,” she concluded closing her eyes, trying to block out the guilt of her decision.
Drums were being drummed, cymbals were blaring and harps were blown in his head as she said those words. It was as if he had just proposed to marry her and she agreed. He looked at her trying to see whether she was actually awake but what he saw was love and he made up his mind to always love her.
5 MONTHS LATER…
“Segun, where have you been?”
Segun stared at his wife wearily as he dropped his office bag with a soft thud on the chair. He walked into the master bedroom and she followed behind irritating him.
“Segun, where have you been?” Tola asked again. His mind wandered back at what happened in Nike’s place that afternoon as he pulled of his clothes ignoring his wife.
“I called your office and they told me you weren’t in” he said nothing as she spoke “You aren’t even answering me” she turned him around roughly.
“Tola what is your problem? Can’t you for once let me have peace?”
“Segun I don’t know what has come over you”
He shrugged “you are just over reacting”
“Are you seeing someone else?”
“Can you stop questioning me?” he asked in a very controlled voice.
Tola started crying “I’m just scared” she put her arms around him and he mutely responded to her with a little twinge of guilt.
“I’ve just been very busy”…
2 WEEKS LATER…
Pacing up and down, Tola wondered where her husband could be. Their once happy home was crumbling. After yesterday’s argument, he left without saying a word and he still wasn’t back by 12 noon. She sat down for a while with tears in her eyes remembering how they met;
9 YEARS AGO…
The party was very well put together but he would have preferred a slow romantic song with a sad ending at the moment, that was how he felt…sad. Segun sat in a corner only vaguely aware of the loud thudding music, his mind was on something else, Nike. He missed home, he missed her. Today in court, she looked like she had been crying, they had both been crying even in his new apartment there was really no place like home.
His lawyer had advice them to see if they could still work it out, he had looked at her momentarily and there was no visible emotion in her eyes, maybe she had stopped loving him after all. He couldn’t talk to her, not after that night, not after the argument she clearly wouldn’t believe him even if he knelt down.
Maybe he hadn’t been supportive but God knew he had tried his best to be patient. Segun sighed inwardly, he didn’t want this life, he wanted to be with her, he shouldn’t even be in this party, he didn’t like seeing so many people, didn’t want to socialize but he was just being a nice colleague from work to Ese the host of the party besides the whole office was here.
“Oh, Segun you are here!”
Segun looked up and his other colleague and another woman were staring at him “Why are you sitting in a corner?”
Segun shrugged “I’m very tired Kevin. I’m even thinking of going home”
“Ahan!” Kevin replied cheerily “anyway, this is my friend Tola”
He looked at the woman and they shook hands. She was pretty but Nike was prettier, he pushed her away from his mind “Hi”
Tola smiled staring at him in interest. The man was clearly not happy to be here.
“Okay you guys chat, Tola I’ll come back for you later” Kevin left dancing away from them. Silence reigned in the little corner as they stared blankly at the ongoing party.
“So, Kevin told me you are the company’s engineer”
“It’s a team actually” His voice was smooth and silky.
“Oh” she smiled a little at him “I’m Tola by the way, Kevin didn’t give a proper intro”
He smiled a little; he wanted his privacy “Segun”
“Are you okay?”
“Sure” he replied blankly.
“You don’t look happy to be here. You know a problem shared is a problem half solved” She laughed trying to encourage him.
Segun stared at her “There’s no problem, I’m just tired that’s just it. So what do you do?”
“I’m just into buying and selling, I hate being a worker to someone”
“No one does. So how did you meet Kevin?”
“Through his girl friend, she’s my cousin’s friend”
He nodded. There was nothing more he wanted to say…
The driver sped past the narrow road trying to get to the airport fast as Tola checked through her things to ensure she had all the right documents in her hand bag. The flight was in four hours, so she didn’t understand why Saheed, the driver was speeding. She stopped and closed her eyes remembering the man she had met at the party Kevin had invited her to, what was his name… Segun. Pity she hadn’t collected his number. She really wanted to see him again as he was a fine young man.
Suddenly the car came to an abrupt halt and she jerked forward nearly bumping her head on the passengers seat in front of her. “Saheed what is wrong with you!” she looked ahead and he had nearly hit a man. Segun! She rushed out of the car hurriedly as he angrily dusted his trouser.
“I’m so sorry. So, so sorry”
Segun looked up and his expression changed when he saw her, he was in a bad shape. It wasn’t about the near accident it was something else, maybe he wanted to kill himself! “Tola!” he breathed disappointed and surprised.
“I’m so sorry” she repeated and he nodded numbly and she dragged him into the vehicle casting a venomous eye at the driver who stared blankly at the two of them.
They sat in the car and Tola stared intently at Segun, she knew there was a very serious problem. “Segun, are you sure you are really okay?”
He nodded, his eyes were down cast. “I’m fine” No he wasn’t; a tiny voice said to him, they had finalized their divorce today. He wasn’t alright; he could never be alright again.
“Okay, so what happened to your car?” Tola asked gently. The man was in obvious pain.
“I parked it at the office; decide to walk for a change”
“What a surprise! I’m really sorry about the whole incident”
“Its okay” he managed a fake laugh. “So where are you heading?”
“The airport, I’m going to Abuja, what about you?”
“Home… but why aren’t you passing the express, it’s a faster route to the airport”
She laughed “Well, I had to check on a friend living around the area, do you live around?”
“Yes, last house along Dokunmu Street, left” he smiled at her “Maybe I should take your number? I’ll call you after you return”
“That’ll be great” they exchanged numbers “I’ll call you instead or pay you a visit”
“Okay I guess I should be going” He smiled a little at her and got out of the car “Nice chatting with you” with one last smile he turned round without waiting to hear her reply just the start of the engine starting.
He walked along the lonely street, so sad and alone.
2 MONTHS LATER…
They laughed heartily in his car parked in front of her house. Tola checked the time and made a loud sigh. It was about to 11 in the night much to her disappointment. She stared at him as he spoke her mind was now far off. She was madly in love with him and he failed to see it. She had made him learn to trust her and tonight was a very special night as, it wasn’t like the other outings they went on, it was about the loan her uncle the CEO of Spiral Bank approved for him to start-up his own construction company. He chatted happily and she could only give him a little smile.
He was the perfect man; caring, mature and hardworking but he hadn’t said anything about emotions and he knew how she felt without her saying it. She still didn’t know much about him except he was an orphan and an only child; she didn’t know why he was so upset the past few months.
“I suppose it’s late now” Segun smiled at her happily
“Yes, it’s about past 11 now” she replied.
“Well I had a nice time, I hope you did but I guess I should let you get in”
She wavered “It’s too late for you to start driving” she paused “you can always stay in the guest room”
“No thanks. I really should be going” he looked at her and smiled. Silence reigned in the car for few minutes.
“Are we moving too fast Segun?” Tola asked distantly
He looked straight into her eyes and nodded
“Am I making any demands?”
“I haven’t noticed”
“I think I’m wasting my time here”
“We’ll see about that” he gave her a lingering peck “I’m really grateful to you and your uncle alright?”
Tola smiled and got out of the car as the security guard opened the gate of her compound. The gate screeched in the silent estate and Segun drove off.
He sighed to himself as he drove out of the estate to the main road. He lost his smile as he thought of what Nike would have done if she heard the news. He really missed her and no one could take her place not even Tola. He wanted her back, maybe they could work something out. Segun wondered what she could be doing, reading perhaps… or with another man. He made a painful swallow as he turned right boy cutting the traffic. It was funny how a man could love a woman like this, it was pathetic. He hadn’t heard from her since their divorce and he wasn’t surprised, he had being thinking of an excuse for ages just to see her.
He got into his area and smiled to himself. It wouldn’t hurt to imagine he was going home to meet her… and Madina.
Segun got out of his car, excited. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea since Nike hadn’t contacted him, today was Madina’s birthday, and they always dropped white roses at her grave site. He could always go alone; he had no ties with Nike anymore. Segun crossed the road to his former home where he and Nike lived. The gate was locked to his disappointment and he moved back to see the janitor of the compound
“Kenneth!” he shouted through the cracks of the wall banging the gate “Kenneth!”
The janitor saw him and opened the gate surprised “Oga!”
“Kenneth, how are you?”
“I dey o, aunty talk say you travel” he replied smiling not noticing the change on Segun’s face.
“Where is she?”
“Ah, she no tell you?” he said as if surprised “Aunty don pack commot!”
Segun could not hide his shock “When?”
“E don tey ooo…like last month side,” the man said, “she no tell you?”
“No” he replied and smiled a little “Her number isn’t going”
“Yes, she don change am”
“Okay, thank you” he turned and brought out money giving the man
“ Oga thank you o,” he was smiling
Segun nodded and left the compound very disappointed. Segun got into the car and let out a breath, tears threatened to fall “Shit!” he shouted “Shit! Shit! Shit!” he shouted hitting his fists on his laps. In the first place, what was he doing here? He started the car and drove on to the road heading to Victoria Gate Cemetery, he missed his family and it was tearing him apart. Segun sped of angry and heartbroken. He had to face it, she had moved on and he would never see her beautiful face again. He would never hear her laugh… or see her cry again. A tear spilled out of the corner of his eyes then another and another. He didn’t mind sobbing like a child, he had lost her forever.
He had lost her over a stupid mistake and he kept blaming himself, he couldn’t help it! His phone rang and he ignored it. He looked at the bunch of white roses on the passenger seat and smiled, at least he still had his daughter… she would never leave.
Tola was in the house when he got home very late in the night; she sat in the sitting room with food on the table and got up hurriedly when he got into the house. His face told her he had a very rough day, this wasn’t one of his moods it was a very bad incident. Tola rushed towards him and hugged him “What’s wrong?”
He said nothing and slummed on her in tears “it’s okay, it’s okay” she continued to whisper gently into his ears, he was in pain, it was too obvious.
“It’s okay, don’t worry it would be alright” she said “I’m not going anywhere” they sat on the chair and she landed on his laps as she wiped his tears away”
They sat like that for over a long time until he calmed down; she had never seen him this way “What happened?”
Segun said nothing at first, he didn’t want to tell her, didn’t want to share Nike with anyone except his thoughts “I hit someone today”
Tola put her hand over her mouth “A child?”
He looked at her as she believed him “Yes, she’s dead”
Tola gasped “It’s okay”
They stared deep into each other’s eyes but clearly they were thinking of clearly different things and she thought wrong. Tola put her lips down to his and she kissed him until he started responding. It got intense, because he was heartbroken. It took them a long while before either of them could speak.
It took him a while the next morning to get over the fact that he had slept with Tola, he stared down at her sleeping body beside him for the umpteenth time that morning, he didn’t like this; the last thing he needed right now was a relationship. It was way too soon for that but then he had to move on in life. Segun got up gently from the bed and pulled on pyjamas trousers then brushed his teeth and left the room to the kitchen. Segun stood in the centre of the kitchen for a few minutes and began to make coffee. Gosh, things weren’t going the way he wanted; he didn’t need anyone in his life right now. Tola would want a relationship and that was a big challenge.
He poured out the hot coffee into a mug and sipped it sitting alone in the sitting room. He sat there for a while not thinking, just in deep thought.
“Hello sleepy head”
Segun looked up to see Tola standing by the door post in his tee- shirt , Nike had won in once and God!, she had looked so sexy in it with her hair ruffled up and… he blocked out his day-dream “Hello Tola”
She came to peck him on the fore head and he made no move to respond, she didn’t seem to be disappointed “I thought you had gone out and let me in this house alone”, she wrapped her arms around her waist.
Segun threw her a puzzled look “Why? I don’t think that’s a nice thing to do with someone you’ve been intimate with”
She blushed.”So what’s up?” Tola wanted to kick herself in the shin; she was behaving like those little girls in the high school movies!
“What’s up with what?”
She licked her dry lips “Us?”
“I think we moved too fast yesterday” he paused, not looking at her “We are adults and I don’t think its right to rush into these things. We just met and…”
“We just met?” Tola’s voice rose in rising anger and disappointment “We’ve known each other for almost a year!” She went into the room to change into her things and he followed behind trying to calm her down.
“I just think we should be patient, we have all the time in the world”
“I have been patient Segun and we can’t deny, it’s very obvious to both of us that I love you and I want something out of this” she threw her hands in the air with tears in her eyes “You are being mean here”
“Let’s not do this okay?” he asked her pleadingly
“Do what Segun? You are a grown man and I am also a grow woman it shouldn’t be taking you too long to know that I am getting older and I need serious relationships with serious men not those who are still unsure of a woman!” she zipped the front of her dress and tossed his shirt on the bed.
“Please can you give me some time to think? It’s not that I don’t like you it’s just…”
“Like?” she cut in hurt “I can’t do this”
“Just give me some time okay? To straighten things out”
She stared at him for a fraction of a second as a tears drop spilled from the corner of her cheek and with that she left his flat, slamming the door behind her.
Segun got up from his desk and looked outside the window facing the busy road. He felt so guilty about Tola, they hadn’t spoken for over a week which wasn’t surprising. Maybe he was such a jerk, he has to move on … the way he moved on with Madina. Segun picked up his phone; it was time to put the past behind him without telling Tola about Madina and her mother.
A YEAR LATER…
Nike sat down in her room, idly; things felt so different… things were different… without him. She shut that part of her out and stared at the man sleeping on her bed. From outside, the time seemed to be past 5 in the morning. He was the first man in her life after Segun, it was nothing serious, just a casual affair….to try and forget her ex- husband. Femi was different, he was smart and funny with a very good personality unlike Segun, and he was smart … very smart and cool, she shook herself, what was she doing? Comparing them? He was everything she wanted now and Segun was in the past.
Femi wanted to marry her and she didn’t want that now, not now, maybe she was moving too fast to date someone… to fast? It was over year since the divorce and since she heard his voice. She stared into at a distance.
“Baby, you are awake”
Nike turned to face Femi who stared at her sleepily, his face looked silhouette in the dark “Yes”
He patted the bed “Come over”
“I don’t feel like sleeping” she watched him as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands.
“You are still thinking of my proposal?”
She nodded and looked outside the window not wanting to face him “I need time”
“You have all the time in the world” he replied yawning “look, I love you so I’m prepared to wait just don’t be unfair to keep me waiting for long”
“You’ve been saying that for close to a year”
“That’s because I made it clear from the start that I just wanted a casual affair” she replied a little annoyed, she didn’t want to be put in a spot but she knew she’d never get married to him, she didn’t love him and sooner or later she’d tell him.
“Oh, so why do you want to think of it if you want to tell me no?” Femi asked a little frustrated
“Because I still want you around” she needed him to be able to forget Segun not for anything else.
“You have all the time you want. I love you and whatever you say is right okay?” he asked turning to the other side of the bed.
“Sure” she looked out of the window.
…to be continued (on Friday, 11th April)
written by DOSUNMU Oyinda
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