“What is her name, Sir?” The receptionist asked.
Kunle caught his breath. “Tamilore Oni.”
The receptionist smiled. “She is in the Private ward; room 101.”
“Thank you.” He replied, and dashed down to the Private ward’s wing.
The receptionist turned to her partner. “Relationship goals.”
Her partner rolled her eyes. “What exactly is the goal in a fiancé running in to see his fiancée in the hospital?”
“Didn’t you see how nervous he was?” The receptionist asked. “That is what I mean by goals. If I had a man who’d run in for me like that—”
“—you’d run away from him.” Her partner cut in. “Remember when Lateef, the staff driver was all over you?”
The receptionist hissed and flipped a book open. “We are talking fiancé, you are talking Lateef.”
Kunle watched Tami as the doctor examined her.
“She’s going to be fine.” Muna whispered to him.
Kunle turned to her. “Can we step outside?”
Muna nodded, leading the way. As soon as they stepped outside, she turned to him. “Before you say anything about how it’s your fault that she’s under a lot of pressure and maybe that’s why she passed out…that’s not what happened.”
“I read about Justin in the mail this morning.” Kunle replied. “This is because of Justin, right?”
Muna took a deep breath. “Yes, it is. I didn’t know this was going to happen when I broke the news to her.” She started. “I got a mail about a man who sat inside his car and shot himself, I opened the story and it was Justin. I…I don’t even know what to say.”
“I am sorry. I know you guys were friends.” Kunle said, without much conviction. Indeed he was sorry that a man died but knowing how much of a mess Tami was when he met her because of Justin, deep down in his heart, he felt ice cold about Justin taking his own life.
Muna leaned against the wall. “I feel responsible for what happened.”
“Why?” he asked.
Muna wiped a tear drop from her eye. “He came to me yesterday and I shot him down. He wanted to see Tami but I wouldn’t let him speak.” She started. “It’s just that Justin had brought her so much pain. I didn’t want him coming around her.”
“You did the right thing, Muna. It’s not your fault.” Kunle replied.
Muna shook her head. “Now he is dead and it’s all because of me.”
The Doctor joined them outside. “She’s awake, you can go in now. Please, take care of her.” He said and walked away with the attending nurse.
Kunle caught Muna’s hand before she could go into the room. “Muna.”
“Yeah?” She said, stopping.
Kunle exhaled. “Tami is over him, right?”
Muna managed a smile. “Of course.”
3 YEARS AGO
“You are over him, right?”
Tami smiled as she wiped some water from her face. “Of course.”
Muna threw a fist pump into the air. “I knew this spa would work wonders in resetting your brain from what happened.” The spa did provide them the best treatment and Muna had hoped for Tami’s sake that it would help her forget how Justin broke up with her a day to Valentine’s…even if it was momentary. She hoped her friend would forget how Justin took pleasure in doing this every year.
“Do you think I am doing something wrong?” Tami started.
Muna rolled her eyes. “Here we go again! Do you know how much I paid for this exclusive spa treatment? Tami, forget about what you are doing…because you are always doing everything right and I think that’s the problem. He shouts, you apologize. He is silent, you are sorry. How about you wake up and realize that he is no good for you?”
“Muna, he is always under a lot of pressure from the bank and you know how Justin is, sometimes he likes to deal with these things himself and-”
Muna groaned. “Shut up! Shut up, Tamilore Oni before I slap the devil out of you.” She said. “Why does he take it out on you by being silent every time? You guys are a couple, you should talk about it!”
“He says he is protecting me.” Tami replied, quietly.
Muna nodded. “Do you feel protected? Or do you feel bad whenever he keeps to himself?”
“Muna you know the answer.” Tami said, picking her phone. “I don’t like the silence, it’s crazy but this is Justin. That’s how he is. I understand him. A key part to relationship is understanding but you wouldn’t know that Muna as your relationships don’t last the length of time you wear a weave.”
Muna laughed. “You are an idiot.”
“I know and we are both friends, so what does that make you? Another idiot.” Tami replied with a smile, slipping into her shoes. “I need to get to the foundation.” She continued.
“You do a great job there with those kids, Tami. Well-done.” Muna said. She admired Tami. Her friend was selfless. This was her biggest strength and maybe her greatest flaw too. Tami let everyone in and gave room for chances easily but this Justin matter, she didn’t see much good in it. Make no mistake, she didn’t start out hating Justin. With Justin, they once formed a clique. They went way back in the University and at a time, she had a crush on him because of his astute fashion style but Justin only had eyes for Tami and like her friend rightly said, she didn’t waste too much time having feelings for a guy.
Muna walked Tami to her car. “Call me when you get there, alright?”
“Of course.” Tami replied, dropping her bag in the back seat of the car. “Are you doing anything tomorrow?”
Muna smiled. “You know I have a lot of suitors. Val’s day is a busy day for me. I have to attend four dates tomorrow.”
“And the last one is a sleepover, right?” Tami asked.
“Are you a prostitute?” Tami asked, seriously.
Muna laughed. “I just have prospective suitors and girllllllllllll, I need to know them before making a life changing choice.”
“I hope you don’t make a life damaging choice in the end.” Tami concluded.
Muna smiled. “Would you like to tag along?”
“No. I’ll just spend the day at work.” Tami replied. “I have to get going. Take care, Muna.”
“And you too, love.” Muna replied.
Tami contemplated going over to Justin’s as she drove back to work. Maybe he needed to talk and needed her to listen…but Justin never spoke about anything that bothered him. He would rather shoulder the burden and keep her in the dark. She hated that about him. But in the end, she always forgave him…maybe because he was her first love.
Tami had met Justin in her first year in the university. They were in the same class and soon hit it off as friends. A quiet Justin who kept to himself was the wish of most ladies but gave no thought to any of them as he’d rather spend time with Tami who just seemed to make sense to him. Tami thought what they had was special. They spoke with their eyes during class and sometimes with notes they passed messages when class got boring. Muna always teased that they’ll make cute babies.
But then, Justin started with the mood swings. He’d not say a word to her and he’d strut along with his day as though she didn’t exist. This game would go on between them as Muna advised that she’d repay him in his own coin but it was as though he didn’t care about how much she was hurting so eventually she’d have to wave the white flag and have them talk again.
“You think I don’t feel pain when we are not talking?” Justin once said to her.
Tami sighed. “Then if you feel pain, why not talk to me?” she replied.
Justin shrugged. “I don’t know…you know how it is.”
“I don’t know how it is if you don’t tell me what it is.” She said, as they strolled back to the hostels one Friday evening.
Justin stopped and turned to her. “Do you think I shut you out?” he asked in a calm tone.
Tami worried for her next response. If she said no, it would be a lie and if she said yes, she could probably trigger another episode of silence between them. She took a deep breath and continued walking. It was better to be safe than sorry.
“Are you afraid of me?” Justin asked.
She stopped in her tracks and turned back to him. “What do you want me to say, Justin? I don’t want to fight again. It’s been two weeks since we last spoke and you won’t even tell me what I did. It’s like you rather spend more time being silent than talking to me…I can’t compete with it.”
Justin took her hand. “Then don’t.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, softly.
He exhaled. “Tami, it’s just stuff at home. My family. Dad and mom are going through a phase and I just need to get it out of my system.”
“That’s why you have me. You can’t keep things bottled up inside and keep pushing me away.”
“I am not pushing you away, I am just trying to protect you from the chaos in my world.” He replied.
Tami smiled. “I don’t want to be protected from you, because if this is what protection feels like…I am dead.”
Justin took a deep breath and looked away.
Needless to say, Justin kept to himself for another week after that discussion.
Tami snapped out of her thoughts as she pulled up outside the foundation. She had decided against going to Justin’s house to work things out again. She was going to fight for her freedom from him. Back in the university, she excused Justin as being immature but now, they were grown adults with a lot going on in their lives and he was still the same. She was going to get over him. She didn’t deserve to be treated that way.
Only two days ago, he had called her that he needed a break from the relationship. As weird as it did sound, it was close to Val’s day, but money wasn’t the problem for either of them. She was starting to believe that maybe she was his amusement and he could do as he willed with her so this time when he called to say that, she replied with an emphatic OKAY and then rushed to Muna to cry.
“Good morning, Miss Oni.” The matron greeted as Tamilore walked in.
Tami smiled. “Tamilore. Tami. Mrs. Jacobs, I am sure you can call me that.”
Mrs. Jacobs smiled. “The press came for you this morning, Tami but your PA told them to return by three p.m.”
“Yeah, that’s fine.” She replied. “I’ll be in my office.”
The Matron nodded and walked away.
Tami stopped walking. It wasn’t the Matron who called her. Her world froze. It was happening all over again. Her resistance was shattering at the sound of his voice.
It was Justin.
“I am sorry about Justin.” Kunle started. “I am really sorry, Tami.”
Tami wore a cynical smile. “Are you?”
Kunle smiled faintly. “I am really sorry that you are hurting, Tami. I am sorry.”
“Good.” Tami replied, coldly.
There was a light knock on the door and a police officer walked in. “Sorry to intrude, Miss Tamilore Oni, we would need to speak with you.”
“Can you do this later? She’s not in the best shape yet” Kunle asked.
The Officer shook his head. “We found a note in the deceased’s car. It was addressed to Miss Oni.”
Kunle took a deep breath. Tami was a public figure, their wedding was just around the corner and this would be enough juice for the hungry press. It couldn’t get any worse. “I understand that you need to speak with her but she is just recuperating and she can’t—”
“Officer, I’ll go with you.” Tami said.
Muna turned to her. “Babe, what are you doing? You can’t leave like this.”
“It’s just questions, right?” Tami asked, “And I’d like to see what he left me.”
Cold shivers ran down Kunle’s spine as heard those words. “I’d come with you.” He offered, flatly.
“It’s alright. I want to do this alone.” She replied and stepped out of bed. “I’ll see you in the evening, babe.” She said and kissed Kunle’s cheek before heading out with the Police officers.
Kunle turned to Muna. “What just happened?”
Muna cleared her throat. “Kunle, it’s nothing.”
“No. It’s not nothing, Muna.” He replied, heading to the door. He stopped and turned to Muna. “I feel like I just watched my fiancée and wife to be lose the other part of her.” He said and walked out.
Muna shut her eyes and inhaled a deep breath. She knew Kunle was right.
Kunle drove back to his library and shut himself in the office. He owned a big library and ran a book club there. It was in his book club that he met Tami.
“Hi, I’d like to get a book for my boyfriend.” Tami had said.
Muna stared at Kunle. “I don’t know why she has to tell you that he is her boyfriend, but yes, she has to get a book for her boyfriend.”
“It’s fine, if I had a girlfriend like her, I’d like her to show me off too.” Kunle replied.
Tami grinned. “Awwww…for the first time in a long time, I hear a different pick up line and it’s cute.”
Kunle smiled as he stared at her. He had always admired her from afar. She had the loveliest eyes. She wore a white chiffon top, blue polka dotted skirt and lovely shoes. She was lovelier to behold in person. “Tamilore Oni?” he said.
Tami stared at him. “Do I know you?”
“No, but I know you. Or more like, I know your foundation.” He replied. “Great job you are doing. I am sure someday many more people will come to appreciate your effort.”
She smiled. “Thank you.” She said and turned to Muna. “Can you see an outsider appreciating me? When would you be useful with your life? When?”
Muna smirked. “I try in my own way.”
“Yeah, but your own way is not good enough.” Tami replied and turned to Kunle with a brighter smile. “So, what kind of book can I get for a man who is strong, handsome, tall, decisive, brilliant, smooth…”
“And quite annoying.” Muna chipped in. “You forgot to add that part.” She added.
Tami laughed. “Annoying? Who isn’t annoying?”
“I am not annoying.”
Tami smiled. “And I am the pope.”
Kunle watched them banter in a cute way. But then the banters, no matter how cute they sounded, wouldn’t sell the books in his store. “Can I show you some books?” he said, interrupting the ladies.
“Yes, please.” Tami replied.
Kunle led them into the hub of the store and pointed them to some books. He took the liberty of scribbling his phone number behind a note for Tami and hoped that she’d call him but she never did.
Then one rainy Friday evening, during a book club meeting, Tami showed up at the door and joined the group…and the rest they say is history… But now, history wasn’t on his side as he looked to be losing the only girl in his world with only a few days to their wedding.
“How are you?” Muna asked as Tami joined her in the car park.
Tami shrugged. “I am fine. What are you doing here?” she asked. “I told you I was going to be fine.”
“Yeah and I had to make sure of that.” Muna replied.
Tamil smiled. “Thank you.”
“Can you tell me what the letter was about?” Muna asked. “I suppose they let you read it”
“Yes, I read it but it’s not in my custody. It’s now an exhibit.” She replied. “But, the content…the content, I don’t know if I want to talk about it now.”
Muna took a deep breath. “Tami, I know you are upset and I know you want to maybe take time off to think about everything that has happened but you need to understand that this happened because Justin wanted it to.”
Tami shook her head. “No. People don’t just kill themselves. They kill themselves for a reason or for something.”
“Tami, don’t talk like this.” Muna replied. “If anyone should be feeling bad or responsible for what happened, it is not you.”
Tami shook her head. “It’s me.” She said. “I have to go now.”
“Let me drive you home.” Muna offered.
Tami stared at Muna. “No. I don’t want us to argue so much about the letter. I know you won’t stop until you hear what you want to. So I don’t want to play this game with you, alright?”
Muna nodded. “Fine, Tami. I’ll see you tomorrow morning at the meeting with our parents and Kunle’s right?”
Tami was silent.
“Right?” Muna asked again.
Tami swallowed. “Yes.”
Kunle was spending too much time in the kitchen. He was going full premium chef on his dinner. He chose days to channel his inner culinary skills and they were never on his sad days, but he had spent all day thinking of Tami so he needed something that would distract him from her.
The doorbell went and hurried over to it. “Hey, Tami.” He said, as he opened the door.
“Hi, Kunle.” She said, softly and walked into the kitchen. “Are you celebrating Justin’s death?”
Kunle sighed. “Tami, you know I am not doing that. I just decided to cook because I was up in my head and I needed something to distract myself from it.”
“I hope you feel better, Kunle.” Tami said, taking a seat.
Kunle shrugged. “I was trying to feel better until I started to cook dishes that reminded me of you.”
Tami smiled faintly. “I hope you didn’t hate the taste of the food.”
“I’d never hate anything that has you in it.” he said. “Want to try it?”
“Great. I’d get to serving it.” Kunle said, gathering two plates. “Once again, I am really sorry, Tami.” He said, serving some food.
Tami nodded. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He replied, placing a plate before her.
Tami took the fork and dug into her chicken. “Kunle…”
“Yeah?” he replied, settling into his seat.
Tami took a deep breath. “I want to postpone the wedding.”
Kunle blinked with a soft chuckle. “What are you saying?”
“I am not getting married this weekend.” Tami replied.