“Kunle, get over yourself. She is just a kid.” Tami said, taking a seat before Kunle. He had stormed off to the Hospital’s kitchen after he learnt that Tami had offered Amina a place in her house.
“Tami, you pushed our wedding and I consented to it, and now you are bringing in someone. Tami, that changes everything.” He replied.
“What exactly does it change, Kunle? Amina is just a kid. She needs help and I am trying to give it to her.”
“By leaving me behind?” Kunle asked, cutting in.
Tami paused and then smiled. “I see what this is about. You are jealous that Amina is getting more of my attention.”
“No. You are making light of my feelings, Tami. And I am not even in contention with her. I am not saying that you can’t bring her into your home but we are about to be a couple and we take this type of decisions together.” He replied.
“But we are not yet married, right?” Tami asked. “So I can still take these decisions.”
Kunle nodded slowly. “Tami, what are you saying to me? Get to the point.”
Tami took a deep breath. “Kunle, this situation is temporary. Don’t get ahead of yourself. I am just trying to help Amina. Stop making a big deal of it.” She said, rising to her feet. “I am going back to Amina’s room. I don’t want her to wake up and not see me.”
“You were still in love with him, right?” Kunle asked.
Tami stopped in her tracks and turned back towards Kunle. “Excuse me?”
“Don’t play dumb, Tamilore.” He said, rising up to meet her. “I know what it took for you to go out with me. You were hurting and maybe it was the wrong time to make a move but I thought there was something there and heaven knows that if I had known that you were not over Justin, I’d probably have waited longer. So I want you to please tell me the truth, Tami.” He said and paused to process the weight of the answer he was about to receive. He knew the answer might shatter him but he wasn’t willing to continue with the uncertainty. “Were you still in love with him?”
“I don’t have to answer that,” she replied. “I’ll just pretend as if we never had this conversation, Kunle.”
“There is no need to pretend. This conversation is happening,” He replied. “Tell me the truth!”
“No. We are not having this conversation. Stop being salty!” Tami replied and walked away from him.
Kunle didn’t think he was being salty. He was just a man in love that had been hurt by his fiancée’s loss which was now standing in the way of their happiness. He could only hope that Tami’s pain could ease off quickly so that they could carry on with their lives. But again, that was his fear…would their lives ever be the same again?
He hurried after her and caught up with her just outside Amina’s room. “Tami, am I losing you?”
“The only thing you are losing is your mind and that’s because you are overreacting. I’d like you to be calm and just breathe.” She replied.
Kunle wiped some sweat off his forehead. “Tami, I am scared.”
Tami sighed. “Babe, we are fine.”
“Prove it! Let’s get married this weekend. Nothing has changed. Nothing should change, Tami. I know you are hurting and I want to be there for you. Let’s do this together.”
She took a deep breath and kissed Kunle’s cheek. “I am not getting married this weekend. I’ll call you in the evening.” She said and entered into Amina’s room, shutting the door after her.
Justin’s funeral was small and simple. The preacher went on and on about the love of God and the love for humanity. Tami thought he stressed his points well. Maybe he wasn’t trying to stress it but he did come for her with them.
“Make no mistake, there would be more Justins in the land,” He said. “But, if we look after each other, we’d not let the next Justin slip away. I know his death has hurt us all, I knew him as a boy. Bright, smart, charming and it’s very sad that he has gone this way but we are thankful for the time we knew him. I am sure in one way or the other, he influenced some of us and I know that we are here today to say goodbye and pray for his soul. It could have been different, Justin, but it’s going to be alright. Let us pray.” The preacher concluded.
Muna held Tami’s hand tight as they watched the lowering of Justin’s casket into the grave. His mother refused to sit back home. She wanted to be here for this. The woman could not shed a tear. Muna thought it was strange but it was not going to be her who would talk about it.
“He’s gone, Muna.” Tami whispered.
Muna nodded. “Yes. He’s gone.” She replied and then took a deep breath as Justin’s mother approached them. “Tami, look who is coming.”
“Hello, Tami, Muna.” Justin’s mother said as she stood before them.
Tami swallowed. “I am so sorry about your loss, ma.”
“Are you?” The older woman asked with a faint smile. “Poor boy would scream your name at night. And when they flashed your face in the news, he’d just smile and say, that’s my Tami. Oh well…he’s not here anymore.” She said. “He really loved you, you know?
“I know,” Tami replied. “He loved me in his own way.”
Muna clenched her teeth. She might not have gone into psychology practice but she could see what Justin’s mother was doing to Tami. She hated it. The woman was trying to make her friend feel responsible for her son’s death. She was wary of saying something hurtful to her so she kept quiet as she grinded her teeth in anger.
“Why did you make him suffer?” Justin’s mom continued as her tears started to flow like a river. It was as though she had kept them in a storage facility. “You could have just loved him back. Was it too hard for you?”
“I…I am sorry.” Tami said, struggling to put sentences together. “It’s just that Justin and I were over. Ma’am, I promise you, it was not my fault.”
Muna looked away. For a moment, she wondered how Tami managed to graduate with honours in psychology if she would be easily manipulated by Justin’s mother. On a second thought, she couldn’t blame Tami. Dealing with the loss of a loved one was never going to be easy regardless of the circumstances that surrounded it, so she was willing to cut her friend some slack.
“Would you like to have some of Justin’s properties?”
Muna stepped forward. “No, she wouldn’t. Ma, I have had enough of this. What do you want? Do you want to make her feel worse than this? I am sorry that Justin killed himself and Tami is also destroyed by it. A lot has changed for her and for everyone, but this where it ends.” Muna concluded and grabbed Tami’s hand. “Thank you ma for having us.” She added and dragged Tami along with her.
Justin’s mom watched Tami and Muna leave with tears in her eyes. She was absolutely destroyed and a cold truth from Muna only worsened her mood. She needed someone to share in the pain she was feeling. She needed someone else to take responsibility for her son’s death. She didn’t want to be the only one who was choked by it. She had seen all the signs but she wasn’t brave enough to act on it. She thought it was just a man acting out because his ex lover was about to settle down.
“What are you doing here?” she had asked the night that Justin moved back home.
Justin smiled. “Can’t I move back to my parent’s house?” he asked, sinking into the sofa.
“That’s not what I am saying, Justin but you are not supposed to be here.” She replied. “This place is no touching distance from your office. Are you alright?”
Justin nodded. “I am alright.” He said, rising to his feet. “I’ll be going out.”
“Where are you going? You just came in.” She asked.
He exhaled. “I want to see Tami.”
“Justin, let her be. She’s getting married. Why do you want to torture yourself?” she asked. “I know it hurts but you would agree with me that it’s your fault that Tami moved on. That girl tried.”
“That’s why I am going after her. She’s all I have.” He said, sounding defeated.
His mother frowned. “What about me?”
Justin smiled. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too.” She replied.
“Is she asleep?”
Muna nodded. “Yes, Mom. I gave her a sedative.”
“Good. Sit down. It’s time for us to have a talk.” Mrs. Ibekwe said
Muna knew that tone and it was honestly not one she was ready for. It could only be one thing.
“Marriage!!!! Munachimso, when will you marry?” Her mother asked.
Muna rolled her eyes. “Mom, can we successfully wed Tami before you jump on me?”
“You no dey shame. Are you not older than Tami?”
Muna laughed. “By a few months, Mom. A few months.”
“Those ‘few months’ used to be convenient for you, Muna.” Her mother replied. “Look, I am tired of waiting for my grandchild.”
“Mom, I am very sure that Tami would get you that grandchild and soon too, okay? Let’s all just chill. Muna is still babygirl-ing.” Muna said with a smile.
“Will you keep quiet?! What is that nonsense?! You know I am getting tired of you posting that rubbish on Instagram. You will take a picture and stretch your neck like a giraffe that wants to chew leaves from a tree and caption it babygirl. Won’t babygirl grow up?”
Muna couldn’t stop laughing.
“What is funny?” Her mother asked.
Muna wiped the tears in her eyes. “Wait, Mom, two questions. One, how did you get on Instagram?”
“I took a bus there!” she replied. “How else would I get there? I downloaded the app and yes, I follow you. Mama Muna is my name on Instagram.”
Muna was amazed. “You know I am not going to follow you back, right?”
“That’s fine, and I’ll keep posting those photos you hate until you acknowledge me.” She replied, folding her arms.
Muna smiled as she stared at her mother. She loved her. Mrs. Ibekwe was a blend of everything beautiful and trouble. She was the full package.
“Better wipe that smile off your face and let’s start thinking of which of my friend’s sons will be interested in you.” Mrs. Ibekwe said. “I only hope you haven’t chased all of them away by not following them back on Instagram?”
Muna hissed. “Mom, I am not desperate and I am not searching either. I am fine the way I am. Being single never hurt anyone.”
“Eh?! What is this one saying? And you think you are fine like this? Muna? What are you saying to me? That you don’t want to marry? You don’t want me to see my grandchild? That you want me to die without any seed? You want my friends to mock me?”
“Mom, you are overreacting. It is not as bad as you are making it sound.” Muna replied, rising to her feet. “I need to go and check on Tami. You might have woken her up with all these your hysterics.”
“The devil is a liar! Is it me that you are using English for? Sit down there.” She ordered. “I am calling Pastor.”
Without another word, Muna complied.
Kunle smiled as Tito swayed in his direction. She wore a bright smile as she pulled a bag. She was the only lady he knew that travelled light. That wasn’t a surprise as she spent all her money shopping in every city so that she could always have something to wear whenever she visited. She was a traveller. He was glad to be here, he needed something to dislodge his thoughts from Tami and if Tito couldn’t distract him, no one else would.
She jumped on him as soon as she got to him. “I have missed you.”
“As clingy as ever.” He said, withdrawing from the hug. “It’s good to see you again. How is Madrid?” he asked, settling her bag in the back seat.
“It is as beautiful as ever,” She replied. “I didn’t want to return to Nigeria but you know I wouldn’t miss your wedding for anything.”
“Tito, I warned you that the wedding has been called off or postponed as I’d like to believe. You are here because you wanted to come o.” He said, opening her door.
“Thank you,” she replied, taking a seat. She waited for him settle in the driver’s seat before she continued. “You do know I won’t return to Madrid until you are married, yeah?”
Kunle shook his head and stared at her. “Right now, I don’t know what’s happening. So, you might need to have a rethink on that decision except you don’t mind staying back in Nigeria forever.”
“You are sounding really negative. I thought you said she loved you?” Tito asked.
Kunle nodded. “She does. I know she does love me but this is really complicated.”
“I don’t see the complication here. You love her. She loves you. Her ex died, eh yah, but that’s it.” She replied.
Kunle scoffed. “Tito, I wish it was as easy as you are making it out to be.”
“Kunle, it is that easy. People die every day. It’s just unfortunate that the circumstance around this death is quite different,” She replied. “Look, man, I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt so I promise you, she’s going to marry you,” Tito said. “Even if we have to kidnap her.”
Kunle smiled. Tito was a winner. There was nothing she set her sights to that she didn’t accomplish but he wouldn’t bet on this. Tami could be a piece of work when she wanted to and this was already looking like one of those situations.
“Kunle?” Tito said, interrupting his thoughts. “Do you trust me on this one?”
Kunle shook his head. “No, I am sorry,” he said. “I really don’t want to get my hopes up right now, alright?”
“I hear you but as your sister, it’s my duty to help and I am here to do that.” She replied.
Kunle smiled and started their trip home.
“This is going to be your room.” Tami said, dropping Amina’s bags on the bed. “I hope you like it.”
Amina stared at her. “You know I would like it. It’s not like I have been in anything better.” She replied, taking a look at the room. It was indeed beautiful and quite not like anything she had been in.
“I like your sense of humour,” Tami replied with a smile. “I really do hope that things look up for you from here.”
“What about your husband?” Amina asked, taking a seat on the bed. “Would he mind?”
Tami smiled, taking a seat beside Amina. “I am not married.”
“But you will be. They told us at the foundation that we would attend your wedding this weekend, right?” she asked.
Tami cleared her throat, unsure of what to tell Amina. “You should get some rest.”
“Are you trying not to say something?”
Tami nodded with a faint smile. “Yes, Amina,” she replied. “I’ll get you some dinner. Get some rest.” She added and rose to her feet.
“Is it because of me?”
Tami shook her head. “No.” She replied and walked out. She returned to the living room where Muna had been waiting. “So, did the pastor really show up?”
“No, but he told Mom to bring me to church.” Muna replied. “I thought you were listening from the room.”
Tami nodded. “I was, but I just wanted to hear it from you.”
“Mumu,” Muna teased. “You know this is your fault, yeah? If you would just marry Kunle in peace, all would be right with the world.”
“You should be grateful, Muna. I am buying you more time. The longer I stay single, the better for you.” Tami replied.
“Yeah right!” Muna replied, stretching her legs across the sofa. “Tami, are you sure about this?” she asked, staring in the direction of Amina’s room.
Tami nodded. “Yeah…Amina needs help and I am going to give it to her.”
“I also think you need help but who is going to give it to you? Moreover, I fear that this decision is going to push your wedding farther.”
Tami scoffed. “Stop talking like Kunle. Nothing has changed. In a couple of weeks, Kunle and I will revisit this and pick a suitable date.”
“You seem to have it all figured out, don’t you?” Muna asked. “It’s like you have a controller for this relationship.”
“Stop it, Muna. I am not controlling this relationship.” Tami retorted. “I am just facing a really rough patch and I need time to heal from it.”
Muna shrugged. “You might tell yourself that everyday but I feel you are making a big mistake with Kunle. He is a good guy; don’t make a beast out of him.”
“Muna! What are you saying? I haven’t called off the wedding. I just postponed it. Give me time to grieve! That’s all.” Tami replied.
Muna raised her hands in surrender. “I am sorry, Queen Tami.”
“Now you are being cynical and I do not find it funny.”
Muna chuckled. “Take a joke, honey. Take a joke.”
“That is not a joke.”
The room went silent with soft snickering from Muna. Tami responded with a cold gaze and then the silence was finally broken by the sound of the door bell. “I’ll get it!” Tami said, hurrying to the door.
Kunle smiled as she opened the door. “Hi, Tami” He said, stepping into the house.
“Hey, fine boy.” Muna hollered from the living room.
Kunle smiled at her. “Fine girl, how are you?”
“As good as ever.” Muna said, rising to her feet. “I’ll just be in the kitchen or someplace you guys won’t see me.”
“No one chased you away o.” Tami replied.
Muna nodded. “Common sense chased me.” She said and hurried out of the living room.
“Is Amina well settled in?” Kunle asked.
Tami smiled. “You didn’t come down here to ask about Amina, did you?”
“No,” He replied. “How are you?”
She took a seat and beckoned to him to sit by her. “I am fine. And you?”
“I am broken.” Kunle replied, taking his seat beside her.
Tami blinked. “Kunle, you need to—”
“No. I don’t need to understand anything, Tami,” he said, exhaling. “Tami, I love you. I love you so much that it hurts that I can’t help you through this phase.”
“What do you mean? You are helping me.” Tami replied, taking his hand.
Kunle wriggled his hand out of her grip carefully. “Tami, I think you settled for me.”
He nodded. “You were in love with Justin when we met. He lit up your life but at the same time, he blew it up in flames. And then I was always there to quench the fire, maybe…maybe that’s all I am good for. I can’t start up your fire. I am not enough.”
“Damn you, Kunle.” Tami said.
He sighed. “I know. It hurts to hear the truth this way. I guess I’d never be enough for you.” He said, rising to his feet. “Justin is one hell of a guy. I can’t even compete with him in death. So, this is where I leave you.”
“No, Kunle.” Tami said, rising to meet him. “This is temporary; I am just trying to get over this pain.” She added, as her voice broke.
He nodded with a faint smile. “Well, now you have enough time to get over it.” He replied. “I love you, Tami.” He said, pulling her close for a hug.