Please don’t forget the upcoming release of my first published book titled “George’s Pieces Of Me”.
Tami was trying to sleep but the doorbell would not stop ringing. Muna had the keys so she had no reason to be drumming irresponsibly on the door. Tami hurried downstairs to the door with strong words on her lips ready for the person who would not allow her enjoy her much anticipated rest.
As she opened the door, she swallowed the harsh words like a delicious morsel of pounded yam and provided her best smile for Chief Olugbile who welcomed her with a face has hard as a rock.
“Good afternoon, Sir.”
“Can I come in or do you prefer to send me out like Kunle has done?” he asked.
Tami reclined and allowed him into her house. Kunle sent his father out? Her brain couldn’t comprehend those words as she followed Chief Olugbile into the living room.
He turned to her in a fit of rage. “All I have ever asked for is that my son loves and respects me, but what do you do? You take it away!”
“Sir, I don’t understand.”
He scoffed. “Kunle walked me out of his house because of you. Can’t you see how toxic you have become to my son and my family?”
Tami’s heart raced as she struggled to string words together. “Sir, I am really sorry but I am sure that he wouldn’t just do that, he must have been erm—”
“Bewitched!” Chief Olugbile replied. “Because I see no reason why he would talk to me like that because I told him to move on without you.”
He nodded. “Yes! I told him to find someone else. No, I have actually found him someone else. Someone who doesn’t have an ex that killed himself. Someone who won’t postpone the wedding.”
Tami took a deep breath. “I am sorry about the effect of the postponement, Sir, but I felt it was the right thing to do at the time. It’s just a day. It’s not the most important day of our lives. Kunle and I understand this.”
“Does he? Or did you make him?” he asked before exhaling. “Look, Tami, I sympathize with you. In fact, I am sorry you lost somebody but don’t you know that the longer this postponement goes on, the more dangerous it becomes for me? My career? My status? My family?”
“My son.” Tami said calmly.
Chief Olugbile stared at her. “What do you mean?”
“I was expecting you to use the word, ‘My son’, Sir”
He clapped his hands in disbelief. “What are you insinuating, young lady?”
“Nothing, Sir, I just thought it would mean a little more to you to worry about Kunle than about the other things.”
“Are you lecturing me, woman?”
Tami shook her head. “No, Sir. I know I have caused Kunle and your family a great deal of pain because of what happened in my life but we are working it out. Please, give us time.”
“You don’t have time. My son will never marry you. I can swear on my life.” He concluded and walked out.
Kunle was not surprised to see his mom at his workplace. “Good morning, Mom.”
“Kunle, how are you?”
He smiled. “I am fine, thank you.” He said, pointing to a chair.
She took her seat. “Have you had anything to eat today?”
He folded his arms. He was not ready to go round in circles before returning to the reason for his mother’s visit. “Mom, let us get to the matter. So, Dad told you I sent him out of my house?”
“You sent your father out of your house?” she asked with genuine shock.
He sighed. “I thought you already knew.”
“No, I did not. How dare you ask your father out of your house?”
“Mom, he was overdoing it. Do you know he came to my house to tell me to leave Tami for one of your friend’s daughters?”
She gaped. “And that is why you sent him out?”
“Part of it. Mom, Tito can’t stand either of you because of how you ended her relationship and now you want him to mess mine up because of a few challenges?”
“No, Olakunle. I wouldn’t want to see you unhappy and I am sure that your father meant no harm either.”
“He doesn’t need to mean harm to cause harm, Mom. I really love Tami and I know that she’ll get past this very soon and we’ll be fine.”
“Is that what you are trying to believe?” she asked. “Tami is a lovely girl and she’s doing the right thing by trying to heal but the question is, how long can you wait?”
He clenched his teeth. “I don’t know, Mom. But what I know is Tami is my best friend and my lover and if she’s sinking, I am not letting her go down alone.”
Mrs Olugbile smiled. “My boy, I am so proud of the man you are,” she said. “And I hope that Tami gets past this phase quickly.”
“Mom, when are you going to talk to Tito?”
She relaxed in her seat as tears welled up in her eyes. “Kunle, I don’t know how to face Tito.”
“Tell her you are sorry, Mom.” He replied.
She wiped her eyes. “Tito will never forgive me. She trusted me and I let her down.”
“Ask for her forgiveness.”
She rose to her feet. “You don’t understand. Tito told me when she fell in love with him, she told me that he was not from our tribe and begged me to fight for him when she was going to tell your father and I agreed.”
“Then what happened?”
She shook her head sorrowfully. “I chickened out when your father started talking and turned on her.”
“Mom…” Kunle dragged with a tone of disappointment.
She nodded as her tears fell out effortlessly. “I can’t face her.”
Kunle walked over to his mother and hugged her.
“I am so sorry, Kunle. I haven’t been enough for you and your sister.” She mumbled amidst her tears. “I am a disappointment.”
“No, you are not.”
Tami gathered what she had left of Justin – his letter and made for the trash can at the back of her house. She read it for the last time and took a deep exhale that felt like a release. “Goodbye, Justin.” She muttered under her breath and tossed the letter into the trashcan. She picked the keg of kerosene sitting in the corner and sprayed some into the metal trashcan before striking a match into it. She watched it burn closely, hoping that all pieces would transform to ashes and that the wind would blow them all away, probably blow away the memories and guilt from her heart. She placed her hand over the flames and shut her eyes.
“Are you trying to burn?” Amina asked.
Tami retrieved her hand, startled by Amina’s sudden appearance. “No. I am burning what’s left of him.”
Amina folded her arms. “But it’s your hand that is burning.”
Tami smiled. “Amina, you are impossible.”
“Is it working? The Doctor you are seeing?”
Tami chuckled. “Come on, it’s nothing serious. Let’s go inside.”
“I can listen to you.”
Tami smiled with a nod. “I am taking your offer,” She started. “I realised something today, I have been so wrong. I have been so blind and foolish and I have hurt others in the process.”
Amina took her seat on the step by the door. “Okay…”
Tami exhaled. “I can’t believe I am talking to you.”
“You haven’t even started talking to me.” Amina replied with a soft laugh. “Go on.”
Tami took her seat beside Amina. “I was really in love with Justin but never the right type of love.”
“Is there a right type of love?”
Tami laughed. “Of course. At least, I score some points over you.”
Amina frowned. “Finally.”
“What do you mean by finally? I am supposed to be the adult here.”
Amina shrugged. “Old soul, young body. I like to think I am different.”
“You are different and it’s so pure, Amina. You are so pure.” Tami said, touching Amina’s face.
Amina shuddered. “Let’s talk about you.”
“Fine.” Tami said with a smile. “So…I realised today that I held on for too long to Justin and it broke me.”
“I am sorry.”
“It was my mistake and I feel bad about it and I think in a bid to compensate for it, I made more mistakes.” Tami replied.
Amina took a deep breath. “It’s not your fault that his father is angry at you.”
“Oh, it’s my fault. I disappointed everyone and there is little I can do to change that.”
Amina shook her head. “The only person that you need to talk to is your fiancé. It’s about the both of you, not everyone.”
“It’s not that simple. Family is a lot bigger than that. And when you hurt one, you sort of hurt all.”
“Oh, when I marry Usman, we’ll run away from all this drama.”
Tami laughed. “All the best with that, Amina.”
Dr. Ibekwe watched his wife as she spoke with her pastor on the phone.
“Pastor, this thing is from Chike’s household. They did not allow Tami marry in peace and now Muna will not even talk marriage with me.”
“Pastor, hope you are doing fine o!” Dr. Ibekwe shouted, hoping the pastor would hear him and round-off the call that his wife was unwilling to.
Mrs. Ibekwe smiled. “Okay, Pastor, I will call you later. Goodnight. Regards to your wife.”
“I am glad he always picks the clue,” Dr. Ibekwe started. “Why do you think it’s my people that are stopping our daughters from getting married?”
“You know their ways, no be me go talk the thing wey dey do una for your side.” She replied.
He smiled. “Woman.”
“Don’t call me woman o!”
He grinned. “My woman.”
“Ehen. What is it?” she said with a smile.
He beckoned to her. “Come and sit with me.”
“I don’t have time for this old love o, which one is come and sit with me? You were not like this some years ago.”
“We have grown older.” He said with a chuckle.
She smiled, taking her seat by his side. “But not our hearts.”
“I agree.” He replied and leaned in to kiss her when the door opened, causing them to pull away.
Muna cleared her throat. “Good evening, young love.” She greeted with a grin.
“Good evening, what do you want in our house?” Mrs. Ibekwe asked.
Muna stared at them. “Were you guys busy?”
“Was your eye paining you?” her father replied.
She laughed. “Actually, I came home because I have an appointment in the morning and if I stayed the night at Tami’s, I’d have to wake up a little too early.”
“So you came here because you want to sleep longer? Is that how you are going to find a man to marry you? By sleeping your marriage years away?” Mrs. Ibekwe queried.
“What is funny?”
Muna took a deep breath. “Mrs. Ibekwe, I love you but if you continue with this marriage talk and stress, I wouldn’t love you so much.”
“What has your love done for me?” her mother asked. “Am I eating it or is it bringing grandchildren for me?”
Dr. Ibekwe laughed. “Baby, that’s a good one.”
Muna stared at them and smiled. “When I find something as pure as what you both have, or something purer than it, something deeper than what you feel for each other. When I find the one who’ll defend me the way you defend my mother, when I find a man who would lay his pride aside to cover the flaws of my frail mother, when I find the beauty in me that my mother radiates effortlessly, when I find love…or when love finds me, you won’t have to ask these questions about marriage because it will be an icing on the cake,” She said and paused. “Goodnight, Mom and Dad.”
Dr. Ibekwe and his wife stayed silent as they watched Muna go to upstairs.
“Is Muna a poet?” Mrs Ibekwe asked.
Dr. Ibekwe smiled. “I don’t know but I am proud of that woman.”
Kunle arrived at work with a lot on his mind. Tami had called to cancel the appointment with Doctor James. When he asked the reason behind it, she gave no definite answer. He thought about going to see her at home but he was scared that it might be a little too much for him so he opted for work. Maybe if he could bury himself in some work and things that did not concern Tami, he’d have peace of mind.
Inasmuch as he tried to avoid it, the weirdo that he had met at Doctor James the previous day had done well to plant seeds of worry in his mind. He truly feared that Tami was on a cliff and if her calling to cancel the appointment was anything to go by, he needed to brace himself for whatever was coming.
He could also not shake the thought of how the meeting between his mother and sister would go. He had convinced Tito to meet their mother for breakfast with hopes that both would reconcile. He hoped that it would not be a disaster that would boomerang.
He had barely settled into his seat when the door opened and Tami walked in. He rose to his feet immediately. She was wearing a yellow short gown and a pair of sandals. She let her hair down and looked ravishing. He knew his Tami but this wasn’t her.
He smiled. “Hi.”
“I came to get a book.” She said.
He stepped away from his desk and walked over to her. “You could have asked outside.”
“And where is the fun in that? I know the boss, I roll with the boss.”
He folded his arms. “Where is Tami?”
“Do you mean the broken Tami or the Tami looking to make things right?” she asked.
“Who are you?”
Tami took a deep breath. “Kunle, I am very sorry. I have taken you for granted and transferred the aggression to you and caused you a lot of problems and for this, I ask you to please, forgive me.”
“Tami, it is fine.”
She shook her head. “No, it’s not fine and I do not take your sacrifices lightly.”
“I love you, Tami.” He replied, hugging her.
Tami took a deep breath and pulled away from him. “Can we start over? Please.”
“Don’t you want to complete the meeting with the psychologist?”
She shook her head. “No. I know you may think something is wrong with me but I need to step out of that environment. I have accepted my flaws, I don’t want to go through it being in my face anymore. I want to move on from it. I can handle it.”
Kunle smiled. “Hi, my name is Kunle Olugbile.”
“Tami Oni.” She said, with her hand stretched to him.
He took her hand and pulled her close to him. “Would it be rude if I kissed you on our first meeting?”
He kissed her. “Take that down as my flaw.” He said.
She chuckled. “Let me take you out to lunch today.”
“But it’s not lunch time yet.”
She checked her wristwatch. “True. In that case, let’s go see a movie and then we’ll do lunch after the movie.”
“You know I am at work, right?”
She shrugged. “It’s a good thing you are the boss here.”
“Fine, I’ll get my keys.”
She stopped him. “I am taking you out. Dude, try to relax. It’s not on you.”
“Fine. Be warned, I like good food.”
“Of course, I know that.” She said and stopped as her phone rung. “It’s Muna,” she said, answering the phone. “What’s up? I can’t talk now.”
“We need to see. It’s urgent.” Muna said from the other end of the line.
Tito sipped on her juice slowly as her mother stared at her.
“Tito, I’ll just go straight to the point. I am sorry,” Mrs. Olugbile started. “I don’t know if there is anything I can do to make up for what happened.”
“There is nothing, Mom.” Tito replied.
Mrs. Olugbile exhaled. “Tito, I am sorry. I don’t know what to say.”
“I confided in you. I trusted in you and I don’t even understand why the person I was in love with needed to be Yoruba. It’s crazy, Mom. I only came here because Kunle asked me to. I really can’t see any reason why we are talking about this.”
“Because I am sorry. I was a disappointment and I am really sorry, I need you to forgive me. I can’t have my daughter come home and not show up in our house. I can’t have it.”
Tito downed her juice. “That place is not home for me.”
“Are you saying that you are never going to forgive me?” Mrs. Olugbile asked. “Tito, I don’t have the right to tell you when to get over it, but please, as your mother, forgive me.”
“As my mother, you should have helped me.”
Mrs Olugbile sighed. “I know, I made a mistake. Have you never made a mistake in your life? Please, just forgive me.”
“Mom, I am sorry but you can’t demand my forgiveness.”
“I am not demanding it, Tito. I am begging for it. Plus, it’s not as if you guys got married and I came over to your house to scatter things.”
Tito chuckled. “You see the thing about love is, inasmuch as you love someone, you’d want your family’s support and maybe my mistake was waiting for your support which was never going to come,” she replied. “I should have damned the consequences and found a way to be happy.”
“Tito, I know I am not saying all the right things but the only thing that is true is that I miss you and I want you back in my life. Please.”
Tito shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Amina stared at Tami, Muna and Kunle as they sat opposite her. They had not said a word since they sent for her.
“Is there a new wedding date?” she asked, breaking the silence.
Tami smiled faintly. “Very soon.”
“Good. So, why is everyone acting somehow?”
Tami took her seat beside Amina. “I don’t have good news.”
“I know,” Amina replied. “This place is awkward enough to know something is wrong. What happened?”
“We hired someone to look for Usman, he finally got back to us. Usman is dead,” Tami said. “I am so sorry.”
Amina took a deep breath. “Innalilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon” she said and then wept.