“She’ll be fine.” The Doctor announced as he joined Tami, Kunle and Muna outside the room. “What exactly triggered it?”
“We gave her some bad news. She lost someone dear to her.” Tami said. “Maybe we were reckless about the delivery.”
Muna exhaled. “I don’t think so. There is exactly no subtle way to give bad news.”
The Doctor smiled faintly. “Amina has some signs of PTSD which I am led to believe are a ripple effect from some of her past experiences, coupled with the recent issue. She’ll need a lot of monitoring.”
“Do we need to bring her to the hospital?” Kunle asked.
The Doctor shrugged. “It depends. I can’t exactly say if she’ll crawl out of this really fast and I can’t also tell you affirmatively that she’ll suffer much longer. It’s not one in which we can predict but with close monitoring, we would know the next step to take but Amina is a strong girl and I think you are all she needs right now.”
“Not like we are going anywhere.” Muna said with a soft chuckle, trying to douse the tension in an already tensed atmosphere. Needless to say, no one laughed.
Tami walked the Doctor to the door while Kunle remained with Muna outside Amina’s room. “So, you went Detective Grimoire on Usman?”
“I wanted to do something nice for her and all I ended up doing was bringing bad news to her life,” Muna replied. “I don’t do anything good, right?”
He chuckled. “You do a lot of good.”
“I am happy for you and Tami, it’s a good step in the right direction.”
He exhaled. “I can’t say I am a hundred percent confident about how things would go from here but I… I guess I am just happy that she’s getting out of it.”
“It’s down to you too. You’ve been a good support system for her. Thank you.” She replied.
He managed a smile. “I love her.”
“I know. That’s the thing about love. It’s quite silly.”
He chuckled. “It’s not silly. It’s selfless.”
She nodded. “Well, let’s say I’m interning in that department, should I ever need advice, I’d contact you.”
“Wait. Is there someone?” he asked, grinning. “Muna? You?”
She raised an eyebrow. “You also think I can’t fall in love.”
“Not exactly, but it looks like it’s going to be some work,” he said. “Poor guy. You and Tami are cut from the same cloth.”
“I hope it is good material.” She joked, pulling her phone from her pocket. “Call me if anything changes with Amina, I have to go now. Lunch date.”
Kunle folded his arms with a smile. “You are really serious, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. He is taking me to the movies. See you later.” She said, heading downstairs.
Kunle waited until Muna was out of sight before going into Amina’s room. He took his seat and watched her sleep. It was not sound. There was perspiration gathering on her forehead as she dragged her breath. He was not a Doctor but this was scaring him. He had seen similar before and they didn’t look good.
“Amina, Amina.” He whispered softly with hopes that Amina would wake up.
She wasn’t waking up. Her teeth clattered nervously as she shrieked in fear whilst asleep.
“Tamiiiiiiiiiiiiii” He screamed out in fear.
Like a cavalry, the door flew open with Tami rushing in. She was almost at the door when she heard him scream her name. She feared the worst.
“I don’t know what’s happening to her.” He said, bending over Amina.
Tami did a quick examination. She touched Amina’s face, she was burning up, her skin was pale. “Carry her. I’ll get the keys.” She said.
Chief Olugbile swallowed his morsel of pounded yam with a smile. “So you went to meet her and she turned you down, abi? Who sent you?” he asked, mouthful.
“Doesn’t it bother you that our kids hate us?” she queried.
He laughed and then coughed violently.
Mrs. Olugbile passed him a glass of water. “Why don’t you finish your meal before talking?”
He gulped the water, belched recklessly in her face and smiled. “Is it not my food?”
She shook her head at one of his numerous despicable habits. Her husband had a lot of vices but she had learned to accept them because she was too weak to put up a fight. She was of the opinion that fighting never got her anything positive from him. On the contrary, it pushed her husband away. She had often failed in putting her views to him kindly. Things were much better between them when two of them were in agreement on any matter, even though it was often wrong deeds.
“I am not happy our kids don’t like us.” She started. “That is not what I want with my life. I want my kids to love and respect me, not hate me. Tito can’t stand us. I can’t take the pain anymore, it is too much for me.”
He smiled as he watched tears well in her eyes. “Look, we shouldn’t care about those things. What are we doing with their likeness? When I was sending them to the best schools and on the best vacations, did they not like us? Are we not the ones responsible for all the stamps on their passports? Or for the good life they have had? Did their likeness matter then? Woman, don’t kill yourself over small matters like these. We are still the ones who will spend the money on the wedding, so why should we allow them disgrace us on with spouses that are not our choice? It is a disrespect to our money!” he said, rising to his feet. “Mind you, these children will only act up if you give them the right to. When you go to Tito and start acting like a child by begging for forgiveness, I don’t know what you expect from her. Who carried her for nine months? I don’t recall her carrying you for nine months. Woman, they can give their opinion but if doesn’t make sense to our plans, it is invalid. Learn to assert your authorities properly.” He stopped to grab an apple from the table. “These apples are not fresh.”
“We got them yesterday.” She replied, looking away.
He tossed it back onto the table. “I hope you understand everything I have said. Makinde’s son is back in the country and I have told him that Tito is back, let’s try to hook them up. If that bull-headed son of yours still wants to collect his inheritance, he had better dump Tami like a sack of bad potatoes and meet us on this planning side. I am sick of him.”
“Damn you!” Mrs. Olugbile said, rising to meet him. “Damn you!!!”
He turned to her. “Is everything okay in your head? Are you talking to me?”
“No. I am talking to myself.”
I nodded. “I thought as much. It couldn’t have been me.”
“I am ashamed of myself. I can’t believe I have been married to an animal like you for so long. I can’t believe it.”
“Me? Animal? Are you sure you have not sold your brain to the devil? Because I don’t know where those stupid words are coming from.”
She grabbed him by the collar. “You are the devil. You are the one I sold my life to. It is because of my cowardice that I have watched and participated in the ruining of our children’s lives.”
He threw her hands off his collar. “Don’t let the devil use you oh. It’s like you want me to start beating you again. Behave yourself, woman. Behave! You’ll tell me if it is me that put you in trouble.”
“Have some shame! Leave these children alone!” she barked. “I am done with you. I am done with you.”
“Where would you go? How would you start again? Do you have any money except the one I give you? Go on! Let’s see you live without me. You are not a victim here, woman. We made those choices together and they were for our children and I’ll be damned if I regret any one of them.” He retorted and returned to his room.
She wiped her tears and purposed in her heart never to let him be the reason for her tears.
Tito was driving to see an old childhood friend when her mother’s call came in. She briefly contemplated answering the call and eventually pulled up to the side of the road before dialling her mother back.
“Hello.” She said into the receiver.
“Tito, where are you?”
Tito shook her head. “On the road.”
“I need to see you now,” she replied. “And you can’t say no, please.”
Tito checked her wristwatch. “We already met this morning.”
“It is afternoon.” She replied.
She sighed. “Okay. Where do we meet?”
“I am at Nino Private Beach.” She replied.
Tito rerouted her trip and in forty-five minutes, she was at the beach. Her name was enough to get her into the beach free of the usual ten thousand naira charge as her mother had settled her tab. She walked up to her mother at the bartender’s table. “Twice in one day? Mom, this is not the best way to get my forgiveness.”
“But you are here, aren’t you?”
“I need that money.” Mrs. Olugbile said. “I am going to file for divorce from your father so I need the money I have been saving with you to start my life over.”
Tito smiled faintly. “You are taking your life back after trading mine, right?”
Mrs. Olugbile swallowed painfully. “Tito, I am sorry. But don’t I deserve a chance to start my life again? I want a chance to fight for you and your brother on a clean slate. Don’t deprive me of it.”
Tito exhaled as she took her seat. “I am happy you decided to leave.” She said, reaching for her mother’s hand. “I hope you mean it this time.”
She nodded. “I mean every word of it.”
“I have bad news though,” Tito said. “I have spent your money. Ten years of not asking for that account, I had to spend it.”
Mrs. Olugbile chuckled. “I know the daughter I have.”
Tito smiled back. “How do you want it? Cash or cheque?”
“I’ll let you know once I start the proceedings with my lawyer,” she said. “I have a question. Do you want me to talk to him?”
Tito laughed. “He is married, Mom…and to a Yoruba girl.”
“I am sorry, Bolatito.”
Tito shrugged. “It’s alright.”
“What can I do to make up for the hurt I have brought to you?”
Tito smiled. “You are doing it already.”
Mrs. Olugbile sighed with relief. “Thank you. I love you, princess.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
Muna and Tife walked out of the cinema laughing at one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.
“I could have sworn that the guy was with his girlfriend.” Tife said.
She nodded as she scooped her ice-cream. “Like, how do you even have the audacity to wrap your arms around another man’s girl in the cinema and say you made a mistake, you thought she was your girl?”
“And the boyfriend went, “Bro? Your girl? Did you bring a girl here?” ” Tife said. “But I like his response. He was like, “No, I didn’t, but I might as well take your girl home.””
“That was the line of the year for me. Even the movie could not top it.” Muna replied. “But that beating he received ehn.”
Tife pulled Muna close as the said guy limped past them with a bruised lip and partly broken knee. Both burst into a terrible laugh.
Muna turned to see Obinna, one of her several exes. It had been forever since she last saw or heard of him and he did bear a grudge against her.
“You came to the cinema?” he asked with a mocking laugh. “Who knew?”
Tife watched the ongoing discussion. He didn’t know how to introduce himself so he hoped that Muna would be kind enough to.
“Yeah, is that a big deal?” Muna replied, shrugging Obinna off.
He smiled. “For a woman like you who never wanted to be seen with me in public while we dated? Yes, it is a big deal.”
Tife swallowed as Obinna ran his eyes over him. He responded with a stern look.
“This one did not take nonsense from you abi?” Obinna continued. “I am happy now, you know?” he said, flashing his wedding band in her face. “I did not die after you left me like a coward because you couldn’t love me. Someone else did.”
“If you are so happy, why are you disturbing her?” Tife asked, stepping in.
Obinna chuckled. “Bro, this babe needs to know what good man she left for you and you need to open your eyes before she runs away from your bedside one morning at three a.m. when you propose to her because she can’t love you. My people warned me of her. We never went out together, she kept us low-key and I thought it was for a good reason but she never had any reason to justify why she did all she did.”
Tife took a look at Muna who looked uncomfortable. He shifted his gaze to Obinna.
“She’s playing you, I promise. This one is cold. She is not made for love or to be loved.”
Tife smiled. “Have you heard of love? Or what do you have for your wife? Spite? Because I don’t understand why a married man, sorry, happily married man would stop to comment on a relationship because his ex said no to him. Your wife probably said no to someone else to be with you. It may not have gotten to the level of a proposal but we all make mistakes and some are worth it while others aren’t and up until this moment, I feel like I haven’t made a mistake but if you say one more word to her, you’ll be paying for artificial dentition. Are we clear?”
Obinna stared at Tife from head to toe. He was clearly no match for a guy with all the muscles in the right places. He simply nodded instead of responding with a word and walked away briskly.
“I am sorry about that, Muna.” Tife said.
Muna smiled. “What exactly are you apologizing for?”
“The fact that you had to hear me threaten him.” He replied with a smile.
She raised an eyebrow. “Not that I ran away from his house at three a.m. in the morning because he asked me to marry him?”
“I believe you had your reasons so I am not bothered.” He replied.
She shrugged. “Not exactly, but I am sure that now that you know that part about me, you’d need to re-evaluate your love interest in me because I might also leave you hanging with no reason.”
“No, you won’t.” He replied.
“Why not?” she asked.
He took her hand. “You are giving me the chance you never gave anyone else and I…I am just a single guy looking for the right girl and I think I have found my right girl.”
“Don’t be too certain.”
He smiled. “I am taking my chances. Now, I have someplace to show you.”
“Where is that?”
He led the way, taking her with him. “Why would I tell you?”
Mrs. Jacobs took her seat beside Tami. “I came as soon as I could. How is she?”
“Stable. She’s in between emotions right now. She’s dealing with flashbacks from the past and memories of Usman in her mind.” Tami explained.
“I am so sorry. She’s been through too much already.”
Tami nodded. “Yeah and it’s exhausting that she has to go through all these.”
“What are we going to do? Do we return her to the foundation so she’s at least among familiar faces?”
“I don’t know yet, she didn’t look like she was doing fine back then with them.” Tami replied.
Mrs. Jacobs stared at Amina. “The others have been asking about her. I think they miss her.”
Tami smiled faintly.
“That’s a good thing, right?”
Tami rose to her feet. “Hopefully. Did you see Kunle outside on your way in? He said he was going to get something to eat.”
“No, maybe he is in the cafeteria. You can go find him. I’ll watch her.”
Tami shook her head. “I’ll stay here.”
Mrs. Jacobs smiled. “You know you want to go find him, why pressure yourself not to? Tami, if you are going to do this on a clean slate, you are going to have to show that you want him and that he means something to you, alright?”
“He does, I am just caring for Amina.”
The older woman laughed. “Amina is going to be fine and so are you. Go and find him.”
Tami smiled and left.
Muna smiled as Tife turned on the lights. “Wow!” she exclaimed.
“Welcome to my studio,” He said. “Like I told you, I am a photographer and a driver. The driving is just a cherry on my cake to earn extra bucks of course, but I’ll soon quit.”
Muna examined the frames on the walls. “These are beautiful, Tife.”
She walked up to a frame and stared intensely. It was of a boy kicking the sand at the beach. The details were the flying sand and the rising wave. She was intrigued. “Did you just happen to take this picture?” she asked, turning to Tife who was standing some metres behind her with a camera in his hand.
“Yes. Just like I took a picture of you staring at that picture.” He replied, dangling his camera.
She smiled as she walked over to see the picture. “Why are you doing this?”
“I like you, Muna. I have liked you from the minute you sat in my cab. Yeah, of course, I couldn’t but notice your beauty, but you are funny, sometimes in a mean way but you have a really kind heart and I am just giving myself a shot to know you better and I am hoping that you take a chance on me too and maybe like me back and we start something new. Both of us.”
She stared at him, her heart racing fast as he drew closer to her. She took a step back. “Don’t.”
“Of course, Muna. I want you to be sure that you want me because if for any reason you are in my bed, sorry, we are in our bed, it’s because you came all the way with me and we are married. So I am not going to ask you for anything that you are not giving.”
She nodded. “Okay.” She replied, softly.
“Would you like me to take photos of you? We could have a session here.”
She cleared her throat. “My face is not made up the way you’d need it to be.”
He smiled. “You are perfect the way you are.”
“Then, let’s make it beautiful.”
Tami stopped abruptly as she arrived at the cafeteria. Kunle was locked in a tight embrace with a doctor…a female doctor. She picked her steps as she drew closer to them. The doctor was pretty, oh, very pretty and her nerd glasses made her even better. As she pulled away from the hug with Kunle she had a wide smile on her lips, her dentition was perfect. Tami hoped for the doctor’s sake that she was just hugging Kunle because she was dying and it was her last wish.
“Hey, Babe.” Tami said as she got to Kunle, sliding her hand around his waist, reaffirming her stance in his life.
He smiled. “Tami, do you remember Wura?”
“Hi. Doctor Wura.” The said Wura introduced.
Tami shook her head. “Hello, Doctor,” she said and turned to Kunle. “No, I don’t remember her.”
Wura smiled again. Tami cursed her in her heart. She must have known that her smile was beautiful so she didn’t hesitate to flash it.
“This is Wura Williams. She is a childhood friend, I have mentioned her. I didn’t even know she worked here.”
Wura nodded. “Tito was coming to see me but she cancelled, I hope I see her. It has been years.”
“Nice to meet you, Doctor Williams.” Tami said.
Wura smiled. “Nice to meet you in person, Tami. I have heard and read so much about you and your foundation.”
Kunle took Tami’s hand. “Take care of yourself, Wura. I’ll see you around.” He said, leading the way.
“So, she was just a childhood friend?” Tami asked as they walked away.
He stopped and turned to her. “Actually, she’s an ex.”