The sound of an ‘ex’ was not music to Tami’s ears. She sat quietly in Amina’s room as she thought about a million things – at the top of the list was the amateurish way in which she handled the matter the minute Kunle mentioned an ex. She had smiled and told Kunle that she would be in Amina’s room. It had been thirty minutes since she left him in the cafeteria hoping he’d run to her with an explanation but he wasn’t doing that. She was beginning to think she was stupid for expecting much from him. She needed something to distract herself but she wasn’t getting it. Amina was still asleep and Mrs. Jacobs had gone for some tea and to make some calls to check on the other girls in the foundation. Her companions were thoughts of what Kunle would think of her. She was not going to torture herself any further. She would go outside and see this ex and probably have a conversation with her.
“Come on, Tami. Don’t be stupid.” She said to herself as she restrained herself from standing up. “What are you going to tell her? Hey, I am Kunle’s fiancée that didn’t marry him because my ex died but now we are trying to work things out and it would be nice if you didn’t come into the picture. Cheers!”
She sighed and buried her face in her palms. This wasn’t looking pretty. She had sent a message to Muna hoping that she’d come to her rescue. Muna knew how to handle matters like this. On the other hand, she never handled adversaries well. She either went in too soft or was too hard on the case. She needed to tread cautiously. She also thought about going to church on Sunday, maybe she was lapsing in that department. The devil was not going to win this time.
The door creaked open as Kunle and Tito walked in. Tami’s heart skipped a beat. First, the ex. Now, the sister. Her heart was taking too much for one day. She wore one of her best cosmetic smiles. She and Tito never had any form of relationship so she didn’t know exactly how to start off with her. The logical thing would be to greet, so she did.
Tito examined Tami with one of her cautious gazes. “Hi” She replied. “How have you been?”
“Very well and you?”
Tito nodded, taking a seat. “Good,” she said and shifted her eyes to a sleeping Amina. “How is she?”
“She’ll be fine. She has lived through worse.” Tami replied.
“I am sorry about your ex,” Tito started as she adjusted in her chair.
Kunle cleared his throat. “Erm Tito, don’t you want to go and look for Wura? I thought you were coming here to see her.”
“Yeah, but now that Tami is here, it is a good time to blend.” She replied.
Tami smiled weirdly again.
“Tami, we’ve only met once, right?”
Tami nodded as though she was being examined. “Yes.”
“You are pretty.”
Tami didn’t know how to respond to her. “Thank you,” she said, hoping it was a safe answer.
Tito snickered and then burst into a horrid laugh.
“Tito, Amina is sleeping.” Kunle said.
Tito raised her hand in apology. “I am sorry,” she said with a soft whisper. “Tami, why are you so stiff? You look like you got hit by a train.”
Yeah. Doctor Wura’s train.
“Oh, I am sorry. I am…am…just really worried about…about Amina,” Tami stuttered. “I am usually not like this.”
Tito nodded. “Yeah, right. You look like you’ve been serious all your life. How are you going to cope with my brother though?”
“Come on, I am fun.” He said.
Tami smiled. She was not smiling because of what Kunle had said but because Tito thought about her before Wura. Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Should we call Wura?” Tito challenged.
Tami’s heart sank into the red sea upon hearing Wura’s name. The competition was on.
“You know Tami met Wura already,” Kunle started in a bid to toss the conversation in another direction. “Wura is not a judge for fun. She is a doctor.”
Tami laughed. “Are you saying Doctors are boring? I am a psychologist.”
“Yeah, here comes the solidarity,” Tito said. “You all are boring. You. Wura. Kunle. I don’t know what kind of marriage you guys are going to have.”
Kunle stared at Tami with a smile. “One with a lot of love.”
“Aww you guys are so cute and it bores me. I should find someplace that is more exciting.”
Tami smiled. “That place is probably not here.”
“I’ll just see Wura before I leave.” Tito said, rising to her feet. Tami rose to meet her.
The door opened and Wura walked in with her attending nurse. “Oh, you guys are here.”
“Wura!” Tito said with a smile as they hugged. “Look at you. You are looking so good.”
Wura nodded. “Thank you.”
Tito took Tami’s hand. “Have you met my sister-in-law, Wura?”
“Oh? I… I thought Kunle was not yet married.” Wura said, taking a look at Tami.
Kunle smiled as he stared at Tami. “We are getting married soon.”
“Is there a date yet?” Wura asked.
Tito chuckled. “No. But very soon.”
“It was nice to meet you, Doctor.” Tami said. “We’ll leave you to attend to Amina.”
Doctor Wura nodded. “Thank you.” She replied as Tami and Kunle walked out of the room. She turned to Tito. “I’ll be off duty in an hour.”
“Okay. I’ll be waiting for you in the cafeteria.” Tito said, stepping out.
“You brought a boy home?” Mrs. Ibekwe asked, peeping out of the window through the curtains.
Muna sighed. “Mummy, I didn’t bring a boy home. Tife is a man.”
“So, why is he in the car? Tell him to enter na, abi you don’t want me to see my grandchild?”
Muna shook her head as though she was shaking off what her mother had just said. “Grandchild? How far? Where you see the grandchild?”
“So you people will not make babies?”
Muna groaned. “Mom! We are not even dating.”
“Yet!” Mrs. Ibekwe chipped in and then started laughing. “Your father just knocked on the window of his car. I am meeting your mystery man.”
“No! Oh no, I just came to get something. I want to go and see Tami at the hospital.”
Mrs. Ibekwe smiled as she took a seat comporting herself. “We won’t take your time.”
The door opened and Tife walked in with Dr. Ibekwe.
“Nwoke oma!” Mrs. Ibekwe exclaimed.
Dr. Ibekwe shot a wry smile at his wife. “I saw this young man outside and he said he was with Muna so I thought to let him in.”
“Good evening, Ma.” Tife greeted.
Mrs. Ibekwe. “Good evening, my dear.”
Muna stared at her parents. “Mom, we’ll be on our way now.”
“My friend, sit down there. You won’t bring man close to the house if you did not want us to see him at all. So you want us to be seeing him from afar? Nonsense.” Mrs. Ibekwe said and turned to Tife. “Sorry, my boy. Wetin be your name?”
She smiled. “As God take like am abi?”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Dr. Ibekwe said. “Muna, how come you’ve never told us about Boluwatife?”
Tife smiled as he took a look at Muna.
“We are just friends, Dad.” She replied, taking a seat.
Mrs. Ibekwe grinned. “Tife? What would you like to eat? We give Muna’s friends special treatment.”
“Mum, you’ve not met any of my friends.”
Mrs. Ibekwe nodded. “That is why we are treating Tife well, so he will stay around. You must be a terrible human not to have any friend.”
“Don’t mind my wife, okay?” Dr. Ibekwe said. “Would you like a drink or fish pepper soup? My wife made some for dinner.”
Tife was trying so hard not to laugh. “Muna and I had some dinner before coming.”
“Eh yah, she took you to eat pizza abi? I am feeling sorry for you already. You should eat good food oh, so that you can stay in shape.”
“Mum!” Muna said, cutting in.
Mrs. Ibekwe rose to her feet. “I’ll be right back.”
“Muna, go and join your Mum in the kitchen,” Dr. Ibekwe said, dismissing Muna. He then took a stern look at Tife. “Young man, hope you are comfortable.”
Tife nodded as he sat tight. He had seen that look before. It was the same one on his father’s face the day his sister had brought her fiancé home. His sister’s fiancé sat as though he was restricted to a little part of the chair, he had thought this was ridiculous and laughed at him but it was because of his father’s game face and if that game face was anything to go by, Muna’s father was dishing it out effortlessly.
“So, you are friends, right?”
Tife nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Good. Tomorrow, don’t come and tell me that the two of you are something else o.” he said.
Tife cleared his throat. He wasn’t going to misfire his shot. “Sir, we could be something else tomorrow but the friendship comes first.”
“Interesting,” Dr. Ibekwe replied. “Tife, she’s my other baby girl. I am sure you know what that means.”
“Good. It’s nice to meet you.” Dr. Ibekwe said and turned on the Television. “Do you like boxing?”
Tife smiled faintly. “Yes, sir.”
“Damn! Is that the Doctor?” Muna said to Tami as they watched Wura speak to a family some metres away from them.
Muna smiled. “She is an eye candy. Is that even her real hair? Jeez! You’ve got your work cut out for you, sis. And that stupid smile on her face, what is wrong with her? She is such a show off. Remind me again, why did Kunle leave this girl?”
Tami frowned as she stared at Muna. “Muna, you are very helpful right now. Thank you.”
“Come on, Sis. I don’t mean to hate but that babe is pure,” She replied. “But she’s nothing like you in Kunle’s eyes and that’s all that matters.”
Tami nodded. “Exactly. I can care less about her.”
“No. You can’t.” Muna teased.
Tami rolled her eyes. “You better pick a side because this war won’t be pretty. Do you know that Kunle’s sister actually took my side? She called me sister-in-law.”
“Okay, that’s a good place to start from.” Muna said.
Tami smiled sheepishly.
“What is it?”
Tami took Muna’s hand and led her to a chair. “Tife is fine!”
“Oh, that? You made it look like you wanted to say something serious.”
Tami widened her eyes. “This is serious. Mom sent a message ahead warning me to stay faithful to Kunle after meeting Tife.”
“What is wrong with your mother?” Muna asked with a laugh.
Tami shook her head. “No idea. Do you like him?”
“I guess so, but I don’t want to rush things. The path is new for me. I need to be sure about it.”
Kunle and Tife joined them.
“Hello, ladies.” Tife said, handing them cups of ice-cream. “Strawberry for Tami and Chocolate for Muna.”
Muna took hers with a smile. “Instinctively flavoured, yeah?”
Tife winked. “You bet.”
“Tami, I think we should step away from these guys. They’d pollute us with their awesomeness.” Kunle said, taking Tami’s hand.
“See you guys soon.” Tami said, stepping away with Kunle.
Kunle stopped as soon as they stepped outside. “I want to talk to you about Wura.”
Tami smiled. “It’s fine. She’s an ex. I am not bothered.”
“That’s good because you have nothing to worry about. I love you, Tami. I have never stopped loving you since the day I set my eyes on you and I want to love you till our very end.”
“What are you saying to me, Mr. Kunle Olugbile?” Tami asked, scooping her ice-cream.
He smiled. “Tami, I want you. I want you to be my wife.”
“I will be your wife,” She replied. “But are you sure about this? Like do you think we could just jump right back in it?”
“Tami, I love you and you love me. Whatever it is, we can face it. We scaled past Justin, we’ll scale past any other thing as long as we are together and that’s all I care about, being together with you,” He replied. “Can we do this?”
Tami nodded. “I don’t see why we can’t. Sure, I am ready.”
“Then we’ll make this happen.” He replied, pulling her close for a hug.
Tami took a deep breath. “When do we get married?”
“Whenever you like,” He replied. “All I know is I am not letting you go.”
Dr. Ibekwe walked into the room carrying a tray. “Breakfast is served. Bread, juice, jam, eggs and sausage for the Queen.” He said placing the tray before her.
“Thank you. But this one that you are serving continental dish, I hope you are not using style to tell me that you are getting tired of a local woman.”
He laughed, taking his seat beside her on the bed. “I like my babe the way she is, I am just using style to tell you that we need a vacation.”
“Vacation? Ehen? Where are we going?” She asked.
He pulled out two tickets from the drawer. “Seychelles Island. Happy Birthday, woman.”
Mrs. Ibekwe smiled. “Thank you, Chike.”
“You make me happy, thank you,” He replied. “Our flight is at the end of the month. I have cleared my schedule, I don’t have to consult and we’ll be there for two weeks.”
“Two weeks? Ah? What about Tami and Muna? We can’t leave them alone for that long.” She replied.
“You are forgetting that they are grown women with men in their lives. See, let’s give them their space.”
Mrs. Ibekwe frowned. “I haven’t been away from my girls for that long.”
“It’s time you allowed them fly. I know you are the best mother in the world but I am sure that you wouldn’t mind being my girlfriend again for just two weeks.”
“What if something happens to them before we are back?” she asked.
He shrugged. “They’ll fix it,” he said, taking her hand. “Babe, they are our daughters but we…you and I, we have earned this vacation.”
She took a deep breath and hugged him. “I love you, Chike.”
“I love you too,” He replied. “Meanwhile, is Tife the finest man you’ve seen?”
She laughed. “Tife is fine oh, ahan. Muna eye sharp die, but somehow you manage fine pass him.”
She applied some jam to her bread. “Chike, you are no longer in the general market. You are only in my market.”
“But you can put your own eyes in the general market?” he teased.
She chuckled. “I’m scouting for my daughter.”
“Madam scout, thank you. Now, eat your food.”
She passed the tray to him. “Eat from it. Don’t think I’ll eat your poison so you can use my ticket to carry one skinny girl to the Seychelles Island. We are going together.”
Chike laughed as he took a bite of the bread. His wife was the complete package and he would not have it any other way.
Tami opened her eyes as she stared at Wura.
“Good morning.” Wura greeted.
Tami stretched her arms. “Good morning.”
“Would you like to get coffee?”
Tami took a look at Amina who was asleep. “No, I am fine. I don’t want her to wake up and not see me here.”
“I thought Kunle was here with you?”
Tami nodded. “Yes, but he had to go and attend to something. What can I do for you?”
“I would like to talk you about Amina.” Wura started.
Tami blinked. “I am listening.”
“I am just going to be direct about this. Amina needs stability. I understand that what your foundation does is to give these girls a home and I learnt that you’ve been taking care of her for a while and that is really admirable but you need to decide if you want to keep her for the long haul or not.”
Tami stared at Amina. “Let’s go outside. I don’t want her listening to this.” She said, leading the way out of the room.
“What I am saying in essence is, if you are not going to adopt Amina, it might be best that you take her back to the foundation so she is forced to integrate with her friends from the community to prevent a relapse when you eventually let her go.”
Tami folded her arms. “I would have to see what Amina wants before taking any decision.”
“I understand what you mean but I am sure you also understand that Amina would not take the most logical decisions about her choice of environment except you take that for her.”
“No, I don’t believe that, Doctor Wura. Amina is a reasonable and smart child. She knows what she wants and if the bad news about Usman’s death didn’t come, we wouldn’t be here. I also understand she’ll get triggers but triggers can be managed depending on how best you address the issue. What I am doing with Amina is getting her into a different environment, I may not be able to do this with the other girls but Amina needs saving and re-integrating with her girls from her community isn’t right until she is ready for it. So, I’ll take my time with that.”
“I hear you are getting married soon, isn’t that something that might affect Amina?”
Tami smiled. “Doctor Wura, Kunle and I will make the best decision for Amina. If that would be all, thank you for your concern, but I’ve got this.” She said, returning into Amina’s room.
“You are back.” Amina whispered.
Tami gasped. “You’re awake?”
“Yeah. How long have I been sleeping?”
Tami walked over to her bed side. “Five years.”
“Wow! So where is your husband?” Amina asked. “And where are the twins?”
Tami laughed. “Welcome back, Amina.”
Tami squeezed her hand. “I am sorry about Usman.”
“I know. Thank you.” Amina replied with a faint smile.
Mrs. Jacobs opened the door. “Amina is awake.”
“Yes, she is.” Tami replied.
Amina waved a hand at Mrs. Jacobs.
“You have visitors.” Mrs. Jacobs said, widening the door. The girls from the foundation trooped in.
Tami watched Amina’s face light up as she touched hands with her friends. She was happy to see them.
Amina smiled as she stared at them. “Thank you, Thank you.”
Tami turned to Mrs. Jacobs with a smile. “Thank you.”
Chief Olugbile shut the door after Kunle. “On a normal day, I should not even allow you into my house but because I am older than you, I’ll try to act reasonably. What do you want?”
Kunle prostrated. “I am sorry I asked you out of my house, Dad.”
“So, you are afraid of losing your inheritance?”
Kunle laughed, standing up. “You know I don’t need your money, Dad. I am doing fine on my own.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Mom slept over at a hotel.”
Chief Olugbile shrugged. “That one is her cup of tea. I did not ask her to leave the house. She chose to leave.”
“And you are not bothered? Dad, you and I know that you haven’t been the perfect husband to Mom and if she’s revolting now, the least you can do is find out how you can straighten things with her.” Kunle replied.
He laughed. “She’ll get tired and come home. Is it today?”
Kunle shook his head in disgust.
Kunle exhaled. “I can’t believe you don’t even feel any remorse.”
“Look here, I don’t have time for this. Why are you in my house?”
The doorbell went. “Sukanmi?” Chief Olugbile called. “Where is that useless boy that is meant to be opening this door?”
Kunle went to the door and returned with a letter. “This is for you, Dad.”
Chief Olugbile tore the letter open and looked through the content briskly. “Look at your useless mother, she is filing for a divorce.”
“My mother is not useless,” Kunle said. “And I am glad that she is filing for a divorce from a man like you who can’t see her worth.”
Chief Olugbile squeezed the letter and threw it at Kunle. “A man like me? I made this family. Look at you, you can’t even get a girl to not choose a dead man over you, you don’t have the right to talk to me.”
Kunle laughed. “Dad, you are pitiful and I feel sorry for you” He said. “Tami did not choose a dead man over me.”
“Be deceiving yourself.” Chief Olugbile replied, taking a seat.
Kunle shook his head. “Goodbye.”
“Running from the truth? Go on. You’ll be back.”
Kunle stopped and turned to him. “My fiancée lost someone that was important to her and yes, we hit rocks but we didn’t hit rock bottom. We are back and better and getting married and you are not invited.” He concluded and walked out.