“Nope, it’s not Aunty Lara. It’s me, Sam.”
She searched everywhere in her room for her phone before she remembered that she left it in on the settee in the parlour after watching a TV show. She was coming downstairs for it when she sighted Sam with her phone to his ears. She scurried down the stairs.
“Uncle Lanre hope you remember that next tomorrow is my birthday? Don’t forget my gift oh. Hmmmn… I’d love a toy helicopter. Yeah, a toy helicopter and plenty sni-.” Lara snatched the phone from him, bending to meet his eye level.
“What was that for, Sam? and who were you on the phone with?” She asked hotly. Sam took a step back.
“Can’t you talk?”
“Omolara,” Lanre called over the phone with a soft chuckle. She hadn’t even ended the call.
Upon hearing his voice, her pulse shot right up.
“Don’t beat the poor boy abeg, he’s just being a child.”
Lara glowered at Sam, her jaws tight before she straightened.
“I’d still spank you!” She said through her teeth, jabbing an irate finger at him.
“I heard that.” Lanre said chuckling.
“I forgot you had the ears of a rabbit.” They both laughed, it eased the tension in her.
“I hope you’re doing good.” She had missed his voice, it’d been a long month since she last heard from him.
“I’m fine, thank you. How are you too?”
“I’m good too. Alright Omolara, have a good day.”
She could feel the holy spirit stir her spirit, she knew it was time to do the needful.
“Don’t end the call just yet. After all, it’s not your airtime.”
“It’s not like you called.” He said laughing. “On a second thought, you might have staged the whole thing with Sam, Omolara did you?”
“Tah! Don’t flatter yourself. I didn’t.” She was on her way back to her room.
He laughed and then there was a pause.
She entered her room and closed the door behind her. She leaned against the door. “Lanre, I’m sincerely sorry for all the pains I caused you. From the benefit of hindsight and divine illumination, I can see that, that our relationship ended the way it did was entirely my fault and for this I’m sorry.” She swallowed. “I pray the Lord gives you a woman who deserves you.” Emotions clogged her throat.
“It’s alright, Omolara. I wish you all the best in life too.”
Unable to say any more words she ended the call.
She lingered on the door and dropped a tear. Thank you Lord Jesus, you said in all things we should give thanks.
She pushed herself against the door, stood upright, wiped her tears and moved to the bed.
She lay on the bed and covered herself with the comforter to ward off the evening cold. She slid open her bedside drawer and fetched a novel. She started reading, she wasn’t so interested, but she continued anyway. Idleness would make depression bear down on her, and she knew she didn’t need that.
The door of her room opened slightly and her Mum cocked in her head.
“Hey dear, are you busy?” Lara dropped the book and shook her head. The woman walked in and perched on her bed.
“How about we have sometime together? If you don’t mind.”
Lara shrugged and flipped the covers back lazily.
The two of them went to the thatched cottage that overlooked the small garden towards the south end of the home.
Mrs Ayeteju wore a small smile and then took a deep controlling breath. It was time for old wounds to pop open.
“Let me tell you a story, my story.” She said and Lara nodded, looking intently into her mothers face.
“I and Akin started courting two years before we married, and so we had good enough time to know and understand each other well.
When we married, our love was pure and enviable. We were the kind of couple young lovers could look up to. We had nothing else except each other, things were really tight and tough for us. You know, in the early years of our marriage, about the first thirteen years, we had nothing! No good clothes, no food, no money, nobody! All our friends and acquaintance hung us out to dry.” Mrs Ayeteju shook her head and sighed. Lara remembered. Her heart was filled with gratitude. Who would ever believe that a polished lady like her once hawked sachet water under the scotching sun and on busy streets of Ibadan? Who would ever imagine that a well educated person like her attended a local ‘grammar school’, where no one could actually spoke good grammar?
She sighed in reminiscence of her humble beginning. She cupped her chin in her palm, as she waited for her Mum to continue.
“When everything was dry and our lives made no sense all I had was Akin, Akin and my daughters. He was everything I ever needed, my sleeplessness made him sleepless, he would cuddle me up and wipe my tears. He would hold me tightly and whisper words of encouragement to my ears. Whenever I was broken, his hugs were like the glue that joined my shards together. I knew he wasn’t lazy, life wasn’t just fair on us. We struggled to make ends meet but it was like trying to make water stand. Akin was a very responsible and moral person, loving and lovely, calm and soothing. I only survived those years of hardship, because he stood by me.” She paused to swallow hard, her eyes were red rimmed.
Heart warming. Lara thought. So what could have destroyed their marriage? Why did mummy ruin it all? Why was she so brash?
The hazy memory of her mother placing the divorce papers on the dining table and screaming “Sign them, I’m done with this joke of a marriage! Mi o se mo!” in a tear choked voice, played in Lara’s mind. She winced inwardly. She remembered also how her father simply picked up the Eleganza pen and signed the papers wordlessly. He went into the room, came out with his bags and went away. That was the last time Lara saw or heard from her father. He was too cool. He gave up his marriage, his house and all he had gathered for his wife without a fight. Was it because of love or was he just playing the fool?
Lara and her sisters wept after their father’s departure. He had been very close to them and so he was greatly missed. Flora and Esther still hated Mrs Ayeteju, they didn’t even bother to covert it. The other day when Lara’s Mum called Flora and asked her when she’d come home and let her see her grand children, Flora had said; “Ma’am, that’s life. In life we usually don’t get all the things we want. Trust me, it happens to the most of us. I’m sure my children too would love to meet their grandpa, just like I wanted so badly on my wedding day to be walked up the aisle by my father. But you see,” She let her voice peter out. The phone was on speaker, Lara was in her Mum’s room that day and the hot undercurrent of animosity in Flora’s voice had set Lara’s teeth on edge. Mrs Ayeteju ended the phone call and burst into tears. Lara went to embrace her and as she soaked in her mother’s sobs and tears, compassion enveloped her.
She had been trying to build a bridge between her sisters and mother, but each time she tried, it came down in flames. Lara wasn’t always like that. There was a time when she too hated her mother, only that it wasn’t just as obvious. The stow away hurt in Lara’s heart was so latent that she didn’t discover it until she had to talk about her biological background to Lanre. That Thursday evening in the garden as she narrated the story to him, tears stung her eyes. After she finished up her tale, Lanre looked her straight in the face and said, “You resent your Mum, Omolara.” It was a piece of information about herself that she hadn’t realized and couldn’t deny. That day, she prayed, hot tears cascading down her face and released her Mum from the prison of her heart.
“The stars finally aligned for us and ‘God picked up our call’, when Akin was awarded a multimillion naira contract. Our tears of sorrow became tears of joy and at last we felt the brighter days of our love had come.” Her mouth curved into a rueful smile.
“In the space of six months we cleared all the debts we thought we’d never be able to clear. Things moved really fast. In the next two years Akin had established a salon for me. That was my very first salon. Things became better, we could now raise our heads in the public. When Akin became a parvenu, long gone friends started returning, fake friends. Shameless people who deserted him when we had nothing came back as gold diggers. I tried to warn him, I made my displeasure known, but he wouldn’t listen. All of a sudden he developed this irritating I’m-the-Man-here-you-don’t-control-me kind of stubbornness, I knew that wasn’t my Akin, I knew it was the influence of his friends at work. My heart longed for the days of nothingness, I hankered after the dry morsel we had eaten with peace and love. All the wealth, good clothes, fame were like dung to me! I decided to be patient, I decided to hold unto the love we once had, perhaps someday he’d come back to his senses. I made up my mind not to throw my years of building a family unto the thrash can. Sugbon, kaka ko san fun iya aje ofi gbogbo omo bi obirin eye wan yi lu eye. (nonetheless, things went from bad to worse.)”
Lara listened with rapt attention, this appeared to be a side of it she never knew.
“Akin changed completely. The metamorphosis was quick and unbelievable. He would come home at ungodly hours, reeking with alcohol. He would cheat and not even care to cover his tracks.”
At this point Lara was too shocked to hide it. She gaped and goggled.
“On one occasion I even decided to confront him. I made him know that I was aware of his flirting. He laughed hysterically, he laughed so hard tears welled up in his eyes and I was still wondering what was funny when he spat out the emotionless; ‘Was it a secret?’ and with that he walked out. I was shattered, I had no one to run to, no one to talk to.”
“All these.. All these Daddy?… Daddy did all these? Are you sure?” Lara stuttered as she was flustered. Her mother let out a mirthless chuckle.
“I never deemed it wise to tell you children all your father did, it would only make you hate him, and what good is that to me? I would never have even told you all these if there was no need.” Lara’s eyes filled up, she looked at her mother through the lens of her tears and compassion swept over her. She felt guilty for ever concluding that her Mum was at fault.
“Whenever anyone complained about the gender of my kids, or suggested another wife, Akin would bore them with the X and Y chromosome thing and with that he shut them up and shut them out. So it came to me as a real shock when he said he wanted a male child and that I don’t seem to have males in my womb. In a nutshell, he said he wanted another wife.” Lara was nonplussed.
“That was the very last straw that broke the camels back. I could cope with anything but rivalry in my home. I was born into a polygamous home, and so I know by firsthand experience the horror of it. The dissension that hung in the air like a foul stench, the perpetual strife that choked life out of us all, the evil motives that laid under even the good we did, the suspicion. Lara I could go on and on. I never wanted any of those for my children. I couldn’t stand polygamy for the second time and so,” She shrugged. “I did what I had to do.”
Lara had lost control of herself totally, she sobbed wildly. Mrs Ayeteju eyes were filled with unshed tears.
Lara’s parents got divorced when she was just fourteen and if not for Jesus who stood in her fathers stead, the rippling effect of the loophole caused by the separation would have ran its full course on her life.
“So where is he now? I mean Dad.” Lara managed. Mrs Ayeteju hit the back of her right hand in the hollow of her left palm. “I dont know oh.”
“But I know he moved to Port Harcourt with his new wife.” She couldn’t hide the bitter edge in her voice. “And do you know the worst thing? They had no child in their marriage. So much for male children.” She said with a scornful sneer.
Lara drew a deep steadying breath.
“Lara I was afraid for you. I didn’t want you to fall into the hands of a wicked man. I didn’t know how to choose the right husband for you because the today’s angel might turn out to be the demon tomorrow. Just look at Akin.” She sighed.
“I wanted to pick your husband myself, I wanted to get the right man, but how could I have achieved that? Something deep down within me always echoed; ‘the best you’d get is another Akin!’ That always scared me.” She paused.
“When you finally said, God had shown you his will, my fears subsided. I accepted Lanre wholeheartedly ever before I met him. I’ve always known you to be a serious believer and something reassured me that nothing could be better than what the Lord says. I loved Lanre, and I still love him. I wanted you guys to end up together, he would’ve been my son and not just a son-in-law. But..” She shrugged. Lara wept and she fell on her mother’s shoulders.
“God gave you Lanre, please go back to him. Hear him again before you take any step at all… Hmm… I love you. Don’t because of how you feel just jump at anyone who comes by, please oh. Jo oko mi.”
Lara took her Mum’s hand. “I will do nothing without God’s go ahead.” She looked into her mother’s face and thumbed off the tears on it.
“Mum, they say time heals wounds. Have your broken heart healed over time?”
“No! The wound is as fresh as ever. For me, time has healed nothing.”
Lara nodded. “I guessed so too. So, have you forgiven Dad?”
“Forgive ke? Maybe in heaven. If God himself would come and sort it things out between us.”
“Mum if you carry a stool for a minute how heavy would it be?”
“Not so heavy.”
“For one hour?”
“It will be heavier.”
“For a day?”
“Shae you want to break my hand ni?”
“Exactly, the longer you nurse the grudge, the greater a burden it is to you, the heavier the hurt and consequently, it weighs you down such that you cannot move forward.” Lara explained and Mrs Ayeteju clapped.
“Joyce Meyer in the making. That was a great message ma’am.” She said derisively. “Look you found it so easy to preach that, but my dear you have no clue how hard it is to do that. Lara, it easier said than done.”
“Yeah, I know it’s not easy, in fact it’s impossible!” Lara said and Mrs Ayeteju frowned.
“Yeah, it’s impossible for you to forgive Daddy but for you to move ahead you need to forgive him.”
“What are you saying gan sef? Are you listening to yourself at all?” She asked.
“Yes, I know what I’m saying and I mean every bit of it. Forgiveness is beyond the capacity of any man, they say to err is human and to forgive is divine. To power to forgive can only come from God. Mum you can only let go of the past if you give your life to Jesus.”
“Really? Do you know how deeply the evil Akin did are etched on my mind? Can your Jesus ever clear all the memory?”
“Well, the memory may remain, but the potency and venom of it would be gone, completely swallowed in victory.”
She sighed. “Lara, you’re right. I’ve not been able to move forward. I’ve been dancing and wallowing on the same spot for eleven years. Hmm. Please lead me to Jesus.”
He walked in and closed the door behind him, carefully. His hair and pyjamas were damp with perspiration. He slid under the snug duvet and laid gently, he didn’t want to wake his sleeping wife. He held her close and placed her head on his chest.
“Dear, what took you so long?” She asked.
“I was praying in the study.”
“What or who were you praying for?”
She sighed. “I think we should get to see and talk with him. Or what do you suggest?”
“Yeah, I think we should see him too. Maybe we should invite him over tomorrow for lunch.”
Dear reader, I know your smart mind is calculating already, trying to fix the puzzle. Well done. Smiles.
The next episode is the penultimate episode and so I’d like us to play a little game. Okay, guess what will basically be happening in the next episode and write your guess in the comment box or on any of my social media handles. You could join the conversation with harshtag CFCleavetocleave. I’d tell you if or not your guess is right. Thanks.
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