By Tomi Adesina
Dora was sitting with Toni and Gideon when I returned. “Hi sis, having a good evening?” I asked, taking a seat.
“It couldn’t be better. Jake did a great job.” She said. She paused and swallowed. “Where is Jake?”
I sighed. “He’s gone home.”
“Why? He didn’t even say he was leaving.”
I rolled my eyes. “It was an emergency; he had to take KP home.”
Gideon and Toni gasped. “Isn’t KP your man?” they chorused.
“Ya…but he told me that he couldn’t make it, and it turns out he showed up without even letting me know.” She replied dumbly.
I yanked Dora by the arm away from the table out of the crowd. “KP is your boyfriend and you are having a breach in your relationship, what effort are you doing to salvage it?”
She threw her hand away furiously and pulled her hair back from her mouth. “KP and I are fine. I don’t know where he is getting his silly ideas from but we are fine. I’ll talk to him. I chose him because I love him.”
“I hope so.” I replied and started to walk away.
She hissed. “Why are you concerned with our relationship? Or is it because of Jake?”
I paused momentarily and rubbed my forehead. I had to think intelligently, I didn’t want Dora to think that Jake didn’t matter so much, when he did. “What does Jake have to do with this?”
“Kolapo thinks I am seeing Jake and I feel you are on KP’s side on this matter, or aren’t you?”
I smiled and shrugged. “Jake is an adult, you are also an adult, you know what is best for you. I just think Kolapo is a good guy, and he doesn’t deserve to be pushed aside.”
“Is that all what concerns you? Are you not scared of losing Jake?”
A fake smile lurked around my lips. “Why should I be? Jake is not my possession.” I smiled. “Let’s get party.”
“Darlene, are you jealous?” she asked seriously.
I didn’t turn to face her. “I’ll be with Gideon and Toni.” I said and walked away.
“You guys were taking forever.” Gideon said, pouring himself a drink.
Toni made the hand to the ear gesture. “Gideon says a lot of blabber….blabber”
“Honey, why do you love to humiliate me?” he asked with a smile.
She smiled. “You are so adorable when you speak like that.”
They kissed and I admired the passion in it. They were young and so in love. Dora’s return to the table interrupted the kiss. Gideon cleared his throat.
“Hi Dora, Hope you are having a good evening.” He said, cleaning his collar. Toni’s lip-stick had stained it.
Toni laughed. “Gideon, you are so silly honey. You think I love to humiliate you, but here you are smearing lip stick all over your shirt in a bid to clean it.”
We all laughed.
“Can I share in the joke?”
We turned to see Dare standing behind us. ‘Just what I needed to ruin my evening’
“Hi Dare” Toni said.
He smiled and took his seat. “Toni, good to see you tonight” He said. He turned towards Gideon. “Hey Man, how are you doing?” he said, offering his hand.
“Good. Good food, Good music, Good beer and a Good wife. Of course, I am doing good.” He replied taking the handshake.
Dare smiled at Dora. “Congratulations, you are looking beautiful tonight.”
She smiled courteously. “Thank you Dare, you look smart.”
He nodded in appreciation and took a deep breath. “Darlene, good evening”
“I am no monster.” I replied with a smile. “Good evening, Dare.” I said and left the table for the house.
Dare caught up with me on my way to the house. “Darlene…erm…ah….” He sighed and tried to compose himself. “Darlene, you look beautiful tonight.”
“Is that what you chased me down here for?”
He frowned slightly. “A ‘thank you’ won’t hurt.” He replied.
“Thank you.” I said hastily. In my heart, I was in no hurry.
He sighed. “I am done here.” He said and walked away.
I refrained from almost calling his name. I left for my room and started to read some journals for the case against Chidi Obi. It was late into midnight before I retired to bed. I punched my pillows hard as I struggled to find some sleep, still I couldn’t. I tried to play some Enya music on my deck but it wasn’t working tonight. So I decided to take a walk to the kitchen. Maybe I could resume my eating disorder like when I was still a lonely teenager. I had battled with my emotions as a teenager. I did a lot of thinking on my own and it made me mature so early.
Grandma had said to me one day, “Ya growing too fast. You need to slow down kiddo, and live with your mates.”
I had resulted into eating so much after bedtime, it had helped my loneliness. I opened the fridge and fetched a loaf of bread and a jar of Jam. I had almost gotten to half of the loaf when I stated to doze in the kitchen.
“Do you miss your Mom?”
I raised my head almost immediately. “What did you say?” I asked, staring at Dora’s mother.
“I meant, when you saw me taking Dora up the podium, did you miss your mother?”
I sighed and put the bread back into the fridge. “I don’t have to discuss this with you.”
She scoffed. “Who else could you talk to?”
“I didn’t have a mother for 24 years, why would I need one now?”
She smiled cautiously. “You are just like Danielle.” She said, and turned away.
“Excuse me? How did you know my mother’s name?” I asked, abruptly.
She smirked. “My bad! I almost forgot you are a lawyer, how dare I put your detective skills to test?”
“Woman, how do you know my mother?” I asked aggressively.
She smiled. “I like this position where you are. Danielle always got aggressive; it won’t help you against Subomi.”
“Are you now stalking my life?”
She took her seat. “The case against Subomi is public, everyone knows. I am not one to stalk lives; you already had ‘Daniel the psycho’ around you for long.”
“WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?” I yelled.
She shook her head in disagreement. “Take it easy young lady; you would soon start swearing when you take on Bankole. You need to persevere, Profession up against Passion.”
“Get out of here.”
She smiled. “Am I in your head, Darlene?”
I had few drops of perspiration gathering on my forehead. I could feel hot sweat trickle down my back. “I don’t want to see you again. How do you know my mother?”
“I don’t have to lie to you. I have always liked your Dad, Dora was the emergence of a one night stand to him, but to me, it was something I had all planned in my head. I had envisioned my life with him for a very long time.” She replied, fetching an apple from the fruit bowl.
I snarled. “You wanted my mom’s life! I always knew something about Dora was wrong, now it’s all clear, and to think I love that girl. I will make you both pay for coming into our lives.”
“Forget about Dora. The tiny idiot is innocent, she was so excited to know that you were her step-sister, she has so much respect for you, don’t lose it on my account.” She hurried and paused. “Darlene, I always wanted your mom’s life and I won’t lie about that. I got a child, that was fair, but I never got Williams’s love, that was bad.”
I broke down in tears.
“Cry harder, that’s the only way to get it all out. Fight for justice, you really want to hit me, what is restraining you?”
I yelled louder.
“Composure Darlene, Composure. That’s all you need against Subomi.”
I screamed out in fear and crawled up near the sink. I was trembling now. “Leave me alone….” I yelled out in fear.
“Subomi won’t leave you alone, he is gonna fight till he tears you apart, you are a rookie and he’ll prove it before the whole world. A rookie can’t beat a pro, you will be a testimony to that fact.” (This Story was copied from www.youngicee.com)
I cried harder. “I’ll beat Subomi.” I said weakly.
“I didn’t hear you. Is the fire of determination burning right in you?”
I cried out. “I’ll beat Subomi.”
“I see fear, frail and anger. Give me the passion that beat Jumoke Bankole, show me the Darlene Williams who breezed through almighty Professor Dean’s class at Harvard University. Show me the Darlene who puts aside her emotions and fights like a real winner. Give me the attitude of a winner!!!” she yelled furiously.
“I WILL BEAT SUBOMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII” I screamed out in tears.
She hugged me tightly. “You’ll be fine by God’s grace.”
I woke up in my bed with Dad by my side. As soon as I saw Dora’s mother, I jumped up in fear. “She’s dangerous. She hypnotized me.” I shouted out.
“For all the right reasons.” She said, raising the curtains.
Dad stared at me. “Will she be fine?” he asked.
“She will.” She replied.
I stared at them. “What is going on here?”
“She is a psychologist. I want you to be in the right frame of mind before you take on Subomi.”
I gasped. “So you knew she was hurting me? Dad, she always wanted my mom’s life. She made you sleep with her.”
He nodded in agreement. “She told me all that too. Let’s put it aside and get you together.”
“Why are you interested in the case now?”
He shrugged. “My fiancée made me understand how badly I have treated you. She has been talking to me and now I understand that I have been a bad father to you, so I just felt that this is the least I can do.”
I stared at Dora’s mother and she smiled. Was she expecting a thank-you for giving me my father’s attention? “So do you think I am stable to take on Subomi?” I asked.
“Not yet, but I feel fire in you. You have a burning desire that can’t be quenched. If you attack Subomi without respect, you will do fine.”
I nodded and grabbed my bathing suit. “I have to finalize my driving lessons today. I will see you all later.” I said, and stepped into the bathroom.
“You are welcome to church.” An Usher greeted as I stepped into the ‘House of God’.
Pastor Ben, the church parishioner was standing in the alley. He greeted me with a warm smile. “Hello Darlene”
“You age slowly Pastor Ben.” I said full of commendation.
He nodded, ruffling his grey beards. “It’s the lord’s doing.” He smiled. “I hear your step sister had her coming out yesterday.”
“Yes Pastor. And I’d rather you call her my sister.” (Visit www.youngicee.com) I replied with my tongue out.
He smiled. “I always knew you would be this tough. Accepting a step sister as a ‘sister’ is tough.” He said, patting me on the shoulder. He stared hard ahead of me with a great deal of surprise in his eyes. “I see you brought a ‘lost sheep’ along.”
I turned round to see Jake. He was wearing grey pants, pink checked shirt and a black shoe. Jake looked funny trying to dress official, his shirt had made a mess of everything. “Happy Sunday Pastor, I hope I still fit into ‘God’s society’.” He said, with his hands in his pockets.
Pastor Ben was all smiles. “You are always welcome into ‘God’s society’; this is the only place you won’t be rejected.” He reached for Jake and hugged him. “I have missed you son.”
“Me too, the church is all different. It’s been how many years since I last came here.” He said. They walked over to the instruments. “The Organ is all rusty.”
Pastor Ben. “No one has played her in a while. She’s been here for years; we thought we would keep her as an antique.” He blew some dust away from the Organ’s Top with his mouth. “A church antique will do, right?”
Jake dusted the Organ and tapped the chords gently. “They still come out good.”
“You remind me of when you were fifteen Jake; you were so zealous for Christ. You would be here as early as six in the morning to play the Organ. Where did those years go?” Pastor Ben asked with a questioning look. I had tried to stay close to them as they talked.
I watched as Jake bowed his head. He rose it, but not without tears in them. I was tempted to run to him. “It feels good to be back, Pastor Ben.”
The tension between Jake and Pastor Ben pricked me so I stepped out for some air. I took a walk round the church. Children rushed into their classes for the Sunday school and adults strolled into the main auditorium. I took a quick peek into the church and Pastor Ben and Jake were no longer at the Organ. They had probably left for the parish office.
I took my seat beside an elderly woman. Typically, as a youth, you dread seating beside an elderly Nigerian woman during a church service or any function that has a mixed audience in ages. I ‘technically’ regretted my choice to seat beside Mama Adeoti, one of the elderly women in the church. I had known her since I was a kid. She was the chief ‘Mrs. Nosy’ then; no information could pass without her noticing it. She criticized the lady who led the Praises and Worship; she said her skirt was too tight and that her rhythmic movements were to appease the congregation.
I then said to her. “But Mama Adeoti, Lucy is wearing a robe. It is to reduce the effect of what you are saying.”
She hissed. “Lucy is Lucifer’s daughter. Her skirt is too tight, and I can notice, FINAL.” She adjusted her half-mooned spectacles and peered further into the church. Mama Adeoti made me wonder if we weren’t committing more sin by talking about people’s dresses than ‘catching the sermon’.
She shifted grounds to attacking Jake. “That honey Jake has changed. He used to wear suspender jeans when he was a kid, now I know he has a striped boxer under his pants.” I felt very uncomfortable. “And those biceps are too big, ‘Omo buruku’ she said in Yoruba, an indigenous Nigerian language meaning ‘Bad Child’. “I can see through his shirt. He should wear shirt sizes like Bishop Olu.”
“BISHOP OLU???” I asked with a questioning gaze. Bishop Olu wore XXXL shirt. That man has his own seat in the church; Jake could kill Mama Adeoti for that!
She snorted. “And then his hair is too full. He should have a clean cut; else I will be doing that for him with Veet removal cream.”
“VEET???” I had had enough. I prayed earnestly for the service to come to a close as Mama Adeoti continued taking swipes at everyone including Pastor Ben.
She nudged me in the waist when she noticed I was trying to ignore her. “Doesn’t Pastor Ben know he is getting old? He still wears fitted shirts. Last evangelism, he wore a Lacrosse Polo. My grandson isn’t allowed to wear Lacrosse yet.” She shoved her hand up. “We all need Jesus.”
“You sure are right!” I said with a relief thinking she had halted her sermon and would give me room to listen to Pastor Ben preach.
She smiled revealing her broken teeth. “Glad to have touched your life.”
Yeah right! After Pastor Ben’s sermon which I struggled to listen to, no thanks to Mama Adeoti, I joined him outside the church.
“You were heavily distracted by Mama Adeoti today. You should choose your seat properly next time.” He said.
I nodded. He waved to some members as they exited the church.
“So how is the case against Chidi Obi coming? The whole community is rooting for you to land that man behind bars, maybe justice can get served.”
Chidi Obi had been involved in many illegal take-overs in the country. If not for being a clergy man, Pastor Ben might have led a riot against Chidi Obi in the event of an old people’s home donated by the church which Chidi Obi had bought several years ago and converted to a Strip Club. The Church didn’t have enough funds to put up a resistance to Chidi Obi, and it really hurt Pastor Ben who was a youth Pastor at that time.
“I am optimistic, but everything seems to be going for Subomi. He has a very vast resume; I might have to wait some more years to top that.”
Pastor Ben snapped. “Never mind, you’ve got God on your side, if you believe in him and learn to love and trust him more. Maybe you should come around more often.”
I rolled my eyes. Pastor Ben was trying to lure me to church. “I am a busy lady.”
“Too busy to serve God? Darlene, you might be beautiful, smart and a hot prospect, but without God, my dear, you are a waste.”
WASTE!!! Now, that did hurt! Pastor Ben just ridiculed my standings. Humble pie swallowed! “I’ll see you around Pastor Ben.”
“Speaking of which, there is a youth camp around the corner, I was thinking of inviting you to speak to some aspirants, they are really looking forward to having you minister to their lives, in the best way you can.” He said.
I shrugged. “I’ll look at my schedule as soon as I get the invite. I have a busy week ahead, I am up against Subomi on Wednesday, and I have to take my leave now.” I said hastily.
“God be with you child. All the best”
I nodded in agreement. “Later sir”
I joined Jake close to the car park. “Brother Jacob” I teased softly.
“Sister Darlene” he replied laughing.
I stared at him carefully. “Did you really come to church today? That’s a miracle.”
He nodded. “I needed to talk to God.”
“You can always do that in your room. Anyways, I appreciate your effort towards Dora’s coming out. It was special.”
He smiled. “It was the least I could do.”
“Hope you didn’t hit KP?” I asked, with a smile.
He shrugged. “I didn’t have a reason to, except that the guy has a wrong impression about me, I like him.” He opened the door of his car. “Let’s go.”
“I don’t want to go in your car.”
He looked surprised. “Why is that?” he asked.
“We came separately. I suggest we return in like.”
He maintained the look. “Darlene, you are beginning to surprise me these days in your actions and words. What is the big deal if I drop you home? You never seemed to mind.”
“Oh well, things change Jacob.”
Jake sighed. “Okay, do you mind if I give you a ride?” he asked.
“Gotcha! Look at your face, Jake. I was just kidding you.”
He sighed and opened the door. “Okay then.” I got into the car and he closed the door after me. “Your joke was flat.” He started. “So, how’s the case against Subomi coming?” he asked as he started the engine.
“Slowly, but surely”
He smiled and drove off. “How about your driving lessons?”
“Cetris paribus, I will be fit to carry a learner’s tag by tomorrow.” I replied, proudly. My smile was a large one.
Jake laughed sarcastically.
“Every artist was first an apprentice!” I retorted sharply, as I got the notion that Jake was trying to mock me.
He nodded. “I know that. It’s just that this apprentice seems to me like an expert in every other thing. Do you really want to use a learner’s tag?”
“Of course, I am a learner and I will use it until I am a professional. I intend to drive to the court on Wednesday.”
Jake laughed. “You are such a joke! I guess you want to fail that case before you step up to Subomi.” He replied. I was surprised at his comment so I shot at him. “First, you WILL arrive late because you will be busy driving with a manual preset in your head from your driving school.” He continued. He swerved past a truck swiftly. “That’s something you won’t be able to do yet.” He said, sticking his tongue out at me. “Second, that will be social suicide; you don’t want the press seeing an ‘L’ tag behind your ride.”
“What do I care about the press? I am only bothered about getting to the court late. I might leave the office two hours earlier.”
Jake laughed harder. “If I get you right, you are gonna be driving for 2 hours for a 30-45 minutes journey. Darlene, swallow your pride and ask me to chauffeur you, I don’t charge much.” He said, revealing his teeth.
I wore a grimace. “Dare might drop me off.”
“Oh really, I see you guys are really getting close. Is he less offensive now?”
I nodded in agreement. “Yes, he is a changed man.” ‘Changed man?’ Did I just say that?
“Good for you. That will make your work much easier.” He said, as he turned into my street.
He parked in front of the gate and opened the car door for me. “Here you go madam. I’ll call you later.” He said.
Jake appeared not to care too much about me saying that Dare might be taking me to the court house. That bothered me. He dropped me off and didn’t even suggest wanting to come in and that seemed totally unlike Jacob. I could place a bet now that something was under the rocks between him and Dora.
“Jake…erm…um….it’s okay. Later.”
He smiled. “Darlene, you don’t stutter with me. What’s up?”
“Nothing, I am just a bit tired. Thanks for dropping me home.”
He jumped into the car. “I’ll see you later then.”
Was that all? “Won’t you say ‘hello’ to Dora?” I asked dumbly. First sign of obvious jealousy!
Jake grinned as though he had ‘got me’. “We talk all the time. I’ll call her.” He replied and drove off.
“We talk all the time. I’ll call her” I mimicked as I pressed the bell.
…to be continued