By Zainab Sanusi
Olaronke returned from her impulsive, wildly, impractical journey to Calabar. Well, she was not usually like this–impulsive but with Aina around the unusual things happens. Her best friend suggested they visit Obudu cattle ranch. She was skeptical at first. Her restaurant was only few months old and she had never been absent for hours. Aina had asked her what could possibly go wrong in three days, she thought about it. Nothing, absolutely nothing could go wrong was her answer. It was not their first visit to the ranch. They had spent significant time there during their NYSC. It was one of her best memories. Life was almost perfect. She was engaged and happy.
She looked pale and tired, and she had not troubled to take off her heels when she came into her office, but by this time Bolarinwa was too angry to notice.
“You are back at last? I have been calling your name for the past two days but not reachable”
She collapsed on the couch removing her heels. She loved to wear them even though she ended up with sore feet.
“The network was bad over there” was her reply
“When last did you hear from your husband?”
It was his hard tone that forced her drooping eyelids open. His stance was angry, he was barely holding himself back from unleashing his emotions.
“Why are you annoyed?” She asked
“When last did you see your husband?” his voice was waspish
His phone calls said nothing at all except that Ibadan was beginning to bore him and he was thinking of returning to Abuja soon. She was annoyed, he was not returning to Lagos, their home. He said nothing about missing her—–about wanting to discussed their marriage. He had actually added the polite hope she was enjoying herself and she should send him her account details if she was in need of money. She had replied every of his questions in uncommunicative tone. She even mentioned her planned trip to Calabar hoping he would be jealous or authorative like some husband and instruct her not to go. Instead, Wande had advised her to visits some interesting places like calabar museum, millenium park and the likes. She had seethed in anger and ended the call. Was it possible he did not miss her at all and was he happy with the state of their marriage?
The past few months she pushed him from her mind. But seeing happy couples at the ranch brought back her own pain. She was only married in name. She had missed him, actually cried foolish tears. The thought of him had spoiled her short holiday, all the while she had tried, pretend to enjoy herself.
“Ronke” her brother called
She looked up, blinking her eyes to focus them, for they had become blurred.
“He calls me once in a while” she said
Bolarinwa silently hand her a newspaper. She lthrough it wondering what she should look for
“Check the middle page” her brother said
And then, the headlines caught her eye. She wrinkled her nose in distaste wondering why Grace looked smug like she caught a big fish. She turned the next page and saw her husband smiling at Grace while she clung to his arms like her life depended on it.
She read the last words out
“Not very married is he?”
“What do you intend to do? Divorce him?” Bolarinwa asked
“Divorce him?” Olaronke’s voice went high “Oh no—– why should I make things easy and convenient for her? I will be dammed before I let her have him”
“Really? So you do want your marriage and you could not make up with him?” he said this with his brows shooting upward
She was shocked by his words. She hadn’t revealed to anyone that she and Wande had a quarrel, well except Aina
“Yes, he told me how you ignore him. How you never care to call him” he said and raised his hands to stop her from replying him
“A wise woman builds her home while a stupid one steps aside and cheerfully clap at her falling home”
“Why should anyone blame me? I didn’t do anything to Wande. He just stopped talking to me, snaps at every word I say. He does not eat my food nor does he care about me. I tried talking to him, pleaded with him to discuss our marriage but he refused. What do you expect me to do? Immerse myself in sadness? Kill myself with worry? All I did was make myself happy. Wande should stop acting like an overgrown baby and come out with what I did. If he does not want our marriage he should say it not cover up with a silly excuse that I kept him waiting while talking to my father”
Olaronke despised herself bitterly for going into hysterics but she could not stop herself. First,it was Oluwaniyi whom she loved and he left her and she tried to move past it. And she had been for eight weeks with Wande and one night it disappeared and she felt she was trapped—not only that but an unwanted wife as well.
After a while, her bitter sobs died away while Bolarinwa patted her on the shoulder. Her breaths began to cease.
“No, Ronke no” he said fanning her face
“Try to breath with your mouth”
She tried, she really did but lost the battle as fog of sleep embraced her.
She was furious with Aina. It had been a week since they came back from Calabar and Aina zoomed off to God knows where. She hadn’t returned a single one of her calls despite the many text messages she had sent to her phone. Aina’s behavior was unseemly. She had advised her to call Mrs Georgina if she could help her with a job, afterall she was Aina’s mentor and her friend had done a lot for the woman. She refused without giving Olaronke a reasonable reason. There was those calls from Mrs Georgina her friend never picked. Something was not right, Aina was hiding a lot from her. Come to think of it, Aina never disclosed details of her relationship to her while Olaronke told her everything about her relationship. She knew nothing about Aina’s family except minute details unlike her that divulged every details of her family to her.
Was it wise, doing that?
In the end, Olaronke called Mummy Kemi to come for a drink in the evening. It would be easier to talk without crowd teeming into the restaurant.
Mummy Kemi was attractive with expressive eyes set wide apart and a low cut that made her look younger than her thirty five year old. She was small with big breasts and a curvaceous figure.
“My goodness, you look smashing” commented Mummy Kemi as she arrived sitting on the table for two.
Olaronke knew she looked beautiful with her blond braids packed atop her head exposing her pierced ears studded with earrings.
“Thank you ma” Olaronke said smiling..
“Cut the ma, we are friends aren’t we?” Mummy Kemi said smiling
The woman was a regular at her restaurant and she always praised her meals. She had even signed her on a year contract to supply foods for her staffs. Olaronke was excited. She exchanged calls with the woman almost every day and they had became friends sort off. She was not sure if it was wise to be closer to a customer but the woman was kindness herself. She paid her compliment and made her feel important even though she was richer and elegance herself.
“Something is eating you up, speak up” the older woman said
“Don’t mind my manners what will you like to drink and eat?” She asked
“Let’s skip meals this evening, let us talk. You are young and appear happy but something is not right. I know we only just met few weeks ago but you can talk to me” the woman said
“My life” Olaronke cleared her throat “It one difficulty after another. I have never been happy forever. Something always happen to taint it”
“Tell me about it” Mummy Kemi said
She launched into her childhood story, how her mother died. Her teen years, how she faced some challenges and her adult life, her relationship with men and how her happiness came in short supply.
“Do you drink?” was Mummy Kemi’s question. Olaronke stared at her, did her story sound like someone who was drunk?
She called on the waiter and ordered for two glasses of wine
“We will need these if we are going to talk this through. Just suppose you do manage to get Oluwaniyi back what would be the point? He is married now and so are you. He belongs to the past. And now your husband, I don’t understand why he would be angry over a little thing like that. It seems something is not right. Like a foul play. This is what you will do; its either you report to his uncles and your father or find him where….”
“Find who?” Aina’s voice rang out as she picked another chair and sat beside Olaronke.
“Aina where have you been?” Olaronke said annoyed
“I called you several times, you didn’t pick my call. How could you just leave without telling me?”
“Please ma, help me to beg my friend. I am sorry. I just wanted to clear my head” Aina said to Mummy Kemi
“I thought Calabar did that for you” Olaronke glowered at her
“I am sorry” she pleaded
Aina was always sorry. She was just tired of hearing that words. Why should one be sorry when there won’t be any real change?
Aina, I don’t like your habit of going off with unknown men. Her reply would be sorry.
Aina, you really shouldn’t drink so much. I am sorry Darling
Aina, why don’t you wait for months before you go to bed with him. How do you expect him not to dump you so easily? Her reply; I am sorry.
Sorry for seven years, yet no changes.
“Its fine” Olaronke smiled “continue ma”
“Or go to Abuja or wherever he is and seek him out. Do not leave until everything is settled. Do everything it takes” Mummy Kemi advised
“You mean her husband? But why would she want to go after him? He was the one who wronged her. Why is no one advising her Husband to come after her? Why not retain control of your life, if Wande is back he will be a control freak just like every men” Aina ranted while Olaronke passed the newspaper to her.
“My dear, we are talking about a marriage that has a potential to work. Not an abusive marriage Something is wrong somewhere. Something very dark and scary. I am not just a counselor by nature, I am gifted by God to dream. The first day I met you, I had a dream that night. Someone evil is behind your problems. Be careful who you talk to about your life. But you are a fighter, in the dream you came out a victory so shall it be” Mummy Kemi said holding her hands while Olaronke heart slid in and out of its cage. She was scared.
“It’s late. My husband will be home now” the older woman said standing up to leave. Aina stood up to accompany her too
She smiled charmingly at her” my dear, don’t bother. You just came in and need to rest”
Olaronke followed her to her car and the woman spoke in low tones “heed to my warning. Keep your personal things safe” Olaronke looked scared and the woman comforted her”I meant personal things like bra, your hair, pants. Do you chew chewing stck!?”
“Don’t chew it anymore, beware of friends like I said you will triumph over them all” the woman entered her car and left. She stood motionless watching nothing. A cold hand touched her. She was frightened. She turned to see her friend’s teary face
“We will triumph over this together. Don’t be scared, I will always stand by you” Aina said hugging her.
“If you ask me, you should just lie low and let Grace try and creep back into his life, because if he wants a trophy wife then he’s more than welcome to her and he does not deserve you. Personally, I think you are better of without him in your life. You have peace and quiet no drama, why not enjoy that?” Aina said looking into her eyes.
But what Olaronke saw in Aina’s eyes was a bitter woman. Something she never realized before. Aina had these terrible experiences with men, she has told her about and now after her broken engagement she had opted out of the race. She was never in the race, in the first place, jumping into bed with every available male was not called a relationship.
It came gradually to Olaronke over the next few days that she was not going to give up on Wande. She refused to accept it was over Grace or no Grace.
What annoyed her about her Friend’s suggestion was that Aina compared herself with her. Whatever that befell Aina, was her doing. She brought it on herself. But she, Olaronke Adunni did everything right in her relationship and she deserved to enjoy it.
What Aina did not realize, Olaronke thought crossly as she sat before the mirror removing her make up. What Aina don’t seem to understand was after making a success out of her career, she wanted to make a success out of her marriage. She was not a woman alone like her, she was married. And to be married only in name was a shame. Now, she was ready to fight for her marriage. All she had to do was corner the market, and chase away all competitors
Wande had called at the beginning of the week casually informing her he was receiving an award over the weekend. He didn’t invite her to be by his side on his big night. She asked him if Grace would be there, he replied with definitely. And he went on with “Grace this or that” so �Vzc�Vzc�*�dummaged through her small table. Nothing was on the comb.
She combed her own hair and removed her deposits.
Olaronke was busy bringing out her shoes.
Aina helped her to pack. She knew her friend had her own system of packing. It was not the first time she had done this for her. Hard things like shoes, books, handbags stays at the bottom of her traveling bag. Then her night wares and undies stays on top with the T-shirts and casuals. Aina noticed her friend was busy in the wardrobe, she quickly pulled out a pant and stuffed it in her jean pocket. Olaronke turned holding two evening wears proudly.
“Oremii. This is beautiful” Aina said looking admiringly at the two gowns.
She collected the midnight gown. It was cut very low at the back and at the sides. While the pink her friend was holding was a high necked ball gown
“The pink you are holding will turn you into a princess no doubt. But this midnight blue will turn heads, trust me. Wande is in trouble and Grace will cry off” Aina said laughing with her friend.
As the plane to Abuja took off, Olaronke read the papers, her mind replaying her attitudes towards Aina who meant well for her. She told her she wouldn’t be leaving her house key behind and if Aina has something important in the guest room she should picked it. Aina was visibly shocked and nodded her head that she understood. Did she really?
What if she came back from Abuja without resolving a thing? Who would stay with her like Aina did?
Mummy Kemi was at the airport in the morning waiting for her. Was it right casting her old friend aside for a new one? She felt bad. Aina had been nothing but kindness to her since the first day she met her. If tables were to be turned and Aina did all that to her, she would never speak to her again. But her best friend was a graceful lady, she never scream or shout in anger unlike her that was very dramatic.
She picked at her tray of airline food—— a piece of sausage and chilled bottle of juice and looked out of the window at the clouds puffing by. She began to daydream. Wande would be more handsome now or probably leaned from not feeding well. She could remembered his comments about her foods.
“By the end of this year I will have a six months old pregnant stomach from your delicious foods”
Grace was a poor cook. She threw the remnants of what she cooked on their wedding night into the bin. Some men could eat anything and Wande was one. When she asked him if Grace was a good cook. His reply was
“Who cares, as far as the meal is hot then its fine even if it taste like saw dust. But trust me, you her better than her”
She missed him so much, his endless questions; “Are you sure you don’t want to cone to my office? Been locked in a house is bad for everyone” every hour of the day meant he cared about her.
At night when he was back, he would persuade her to go out with him. Sometimes, they eat out mostly shawarma and suya. They talked about many things, and he told her few secrets about many adults back home and she would laugh.
Only if he was reasonable, they would have been happy forever.
Suddenly she could hardly contain her excitement at the thought of seeing him again. She was no longer worried about his reception of her. Cold or warm she didn’t care. She passed the empty tray to a passing stewardess. She had wheedle the party information from her brother. In the end, he had sent her his invitation card. The party was scheduled for 8pm.
The captain announced they would be landing at Abuja in eight minutes. Almost before she knew it, Olaronke was on the ground lugging her baggage off the carousel. She wheeled her trolley into arrivals in a daze, I am finally here she thought to herself. When her brother appeared in front of her in his perfectly cut suit, Olaronke screamed out loud in excitement embracing him.
“Ronke, how’s your trip” he said grinning
“How did you know I will be here?” She asked him as he took the trolley from her”
“I asked your PA, who is also your secretary and everything. How much do you pay her?” He teased
Rose was a God-sent, the girl was diligent and ran the restaurant well.
“I pay her what she deserves. Does he know?” She asked
“Who?” He asked back
She rolled her eyes, a habit she learned from her husband.
“Wande” she answered
“I don’t know” was his reply
“I want it to be a surprise, don’t tell him” she said
“I hope you guys settled whatever is between you on time else I will call dad” Bolarinwa said frowning
That would be her last resort.
“Your PA is beautiful, where is she from” he asked his face brightening
“I think Ogun state. I am not sure” she replied
“OK. She seems nice” he said again
Olaronke felt like closing her ears. She was not interested in listening to his obvious feelings to the girl
“She said she stays in Ikeja, where?”
“Brother Bolarin I will hear all about this your feelings towards Rose after I have seen my husband” she replied
“Someone is jealous” he laughed as they entered the Waiting cab
“Yes I am. Where are you taking me to?” She asked
“A five star hotel” was his reply
Olaronke still had many hours before she attended the party. She called everyone important and decided to visit a sauna. It was the best place to relax
Aina had spent the previous weeks seeking information about Grace Adams. She found out Grace was a sophisticated woman. She had no female friends, all her friends were men. According to her, female friends were only good for gossips they have nothing to offer except their green eyes. She decided it was not wise to teamed up with Grace against her friend. It would not work like it did with Bonuade. Everything was falling a part; all her plans were. Oluwaniyi did not believed her. He was still with his wife and Olaronke was gone. If she was able to patched things up with her husband, he would realized the note he received months ago was lies. His wife was never pregnant. If Grace acted on the note she sent her, it might be difficult for Olaronke to reach her husband. But she could not rely on Grace. She had to do some thing. She paced around her rented flat. Wande might settle with his wife and Olaronke would believed Mummy Kemi’s dream. She hated that woman. Waltzing into their lives to scattered her plans. No, she would not let this happened. After dealing with Olaronke she would face Bonuade for double crossing her. Well, she might extend it to Mrs Josephine the dreamer aka Mummy Kemi. Olaronke thought she was better than her. She complained about everything that has to do with her. She thought herself a model of what young ladies should be. She could remembered her words clearly to her, that night she went with a man.
“Aina, you are only nineteen. One and nine and you have started living waywardly. Don’t live a script you can’t tell its story. Take me for example I am…..”
Her phone rang, she rushed to it thinking it was Grace. She had left one of her numbers behind to call if she wanted her help to get Wande. It was Adunni
“Oremii, how are you?” She said
“Aina, am nervous. I wish you are here” Olaronke said
“Don’t worry I am praying for you here. Your reunion will be just like how I prayed it will be” Aina said hearing her friend loud amen.
“I am sorry about today. I was rude. My keys are with Rose in case you need them” Olaronke said, ignoring Mummy Kemi’s voice in her head
“Alright dear. Where are you?” Aina asked
“I am at the reception, too scared to enter the party. Wande is in there” Olaronke answered
“Just close your eyes and do it” Aina said
“Alright, do take care. I will call you to give you feedback. Bye” she said and hung up.
Perfect timing. Aina thought as she arranged the ingredients for separation on the kitchen table. Adunni left her with no choice than to resort to this. The end result would be saddening, her friend would be beaten black and blue by Wande. It was for the better. Olaronke would divorce him over that and she Aina, would gloat secretly.
She brought out a small cutlass and cut the “itagiri” (Lagenaria Breviflora) into two equal halves like an orange. She added the “ata ijosi”(hot pepper) in between itagiri. She brought the stolen pant and cut it at the centre and stuffed the pieces into it.
She rubbed the itagiri halves together. Her eyes were red from the effect of the hot pepper. In a minute, she was drenched in tears and her nose was dripping. She had to endure this like Baba said.
She tried remembering Wande’s late mother name. She recalled the conversation clearly with her friend.
” why is your husband named Babawande. He’s the only child so I expect something like Durosinmi” Olaronke burst out laughing. They were in the kitchen cooking together
“Wande is not an abiku. His maternal grandfather died during the time of his birth so they named him father is back” she replied
“That’s how they named me Aina because of the circumstances of my birth. The name is too Ancient” she groaned while her friend continued to laugh
“What’s his late mum name?” Aina asked
“Towuro, I don’t know what the hell that means. Its ancient just like yours” Olaronke never thought her questions were odd. Aina asked the most irrelevant things.
She started reciting the incarnation
“Oluporuru, po won ru , tu won ka”
Something that separattothings, separate them
“Ata ati oju won she ore”
The eye and the pepper are not friendly “
“Itagiri ta won danu”
Itagiri separates them
Olaronke the daughter of Odin and Wande the son of Towuro separates forcefully.
Aina kept rubbing the itagiris together even though her eyes were bloodshot and her body temperature was high from the effect of the pepper. She was in great pain and she had to do this till midnight
…to be continued