Tiwa kept her eyes shut as she felt a dark movement over her face. She blinked involuntarily giving herself away in the process. “She is alive.” A female voice said. Tiwa’s eyes flew open as she jumped up from the bench and looked at the crowd that surrounded her. Left or right? She contemplated within herself, unsure of what direction to take. It didn’t matter that there was a man with a Bible in his hand and the women with scarves covering their hair. No one could be trusted!“Grab her, don’t let her run.” The man with the Bible ordered. Tiwa tried to leap across the bench but crashed onto the floor hard. She let out a loud cry and they all rushed to help her up. “Take her into the church.” The man ordered and Tiwa was carried into the church by two men as she cried softly.
*OMOLOLU*I watched as Mom drank her water slowly and took deep breaths. I wished I could do more for her, but I had caused her more pain by saying I would marry Olivia. She had never liked Olivia.*****“Mom, meet Olivia. She is my friend from Lagos.” I had said when Olivia came to Ibadan to visit us. Mom took in her appearance in a glance and I could tell she wasn’t impressed. “Hi Olivia”, she mumbled.“Olivia was the one who helped me when that…that thing happened with Ijeoma.”Mom swallowed. “Thanks for helping my son.”Olivia smiled. “Lolu would still have to finish his sessions, he’ll be completely fine very soon.”Mom, Olivia says that if I am very true to my sessions with her, I won’t have those nightmares anymore.”Mom nodded and took my hand. “Can I see you in private?” I followed her into the kitchen already aware of what she would say. “What is it, Mom?, I already told you that Olivia would be coming, why were you so cold?” I asked, feigning ignorance.“Look, son, this psychotherapist or whatever you call her, what is she doing with you?”I snapped. “What do you mean, Mom? Ijeoma ruined my life, I roamed the streets of Lagos looking like a madman that night and the only person that was there for me was Olivia. She was there for me, Mom.”She nodded. “I know she helped you, I understand, but, I still think you are rushing things. Olivia coming hereto visit you this shortly since the Ijeoma episode, isn’t it a little too fast?”She is my doctor, and she cares about my health and well-being.” I retorted.
***********Now, my health was no longer the issue but since I started dating Olivia, my mom’s has been. She didn’t like Olivia and I still didn’t understand why. “Mom, you have been drinking water since we returned, what’s the matter? Talk to me.”Omololu, I am your mother, I love you, and I will support you all the way but what I won’t do is watch you make the biggest mistake of your life by choosing a wrong life partner. I don’t like Olivia.”I snapped. “Olivia is a good woman, mother. Remember she took me home that night when Ijeoma reduced me to a vegetable that night. She really is” My voice broke as I struggled to continue.“Omololu stop this.”I am not gonna stop. I told you that night, Ijeoma looked me in the eye that night and…and.” I stopped and swallowed as the tears I had been trying to hold back rolled freely down my face. Mom hugged me tightly. “I am sorry, Omololu. I know how you feel…”No, you don’t, mom, you don’t!” I cut in quickly. She nodded slowly “You may be right, but what an elderly person sees while sitting down, a young man won’t see, even while standing on a stool. My son, don’t do this to yourself. You know deep within you that you are still in love with Ijeoma, you still think about Ijeoma every day and night. Why then would you want a divorce? Why is it so hard for you to forgive her?”
*“What’s your name?” The Pastor asked as he watched Tiwa eat her food in a hurry. “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk, but the least you can do is to tell me your name, you are eating my bread.” He said as he laughed.“Tiwa Martins.” She replied as she took a large gulp from the bottle of water provided for her. “I want to call my Dad.”He nodded. “Of course.” He replied as he handed her his phone. “Take your time.”Tiwa took a deep breath as she stared at the phone and typed her Dad’s number. “What would the Judge say?” she thought to herself. She took a deep breath and dialed the number.*IJEOMA*Austin pulled the sheets over me. “Ijeoma, I want you to sleep. You are gonna get sick and it won’t help anyone. We would try again tomorrow, okay?”I nodded as I tried to close my eyes. “Austin, what if Tiwa has been kidnapped? What if she has been killed? Would I ever be able to face Omololu again?”He smiled and kissed my forehead.
“No matter what happens, I’ll be here for you.”Au…Austin.” I called. He turned back. “I was wrong that night, and I would never forgive myself for it.”He nodded. “I know you were wrong, and I was wrong too. I should have done the right thing irrespective of what you felt, but, I am sorry I wasn’t a very good friend to you,” he concluded and walked out. I rolled from side to side in an effort to get some sleep but I still couldn’t sleep. I took a deep breath and decided to sleep on the floor. Maybe if I was sleeping on my tiled floor, I would feel a little bit of what my daughter might be feeling. I turned on my side as I felt the coldness of the tiles against my back.*OMOLOLU*I smiled as I grabbed my keys. “I am going to get my daughter.”Thank God Tiwa has been found.” Mom replied. “I’ll be waiting for you both. Be careful” She called out. I smiled. “I am bringing her home and Ijeoma is never laying a finger on her again.”Mom’s face fell. “Remember what the Judge’s ruling was.”Let’s see what the Judge has to say when he realizes that Tiwa is gone, when he only just a few hours ago, granted Ijeoma temporary custody.” I replied as I walked out in excitement. I drove out with a huge smile on my face to bring my daughter home.
Tiwa had been everything from me. After Ijeoma left us in search of greener pastures, I had Tiwa and my Mom, every time I looked at Tiwa, all I would see was Ijeoma, she had Ijeoma’s exact pretty face and beauty as a teenager, but she wasn’t as gentle as Ijeoma was, as a little girl. Tiwa had grown up without knowing her mother, I couldn’t blame her for being so difficult. I drove into the Church premises and thanked God again for the umpteenth time as I stepped into the Church. I walked into the church slowly and looked around expecting Tiwa to run out at me, but there was no one in the church. Did I miss my way? I thought. I blinked as a man approached me. “Mr. Martins?” he asked with his hand stretched out.“Where is my daughter?” I asked, taking the hand. He smiled. “My name is Pastor Tim and I found Tiwa here. She was sleeping outside the church.”Where is she now?” I asked. The Pastor smiled. “She is resting inside. It’s been a long, hard day for her.”I’ll take her home now. Take me to her, please.
” I asked. He took a deep breath. “Can we talk for five minutes?”I was impatient, but at that moment, I would take anything. “Look, I am not religious, and I am not the man who is gonna come to Church every Sunday because you found my daughter, but I am really grateful and right now, I just want to go home with her.”He nodded with a smile. “I understand. Please take a seat.”I took my seat. “Okay, I am listening.”Tiwa doesn’t want to go with you.”I gasped. “Look, man, I don’t wanna disrespect you because you are a pastor, but can I see my daughter now?”He nodded. “Of course, sir.” He replied and walked in while I waited.*IJEOMA*I pulled my duvet and walked to the living room. I threw the thick cloth on the sofa and walked over to my mini bar. Even in the dark, I could locate the bar. I had become too used to the bar. I opened my vodka bottle and drank from the bottle. The lights came on. “Turn it off,” I ordered. The lights didn’t go off. “I said turn the lights off!” I shouted as I turned.“Are you ever going to stop drinking?” Austin asked. I took a deep breath. “Why are you still here?”I couldn’t leave you, Ijeoma.” He said as he approached me. “Ijeoma, you drink so bad, it is not right for you as a woman and a mother, and it’s unhealthy too.”I nodded. “I know, but could you tell me one thing I have left to live for? Tiwa is gone.
Omololu is never coming back to me. What else? What???”You have me.” he replied calmly. I took a deep breath. “You special man, don’t waste your time with me, I don’t have anything to offer you. I am no longer beautiful.”Look Ijeoma, it is not about what you have to offer me. I want to be there for you, I know I am a loser with you, but I have seen you as a beautiful woman since the first time I set my eyes on you and nothing has changed since then, believe me. I know you are going through a really rough time and it’s telling on you, but I want to help you find that beauty in you again. It’s the least I can do.”I chuckled softly. Austin was my first friend when I got to Lagos, I had fought a war with Lolu about leaving Ibadan for Lagos, when I finally won that battle with the help of my mother-in-law, I took up the recruitment job I had been offered at Shell.*****I walked into my new office as a rookie-filled with great gusto. I met Austin at the reception.“Hi, my name is Austin. What’s yours?” he asked with his hand stretched out towards me for a handshake. He looked really smart in his Italian suit and I admired him. I quickly remembered Lolu’s mom’s wise words, she had advised me to address everyone as “sir” or “ma” as I didn’t really know who was just yet. “Mrs. Ijeoma Martins, sir.” I replied, taking the hand.“I bet you are one of the new recruits, right?” he asked. I nodded. The other people on the line had started laughing, I didn’t know why until someone cooed. “He is a recruit too.”I smiled and helped myself to one of the vacant seats.
Austin followed right after me and took his seat beside me. “Austin.” He introduced as he stretched his hand out.“Ijeoma.”He nodded. “So you said you were Mrs. Ijeoma, or did you intend to say, Miss? I know people make a lot of mistakes when they are new to a job.”I smiled faintly as I showed off my wedding ring proudly. “Mrs. Martins.” I repeated and smiled. He swallowed. “Wow! Nice to meet you, Mrs. Martins.”I smiled again but this time, more to myself.******Austin handed me a glass of water. “I’ll be cleaning out your bar tomorrow.”I nodded with sarcasm. “Just like you did last month, abi?”This isn’t funny anymore, Ijeoma. I can’t even believe who you are now, you have changed.” he ranted on as he accessed the bar.“I like the Smirn off and vodka, you can clear out the rest. It’s a big enough spirit to see me through till I get new bottles.”He shook his head and poured himself a glass of water. “There is a tennis game going on, want to watch?”Is Ijeoma watching Nadal versus Djokovic right now? I retorted quietly.
*OMOLOLU*“Tiwa” I said excitedly as she ran into my arms. “Did they hurt you? Anyone hurt you?” I asked. I stared at her leg and the small bandage around it. “What happened?”She wriggled from my grip and walked away slowly to a bench. “Relax, Dad. I am fine.”I am going to make sure that Ijeoma spends the rest of her life behind bars. She had no right to allow you to go through all these sufferings.” I started. “She must be in the comfort of her house sleeping while you are out in the streets, cold and hungry.”They gave me bread.” She replied with a tone of sarcasm. I pulled her closer. “Let’s go home, we would be at the Judge’s tomorrow and then I would file or permanent custody, everything would be back to normal. You, me, Grandma…and…and Olivia.” I said with an eyebrow raised.“I am not going with you, Dad.” She replied. My ears sprung as she said those words. “Wh…Why not?” I stuttered.“She was not responsible for what happened to me. It was I who left the car, and I really didn’t have the intention of running away, I just wanted to walk around while she went into her office to pick some things.”I scoffed. “Tiwa, that is nonsense, she shouldn’t have left you in the car, I am taking you back.”I don’t like her, Dad, but I am not getting her into trouble with the law too.”I scratched my hair. “Look, I understand, but Grandma misses you and Olivia too.”Dad…” she stressed. “I am not going.”I took my seat and watched her act exactly like Ijeoma some years ago.
******“Ijeoma, I know your uncle has been crazy, but, we can’t get married without any of your family members.” I said. She turned her head over her shoulder and hissed. “Omololu, I don’t know why you are being so sympathetic and unnecessarily considerate towards my uncle. The man doesn’t even like you, and moreover, he has played no part in raising me. Why should he attend the wedding?”He is family, Ijeoma. There is nothing like family.”She nodded and returned to me. “I would like to warn you in advance. You don’t drive a Benz, so, you are already my uncle’s enemy.”I smiled. “I’ll still like to do what is right.”*******
IJEOMA*“The best thing about Djokovic is that he can be so unpredictable, I mean, man was down by two sets.” Austin started. I rolled my eyes as he continued. “You know I used to be pissed when Djokovic first came into the business and swept everyone aside, but later, I got to understand and love the dude. He is my favorite.”And cut…” I said as I flashed my teeth at him. “Enough, I don’t even know what you are saying.”He groaned. “Come on, Tennis is very interesting. It is the second best sport on earth after Football.”I nodded as I whistled. “I was going to ask where your passion for those losers, Arsenal went.”One, we have only lost one game so far in the campaign, and ever since we signed Ozil, we are like immortals, if I were you, I’d be worried.”I scoffed. “I don’t worry, especially not with Jose being in charge of Chelsea, I can’t worry.” I picked up the remote control and turned off the Television. “We should go to bed now, our search continues tomorrow.”Would you be able to sleep?”
he asked.“I…I won’t, but, morning has to come, I have to find Tiwa. This is too hard for me.”He nodded. “I’ll try to watch some more TV.”I swallowed as I watched him pick up the remote. Austin has been everything for me, but I have never had the time to be there for him or help out with his problems. I returned to him and took my seat beside him.“Have you spoken to Sharon yet?”He shook his head sadly. “Not in a year.” He said as he changed the stations. He chuckled. “But not a day goes without me stalking her on Twitter.”Do you still tweet at her?”He nodded. “You know, I created a new twitter account just to stalk her.” He completed with a smile.“You shouldn’t have let her go.”He swallowed. “She shouldn’t have told me to make a choice.”I cleaned my eyes. “I feel guilty for everything, Austin.”I had to choose between you and her, do you know what that meant for me? You are my friend, my friend. I don’t leave my friends. I am loyal.”I smiled and then started to laugh and then we both laughed.
*OMOLOLU*I closed the door gently and took Mom back to the living room. “Tiwa would be fast asleep by now.”Omololu, I want us to talk about the next step from here.”I took my seat. “Mom, I have a job here.”A job that Olivia got you!”I snapped. “Yes! Yes! She got me a job, so? I don’t even know why you hate her so much? That woman has been nothing but kind to us, and she has loved me, something that I never thought I was worthy of. She was there for me, and even when, even when I…I attempted suicide, she was the one who saved my life. Mom, you should be grateful to her.”Mom nodded and blinked. I knew what was next so I rushed to her and hugged her, “I am sorry, Mom. I…I just want you to give Olivia a chance, I know you love Ijeoma and all because she is like your own daughter, but, I want to start again, allow me.”When I see that you are really able to move on, I will be the first to welcome Olivia and till then, don’t yell at me anymore.” She said and walked away. I blinked as I watched her leave for her room.******“Please sit here.” Olivia said as I walked into her office. She took a seat opposite me and smiled. She crossed her leg in a classy manner and I swallowed as I ran my eyes through her light-skinned laps. I turned my face away as I chastised myself.“Have you been using your medications, correctly?”I swallowed as I answered her. “Ye…Yeah.”Are you okay?” she asked with a smile. I shook my head in the negative.
“Should I turn on the AC?” she asked.“STOP! Why did you call me here? I am not comfortable.”She adjusted in her seat. “You attempted suicide and you need to talk to someone through this and that is why you are here.”I wiped my forehead. “Can we be quick?”She nodded. “Tell me what happened.”I took a deep breath and panted. I shut my eyes and opened it. “I can’t.”“Why?”“I can’t…I just can’t!” I replied and walked out.*******IJEOMA*I slipped into my footwear as I joined Austin in the living room. “Have you had breakfast?”“Not yet. I just called the Policeman, he said he’ll be here in an hour.” He replied as he placed the land phone on the table. I dropped my phone on the dining table. “Has the maid fixed anything?”“I guess so, she was busy in the kitchen when I came out.”“I will go and check it out.” I replied and left for the kitchen. I walked over to the refrigerator and poured myself a glass of milk.“Good morning ma.” The maid greeted as soon as in walked in. I nodded and dropped the cup in the sink. “What’s for breakfast?”“Irish potatoes and scrambled eggs.” She replied briskly. I smiled. “I like that. Serve the gentleman some; I won’t be having any breakfast yet.”She bowed and immediately got to work. I returned to the living room to meet Austin. “Irish potatoes and scrambled eggs, you good?” I asked, taking my seat.“Fantastic. My appetite is healthy this morning.”The doorbell chimed. “The police seem to be more efficient than ever.” I said as I tried standing up.“I got it.” Austin said and walked over to the door. I followed him. He turned the doorknob open. I gasped as I stared at Omololu with Tiwa.
EPISODE 4 On the way
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By Cherish Winnie Udeh