“Femi, I don’t care how you do this, but I am not going to be the one left hanging, I am going to have kids and I am going to have them with you!”
“She what?” Femi had an incredulous look on his face.
Teni took a deep breath and then went over her narration once again. She had found the arrangement strange initially but the more she thought of it, the more it appeared to be the only way out. There was no way she was going to tell her parents she was going to have a baby at least not yet. With this new arrangement, she could sort out her studies, return to her child and Ade, and then they would live happily ever after. It was the perfect solution and all thanks to Julia.
“Julia has offered to help out, the plan is that I’ll go back to school as planned, but I’ll get a part-time job, so that in another six months, I can get a flight ticket, come back to Nigeria have the baby, she talk to the doctors at the hospital where she did her nursing thing, and then once I have the baby, I’ll return to finish my programme and since she has some nursing experience, she’ll take care of the baby for me, once I am done with my finals, I’ll come home, take my baby and then we can tell my parents about it then.”
Ade had gone from baffled to aghast and even angry while Teni spoke. When she finished speaking, he was staring at her mouth ajar. He couldn’t believe his ears, what could have possessed Teni to agree to such a proposal, or even Julia to have made such a suggestion? Did Teni make the suggestion or did Julia herself suggest it.
“What is the problem here Ade?” Julia did not know what to make of Ade’s look of bewilderment “Do you have any other suggestions?” Unable to voice the actual thoughts running through his mind, Ade grasped at straws and said “I think that is too much to ask of her.”
“I didn’t ask, she offered; it couldn’t have occurred to me and I had initial reservations but once I heard her out, I realized it was the perfect solution”
Ade was not only baffled but also very worried. What could her motive be? Things just seemed to get more complicated as time progressed. He was already at the point of no return as confessing to Teni was no longer an option, she was pregnant with his child. He also could not just break things off with Julia, not after what had happened to her, he couldn’t, he felt personally responsible for it. They had never actually talked about it, the most they did was talk about the abortion, they never discussed the other issue, never talked about the way forward, he couldn’t bring himself to even broach the subject with her and of late, he had started acknowledging the fact that he had some sort of feelings for her, it certainly wasn’t love; he kept telling himself, maybe so sort of responsibility for her, maybe for what happened to her but definitely not love, although he found himself asking during all those sleepless nights and even on some nights when he lay awake with Teni resting her head on his chest while he listened to her gentle, almost inaudible snores – he found himself asking if it was possible to be in love with two people at the same time, he assured himself that he wasn’t in love with Julia, maybe he had feelings for her, feelings he couldn’t identify or which refused to name, but he was certain he wasn’t in love with her.
“Can I talk to her first?” It was Teni’s turn to be baffled, why would Ade want to talk to her cousin? She had noticed that they hardly ever spoke to each other, avoided each other even but it had never really bothered her, at least they were cool with each other whenever they got to meet. It was however strange that Ade wanted to discuss the issue at hand with her cousin when he had barely said anything to her about his thoughts on the plan.
“I would just like to know how this would work” Ade was stuttering. “Would I be able to see the baby any time I want to? Where would they live? What do I need to provide? How often do I need to provide it? You know, just general stuff”
“You want to know what this is going to cost you?” Teni screamed.
She was really upset that with the whole situation at hand all he could think about was money. She spun on her heel, walked out of the room and slammed the door shut so hard that the keys hanging in the keyhole fell to the floor. Ade stood there his bafflement deepening, wondering at what point did he mention money, wondering what he had done to upset her and wondering what was wrong in trying to make provisions for their baby and the baby’s care giver. Then it occurred to him that maybe he had inadvertently let on that there was something going on between him and Julia. The very thought threw him into panic. He stood there frantically going over every sentence he had said to her while she they conversed; the problem however was that his thoughts had been so jumbled up that he couldn’t seem to remember what he had said to her. He was still standing in the middle of the room, wondering what he could have said wrong and wondering how things had gotten out of hand so quickly when the door opened and Teni walked in again. She rested her back against the door and gently pushed it shut.
“I’m sorry I screamed, it must be my hormones, I’m so sorry baby” He walked to her and wrapped his arms around her. He was very relieved, if she blamed her outburst on hormones, he was willing to accept it, just so far as it had nothing to do with his relationship with Julia. He hugged her for a really long time not wanting to let her go but eventually he led her to a chair and sat her down, then he walked to the adjoining kitchenette and made her a mug of cocoa. She took a sip, dropped the mug with a clatter as she jumped up and ran to the bathroom, Ade ran after her, alarmed and wondering what could have been wrong with the cocoa. When she was done throwing up, he helped her wash her face; first sprinkling it lightly with water and then tenderly rinsing it off.
He tried to contain his panic as he led her to her seat; vomiting had not been a symptom during Julia’s short pregnancy and he didn’t know what to make of this.
“I’ve been throwing up often” she told him “But Julia assured me that its normal” she stared at him for a little bit looking as though she was trying to make up her mind about something and then sighed before she continued speaking “I think she has been pregnant before” she said this conspiratorially but Ade did not get that feeling, rather he felt a rising wave of nausea and also felt every hair on his body rise like the hackles of a scared cat; a very scared one. He wanted to ask how she knew, wanted to ask why she thought Julia had been pregnant, to ask if Julia had said anything, but his throat was parched and his mouth could not form the words. He waited, willing himself to stay calm and not give himself away. So he waited with bated breath looking calm on the exterior but with a storm brewing on the inside until she continued.
“She was talking me through the initial stages of the pregnancy and I commended her because I felt she had had a very short time training as an auxiliary nurse but was still so experienced.” She paused for breath while Ade mentally urged her to continue “Then she said ‘oh during mine, I wasn’t throwing up a lot’” she threw Ade a quizzical look, expecting him to express some sort of surprise, he tried to pull off one, hoping it wasn’t too obvious that he was forcing it. “When I asked her about it and who she was pregnant for, she claimed that what she meant was that during her training and that it was one of the patients she had attended to at the hospital” she paused a mischievous look crossing her face “I know what I heard, that girl was lying to me, I didn’t let her off easily though, you know I can be persistent, but she just clammed up and refused to say anything”
Ade kept mute not sure what his reaction should be. After a few moments passed in silence she eventually ventured “I think that’s what happened with her and Tunde”
“Who is Tunde?” Ade finally spoke.
“A guy she dated a while back, they broke it off suddenly and she refused to say why or even say anything since. I think she’s still hung up on the guy as she has refused to date anyone since”
Ade swallowed hard trying to put his thoughts together, to say something but he just couldn’t, Teni walked over to him and put her arms around him. “Ade we’ll be fine I promise you, somehow we will, I just need you to be on the same page with me”
She was really scared but she tried to be strong and put up a strong front. She felt the need to because, the news of the pregnancy seemed to hit Ade really hard, harder than she had expected. She knew he had not expected this to have happened but neither had she. She wondered why it affected him so much and in her quiet moments, she wondered if it was simply because he was not ready to be a father or because he did not want to father a child with her. When she expressed the latter fear to Julia, Julia assured her that her fears were unfounded.“Do you want to have this baby with me?” She asked, returning to the present- she felt some form of relief that she eventually got the question out. She felt Ade stiffen and then he pushed her away gently and held her at arm’s length staring softly in her eyes.
“Why do you ask?” his voice was barely audible “Because I want to know Ade”
“Do you even have to ask?” he pulled her back to him wrapping his arms around her.
“Who is Tunde?” Ade asked, he was unable to understand his insane jealousy, he found it really hard to contain this unexplained jealousy.
“Who?” Julia asked
“Tunde, your ex-boyfriend” he said
“Ex, ex-boyfriend, you said it” she pouted stubbornly.
“You still have feelings for him?” It was more of a statement than a question.
“That bitch!” she hissed with ill-concealed fury.
“What?” Ade asked
“Teni told you about him?
The nerve of her! Where does she get off telling you, personal stuff about me?”
“It wasn’t her.” He was as calm as possible, he couldn’t deal with more drama as it was and he knew if he wasn’t convincing enough, she would take it up with Teniola and then Teni would come to yell at him about keeping secrets and then he would have to deal with that too.
“I have friends Julia and guys talk”
“I have never seen you with them, and even if…why is my past relationship coming up in conversation with them? Oh so now youare seeking advice from friends on whether to keep me or keep her?” She was taunting but Ade knew better than to take bait. The most important thing was that she no longer thought it Teni who had told him about Tunde. He waited until she was done ranting and then he asked;
“So you are planning to take the baby from Teni after she gives birth?”
“Not take her, I’ll only be taking care of her till she returns to Nigeria finally”
“Why?” Ade was puzzled, thrown by Julia’s stance regarding taking care of the unborn baby. He was really worried that she was trying to fill the void of her lost pregnancy, but his worry ran deeper than that, yet he couldn’t voice his worry at least not yet. He wasn’t ready for the emotional melt down he was sure would follow if he voiced his concern. He had not even come to terms with the situation himself and it was the major reason he knew that leaving Julia was not a feasible option.
“So we can go check my mum next Wednesday?” she looked so peaceful, so happy that neither twin could find it in their heart to tell her they couldn’t make it, they looked at each other while she stared at them expectantly, so Tai nodded vigorously and as though on cue, Kenny joined in and nodded even more vigorously.
“I can’t wait!” she was beside herself with excitement “It’s been so long, she doesn’t even know that I gained admission yet, I just can’t wait to tell her the news” when Claire was like this the twins could barely get a word in but they were always content to watch her talk, it was so refreshing, she would stop being that timid girl and blossom like a butterfly. The twins couldn’t wait for her to leave so they could discuss the commitment they just made to Claire. They just sat watching her gush with joy and excitement, each thinking it would be heartless to take this pleasure away from her by telling her they couldn’t go with her.
Eventually she said; “You guys I have to leave now” and each heaved a mental sigh of relief. They walked her part of the way home and when they eventually parted ways, Tai ventured; “So how do we get mum to allow us go?”
“We don’t go?”
“No, we don’t ask her, we just go”
“Wow what? Are you willing to tell her that we won’t be going with her? Did you see how happy she looked?”
“So we just go like that?”
They walked in silence for a while before Kenny spoke again “Look Tai, we really don’t have to go, but you’ll have to tell her yourself, I’ll back you up of course or in the alternative, you could ask mum again if it’s okay to go, but I won’t be backing you up on that one” Tai smiled he knew this was his twin’s way of teasing him while at the same time hiding his nervousness.
“So how do we get there?” He asked
“The way everyone does, we take a bus, and get there”
“I know that stupid, I mean we don’t know the way there.”
“We don’t have to, as long as the bus driver does, I’m sure we will get there just fine”
They were at the door to their house now so they cut the conversation and walked in, quiet as mice..
“Why do you have to drink so much? The chain smoking too does you no good you know?” Ken spoke with a smile, but it did little to hide the pain. He cared deeply about Ola, she insisted he call her Ola even though he preferred the full name. He had met at a club after a particularly crazy day at his work place. He couldn’t tell why he was drawn to her, she was trying particularly hard to be a party animal to boot, taking long swigs from a bottle, chain smoking and doing one crazy dance step after the other. She was not the type of the type of girl he was usually drawn to but something about her drew him to her. There was something in her eyes, some dark hidden emotion he couldn’t decipher, he would later find out it was pain.
He walked up to her and asked her name, her words were very slurry with drink “Why do you want to know my name? She lurched a little." “Because I want to dance with you” he’d responded.
“Dance with me? So let’s dance, you don’t need a name to do that”
They had danced; well he had danced while she spent most of the time holding on to him, trying to steady herself. When it was nearing dawn, she had shouted in his ear, struggling to be heard against the loud club music. “Where do you stay?”
“What?!” he had yelled back
“Did you come with a car?” she had asked instead of repeating herself
He nodded, “You are not married or anything are you?” she asked
“Nope” he responded with a smile.
“I know I’m going to regret this in the morning but I am going home with you” Her smile was slightly drunk and wildly flirtatious.
It was not a question and while he didn’t want to start anything on this note; yes he was attracted to her, very much so, he felt there was more to her than this wild front she put up, more that he would he would love to unravel and discover. Yet he felt certain that if he didn’t take up her offer, he would never see her again.
She was fast asleep by the time they got to his place and he made a firm decision to be the gentleman, put her to sleep in his bed and take the couch. He could not understand why he had such tender feelings towards this strange wildling, why he felt he owed it to her to be a good man but these were feelings he couldn’t shake off. After parking as close to the entrance of his flat as he could, he came around to her side of the car and picked her up with some difficulty. When he straightened up, she threw her arms around his shoulders and he walked into the flat, her head lolling against his chest.
Episode 20 will be available to read next week Friday. Stay tuned.