Always One More Time #5 By Temitope Ogunyinka
She walked into the hospital and took off her sun-glasses while taking in a deep breath. This was it. The hour she had been waiting for. To find out the news; good or bad. She showed her card to the nurse and was asked to wait to see the doctor.
She toyed with her phone, while chatting with a few people on it. Her hands shook as she did so. She was too nervous.
“Excuse me ma.”
Is she talking to me? She looked up.
“The doctor would see you now.”
She nodded and picked up the designer bag she had recently purchased, in an effort to lift her spirits, and followed the nurse down the corridor to the doctor’s office. The nurse opened the door for her to go in and flashed a warm smile towards her..
She acknowledged the doctor’s greeting with a nod.
“I have received your results and I’m afraid the -”
She cut him off. “How much time do I have left?” She didn’t need the unnecessary preamble.
With a sombre expression he said, “The cancer has spread and there’s really nothing we can do. You have a month.”
“It would be better for you to have your family with you. It would help . . .”
“Thank you.” She got up and left the office.
As she drove home she knew she had no one. No one knew her predicament. She couldn’t tell them. She avoided pity at all cost. She was all alone. She willed for tears to come but they wouldn’t, she couldn’t force them down. She popped Adele’s CD in the CD-Player and listened to the slow number that filled her car as she drove home. . .
Efe got out of the taxi and paid the taxi-driver his fee. Her father didn’t know she had left Ibadan to meet up with Daniel. It wasn’t like Daniel was also expecting her. She had planned a surprise visit so she could sort out what was happening between them. The awkwardness building up between them was unbearable for her. She adjusted her trousers and knocked on his gate. It was seven in the evening and he should be back home from work.
“Good eve-nin ma.” The security guard greeted her.
Smiling at him she said, “Good evening Solomon. Daniel dey?”
He nodded and wanted to help out with her handbag but she declined. She climbed the stairs up to his apartment on the second floor. She took a deep breath before knocking on the door. She hoped within her that he didn’t have any visitor. I should have asked So-lo.
“Who’s that?” He called out behind the door.
“Daniel it’s me. Efe.”
She heard footsteps approaching the door and she quickly swiped the sweat from her forehead as the door opened.
“Efe? Wh- What are you doing here?”
Efe eyes fell on his hairy, bare chest as he put on his shirt. She quickly looked up. “I – I came to see you.”
His face let on a worried look. “Hope no problem?”
“No. There’s no problem.”
He must have realized she was still standing outside and he suddenly shifted his large frame to the side to let her in. His apartment was still as she remembered it. A bachelor pad; black leather sofas, a huge plasma TV with a home theater system, walls painted off-white.
Not much had changed, except for the décor and sitting arrangements. She took a seat on the soft leather couch. She spotted the take-out bowl on his centre-table and the wraps of paper that had probably held a large amount of Suya in it. He took his seat opposite her.
“You were having dinner?”
“Great. I have this new lecturer though and loads of work . . . Really stressful.”
“That’s school for you babe.”
She chuckled. “Yeah . . .” She took a deep breath. “So I came over ‘cause I’ve been trying to reach you for some couple of days now. It’s either your phone is off or it’s busy or it’s just ringi-”
“Efe you know I’m working. I have a lot to do. I don’t have time to have any conversation about marriage or whatever.”
“Right . . .”
She looked down at her bag and willed the tears to stay back. She heard him sigh. Gosh why am I so emotional?
“Effy I’m sorry.”
Hearing the nick-name he used to call her didn’t lessen the pain from the way he had just snapped at her.
“I’m just tensed. I’m looking after Ulunma and working-”
She looked at him. “I thought you said she was with your mum. What happened?”
“Long story. But anyway I just got a nanny that comes in the morning and leaves when I get back from work. So far there’s been no issue.”
I wonder if she’s pretty. Efe closed her eyes and chided herself of thinking of such nonsense.
“I’m balancing it all now.” Daniel said.
“Okay. Is she sleeping? Can I see her?”
“See question! Of-course nau, no bi your pikin?”
Efe chuckled and rose up. He led her down to his bedroom where she was sleeping in her cradle.
“Awww, she looks so cute. I’ve missed her. How long has she been asleep?” She whispered.
“Not too long . . .”
Efe was disappointed. She would have loved to play with her.
“Don’t worry she doesn’t sleep for long. She would be awake before you know it and you would be begging her to fall back to sleep.”
Efe nodded. It hurt that he knew a lot more than her about their daughter; only because she was in school and couldn’t look after her at the moment. Even though Daniel’s mother filled her in regularly on what was happening, it still wasn’t nearly enough. She had decided not to worry over it too much, knowing she would be done with school soon and hopefully she would serve in Lagos during N.Y.S.C.
They walked out of the room as quietly as they came in.
“Have you eaten? I think I have some noodles at home.”
“Oh? That’s why the packs you have are disappearing fast fast.”
He chuckled and rubbed his chest. “I need a woman to take care of me.”
There was an awkward silence in the room but Efe was quick to break it. “I would check the noodles out.”
She hurried off to the kitchen.
Why did I have to say that?
Daniel chided himself. He smacked his forehead. He walked over to the kitchen and watched as she busied herself with making the noodles. Presently, she was dicing onions and red pepper; humming to a tune as she did the little task. She looked comfortable . . . And he felt she looked cool in that setting.
She would make a good wife, Daniel thought. But definitely not for him. He couldn’t let his parents force a marriage neither of them wanted. He knew they would regret it for the rest of their lives.
He heard his phone ring in the living room and hurried back. He picked the phone.
“Ace how far?”
“Guy are we hanging out tonight?”
Daniel saw Efe busying herself and not eaves-dropping on his conversation. “No, I dey with Efe.”
“Ahn-ahn! Kong man!” Ebuka hailed him. “You are so confused. You guys getting down tonight?”
“You dey craze? No jor! Babe just show with no prior notice. I guess she wants to talk about the wedding.”
“Chai! Does she know her rival is back?”
“No, but It doesn’t really matter. There won’t be any wedding.”
“Okay. Let me know how it goes sha. Bye bro.”
He dropped the phone on the centre table. Ever since he became a father, his late nights out had reduced dramatically. The whole being a father thing was taking a toll on his social life, and now he was going to get married? He shook his head and walked back into the kitchen.
“Efe do you really want us to get married?”
She turned to look at him. Shock written all over her face. He dropped the question without waiting to think about it. He needed answers. He needed a way out of this predicament. If they were united in their decision not to get married they may have a fighting chance to get out of the situation their fathers were putting them through.
“Elm . . . I told my father we didn’t need to get married.”
That was all he needed to hear. “Great! Together we can form an alliance and get ourselves out of this mess.”
She nodded and went back to what she was doing.
He heard her sniff.
“Babe you okay?”
“Yeah, it’s just the onions.”
Daniel nodded absent-mindedly, another question on the fore-front of his mind. “Are you spending the night?”
“No, I’m heading over to a friend’s place. I’m still here ‘cause I want to see Eduwa.”
Thank God. “Alright.”
Daniel walked back to the living-room and put on the T.V to watch a crime series. He thought back to the kisses he gave Ade and the time he spent with her. He smiled. It was just like old times. He missed her and wanted to spend more time with her. He sighed. But she’s so stubborn! She wasn’t picking his calls and he had no way of reaching her. He had been so busy at work he couldn’t drop at her place. He would find time to go over to her place.
“You like it?”
“I love it!”
Zainab smiled at another satisfied customer through the mirror. The woman was strange.
Her phone rang then and she picked it from the table. She moved to a corner of the room and picked the call.
“’yata. Yaya dai?”
“I’m fine mum. And you?”
“I’m doing great. I’ve missed my daughter and decided to call her since she’s too busy to pick up the phone to call me.”
Zainab rolled her eyes.
“I have been really busy mum. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. Just make sure you come over this evening. I want to see you.”
Zainab noticed the woman was staring at her unashamedly. It unnerved her. She had to send her out.
“I’ll try my best mum. Take care.”
“Ina son ki.”
“I love you too.”
She dropped the call and turned to meet the woman. “So you can transfer the money to my account. I’m sorry I have somewhere else to be.”
The woman nodded. “Okay, I would do just that.” She rose from the seat. “You do great work. I would refer you to other ladies.”
“That’s much appreciated.” Zainab said, all business-like.
The woman picked up her bag from her seat. “I would call you later.”
Zainab released a sigh when she left. She had planned to meet up with I.K but with her mum calling her she had to cancel her plans with him. She had been looking forward to the joint he had for her.
Zainab’s mother was a very composed and beautiful woman. Zainab knew she had some of her mother’s features. Her high cheekbones. Chocolate complexion. Her slim, tall figure. The rest of her features were from the father she had never known. The father that had abandoned her when she was a baby. A man her mother never liked to talk about whenever Zainab had broached the topic years back.
“Good afternoon mum.”
Her mother smiled widely. Happy to see her. “My baby.” She opened her arms wide as she sat on the long couch. “Come and give me a hug.”
Zainab rolled her eyes and ambled over to her mum, embracing her briefly before settling down on a couch next to her.
“So how are you? How’s your business?”
“Fine.” Zainab got out her phone from her purse and tapped on it. I.K was pouring out his annoyance on her through texts for cancelling on him.
“Ka ki yi rashin kunya. (Don’t be rude). You should put that phone away and talk to me.”
She quickly typed out sorry and a sad smiley and sent it to him before dropping the phone and focusing her attention on her mother.
“See how skinny you are. Aren’t you eating?”
“Mum what’s up with the twenty-one questions? I’m eating. I’m not watching my weight at all. I want to be slim and in shape; is that bad?”
Her mother looked at her closely, studying her.
Zainab shifted on the couch, uncomfortable. “What about Amina and Yusuf?” She asked after her step sister and brother.
“They have gone for lessons.”
“You have been using those drugs.” It wasn’t a question but a statement. Her mother had caught her once when she was still living in the house. It was one of the reasons she had left the house. She wanted to live her own life without her mother breathing down her neck and telling her the adverse effects of marijuana.
“Mum, I’m not using any drugs.”
Zainab smacked her hand on her forehead and stood up.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t need you making me feel this way mum. Making me feel inconsequential and all.”
“How am I doing that? I asked a question -”
“And I answered.”
Her mother raised her palms up to her head. “Okay, I’m sorry. Please sit down.”
Zainab sat back down and crossed her legs.
“What would you like to eat?”
“Pancakes and scrambled eggs.”
Her mother quirked her brow, an amused look on her face. “Isn’t that for breakfast?”
She shrugged. “I’ve missed your pancakes. There’s this way you make them, with -”
“Little chocolate inside.” Her mother rose up. “Let’s head over to the kitchen. We’ll catch up and you would learn how to do it.”
“Who said I don’t know how to do it?” Zainab smirked, glad that the previous tension was gone.
“Will you do this one now?”
She raised her hands. “I will watch. After this one I would do it for the both of us.”
Her mother threw her head back and laughed. Zainab smiled at her. Even if she had a step-father who didn’t care too much about her, step-siblings who never got along with her . . . She had her mother. Zainab knew she would always have her mother. As for her father, years of not having him around was proof she didn’t need him in her life.
Audrey wanted him to pick her up so they could go to their cousin’s birthday party together. He wondered why she couldn’t drive herself there. She had given him a more or less silly reply. I just had my nails done and I’m not up to driving. John rolled his eyes. Women! He knew though that not all women were materialistic like his sister and her room-mate.
He got out his phone from the cup-holder and speed-dialled his sister’s number. She didn’t answer. He tried it again and this time she picked.
“I’m almost at your place so let’s start going.”
“You didn’t tell me you wanted to go out with me. But I like this your approach sha.”
He raised his brow as he turned to his sister’s street. “Funlola?”
She chuckled. “Sorry, Audrey just got into the bathroom. She said you could come in and wait for her.”
John rolled his eyes. “Thanks.”
He parked his car in-front of the apartment building, got out and went straight to their apartment. He knocked on the door and Funlola shouted for him to come in. The place smelled of perfume and sweat. He turned to the living-room. His eyes widened.
“Hey PJ!” Funlola greeted. She was clad in a work-out outfit that was tight enough for him to decipher her body shape with no stress. He looked away immediately.
“Funlola what are you doing?”
“See question! Exercise nau.”
He could hear a ladies voice on the T.V instructing her on what to do. “Now lie flat on your tummy and squeeze your bum tight . . . Raise your arms -”
Oh Lord . . .
John quickly said, “Let me wait outside . . .”
“No need. I’m already done. Let me quickly change before you lose your mental virginity.” She laughed and walked out of the living room.
Mental virginity? Is this babe okay? He was getting tired of her games.
John took his seat at the dining table. It would be easy for him to run out if she came out in another scandalous attire. Just because he hadn’t been with any woman yet didn’t make him less of a man and not able to get turned on. He let out a breath.
Funlola came out in a pair of jeans trouser and a loose white blouse. John had to admit she looked beautiful without make-up. Her hair packed up in a pony-tail. He liked the new hair-colour she had on.
“PJ you should have seen how scared you looked when you saw me. Haven’t you seen a woman in exercise clothing before?” She walked into the kitchen.
John opened his mouth to speak but closed it. Never in his life had he met a woman like her before. She came back out with an apple in hand and a bottle of water in the other.
“You look really handsome in your Trad. The colour suits you well.” He had on a deep blue guinea brocade.
“So what’s mental virginity?”
“Oh! It means I didn’t want your mind being corrupted. You being PJ and all.” She winked at him.
He chuckled. “You do exercise like this everyday?”
She shook her head. “Only when I feel like and notice when I’m getting out of shape.”
And you just had to do it when you knew I was coming . . . He thought.
She looked pointedly at him and took a bite of her apple. “Tell me the truth . . . “ She licked her lips. “You think I’m trying to seduce you ?”
His phone rang then and he excused himself to pick it up. It was Stephanie. She had finally found a place for him and he could check it out on Monday. He thanked her. Funlola was still waiting for his answer. He had a question of his own.
“Why haven’t you accepted Dele’s proposal?”
She shrugged. “Still thinking about it.”
“Come on Funlola. What exactly are you thinking about?”
“Whether I want to get married to him. This is a huge step and I have to be completely sure.”
John raised his brow, surprise etched on his face. “Okay, fair enough. But I feel you should give him an answer sooner rather than later. We guys aren’t too patient, ‘specially if there’s another babe lurking around the corner.”
Her eyes sparkled. “But you aren’t like other guys PJ. Thanks for the unsolicited advice.”
Audrey came out then much to John’s relief. He didn’t want Funlola to ask another question.
“I see you guys are getting well-acquainted. Sha don’t get too acquainted o.”
John also didn’t see that happening. He rose to his feet. “Thanks for keeping me company Funlola. Take care.”
She waved at them with her free hand. “Have fun twin-ies!”
John shook his head in amusement as he walked out.
Her conversation with Zainab had eased her pains considerably. Her advice to move on made a lot of sense. If he was really meant for her he would fight to have her in his life. Babe, you have to let him prove how much he wants you in his life. If you think he sounds confused then give him some space. Free the guy. And that was what she had done. She had given him space. No matter how much it hurt to see his phone-calls and not pick them, she wasn’t going to give him access to her life so easily. But now she couldn’t avoid him when he made an appearance at her door-step.
Audrey is so going to pay for this . . . Adesewa knew Audrey had told Daniel where she lived. Zainab would never have betrayed her trust.
“Why haven’t you been picking my calls?” He asked.
She gave a half shrug. “I’ve been busy.”
“Come on Ade . . . Too busy to pick a phone call?”
Adesewa clenched her teeth. She hated when he sounded like that; making her look like she was at fault when it was his. “Daniel please why are you here?” She raised her hand to the back of her neck and massaged it.
“I came to see you. After the other night you just went AWOL. Did I do something wrong?”
She eyed him. What a stupid question! “What kind of question is that? Did I say you did something? You didn’t do anything wrong. I was just tired. That was what I told you nau.”
He moved towards her but she moved back. She didn’t want him close. She didn’t think she could handle it.
He stopped in his tracks.
“Why are you running away from me Ade? I told you I’m sorry. I want us back. I love you. I’m not getting married to Efe. We both don’t want to get married.”
She raised her brow. She found that hard to believe. “Really? I thought she had always had a crush on you for years. Why would she all of a sudden not be interested in getting married to you?”
Daniel spread his arms wide. “I don’t get Ade! You want Efe and I to get married? I don’t want that and neither does she! You don’t want to be with me? Then tell me and I won’t disturb you any-more. I’ve been begging you for over a year now, let me know your decision.”
Adesewa folded her arms and looked away from him. She said nothing.
“Ade answer me!”
“Daniel please leave me alone!” She unfolded her arms and pointed to the door. “Go away. I haven’t asked you to come. I haven’t disturbed you since I got back from Abuja. Doesn’t that pass across a message or you’re too dumb to figure it out?”
Adesewa bit her inner cheek at the harshness of her words.
“Oh. Right. I would leave you alone. I won’t be back.”
He turned and walked towards the door. She bit her lip. His back turned to her she could imagine him walking away from her life forever. She didn’t want that. As his hand reached out to the handle of the door she barely whispered, “Daniel wait . . . Please.”
He turned and looked at her. “Did you say something?”
Yeye. Like you didn’t hear me. “Y-yes. I said wait. Please.”
He moved a little into the room and stopped a few feet from her. “Okay? I’m here.”
She took a deep breath and looked him in the eye. “I don’t want you to go.”
He didn’t say anything, waiting for her to continue.
She ran her hand down her hair. “I spent most of my days in Abuja thinking about you. Despite Zainab trying to hook me up with other guys,” His raised his brow at that but still said nothing, “but it didn’t work out.” Adesewa remembered her last relationship with Akin and how silly it was.
Adesewa closed the gap between them. “I- I still love you.”
His lips curled up in a smile. “Oh really?” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her against his chest. “You want to say that with your lips brushed against mine?”
She giggled. She stood on tip-toes to kiss him but he lifted her up and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He kissed her lightly and looked into her eyes.
“Did you really miss me?”
He nodded. “I love you Ade. I really do.”
She tilted her head to one side, an idea coming to mind. He would have to show how much he had missed her. “Would you show me how much?”
Letting out a sigh he said, “Baby I would love to do that bu-”
“Daniel please. Just this once. Don’t deny me this.”
She had missed him too much and her ego couldn’t take this rejection.
She looked into his eyes. She could sense the inner battle with in and was surprised, but glad, when he said, “Lead the way . . .”
She smiled and gave him directions to her room.
“Imagine a husband leaving his wife for a prostitute. . . ”
“That’s a weird scenario.”
“But not impossible. Look at the world you live in, it happens. My people leave Me for mundane things. . . They behave like whores.”
John shifted on his seat. For the last couple of weeks he had been having the same pattern of conversation with God and he didn’t understand why. The last scenario was of the woman at the well who had five ex-husbands and a lover who was living with her. It was a little bible study, where God was the teacher and John the student. So far he had gotten to understand a bit more of the woman at the well than most times when he just read through the passage. The Samaritan woman had been passed on from one man to the other. Men who either divorced her or died . . . Though the bible didn’t specify, John knew such a woman wouldn’t have much self-worth.
He had jotted a lot of things down. Four pages of eye-opening revelation of one chapter in the bible . . . And he still had more to learn. He didn’t know what, but he felt something huge was going to happen in the next couple of weeks. John felt it so strongly within him, that God would teach him many more wonderful things along the way.