Funlola watched as drops of rain fell on the window. She wrapped her cardigan closer to her and rubbed her arm. She couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened at Audrey’s apartment. Her brother’s proposal had taken her by surprise. She looked down at the little black box on her lap.
Is this some sort of sign that I should get married?
First it was Dele, then Mr. Momodu and now John. I scoffed. A pastor for that matter! Not some random man . . . Why would a whole pastor want to marry me? Is it because he hasn’t done it before and he is looking for the best person to pleasure him in bed?
The idea seemed ludicrous to her. Yes, John was a man besides all the spiritual aspect, but was he really that shallow-minded? The blast of the horn shook her from her thoughts and she took in her surroundings.
Heaving a sigh, she took the box off her lap and dropped it in her bag. They were almost at her mother’s house at Mushin. The taxi-driver stopped in-front of a ran-shackled house at her instruction. She paid him and quickly jumped out of the car and ran into the compound, running till she got to the door-step. She shivered and tried ridding herself of some of the water on her body before she knocked on the door loudly.
“Ta ni yen?!”
“Mummy, e mi ni! Funlola!”
“Ah! Omo mi!”
The door opened and Funlola quickly stepped in; welcoming the warmth in the house and the smell of freshly made Vegetable soup that greeted her nostrils.
“Mummy, good afternoon.”
She knelt to greet her mother who tapped her back gently.
“’kabo omo mi. How are you? You’re looking more beautiful o! That bank job is good for you.”
Funlola got up from the ground and sat on a nearby couch. “Mum there’s no job again.”
Her mother came to stand next to her. “What happened?”
“They had to lay off people -”
“And you had to be one of them? Why couldn’t it be anyone else?” She placed her palms on her heavy bosom. “Why my own daughter?” She raised her eyes up and pointed. “Father all my enemies seeking my downfall let them fall down and scatter!”
Funlola rolled her eyes. Hear we go again. Does everything have to be spiritual? Funlola had grown up knowing her mother was a church/prayer addict. Going to church in the early hours of the morning and returning at night. She turned a blind eye and deaf ears to what her husband did in her absence and what her neighbours gossiped about her.
Her mother had tried dragging her to church when she was much younger but Funlola had hated it. When she turned fifteen, her body changed. She suddenly had the rapt attention of men. She obviously found being in their arms more appealing than hearing a pastor tell her she was going to hell and they should pray every hour to flee from temptation.
Funlola had been more interested in running towards temptation with open arms. They would all die someday, what was the difference in heaven or hell? She heard people say there was no heaven or hell to go to. That they were already in heaven while on earth . . . Then there were other people who felt there was a heaven elsewhere; which could she believe? Funlola snorted and let the thought slide.
She looked up at her mother as she kept on firing prayers upward.
“Mum, it’s going to be fine. Please sit down.”
Her mother looked down at her. “I have told you to follow me to church for deliverance but you are very stubborn! As stubborn as your father!”
Funlola closed her eyes. Rubbing her forehead gently she said, “Mummy please don’t compare me to him. Please sit down I have something important to tell you.”
“Ehn-ehn? What happened?”
Funlola brought out the box from her bag and placed it in her mother’s hand. “Someone has asked for my hand in marriage?”
Her eyes brightened and a smile appeared on her face. “Who? Dele?”
Funlola shook her head. “No, John Ngwube.”
“Ngwube? Omo Ibo?”
“Mummy that doesn’t matter.”
“Well, that’s true. It doesn’t. So who is this new guy that I haven’t heard of before? Were you cheating on Dele?”
“No!” Funlola snapped. She was now annoyed she had brought Dele to meet her mum in the first place.
“E pele o. Okay tell me who this Ibo boy is.” She said and opened the box, her eyes widened at what she saw.
Funlola told her how John was her friend’s twin brother and they met a couple of times and he was a pastor.
That got her mother’s attention.
“Pastor? Wow! That’s good news. So are you going to marry him?”
“I don’t know mummy. He’s a good guy but I’m not sure I can be a pastor’s wife. All those things don’t suit me.”
Her mother eyed her and hissed. “So what suits you? Partying about? Sleeping around with men? Look Funlola, I can’t make a choice for you. If a pastor wants to marry you, after seeing how you are with your partying ways, I don’t know what else to say other than he must have seen something special in you. I will pray that God would direct you.”
She rose and gave Funlola the box. “I went to the market yesterday and bought a nylon full of vegetables. Those useless danfo drivers let some fall to the ground in their haste to get me off their bus without reaching the bus-stop. All of them are the same. They went to the same driving school of madness! Terrible drivers. Anyway I cooked some soup, so fe?”
Funlola burst into laughter and nodded. “Yes ma. Let me help out.”
As she rose from the seat she saw her phone’s light on from the corner of her eye. She brought it out of her bag. Three missed calls from Dele. Her phone had been on silent. She was supposed to meet him after seeing her mother but with the sudden change in weather she didn’t think she would.
She bit her lip as his call came through again and picked it.
“Babe, I’ve been trying to reach you.”
“Sorry I had to see my mother. It’s raining heavily here and I’m not sure we would be able to see.”
“I would drive down to pick you up. When would you be done there?”
“Er – In two hours?”
“Okay, see you in two.”
She ended the call and placed her phone back in her bag. The ring-box catching her eye. She didn’t know what she was going to do yet. She closed her bag and walked to the kitchen.
Zainab watched through the mirror as her hair fell off one after the other as she barbed it. I.K looking at her with shock written on his face.
“Is this some kind of after-effect of your mum’s death?”
“Babe aren’t you taking this mourning thing too far? I mean some people cry and lock themselves up in their room, but you’re a different ball-game. What’s with you?”
“I’m not some people. I’m Zainab. Thought you knew that already.”
“I do, but I find this behaviour of yours bizarre.”
“You mean a show of madness?” She chuckled. “I’m just barbing my hair, it’s no big deal.”
“I liked your long hair.”
“Get used to this.”
He sighed. “I’m here if you need me.”
She dropped the clipper on the counter and turned her head from one side to another to admire her work. “Thanks.” She turned to look at him. “What do you think?”
“Erm – You look weird.”
And you think you look like James Bond with all the tattoos on your arms abi?
“I would take that as a compliment.”
She turned back and cleared the things away.
After having her bath she put on shorts and v-neck tee -shirt. She placed a her hat on her head and mirror sunshades on the tip of her nose. She grabbed her car-keys from the dressing table.
“Babe, where are you off to?”
“I need to pick some make-up supply in town.”
“Isn’t the reading of the will today?”
“So? I’m not going.” Zainab was trying hard not to hate her mother for what she did to her.
“You have to go.”
“I.K please don’t start with this. She hid my father from me! It was so hateful of her.”
“She was still your mother Zainab. Even if what she did was wrong and her reasons best known to her, she was still your mother babe.” He got up from the bed. “I’m coming with you. I can’t trust your mental state right now. This one that you’re behaving somehow and barbing hair like it’s a normal thing.”
“I.K, you don’t have to.”
“I want to.” He said sternly and she knew it was best not to argue with him.
He got on his clothes and they headed out the door together. The drive to her step-father’s house was fast. Zainab wished the reading of the will would be even faster but the Lawyer didn’t arrive on time. When he did he got down to business quickly. Her mother had left her two bedroom flat in Abuja to her little children as well as fifty percent of what was in her account. Zainab had been left with the remaining fifty-percent and her mother’s house in Lagos. Having heard all that was needed to hear Zainab told I.K they could leave.
“Just a minute Miss Baruwa. There’s a clause to your laying claim to the house.”
Her eyebrows drew together. “A clause? Meaning?”
“Your mother left a letter for you explaining that effect.” He brought out another letter and handed it to her. Her mother’s handwriting addressing the letter to her. Zainab looked up to see her step-father quizzical eyes on her. She tore the letter open.
I know the first letter I sent to you has left you devastated. As I write this I can imagine the frown on your face and you wondering what I’m up to. It’s quite simple my dear. I want you to meet your father. I know you wouldn’t do it if you weren’t forced to and I’m sorry it had to come to this.
I made a huge mistake keeping you from your father. He never knew you existed. I couldn’t bare to lose you to him, knowing him and I were never going to be together. He being a Christian and I being the daughter of a Jihad. Forgive me Zainab. One day I hope you will.
I love you with all my heart . . .
Now and forever,
John had gone over to his parents house. His father had travelled out for another meeting and would be back the following week. John decided to share the news of his upcoming marriage to Funlola with his mother. Unfortunately, he was unaware that his sister was eaves-dropping on their conversation.
“Are you out of your mind?! You want to marry Funlola? That prostitute?”
His mother looked at him, her eyes filled with shock and questions. “Prostitute? John, what is your sister saying?”
“Audrey don’t call her that.” John warned.
“What the fu-”
He got off his chair. “Audrey!”
She kept quiet.
“Why would you be talking in such a manner? What’s wrong with you?”
Audrey faced their mother and pointed at John. “Mummy tell John he’s making a very big mistake. I know that girl. I know what she does!”
His mother nodded and said calmly, “Audrey excuse us.”
Audrey got off the couch and walked out of the sitting-room, a scowl on her face. John took his seat once again. When the sounds of his sister’s heels were faint his mother said, “Tell me about this girl. Who is she? Where does she come from and why do you want to marry her?”
John had planned on telling his mother on his own and not his sister barging in and telling her everything. It left him with more explanations to give then necessary. He sat at the arm of the chair and began, “Her name is Funlola Abe. She was working in a bank but got laid off recently. She’s young, beautiful, ambitious. She has dreams that she wants to be actualized.”
His mother nodded. “So what about what Audrey was saying about her being a prostitute?”
“Audrey’s exaggerating mum. Everyone has a past. She was never a prostitute but things haven’t been rosy for her.”
“You know your father won’t want anyone tainting his name on the media or bringing shame to this family.”
John nodded. He knew that all too well.
“How come you never mentioned her before?”
He had anticipated the question. “Because I wasn’t sure. There’s no use introducing her to the family if I’m not sure if she’s the one.”
“And you’re now sure?”
A smile appeared on her lips. “I’m happy you’re finally settling down. I would like to see her, when would she be here?”
“I would get back to you on that mum. Right now I have to see her before heading to church.”
His mother tilted her head to the side and looked at her son. “Do you love her?”
Love. He had also asked himself the same thing over and over again. Would he love her as God expected him to? Even if their relationship was not the typical guy meets girl, guy falls in love with girl and guy marries girl thing. It was completely different from anything he had ever seen. What made it more interesting was it was what God wanted him to do. He was willing to get to know her more. God wanted His children to love. And irrespective of Funlola’s past he was determined to love her.
“Yes, mum. I love her.”
Her smile widened. “Oh my son, I’m glad.”
Before John left the house he had a word with his sister. Telling her to stop bad-mouthing Funlola.
Her eyes flared up in anger. “What’s wrong with you men? You and Dele? What does that girl have that’s making all of you chase her up and down like she’s one fattened calf and you’re a hungry lion? Is it her excessive boobs or her fine skin or how beautiful she is? Is it her useless wild-streak? What exactly is it?!”
John had just stared at her, more shocked at what she was telling him indirectly. He wondered if it was more about her being jealous of her room-mate than anything else.
“Audrey is there something else you aren’t telling me?”
She crossed her arms and looked away from him. “Like what? Do whatever you want. What I say doesn’t matter.”
“Audrey what’s wrong? Why are you acting this way?”
She shrugged. “Nothing.”
“Talk to me nau.”
“I said it’s nothing!” She raised a hand and massaged her temple. “Just leave me alone. I don’t feel like talking.”
He sighed. “Okay. I’ll call you up later. Take care of yourself.”
As he walked out of the room he saw her punching at her phone angrily. He closed the door to her bedroom lightly and hurried down the stairs. He was already getting late for his appointment with his future wife.
It had taken sleepless nights to come to her decision. She had thought hard on it; reasoning out both benefits and losses. So far the benefits had a higher hand. Getting married to John Ngwube would afford her numerous things. A high status in society since his father was a senator. She would have luxuries she couldn’t afford and would finally start up her own business. She could deal with all her haters. . . At the end, it would benefit her in the long haul.
It didn’t matter that her future husband was a complete novice when it came to pleasing a woman; but she was more than experienced for the both of them. There were still some questions that needed answering though. What if I get bored with his life-style? What if I can’t cope with being a pastor’s wife? What if he expects too much from me? A wife that would cook, clean and all that nonsense . . . She shook her head. She was sure she would be able to handle it. It wasn’t like John is going to force me to go to church with him.
That was why Funlola called him over so they could talk about their marriage. They had to get certain things sorted out. He told her he would be at her place in the next hour. Funlola pulled her trouser higher and adjusted her purple tank-top so it wouldn’t show her matching black underwear. Since it wasn’t her dressing or exposed body-parts that had gotten his attention, there was no use frolicking about half-naked any-more.
The door bell rang and she looked at her watch. He’s early. She took quick steps to the door and pulled it open. The puzzled look on Dele’s face meeting with her surprised one. Why was he here? She wondered.
“Dele, what’s up?”
He didn’t wait to be invited and barged into the apartment. She closed the door and turned to look at him.
She placed her hands on both sides of her waist. “What’s your problem Dele?! Why are you barging in here like this?”
He looked at her like she had gone mad.
“Are you getting married?”
She jerked back. Taken aback by his question.
“Who told you that?”
“Answer me jere! No dey use question answer me.”
She raised her brow. He rarely spoke pidgin.
“John asked me to marry him and I said yes. He said he loves me -”
Dele raised his brows. “And so bloody what?! What does love have to do with it?”
“He seems genuine.”
“You mean you love his father’s money.”
“Dele don’t insult me!”
He walked over to her and pulled her into his arms. “I shouldn’t insult you? Don’t you realize throwing yourself around men is enough insult for you? Acting like a prostitute. Why are you so materialistic?!”
She tried to wriggle herself free from him but he held on tight. He grabbed her chin and pressed his lips against hers. She used her fists to hit him, but there was no point. He didn’t relent and her fingers would ache later on.
His eyes swept over her and she felt goose-bumps all over her. His minty breath on her face, he forced her lips open with his tongue and kissed her. Funlola had always inwardly praised him at his kissing skills. Not telling him to his face ‘cause he could be so proud a times. Gradually, she melted in his arms. She grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him close. Their kiss deepening.
She couldn’t tell how many seconds or minutes they remained lip-locked and his hands finding places to settle. The sound of someone clearing their throat caused them to pull apart. Funlola turned around to find John standing by the door. His face unreadable. She used her finger to clean the side of her mouth.
“John -” She began.
Dele stepped in-front of her cutting off her words.
“John what are you trying to do?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? From all indications you’re the one in the wrong. You were making out with my fiancée.”
Dele’s mirthless laugh filled the room. “Your fiancée? Come on John. What does Funlola have to do with you? The both of you have nothing in common. You’re complete opposites!”
John shoved his fists into his pockets and shrugged. “She’s the one I want.”
Dele turned to face Funlola. “Did you sleep around with this guy?” He pointed at John with his thumb.
Rage filled her. “What kind of stupid question is that?! No, I didn’t!”
“I don’t believe you.”
“That’s your business then! Please leave.”
“I don’t believe this shit. Funlola, you’re kicking me out? When did all this start? You dump me and then you accept this guy’s proposal?”
He turned around to face John and no one predicted the punch Dele delivered on John’s face.
“Dele!” Funlola shrieked.
John staggered back. He bent low, his hand on his nose.
“Dele what’s wrong with you?! Are you mad?”
She rushed to John’s side, but he held his hand out to her to step back. He stood up straight and dropped his hand.
Funlola glared at Dele.
“Dele I don’t want to fight with you -”
“Too bad. Then I can beat you into a pulp you bastard.”
“Dele get out of my house.” Funlola told him with a stern look on her face.
Dele went at him again but John didn’t take the punch the second time. He grabbed Dele’s hand and twisted it to his back making Dele yelp in pain. Funlola’s eyes widened at the scene playing before her eyes.
“I told you I don’t want to fight Dele.”
He pushed Dele towards the door and pushed him out, slamming the door shut and locking it. Dele pounded the door and called John a coward. He pounded on the door and shouted various obscenities.
“You know I have what you want Funlola and I know what you like! You would come begging me later!”
The shouting soon ended and the both of them concluded he had finally left. Funlola didn’t know how to explain what had happened with her and Dele.
“Is your nose okay?”
“Yeah, nothing to worry about. Thanks.”
John pulled out a seat at the dining table and sat down. She placed both hands in her back-pockets, staring at her black-coated toe-nails.
“John I’m sorry. What happened between Dele and I . . .” She looked at him. “It was nothing. He just came here, shocked about your marriage proposal. Y-you know we were once a -”
“It’s fine Funlola. I understand. I won’t lie that what I saw didn’t bother me, but I understand.”
“Oh . . .” Irritation built up within her. Him not being bothered at the whole scenario annoyed her and she didn’t know why. Maybe it was because he reminded her of her mother’s nonchalant attitude to her father’s wayward ways. Nevertheless, relief coursed through her body ‘cause she didn’t want to get into an argument again. If he wasn’t bothered that was his business. “Thanks, I guess.”
“So how did he find out? You told him.”
“Me ke? For what nau?”
“That means it’s Audrey. She overheard when I was telling my mum about you.”
Funlola’s mouth fell open. “You told your mum? What did she say?”
He chuckled. “Said she’s looking forward to seeing you. I’m also looking forward to taking you there as well.”
She nodded and took her seat as well on the wooden dining table.
He clasped his hands. “So you said you wanted to talk to me about something?”
“Yes, I have questions to ask.”
He sat up. “I’m here to answer them.”
“Would you force me to go to church?”
He gave a half-smile. “No, I won’t.”
“Okay. I don’t wash, cook, clean or do any of those things you men expect women to do. How would we manage?”
“I don’t expect you to be my maid. I have a washing machine at home. I have someone who comes in to clean the house every week. I cook . . . So there shouldn’t really be a problem.”
Funlola gave a half-smile. “You would cook for the both of us?”
“No . . . Just for me.”
The smile disappeared immediately. “Oh-”
He laughed. “I’m just joking. I would cook for the both of us. I don’t want you to starve.”
She nodded. So far there was no pressure on her and she liked that.
“Is that all?” He asked.
“Yeah, for now.”
“Okay, I also have erm – conditions. I don’t want you wearing skimpy clothes in public, you can wear that in the house with just me looking at you. I want us to have kids immediately,” She raised her brow at that, “that way you can work on getting your figure back. I love your figure this way and don’t want you adding too much weight. Are my requests unrealistic?”
“So far . . . No.”
“So can we roll with them?”
She nodded as she ran them over in her head. “I think so.”
He checked his watch. “I have to take my leave now. I have a meeting at church.” He looked down at her hand and Funlola followed his eyes. She looked back at him; questions in his eyes.
“I would wear it. It’s just going to get some getting used to.” She saw the ring as a claim on her and she hated the thought that anyone had any power or authority over her.
“I get. I would call you later on. When Audrey comes don’t let her get to you. She would most likely make a scene but she would mellow later on.”
She laughed. “I know how to handle her. Thanks for the advice though.”
She walked him to his car. She waved at him as he turned his car and drove off. Back in her apartment she sat on the couch and brought her finger tips to her lips. Dele’s kiss still lingered on them. Would PJ be able to kiss me like that? Would he be able to touch me in all the places I like when we get married?
NEXT . . .
“Daniel I know how pressed you are to do this. But do you really want to marry me? I mean . . . I know how much Adesewa means to you but I don’t want to stand in the way of your happiness. I haven’t told you all this while that I liked you because I was afraid to. You were in a relationship. I’m really sorry I messed things up with you and Ade.”
“Efe we’ve been going on and on about this for a year now. I think it’s high time we got started. I want us to get married. I have a date already but I just want to be sure it’s okay with you. It would be three weeks from now. It’s not going to be a big thing. Just church blessings, registry. Small party.”
Three weeks? “Oh -”
Adesewa felt used . . . And for the second time. She picked up the pillow on her bed and threw it against the door. A headache was building up. She squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed her forehead. She felt like slapping him and doing major harm to him; like cutting his private parts into little pieces and giving him to eat. Anything to make her feel better, because sleeping with Ebuka, (Adesewa almost gagged at the thought), had just been the beginning. She would show him what it felt like to use someone . . . She would destroy him.
Adesewa scrambled off her bed and went straight to her closet. She rummaged through her clothes until her eyes saw what she was looking for. Her little black dress. It had been a long time she had worn it but it still looked brand new. The lacy part of the dress was soft to touch. She took the black number out and placed it on her bed. Thereafter she went to her drawers and picked out her red underwear. It had never failed her. Daniel was pathetic when it came to sex. He was always willing to give her what she wanted and she knew he loved her. She knew his weaknesses and she would use it against him.