Always One More Time #15 By Temitope Ogunyinka
Efe closed her eyes and breathed out. The temptation to call Daniel each day and find out what he was up to was alarmingly high. She found it hard to trust him now that she was in school and he was home alone; alone with whomever he was seeing behind her back.
Her ears plugged she listened to the cool tunes of Don Moen, but it didn’t calm her nerves. She was going to try really hard to concentrate on school-work, but knew it would be difficult. Even more difficult than living with him.
She had discovered being married to Daniel was a different ball game altogether than knowing him as a family friend.
He wasn’t what she had expected. But then what had she expected? A happy home and the both of them playing house with their daughter and having a great time? That they would make love all morning and he would declare his undying love for her? She laughed at her silliness.
None of that was happening.
Daniel didn’t clean after himself, so she had two babies to look after. He was the type to leave tiny hairs in the sink after combing his hair; claiming he didn’t see it due to power failure most mornings. The TV was his domain and had his full attention, asides when his phone rang occasionally and he would whisper into it while watching her surreptitiously when she was around him.
And when she asked who it was he had a guarded look on his face and stammered an answer to her.
Was this how men were like? Was this how marriage was like or she just happened to be caught in this mishap with Daniel?
Uncle John and Funlola had advised her to play it cool; actually Uncle John had said that. Funlola’s advice was to call his bluff and address the issue immediately before it got out of hand.
John hadn’t agreed.
“Come on PJ! You don’t just seat back and watch when your man is putting his ‘thing’ in another woman’s VJJ! I think it’s wrong on all counts when you don’t address the issue if you aren’t okay with it!”
Uncle John looked at Funlola. Both John and Efe were amazed at her outburst; one would have thought she was the one with the problem. He had calmed Funlola down and faced Efe.
“Efe I know it’s hard on you right now, especially just after your wedding, but you can win the battle. Don’t lose your temper and don’t walk out-”
Efe glimpsed at Funlola rolling her eyes at what Uncle John said.
“But Uncle John it’s not easy. I don’t know why Daniel is doing this. I wonder who the woman is. I – I hav- have a feeling it’s Adesewa.”
“It doesn’t matter who it is. Whomever it is just have a neutral mind and continue to respect him as your husband and be submissive. I would try my best to talk to him but there’s little we all can do except pray.”
And that was what she was doing. Praying. But then she was worried as well. The bible said not to worry, but she couldn’t help it. The thoughts in her mind were making it hard.
She opened her eyes and gazed at Chukwuemeka.
“Oh,” She sat up. “Good evening sir.”
“Efe,” His eyes strolled down to the wedding bands on her finger and back to her face. “How are you?”
“No, you don’t look it. You look stressed out and worried. What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. Well, project work.”
“And married life? Ever since you got married instead of being happy you look morose and depressed.”
For an instant Efe wondered why she didn’t go for Chukwuemeka. She wanted to confide in him. His gentle tone and concern almost made her walls break. But it didn’t. Daniel was her husband and she wasn’t going to discuss her issues with a stranger that knew nothing about their situation.
Besides, if she really wanted to go for the lecturer her heart wouldn’t let her live freely. It always betrayed her by loving Daniel and only him. It was all her fault she was in this predicament; because she didn’t wait on God to let Daniel come to his senses but had hooked him in a wrong way.
“Mr Benson, I’m fine. Can’t wait to graduate and move on to the next stage of my life.”
He studied her, as if doubtful of her response. But then he said, “Okay. But you know if you want to talk I’m here. It really hurt me when you told me you were getting married. I would have welcomed you and your child into my home with open arms. I would have treated you the way you should be treated; with so much love and care. But -”
“But what?” Efe interjected. As he spoke her anger had been building. “But you think you can make me feel bad with your words? You want me to regret not getting married to you?”
She shook her head as she picked up her books. She hung her bag on her shoulder against Chukwuemeka’s protests.
“Haba, Efe I didn’t mean it like that nau. Yes, I’m jealous but I wish you all the best. I even met someone I like at your wedding; a photographer. Her name is Jasmine.”
“Oh . . .” Efe felt silly for her behaviour. She forced a smile. “That’s great. I’m happy for you.”
He nodded. “I’m happy too. Maybe that’s why you and I were to meet; so I could meet Jasmine.”
Efe nodded trying to hold back the tears.
“Erm – I have to go now, lots of work to do.”
He frowned. “Hope it’s not because of what I -”
“No. No. It’s not. Have lot’s of things to do.” She felt terrible for lying.
“Okay then, see you later.”
She rose and walked out of the cafeteria with tears in her eyes and wishing with all her heart that she could have a happy ending.
Married life was way much different than she had anticipated. Her parents, due to their actions, had given her the mindset that it was no good and unnecessary. John had proved otherwise. Their first day as a married couple she got a car, the second day was breakfast in bed and pampering her. The third day giving her shopping bags of new clothes and shoes.
The book must have paid off full time ‘cause he was a fast learner. In all, he was too good to her and she had no idea why. That was the most common word on her mind lately; Why.
Why had she cheated on him the same week of her wedding? Why had she gone out to mess around with Dele when John left for a vigil? Why was her life complicated all of a sudden?
Surprisingly, Funlola felt bad about what she did and knew John didn’t deserve such treatment from her. He had been too good to her. But she couldn’t help it.
Why did you choose me PJ? I’m not the best person for you. I’m just like my father! No matter how much I wanted to deny it I was just like him.
She wasn’t faithful. She wasn’t a good cook. She clearly wasn’t a good wife or helper . . . The only thing she could call herself useful for was sharing her body with her husband. Even though he was still learning the ropes.
I don’t think I can do this.
As a pastor’s wife people expected certain things from her of which she had no way of meeting up. She needed her freedom. She needed to take the ring off and flutter her wings a little. That was why she had slept with Dele. He was bad like her. He understood her. He worshipped and adored her body.
On the other-hand, she didn’t feel useful to John.
John didn’t appreciate her skills in bed like Dele did. He respected her, which was okay, but she wanted more.
John’s voice snapped her attention immediately, making her feel guilty for her thoughts of promiscuity and running away. She avoided his eyes as he took his seat beside her on the arm of the red love seat.
She nodded. “Yeah, I am. Just thinking about life. John, I don’t want to sit at home all day and not have anything to do.”
“Hmm. Okay, what do you have in mind? Business or going back to work?”
Funlola thought about it. She had always wanted to be a consultant for business people but her experience was very little. She had to start her own business, but then she had pending issues to deal with.
“I want to work at my old bank.”
The puzzled look on his face said he found her idea strange. “Why? They let you go nau.”
“I know it sounds ridiculous but I have some things to sort out.”
“It seems there’s more to this story than you have told me. Want to share what really happened with me?”
“Haba Funlola. What if I bribe you with Cold Stone Ice-cream?”
She snickered. “I’m not going to be bought for a cup of ice-cream Mr. Man.”
Funlola gazed up at him and stuck out her tongue while wondering if there was any point lying to him. She felt he was too soft when dealing with certain issues and might dissuade her. Still, she would share it with him.
“Okay, I would tell you.”
He smiled broadly. “I was going to tickle you if you didn’t.”
She chuckled then narrated everything to him about how she got her clients and the nasty women in her office and the boss. This was a part of her life John knew nothing about. What she had shared was just a little part of it. She wondered how he felt about her, knowing all that he knew now.
She asked him.
She nodded, feeling nervous all of a sudden.
“It hurts to think of all those things you did with those men; to think of how it all went down, but if I ruminate on it for long I’m just going to be hurting myself. What’s in the past is in the past.” He smiled. “I have you all to myself now and that’s all that matters.”
He rubbed her shoulders gently and Funlola flinched inwardly from his touch. If only he knew what I was currently doing . . . He would never feel the same way.
“So what do you plan to do with your former boss?” He asked.
“I can’t allow anybody walk on me like that.”
“So what do you want to do for them asides destroying their ear-drums at our wedding.”
He gave a cheeky smile. “You think I didn’t know?”
She gave a half-shrug as she played with the hem of her skirt.
“Look Funlola there’s no need going back there to prove anything to them. You may not believe it, but God pulled you out of that situation because He has better plans for you.”
“John nau . . .” She pouted. “People can’t just take advantage of people. They need to be taught lessons.”
“And let God teach them; don’t play god in people’s lives. Draw up your business plan and let me see it. We would start your business as soon as possible.”
He bent low and placed a kiss on her forehead.
“I have to check on some goods I’m expecting and I would head to church. Would you be going with me tomorrow?”
She shook her head.
“Okay. I love you. See you later.”
He grabbed his car-keys and walked out of the house. She was all alone and had time to kill. She knew just how to spend it, despite the guilt gnawing at her heart.
Her plan was going on well, though it had hit a little snag. Daniel was frequenting her place often but didn’t allow her come to his. He didn’t want his neighbours gossiping about him and Efe later hearing about it.
Adesewa wasn’t too happy about it.
The other day Adesewa had asked if Efe new anything about them.
“No and that’s a great thing.”
But it wasn’t great for her at all. Everything seemed to be hitting a brick wall. She had to think of something fast to break them. Enough for Efe to hate him. Enough for her to pack her bags and leave. But when she leaves, then what? Do I go back to him?
She removed the pen from her mouth and looked up to see Ebuka staring down at her. Oh no! How did he know I was here?.
Annoyance crossed her features. He had called her earlier on, saying he needed to see her. She had rebuffed his request and refused to pick his calls. Now he was here.
“Ebuka are you stalking me or what? What are you doing here?”
He raised his brow. “KFC is a public place. It doesn’t have Adesewa written all over it. Besides I got to your house just in time to see you leave, I followed you here.” Without permission, he pulled out the seat opposite her and sat down. He placed both hands on the table and clasped his fingers.
“What can I do for you?”
He asked the question again. “What can I do for you to forget Daniel and move on with your life? Ade, you know better than this. I really care about you.” He cleared his throat. “I have loved you for a long time.”
He loved her? Ridiculous! Abeg he shouldn’t bring emotion into this. She ignored his latter statement and said, “You also know better than to sleep with your best-friend’s girlfriend.”
“Ex-girlfriend.” Ebuka corrected and Adesewa gave a cheeky grin.
He was confused at what she said until understanding dawned on him and he scowled.
“You are still messing around with Daniel?”
She picked up her drink as a form of reply.
He shook his head in amazement. “That’s really low of you Ade. Very low. After all Daniel did to you you still go around sleeping with him?!”
“Lower your voice Ebuka.”
“Oh! You don’t want people hearing you are behaving like a slut to win back a married man that rubbished you? Are you that desperate for a man? That cheap? Too proud to accept defeat after it has bitch-slapped you too many times on the face?”
Adesewa balled her fists tight.
“Go to hell Ebuka.”
“You seem to be so many steps ahead of me in that direction.”
She picked up her bag and literally ran out of the building to the pouring rain. Her whole body instantly getting drenched in rainwater. She hurried over to her car and got in. The little warmth comforting her.
She tossed her bag on the passenger’s seat and hit the steering wheel. How dare he speak to me that way! That useless good for nothing man!
Her tears mixed with the rain drops and her hair was ruined. But more of what was ruined was her heart and self-esteem. Ebuka was right on all counts but she had to finish what she had started.
She just had to!
“You are committing adultery.”
The words couldn’t have been more direct.
Daniel wasn’t in the mood for his cousin’s preaching. “You guys wanted me to marry Efe, and I did. So what’s the problem?”
“Daniel, please. Don’t you know you’re hurting Efe?”
“What Efe doesn’t know can’t hurt her.”
“Honestly, you are the biggest clown of all. Who told you Efe doesn’t know? You think women are stupid and ignorant?”
You sef you don’t know what your wife is doing behind your back. Daniel felt sorry for his cousin. Here he was, trying to help him out but unaware of how Dele bragged about sleeping with Funlola; giving explicit details of how they made out.
“John can I ask a question and you won’t be offended?”
“It depends on the question.”
“Ho – “ Daniel scratched his head. Not sure how to out together his words. “How – how do you do it?”
“Erm – you know you’ve never done it before and I -”
He threw his head back and laughed. Daniel felt uncomfortable.
After John calmed down he said, “We do it normal nau.”
“And it’s good?”
John shrugged. “It’s okay.”
Daniel wanted to ask another question but John raised his hand for him to stop. “I didn’t come for you to ask me about my sexual life but to talk about you and Efe. You know what you’re doing is bad Daniel. You don’t feel bad for what you’re doing to Efe? Is it because you don’t love her that you can do this and feel no regret?”
“John have you ever been in love?”
The question left John silent and faced downwards.
“Exactly. You don’t know what love is like. You don’t know how it feels to be with the one woman you love and want to spend the rest of your life with her. When you aren’t with her your life has no meaning. You can’t really picture your future without her. What you have with Funlola, that’s just lust. Nothing more. What I feel for Adesewa is -”
“Gone,” John interjected. He stared at Daniel. “You have to face reality. Ade is your past and Efe is your future. What makes you think Ade was the woman for you in the first place?”
The answer was obvious. “Because I love her.”
“You don’t end up with everyone you have ever loved. Ade isn’t the first woman you fell in love with. She isn’t the only one you slept with. Why would a single woman be offering herself to you on a platter of gold and not expecting anything in return? Doesn’t make sense Daniel. Think about Efe.”
After John left Daniel decided to sit down and think like John had suggested. He thought about Efe. He thought way back to when she had a crush on him. She was the sweet Christian girl and he was the bad boy trying to keep up with the terms of Christianity; living a holy life. Now he had given up on that. Efe deserved a better man; someone like John who would love and respect her. Someone that would treat her right.
Daniel clearly wasn’t that man.
And if in fact she knew he was cheating on her, why hadn’t she accosted him?
Eghosa missed Zainab and her trouble-some ways. He had asked her questions of her life in Abuja and what she did. She making a living doing what she loved pleased him. He wasn’t exactly pleased to hear that her boyfriend was twelve years older than her and were probably sexually involved with each-other, but he kept it to himself. It wasn’t time for him to dictate what she should or shouldn’t do with her life.
Not just yet.
The little time he spent with her wasn’t enough for him but she had refused to permit more.
He had to tell Efe about it and that was why he asked her to come over when she was free. And so when she sat before him he wondered how to present it to her. He massaged his brow and took a deep breath.
Lord, please give me wisdom.
“I don’t think I ever told you about my youth.”
Efe looked at him quizzically. “Okay?”
He cleared his throat. “Back in the days – when I was in Jos, I had a girlfriend. Muslim. She was a beautiful and stubborn woman.” Even as he said it, Samira’s face popped up in his head. “We were in love and had a silly idea of getting married when we both knew it was impossible because of her father. But we allowed ourselves dream. To cut the long story short, we messed around and I didn’t know she was pregnant when I left. I guess what I’m trying to say is I – I didn’t know I had another daughter that’s older than you, until recently.”
Efe’s mouth dropped open. “What?”
“It was before your mother and I met and got married.”
“Okay, so what happened? Why are you telling me now?”
“I saw your elder sister.”
“Oh. When did this happen? Do I know her?”
Here’s the difficult part. Eghosa rubbed his brow. Zainab had told him of how Efe had ruined Adesewa’s relationship with Daniel and he had defended his daughter’s honour. Clearly there was already a dislike for Efe on Zainab’s part.
“I’m not sure. Do you know any Zainab Baruwa? She’s a friend of Adesewa who’s apparently your husband’s former girlfriend.”
“Daddy what did you say? Za- -Zainab is Ad – Adesewa’s friend?”
He rose from his seat and came to sit next to her. He reached out for her hand but she drew it back from him. The action hurt him.
“Efe I’m sorry but I never knew about her until her mother passed on weeks ago. She left a will asking her to come see me. Efe, Zainab is a wreck. She lives life recklessly and -”
“Daddy, why are you telling me this? I just find out my rival’s best-friend is my half-sister. Obviously she would never like me.”
Eghosa said nothing ‘cause Efe was right and affirming it would hurt her feelings. Zainab had blatantly said she didn’t want to see her or there would be words coming out of her mouth that would have Efe hating her.
Efe ran her fingers through her wear as tears ran down her cheeks. “Why is this happening to me? God isn’t my punishment enough?”
Eghosa’s heart ached for Efe. He wondered how she was faring. “Efe what punishment are you referring to?”
She sniffed and wiped the tears on her face. “I just feel I’ve been through enough of troubles.”
“Tell me, is everything okay at home?”
She looked at him and forced a smile. “I will be fine dad.”
Somehow he didn’t believe her but thought it best not to press her. He would leave it all to God. But there was no telling what he would do if he found out Daniel had a a hand in his daughter’s unhappiness.
Audrey handed Adesewa a hot cup of tea and rubbed her back in a circular motion. She didn’t know what was going on with her friend. She and Zainab had been planning something behind her back but she had no idea what it was. She knew for a fact it had to do with Daniel.
“You want to tell me what happened?”
She shook her head.
“Common Adesewa. Tell me what’s wrong, or would you rather call Zainab up and tell her?”
“Audrey I just want to be alone to think.”
Audrey opened her mouth to speak when they both heard the door open and turned their gaze to see Funlola walk in.
“Oh no . . .” Audrey muttered.
“How are you girls doing?”
Funlola dropped her bag on the dining table.
“You know you should just leave that key behind now that you aren’t staying here any longer.”
“Yes sister-in-law.” Funlola teased.
Audrey snorted. “Why are you here?”
“Came to pick the last of my things.”
“Just pick whatever you want to pick and get out!” Adesewa snapped at her.
Funlola raised a brow.
“What’s wrong with you? Did I cross your path? Did I do anything to you? Why the beef? Abeg keep your man wahala to yourself.”
Adesewa rose to her feet, eyes blazed in anger. Funlola stood, unfazed.
“My man wahala? What is that supposed to mean? Who said I have any man issues? You know I have never liked you. You’re just a stupid gold-digger with no scruples. You sleep around with different men and pick the richest guy to marry you. Now you are cheating on your husband with Dele!” Audrey gasped and her eyes shifted to Funlola. “What would you do if John found out?”
“Just so you know . . . We are very much alike despite how much the thought would annoy you. I may say silly things or act silly but I am not stupid. So gbo?” She smiled then added, “You also lack morales. Sleeping with a married man for revenge? That’s very low.”
Adesewa raised her hand to slap Funlola but Funlola held her hand just in time.
“Violence never solved anything Adesewa. I’m not the cause of your problems so go and deal with it yourself. Don’t ever try to hit me again because if you do you would regret it.”
Adesewa pulled her hand off Funlola’s grip and glared at her.
Adesewa is sleeping with Daniel and Funlola is sleeping with Dele? Funlola is cheating on my brother? This is serious drama o! But gosh I feel like scratching Funlola’s eyeballs out for sleeping with Dele! Audrey thought as she looked at the both of them.
Adesewa picked her bag and walked out of the house, leaving her alone with Funlola who went off to her old room.
Then it suddenly dawned on Audrey. “Wait o – She’s cheating on my brother?” She got up and ran to Funlola’s door and pulled it open.
“You are cheating on my brother?!”
Funlola spun around to face her. For a slightest moment Audrey thought she saw guilt on her face but then it was gone.
“Audrey don’t believe everything you hear. I’m not cheating on PJ.”
Her eyes squinted at Funlola she said, “I don’t believe you. Why should I mistrust my best-friend? Look Fu-fu I love my brother and if I happen to find out you are truly cheating on John. . . You would hate that you joined the Ngwube clan.”
She walked out and slammed the door shut.
Next . . .
She went down on her knees and grabbed the toilet seat with both hands as she threw up the remains of her dinner last night. She wiped the side of her mouth with mounds of tissue. Minutes later another wave of nausea hit her.
Adesewa found herself throwing up whatever was left in her stomach. She dreaded what she was going to do next.
When she was finally done she tore open the pregnancy kit and took the test. The next few minutes were the longest of her life. . .