Mending fences with Amaka was something I was determined to restore like it used to be but not with force. I was going to make it a one step at a time thing as Jide advised. My day at the Legal Firm had gone well. Not only did I got the job, I had an official car to go with it and a very handsome pay. Who gets an official car in a legal firm in Naija these days? Amaka wasn’t picking up but I had sent her text stating how it all went at my side and trying to find out how it went on her side too.
I was so happy to start practicing after so many years of being called to bar. Yes, I had managed at a little firm immediately after Law School but it didn’t last long because I had encouraged myself to walk away from it cos it was more depressing than it was helping. Jide’s call had kept on coming in but I was in a meeting and I just couldn’t afford to pick. I learnt it was a retired Chief Judge who also happened to be a great business tycoon that owns the law firm. The Senior Lawyer there said the man really cared about representation and outlook, the more reason why getting the job came with a car package that wasn’t really a giveaway but more like a package that comes with 5% deduction from the salary for 6 months. I didn’t care so much about it ‘cos I was glad to practice.
Hey, I’ve been calling you. What’s up. Just wanted to find out how it went. Let me know when you’re free so I could pick you up.
It was Jide.
More like I’m gonna drive to your place immediately I’m free.
I replied him.
Jide never tarried when it comes to replying texts. It was like I had never seen a man so deepened in chats like him.
What do you mean? He replied the text.
I mean, I now have a car baby. I replied.
Wow! I better watch out, bae is a big girl.
I smiled reading his response. I didn’t know why it was such an amusing thing to me. Maybe it’s because we are finally in a good place and for once, I felt like my life was falling into place, just like I had imagined some years ago.
“We resume 8.00a.m. tomorrow. Congratulations once again Barrister!” Barrister Adams said as he shook my hands.
“I will definitely not be late!” I smiled through my words.
“Alright! Get out of here and celebrate. You are one lucky lady! See you tomorrow.”
“You too Sir.” I replied as I smiled through the door, took a little glimpse at my office, shut my eyes for a while as I heaved a sigh of relief that emits happiness.
I haven’t heard from Amaka. I was hoping at least she could reply my message and let me know how it went but I like I said, no pushing, just trying. Just when I was trying to shake the thoughts of her off my mind and decide who to call next, her call came in.
“Hey!” She said from the other end of the line.
“Babes. What’s up na? How did it go?” I asked.
“Well. . .”
“Well what?” I couldn’t go through with the suspense even though I was glad she was turning up a little bit of the real Amaka with me.
“We’ve come to an agreement and I start project fully tomorrow.”
“Wow! That’s good news cos I have a good news for you too!”
“Okay, go on. . .”
“I got the job, not only the job, but with a mind-blowing Saloon car.” I said, not being able to concede my excitement.
“Yayyy! So, you gonna be rocking the wheels now!”
“Absolutely babe! We’re gonna be rocking the wheels.”
“So, are you available for a turn-up?” I asked.
“Hmmm. . . not so sure about now. I’m working on the project breakdowns ‘cos I need to get them ready before tomorrow. There’s no time to stalk or waste.” She said.
“I understand.” I replied.
I was a little bit sad. I wish she had said yes, maybe we would have a little time to talk about it all over again.
“Maybe during the weekend.” She said.
“Absolutely!. . . See you at home!” I replied.
“You too!” The call ended.
I was glad that at least she made the effort to suggest a particular day of the week. It kinda meant she was opening up little by little to me. I was excited for the opportunity to be who I had went through all of those things to be at last and also for the change that was gonna come with it. I should probably get to Jide, after all, it was all done and everything was ready. Except for the golden voice of Charlie Puth’s See You Again that broke through my phone again. This time, it was Sade.
“Hey! Good afternoon. . . It’s Sade.” She said.
“Yea. I’m aware. Good afternoon ma’am.”
“I was wondering, are you free? I would love for us to talk like I had earlier said.”
“Yea. About that, I’m sorry I didn’t keep in touch.”
“It’s fine.” She said.
“How about now?” I asked.
“That’s fine with me. Where do you think will be easier for you to meet?”
“Anywhere you pick is fine by me.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Walking into my favourite ice cream joint with my car properly packed at the parking lot was more than a little excitement for me. It was like my confidence was raised to power infinitum. Still, a part of me was worried about what the conversation could be about. It was an open truth that Sade has never been my fan at the beginning. She had taken every opportunity to flaunt it in my face. Even though I was surprised the first time she demanded this meeting, nonetheless, a part of me still held on to the Sade I’ve always known. I wasn’t lost so much in this thought when I saw someone waving at me from afar. She was seated at an angle closer to where Jide and I used to sit whenever we came around. She sat at the other side across the stone-made table with two bowls of ice cream. I sat in front of her trying to tell myself it was gonna be fine in my mind.
“Hi.” I said sitting down.
“Hello.” She replied calmly.
“My brother said you like the chocolate flavour.” She said passing me the ice cream.
“He told you that?” I smiled again.
“Yeah. He did. He didn’t mean to but it kinda popped out of his mouth, I doubt if He knew I heard.” She laughed.
“Thanks.” I said digging the ice cream already.
She laughed and then I looked up to see what was going on.
“What?” I looked at her stylishly pausing my hand movement on the ice cream.
“You really do like this thing.” She smiled.
“It’s fine jare. Don’t mind me. I just find it very amusing.”
I smiled back at her.
“I am sorry for the way I reacted to you in the past. That’s not really me. I just care about my brother. I really do care about him and I don’t know how to hide my feelings and pretend like it’s not an issue when it’s really an issue for me.”
She said with so much passion that I could even read the sincerity in her voice.
“I understand.” I said.
“I just wanted to be sure he’s doing the right thing. Amidst all those dramas, I just feel if you were in my shoes, you’d do the same.”
“I understand perfectly, even beyond that which you haven’t said.”
I moved close to her, sat by her, held her hands and hugged her.
“I know you’ve had your doubts when it comes to me and I know you probably still do, but I want you to know, I love him and your dad was never a bone of contention. If only I could turn back the hands of time on most things I’ve done but was never proud of, I would but I can’t. And the truth is, I love Jide. He loves me. I’m just glad we’re finally here.”
“Me too.” She said.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Hey! So you didn’t call. You didn’t want me to see your little saloon?” Jide’s voice echoed.
“Gerrarahia jor! It wasn’t like that. I had a date.”
“Yea. . . with your sister.”
“So how was it?”
“I guess it’s a start. It was good.”
“You see, that’s the spirit! You can’t just shut yourself out of trying by assuming it would end bad.”
“Maybe you’re right this time.” I teased him.
“I’m always right.”
“So are you still up for it tonight?” He asked teasing me.
“No! A girl’s gotta go to work in the morning.”
“Alright then. Sweet dreams.”
“You too babe.” I replied.
“I love you!”
“That’s a first!”
“Shut up there! Kisses.” He said, ending the call.
I got down from my car into the welcoming hands of Mama Seun. She was obviously not in one of her best moods tonight. Seeing her made me remember her conversation about Eliza and her father the last time we talked. I really should do something about it. Maybe when Amaka comes back. I greeted her and she answered calmly.
“Hope all is well Mama Seun?”
“Very well omo ilu mi. I just dey examine life.”
“That one sef dey!”
“Good night.” I said.
I walked right past her to the doorstep, opened my bag to find my bunch of keys only for my leg to touch something. I pointed the torch from my phone towards my leg to discover an envelope slotted beneath the door. I picked it, opened the door, dropped my bag, off my shoes and then put on the light.
The envelope was addressed to no one. I tore it, opened the letter and there it was, the unexpected.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Amaka came in a little bit late into the night. I was snacking on Cornflakes while I enjoyed watching a previous episode of How to Get Away with Murder having successfully devoured a bowl of fried plantains and egg earlier. She looked tired and overly famished. I looked at her for a minute with the mindset of bombarding her with all of the questions I had in mind but the more I kept on thinking about it, the more I felt I was being held back by Jide’s words.
“Something to eat other than this?” She asked pointing at my cornflakes while she sat beside me.
“Yea but you’d have to prepare it. Keeping yours would have amounted to a very cold dinner.”
“I understand jare. . . Cornflakes it is then.”
“Kai! Just to fry some plantains and egg Amaka?”
“I’m tired, I just want to sleep. There’s so much work to do in the morning. I’m not like you!”
“Of course not!” I said sneering.
“Congratulations on your beautiful car! Girl! I’m super proud of you!” She said throwing me cornflakes from my plate.
“You’re crazy shey you know! But thanks all the same, I owe it all to you!”
“Hmmm. . . this cornflakes is good!” She said as she walked away into the room with the rest of the cornflakes and her jacket and heels in the other hand.
“So what’s up with your work na?”
“We’ll talk about it in the morning. Good night babes! Go and sleep already!”
I never knew I could manage to keep things in control for that long. Amaka was beginning to get on my nerves and I do not have any energy left inside of me to pretend as if I wasn’t. I picked up the letter to read again and tears began to flow from my eyes. Why is Amaka doing this to her mother? I couldn’t see a reason why a mother had to leave notes begging to see her daughter if there wasn’t more to the matter. Just when I was lost in this thought, Jide’s call came in.
“I thought we already bid each other goodnight?” I said.
“Yea. . . that’s true but I was hoping, is it possible for you to meet for lunch tomorrow?”
“Well, that shouldn’t be a problem but why can’t it wait till weekend?”
“That’s because I’m not the one requesting for lunch, my sister is.” He went silent.
“Yea. . .”
“I’m in one hundred percent.” I replied enthusiastically.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, I am. Is something wrong?” I asked.
“No. I just feel you’re overly excited.”
“That’s good right? It is now.” I asked.
“I don’t know but see you tomorrow!” He ended the call.
Was I sounding overly excited? Maybe he was right. I have been hoping to see her for a while now. I’ve always felt she has a clue as regards Amaka’s matter ever since that day she received a call from Amaka’s mother. Nonetheless, I was really hoping I haven’t done something to piss Jide off.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Practicing means more study as a Barrister. Barrister Adams had earlier handed me a case file of a man who has been accused of killing his ex-wife and whose bail has been difficult to get by his previous lawyer. But now, the case is ours and I have been given the assignment of getting the man a bail because Barrister Adams promised him he was gonna get him a bail which his former Lawyer couldn’t do and with that, he got him fired and employed us.
I walked out of the station as a proud Barrister having secured my client’s bail in the company of my client. It felt so good to have successfully carried out my first assignment as a practicing Lawyer. As I exchanged greetings and appreciating words with my client and his family, I saw Chief Coker walked into the police station with his eyes fully fixed on where I was standing. What had happened is what Yoruba will translate into English by saying “Our eyes met!”
I hurried off the premises of the station as I got into the car making sure my client and his family had already left. I couldn’t stop thinking as I drove off why Chief Coker was looking at me. He probably still recognizes me from the church incident between me and his wife. I was getting tired of having myself intertwined in all these webs of drama. Before I knew it, I was already at the office. I walked into my office full of thoughts, trying to crack my brain when I heard a knock.
“Good afternoon Sir.” I said standing up.
“Yeah, welcome. I have been expecting you to come to my office and acquaint me with how it all went down at the station but you didn’t show up.” He said sitting down.
“I’m very sorry sir. I was going to do that, I probably got carried away.”
“It’s okay. You can’t afford to get carried away with anything. This case is a very big one from what I’ve gathered so far.”
“I understand sir. You can trust me.”
“Okay. Hope everything is alright though?” He asked feeling concerned as he tried to walk away from the office.
“Okay then. Someone has been waiting for you in my office for like 30 minutes now. I guess he’s a friend of yours.” He said smiling through the mention of friend.
Jide walked right into my office as Barrister Adams walked away into his.
“What about the feedback sir?” I asked walking a little bit after him.
“After the lunch Barrister.” He said smiling.
I walked back into my office smiling sheepishly like a woman whose husband just stabbed work just to spend the day with her.
“So you came to my office without telling me?” I said hitting him.
“I thought you love surprises?” He said smiling and rolling in his chair.
“And you don’t like surprises! So what’s up?” I said sitting down.
“Well, I decided to come to your office after calling you severally with no response.”
I picked up my phone and looked at it, there was three missed calls from Jide already.
“I’m so sorry hon. I went to the prison to fix some things and I had to silence my phone.”
“Wow! Barrister hotness. I can imagine. So shall we?”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
We drove into the cool ambience of Aunty Kayinsola’s home. It was such a beautiful home with floral decorations and well watered green carpet grass. It was such an amazing edifice too beautiful for words. Jide’s one-time knock came with immediate response from Aunty Kayinsola’s husband as he came to open the door. The whiteness of his teeth was so bright as he welcomed us into their home with smiles.
“Good afternoon Sir.” Jide said as he exchanged hands with Aunty Kayinsola’s husband.
“Good to see you again Jide.” Her husband replied him.
“Same here.” Jide replied.
I greeted him and he smiled and replied me leading us into their home. Aunty Kayinsola was setting the dining table as we entered. She left the meals as she walked up to us in the living room.
“It’s so good to see you again Darling!” Aunty Kayinsola said hugging me tightly.
“Good to see you again ma.” I said totally rising on my feet.
“Please sit Darling. It’s so obvious my brother is doing a great job on you!” She said smiling.
“You can say that again Sist!”
“Congratulations on your new job. Jide told us.” Aunty Kayin’s husband said.
“Thank you very much sir.”
“Shall we proceed to the dining table?”
“Absolutely. I can’t wait. It’s been a while I ate something from your kitchen.”
“FFO! I hope you’re taking note Darling. Your husband to be is a food monger.”
“I swear, you can’t stress that enough Sist.!”
We moved to the dining table and said a little prayer. Aunty Kayinsola’s husband served her meal while Jide served mine. I was so amused by this beautiful gesture. The food was super tasty.
“Aunty Kayinsola, this food is super delicious.” I said pausing in between my meals.
“That’s what happens when you marry a woman right.” Her husband replied.
“Just that you haven’t been paying so much dues lately.” Jide said smiling.
“We’ll adjust.” Her husband replied laughing.
“The earlier the better.” Jide replied smiling.
“Thanks for having us Aunty Kayin. We really appreciate it.” I said as I helped clear the table.
“It’s a great pleasure for me I must say.”
Jide led me into the kitchen as I dropped the dishes to wash them. Aunty Kayinsola walked in on us as Jide excused us.
“So how are things with you two?” She asked as she joined me in dish washing by arranging them.
“We are more than making progress.”
“I didn’t see your baby. Is she asleep?”
“No. She’s with my husband’s mother for the weekend.” She replied.
“You are leaving your baby for the weekend?” I asked astonished.
“Well, not that I can’t afford to because she’s now taking solid meals and all but my mummy genes can’t withstand it. So after we are done hosting you, we are going to my mother-in-laws for the weekend.”
“Oh! That’s great.”
“So have you heard from Sade? Any improvement?”
“Yeah. We are making progress. I met with her yesterday and I really do understand where she’s coming from.”
“That’s how life rolls, you give it a little time and it will all come around and if it doesn’t, it simply because it doesn’t matter.”
“Thanks a lot ma. It’s one in a hundred of people that could afford to show me so much sincere love with the level of allegations and scandals flowing around me.”
“See, it’s nothing to thank me for. Everyone needs a benefit of doubt. You need to meet people to know them. We all do have a past you know and I trust my brother. I trust his judgment. If he’s cool, I am cool with you.”
“I have been trying to see you for some time now over the call you received the last time I was at the house.”
“From Mrs. Coker?”
“Hope all is well?”
“It’s a long story and to just summarize it, I’d say, I live with her daughter and a lot has been going on lately and she isn’t telling me anything and I can’t help but feel she’s is in a bigger trouble.”
“You live with Amaka Coker?” She asked very surprised.
“Yes, I do. We’ve been friends for years now. We are like sisters.”
“The last time I set my eyes on her was 15 years ago. She was like 12 years old then if not less.”
“You’ve met her?”
“Yes, I have. Our families have a ton of histories together.”
“But Jide didn’t know her before now.”
“It’s possible. Jide is a guy, he has always been himself from time. It’s possible he never really knew her.”
“So, is it possible for you to tell me something, anything at all, at least I can know what I’m dealing with?”
“Well, as much as I would love to, I can’t ‘cos everything she told me, she did in confidence and we don’t have much info now but all I can do for you is give you her contact. Try to see her and let her know you live with Amaka and all and if you’re free next weekend, give me a call and let’s see how we can meet up.”
“Thank you very much ma.”
“You thank me too much. You’re family now. Less thanks huh?”
I walked into the living room seeing Jide and Aunty Kayinsola engrossed in talks. He stood up, gave him a side hug.
“Thanks for having us man!” Jide said.
“Thanks for honouring our invite.” He replied.
I was pretty amused at their closeness. He held me by the hand as we bid the couple goodbye.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturdays are wash days! Amaka and I were going to the cinema later in the day to see The Wedding Party movie. There has been so much rave about the movie that I just couldn’t wait to see it apart from the fact that it had one of my favourite actor, Sola Sobowale in it. Jide had got us four tickets the day before. Amaka had said the only reason she was going to go was if she was allowed to come with her doctor lover. Why not? After all, Amaka was now like a go-slow terrain.
After we were done washing, rice was ready for breakfast. Amaka insisted I cooked simultaneously with washing or else she would be too famished to wait for meal on fire. Having set the table, I went in to pick the piece of paper I had tore open from the envelope Amaka mum’s dropped by the doorstep. I walked into the living room with Amaka digging her fork and spoon into the food already.
“You just couldn’t wait abi?”
“Because I am Jide abi and we are dating?” She sneered.
“Kai! Na wa for you.”
I sat at the table as I began to eat but my mind remained unsettled. I waited for her to eat her meal to a reasonable extent when I decided to break the silence.
“Amaka, I’ve been planning to ask you something for a while now.”
“What is it again?”
“Why have you been avoiding your mother?” I blurted out.
“I mean why have you been avoiding Mrs. Coker, your biological mother?”
“Have you been playing Olivia Pope on me?”
“This is nothing like it. I came home yesterday night to this letter dropped by the doorstep and there it was, your mother begging so hard for you to see her. What’s going on with you?”
“You should back off!”
“No! I’m not backing off. I’ve backed off for too long. In fact, I don’t need your permission as to what risk I take and I don’t.”
“Fine! Just wait right here, I’m coming.”
I walked into the room and brought out a box of letters I found hidden in Amaka’s room that same night.
“What is this?” I threw it on the dining table.
“You are snooping?” She picked it up.
“Call it whatever you like. What the hell is wrong with you Amaka? You have a box full of your mother’s letters and it’s not only sad that you ain’t replying any, you are not finding time to see her. Please I beg you, whatever this is, let me in on it.”
“You know what, it’s obvious you are not about to let this go anytime soon. So, I’m just gonna go in, pack some of my stuffs and let you be.”
“Amaka! Amaka! Are you for real?”
She walked into the living room with her handbag and another bag and she walked out removing her handset and charger from the socket.
“Amaka! What the heck is your problem?”
She walked out pretending as if she didn’t hear me. The same moment, Jide walked in.
“What’s up dear? I just walked right past her and I greeted her but she ignored me.”
“She ignored you?”
“Did you went hard on her?” Jide asked.
“Maybe. . . Just a little.” I answered shying away.
“A little like how many percent?” Jide asked.
“I don’t know! I’m tired of all these dramas! I’m tired of being left in the dark. I’m tired of Amaka giving me the cold shoulder and going all silent treatment on me.”
“Exactly what I thought. 100% just a little. So where do you think she’s headed?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know.” I broke down in tears as Jide held me tightly.