The idea of Amaka walking away out of the house had left me so devastated that I couldn’t remember that I had obliged Jide’s request to pass the night in the bid to make me feel better. I didn’t know when I smacked Jide as I woke up, saw my hands all curled up against his body. He rolled and moves the back of his hand against his face making some sweet little sound like a beautiful puppy. I wasn’t gonna have none of that.
I smacked him again. I guessed this time it was probably intentional.
“Hey babe, what?” He asked all jerked up.
“Look at the time!” I screamed pointing my hand at the wall clock in the room.
“Is that your way of saying good morning?” He replied all smiling like an annoying sister enjoying bullying.
“What does that have to do with anything?” I replied being more pissed.
“Alright. I’ll indulge you.”
“Fine! Will you look at the clock now?” I said removing the pillow in his arms.
“Yes. I’ve seen the clock.” He replied feeling so much unperturbed.
“And. . .?” I asked trying to get him to say the words.
“I don’t know.”
“Okay! Do you want to get me fired?”
“How am I about to do that?”
Now he was starting to get a little more than annoying.
“It’s 9am Jide! I hope you had all your fun.” I said standing up from the bed and walking away into the living room.
“What does that even mean?” He asked walking right behind me.
I sat on the couch with a full bowl of carrots I got from the freezer crunching them one after the other. He stood there looking at me.
“So?” I asked.
“Babe, I’m sorry but it’s just 9. If you are interested in going to work at all, you can as well enter the bathroom and get dressed. You just gonna apologize to your boss for being late and not let it repeat itself again, that’s all!”
I looked at him like I should throw him the remote control of the television.
“How did I not know you will be one hell of annoying boyfriend? Oh! I hate you right now! Can’t even look at you.” I said trying to shift my gaze away from him.
“Maybe I’m a little annoying but I’m so sweet like Ben Howard’s music and I know you wanna look at me so bad.”
“Ain’t tripping right now!” I replied still looking away.
“So you’re gonna take my suggestion?” He asked sitting beside me.
“What! How can you even say that? My third time at work and I’m already pleading lateness! Haba!”
“Finally, something to get you to look at me.” He said feeling all amused.
“Huh?” He said looking at me so deep.
“My Mother is Hausa.” I said smiling.
He asked again not about to stop looking anytime soon.
“Fine! I picked the Hausa from the Mallam down the street.” I finally said.
“I thought as much ma.”
I stood up walking away into the bathroom.
“Where are you going?”
“Why should I always answer you?”
“Ah I get it. You were going to put my idea into practice and you don’t wanna bring yourself to admit it. I’d take it as a compliment. I’m a genius.”
“Has Amaka called?” I paused to ask him.
“Not even a missed call Darling.” He replied.
He walked up to me holding me by the hands and looking into my eyes like someone who had just been told ‘Yes, I’ll date you.”
“What is it this time?”
“You don’t have to go to work.”
“And why is that?” I asked
“I already called in sick on your behalf.” He finally gathered the courage to say.
“You did what? But I’m not sick. Why did you do that? That’s not in your place.”
“I’m sorry. Just take a look at yourself in the mirror, not even a module of makeup can hide the fact that you’re not in the right frame of mind to go to work.”
“Let me decide that.”
“Exactly. I would have if I’m sure you could even decide that right now. You’re not just doing any kind of work but you hold people’s fate in your hands, so it’s okay to rest this one out.”
“Fine! It doesn’t mean I’m not pissed.”
“That’s fair enough.”
“Only if you cook” I said keeping a sad face.
“Ah! 419! You better get your ass up! Kolewerk!”
We laughed it out as I climbed on his back to the kitchen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“This is Afolake Coker, please leave a message, I’d get back to you later.”
I couldn’t bring myself to drop a message for her having tried her number three different times. I stopped trying desperately hoping she would at least return my calls later. Jide walked onto me outside with the door firmly locked, handling me the key and trying to persuade me to stay indoor.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to just stay here with you all day?”
“Nope! You’ve given the best love I could ever asked for and you’ve fed me to full even though you first pretended as if you weren’t, that for me, is quite enough.” I said massaging my hands through his chest area.
I could somewhere see the staring eyes of Mama Seun and her other gbeborun sister. I couldn’t wave off the thought of me insisting something was going on with her. Seeing her lurking around also made me feel I couldn’t afford to stay indoor all day.
“There’s something I have to do Jide.” I finally said taking all of my thoughts away from wanderings and focusing on him.
“Is this about Amaka?”
“25% Amaka and 75% Elizabeth.” I said.
“What’s up with Elizabeth?”
“That’s a helluva gist honey. Definitely not today.”
“Alright. I’d give you a call.” He said hugging me and giving me a peck.
“Take care! I love you.” I said.
“You need to take real care and I love you too.” He said.
I watched him enter his car and just couldn’t stop looking as he drove off. I knew if I stayed longer than I was supposed to, Mama Seun could crept on me for a talk which I wasn’t ready for, so I entered my car, turned the ignition and kept driving. I couldn’t stop thinking about Mrs. Coker. I didn’t wanna leave her a message totally worried about the fact that her phone could be with her husband. I was driving too fast that I had to force myself to pull over before I totally lose it. I needed to know where I was headed to. Elizabeth was admitted at Amaka’s boyfriend’s hospital, I could definitely take my time to kill two birds just with one stone.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I drove into the driveway of the hospital and my memories of the hospital kept running back. I could remember being here on very prominent two occasions and subsequent visits I made to Amaka. I couldn’t stash the memory of how I had walked on Amaka and the Doctor now turned boyfriend making out in his office. Thinking about all of that brought back all of the things he had said to me that I just couldn’t decode them because I kept seeing him as a professional doctor not knowing he was Amaka’s little secret. I walked into the reception area of the hospital trying to return myself to the present moment. Luckily, the Nurse I met on duty was a very familiar one, so I didn’t spend a ton of time getting her to tell me where Elizabeth was. I couldn’t find myself walking straight to Elizabeth’s except I first made a detour at Amaka’s bf’s office.
“Come in!” The voice echoed from inside.
“Hi.” I said locking the door after me.
“I figured you’d come.” He said rolling in his chair.
I could smell his pomposity from afar.
“You figured I’d come. . . hmmm that’s quite a gift! You’re some Annalise Keating?” I said launching a little bit forward and dropping my bag on his desk.
“I didn’t mean it like that.” He said.
“Oh! My bad! I thought you did.”
“See, we can’t afford to be enemies or anything other than friends if we are gonna get anywhere as regards Amaka.”
“Oh! So you’re saying for my own good, it’s better I patch things up with you if I intend to make a headway with Amaka?”
“Girl! Chillax that’s not what I meant, I said if we.”
“You know that’s my problem. I don’t see you having a problem with Amaka but I do, so you manipulating English to make me feel like we are in the same position. I don’t think we are.”
“See, I understand what you’re going through. I get it.”
“Do you? Which part do you get? The part where you allow me to play the fool and believe you’re some Doctor doing your job to help save the life of my friend whereas you’re a boyfriend who happens to be a Doctor and would do anything to make sure she’s alive even if you have to open your medical books again or the part where you make it all so easy by making me walk in on you guys making out?”
“I know! I know believe me. None of that was to make you feel like a fool; what Amaka and I have is pretty difficult to understand.” He said moving towards me.
“The part where you both are hitting it?”
“See, I’ll never make sense to you no matter how much I try if you don’t give me an opportunity to. Please just listen to me. I’m not claiming innocent of all your charges, all I ask for is that you at least listen.”
“Fine. Where is she?”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“I’m not supposed to say but she’s with me.”
“Exactly my point. I can never listen to you.”
I walked out of his office, sat a little bit to ease my emotions at the waiting lounge. Few minutes later, I walked right into Elizabeth’s room. She was packing her loads and humming a very sad song. I sat by her bed and then she turned around.
“Hey Aunty. Good afternoon. You came!”
“Yeah I did. I’m so sorry it took me this long to come here.”
“I understand o! Perfectly. How is Aunty Amaka?”
“She’s very fine. . . And how are you?”
“I’m fine.” She said trying to keep it all together.
“Really? How are you?”
She couldn’t keep eye contact for long before she burst into tears. I could imagine her pain. Molestation itself a painful thing and then to imagine it’s coming from your own father, it’s enough heartbreak. I held her so tight in my arms and allowed her to take her time with her tears. I kept on rubbing her back with my palm. Right there I knew all I wanted to do was help this girl. I would never forgive myself to know I exist giving her no help when I have all that it takes. I was resolute on putting her father where he rightfully belonged. She detached herself from me.
“You’re gonna be okay. It might take a while but you’re gonna get there. Do you understand?” I asked holding her hands and looking right into her eyes with all emotions.
“I know.” She said nodding her head.
“And not only will you get over it, I’m gonna be right here to take you through it each step of the way.”
She hugged me again for another five minutes.
“So where are you going with your bags all packed?”
“They said I’d be discharged tomorrow so I’m getting packed for tomorrow.”
“Okay. So where do you intend to return?”
“No where other than our house.”
“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’ll find out everything I need to know about your discharge from the Nurse and then I’d come up with something. I don’t want you to expose yourself to the gossips of Mama Seun and Iya Titi. It won’t help you.”
“What do you think is going to happen to my Father?” She asked looking at me all pent up with emotions.
“What do you want to happen to him?” I asked her not sure why I did.
“I don’t know.” She broke into tears again.
“I understand Elizabeth. I promise you, I’m gonna get you the justice that you deserve.”
She couldn’t stop crying. She looked at me, holding on to me so tightly. I could see her fears written on her face.
“Is he going to jail?” She asked.
“You don’t want him to go to jail?” I asked looking at her.
“He is my father nonetheless.”
“I know he’s your father. But your father isn’t supposed to hurt you not to talk of hurting you this bad. He did a terrible thing Elizabeth, a terrible thing he needs to spend time for.”
I kept on stroking her hair trying to give her succour in my own way.
“I know you may not understand it now, but you’ll later on.”
I was so engrossed with stroking her hair and trying to make her feel better that I didn’t see Amaka’s boyfriend come in.
His voice actually sent me back to reality. I looked at him and took my gaze away like he didn’t exist.
“I figure I might find you here. Here is the address of where you might find Amaka during the day. It’s the least I could do.” He said dropping the piece of paper on the desk behind my back.
“Thank you.” I finally said. It felt like someone had forced me to say something I didn’t like.
“By the way, the name is Dre!”
“Like Dr. Dre?”
I didn’t even know it had slipped out of my mouth.
“Yea. . . maybe not really. My name is Dare but Amaka and most of my friends call me Dre.”
“Alright!” I muttered like I cared what Amaka called him.
I picked up the piece of paper, glanced through it and I just couldn’t understand the connection between Amaka and the place scribbled on the address.
“Is this where Amaka works?” I kept on thinking.
“No, it can’t be. . . it’s not possible!” I kept on telling myself.
When Amaka had told me she got the contract to redecorate and give a facelift to an organization, I didn’t bother to ask where but nowhere in the world would I have thought it would be this place. I was gonna try to ask Dre if it was Amaka’s workplace but he wasn’t there anymore by the time I got out of my thought.
“Is everything alright?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yea, everything is.” I managed to say.
“Why are you looking for Aunty Amaka?”
“She’s just going through a rough patch that’s all. . . nothing serious.” I muttered.
I dropped the meal I brought for her on the table by her bed. I hugged her tightly promising to come for her tomorrow morning. As I stepped out of the hospital, I couldn’t get rid of thinking about Amaka and her relationship with the address given to me.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I drove off the driveway of the hospital to the road having no particular place in mind to head to when the call of Mrs. Afolake Coker came in. I was half happy and half disoriented. My emotions were sort of mixed that I didn’t know whether to pick or to ignore but deep down, a part of knew better than to ignore the call I had prayed earnestly and secretly wished would be returned. I pulled over to the side of the road ‘cos I couldn’t afford to add road officials matter to the ones I had on ground.
“Hello ma. Good afternoon ma.” I said.
“Good afternoon. Please who am I on to?” Her voice echoed from the other end of the line.
I couldn’t resist her impeccable pronunciation.
“I have a good information about your daughter.”
“Which of my daughters?”
“Daughters?” I pondered
“Hello, are you there?” Her voice echoed again.
“Yes ma’am! I have information about your daughter, Amaka.”
“You know how I can see her?”
“345, Boulevard Street, Royal Lounge, 15 mins, I’ll be there.”
Before I could say more, she had already ended the call.
I made a U-turn as I journeyed the road leading to Royal Lounge. There wasn’t quite a traffic along the way as it was quite easy to maneuver the ones that were. Royal Lounge wasn’t somewhere I was quite used to but since I recognized her, I was poised to locate her easily. I didn’t think it took up to ten minutes to get to Royal Lounge. I presumed she probably said fifteen minutes based on her distance. I found a secluded in the lounge to sit after ordering for a bowl of ice cream. As I was drinking, I was taking my eyes on a stroll through the lounge trying to get hold of her as soon as she arrived.
Luckily for me, it wasn’t up to a minute that I sighted her all dressed in a floral-designed flowing gown, turban on the head and a gold clutch by her hand. I put a call to her phone and directed her to where I was seated.
It felt so good seeing Amaka’s Mum so close. I stood up to greet her as she found her way through the seat.
“What should I order for you ma?” I asked eagerly.
“It’s okay dear. I’m very fine.” She said not so smiley and not so frowning.
“You said you have information about my daughter. . .”
“Yes ma, I do and at the same time I would also love if you can answer some of the questions I have lurking around the corners of my mind.”
“Young lady, I only came here because you said you have something tangible, I’m not up for your games.” She said firmly.
“Mrs. Coker, please this is no game. I’m only worried about Amaka.”
“Who are you to be worried about my daughter? Are you some kind of a reporter?” She said getting her clutch off the table and trying to leave.
I held her arms down the table.
“Please ma, I am no Reporter. I am Amaka’s friend. In fact, I’m her roommate.”
“And you expect me to believe that hook, line and sinker?”
“Not at all. Please sit down ma.”
She sat, dropping her clutch and feeling all exhausted. I brought out my phone from my bag, swiped to some pictures of Amaka and me as I gave it to her to look through. She was almost close to tears. I could see her hands shaking.
“So you live with my daughter?”
“Yes I do ma, until recently.”
“Until recently? What does that mean?”
“We had a little fight over me wanting to know what has been going on with her. I couldn’t take it anymore when I discovered your letter by the door one day after I came back from work and then I discovered some more in her room. I got angry and then she left angrily too.”
She heaved a sigh of relief.
“How did you get my number?”
“I got it from Aunty Kayinsola Jones.”
“Kayinsola Jones gave you my number?”
“Yes she did. I’m quite related to the family in a way.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“I know virtually every member of the Jones. I don’t know you.”
“Well, I am Jide Jones’ girlfriend.”
“Okay, that explains it. I haven’t seen that boy in years until recently. It wasn’t such a good way to see him.”
“At the Church?” I asked trying to make her feel comfortable with me enough to open up.
“You were the young lady?” She said looking at me so keenly.
She went silent all over again.
“What happened? Why do you have to force Amaka to see you?”
She burst into tears.
“Your tears are over ma. You’re the only solution to this whole thing. You don’t have to deal with any of these alone; at least not anymore.”
“Amaka’s father used to do her bad things, terrible things. . . and I couldn’t help my little baby, I couldn’t help her…”
She wouldn’t stop sobbing.